Meet Our Staff

Director

Venera Manuli

 
Venera has been working in the Early Childhood field since she was 17 years old. She is the Children’s Ministry Director of her home church in Waterford, CT and has always had a passion for teaching! Learn & Play has been a tremendous blessing for her, as she gets to incorporate Christian values into day to day interactions and weekly themes. Venera’s favorite part of the job is having the chance to build special bonds with each child – as the Director she has the privilege of spending time with every student to create a loving relationship with each of them. Her go to Bible verse is found in Matthew 19:26: “With God, all things are possible” -Venera is honored to serve as the Director of Learn & Play as she continues to grow in Christ.
 
To contact Venera, you can:
Call: (203) 488-4028
Email: learnandplay@snet.net
Michele Almeida 
Infant Room
Michele has been working at Learn & Play for nine years! She received her CDA from Acres and has a lifetime of experience in the early childhood industry. Her favorite part about being a teacher are the endless hugs she receives on a day to day basis. In 2018, Michele joined the Learn & Play Infant room and has not turned back since – each time that she receives a smile from one of her precious little ones, her heart melts. Michele has several beloved Bible verses but two of her favorites would have to be Psalm27:4-8 and Psalm 28:1-2!
Trena Duclos 
Infant Room
Trena has been working in the early childhood field since 2014 – she has been enamored with children, their families, and co-workers ever since! She is currently pursing her CDA, and says that her favorite part of teaching is watching children grow and develop their individual personalities. Since joining Learn & Play, Trena feels that she is part of a team with a strong sense of comradery & community. Her goal is for each child to feel safe and secure, and to know that they are loved. 
Her favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13!
Tracy D’Amico
Waddler Room
Tracy has worked in child care for 21 years and is working towards receiving her CDA. Her creativity has helped Learn & Play to flourish in all artistic aspects of the center!
Tracy finds it rewarding to help each child in her classroom grow, as she witnesses the progress they make throughout the year. She finds teaching fun, exciting, and filled with laughter! Tracy says that there is never a bad day with the children’s little smiles and with the constant hugs that she receives daily. Her go to Bible verse is found in Matthew 7:12!
Megan Rodgers 
Waddler Room
Megan is working towards a degree in Early Childhood Education. She has experience working with all age groups: from 6 weeks to 5 years old – she is able to help out in each classroom and connect with every child. Her favorite part about teaching is seeing the growth from the beginning of the year, being able to witness them walk (or waddle) into the classroom for the first time vs move up to the next level by the end of the school year. She finds it fulfilling to be a part of their development. Megan’s favorite Bible verse is
John 3:16!
Ashley Blakely 
Toddler Room
 
Ashley has years of experience in the early childhood field – she has been working with children for 11 years and says that her favorite part of teaching is watching her student’s knowledge grow! She loves to be welcomed into class each day with warm hugs & smiles. Ashley’s go to Bible verse is found in Mark 11:24!

Lindsay Davis

Toddler Room
Lindsay joined Learn & Play in 2020 with experience in teaching Sunday School classes. Her classroom is grateful for the Bible stories she shares with them daily – Lindsay’s favorite part about being a teacher is being able to spend time with the children, watching them laugh & grow. She loves the verse found in Joshua 1:9!

Francesca Napolitano 

Preschool
Francesca came to L&P after years of work as a Learning Center Specialist & Camp Counselor – she currently teaches Sunday school at her home church. Francesca expressed that teaching children brings her such joy, she loves what she does because she gets to be a positive role model to them each and every day. Her favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:8!
Caitlin Halloran
Preschool
Cait began her classroom experience in Early Childhood in 2017.  Before that, she has worked with children dating back to her very first job as an art instructor at a summer camp. Caitlin studied English Literature at the University of Connecticut. Cait comes from a family of teachers and loves to see children reach their milestones. Her favorite Bible verse is found in 1 Corinthians 13:8!
Michelle DeAngelo
Pre-K
Michelle graduated with a Bachelor’s of Art Degree and has been working in Early Childhood for over 20 years! She has found her calling in the Pre-K classroom, she describes teaching as her passion and loves the look of wonder and amazement on a child’s face when they learn something new. She expressed how blessed she feels to be able to teach these little ones at Learn & Play, where she is able to share God’s grace with each child on a daily basis. Her favorite Bible verse is Joshua 1:9!
Kenni Toon
Pre-K
 
While obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies & Anthropology/Sociology, Kenni worked as a Children’s Program Coordinator. She came to Learn & Play after teaching abroad in South Korea! Kenni’s favorite part of teaching is getting to witness that “ah-ha” moment when something clicks in the mind of a student, she loves when everyone in the class laughs at the same time – everything just feels happy and safe. Her go to verse comes from
2 Corinthians 12:10!
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