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Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center

Who's Who at SEEC

SEEC Educators

Katy Martins
Katy began working at SEEC in February of 2013.  Kate started out as a nanny and went on to earn an Associate Degree in liberal arts and humanities with a concentration in psychology. Katy has worked with children with special needs and worked as a 1:1 aide in the toddler room at an inclusion preschool.  Katy is working on finishing her degree in early childhood education and special education in the future.

Tory Burguieres
Tory graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a BA in Anthropology. She has been teaching and working with children for the past 6 years.  She has taken Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education classes at Montgomery College, and is always interested in continuing her education through trainings. Tory has five sisters and enjoys reading, swimming, boating, and taking her dog for walks.

Katelyn McCaw
Katelyn graduated from Wesley College with a BA in media arts.  She is a certified infant specialist who worked as a nanny for three years before moving into the group care setting.  Prior to joining SEEC in May, Katelyn worked with infants and toddlers at the Tyson's Corner Children's Center.  Katelyn loves being outside and exploring the city with the babies!

Noel Ulmer
Noel Ulmer was born and raised in Washington, DC and is excited to be a member of the infant team at SEEC. Originally an English major at Trinity Washington University, she discovered what she believes is her true calling while working as a Nursery Attendant for the Kidz Klub at Sport & Health. There, she learned that teaching and interacting with children of all ages is where her talent lies. She is happy that parents recognized her genuine love for children as a Nursery Attendant, as well as an Assistant Teacher at The Geneva Ivey Day School. She looks forward to continuing her education in the early childhood education field. She is excited to cultivate and nurture the minds of SEEC's youngest children!

Brittany Brown

Brittany has always loved working with children and is excited to join the SEEC infant team! She has worked with children in several venues, including Young Playwrights' Theater, Round House Summer Theater Education Program, and The National Children's Museum.  She is currently pursuing her BA in Theater Education at Bowie State University. She looks forward to gaining more first-hand experience working with infants and developing infant programming.

Laura Bonilla
Laura is excited to join the SEEC family! Prior to working at SEEC she worked with infants and toddlers at Bright Horizons.  Laura truly enjoys working with kids, and is eager to continue pursuing her career as an educator at SEEC. In her spare time, Laura enjoys dancing!

Brooke Shoemaker
Brooke Shoemaker has been working with children for the past eight years and is very happy to be at SEEC.  She holds a BA in theatre performance from the University of Maryland with a minor in human development.  In the past Brooke has taught drama and art to students aged two through eighteen in Washington D.C., Maryland and Connecticut.  She is currently pursuing a MEd in early childhood education from Towson University.  Brooke loves bringing the arts into the classroom specifically through music and storytelling. 

Erin Pruckno
Originally from Oxford, Ohio, Erin Pruckno studied anthropology and English at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. After college, she became the education director at the Children's Museum at Saratoga and dove into the world of museum education and early childhood, working in a variety of early childhood settings since. Erin is currently pursuing her master's degree in international education from the George Washington University and loves encouraging children to be curious and open to the world around them.

Dana Brightful
Dana grew up in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area.  She spent some time at Morgan State University studying Civil Engineering when she realized her true passion was teaching young children. Since that time she has been taking classes in Early Childhood Education to enhance and sharpen her skills. Dana has worked with young children for over a decade. She began working at SEEC in 2005 when she started working with the toddlers. When she not working with the children at SEEC Dana enjoys spending time with her family which consists of her young son James III (affectionately known at SEEC as Trey) and her loving husband, James.

Shawna Williams
Shawna is originally from Trinidad and has worked at SEEC for the past eight years. During her time at SEEC Shawna has worked with the infants, toddlers, and two’s. She currently works with the toddlers and has been for the past two years. She earned an Associate's degree in Criminal Justice and is also working on her CDA (Child Development Associate) Credential. 

Nessa Moghadam
Nessa is a native, originally from Washington, D.C. For the past 3 years she has worked with the older infants.  Nessa is excited to move to the toddler age group for the 2013-2014 school year.  This year Nessa’s youngest daughter will be attending SEEC in the younger infant class and she couldn’t be more excited for her to joining the SEEC family!

Yael Shoham
Yael graduated from Towson University with a BS in Elementary Education in 2010.  She went on to earn a 90 hours early childhood certificate, and has vast experience working with students in pre-school and elementary classrooms. Yael just recently worked with students with learning differences at The Ivymount school in Potomac, Maryland and The Auburn School in Silver Spring, Maryland. She is excited to join the SEEC team as a Lead Toddler Teacher and is excited to learn from the impressive team of teachers and staff as well as the students. 

Amber Simatic
Amber began working at SEEC in April of 2010 as a lead toddler teacher. In the fall of 2010 she began working as the lead two year old teacher. Amber graduated from Penn State with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies. Amber is excited to begin her fourth year at SEEC!

Camille Frere
Camille is very excited to be part of the SEEC team! Born in Paris, she speaks French and English and teaches ESL to adult immigrants during the weekends. Holding a BA in English Literature from The University of Maryland, she enjoys a thorough love of puns but still takes the time to read through celebrity gossip magazines. She aspires to be a published author in the near or distant future, if only to be quoted in conversation.

Elaine Mullally
Elaine was raised in Cleveland, OH and has been in D.C. now for three years. She studied at Xavier University where she earned a degree in Early Childhood Education. Elaine’s favorite local museum is NGA East. When she is not working with the children at SEEC Elaine enjoys finding adventures in D.C., listening to music, and attempting to cook like a Top chef.

Ashlee Smith
Ashlee has been at SEEC for five years and has worked in both the Dragonfly and Firefly classrooms. She truly enjoys teaching and enjoys watching the children in her class grow and learn each year.   She is originally from Roanoke, VA and moved to the DC area about six years ago. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they welcomed their first child, Emmett, in February.  Ashlee is excited for Emmett to join the SEEC community as a Duckling in the fall!

Javasa Finney
Javasa has received her Master’s Degree in Education at Loyola University Maryland.   She completed her Bachelor’s Degree from York College in Sociology.  Javasa received her American Montessori Internationale Diploma from the Washington Montessori Institute.  She taught in a Montessori school as a primary teacher for seven years. 

Carolyn Eby
Carolyn was born and raised in Washington D.C.  She studied Education at Pratt Institute for two years, then completed her degree at Virginia Commonwealth University with a minor in Craft Material Studies.  Carolyn has worked with the Corcoran Gallery youth education programs and Glenn Echo fine arts.  She is excited to be working with SEEC to help introduce children to the wonderful world of Smithsonian museums!

Olivia Haws
Olivia is beginning her fifth year at SEEC where she has worked with infants, toddlers and three year olds. Before moving to D.C., Olivia was an elementary art educator in Florida, working with kindergarteners through fifth graders. She attended the University of Florida, earning a Bachelor's degree in Human Services with a focus in Child and Youth Development, and a Minor in Art History.

Amy Schoolcraft
Originally from West Virginia, Amy has been living in D.C. since 2006. Having graduated with a B.A. in Elementary Education from WV Wesleyan College, she has been the lead teacher of the three-year-old class over the last 7 years and is currently working towards her Master’s degree in early childhood from George Mason University.

Alex Goodman
Alex is a former Penguin teacher who is returning to SEEC after completing her Master’s in Public Humanities at Brown University. She earned a B.A. in Art History and Educational Studies at Wellesley College.  Alex has focused her studies on early learning in museums. In addition to her experiences at SEEC she has also worked on and with early childhood programs at the Walters Art Museum, the Kreeger Museum, The Providence Children's Museum, and Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology. Alex is excited to be back and apply her studies and experiences to the classrooms at SEEC!

Rebecca Wilcox
Rebecca Wilcox joined SEEC in November 2011 and is currently working with one of the three year old classes. Originally from Southern California, Rebecca comes from a family of teachers who inspired her to pursue a career in teaching. After studying abroad in Rome, Italy, her love of museums melded with her love of education. She holds a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology from the University of Redlands and an M.A. in Museum Studies with an emphasis in museum education and technology from Johns Hopkins University. 

Catherine Ahern

Kasia (Catherine) Ahern is a teaching assistant in the Wallaby and Koala rooms. She recently moved to D.C. from Chicago, IL. She went to the University of Notre Dame for her undergraduate education, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology. She is currently a first year Museum Studies graduate student at the George Washington University. Her previous experience with children includes working at a preschool in Chicago called the Little Green Tree House. She also spent many years giving swimming lessons to children, ages 4 to 14. And earlier this year, she spent some time coaching her former swim team, which includes children, ages 4 to 18. She has had babysitting jobs working for family, neighbors, and parents of children at the Little Green Tree House. Kasia is very excited to be working at SEEC with the Wallabies and Koalas! So far, it has been a blast, and she looks forward to this upcoming school year!

Dana Hirsch:
Originally from North Dakota, Dana grew up on a farm helping her father to raise cattle.  After graduating from North Dakota State University in 2005 with a B.S. degree in Child Development and Family Science, she moved to Washington D.C., and began teaching at SEEC as a lead teacher in the toddler classroom.  Since then Dana has gained a variety of experience teaching the twos, preschool, and is currently teaching Pre-K.  In addition to being a classroom teacher Dana has also presented at various workshops including the national NAEYC conference. Dana has continued her studies and received a Masters of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University in 2013.

Carrie Heflin
Carrie is a Virginia native originally from Richmond. She attended the University of Virginia where she completed her BA with a double major in Art History and Anthropology. She moved to the D.C. area two years ago when she accepted a teaching position at SEEC. While teaching she is taking courses at Northern Virginia Community College in Early Childhood Education.

Emily Sparling
Emily joined the SEEC teaching staff in the fall of 2012. She received her M.A. in Museology from the University of Washington and has worked in a wide range of geographical locations, from California to Washington DC, institutional sizes, from the Science Museum of Minnesota to the Micanopy Historical Society, and disciplines, from art to natural history. Her work has been published by the Association of Children's Museums as well as the Journal of Museums & Social Issues where she served as a guest editor.

Will Kuehnle
Will is originally from St. Louis Missouri, and earned his BA from the University of Missouri in 2007. After moving to DC in 2008, Will got involved in early childhood education working for Funtastic Fitness as a health and fitness instructor at various schools throughout the DC, Maryland and Virginia area. He started at SEEC in the fall of 2012 as an assistant teacher in the toddler program. He is currently pursuing his Master of Arts in Teaching for Early Childhood Education from Trinity Washington University. Will started as co-lead teacher in the four year old program at the start of summer 2012. 

Cathryn Kis
Cathryn Kis grew up in Medina, Ohio and moved to the area in 2008. She earned a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Early Childhood Education from Wittenberg University. She has experience teaching in various schools both in the States and Vienna, Austria. Outside her love of working with children of all ages, Cathryn is interested in travel, reading, storytelling, the great outdoors, exploring museums and new cultures and people.

Jaime Wolfe
Jaime Wolfe will be beginning her fifth year teaching Kindergarten at SEEC, and her tenth year of teaching elementary school.  Prior to arriving at SEEC, she taught first, second and third grades in the Philadelphia Public Schools.  Jaime holds a BA in English from The College of Wooster.  Her graduate work includes a graduate degree and certification in Elementary Education from The University of Pennsylvania and an MA in English Literature from Middlebury College.  Jaime particularly enjoys teaching Shakespeare, as well as other child-friendly versions of popular classic literature to her students!  When she is not teaching, she loves running, writing and baking.  Jaime's favorite museum object is Jasper Johns' piece, Perilous Night, and she utilizes this particular piece of artwork as often as she can!  She lives in Washington DC with her husband, Dave and baby daughter, Amelia.  

Tara Butts
Originally from New Jersey, Tara has been in the DC area since early 2012.  After graduating from The University of Pittsburgh with her B.A. she moved to Alaska to work as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Anchorage.  After her service was over she returned to New Jersey and attended Rider University to earn her Graduate Level Teaching Certification K-5.  She then spent a few years living in the Los Angeles area teaching 1st grade.  Eventually she decided to head back east and found her job at SEEC.  Entering her 2nd year as a Kindergarten teacher here, Tara is excited to continue her work with the children at SEEC who inspire her every day. 

Support Staff
Jessie Miller, Assistant Teacher-NHEC
Jessie is a recent graduate from the University of South Carolina where she earned a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. She is originally from Norfolk, VA but moved up to the DC area after graduation. SEEC welcomed Jessie to the team in November of 2012 and she has fit right in. She has been accepted to the Early Childhood Education Master's Program at George Mason University and plans to start classes fall of 2013. 

Megan Sigovich, Assistant Teacher-NHMB
Megan joined SEEC in summer 2013. She is pursuing a master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education at the George Washington University. Prior to joining SEEC, Megan worked at an early childhood center in Westport, Connecticut and completed a Teaching Fellowship at AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School in southeast D.C. Megan holds a B.A. and an M.A. in Political Science from Boston University.

Allison Brake
Allison started teaching at SEEC in 1988! In that time she has filled a variety of roles including as Lead Teacher, Asst. Director, Resource Teacher and currently, Music Teacher. Allison has a BFA in Theater from University of Texas at Arlington.  Allison has been married to her husband Paul for 30 years and they have beautiful twin daughters named Alex and Blair, who are SEEC alumni.

Laura Muniz
Laura Muniz comes to SEEC from sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico.  She holds a BA in Marketing Communications from Emerson College and is excited to begin her studies in Early Childhood Education.  Laura has been working with children for many years as a summer camp counselor, and recently as a substitute teacher.  Living in Arlington, VA for the past six years, she has watched her three young cousins (ages seven, four, and two) go through what she thinks are the "best stages of life".  She now wants to turn her passion to work with children into a career and can't think of a better place to be than SEEC! Laura's favorite activity in the classroom is music and movement and loves to see children express themselves through dance.

Maureen Leary
Maureen Leary has a degree in English from Georgetown University and a Master’s Degree in Gifted Education from the University of Virginia. Maureen has been at SEEC since 1998, and has worked with the Twos, Threes, Fours, and Kindergarten.  Since her oldest son was born in 2001, Maureen has worked part time as the Kindergarten Spanish Teacher, helped manage the SEEC website, and compiled the annual SEEC family directory. She also holds a part time position at the National Aquarium in Baltimore as a volunteer scuba diver. Maureen lives in Alexandria, VA, with her husband, John, and their three sons, who are SEEC alumni.

Dr. David Adamski
Dr. David Adamski has been associated with SEEC since 1990 when his son Jon enrolled as a Bear. Subsequently, He taught informal science classes with the Bears before he began teaching science in the Kindergarten. Dr. Adamski has been an entomologist with the Systematic Entomology Laboratory, USDA, at the Smithsonian and Beltsville, MD for 23 years. He researches night-flying moths, so you won’t see him in the summer months unless you’re in the middle of a forest around the “witching hour.”

Tina Prashad
Tina was born in Guyana, moved to New York at age 12 and just recently moved to DC. Tina is excited to join the SEEC community and work with the Kindergarten class.  She is looking forward to getting married next year. In her spare time she loves to read, spend time with family and friends and run.  She hopes to complete a marathon next year. 

Karina Valenzuela


Museum Educators

Sara Cardello, Museum Education Specialist, SEEC
Originally from North Carolina, Sara has been living in D.C. since 2008. After graduating with a B.A. in Art History from UNC-Chapel Hill, Sara worked as a guest historian at the Museo Oaxaqueno in Oaxaca, Mexico. She continued her studies at Tufts University receiving her M.A. in Art History and Museum Education, while working at the MFA-Boston. Since moving to the District she has worked in Museum Education at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The National Building Museum, Brent Elementary School, and the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. She has been a member of the SEEC Museum Education team since summer 2012.

Nicole Pontoreiro, Museum Education Specialist, SEEC
Nicole has 15 years of experience in the Early Childhood Education field. Of the eight years that she has spent with SEEC, five of those have been serving as a Lead Teacher in the Infant Room working with children aged 3 months to 18 months. As the newest member of SEEC’s Museum Education team, Nicole brings an important perspective to our work with our youngest museum goers. SEEC looks forward to expanding museum programming opportunities for children under the age of three years old.

Justin Pyles, Art Enrichment Specialist, SEEC
Justin Pyles was born in Washington DC and has taught early childhood education since graduating from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1999.  His background in early childhood education and art education supports his in depth understanding of how to use open ended art experiences to build creativity, problem solving, and other skills important for preparing children to enter school ready to learn. Justin is a practicing artist and shows his work regularly in local galleries. Justin holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching from the Corcoran School of Art and Design.

Cynthia Raso, Museum Education Specialist, SEEC
Cynthia Raso joined SEEC in 2012 and is currently working with the infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Prior to joining SEEC, she was a small business owner, contractor, and stay-at-home mother. Her two young girls were her inspiration for starting the business, which offers classes exploring art, history, and culture for early childhood audiences. As a contractor, Cynthia managed a wide variety of educational programs at the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries. Her relationship with the Freer and Sackler extends back to 2000, when she took the position of curatorial assistant and then, after realizing her love for teaching, assumed the role of educator for docents and tours. She holds an M.A. in Art History from the George Washington University.


Administration Team

Kimberlee L. Kiehl, Ph.D., Executive Director
Dr. Kim Kiehl took over as Executive Director of the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center in July 2012. In this position she has oversight on the operations of the lab schools for young children serving 135 students in three sites located within the walls of the Smithsonian museums. She was formerly (1990-2012) the Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy and Operations Officer at COSI (Center of Science and Industry) in Columbus, Ohio. In this role she managed the overall strategic direction of the institution, partnerships, research, and the daily operations of the building and COSI programs. Prior to joining COSI, she was Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Science and State Extension Specialist at The Ohio State University, Columbus and Curriculum Coordinator/Director for the A. Sophie Rogers Laboratory for Child and Family Studies. She also served as Associate Dean for Academic Programs, College of Human Ecology and has extensive publications in professional journals. Dr. Kiehl originally went to COSI on "special appointment" as Associate Vice President for Early Childhood Education for COSI Columbus on loan from Ohio State.

Dr. Kiehl received a Bachelor of Science in 1981, at SUNY Geneseo, in Speech Pathology and Audiology. The following year (1982) she completed her Master's degree at The College of St. Rose, Department of Special Education. Dr. Kiehl received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Penn State University in 1990. She continued to teach two undergraduate courses per quarter at The Ohio State University in the Department of Education and Human Ecology until her departure in 2012.

Meredith McMahon, Deputy Director for Operations

Meredith McMahon has been working in the early education field for 20 years and has worked as both a classroom teacher and a program director.  She earned her BA in history from the University of Pennsylvania and her MA in early childhood education from the University of Phoenix.   Meredith has been a part of SEEC since 2004 and has been Deputy Director of Operations since 2008.  She grew up in Scranton, PA, lived and worked in Philadelphia, PA for 11 years and moved to DC in 2002.  Meredith is a dedicated Phillies fan who’s also a runner, avid reader and collector of toys that can be found throughout her office.  She lives in the District with her new husband, Jeff, and their 2 crazy cats.

Betsy Bowers, Deputy Director of the Center for Excellence
Betsy Bowers began her professional career at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center when it first opened its doors in 1988. After spending nearly 10 years with SEEC as an administrator, teacher and museum educator, she returned to graduate school where she received an MAT in museum education from the George Washington University. After several years as an independent consultant, she returned to SEEC to focus on expanding community based initiatives.  She is a contributing author to AAM’s Alliance of Spirit: Museum School Partnerships publicationand the Journal of Museum Education. Betsy is an adjunct faculty member for the George Washington University where she teaches “Museum as Learning Environment” to graduate students

Melody Passemante, Director of Infant & Toddler Programs
Melody is a Northern Virginia Native, originally from Herndon, Virginia. She earned her B.S. in Early Childhood Education from James Madison University and will complete a MEd in Education Management in December 2013. Melody has worked extensively with children ranging from ages 6 weeks to 12 years in a variety of settings. Prior to joining SEEC in December of 2010 she worked as the Program Director at a Reggio Emilia Inspired cooperative in Arlington Virginia. She taught literacy to children ages 3-5 in Philadelphia for a year and also worked as an educator at the Summer Program at St. Johns Preschool in Georgetown. Melody lives in Lorton Virginia with her fiancée, Alicia and their dog Jack. Melody’s interests include reading, having impromptu dance parties, and of course, working with young children!

Megan McCall, Director of Preschool Programs
Megan McCall has been a dedicated teacher at SEEC for the past 5 years and has now moved into a Director’s roll at the American History site. She started as an Assistant Teacher in 2008 with the infants, moved up to the Lead Teacher in one of our toddler classrooms and now gets to reconnect with the three and four year olds at our preschool site. She is a Florida native, but loves the culture and weather that DC offers. Megan received her BS in Secondary Math Education at Florida State University, but has been working in Early Childhood Education for 12 years. She’s currently taking more course work in ECE classes and looks forward to earning her Masters in the future. She loves teaching and interacting with all ages and thrives on building relationships with children and adults. Some of her passions are music, exercising and eating!

Jill Manasco, Business Manager
Jill has been working in the early childhood field for more than 10 years. Over five of those have been with SEEC working as an infant/toddler teacher. In 2011 she completed her BS in business management with a concentration in accounting. She is excited to use this in her new role at SEEC as business manager.


Board of Directors

Executive Officer
Kimberlee Kiehl, Ex Officio,
Executive Director

Elizabeth Wilson, Chair

Jennifer Brundage, Vice-Chair

Susan Fruchter, Treasurer

Jarid Smith, Secretary

Members (Secretarial Appointees)

Michael Dunagan

Farleigh Earhart


Carol Fiertz

Amy Baskette

Dennis Hasch

Stephen Kidd

Jane Paul

Laura Hansen

Courtney Chapin

Diane DeTroye