Our Talented Staff

Photo of preschool director

Sharon Beach, Director

Sharon Beach has been working in the early childhood field for 10 years. She comes to us from First English Lutheran Preschool and Kindergarten where she was lead teacher in a four year old classroom and worked as an assistant for one year in the younger fours class. She was also on the environment team where she created a native plant garden, led integration of raised bed gardening into the curriculum and created the school's annual Earth Day celebration. A Delaware native, she earned her BA in Communication and a certificate to teach Elementary Education at University of Delaware. In addition, she has a Masters in Leadership in Teaching from Notre Dame University.

She is married to her husband Dan and they have lived in Waverly for 25 years. They have two children Shelby (20) and Skylar (16). In her free time, she enjoys working in her vegetable gardening, hiking, planning trips for her family and enjoying food from other cultures.

Sharon comes to us with a passion to serve families and lead a preschool rooted deeply in a diverse community. She taught Pre-K for a year in a bi-lingual school in Honduras and did a medical mission trip there in 2019. Sharon believes that children learn best doing the work they were meant to do, PLAY. She is dedicated to ensuring that during children's play, adults in the classroom build high quality connections with the kids and through their interactions help children reduce stress and develop emotional resilience.

Channel Freeman Johnson, Teacher

Channel Freeman-Johnson, Teacher

Channel (Nellie) Freeman-Johnson has been caring for young children for 17 years. She received her formal training and education from Sojourner Douglass College. there she received her certification in Early Childhood Education.  She also holds a certification in Infant and Toddler Care. Currently she is studying Early Childhood Education Administration at Ashford University.

Her teaching style is inspired by the principles of Dr. Magda Gerber.  Dr. Gerber states, “Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write and count. It is a small window of time to learn and develop at a pace that is right for each individual child. Earlier is not better.” It is her greatest hope to foster an environment that is rooted in developmentally appropriate practices, where children are free to explore and investigate the beautiful world around them."

Ms. Elizabeth Stamerra sitting outside.

Elizabeth Stamerra, Teacher

Elizabeth Stamerra is new to The Highlandtown Preschool as well as to Baltimore. After graduating with her B.M. in voice from Ithaca College, she moved to Baltimore and began teaching privately and soon moved to the classroom. She enjoys hiking, dancing, and studying new music. While a Pittsburgh native, Elizabeth enjoys the atmosphere and opportunities Baltimore has to offer.

Much of Elizabeth’s teaching technique grows from Maria Montessori’s wise words: “Play is the work of children.” She knows that when we allow children the freedom to express themselves with others, the lessons they learn are endless. In working with The Highlandtown Preschool staff, she always sees the value in patience, compassion, and team work.
Ms. Courtney

Courtney Schuscha, Teacher

Courtney Schuscha joined our staff in August 2021. When our expanded classrooms open, she will serve as the first lead teacher for our two-year-old students. Courtney is currently studying elementary education and will complete her AA in December before moving onto to completing her bachelors. Along with getting ready to complete her AA, she also has completed all her certifications needed for childcare. She enjoys singing, long walks, and spending time with her family and friends.

Ms. Courtney incorporates many different teaching strategies from many different educational theorists.  She often will especially include Piaget and Erikson into the mix. One of Miss Courtney’s favorite quotes does in fact come from Erikson. The quote is “You can see a child play, and it is so close to seeing an artist paint, for in play a child says things without uttering a word. You can see how he solves his problems. You can also see what’s wrong. Young children, especially have enormous creativity, and whatever’s in them rises to the surface in free play”. One of Miss Courtney’s favorite moments in the classroom is watching her students light up when they have learned something new or conquered a skill that they have been wanting to accomplish.

vivian gross photo

Vivian Gross, Afternoon Teacher

Vivian Gross is the mother of two children (a son and a daughter) and grandma to two beautiful girls. She grew up in Baltimore City. Her passion for early childhood education started at an early age when she would babysit neighborhood kids and worked at a nursery school at her church on Sundays. Over the last thirty years she has worked with children in all kinds of child care settings (for-profit, nonprofit, hospital and church based preschools). She is glad to be part of the Highlandtown Preschool family to help the children reach their own growth and potential in life.
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, Soccer Without Borders, Soccer Shots, the Southeast Youth Collaborative,and the Refugee Youth Project.

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