Each of our staff members attends at least 10 hours of continuing education classes each year. They have all studied child development, signs and symptoms of illness, and are mandated reporters in child abuse and head trauma. They also receive training and certification in pediatric first and CPR every two years, and we have an AED kit on site for our program's use. We have varied levels of education and experience, some degreed and some not, but only the most skilled and trusted staff are offered positions at our school. Our preschool teachers are degreed in elementary or early childhood education.
Crystal Friend, Program Director
I am excited to work with your children at Leawood Baptist Preschool/PDO. It is a joy to help children learn and watch them grow in confidence as they discover new skills. I have a background in Elementary Education and have taught English as a Second Language for schools in Kansas and Nebraska. I have also worked with a Montessori preschool in Nebraska and have directed the children’s preschool aged program for the Overland Park Community Bible Study. My husband, Tim, and I have three children and as a family we enjoy being outdoors, playing board games, and riding bikes.
Jan Akin, 2 year old Teacher
My name is Jan Akin, my priorities are, my faith, my family, and caring for families. I have been in childcare for 36 years, 24 at Leawood Baptist. My husband, of 40 years, and I have two grown sons, daughter in-law, and a granddaughter. I absolutely love caring for and helping children grow into strong, independent, and happy people.
Dawn Branstetter, Infant Teacher
My husband, Henry, and I have four children — our oldest son 38, son and daughter twins 33, and youngest daughter 31. We have four grandchildren. They are such a blessing.
I have worked at LBC since 2002 and have worked in the infant room most of that time, with some time in the 2-year-old room.
I Armour Heights Baptist Church and enjoy spending time with my grandchildren, family, and friends. I also enjoy gardening, camping, music, and music festivals.
Devon Lacey, 2 year old Teacher
My name is Devon and I like to make artwork, take walks, enjoy the changing of the leaves, watch KState and Chiefs football and sometimes KU basketball. I am involved in Project Clear. It is a program for people with learning disabilities to take college classes. I volunteer with the aides to help other students in the program. I have been working in childcare for over 20 years. I enjoy working with young kids and teaching them they can do anything they put their mind to and encouraging them to not give up.
Sarah Larson, Infant Teacher
This is my first year at Leawood Baptist Preschool/PDO, and I am very excited to get to know your babies and you! I become familiar with the school when my Kindergartener attended preschool here. Now I am honored to be a part of this team and extend the same care and attention that she received to your child. I also have a two-year-old who will be attending Leawood Baptist this year. Originally from St. Louis, I have called Kansas City home for more than ten years. I attended Truman State University and the University of Kansas. By training I am a social worker with an emphasis on children and families. I look forward to using my experience with my own family and as a social worker to provide a positive, loving, and joy-filled classroom.
Betsi Cobb, 2.5 year-old Teacher
Betsi earned her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Development from Kansas State University, her Master of Science in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Kansas, and her Master of Science in School Leadership Administration from Baker University. Betsi worked full time from 2006 to 2014 in the Shawnee Mission School District as an Early Childhood Special Education teacher both in the classroom and in the community. She was the assigned teacher on the Leadership team while completing the districts Career Advancement Program.
"I have two children; Parker, age 9 and Ivy, age 5. We have a small dog, Bella, who we consider part of the family too! I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, traveling, gardening, and working out."
Jennifer Lynn, 2.5 year old Teacher
I love teaching kids to learn while having fun. I have recently graduated from UMKC as a Board-Certified Music Therapist. From this experience, I have learned to use music to address non-musical skills such as motor skills, social skills, and academic skills. In my free time, I love cooking and hiking with my husband, Zach, and my dog, Yonder!
Amanda Craven, 3&4 year old Preschool Teacher
I just started at Leawood Baptist Preschool this September and I’m already loving the staff and students. I attended the University of Missouri-Columbia majoring in psychology and my background is mostly focused around children with special needs, behavior disorders, and emotional trauma. I live in the Waldo area of KCMO with my husband Elliot, our two children Aria (5) and Jameson (2), and our dog Rubble. I enjoy traveling, reading, crafting, interior design, and styling for my in-home clothing boutique.
Cheryl Miller, Floater
I worked at Leawood Baptist in the early 2000s for quite a few years and then left to see if the grass was greener on the other side...and found out it wasn't. I was fortunate to be able to return and bring my grandbabies.
I have raised four amazing children and now have been blessed with grandchildren. My daughter Kaley, 28, graduated from ESU and now works at St. Luke's. Ryan, 23, graduate from Arkansas and is now getting his Master's in Sports Science. Anthony, 20, just finished his second year at JCCC and was drafted to play in the minor leagues for the Cleveland Indians. And my youngest daughter, Kobi, 18, gust graduated from Blue Valley Southwest and is going to FIT in New York.
My husband and I are very active and enjoy our free time. We love to travel, root for the Royals, and support our family in any way we can. I enjoy working with kids and my coworkers here at LBC.
Laura Schmidt, Toddler Teacher
I have been working with children for over three years and have been a toddler teacher at Leawood Baptist Preschool and PDO since January and have loved every minute. I cherish each and every child and make sure they get the care and love they deserve. I currently live in Prairie Village with my husband, John, two children, Jude (7) and Lydia (3), and our dog Chief. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, cooking, reading, traveling, and staying active with Jazzercise.
Shawndra Kusiak, Toddler Teacher
Hello, my name is Shawndra Kusiak. I have my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy with most of my background spent working with severely emotionally disturbed youth and adolescents. My husband and I have been married since 2011 and have two boys: Kyler and Colin. After the birth of our boys, I transitioned from full-time work to part-time. I heard about LBC through a friend and was lucky enough to join this amazing staff in January of 2017. I absolutely love working here. I am excited to come to work every day and feel honored and privileged to be a part of these children’s lives. In my freetime, I enjoy baking, running and spending time with my family and friends.
Dipti Solanki, Toddler Teacher
Hello, my name is Dipti Solanki. I was born in India and received my bachelor degree and taught 1st grade to 7th grade in India. I have loved every minute of working with the children. After my marriage my husband and I moved to Kansas City and have two boys Urva (10) and Rutva (8). I am very excited to join Leawood Baptist Preschool and PDO. In my free time, I like to play games with my kids, gardening, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family.
Anna Sapernaro, Toddler Teacher
My name is Anna Sapenaro, I live in Kansas City and I am currently studying education at MCC to become a teacher. In my free time I do arts and crafts, read, puzzles and watch kids. My hobbies and my family are the most important things in my life.