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Our Team


Amy Heller, M.S.

Amy Heller has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Special Education. She was a preschool teacher for 12 years and spent three years as education specialist for a Head Start in New York, where she helped implement the HighScope curriculum. She also has been a Child Development Associate (CDA) instructor and advisor. Amy has coached teachers on all aspects of early childhood, including planning developmentally appropriate activities, inclusion, transitions, behavior issues, and room arrangement. She is a certified Pre-K CLASS Observer and a reliable observer for HighScope Preschool PQA and ELLCO. Amy uses her passion for children's literature to assist in creating the Imagination Library Book activity sheets for teachers and the community, which are located on our website.


Beth O’Connor, M.A., Co-Director

Beth O’Connor, Co-Director and Senior Curriculum Specialist of The Family Connection, has a B.A. in Behavioral Science and an M.A. in Education (School Psychology). She has worked in elementary schools and preschools since 1982, including experience as director of an early childhood program. For many years, she taught developmental and lifespan psychology at Saint Mary’s College. Beth is a Certified HighScope Trainer and reliable in Infant, Toddler, Pre-K CLASS. Since joining The Family Connection in 2005, she has coached in all areas of early childhood education, and especially enjoys focusing on adult-child interactions, challenging behavior, and the impact of early stress and trauma. She is our primary trainer for the HighScope infant-toddler curriculum. When she was 5 years old she was pretty sure she would be an Olympic ice skater, and she still enjoys the exhilaration of skating on thin ice.

Amy & Beth
Chris &Lupe

Chris Mann, B.A.

Chris Mann has her bachelor’s degree and is a Certified HighScope Trainer. She has seven years experience as a preschool teacher in a HighScope classroom. Among other duties, Chris conducts PQA and ELLCO assessments and coaches both Pre-K and Infant/Toddler teachers. She is also a reliable Pre-K CLASS assessor. Chris trains on many aspects of the HighScope curriculum, her favorite areas are math, science, and large group time. In the office Chris is in charge of PQA and ELLCO assessment scheduling as well as assessment data input.  She is also the scholarship coordinator for the Education Initiative of the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County. Chris’ favorite quote is “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” -Theodore Roosevelt


Lupe Leal

Lupe Leal has 8 years of experience as a bilingual Infant and Toddler teacher for Early Head Start and is a HighScope Certified teacher. Lupe loves to learn and is continuing work toward her degree in Early Childhood. Lupe loves to play with children and do activities that spark their math knowledge. She is not afraid to be silly with the children. One of Lupe's favorite memories as a teacher is when she received a video from a parent whose child was dancing. When asked, "Where did you learn that?" The child smiled and proudly exclaimed, "Lupe!" Among other important work at the Family Connection, Lupe is helping to teach our Spanish speaking providers the Infant/Toddler High Scope Curriculum.  When not working, Lupe and her family love to explore new places and go to her daughter's softball games.

the Stephanies

Stephanie Hooks, M.S., Co-Director

Stephanie Hooks, Co-Director of The Family Connection, has a Master’s Degree in Education with a focus on Early Childhood. She is a reliable Pre-K CLASS, ELLCO and PQA assessor with 12 years experience as a PreK teacher. Stephanie has been working with The Early Years Count since 2007 and currently oversees program operations. Stephanie has coached teachers on all aspects of the HighScope curriculum and led training on a wide range of topics, including classroom environment, greeting time, outdoor time, social studies, creative arts, and diversity in the classroom. In another life, we are pretty sure she was an astronomer because the moon stops her in her tracks every time.


Stephanie Wojtkowski, B.A.

Stephanie Wojtkowski has a B.A. in Education and has successfully completed the Aim4Excellence National Director Credential. She directed a registered ministry for 15 years in South Bend and also has experience working as a lead teacher for preschool, two and three-year-olds. Stephanie conducts classroom and agency PQAs and is a reliable Infant, Toddler and PreK CLASS assessor.  She coaches center directors in best practice for their programs and trains preschool teachers in many aspects of the HighScope curriculum. At The Family Connection office, she inputs CLASS assessment data and processes ECAP grants. Stephanie’s favorite quote is “Often when you think you are at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.” -Fred Rogers

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