Meet Our Staff

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Alana Kramer, LMSW, Family Resource Team, Child and Family Therapist

 

Alana graduated from the University of Kansas with an advanced standing Masters of Social Work degree 2008.  She is pursuing credentials as a Registered Play Therapist and a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker.  Before her position at Positive Bright Start, Alana held a variety of titles including Milieu Group therapist with adolescents at KidsTLC Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility and In-home Outpatient Therapist for children in foster care through KVC. Alana’s primary practice is the assessment and treatment of children with social and emotional difficulties, focusing on treating children with histories of trauma, depression, anxiety, attachment disruptions and adjustment disorders.  Alana prefers to use strengths based, solution focused, trauma informed and attachment based theories to assess the needs of children and their families. Alana has received training in a variety of models, including Dialectical Developmental Psychotherapy, Trauma Systems Therapy, Sandtray therapy, Theraplay, and Child Centered Play Therapy.  Alana’s primary focus is to build solid trusting relationships with her clients and their parents and to approach each unique family using a child-centered, attachment focused and trauma informed lens. Alana is passionate about helping children and their families improve their quality of life and reach their fullest potential.

Alissa Garrett, Lead Teacher, PBS Coach

Alissa is a Lawrence native who has been working in childcare for 12 years. She has been teaching at Positive Bright Start Preschool since 2016. She has worked with children ages 6 weeks to school age, but has found her home in the Pre-K classroom.  Alissa has completed Positive Behavior Support Training through Positive Bright Start and loves the way PBS allows the children in her classroom to work through their emotions in an individualized way.  She has a heart for working in an under-served community and enjoys the partnerships PBS has with community outreach centers such as Success by Six/United Way and The Sunrise Project.  Alissa is always searching for classes and training's to participate in to further her education in Early Childhood and Child Development.

Anna Jenny, PBS Agency Executive Director

 

Anna Jenny has been the Executive Director for Positive Bright Start since May 2004.  With a BBA in Accounting, an MBA in Finance and a Masters in Social Work, she has the diverse skills required to manage a not-for-profit agency.  She loves knowing that no two days will be the same in this diverse agency.  She chose to make her career in social work administration because of the opportunity to create social change through innovative programming.  She loves to visit the classrooms and interact with the children, seeing the growth they are achieving, and knowing that they are developing the skills needed to reach their fullest potential.

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Anne Lara, LSCSW, RPT, Therapist

 

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Becky Grammer, CACFP Home Visitor

Becky has lived in Douglas County her whole life.  She started her own in-home daycare in 1982. Becky has always enjoyed serving the children in our community by caring for them in her home.  As a in-home child care provider, Becky participated in CACFP for over 30 years. Becky believes children deserve healthy meals and snacks and all the love we can give them.  Becky says, “I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to serve the children and families of Douglas County by conducting home visits and supporting the providers.”

Camryn Ricke, Teacher

Camryn has been working in childcare since 2019 and is enjoying her time in the infant and toddler room. She is interested in child development and loves seeing the kids learn new things as they grow. Camryn loves how PBS offers multiple ways to help children learn and encourages social / emotional skills that help the kids communicate their needs.

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Billy Miera, Teacher

Mr Billy, as the kids call him, moved to Lawrence in 2020.  PBS is actually his first child care employment, but he quickly discovered his affinity for the job.  Billy is currently working with both toddlers and PreK, and says he “enjoys their energy.  I love watching children grow and use the skills they have learned in the classroom to help find solutions for themselves.  I love creating close bonds with each child and having games and conversations that are special to each individual.”  Billy stays with PBS because the work of helping children from all backgrounds be successful is so important, and he plans to continue training in order to serve the children and their families to the very best of his ability. 

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Elise Gutierrez, Teacher

 

Elise Gutierrez is an Assistant Teacher with the toddlers in the Bobcats room. Her first experiences in childcare were caring for her  four younger siblings. She has seven years of experience as a babysitter and caretaker for children with severe trauma and disabilities, but no prior teaching or daycare experience.

She originally wanted this to be a temporary job to start her on the way to elementary school teaching, but fell in love with PBS and the 1-5 age group on day one! Elise feels like she gets to be a part of something truly good by teaching here. Her goal is to be the type of adult and teacher that she needed as a kid.

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Emily Hilding, Development Director

 

Gwen Pennewell, Program Director, Edgewood Meadowlarks

Gwen has  been working in early childhood education since 2004, starting out volunteering for a high school credit in child development. Discovering then her love for the early childhood classroom, after graduation, Gwen became a classroom aide.  Since, Gwen has taken over 130 hours to learning new ways to understand childhood development and social emotional development. She feels passionate that all children should be loved, supported, and cheered for, even when they don’t have the language to express it.

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Kristi McAlister, Program Administrator

Kristi began her journey with Positive Bright Start in 2014 as a Service Coordinator for the single classroom of PBS’s Early Childhood Education program.  Over the years, her roles grew and changed alongside PBS.  She now serves as the Program Administrator for the schools, which have expanded to three licenses, PBS at Edgewood and PBS at Lakeview, and close partnerships with Lawrence Douglas County Housing Authority and DCCCA’s First Step at Lakeview Rehabilitation Center for women.

 

Kristi’s favorite part of her job is being able to support the teachers, families, and children of Douglas County, and watch them grow and thrive.  Some of Kristi’s favorite moments at PBS have been being active as chosen charities for the Lawrence St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Transformations.

 

She is a self-proclaimed “jill of all trades” and has an AGS with an emphasis in business as well as a background in Publishing, as a CNA, and licensed home daycare.  She also has training in Trauma-Informed Care, A.C.E.’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences), Anti-Bias Education, the Positive Behavior Support (PBS) Pyramid Model, and Early Childhood Leadership.

 

Kristi is a mom to three, ages 12, 19, and 24, and a metastatic breast cancer warrior.  In her free time, she loves to cook, travel, and spend time with her family, preferably near water, whether it be a pool, a lake, or an ocean. 

Lane Eisenbart, Communications and Operations

 

Lane wears many hats for Positive Bright Start.  She’s the face you’ll likely see first as you walk in the door, and the person behind the social media posts you see and many of the emails and letters you get, as well as the planner behind the events you attend.  Lane tries to make sure everyone at Positive Bright Start has the support they need to do their jobs. Lane is the communications manager, as well as the on-site tech support, and event planner.

 

Lane has a degree in English and Secondary Education from KU, has lived in Lawrence since 2003, is active and involved in her community, and believes that all children deserve love and safety and the opportunity to learn and grow.

Lisa Zwiener, CACFP Claims Specialist

 

Lisa has an Associates Degree in Science from JCCC  and 9 hours of Early Childhood Development training from Emporia State University. Lisa was a home daycare provider for 5 years.  She has been at Positive Bright Start since 2004, training home daycare providers in CACFP guidelines for nutrition and activity.  She has trained at the state level and several other counties in Kansas. To express how she feels about the importance of early childhood, Lisa shares this quote: “Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” Lisa strives to make positive deposits daily with adults and children.

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Margaret Grove, Program Director, Edgewood Sunflowers

Margaret is co-lead teacher in the PreK classroom.  She’s excited to be a part of Positive Bright Start! Originally from Pennsylvania, Margaret, or Meg, found her passion for early childhood and teaching while working as a day camp counselor in high school.  Meg has been working in childcare and pursuing her degree here in Kansas for the last 4 years, and hopes to continue expanding her knowledge. Meg’s hobbies include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, drinking coffee, and reading.

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McKayla Paez, Data Manager

McKayla noticed her passion for working with children around the age of twelve. She worked as a nanny for five years before she started college, and during college, she worked as a classroom and research aide in the University of Kansas’ Applied Behavioral Science classrooms. McKayla graduated from the University of Kansas in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in History, with a minor in Applied Behavioral Science. After that, she spent time working as an assistant teacher before she came to be at Positive Bright Start.McKayla was a preschool teacher in our Edgewood classrooms before taking time off to stay home with her daughter, and now rejoins us as agency-wide data manager.  McKayla believes all children deserve an educational experience that’s fun, but also safe and nurturing.

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Maddi Myers, LPC, Therapy Services, Therapist

 

Madeline received a Master of Arts in Counseling degree from MidAmerica Nazarene University in the spring of 2020. She is currently pursuing credentials as a Registered Play Therapist and a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. Madeline is trained to use a variety of therapeutic models including Child Centered Play Therapy, directive play therapy, and Sand Tray therapy. When conceptualizing family needs, Madeline refers to Family Systems Theory and emotionally focused models.

 

Before joining the PBS team, Madeline taught Pre-Kindergarten at Little Building Blocks Early Childhood Development Center in Gardner, KS. During her clinical internship, Madeline was a Play Therapist for the MNU Community Counseling Center. She also offered support during monthly Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) groups for children and families through the Kansas Post Adoption Resource Center.

 

Madeline’s primary practice is the assessment and treatment of children, birth through age 6, with social and emotional difficulties, including children with histories of depression, anxiety, attachment disruptions, and development disorders. She also has experience with children that are going through the adoption process, grieving a loss, and struggling through a divorce. Madeline believes in the power of play to help children and their families flourish.

Marci Ramsay, LSCSW, RPT-S, Therapy Services, Therapist, PBS Consultant

 

Marci’s advanced degree is a Master of Social Work degree earned in 2006 from The University of Kansas. She holds licensure in the state of Kansas as a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker.  In addition, she is a Registered Play Therapist/Supervisor and is currently pursuing certification in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics through the Child Trauma Academy.

 

Marci has been employed at Positive Bright Start as an Early Childhood Mental Health Clinician and Positive Behavior Support Administrator since 2007.  Marci’s primary practice is the assessment and treatment of children, birth through age 6, with social and emotional difficulties, specializing in treating children with trauma-related conditions, including child maltreatment, posttraumatic stress disorder, and attachment or adjustment disorders.  Marci is trained to use a variety of developmentally-based, play therapies to assist children with self-expression and problem resolution including child-centered play therapy, directive play therapy, Theraplay®, and EMDR.

Marci is passionate about building solid relationships with her clients and approaches each unique situation using a child-centered, attachment based framework.  It is through a solid foundation of strong relational connections that Marci believes children can thrive.  

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Penny Nuckolls, Cook

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Rebecca Miller, Teacher

Rebecca has been working with children since 2009. She loves working with infants and toddlers and enjoys watching them grow and meet milestones. Rebecca is learning more about Positive Behavior Support each day and appreciates the way PBS can take children with a variety of backgrounds and find and bring out the best in them every day and help them express their needs in a manner that will help them later in life.

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Shay Fox, Teacher

Shay has been working in childcare since 2020.  She started with infants and began a journey with preschoolers at the beginning of 2021, and loved it! Shay is currently pursuing a degree in general studies with a concentration in child development.  Shay describes herself as a person who is always eager to learn more and expand her knowledge about child development and social emotional development. She loves being able to see how much the kids grow and develop while having them for a short time in the classroom. "It’s very important to me," Shay says,  "that all children feel loved and supported while helping them learn how to express those feelings. " 

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Sunday Monson, Continuous Quality Improvement Specialist, Scholarship Administrator

Sunday joined the Positive Bright Start team in 2013.  For over 30 years, Sunday has served in various roles in the field of Early Childhood Education.  Her newest role provides her with opportunity to work with preschool administrators, teachers, and families participating in the agency's early childhood scholarship program.  Along with much needed financial aid for families to afford quality early care, Sunday's work strives to promote quality school experiences for young children  by offering encouragement and support for the caregivers who directly provide care and education for children birth to 6 years old.  Direct classroom observation and data collection, peer-led focus groups are some of her tools.  Sunday enjoys supporting teachers and administrators as they build their leadership capacities within their school communities.  Sunday is inspired to see such dedication to young children in the teachers she works with, and feels privileged to be a part of such a heart-felt mission to honors the needs of young children and those who care for them.  

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Valeria Lobitz, Teacher

photos provided by Aaron Paden: http://www.padenphotography.com/