Meet Our Teachers

Our Staff…

Our teachers are what really make Discovery Learning Center special. They are educated, experienced, nurturing, and dedicated early childhood professionals. DLC teachers come to work every day because educating young children is their passion and their career.

Our school requires teachers to be professional, interactive, get dirty, collaborate, nurture, sing, and to laugh. In return, DLC provides a work environment for our staff where their intelligence and creativity is valued. They are given the freedom to explore new topics and create projects and activities based on our student’s emerging interests. Our low ratio (typically 1:6) allows teachers to meet all of our student’s needs.

Linda Smyth – Founder/Co-Owner

With 40 years of experience as the owner of DLC, Linda has her B.A. degree in Human Development, and a M.S. degree in Child Development. Linda also taught Child Development at the college level for over 24 years. Linda created DLC based on a dream. This dream included a special place for children to grow and develop according their individual timeline. A place where kids could just be kids, get dirty, get loud, explore, and create. A place where children are not simply being prepared for a rigid path, but where a unique path is being prepared for each child based on their talents and interests. This dream also included a place where preschool teachers were valued, respected, and cherished for the true heroes they are. DLC is constantly changing and evolving to meet the needs of our students as they grow, but Linda has always guarded her original dream and philosophy. The rest is history!

Jami Charlton – Program Director/School-Age Teacher

 Teacher Jami has been at DLC her whole life as she attended DLC as a child. Starting as a volunteer at the age of 17, Jami worked up to an aide/substitute teacher throughout her college years, and finally became a full time teacher in 2006. She first earned her A.A degree in Early Childhood Education from Sierra College in 2002 , then her B.A. degree in Psychology from Notre Dame de Namur University in 2004, and her M.A degree in Child Development from CSUS in 2011. Over the last few decades teacher Jami has worked with every age group at DLC. In 2013 teacher she became DLC’s program director. Teacher Jami is very active in the program, always building relationships with the children, teachers and parents. She is also the current school-age teacher!  When not at DLC, teacher Jami enjoys spending time with her family, practicing yoga, and riding her bike!

Bonnie Ward – Preschool/School-Age

Teacher Bonnie began teaching at DLC in 1987. Bonnie holds an A.A degree in Early Childhood Education. Before coming to DLC Bonnie had many years of teaching and director experience at a preschool in El Segundo, Ca. Teacher Bonnie leads the Dragonfly group (middle to older 4’s) during the regular school year and is with the school-agers in the summer time. Bonnie is a gifted teacher with an amazing knack to make children laugh and smile. She can draw out the shyest of children and quickly learns their likes and dislikes, making them feel right at home. And she is famous around here for her story times. Her voices and funny ad-libbing have every one cracking up! Bonnie has a passion for art and always finds a way to incorporate a variety of media, tools, and materials to enrich her student’s learning experience. She has a great sense of humor as well! Bonnie is an amazing mentor to all staff at DLC, sharing her wealth of knowledge and experience on a daily basis. She is the heart and soul of our program!

Kimberly Dillon – Preschool Teacher

Teacher Kim began working at DLC in September of 2013. However, she has been teaching in the field for many decades now. Kim team teaches the Blue Dinosaur group (young to middle 3’s).

When Kim walked in our doors she said, “I feel like I’ve been searching for this school for forever.”  This is because DLC is similar to teacher Kim’s preschool which she attended as a child in Santa Cruz, CA. Her preschool experience was so profound that it led her to pursue a career as an early childhood professional.

Kim values individuality, TRULY hands-on art & science projects, literacy development, and creative movement. She has attended various child development conferences on curriculum approaches, as well as different areas of development, and has a sound understanding of appropriate child development practices. When Kim is not at DLC she enjoys photography, gardening, and traveling, and spending time with her husband and son Anthony!

Justine Matteucci- Preschool/Assistant Director

Teacher Justine came to DLC in October of 2014. Justine graduated from UC Irvine with a B.A in English and a minor in educational studies, studied ECE at Sierra College. While at UC Irvine Justine volunteered in Jumpstart, an Americorps program to prepare low-income preschool children for school success. For several summers now, Justine and her family have run the Royal Family Kids Camp for foster youth. For one week in July they create an environment for foster youth where the kids feel safe, loved and valued. They have birthday celebrations, Christmas in July and so much more!

Justine teaches the Butterfly group, the oldest preschoolers (4’s & 5’s) and is also the assistant director. Justine’s outdoor classroom is full of art, “loose parts” for kids to build and create with, plants, a garden and most importantly, lots of laughter and love. Justine is a master at creating a small community within our larger community. Meaning, the kids in her group take pride in Butterfly group! They love their “jobs” that help them care for and cultivate their learning space. They cherish their circle times, story telling opportunities, and their sharing time. All these little things give Justine’s students a strong sense of group identity. Justine is fun, kind, and calm! She is also a mama to two DLC kids (Adriel & Estelle). When not a DLC Justine enjoys reading, exercising, spending time with her family and traveling. DLC is most definitely a more organized and functional space with Justine…and there is a lot more laughter too!

Monique Lobaugh- Preschool 

Teacher Moe came to DLC in February of 2018 with over 20 years experience in the child development field! We are so glad she finally found DLC. Moe works with the Red Dinosaur group, our youngest preschool friends. If you have a two year old, then you know this can be a particularly challenging time in a child’s life. Moe has the most kind, gentle and patient approach to working with very young children. She sees each individual child and notices their strengths and challenges. Her voice is always soft and understanding. This is just how Moe is all the time…kind, thoughtful, and loving.

When not a DLC Moe loves spending time with her family. She and her husband are high school sweet hearts, and they have son named Antonio. Moe is also very close with her two sisters.

Dannia (Danny) Gonzalez – Preschool Teacher

Teacher Danny began working at DLC in March of 2020…literally days before the COVID quarantine began! Danny has shown so much passion, commitment and grit while learning how to teach in this very new preschool landscape! Danny originally became interested in working with young children while caring for her younger siblings. She used to dress as a clown to entertain kids at their birthday parties, and this actually turned into her first job! Danny still pulls out the face paint for the DLC kids and is truly an amazing artist! Teacher Danny puts so much thought and energy into all her planning and activities. She creates a special environment for her afternoon preschool group (Butterfly and Dragonfly combo group) where every child feels loved and safe. Danny also brings her Mexican heritage into her classroom through music, language, stories, clothing, customs and so much more. Danny is so hard working, thoughtful and gifted…we are truly lucky to have her!

Amber Rivers – Preschool Teacher

Amber began “officially” teaching at DLC  in June of 2021. Prior to that she was one of our regular subs. As she visited our center as a sub we all knew she would be a great fit! A few of Ambers best qualities include her integrity, her consistency, her patience and even tone with children (even in very challenging circumstances!) and her infectious smile! Amber currently co-teaches the Ladybug group (our young 3’s). Her classroom set up always includes many messy hands on activities and fun group games like hide and seek! Teacher Amber currently attends American River college where she is majoring in ECE. She plans to then transfer to CSUS to earn a BA in liberal studies. A few words from Amber about her personal life and why she became a teacher.

“I am the oldest of seven and I have a total of four sisters and two brothers and one more on the way! This is where I first began to get a lot of experience in caring for younger kids. I decided to become a teacher because I’ve always enjoyed being around children and young people in general! I love seeing all the kids with their hopes, dreams, and wonders. Overall, I really just love helping others and spending time with kids and I knew I would enjoy working in childcare tremendously. Kids bring so much joy into our lives! I also am aware that there are some children who may not have positive role models in there lives and I really want to be that for them. When I’m not at DLC I love spending time with family and friends but mostly spending time with my son Semaje and his brother Tigan and creating lots of fun memories! I love working at DLC because it’s such a fun and welcoming environment! DLC allows children to be free and unique in there own ways while just enjoying being a kid and having fun! It’s such a great place to work and I’m loving every second of it and super appreciative that my son gets to have so many amazing teachers and friends!” 

Nerissa Crisostomo– Preschool Teacher

Nerissa graduated cum laude from Sacramento State in Spring 2020 and obtained her BA in Philosophy with a concentration in Law, Politics, and Ethics. While earning her degree, she studied care ethics and created space to implement equal access education laws; where she really learned that teaching is a form of activism in and of itself. While quarantined during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Nerissa spent most of her time with her youngest brother, who has special needs, learning ways to help him better understand the world in his own way apart from traditional approaches. Ultimately, caring for Nerissa’s siblings is what lead her to further her interest in working in early childhood education. Nerissa is currently obtaining her associate teaching certificate and also a specialized certificate in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in early education. Nerissa is mixed indigenous and loves bringing her Hawaiian and Indigenous heritage to the classroom through music, language, stories, and so much more. Nerissa says “Finding DLC was a dream! I believe the best way for children to learn is to navigate and explore in their own way at their own pace, what better place to do that than at DLC! On my spare time I love to go hiking and exploring state/national parks with my Boyfriend, read as many books as possible, and play with my Kitten Willow!”