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-Tonja Fox
Ms. Tonja only started assisting in the Young 5’s class last September, but she’s been hanging around FUMCN for 7 years as a parent and board member. She was excited that her association with FUMCN didn’t have to end just because she no longer had kids attending FUMCN. (Now she’s got a whole new set of FUMCN ‘kids’ in the Young Fives!). Ms. Tonja is also assisting Ms. Susan in the Science Fridays program. This is right up her alley as she has an undergraduate and graduate degree in Geology. Having had 2 of her own children go through the Young 5’s, Tonja sees the impact it has on kids. It gives them confidence, readiness and time; time to mature and get ready for that next step to Kindergarten. Her favorite part of being in the classroom is listening to the children tell stories and helping with directed play. In her free time, Ms. Tonja likes to spend time with her family outdoors, volunteer and read.

Assistant Teacher – Lisa Hirsch
Ms. Lisa is returning for her 4th year as an assistant teacher in the Young Fives program. 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.