Elyse Yurth Adlen, Program Director
Elyse has worked with children in various capacities since high school. Her path to early childhood education formally began in Los Angeles, where she taught preschool and third grade before moving to Denver in 2001. Elyse spent her first five years in Denver as the Education Coordinator at the University of Denver's Bridge project, supporting preschoolers through college students. When her own daughter was two years old, Elyse accepted the position of Director at Temple Sinai, where she was fortunate to be part of an incredible learning community and tour Reggio inspired schools throughout the country. In 2012 Elyse moved to Florence Crittenton Services, where she directed and grew the Early Childhood Education program within the school's teen parent program.
In her spare time, Elyse consults with families, schools, and the Denver Early Childhood Council as a licensed trainer for the state of Colorado. She is looking forward to offering these resources to the staff and families at Plum Hill Preschool. She has earned a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education, a Level Five Early Childhood Credential, and is deemed an Infant and Toddler Specialist by the State of Colorado.
Elyse is a University Hills resident with a passion for early childhood. She believes children learn best when they are provided a safe, loving, and respectful environment. As Director of Plum Hill Preschool, Elyse is grateful for the privilege help bring this high quality early childhood education to the University Hills community.
Rhianna Kirk, Owner, Director of Education
Rhianna received her J.D. from the University of Denver in 2016, where she studied education law and policy. She worked for the National Education Policy Center in Boulder during and after her matriculation at the University of Denver. In 2017 she opened Three Little Birds Early Learning, a licensed family child care home, that later evolved into Plum Hill Preschool. Rhianna is a Lifeways Early Childhood Certification candidate.
Jeremy Lambert, Owner, Director of Business Operations
Jeremy earned his Bachelors degree in Social Health and Youth Development from Metropolitan State University of Denver. He holds a Masters Degree in School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health. His interest in education began in 2009 when he co-founded an online education development company. He has a passion for giving back to the community and a passion for youth and education.
Barbara Kirk, LEAD TEACHER
Barbara was born in Buffalo, New York. She and her four sisters were raised on their family's rustic 15 acre property in Allegheny County, amongst the rolling hills and winding creeks of the southwestern New York countryside. As a child, her favorite place to play was along the creek up the hill from her family's home- a route she walked so many times that she wore her own foot trail.
Barbara earned her Bachelors degree in Special Education from the University of South Florida in 1995. She taught at Cypress Elementary in Pasco County, Florida for 2 years until moving to Colorado in 1997 where she has taught preschool and Kindergarten for the past 20 years. Her childhood love of nature and the outdoors has remained with her as an adult. Some of her greatest accomplishments include backpacking the entire Colorado Trail and climbing 9 fourteeners (and counting!)
Amy Oliver, Lead Teacher
Amy is a Colorado native who has been involved in early childhood education since her first job as a teacher's assistant in high school. After leaving the field for several years to support her family, she returned to college to complete a BA in Contemplative Education which allowed the study of education through the lens of psychology and child development, sociology and the ecological system, and holistic philosophy and practice. She has worked with mentor teachers within the Reggio Approach while continuing her research of educational philosophy before taking a mentoring and leadership role herself.
During summer breaks, Amy has worked with children and families struggling with hardships including low SES, special rights of children on the developmental spectrum, and mental illness. This work has reinforced in her the desire to provide loving early childhood care and support for children and families, as well as recognizing the importance of a child led approach to learning. She is passionate about her work and looks forward to working at Plum Hill.
Margita Curtic, Lead Teacher
Margita was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She and her family moved to Colorado in 1997. She has been working in child care for 20 years, primarily with infants, babies and toddlers. Over the years, she has taken a variety of courses from the Denver Preschool Program as well as college courses from Red Rocks Community College and the Community College of Denver. She is Group Leader Qualified by the Colorado Department of Human Services, and is current on all first aid and emergency situation training. She has a deep love for all children and is continuing to fulfill her passion at Plum Hill Preschool.
SHANLA ARELLANO, LEAD TEACHER/Asst Director
Shanla was born in Jamaica, a mother of 3 children, a marathoner and a United States veteran who has served 10 years in the military. Since obtaining a degree in Early childhood education in 2009, she has worked hard to learn as much as she can about children, their growth and how to meet their individual needs, taking a diverse array of courses. She moved to Colorado in 2015 and has loved it since. She recently obtained her ECE Director certification and is really looking forward to becoming a part of the Plum Hill Preschool family.