meet our team


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 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

Director

 

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 Bowman

Assistant Director

 

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.


Emily Clark

Lead Teacher, Preschool

 

Emily has always had a passion for working with children and has wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember. Emily began her pursuit of this dream by attending Illinois Central College for her Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education and joined our Wonder family in June of 2018. She loves being able to watch children learn and grow and feels very privileged to be part of that process. Emily makes it her priority to provide the children of Wonder with the best care possible, in a safe, fun, and nurturing learning environment. In her free time, Emily enjoys hiking, singing, camping, and spending time with family.




Kenia Santiago

Lead Teacher, Junior Kindergarten

 

Kenia has been working in the field of early childhood education for over sixteen years. She has had the opportunity to work as a preschool teacher, a bilingual English / Spanish assistant teacher, a substitute teacher for a variety of programs and school districts, and, most recently, as a preschool yoga instructor. Kenia is currently pursuing her Applied Associates Degree in Marriage and Family Studies as well as her children's yoga certification. Kenia's goal as a teacher is to be a role model and to foster and maintain a positive, fun, respectful and safe environment for children. She enjoys being able to help children grow and support both their academic and social-emotional learning. In her spare time, Kenia enjoys spending time with her two children and puppy, running, going on walks, playing board games, watching movies, cooking and dancing.


Amanda Lyndaker

Operations Director

 

Amanda has been working in the field of early childhood for seven years. After graduating with honors from Gallaudet University in Washing, D.C. with a bachelor’s degree in family and child studies, she moved to the Peoria area and continued to expand her education. This included achieving her level 5 certification from Gateways to Opportunity Illinois Professional Development System. Amanda enjoys serving in the production and children’s ministries at Richwoods Christian Church and spends her free time hanging out with family and friends or being creative with art, DIY projects, and photography. She believes it takes a village to raise a child and considers herself incredibly privileged to be part of that village for the families of Wonder!


Jennifer Hollis

Support Teacher

 

Jennifer has always had a passion for working with children, which led her to study child development at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Illinois. She is from the small town of Mendota, but moved to Peoria in May 2019 after graduating with her Bachelor of Science with a study in family and individual development. She loves being able to watch children grow and encourage their learning across all areas of development, and finds it so rewarding to watch be part of their lives.


Liam Price

Support Teacher

 

Originally from New York, Liam moved to Illinois with his family at a young age and has been living in the Peoria area ever since. After graduating high school in 2013, Liam furthered his education by attending Illinois Central College. He has been working in childcare as an assistant teacher since 2014. Throughout this time, he has worked with children of all agesfrom newborns to five-year-olds preparing to transition into kindergarten. Liam's goal as an assistant teacher is to provide children with a calm and understanding environment where they can grow and prosper to the best of their ability.

 


Nancy Hinnen

Early Childhood Consultant, Teacher Mentor

  

As a lifetime educator, I am honored to serve alongside you and the Wonder Academy team, to notice your child’s moments of “awe,” and together, capture their wonder and craft learning experiences that open their minds to cognitive connections and new discoveries. Throughout my lifetime, I have been fortunate to learn from many impactful leaders. Starting with my parents, who exemplified diverse community problem-solving, to growing alongside colleagues, children and families through years of classroom teaching, administration, directing, training, coaching and consulting through the Peoria County Regional Office of Education and Heart of Illinois United Way, and locking elbows with experts in the field of child growth and development, education, and leadership. Angela Andrews (Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics Distinguished Life Achievement in Mathematics Award, author of Little Kids – Powerful Problem Solvers), Howard Gardner (Multiple Intelligences), Judy Jablon (Co-author of Powerful Interactions), Sanford “Sandy” McDonnell (Former chairman emeritus of McDonnell Douglas Corporation and CHARACTERPlus), Sam Meisels (Authentic assessment, President of Erikson Institute), Wess Stafford (President Emeritus of Compassion International, author of Too Small to Ignore), and Harry Wong (Educator and author of First Days of School – How to Be an Effective Teacher) have each given me the gift of learning through the lens of honoring children. As Harry Wong taught me, “You see in children what you look for.” Thank you for allowing me the privilege of extending my lens even further by kneeling among your children, pausing to capture their “wonder,” engage in powerful interactions, and “look for” the amazing thinking within the minds of those who teach me the best.

  


Choosing the right provider for your child's education is an important decision, and we look to make it as easy as possible.

Our preschool and junior kindergarten classes at The Wonder Academy provide children with a unique, engaging, and high quality approach to early childhood education. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have, just give us a call (309-412-5679) or schedule a tour.

 

7717 N University

Peoria, IL 61615

309.412.5679

Hours:

7:00am - 5:30pm

Monday - Friday