Teacher – Juli Balestrieri

Ms. Juli has been teaching preschool for over 20 years and has been teaching at FUMCN co-op preschool since 2000. She has a degree in early childhood development from Schoolcraft College with 100’s of hours of continuing education in early childhood. Plus, Ms. Juli leads workshops for other early childhood teachers. She loves to understand how children learn and create activities that will enhance their development. Ms. Juli feels that early childhood education creates an important foundation for future learning. She lives in Belleville where she loves to garden and read.

Assistant Teacher-Mary Page

Ms. Mary has been teaching at FUMCN co-op preschool since January of 2008. She attended CMU for under graduate and graduate school. She holds a major in psychology, a minor in child development, a masters in psychology, and a specialist degree in school psychology. Ms. Mary worked as school psychologist for 12 years. Her areas of interest are child development, parent education, assessment, early literacy. Ms. Mary believes strongly in early-on education, prevention and intervention for academic success. She also believes that for preschoolers, a play-based format is the best way to achieve this goal. Both of Ms. Mary’s daughters attended FUMCN. She loves to read, bike, golf, kayak, and spend time with family and friends.

Assistant Teacher – Lisa Hirsch

Ms. Lisa has been an assistant teacher with FUMCN since 2010. Prior to staying home full time with her 3 children, Ms. Lisa worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist for over 10 years. Most recently, she worked with children on the autism spectrum and with other developmental or neurological disabilities. She continues to be particularly interested in social communication and the development of literacy skills (pre-reading) in young children. All 3 of Ms. Lisa’s children attended FUMCN with her youngest participating in the Young Fives program prior to her becoming a teacher here. The strong emphasis on learning through play and discovery, as well as the community atmosphere of FUMCN, in Ms. Lisa’s opinion, make it an ideal place to work. When she is not working, Ms. Lisa enjoys walking, reading, cooking, camping and being with her family and friends.

Assistant Teacher- Melissa Svastisalee

Ms. Melissa is a returning assistant teacher to FUMCN co-op preschool, working previously at FUMCN for 4 years. She attended Michigan for graduate school with a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. Ms. Melissa holds a Michigan Elementary Education Teaching Certificate with an English as a Second Language Endorsement. She taught toddler play classes at Ann Arbor Lamaze and Becoming Big Brother Big Sister classes at Mott’s Children’s Hospital. Melissa believes early childhood development and play based learning go hand in hand with intentional exploration. As a past FUMCN parent she is a strong proponent of the co-op community where “it takes a village” to raise a child. When not spending time with young children, Melissa enjoys playing flute, hiking, yoga, kayaking, baking, and walking with her dog, Lily. Melissa lives in Dexter with her husband Chris and their children, Lauren and Colin.