Our Team

Photo of Ms. Annie Merrick preschool director.

Annie Merrick, Director

Annie Merrick has been working in the early childhood field for 17 years. She has worked in every position, starting with afternoon assistant and ending with director.  She earned her BA in Sociology from UNCW and earned her 90 hour and 45 hour certificates. She is married to her husband Chris and lives in Canton with him, her very favorite dog, George, and their daughter, Emma! She loves cooking, watching soccer (go Liverpool!) and home projects.  She is looking forward to meeting all you and your kiddos.


Amara Anderson, Teacher

Amara Anderson--Amara has been working in the early childhood education field for about four years. She currently has her 90-hour in early childhood education, and is studying toward her bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education . She has always had a love for teaching children and making a difference in their lives ever since a young age. She enjoys crafting, cooking, reading, and being with family. Her two all-time favorite books to read are “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein. Her goal while working with children is to inspire the next generation and impact every child’s life for the better.

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Leanna Gutermuth, Teacher

Leanna Gutermuth, a native of Baltimore, is a teacher and mom to Ian (3) and Naomi (14). She loves to hang out at her house gardening, cooking, reading, watching TV and playing with her kids.  She has been teaching infants for five years and is excited to teach two year olds especially since her own son is two.  Her teaching philosophy is inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote, “Logic will get you from A to B, but imagination will take you everywhere.” Her future goal is to become a labor and delivery nurse because she is passionate about and just absolutely loves babies and young children. She is happy to be a part of the team that is establishing the new twos program at The Highlandtown Preschool.


De'Ashisa "Dee" Fields, Teacher

De’Ashisa Fields also known as Ms. Dee in the classroom, has six years of professional childcare experience. She has served as a Lead Two’s Teacher for nearly four of those years. She strongly believes in children learning through play and exploration. In the near future she plans to work towards a degree in Early Childhood Education. De’Ashisa spends her spare time writing, reading, and cherishing moments with family, particularly her two nephews. In her classroom you'll always hear soft music, as De’Ashisa believes it fosters a gentle mind. Her passion lies in Arts & Crafts and sensory play, allowing children to unleash their creativity. De’Ashisa encourages her students to believe in their abilities no matter how small or big the obstacle may seem.

She looks forward to an exciting and fantastic school year!

Photo of a preschool teacher, Ms. Katie.

Katie O'Hara, Teacher

Ms. Katie worked at Kennedy Krieger for 10 years with children ranging from Pre-K to 8th grade. She has a masters degree in early childhood education. She lives with her husband, 2 sons, 1 cat, 4 fish, and a hamster. In her free time, she loves adventuring with her boys. This summer they went shark tooth hunting at Calvert Cliffs, camping at Ohiopyle, and went on tons of awesome hikes and bike rides. She has a passion for nature, art and amateur mycology (fungi are amazing!). Ms. Katie is excited to be at HTP and am enjoying creating a fun, cozy, learning environment for her students.

Photo of our afternoon teacher, Ms. Jessica.

Jessica Moore, Afternoon Teacher & Morning Aide

Jessica Moore is a parent to two children, Catherine age 6 and Kristofer age 2. She has recently completed her training to serve as a teacher. As an experienced mother, she loves seeing the world through her children's eyes and that is what inspired her to become an educator. She wants to take a part in teaching our youth because there is nothing more rewarding then seeing them achieve their goals. She values patience and compassion when it comes to teaching any age group of children, and she believes playing is learning. She is very happy to be apart of the Highlandtown team and she is eager to grow as a teacher as well.  


Gladis Vásquez Calderón, Classroom Aide

Gladis Vásquez Calderón is friendly and cheerful. She loves working with children. She is patient. She has many years of experience taking care of babies, including as a nanny for some of our HPS families. She loves to see them happy and to see them grow. She likes to work in a team. She is spontaneous, creative, and flexible.

She also likes nature, walks in the park, hiking, exploring, and taking pictures of birds. She likes exploring resources and reading to learn more about children's education.

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Ty'jai Smith, Classroom Aide

Ty’jai Smith grew up in East Baltimore and is a graduate of Baltimore Design High School where her pathway was architecture. She comes from a big family with 3 sisters and 1 brother and now is proud to say that she has one niece and nephew. She has been described by her family as a “natural” with children. She worked for three summers as a Youthworks counselor. In this position she planned activities for kindergarten age children, walkied to Patterson Park to take the kids to the pool, and read books at circle time. In her free time, Ty’jai enjoys watching hair styling, nail design and fashion design videos.

She is really excited to be at The Highlandtown Preschool because everyday she is learning something new.  She loves getting to know the kids and seeing their individual personalities.

Ty’jai is looking forward to growing in her role as an aide in the three year old classroom and hopes in the future to become a lead preschool teacher. Her caring demeanor is felt daily as the kids have grown to love her.

Patricia Jimenez, Office Administrator

pastor mark parker

Pastor Mark Parker

 Pastor Mark Parkeris a native of Baltimore City. He has served as pastor of Breath of God Lutheran Church, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, since 2009. Breath of God has roots in Highlandtown going back to 1900, but is always looking to find new ways to serve our neighbors and share God’s love within our community. Mark and his family live in Highlandtown, and his daughter was one of the first students at the preschool.

Mark has been involved with young people and education in a variety of capacities since 2000. During college and graduate school those efforts included two mentoring programs, a high school leadership program, and running the summer camp at the Downtown Sailing Center. Here in Southeast Baltimore, Mark helped to launch a summer camp and after school program, supports our local public schools, and is involved with youth sports. He particularly appreciates our existing partnerships with our local schools, the Enoch Pratt Free Library, the Creative Alliance, Patterson Park Audubon, Soccer Without Borders, Soccer Shots, and the Southeast Youth Collaborative.

Mark is dedicated to this mission of nurturing children, preparing them for success in school, supporting working families, and providing equitable and just access to education for children of all backgrounds.

See What We're All About

Bring your child for a visit to our preschool and meet our excellent staff