First Steps Academy Preschool and Daycare Orlando, FL 32789 | Our Staff
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Our Staff

Emily Coutras

Executive Director

Emily has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Southeastern University and a Master’s Degree in Teacher Leadership from the University of Central Florida. Emily has been a member of Calvary for over twenty years, growing up in ministry. She has a passion for working with children while serving the Lord. Emily loves to spend time with her husband Alex and their daughter.

“My staff and I would love to be a part of your child’s first steps. We would love to help your little one grow both academically and spiritually. Our teachers are determined to love, serve, and respect your child and your family.”

Peggy Schuneman

Program Director

Peggy has a leader’s heart. She has been an active member of Calvary Orlando and leader of First Steps for more than twenty years. Peggy has been called to work with parents and children, helping them to navigate the earliest years of a child’s education.

Peggy has been married to her husband Dirk for nearly forty years, and they have attended Calvary since 1978. They have three children and one grandchild.

“From a young age, I’ve always been fascinated by child development. I feel very blessed to have been able to devote my career to training and leading so many families”.

Debbie Carlisle

Assistant Program Director/ VPK Teacher

Debbie has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Southeastern Bible College. She has been a part of Calvary for over thirty years, first as a volunteer in the church nursery and then as a part of First Steps for the last fourteen years. Debbie enjoys working with children and is blessed to spend time with her three grandchildren.

“I enjoy being part of the First Steps family, and I’m looking forward to what the new school year brings.”

Desiree Francis

Administrative Assistant- Mornings

Desiree loves to be a helping hand. She is very reliable, and she loves to work with children. Growing up in Orlando, Desiree attended Lyman High School and Keiser University. She grew up in a family of five children, so she comes to First Steps with a lot of experience working with young children. She also has a three year old daughter named Destiny, who she says is the absolute light of her world. In her free time Desiree enjoys spending time reading and working on cosmetology. Desiree looks forward to helping any child and family who needs it.

Tammy Surratt

Administrative Assistant- Afternoons

Tammy has a long history of administrative work. She is extremely organized, and maintains a positive working attitude. Tammy’s husband Lewis is the Maintenance Director here at Calvary, so they have a strong connection to ministry. Recently transplanted from Lakeland, Tammy and Lewis enjoy the fast-paced lifestyle of living in Orlando. They love spending time together and with their family. Stop by the office and say “hello” to Ms. Tammy!

Jasmine Caleb

Infant I Teacher- Mornings

Jasmine has served with the First Steps team for over 15 years. She has a passion for working with little children and loves to take care of them. She’s been trained in all required courses for Child Care/Development and has her CDA. Jasmine has a Bachelor’s degree in Christian Studies from Sure Foundation Institute. She has been married to her husband Benedict for nearly forty years, and together they’ve raised five boys. They presently attend Deeper Life Assembly Church in Ocoee, Florida.

“I’ve always felt a passion for little children, and I like to help in their growing years and development. I was blessed with five children of my own, and I gained good experience and learned much patience. I feel so blessed taking care of more babies each year and being part of their lives.”

Kathy Sing

Infant I Teacher- Mornings

Kathy’s favorite passion in life is her grandchildren. She loves being around babies, and she considers it a joy to spend her mornings in the Infant room. Kathy also loves reading. She purposes to read anything she can get her hands on. Her favorite stories are true life crimes. She can’t get enough of the mystery! Kathy and her husband have lived in Orlando for seven years. They have four children and eight grandchild. Love of family keep them strong.

Alicia Velez

Infant I Teacher- Afternoons

Alicia is an amazing addition to the First Steps Staff. She is currently studying Pre-Med with Florida Hospital College. She aspires to one day be a pediatrician. Alicia really enjoys working with the youngest infants because she likes bonding with each child’s family. If she’s not studying, Alicia spends a lot of time with her younger siblings. As second oldest of six, Alicia has spent a significant amount of time around little ones. Alicia thoroughly enjoys her outdoor time, and she is sponsored by RunDisney to run in their marathon weekends. She also enjoys spending time studying scripture with her boyfriend. The two of them are faithful attenders at Calvary Español.

Katy Vickers

Infant II Teacher- Monday, Wednesday, Friday

Katy has worked as an infant and young toddler teacher at First Steps since 2007. She earned her Child Development Associate Certification in 2011. Katy is currently a student at Seminole State College.

Katy’s favorite quote is from Maria Montessori- “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”

Kandace Darden

Infant II Teacher- Monday, Wednesday, Friday

Kandace is a new addition to the First Steps family. She earned her CDA more than fifteen years ago. Kandace has recently relocated to the Orlando area after growing up in Georgia. She has a middle-school aged son with whom she loves to spend time. Kandace has been in child care for more than twenty years. She loves working with infants and toddlers. She loves to see the face-paced growth of the young babies. Her favorite part about working with infants is that they make her laugh! She loves to see them explore their world and learn about the different activities she’s able to provide for them. In the classroom, Kandace helps to provide a loving and structured environment, knowing that her babies are being loved like Jesus would love them.

Jenny Falls

Infant II Teacher- Tuesday, Thursday

Jenny is happily married to her husband Adam, and they have three children. Jenny feels her purpose in life was to be a mom. She enjoys spending time with babies, and truly looks forward to coming in to work with them on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Jenny also enjoys softball and taking walks with her husband around their neighborhood. She has four cats and a new puppy. Jenny has worked in a preschool setting for more than 17 years. Although she is new to First Steps, she is certainly not new to childcare. Jenny attends Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. She can been seen there each Sunday morning. Stop in and say “hello” to Jenny. 

Alecia Arnold

Infant II Teacher- Tuesday, Thursday

Alecia is a Florida native. She graduated from Evans High School and attended Tallahassee Community College and Florida Career College. She has worked at two previous preschools, and she loves working with babies. Alecia says that babies are her favorite age group because she loves to see a baby learn and explore their surroundings. She feels that there’s so much to learn about life through the eyes of a little one. Alecia is excited to work closely with Lauren as they venture into the joys of working and playing so closely with each tiny miracle. In her free time, Alecia likes to spend time at the beach with her family and friends.

Emily Reynoso

Toddler I Teacher- Afternoons

Emily joins us alongside her two older sisters. Emily loves working with children. She babysat all through high school, spending most weekends with other families. Emily was born in New York, but has been raised in Florida. She recently graduated from Lake Brantley High School. Emily enjoys spending time with her family and friends on the weekends. Her favorite thing to do is hang out at theme parks. Please help us welcome Emily to the team.

Jody Bennett

Toddler II Teacher- Mornings

Jody has a loving heart. She has been a valuable member of First Steps for eleven years. She provides the most loving care that supports children’s growth and development. She is a mother of three and absolutely loves working with the one-year-olds.

“My goal is to have parents feel at ease while they’re away from their child and for the child to have a safe, loving and routine environment that provides the ability for them to learn and grow with confidence.”

Jakhira Wallace

Toddler II Teacher- Mornings

Jakhira recently relocated from Richmond, Virginia. She loves working with children, and she has been working with them since she was a teenager. She loves to read, spend time with her nephew, and go to the beach. Her perfect day is spent playing outside and eating a great meal. Jakhira dreams of one day opening her own childcare center, where she can make a difference in her community.

Jennifer Aragon

Toddler II Teacher- Afternoons

Jennifer is a student at the University of Central Florida, majoring in Child Developmental and Psychology. She hopes to one day be able to help families facing developmental delays and challenges. Jennifer recently worked at a Charter School as a teacher’s assistant. She loves to work with toddlers because she enjoys seeing them face new challenges and overcome them. She considers it a joy to watch a child learn and grow. Jennifer loves to dance Salsa. She also enjoys playing the piano.

Jessica Reynoso

Toddler III Teacher- Afternoons

Jessica is the proud mom of two boys, Elijah and Andrew. Her favorite job in the world is being a mom. Next to that, she loves to spend time at First Steps working with toddlers. Jessica also enjoys spending time at the park, at the movies, and overall spending time with her children. Jessica is originally from New York, but has been in Florida for the past fifteen years. Jessica is bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish. She joins the First Steps staff along with her two sisters, Emily and Natalie.

Megan Huber

Young 2s Teacher- Mornings

Megan has worked with children for several years. She most recently helped to nanny a three year old. Megan attended Lyman High School and has plans to one day become a dentist. She is the youngest of three children, and grew up in Altamonte Springs. Megan loves spending time with her family, her two nieces, and her two dogs, Molly and Pumpkin.

Sydney Brown

Young 2s Teacher- Afternoons

Sydney is a new addition to the First Steps family. She comes to us with several years of experience working with toddlers. She loves kids, and enjoys putting a smile on their faces. Sydney likes being a First Steps teacher because she has worked at other centers and feels more comfortable with the smaller group sizes. She feels that the individual attention she can devote to each child helps them feel like they are in a warm and loving environment. Sydney works hard to get to know each family, and wants her parents to know that she strives to care for each child as if they were her own. In her free time, Sydney is a student at Valencia College, majoring in Pediatric Nursing. She hopes to one day be a labor and delivery nurse. She loves spending time at amusement parks with her younger sister.

Yadira Rodriguez

K2 Teacher- Mornings

Yadi is committed to providing a loving and developmentally-appropriate learning experience.  She looks forward to working with children and hopes they enjoy being in her class. Her passion is working with toddlers. At home, Yadi is the mother of an 11 year old whom she adores.

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”

Winston Churchill

Jennifer Maestre

K2 Teacher- Afternoons

Jennifer has recently relocated from Alaska and is new to the First Steps family. She loves working with toddlers because she has a one year old daughter at home. She loves to watch her daughter play and explore, and she knows how to redirect a determined youngster. Jenner has spent a lot of time working with children, and has numerous volunteer opportunities under her belt. She has ten nieces and nephews, and feels that she has been around children her entire life. She has worked diligently to complete her mandated classes through the Department of Education. Jennifer’s favorite thing about working with toddlers is being able to watch them learn and grow with each new activity. She considers it a true blessing to be able to have a positive impact on each child she helps to nurture.

Alex Dorion

K2 Teacher- Mornings

Alex has been working with preschoolers for three years. Before entering the world of preschool, she worked for a Mommy’s Group, nannying when needed. She absolutely loves working with children because she feels she is a kid at heart. She enjoys spending time at Disney, and she feels it is her life’s purpose to make sure the children in her class are Disney lovers like she is. Alex loves to do art work with the children in her room, and she makes it a priority. In her spare time, Alex likes to write children’s books and hopes to be a published author in the near future.

Natalie Reynoso

K2 Teacher- Afternoons

Natalie feels led to work with children. She especially enjoys working with the two year olds because she’s up for a good challenge. Natalie has worked two years previously at another childcare center. Wanting more one-on-one time with children, she made a shift to First Steps. Natalie has a ten year old daughter, and together they spend every weekend running errands and enjoying each other’s company. Natalie joins First Steps along with her two sisters. Be sure to welcome the Reynoso clan!

Kamille Rufus

K2 Teacher- Afternoons

Kamille is new to the First Steps family. She has always had a spirit for serving others. Working with children’s ministry at her home church and growing up as the oldest of five children, Kamille realized at a young age that she had a passion for childcare. She enjoys spending her free time with her younger siblings.

“Being able to bring a smile to a child’s face warms my heart. I want to inspire children to be the best versions of themselves and teach them about God’s unconditional love.”

Sabrina Stone

K3 Teacher- Mornings

Sabrina has been with First Steps for six years. She has earned her CDA, is First Aid and CPR certified, and also holds her Medical Assistant Certificate. Sabrina has three children, two girls and one boy. In her free time, she enjoys working on the farm with her husband and children.

“Make every day the best one yet.”

Kalen Chamblin

K3 Teacher- Afternoons

Kalen has been working at First Steps for 3 years as a classroom assistant and teacher. She has been a member of Calvary Orlando for 15 years, growing up in the ministry. Kalen graduated from Boone High School in 2016, and is currently attending Valencia College. She has a passion for helping others and loves working with children.

“I have always enjoyed helping others and, if I can make at least one person smile, I know I have done my job.”

Jahaira Rodriguez

K3 Teacher- Mornings

Jahaira has worked at First Steps for ten years. She is married and has two sons. Family is very important to her, and she loves to spend time with them! Jahaira has a passion for working with children and it is her priority to teach and care for them. She considers it a blessing to be part of the First Steps family.

“A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart.”

Kimberly Quiroga

K3 Teacher- Afternoons

Soccer Teacher

Kimberly recently graduated from Lake Brantley High School. There, she was a star soccer player, playing on the varsity team for both her Junior and Senior years. Kimberly participated in the Early Childhood program at Lake Brantley, graduating with her CDA. She loves working with small children, and she hopes to one day be a Pediatric Oncologist. Her passion is seeing kids overcome struggles.

Kimberly teaches soccer classes to our K2, K3, and K4 classes. For more information, please stop by the Front Office.

April Carroll

K4/ VPK Teacher- Full Day

April has been working for First Steps since 1999. April has been a lead VPK teacher since 2012. She has been a member and regular attender of Calvary for more than twenty years. April is married and has two adult children.

“Four and five year old children are my favorite age to teach! You will be amazed at how much your child will learn during his or her years at First Steps.”

Theresa Key

K4/VPK Teacher’s Assistant- Mornings

Theresa loves working with children. Most recently she was the Kindergarten teacher at Bear Lake Christian Academy. She has a heart for working with youngsters who are preparing for mainstreamed education. Theresa has been married to her husband Lucas for two years, and they look forward to a long future together. She is excited about the changes she is seeing with First Steps and wants to be a part of the adventure.  In her free time, Theresa enjoys reading John Grisham novels. She also likes to binge watch Netflix on rainy days. Don’t we all??

Chanta Fleece

K4/ VPK Teacher- Mornings

Chanta is an honors graduate from Orlando Tech, where she earned her Child Development Associate Credentials. She is an enthusiastic and loving teacher with ten years of experience. Chanta is very passionate about early childhood education and adores working with preschoolers. She is strongly committed to providing her students with a fun and safe learning environment. Chanta has a six year old son whom she loves spending time with when she isn’t working.

“My goal is to teach children God’s love and create a loving atmosphere for them to learn and play”.

Rosena Liberus

K4 Teacher- Afternoons

Rosena recently joined us from a corporate daycare setting. She likes the intimacy of a small group. Rosena has experience with various organizations including the Boys and Girls Club of America. She hopes to pursue a degree in nursing, with a concentration in pediatrics. She currently attends Valencia College, and she hopes to go to UCF in the fall. She has completed her 40 hour training through DCF, and she hopes to pursue a CDA in the near future.

In her free time, Rosena likes to frequent the local beaches. She’s also known to hang out at the movies with her friends. She’s excited to begin her adventure with First Steps Academy!

Anaba Reyes

Ballet Teacher

First Steps is proud to offer Ballet classes to our K2, K3, and K4 classes. Schedules are available in the Front Office.

Anaba has been dancing and training ballet since the early age of four. She has trained and danced with various dance schools including Ballet Concierto, Western Ballet, and Andanza in Puerto Rico. In Florida, Anaba has trained and danced with the
Russian Ballet and has completed the pre-professional program with the Orlando Ballet. Anaba has danced in prominent roles, such as, “Russian” in Swan Lake, “Gypsy” in Don Quixote and Snow Queen, and “Arabian” in The Nutcracker. Anaba has been teaching ballet techniques for seven years. She has taught at the Russian Ballet, and she has been a guest teacher at Dance ForceXtreme, Emotions Dance Inc. and Florida Dance Theater.

Valerie Hamer

Art Teacher

First Steps is proud to offer Art classes for K2s through VPK. Schedules are available in the Front Office.

Valerie is an Animation Major at the University of Central Florida. She is passionate about art, and she can’t wait to share her passion with the students at First Steps. Valerie has developed a curriculum that caters to the needs of each age group. K2 students will learn shapes, numbers, and colors. K3 and K4 students are learning to make their visions come to life through painting, sculpting, and drawing. Valerie will guide students to make various art pieces each week. In turn, students will learn how to tap into their creative resources and become more in touch with their emotions.

Sonia Lezcano

Lead Assistant

Sonia earned her CDA in 2008. She has a strong, caring heart and enjoys working with children. Sonia has been with First Steps for 15 years and is proud that both of her beautiful daughters attended and graduated from First Steps. Sonia enjoys getting to know each and every child.

“I feel very blessed that First Steps was a part of my daughters’ childhood. I consider myself blessed to work with so many young children.”

Rosy Escobar

Teacher’s Assistant- Mornings

Rosy has a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Responsibility. She worked nine years at Teleton Foundation in Mexico City, Mexico where she was responsible for socializing with the Mexican public and promoting inclusion of children with disabilities. She loves to help children and families living in vulnerable situations. In her spare time, she serves on the Hi Kid Foundation Commitee, and her passion is to serve with love, generosity and happiness.

“I enjoy working at First Steps because it’s a pleasure to have interaction with the kids and their families. It makes me smile every day.”

Her favorite phrase is “The King will reply, truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”

Matthew 25:40

Joanie Romm

Teacher’s Assistant- Mornings

Joanie loves to be involved.  She has been a member of Calvary for over 15 years. She has a passion for working with children and being an example to others. Joanie loves spending time with her husband John and her five children.

“I feel very blessed to be able to love, serve, and be the example that Jesus has called me to be.”

Ana Rocha

Teacher’s Assistant- Afternoons

Ana is a full time Behavior Tech with Orange County Public Schools. She spends her afternoons serving at First Steps. As an active member of Calvary Assembly for twenty years, she began volunteering in the First Steps nursery on Sunday mornings. Ana fell in love with the program, and soon after, she joined the First Steps Ministry.

“I love working with kids, and I am blessed by them and by my church.”