Meet Our Staff
Christine Jackson - Lead Teacher
A little about me: I completed my Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and graduated from Creighton University in December of 2013. I have also had the opportunity to work as a teacher aide/student employee at the Russell Child Development Center for two years. It's a tremendous blessing to continue my employment as an Assistant Teacher. The Center is like a second family whom I can depend on, trust, and continuously learn from to grow as a person and as an educator. During my free time I love to read and spend as much time as I can with my family and friends.
Thoughts on ECE: In the words of Dirk Wittenborn, "We are the sum of all the people we have ever met." I am the person I am today and will become in the future because of everyone that I have encountered in my life. Children are my deepest influence, and I have come to understand that we are also theirs. Each laugh, cry, smile of accomplishment, and surprising moment of humor of children fuels my passion for education even more.
Gina Whittington - Lead Teacher
A little about me: I have a wonderful husband and son. Together we like to play family board games and spend time together.
Thoughts on ECE: I love what I do. I feel it is a privilege and I honor the trust that parents have in me to care for their children.
Chantel Chu - Assistant Teacher
A little about me: I graduation from Creighton in May 2014 with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a minor in Biology. I was a student worker at the Russell Child Development Center all four years. Having moved back to Omaha from San Francisco, it has been a blessing and with much gratitude being able to reunite with everyone at the center and continue my fifth year of employment as a full-time Assistant Teacher. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, exploring new recipes, and reading.
Thoughts on ECE: As much as I hope I have made a positive impact on the kids I've worked with all these years, I have come to realize that kids teach us so much about life as well. Every challenge, tear, and smile has motivated me to not only push myself in becoming a better educator for these kids, but also in becoming a better person. A favorite quote of mine: "Every child deserves a champion - an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best they can possibly be." Rita Pierson
Joe Policky - Assistant Teacher
A little about me: I graduated from Creighton in May 2013 with a Bachelor's degree in Biology and a minor in Spanish. I have an older and younger brother and am an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts.
Thoughts on ECE: I've worked at RCDC as a student since 2009. I had never seen myself working with kids, but I've had lots of fun with it and enjoy it. I imagine being a Boy Scout helped as I had to take care and be a model for the younger ones. My favorite quote is: "Change is the law of life. And those who only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." --John F. Kennedy
Laura Clarke - Lead Teacher
A little about me: I am the mother of five and the grandmother of four. I have worked with children in some capacity personally and professionally all of my adult life. I love my job! Beyond that I love to read, cook and go out to hear local, live music. In the warmer months, Jazz on the Green and the Farmer's Market are two of my favorite places to be.
Thoughts on ECE: "They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel." - Carol Buchner. My goal is always about building strong relationships and making positive connections. It lays the foundation for healthy brain development.
DuRell Strathman - Lead Teacher
A little about me: I have a Bachelor's in Education from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. I am married with three children and two grandsons. I enjoy doing genealogy research and am a member of the Omaha chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (William Tell is my 21st great grandfather).
Thoughts on ECE: I love sharing my enjoyment of art and books with children. Toddlers are never judgmental and they enjoy anything you do!
Brandi Gales - Teacher
A little about me: I graduated from Creighton in 2005 with a bachelors degree in theology. I will graduate with my masters in Early Childhood Education- Public Policy and Advocacy in the Summer of 2016. My husband and I have 3 children; Addy age 8, Jessi age 7 and Cameron Jr. age 3. I have worked with children in many capacities over the last 10 years, from family support work and homeless outreach to running an in home daycare. I am so excited to be back at Creighton!
Thoughts on ECE: "When you teach what you love, and share what you know, you open eyes, minds, hearts and souls to unexplored worlds." This has always been my favorite quote, and is so appropriate for early childhood education. I think these words, coupled with Creighton's mission of cura personalis, care for the whole person, is a wonderful way to nurture our young children and help them grow. We all have different talents and strengths, and together we can care for the whole child.
Chaz Jones - Teacher
A little about me: I am currently completing my bachelor's degree in Spanish. I love spending time with family and friends, reading and trying new recipes.
Thoughts on ECE: My favorite thing about working with children is that I get to watch as they learn and grow and that I get to be a part of this fundamental time in the life of a child.
Annie Ryle - Lead Teacher
A little about me: I have been working with preschoolers for 13 years. I have a very full house with a son (2), a daughter (5) a stepdaughter (13) and two foster children (13 and 15). I love photography and reading in my "spare" time.
Thoughts on ECE: "While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about." - Angela Schwindt
Stacey Williams - Lead Teacher
A little about me: I am a mother of 3 and a nawnie of 3. I spend every other weekend with my grandkids (2 boys, ages 6 & 3 and 1 girl, 8 months). When I am not with them, you will find me outside (in warm weather) or cuddled on the sofa reading a great book (in cold weather). I am an avid runner who loves to run along the river. I have worked with preschool aged children for 20 years. I was a state licensed child care provider for 10 years and then went to work outside the home for Head Start for 10 years. I have also worked with middle school students within the Missouri public school district for 7 years before relocating to Nebraska and having the opportunity to work for Creighton University. My life has truly been blessed because of this move and I am grateful for the dedication of each staff member I get the privilege to work with.
Thoughts on ECE:"Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world" - Nelson Mandela
Nicole Evezic - Teacher
A little about me: I graduated from Creighton in 2012 with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. I love to dance, read, and be with friends and family.
Thoughts about ECE: "A child's smile is one of life's greatest blessings." I love listening and getting to know each child. I enjoy watching them grow and learn new things each day.
Andrew Wilson - Teacher
A little about me: My wife Amy and I have two children, Nick and Caroline. Our kids attend St. Wenceslaus School. Teaching is a second profession for me. When our children were younger, I became a stay-at-home dad. I enjoyed it so much that I went back to school and earned my degree in Early Childhood Education while I was home. It is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Since getting my degree, I have had the opportunity to teach underserved children in North and South Omaha Head Start and Early Head Start programs through Educare and the Omaha Early Learning Centers. I am very excited to be working at the Child Development Center at Creighton. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family. Following Bluejay basketball is our favorite family activity!
Thoughts on ECE: I think that the most important thing in Early Childhood Education is a strong partnership between everyone involved. The Reggio Emilia approach to education promotes collaboration between school, teachers, parents and children, with parents as partners in their children's education. When we all work together, great things can happen!
Shanna Harald - Assistant Director
A little about me: I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a BA in Elementary Education and an emphasis in Special Education. I am married and have a son in college. We keep ourselves busy following our son in his music activities. I am a Creighton fan and a die-hard Iowa Hawkeye fan.
Thoughts on ECE: Working with young children brings a smile to my face. My favorite early childhood quote is: "Play is our brain's favorite way of learning." - Diane Ackerman
Carol Houser - Director
A little about me: I am a passionate early childhood educator committed to high quality early learning experiences for children and their families. I have been blessed to teach children and adults of all ages throughout my career, but truly love the early years! I am currently working on my M.S. in Elementary Education with an Early Childhood emphasis.
Thoughts on ECE: Play and learning are beautifully intertwined. I am inspired by Loris Malaguzzi, a pioneer in early childhood education, who coined the phrase, "nothing without joy." Early learning experiences should be filled with play, laughter, and joy!