Lisa Mankus, Preschool Teacher
Lisa earned a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Arcadia University. She started working at Gwynedd Friends School in 2015 as an assistant teacher in the Pre-Kindergarten and is currently a Lead Teacher in the Preschool.
Prior to joining Gwynedd Friends, Lisa worked as a Preschool Director and participated in achieving a Star 4 credential through Keystone Stars. Throughout that process, she learned that children learn best through play and hands on activities. Lisa believes in creating a warm, welcoming environment where the children can feel safe to take chances and be active participants in their own learning. She encourages the children to ask questions and facilitates their play through inquiry both in the classroom and outside. Her daughter is a graduate of Gwynedd Friends School and her three boys are still students.
Megan Shah, Preschool Teacher
Megan Shah started working at Gwynedd Friends in 2014 as a Play Group and afternoon assistant teacher. She considers herself fortunate to share a classroom with her mother as lead teacher, and her children as students. She has a Bachelor's Degree from Wesleyan University, where she majored in Government with a concentration in Public Policy, including coursework in Education Policy.
Megan grew up as a member of Gwynedd Friends Meeting, attended preschool and peace camp as a child and worked at both as a young adult. Before she started working with the Play Group, she was an assistant teacher and coach at Germantown Friends School. Megan also has experience as a crossword puzzle editor and running store manager. Megan feels the teacher's role is to provide a caring and safe environment in which to support children as they navigate making friends, learning new skills, and exploring the world around them. She sees children as natural artists and scientists, with every day bringing new experiences. Megan feels strongly about the value of movement and time outdoors. As a lifelong Quaker, she thinks early childhood is the perfect time to start learning about things like equality and stewardship of our environment and communities.
Rachel Doria, Preschool Teacher
Rachel holds a Master's degree in Special Education with Certifications in Special Education and Elementary Education from Gwynedd Mercy University and a Bachelor's degree in Corporate Communications from Drexel University. Rachel joined the Gwynedd Friends School community first as a preschool student and then many years later when her first child of three began the Play Group program in 2013. Most recently, Rachel substituted during the 2018/2019 school year and saw a whole new side of Gwynedd Friends School that warmed her heart.
Rachel spent the early part of her working career as a classroom assistant and 1:1 assistant in a variety of autistic support classrooms ranging in age from elementary through high school aged students with the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit. Shortly after receiving her Master's, Rachel had her first child and took time off to raise her young children. When her first child began the Play Group program, Rachel remembered how important her own preschool through 6th grade Quaker education was in her life. Rachel thought the idea of learning through play, interacting with nature as often as possible and helping students form a peaceful learning community were all very attractive aspects of the programs offered at Gwynedd Friends School. Outside of school Rachel enjoys music, knitting, fiber arts, and spending time with her husband and three children.
Christie Mendez, Preschool Teacher & Movement Teacher
Christie earned her Bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitative Services with a concentration in Early Childhood Education from East Stroudsburg University. Christie joined us as an assistant teacher during the 2017-2018 school year.
After graduation, Christie spent the early part of her working career as a case manager at The Children’s Home of Easton working with at-risk youth in their foster care division. During her time at The Children’s Home of Easton, she also worked with children with learning disabilities as an after-school tutor. Christie went on in her career, spending time in Georgia and California. During this time, she developed a career as a gymnastics instructor with a certification from USA gymnastics. In 2008 she returned to the area where her son attended Gwynedd Friends School. Christie fell in love with the peacefulness that GFS brings to children and the community. She was attracted to the philosophy of the whole child approach to learning. Christie believes in the importance of teaching children to treat others kindly and helping them to foster meaningful relationships with peers. Outside of school, Christie is an active member of the local community and serves as the Home and School President for Pennbrook Middle School as well as a volunteer cheerleading coach for the Lansdale Cannoneers.
Chris Piatkowski, Assistant Preschool Teacher
Chris holds a Master of Arts in Communication Studies from West Chester University and a Bachelor of Science in Communication from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Chris joins us for her first year teaching at Gwynedd Friends School in 2019, though she is no stranger to the Gwynedd Friends community! Chris has been teaching Peace Camp at Gwynedd Friends for 16 years and her son is an alum of GFS. Chris is an adjunct faculty member at Montgomery County Community College & La Salle University.
Audrey Daniel, Assistant Preschool Teacher
Audrey began working at Gwynedd Friends School as a substitute teacher and was excited to join the community as a permanent staff member in 2016.
Audrey worked as a medical assistant for many years before having her two children. Audrey is devoted to helping her students grow as individuals and as a part of the bigger community. Audrey believes that every child is special and they should feel that way every day. Learning through play is one of her favorite ways of teaching, because what is better than playing! Audrey also loves nature and nurtures the wonder of it with the children through exploratory activities.