Home   Our Staff

Our Staff

We pride ourselves on providing certified teachers with strong backgrounds in early childhood education.  Equally as important is a teacher with compassion, sensitivity and one who is able to instill curiosity and wonder in your children.  Our teachers, assistants and staff are here because they love children.  We’d like you to meet them all!

Michelle Neal: Director, Music and Theme Specialist

Contact Shelley: shelley@achildbecomes.org

Teacher Shelley is a graduate of Seattle Prep High School, Matteo Ricci College and Seattle University.  She has a BA in Humanities and a BA in Education.  She also has her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from National University in San Diego.  She is currently working part time on her Education Doctorate. She has taught both first and third grades at St. Bernadette’s School in Burien.  She has been the Director and preschool teacher at A Child Becomes for the past 25 years. She is a resident of West Seattle, married, and has four children. The oldest, Alex is a rocket scientist (really) for Blue Origin.  Tommy is certificated teacher and teaches middle school.  Sean is a graphic designer working for Fanta Graphics in the UDistrict and Enya attends Holy Rosary School.  In addition to teaching and parenting, Shelley enjoys coaching Track and Field (ages 8-14) and is Head Cross Country Coach at West Seattle High School.  She also competes in running competitively.

Kristi Houk:  Lead Teacher, Sunbeam 4/5 Day Class

Contact Kristi: kristi@achildbecomes.org

Teacher Kristi holds a BA in Psychology with a minor in Biology as well as a Masters in teaching from Whitworth University. Prior to her involvement at A Child Becomes Preschool, she taught in the South Kitsap School District for four years. Teacher Kristi’s love for kids started in high school with her employment as a Summer Day Camp leader for the city of Kennewick, WA. For five years, she developed day to day curriculum, reached out to parents, and secured a love for play and teaching in her heart through the wonderful children she met. Since then, she has made it a priority in her life to reach out to kids and let them know they are loved. Besides her love of teaching, Teacher Kristi is an avid runner and competes competitively for a local running team, Club Northwest. She is a volunteer coach at South Kitsap High School and also works part-time at Route 16 Running and Walking in Gig Harbor, WA. If not at A Child Becomes Preschool, you find Teacher Kristi with her three Italian greyhounds out on the trails enjoying what the Pacific Northwest is renowned for.

Stephany Depew: Lead Teacher, Butterfly 4 Day Class

Contact Stephany: stephany@achildbecomes.org

stephanyStephany has been working with young children for more 15 years, and a member of the teaching team here at A Child Becomes for five. She is a graduate of Washington State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Development and a Minor in Disabilities Studies. She grew up in the West Seattle area with her three sisters, attending Holy Rosary and Kennedy High School. She enjoys being active and loves dancing (Zumba), and spending quality time with her family and friends. She is recently married this summer to her husband Matthew and looks forward to starting a family of her own one day!


Jan Newgent: Lead Teacher, Caterpillar and Butterfly 3 Day Classes, Assistant Teacher Sunbeam 4 Day Class

Contact Jan: jan@achildbecomes.org

Jan has been working at A Child Becomes for more than 20 years now and works in both the Caterpillar and Sunbeam class rooms.  She came to the USA from New Zealand more than 20 years ago and has three children. Natalie is a firefighter, Ben is a senior in High School and Sam is a freshman in high school this year.  Her special interests are any type of biology and science and she has a Microbiology Degree in Serology (the scientific study of blood serum and other serums.)  She loves to garden and maintains her own huge flower and vegetable gardens complimented by four laying hens!  She has a twelve year old dog, Rocky, who has recently gone blind with diabetes, a bearded dragon and the latest aquisition, a hamster named Houdini.  She feels so lucky to teach young children each week and see the world through their eyes!

Rachel Hagenson: Lead Teacher, Butterfly 4 Day Class

Contact Rachel: rachel@achildbecomes.org

Rachel HagensonRachel is originally from Minneapolis, MN and moved to Seattle in August 2012.  Prior to her move, Rachel was a Montessori Preschool Director for 10 years and loved witnessing the development of the students in her school, from infancy to Kindergarten.  With a BA degree in Psychology she’s excited to work in the Butterfly Room this year with Teacher Stephany, with her ‘favorite’ age group!  Since moving to West Seattle, Rachel has tutored students for the past two years at Lafayette Elementary, as well as continues to work part-time with host families and au pairs in West Seattle. Rachel and her husband have two children (8 and 6 years old) and enjoy getting to know their new community of West Seattle.  Rachel’s involved herself with Lafayette Elementary as both the Enrichment Coordinator and PTA Vice President, is a Girl Scout leader and enjoys playing soccer, running and competing in triathlons.

Hope Broucek:  Lead Teacher, Butterfly 3 Day Class

Contact Hope: hope@achildbecomes.org

HopeBroucekPHOTOTeacher Hope has a BA in Political Science from the University of Michigan.  She has been with A Child Becomes since 2008 working in the Sunbeams, Caterpillars and now the Butterfly classrooms.  She has served on the Lafayette PTA board for 7 years and taught an afterschool Lego robotics program there as well.  She has worked in advertising and marketing before having a family and feels so fortunate to be teaching preschool at A Child Becomes.  She has two children and spends her time driving them to soccer and other extra curricular activities. She also enjoys gardening and reading when time allows.

Liz Murphy:  Assistant Teacher, Sunbeam 5 Day Class

Liz was raised on Queen Anne hill, attended St. Anne’s, Holy Names Academy and has a BA in Fine Arts from Western Washington University.  She married her high school sweetheart Patrick and we have three daughters; Anne, Lilly and Bridget.  She worked at the West Seattle Y in kids gym for 5 years and is now going into her 6th year at A Child Becomes in the PREK program.

I love working with kids, they have an amazing perspective on “all” things and I learn so much from them everyday.  Their creativity is boundless and if I can help foster that in any way, I feel honored.

Melissa Carlstedt:  Assistant Teacher, Sunbeam 5 Day Class

melissaMelissa is a fellow West Seattleite, living in the neighborhood for more than 13 years. Born in LA but raised in Tacoma, she graduated from the UW with a BA in Sociology. She spent 11 years at Nordstrom as a visual merchandiser in various stores in the Puget Sound and left the corporate world after having her second child. Spending time with her two children, Zooey and Miles is an important part of her time outside of school and you’ll find her volunteering their classrooms at Holy Rosary, and with her husband hiking and exploring the natural beauty of our area. This is her second year with A Child Becomes.

Uta Rockel:  Assistant Teacher, Butterfly 4 Day Class

UtaRockelPHOTOTeacher Uta is originally from Hamburg, Germany where she has a long history of teaching.  She taught English and German ‘as a second language’ to kindergarten through business level students.  As well, taught math to preschool and kindergartners in and around Hamburg.  She also has experience tutoring children with disabilities.  Uta holds a Master’s degree in psychology and education from the University of Hamburg.  She moved to Seattle by way of Pasadena, CA in 2010 with her daughter Hannah and dog Marley.  Hannah is in her junior year at Cornish College on scholarships (super proud mama)!  In her spare time, Uta loves to paint and art history and would love to go back to school to study these things.   In the mean time, she writes, bikes, reads loads of books, and enjoys walking her dog and going to movies.

Stacy Chung: Assistant Teacher, Caterpillar Class

stacychung_thumbStacy is from Naperville, IL where she first discovered her love of working with kids as a swim coach. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where she earned a BS in Natural Resource Management. While in school she taught swimming at the local Y and environmental education to middle school age students. After college, she served two years in the Peace Corps in Slovakia where she worked with youth mentoring an ‘English club’, as a swim instructor and coached a team for Odyssey of the Mind.

She moved to Seattle and earned her Masters in Teaching from the University of Washington. She taught in West Seattle for 8 years as a kindergarten and second grade teacher at Lafayette Elementary and K-8 STEM. She has two daughters, one a graduate of the ACB program, and one currently a Sunbeam. Stacy is excited to be part of the A Child Becomes Preschool family.

Caitlin Bonney: Assistant Teacher, Butterfly 3 Day Class

caitlin_092216Caitlin grew up in Lynnwood, WA and began working with kids as a soccer coach, ten years ago. She attended Washington State University, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and a minor in Spanish. She also played collegiate soccer for the Cougs. After working in corporate marketing for two years, Caitlin followed her true passion of working with kids and headed south to Peru, as a volunteer English teacher and then spent a year in Guatemala working for a non-profit organization. She is happy to be back in Seattle and is working towards a Masters degree in Teaching while working as an assistant in the Butterfly 3 day classroom. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, cooking, traveling, and running around in parks with her dog.

Grandma Dorothy:  Literature Specialist, Sunbeam 4/5 Day Classes

Grandma Dorothy is our literature guest visitor who visits the Sunbeam class on Thursdays with a basket of homemade cookies,  cutter-cut to match our theme. She selects and reads out loud, a book of special interest.  She always has interesting stories to share that help build on our knowledge. Grandma Dorothy has 27 grandchildren!  She travels from Vashon Island where she was an Elementary School Librarian for 25 years. She is a graduate from Central Washington University where she received a teaching degree and her age is a tightly held secret!  We love the inter-generational aspect and hope she carries on with us for another decade.  She enjoys sewing and knitting, has authored her own literature program for young children, and can claim TWO ‘hole in ones’!

Aude Arutunian:  French Specialist, Assistant, Sunbeam Class


Aude was born in France and moved to Seattle in 1999.

In Nantes, West France, Seattle’s twin city she took courses at “les Beaux Arts” and then got a 5 year degree in design and architectural design. She works as a lighting designer and specializes in children’s design. She paints, draws, creates… she express creativity in different forms: a small business of coloring postcards for kids, with her husband she designed a kids app for the iPhone.

She lives in West Seattle with her husband and 3 kids. Swimming is a must and there is not a day without singing. She and her husband are big fans of hiking and travelling. And she LOVES being a mom. She travels back to France as often as she can and at home speaks French. Teaching her culture, identity and language to her kids is very important.

Teaching a class is really exciting for me. I am sure that preschool is the perfect age to learn a language. Voila!

Ann Limbaugh:  Office and Business Assistant

Contact Ann: office@achildbecomes.org

annAnn lives in West Seattle with her husband and two children, both of whom have spent lots of time at A Child Becomes and are graduates of the preschool.  Ann grew up in upstate New York, attended college in Ithaca, NY where she obtained a degree in Communications and Writing.  She moved west to Colorado for several years before finally settling in Seattle in 1994.  She’s worked in various industries including advertising, video production, retail and technology.  After having her second child, she left the corporate world and now spends her time at swim meets, the classrooms of her children, tending to her chickens and volunteers with Mom’s Demand Action.  She loves taking photographs, pilates, camping with friends and family, and snowboarding and is excited to be working at a school with great energy, enthusiastic teachers and happy kids!