Tara Gallagher also known as "Miss Tara" is our Director as well as the owner of Miles of Smiles. While Miss Tara works at both locations her main location will be the Keyport Center. She has been the Director/Owner for 16 years and has experience working with children for 24 years. She also is the loving mother of her 9 year old son, Shane and her 7 year old daughter Shayla. Miss Tara has her CDA (Child Development Associate) for Pre-School & Infant/Toddler and holds a current total of 670 clocked hours. She also holds a certification for the Director's Academy. She is recognized by The New Jersey Registry as a Group Teacher and is also Infant/Child CPR/AED and First Aid certified. Miss Tara belongs to many organizations for young children such as the NAEYC. Miss Tara feels one can never have too much education, especially when it comes to running a successful childcare center and teaching young children. Knowledge is the key to success.
"Working with children has always come very naturally to me and has held a special place in my heart. I'm intrigued to see how quickly they develop and how their little minds are constantly working. Through the years not only have I learned all the aspects of running and maintaining a successful preschool center, I have learned the most important things are that you are loving, loyal, and dedicated to all the children in your care."
Emily Landry also known as "Miss Emily" is our Co-Director with Miss Tara Gallagher at Miles of Smiles. While Miss Emily works at both locations her main location will be the Union Beach Center. She has been a member of the Miles of Smiles family since 2008. Miss Emily has her Bachelor's Degree from Georgian Court University. She is recognized by the New Jersey Registry as a Director, Head Teacher, and a Group Teacher. She is also Infant/Child CPR/AED and First Aid certified.
"Working with children has always been a passion of mine. I like to think of it as a very rewarding adventure. I love seeing every child grow into their personalities over the years!"
Melinda Louro also known as "Miss Mindy" is our Assistant Director as well as the Pre-K Teacher at Miles of Smiles. She has been filling both of these roles for the past 11 years and has experience working with children for 24 years. She also is the loving, devoted mother of her 5 year old son. Miss Mindy has her CDA (Child Development Associate) for Pre-School and is credentialed by The New Jersey Registry as a Group Teacher. She is also Infant/Child CPR/AED and First Aid certified. Miss Mindy's students hold a great degree of love and admiration for her creativeness and artistic abilities.
"I have seen a lot in my many years of care taking and teaching and have never witnessed an environment so loving, nurturing, and dedicated as Miles of Smiles. I feel very lucky to be surrounded by such an amazing group of staff members, children and families. I love knowing that every day I have something to look forward to and a room full of smiles."
Tara Fraley also known as "Miss Tara" is our Jr. Preschool Teacher. She has been a member of our staff for 16 years. Miss Tara has been working with children of all age groups for 18 years. She is a member of The New Jersey Registry and is also Infant/Child CPR and First Aid certified. She is an extremely loving teacher and treats each child as if they were her own. Miss Tara's goal is to earn her CDA credential.
"I love helping children and taking care of them. Teaching children gives me a great sense of accomplishment and my desire for teaching new things will never end. Miles of Smiles is my home away from home."
Courtney Strang is the Infant Teacher and has been a part of the Miles of Smiles family since April 2014. Miss Courtney has her associates degree in Early Childhood Education from Brookdale Community College and has worked with children for over 9 years. She is recognized by The New Jersey a as a Group teacher and is also Infant/Child CPR/AED and First Aid certified.
"Working with children has always been a passion of mine; from the time, I was a little girl there was nothing I wanted more than to become a teacher. While going to school to become a teacher in a school district I began working at Miles of Smiles for what I thought would be my "college job", that quickly changed when I fell in love with the staff, children and environment at the center. There is never a day I don't look forward to going to work to see the students and help shape them into the people they will one day become. "Love what you do, and you'll never work a day in your life!"
Alexis Hines also known as "Miss Alexis" is one of the Preschool Teachers and has been a part of the Miles of Smiles family since May 2016. She is also the Miles of Smiles head teacher. Miss Alexis has her bachelor's degree in Physical Education from Salisbury University and has worked with children for over 9 years. She is recognized by The New Jersey Registry as a Head teacher and is also Infant/Child CPR/AED and First Aid certified.
"My experiences with children have influenced my decision to become a teacher. I want to be able to inspire and shape young minds for the future. Coming to work each day to see those kids laugh and be excited to learn puts a smile on my face! It is my goal as a teacher to help my students grow as individuals in their own unique way!"
Elana Figaro also known as "Miss Elana" is new to the Miles of Smiles family and is one of our Preschool Teachers. She started working with us in May 2017. She has worked with children since she was 15 years old and went to school for education. She earned an Associate's Degree from Brookdale Community College as well as Bachelor's degree from Georgian Court University for education. She also currently holds NJ State Teaching Certifications for Elementary Education-Grades K-6 as well as Special Education. Miss Elana worked at KinderCare Learning Center for 6 years, teaching Preschool for 3 years and also spent some time substituting in the Middletown Township Public School District. Her heart remained with the Preschool age children and that is where she feels she belongs. She always wanted to be a teacher to share her love of learning with her students and encourage their unique creativity and has been so excited to join our family! She is certified in Child/Adult CPR/AED.
"I have always wanted to be a teacher and to share my love for learning with my students and to encourage them to be lifelong learners, to follow their dreams, and to always be themselves. As a teacher I want my students to feel safe, comfortable, and welcome in the classroom to be who they are, use their imagination, be creative, and have fun growing and learning together with their peers. It is an honor to watch and help my students to grow and learn not just academically, but as individuals as well. I am so excited to join the Miles of Smiles family and to create a fun, interactive, and creative learning environment for my students and to watch and help them grow! "
Lauren Kraut, also known as Miss Lauren has been working with us since January 2017 and is our floating Teacher. Miss Lauren has nine years of experience working with children. She started babysitting at the age of fourteen, took part in a preschool program throughout her high school years, and worked as a senior camp counselor for the YMCA. She is currently enrolled at Brookdale Community College in hopes of pursuing a career in education and/or early childhood development. She is Infant/Child CPR/AED and first aid certified.
"I have always know that working with children is what I wanted to do with my life. My goal as a teacher is to acknowledge and celebrate the unique personalities of each child I teach. I always want to provide a comfortable and accepting environment that allows children to express themselves and learn in their own unique ways. I'm here to make every child's time at Miles of Smiles a great experience "
Gina Martinez also known as "Miss Gina" is new to the Miles of Smiles family and is a teacher's aide in the toddler class. She joined our team in July 2017. Gina has been caring for children since she was 16 years old. She has worked in another school gaining a lot of experience with kids. Her dream is to become a teacher and she will be attending Rider University in order to reach her dream. She will be studying Early Childhood Education and Special Education. She is working on her CPR/AED and first aid certifications.
"I want to be a teacher when I grow up" is what I have been saying my whole life. Teaching is very much a passion for me and working with children fills my day with joy. I strongly believe that when a teacher enjoys teaching, kids just know and it engages them so much more in learning. Walking into the Miles of Smiles school I could feel the love that the teachers had for the kids. I am so thrilled to now be a part of this team!"