People :) 2016/17 Teacher & Staff Bios, under construction
Lori Beaulieu (Director & Chief People Officer)
Lori attended MTSU where she was educated in Early Childhood Development, with an emphasis on children with special needs. Lori previously worked at Woodmont Christian Preschool, where for seven years she was a lead teacher in the 12-18 month classroom. Following that experience, she was a Pre-K teacher at Ezell-Harding Christian School for five years. Lori has over twenty-five years’ experience in management and early childhood education.
Tanya Henry was born in California, where she spent her childhood growing up on Monrovia nursery, which her Grandfather owned. She moved to Tennessee at the age of twelve. Tanya began caring for children at the age of sixteen, helping out at a friend’s home day care center. She graduated from Franklin High school in 1986.
Tanya has worked in child care for over twenty years, and has been a teacher to all ages of children. She has been trusted with the responsibilities of Safety Coordinator and Field Trip Coordinator, and has helped teachers with monthly lesson planning to support curriculum goals. She has also cooked for the children in centers where she worked. Tanya was a Volunteer firefighter for five years.
Tanya told us, “I have two kids, a beautiful grandbaby, and an amazing husband. I like the San Francisco 49ers and Alabama football, and, in my spare time, I enjoy going to Radnor Lake, photography, reading, hiking, and spending time with my family.”
David McCracken (Executive Director)
David grew up in and around the business of child care, which he regards as an important Christian ministry to children, families and teachers. He earned a Doctor of Laws degree from Samford University and studied business management at Belmont.
Prior to helping launch Green Hills Child in 2011, David was responsible for the audit and security departments of a facility certified by MasterCard, VISA and Discover to manufacture debit and credit cards. David led the plant's reduction in the number and criticality of annual audit findings to the lowest levels since the Nashville location began producing secure work, and he helped the plant become one of the few sites certified in the United States to produce cards bearing the American Express brand. As a member of the management team, David’s responsibilities also included serving as a site lead for business continuity planning, including emergency response planning and incident management.
David’s other work has included small business management (pharmaceutical industry, publishing and custom church furniture) and political campaigns (two U.S. House races and one for U.S. President). David served in the reserve infantry of the U.S. Marine Corps for much of the 1990s and has served as a deacon at his church.
During college David worked in various administrative and support capacities at Creative Learning Center and is enthusiastic about the importance of serving teachers and families.
Jean & Alan, Founders
When Jean McCracken opened Creative Child Care Center in 1976, she was following after the example set by her parents. Jean’s mother, Shirley M. Byler, was an educator and special education administrator in a county school system in north Georgia. Jean’s father, Reverend James E. Byler, established three church-based child care programs in Georgia and Tennessee, which still serve children and families today.
That orientation to serving children had a formidable influence on Jean’s decision-making when, as a young mother, she and her husband Alan decided they needed a second household income.
In her search for child care for their two boys, Jean recognized a great need for care that provided richer learning opportunities for children and peace of mind for parents. While visiting providers around her community, she encountered serious inadequacies, including programs where small children were left unsupervised. After identifying a safe program with kind, attentive caregivers, she nonetheless knew many developmental elements were lacking.
Jean’s mother spent several weeks in Nashville helping Jean launch Creative Child Care. And a successful, well-regarded program was established from the beginning. Later re-named Creative Learning Center, the preschool’s success was made possible by the dedicated teachers & staff Jean recruited and led – people with giving hearts, committed to serving God by serving young children as they learn and grow.
Jean’s program then – like Green Hills Child Development today – was oriented toward the miraculous capacity for learning God created in the very young child. Classroom environments emphasized respectful relationships that honored each person as important and uniquely gifted. The program was organized to foster:
- A healthy self-esteem, emphasizing the importance of the child rather than what he or she produces
- Social and emotional growth, modeled by adult friends in the environment who are kind and respectful to one another
- Conversation and dialogue, supporting language development by listening to each child and asking him open-ended questions
- Cognitive growth – through activities that develop concept-formation abilities, and by offering learning opportunities that are a source of genuine pleasure
- The development of fine motor skills, using (for example) puzzles, blocks, and scissors ... And gross motor skills, through activities such as running, jumping, climbing, etc.
- Creativity - through music, dance and drama, and through the use of self-expressive materials like painting, collage, woodworking, dough and clay.
In 1993, Jean suffered a serious accident affecting her mobility and requiring a five year withdrawal from full-time involvement. The program continued its success during that time, with Alan’s help. At its largest point, Creative Learning Center had forty full- and part-time staff members serving one hundred thirty children. After Jean’s return, the program was gradually downsized, in an effort to reach an enrollment level that could better fit Jean’s approach to “Managing by Wandering Around”. But by 2002, Jean and Alan decided to lease their Green Hills property rather than downsize further. In 2003 they agreed to lease 3420 Belmont Blvd. to a new school: Children First, A Montessori Community.
Jean’s professional interest in early childhood education continued, and by 2007 she had written a book to help parents better navigate their search for an appropriate child care program. Peace with Child Care: Secrets to Finding Day Care You Can Trust from a Veteran Child Care Provider garnered interest and favorable reviews from parent magazines around the country. (An article adapted from the book is available here.)
Since 2008, Jean has undertaken a deeper study of early childhood education, including the theories of Maria Montessori, Shinichi Suzuki, Jean Piaget, and others. Recognizing from her own experience the truth and value in so many of their observations, Jean is developing a team of credentialed educators who will apply the best early learning methodologies within a nurturing Christian environment.
Alan McCracken is a graduate of Emory University in Atlanta and the CEO of Green Hills Child Development.
During his career as a Certified Public Accountant, Alan served as Chief Financial Officer for three Nashville area businesses. One was a general contractor that grew to become a multi-company, multi-state operation during Alan’s tenure—1974 to 1987—and saw revenues grow twenty-fold to $100 million. Alan is a past President and National Director of the Construction Financial Management Association.
Alan capped off his career in financial management during 2010 as Interim CFO and financial Consultant for Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity. Alan has served on the Boards of several organizations, including the Fellowship of Companies for Christ and the Tennessee Child Care Association. In 2001, Alan was asked to serve on a panel of experts testifying before a joint House & Senate committee considering the impact of pending legislation on Tennessee child care providers.
During the five years Alan worked as Managing Owner and Executive Director of Creative Learning Center, he expanded enrollment spaces for infants and toddlers to help accommodate an urgent community need. During that period, seventy-two of the program’s one hundred thirty enrollment spaces were for children under the age of three.
In addition to the other responsibilities of a small business owner, as Director and Chief Executive of Green Hills Child, Alan is leading faculty recruitment efforts, phased growth planning, and campus construction/renovation projects. He is particularly excited about the re-launch of The Preschool of Performing Arts, because he witnessed first-hand the joy it brought so many parents who saw their children’s horizons expand from being part of fun group performances.
Alan is a former Sunday School teacher, a Gideon, a former U.S. Marine, and winner of the Freedoms Foundation Award. The McCrackens have two grown sons, Michael and David. Alan and Jean are members of Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Green Hills.
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