At The Wonder Academy, caring and dedicated professionals are guiding your children. While Illinois state law only requires preschool teachers to have limited credit hours in early childhood education, we require our lead teachers to hold bachelor’s degrees in early childhood or a related field. This helps us know your children are being given purposeful, engaging experiences that are carefully planned by knowledgeable and well-trained individuals.
We also feel that stability for your child is important, so we start our teachers at a salary level 27% higher than the norm. This not only minimizes turnover, but helps attract and retain committed and enthusiastic teachers who are happy and satisfied with their careers.
We are always striving to develop our staff and ensure we are doing all we can to provide the best services possible. All of our employees are background checked, take part in regular staff meetings, and are provided with numerous opportunities for professional development.
Karen Coyle has served as a certified early childhood educator for 20 years. She received her bachelor's degree from Illinois State University in early
childhood education with an endorsement in mathematics. She served as Lead Teacher in the full and half-day preschool classrooms at United Presbyterian Church (UPC) Discovery Preschool in Peoria,
Illinois. During this tenure, Karen implemented research-based practices, including the Project Approach. She presented student-led Projects at the National Association of the Education of Young
Children’s Conference as well as at the Heart of Illinois Association of the Education of Young Children’s Conference. Karen’s work experience also includes serving as a Family Educator,
Preschool Teacher, and Teacher Mentor in DCFS-Licensed Child Care and Home Provider settings for the Peoria County Regional Office of Education Preschool for All Program. Karen started her career
as a kindergarten teacher in Wheeling, Illinois, and continues to partner with families in giving all children a jump-start to school success.
Jennifer has always had a passion for working with children. After studying social work at Olivet Nazarene University, she spent three years working with children and teens in foster care. After choosing to further her education, she began exploring early childhood classes at ICC and started her early childhood journey. Jennifer has been trained in Creative Curriculum and has implemented it in childcare centers with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. After having opportunities to learn the business side of childcare, she found another passion for the behind the scenes work that takes place. She then served as director for eight years at a childcare in Hopedale, IL before joining the Wonder family.
Lead Teacher, Young Preschool
Chasatie has always had a passion for children. She earned her degree from Illinois Central College in early childhood development and looks forward to continuing her education by pursuing her bachelor's degree. Growing up in a large family, she has always been a natural nurturer. During her free time, Chasatie enjoys exercising, spending time with her family and volunteering at Illinois Cancer Care events. She lives in Peoria, Illinois and attends Northwoods Church where she serves in Discoveryland children's ministry. Chasatie is so grateful and excited for the opportunity to be lead teacher of our Younger Preschool classroom here at The Wonder Academy. She looks forward to creating a fun and engaging learning experience for your children and having the opportunity to watch them grow and develop.
Assistant Teacher, Young Preschool
Abby began working with children in 2015 thanks to her mother starting her own daycare business. Beforehand, she never thought working with children would be in her future because she was sure she only wanted to pursue a fitness-related career. Little did she know, having the opportunity to work with kids would lead her to figuring out what in life she is truly passionate about—helping others. Over the years she has had the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing children whom she will never forget. Abby cares deeply about taking the time to get to know each child's unique personality and needs. She sees every child as an individual full of potential and creativity and strives to set a good example and be a voice of reason to each and every child she encounters. She also goes out of her way to add as much fun into the day as possible through play, which stimulates the mind and improves brain function, helps develop and improve social skills, and connects children to their peers and the world around them. Abby is currently pursuing a career in psychology, her goal being to work with children and adults who have been physically or mentally abused, or who struggle with mental illness. She desires to make those who feel invisible feel seen. In her spare time, Abby enjoys practicing yoga, going to the gym, reading, writing, being outdoors, listening to a good podcast, and spending time with her dog.
Lead Teacher, Junior Kindergarten
Angela Hale received her associate degree in teaching special education from Spoon River College in 2011 and her bachelor degree in early childhood special education from Western Illinois University in 2013. She has four children and three grandchildren. In her free time, she enjoys crocheting and singing Christian music. Angela's approach toward early childhood education is the Whole Child approach. It is her goal to ensure that every child entrusted to her care has an education that centers in 5 areas—emotional, physical, cognitive, creative, and social. It is her hope that each and every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged throughout their time in Junior Kindergarten her at The Wonder Academy.
Assistant Teacher, Junior Kindergarten
Alexis Walker graduated from Peoria Christian High School then continued her education through early childhood education classes at ICC. She has worked with kids for several years—in the church nursery, babysitting, as a teacher's assistant, and helping with her young brothers. She loves working with children and feels that they fill such a big part of her heart. During my senior year of high school, she served as a teacher's assistant in her brother's first grade class and absolutely loved watching the kids grow and develop in their own ways. She is honored to work with the children of Wonder, to be able to watch them grow and develop, and to help them along the way!
Assistant Teacher and Spanish Instructor
Melissa is originally from San Blas, a small fishing port in Mexico. After studying clinical psychology for three and a half years at the Autonomous University of Nayarit, she met her husband, started their family, and decided to dedicate herself completely to her two little girls. After moving to Peoria, Illinois where her husband is from, she had the opportunity to volunteer in her second daughter's preschool classroom and found her passion for helping children. She believes that the way adults treat kids is the way they learn to be in life. Therefore, her everyday goal is to help the children of Wonder feel happy and confident through play, her interactions with them, and by helping when needed.
Noelle has been teaching Vinyasa Flow for 15 years and loves that yoga can be adapted to any age and level. She was previously the yoga instructor for the University of Iowa Men's Basketball team, taught for Breast Cancer patients and survivors at the University or Iowa Hospitals and clinics, Yoga Instructor for The University of Maryland Wrestling team and Women's Basketball team, and taught in a variety of studios. She loves to encourage a healthy lifestyle for children and hopes to guide them in the joy of taking care of their body and mind!
Trevon is a graduate of The University of Iowa with training in music education and a degree in vocal performance. In addition to serving as a worship pastor at Northwoods Community Church, he enjoys having the opportunity to partner with The Wonder Academy and provide children with engaging and hands-on musical experiences to help them develop a love for music as well as the ability to express it.