Preschool Team

Lisa Mankus, Lead Preschool Teacher

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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.

Emily Davis, Assistant Preschool Teacher & Enrichment Teacher

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Emily graduated from Dickinson College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in English. She joined the Gwynedd Friends School community in the fall of 2017.

She attributes her interest in working with children to her many positive experiences at a Quaker overnight camp as a camper, counselor, and assistant director. Prior to Gwynedd Friends, Emily spent time working in school admissions and in an elementary after-school program. Emily feels children are most effectively learning and developing socially when they can engage with the natural world. It is important to connect the classroom with the outside world because it sparks a child’s curiosity and creativity and gives them a sense of stewardship for the planet. Emily believes that Gwynedd Friends School has a strong commitment to these values and provides a dynamic environment for young children to learn and grow.   

Joyce Pounds, Preschool Teacher

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Joyce Pounds holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Arcadia University. She began working at Gwynedd Friends School in 2011, while her son was in the Pre-K class. She taught one year in the Threes and one year in the Pre-K. She then took a four-year hiatus to stay at home with her youngest child and returned to Gwynedd Friends in 2017.

Before having children, Joyce taught third grade for one year in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and Kindergarten for eleven years in the Lower Moreland School District. Joyce believes that young children have a natural curiosity to learn about their world, and that this learning takes place best through playing and interacting with others and with the environment. Her classroom reflects this philosophy, with time to play with varied materials that allow the children to build competence as well as develop cognitive and interpersonal skills. She also believes that the outdoors provides a rich “classroom” for learning, and she values the time spent there and the learning that takes place.

Christie Mendez, Assistant Preschool Teacher & Movement Teacher

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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.

Ruth Ann Smith, Preschool Teacher

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Ruth Ann attended Villanova University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree including a sociology minor and an elementary education concentration. Ruth Ann has been teaching at Gwynedd Friends School since 2008, and has held various positions there ranging from substitute, Lead Pre-K teacher, Spanish teacher, and now as a Preschool Lead teacher.

During her college years, Ruth Ann worked summers and holiday breaks at Kinder Care Learning Center in Lansdale. She worked with toddlers, two and three year olds. After graduating from Villanova, Ruth Ann took a teaching position at Holy Martyrs School in Oreland where she taught 5th grade for seven years.

Ruth Ann became a GFS parent in 1998 and has been a part of the Gwynedd Friends School family ever since. Ruth Ann strongly believes in children learning through play. In her classroom, she recognizes that there are many types of learners and her classroom is structured to meet all of those needs. Ruth Ann works to help the children become more independent throughout the year so that they will be prepared for Pre-K and beyond. Ruth Ann helped design the Threes curriculum that is currently being used at GFS.

Audrey Daniel, Assistant Preschool Teacher

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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.