Meet The Staff

The Founder

Marcia St. Hilaire Finn

Managing Owner
“Embrace every child and foster their uniqueness“

Leadership Team

Veronica Wright

Education Director
“If I can help somebody along the way, then my living shall not be in vain”
“Hail to the REDSKINS”

Dexter Stowe

Brentwood Campus Director

Lucy Watson

Operations Manager

Pooh Nursery

Joselyn Castellanos

Lead Teacher

My name is Joselyn Castellanos. I am from Guatemala. I came to the United States when I was 9 years old, since then I am still here. I have two brothers and we all graduated the same High School but in different years. I Graduated North Western High School back in 2012. After graduating, I started working with my dad and older brother in construction, remodeling houses and building them from scratch. It was fun until it last. I am happily married and a first time mother of 8 month old baby. I am an Early Childhood Educator. I have been in my career field for 11 years. In January of 2013 I started working at Bright Start Early Care & Preschool. I have been at Bright Start for 11 years now. Back them I did not had any experience working with children, besides taking care of my cousins. I was able to obtain my CDA and got more experience as I was working. I started working with the infants as an Assistant Teacher. Years have passed when I decided to go back to school and It was with that first position that I knew that Early Childhood Education was the right career choice for me. In May of 2020 I Graduated Trinity Washington University with an Associate Degree on Early Childhood Education and as of right now I continue with my educational journey. I am Currently enrolled at Trinity Washington University; I am on my last semester so that I can obtain my Bachelor’s Degree on Early Childhood Education.


Cheryl St. Hilaire

Associate Teacher

Rina Torres

Associate Teacher


Gabrielle Whitaker

Lead Teacher

Brittany Smith

Associate Teacher

My name is Brittany Antonia Smith, and I am a new Associate Teacher at Bright Start Early Care and Preschool. I am from Washington DC! I graduated from Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School, I am currently attending University of the District of Columbia where I plan to pursue a Degree in Early Childhood Education. I have been in the education field for a little over 10 years both in the classroom and as an Administrative assistant/ Office Manager. I love working with children of all ages and watching them grow from babies to young adults. I am very excited to start this journey with Bright start Early Care Preschool. In my free time I enjoy working, shopping and spending time with my family and friends.



Betelhem Vesili

Lead Teacher
My name is Bethlehem Veseli, I got my CDA in 2010 in love and care. I acquired my associate degree in central Texas college in 2018 and right now I am learning at Trinity college to achieve bachelor’s degree I have been working at a childcare center since 2010 I have been working at bright start childcare for 5 years and I still am working there.

Ileana Torres

Associate Teacher

Kirtley Luanne Sansano

Discovery, Pre-K
“Every child is special.”

Ms. Christal

Associate Teacher
My name is Christal Bowie and I am so excited to be working with the Discovery 1 class here at Bright Start Early Care and Preschool. I am from Washington D.C. In 2014 I graduated from Trinity Washington University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Relations. I have over eight years of experience working with Children. Working with children has always been my desire. Building relationships with each and every child, seeing students grow academically and physically is very important to me. During my free time I like spending time with my two sons; who are three and nine years old. We enjoy reading and simply just love to enjoy life together.


Jacqueline Nelson

Lead Teacher Explorers
I am Jacqueline Nelson, a teacher in the Wobblers Class. I have been a teacher for over twenty plus years. And now I am attending Montgomery College in Silver Spring.

Ms. Necy

Associate Teacher

I am Necy Aquino, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education major in Mathematics from the Philippine Air Force College of Aeronautics in 1987 and rendered 19 years of service at Pasay City North High School. I’m married with two kids and the year 2009 when I decided to move to the US as an early childhood educator. I worked in Children’s Hut from 2009 to 2015, transferred to Happy Faces Academy and worked from 2015 to 2023 and decided to move to Bright Start this school year 2023-2024. Some highlights from my current and past teaching experience include:

  • Planning and executing learning among students
  • Ability to develop relationships with the students and parents as well
  • Engaging students in learning
  • Dedication to teaching, hardworking, patient, caring and kind personality
  • Establishing an open-door policy for parents/teachers to provide feedback

Beyond my teaching experience and classroom management skills,I believe my enthusiasm makes me fit as a Pre-K teacher. Because of having had a lifelong passion for education, I received an award as monthly employee, quarterly employee and the highest award as an employee of the year in 2019. All glory to God. I’m planning to enroll to earn units in early childhood soon.



Elmer Sison

Preschool Teacher, Innovators 1 Class , Pre-K
“Dream Big and Go for it!”
Hi, my name is Elmer Sison. I have a BA in Psychology and am currently working on my MA in Education. I was born and raised in the Philippines. I am married with one son. I have 25 years of teaching experience. The first 12 years of my career focused on ECE and special education utilizing ABA applied behavioral analysis). I moved to Washington, D.C. in 2010 and immediately started working in a community-based child care/preschool facility in SE, D.C. I have been with Bright Start for over 3 years now. I am a participant/school representative with Children Are Citizens which is a project grounded in the belief that children are not just the future or hypothetical citizens – rather, they are citizens of the city in the here and now, with the right to express their opinions and participate in the civic and cultural life of Washington, DC. My hobbies include vegetable and flower gardening, plant propagation, and traveling.

Laurence Sansano

Preschool Teacher, Innovators 2 CLASS, Pre-K
“Children must be taught HOW TO THINK, Not what to think.”
My name is Laurence Sansano, 56 years old, married to Demetrio and blessed with 2 sons and 1 daughter namely: Patrick, Kirtley and Wynn. We are currently residing at 2009 Rittenhouse St. Hyattsville Md but born and raised from Philippines. I finished the degree of Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with MA credits in Communication Arts and Mathematics, also Certified Teacher in Special Ed and ECE. I have 18 years of experience as an Elementary Grades Teacher and 15 years as an Early Childhood Educator. I’ve been working at Bright Start as a pre k teacher for 10 years. I am proud to be a part of the team because i am inspired working in a highly diverse environment.

Support Staff

Hanna Woldemariam

Support For Wobblers & Pooh

Pidenam Cecile Kadja

Support Staff Kitchen


Annie Aaron

Head Chef

Ablavi Guedou

My name is Ablavi Guedou. I have been working at Bright Start since July 2016 as a cook. I really like been here for many years. I am from Togo.

Team Members


Ms. Royette

My name is Royette Celaire. I have been a school teacher for the past 22 years with an Associates Degree in Education. I am not only a teacher, but a mother of a lovely seven-year-old boy. I love interacting with children and it pleases me to know that I can make a difference in a child’s life. I look forward to working with not only the students, but with you, the families as well because it is all about teamwork!

Ms. Amabel

Hi my name is Ms. Amabel. I enjoy going to the gym and I love dogs. I have 5 dogs. I am a newlywed and I have been with Bright Start for almost a year. I transferred over from the Kennedy campus. I love working with children because they make me happy and smile. They teach me a lot of things. I am excited to work in the Discovery 2 class.

Ms. Grace


Hi, my name is Grace Burrell. I have a Bsc in Economics, I am currently working on my Child Development Associate credential. I was born and raised in Nigeria. I am married with two little boys under4. I have 9years experience working with young children as a Book club facilitator and in various child centered volunteer positions.

I moved to Washington DC in 2016 and immediately started volunteering in my local community’s weekly gatherings for Toddler’s and preschoolers. I recently joined the Bright Start Team and I am looking forward to being a part of the success story of all of the children at this facility.

My hobbies include reading, listening to music, and outdoor activities


Ms. Rebecca


Hi, my name is Rebecca Murdock. I have an Associates degree in Accounting and I am currently working on my CDA- Child Development Associate. I was born in Lynchburg VA and I came to Washington DC when I was 3 years old. I am a Widow with two kids; a son and a daughter, also four grandchildren. My hobbies are bowling and walking.I worked in the federal Government for 31 years where I retired in 2015. I started my second career in Child Care in 2015 and have been in the field ever since. I have worked both in the Public Charter School system, as well as in various child care centers in the District. In addition, I also spent time with Early Autism Solutions where I received certifications to work with children with autism and behavioral problems. I am now a part of the Bright Start family. Children are our future and I am passionate about nurturing them. I would describe myself as very patient, kind and understanding of all ages. I have extensive experience in helping children learn and grow through educational activities. I look forward to the opportunity to join your family and care for your child!


Ms. Bernadine

My name is Bernadine Joseph . I have been an Early Childhood Education Educator for over 10 years. I was born on a beautiful island called St. Martin and my first language is French. I have a beautiful daughter named Bianka. Because of my love for children I immediately got into the profession of teaching in a private school back in St. Croix. I have taught many different children with different children with different personalities and abilities to learn- anywhere from learning disabilities, Autism, ADHD, etc. Throughout my endeavors as being a teacher, I have accomplished my goal of obtaining my Early Childhood Education Certification, traveled to many teaching conferences as a NAEYC member all while continuing to work on furthering my education. My Philosophy of education is that all children are unique and must have a stimulating educational environment where they can grow physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. I strive to provide consistency and diligenece while aiming to bring an open mind, positive attitude, and high expectations to the classroom each and everyday because ALL KIDS ARE CREATED EQUAL DESPITE THEIR PHYSICAL APPERANCE AND LEARNING ABILITIES

Ms. Wendy

Hi my name is Wendy Collins I have been working in childcare for 5 years. I am a mother of 4 and grandmother of 10. I have worked in Nursing and Security for the majority of my career. I decided to go into childcare because of my love for children and an interest in being a part of early childhood education.

Ms. Cheryl

I am Cheryl St.Hilaire. I have been with Bright Start from 2016. I am a parent of four wonderful children 2 boys and 2 girls. I am currently working on having a degree in Early Childhood Education, presently I have a (CDA) Child Development Associate . My hobbies includes, traveling, listening to music, dancing, looking at movies., enjoy walking on the beach and hanging out with my families and friends. I have learned to face everyday with intention and purpose. I love it when my students parents are happy with my service to them

Ms. Kate

Hello, my name is Mrs. Kate c. okoye. I am from Nigeria. Now a United States citizen. I am married with five children and 4 grand boys. I graduated from Enugu State University of Science and Technology in the year 2000, with my Bachelor Degree in business Administration, I also have my Teachers training Education and my CDA in the year 2019. I have been teaching in DC over 13 years now. I am happy to join Bright start now to help teach the young children. I have fun teaching them, because I feel like a child again. I also feel proud to help nurture, care , teach the developing children and share my knowledge I have and also learn from them too. I love children because of their fresh and pure mind. My love for them has inspired me to continue in the field of teaching. Blessings!

Ms. Genzeb

Hi!! My name is Ms.Genzeb. I am originally from Ethiopia . I came to America 10 years ago. I have two children who I love. I have been working in the childcare industry for three years now. I am excited formy journey here at Bright Start. I enjoy and I love ❤️ working with children. I am happy to be a part of your child’s life.

Ms. Meskerem

Hello My name is Meskerem Deresa, I’ve worked for 2 years at bright Start as an assistant teacher. I am now working on getting my CDA license .I was born in Ethiopia and moved to America in 2007, I have 2 children one is 18 years old and theother is 3 , I enjoy working with children. I like to go on walks with my kids in my free time.

Ms. Selas


My name is Selas Shibeshi. I am from Ethiopia and came to USA in December 2004. I have three young sons. When I first got a job at a childcare in 2005, I was just doing it as a way of making money to support myself and my family back home. I can remember not having an idea what it truly meant to work with children. However, a year later working with children in childcare, I found myself happy to be with them all day and every moment I stayed with the children was very memorable. At that point I realized that I am very passionate about working with children and this passion led me to continue my education.

I enrolled and attended school to get my CDA then my associate degree in early childhood education.


Ms. Tigist

Hello, my name is Tigist Aweke I have been living in the United States for 15+ years now I am from Ethiopia originally I am also a mother of two beautiful children a girl, and a boy. I have been teaching for 9+ years. I love being a teacher when I see children’s life is changing for the better and growing for their potential expect. I like to travel, spend time with my children on the beach, watching history documentaries and listening to music.

Ms. Adjoa

Hi my name is Adjoa Hometowou. I have one 12 year old daughter. I have 6 years teaching experience,1 year teaching experience at bright start and 5 years teaching experience from Togo my hometown. I came to USA in 2021 and started working at bright start in 2022. Being with kids is my passion and my world. My hobbies include traveling, reading , eating fruits, partying and shopping

Ms. Gabrielle

Hi, My name is Ms. Gabrielle. I was born and raised in Washington, DC. I have been working with young children since I was a teenager. I am a strong believer that during learning children should be able to explore multiple senses in order to remember. I enjoy creating art activities that have more than one objective. I currently have my associates degree along with my CDA. I am currently obtaining my bachelors degree from The University of The District of Columbia. My overall goal is to be able to help children in multiple areas using artwork.

Ms. Lleana

Hi, My name is Ms. Ileana. I was born in Panama. I have been working with children at Bright Start since 2008. I like when the children participate and learn. This makes me happy. During my free time I like to make art work for activities to make more realistic in the classroom.

Ms. Janet

Hi, my name is Janet Basilan-Gardose. I have a BS in Teaching Secondary Education major in General Science and earned 21 credits in MA in Science Teaching. I have CDA endorsement for both Preschool and Toddler. I have a PKEEP5 Credential Level. I have 14 years of teaching experience in Preschooland 6 years in 7th Grade Science. I was born and raised in the Philippines. I am married with one son. I movedto Washington, D.C. in January 2009 and immediately started working in a community-based child care/preschool facility in NW, D.C. I have been withBright Start for over 8 years now. I am a member of NAEYC ( National Association for the Education of Young Children) and its local affiliates, DCAEYC which aim is to promote high quality early learning for all children, from birth through age 8, by connecting practice policy and research. My hobbies include traveling, watching movies, attending conventions, advocacyand community events that will further my knowledge in Early Childhood Education.