Victoria Ward, Executive Director

The Children's Early Learning Space is excited to welcome Victoria Ward to our community as the new Executive Director. She has over 13 years of experience in Early Childhood Education and taught for five years, before spending the last eight leading programs, supporting families, and mentoring staff in renowned schools in both Connecticut and Vermont. She has a Vermont Director's Credential with extensive coursework in child development, curriculum design, and program management. She received her Bachelor's Degree from Lehigh University and then went on to get a Master's Degree in Sustainable Land Use Planning from the Conway School. 

While this may seem like a far cry from Early Childhood Education, Victoria is passionate about the multitude of educational opportunities available for children in the natural world an strives to connect future generations with the outdoor environment. She believes strongly that children are capable and curious, and strives to support each child's distinctive developmental profile. She believes that an engaged child is an educated child, and that their first experience with school should set them up for a lifelong love of learning. 

Victoria resides in Waterbury Center with her husband, Andrew, daughter, Hadley, and their big, goofy lab, Miles. She is excited to get to know each and every family at TCELS and to help support the growth of their children, the program, and the Waterbury community.

Sandy Bettis, Office Manager

Sandy comes to us from a long career with the State of Vermont.  She lives in Middlesex with a Chow named Simba.  She handles TCELS bookkeeping and administrative duties.  In her spare time, she enjoys mentoring, tutoring, reading, movies and exploring new places.   

Clara Wootton, Assistant Director & Infant/Toddler Rooms

Clara grew up in Southern Vermont and earned her BA in Visual Arts from Marlboro College. She started teaching officially in 2003 after helping at the child care center her mother directed in her youth, and is working towards a certificate in early education at Central Vermont Community College. In 2005 and 2006, her first child and second child were born and she chose to take a break and stay home. She has been living in Waterbury with her family for the past eight years. In her free time, Clara loves to hike, swim, camp, ski, garden and share the beauty of Vermont with her own children and the children she works with, getting outside as much as possible.




Cathy Casey, Infant /Toddler Rooms

Cathy grew up in St Albans and currently resides in Waterbury. She first came to the area after graduating from the University of Vermont with a four year degree in early childhood education. She began her career as an infant and toddler teacher at the Ben & Jerry’s Child Care Center. She has been teaching ever since.  Cathy has enjoyed the relationships built with families throughout the years and finds this the most rewarding part of her career. She believes that supporting social and physical growth are the two most important factors of learning from birth through preschool.  Cathy lives with her husband, daughter, son and two cats. 




Tiffany Ladieu, Infant/Toddler Rooms

Tiffany grew up in Central Vermont and earned her AA in Early Childhood Education from CCV and her BA in psychology from Northern Vermont University. She started in the education line of work by working in a middle school as a paraprofessional for five years then made the switch to a toddler teacher. Tiffany believes that social, emotional and physical growth are an important stepping stone when it comes to learning. In her free time, she enjoys biking, swimming, reading, sewing and going for walks.




Deb Dondzik, Social Emotional Learning Facilitator and Mentor

Deb grew up in CT and holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastern CT State University in Psychology with a concentration in children, youth and families.  Her master's is in elementary education from the University of New Haven, along with 2 other certifications: clinical issues of trauma informed care-therapeutic parenting and a family development credential for leaders.  She began her professional career working in child care at Bright Horizons Family Solutions. Prior to moving to VT in 2018, Deb worked as a clinical supervisor for the Hartford CT Nurturing Families Network home visitation program for at-risk families, prenatal care through age 5. Deb currently is a member of the VT Child Care Industry and Careers Council Inc, where she is a mentor in the VT Child Care Apprentice Program.  Deb also is registered on the VT roster for non-licensed/non-certified psychotherapists through the VT Office of Prof Regulation.  In her free time, Deb enjoys spending time with her family and 2 cats, sitting on her porch, taking hikes and swimming.




Patty Kirpan, Preschool

Patty earned her BA in education from Trinity College and MA  from Johnson State College in Special Ed.  She has been teaching in the local public schools for many years and tried to retire in 2012 with no luck and thus is working part time in area schools and programs and is having lots of fun.   Patty is the proud mom of eleven children and it has been her greatest joy watching them grow and develop.  She has been an advocate of adoption-especially older children and those with special needs and has made that an important part of her life's work. Patty and her family reside in Moretown and continue to fix up their antique farmhouse - a 40 yr project.  She also enjoys swimming, paddle boarding, skiing and traveling.




Katie Scribner, Infant/Todder Rooms

Katie grew up in Middlesex and began working at TCELS in January of 2015 before leaving to finish her degree. She graduated from Norwich University with her Bachelor's degree in 2018 and most recently worked with the one year old classroom at Hunger Mountain Children's Center and is so excited to be back to her Early Ed home. In addition to her 8 years of experience working with infants and toddlers in licensed centers, she has over 30 college credits in Child Development, Curriculum Planning and Fostering Creative Learning in Children, and is a step away from becoming a licensed teacher. Katie resides in Roxbury with her partner, Drew, and they are expecting their first baby in June.




Laura Ladieu, Preschool

Raven LaRose, Preschool

Jazmine Franks, Program Teacher

Brittany McAllister, Program Teacher



A partnership of families, educators, and community supporting children in their discoveries as they prepare for life's experiences. 

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