Meet Our Staff
Erika Malloy

Hello everyone! My name is Erika Malloy.  I reside in North Haven with my husband Jimmie and our three beautiful children, ages 26, 17, and 10.  Besides my bachelor degree in child studies, I received most of my early childhood experience at the Phyllis Bodel Childcare Center at the Yale Medical School.  I worked there as an infant/ toddler teacher for 12 years before being promoted to Assistant Program Coordinator.  Upon leaving Phyllis Bodel, I moved on to be the Director at a childcare center in New Haven for 3 years and then became the Director for a childcare center in Hamden, where I was for the last 3 years. 

One of my favorite things about my career in early childhood is that I get to meet your children and spend time getting to know them!  I love getting messy – painting, outdoor time, exploring the world as your child learns and shares their experiences.  I’ve spent time in each of the classrooms since I started at Learn & Play and am amazed by the sweetness, the talent, the intelligence, and the wonder of your children.  It’s a pleasure to come here each day – and I love talking each of you (parents and grandparents) as well!

One the main reasons I chose to come to Learn & Play is that it is a Christian childhood center, based on the principles of Christ, sharing His love while we explore His world together.  My favorite verse is ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13).  I am also excited that we are on-site at UMC Branford so that we have chapel each week with Pastor Barbara Marks and have the support of the church members in improving our space, helping our staff, and working together for events.  There is much to do and much to learn each day, but the important thing to me is that we are learning together from each other and from Jesus. 

I look forward to knowing each of you better as we continue forward – and as always, please reach out to me on anything, anytime!

To contact Erika, you can:
Call: (203) 488-4028
Michele Almeida 
Infant Room
Michele has been working at Learn & Play for eleven 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 2012, 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!
Julia James  
Infant Room
My name is Julia. I have worked in early childcare for about 9 years. I have had the pleasure of caring for Infants & Toddlers for 8 years. I love working with children because the first few years are when they are retaining the most information. I love being able to see that my contribution as a teacher is creating a thriving development with a child’s life. It is so rewarding.
My favorite bible verse is Matt 21:22. Thid bible verse brings me comfort to know that through earnest prayer, our heavenly father will be there for us.
Tracy D’Amico 
Waddler Room

Tracy has been with Learn & Play Since early 2020.

She has over 25 years of experience in Childcare.

She has worked with a variety of age groups, from elementary school age children to infants.  Each age is special in their own way.  By far her favorite age must be the waddler age group.  No matter how rough a day may get there is always a smiling face with a hug and a giggle to brighten that day. She loves singing, dancing, exploring the world through play and making messes with the waddlers.

Tracy is also a mother of three beautiful girls that are her pride and joy.  In her free time Tracy enjoys spending time with her family, being silly and dancing, going to the beach during the summer months, crafting and baking.  Tracy favorite time of the year is the fall months and Christmas time.

Tracy lives by Matthew 7:12.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets
Lydia D’Amico 
Waddler Room

I began working at Learn & Play in late August to share love, creativity, and joy! This is my first job in childcare so it’s exciting to learn new knowledge every day that I will continue to use throughout my whole life. I enjoy traveling and exploring new places with beautiful views. I feel it’s so important and fulfilling to make even the smallest impact on a child’s life, that’s why I love to be silly and playful all day. I’m so blessed to be in such a friendly and safe space surrounded by laughs all day! It’s so amazing watching how each child’s personality shines more and more every day. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:2



Santella Germe 

Toddler Room
I have been teaching in the field of Early Childhood Education since 2004. I studied ECE at Gateway Community College and have a preschool CDA & Head Teacher certificate. I have experience teaching infants through pre-k, assistant teaching in kindergarten and as an ABA paraprofessional with 1st &2nd grade children with special needs/autism. Building a safe and trusting relationship with the children & their families, being a part of caring for & teaching the children and seeing them reach their milestones is all very important to me. I’m especially glad that I am able to teach & share the Love of Jesus Christ to the little ones in my workplace! One of my favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Antonia Dondero

Toddler Room

Antonia has been teaching and caring for children for over 20 years. She has been a lead teacher in both preschool and toddlers. She thoroughly enjoys spending time with little people. She has her bachelor’s degree in both Psychology and Early Childhood Education from Bay Path College in Longmeadow Ma. She lives on the shoreline with her son and her English bulldog. In her spare time, she enjoys being a soccer mom! Going for hikes, walking on the beach, gardening and just being a mom to a great young man!

Kamir Galarce


Kamir has experience working with children for over 15 years. She has a BA in Education Teaching has been a pure joy for her as she gets to see the joys on the children’s faces as they enjoyed the classroom every day. Being able to welcome students into the room lights up her world. Kamir’s go to Bible verse in 2 Corinthians 12:9 9 And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.


Ciarra Chambers 

My name is Ciarra Chambers. I am a mother to a beautiful daughter of Christ! She has taught me so much about myself while strengthening my love of God and Jesus Christ. Children are a blessing, and for that I treat my roles as a mother and as a Teacher’s Assistant with the same amount of much energy and love! I am beyond excited to take on this role of caring for each and every child here at Learn & Play Christian Early Learning Center. I really believe that I am doing this work for the Lord and with his grace, and I hope it will shine through in all that I do! Some of my interests are attending Church services at Vox here in Branford, Hot Yoga, long distant running, interior designing for fun and playing with my daughter and my two puppies! 
Two out of many of my favorite Bible verses!
Let all that you do be done in love! 
Corinthians 16:14