Smart Start Early Learning Center’s (ELC) founding director and Lead Early Childhood Specialist , Nikki Hemberry, has 25 years experience in the early childhood classroom and has owned early learning centers in Fruitland, ID, Spokane, WA, and now Longview. In 2009, she finished her Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education (ECE) at Lower Columbia College. Annually, Nikki takes classes to add to her certification in ECE, and she worked as a mentor teacher at Lower Columbia College prior to opening Smart Start ELC. Nikki is a Pastor in the Pacific Northwest Conference of the Free Methodist Church and is taking classes toward a Pastoral Family/Child Counselor’s degree, which will provide additional opportunities for serving Smart Start ELC families. Nikki and her husband Scott (Lead Pastor here at Exodus Church ) have lived in Longview for over 14 years. They have four daughters, three sons-in-law, and 5 grandkids. Outside of school, Nikki loves her gym time, outdoor activities, party planning, and, above all, the activities her family brings into her life. God, family, strong foundations, and instilling high self-esteem as a result of her interactions with all whom she encounters are among the highest priorities for Nikki in her personal life. You will find that Nikki spends a lot of time inside all of the Smart Start ELC classrooms as it is her passion to plan, write, and organize curriculum based on her observations of the individual developmental levels, interests, and specific needs of each unique classroom setting. Outside of her classroom teaching responsibilities, you will find Nikki in the office as our center Director.
A graduate of Western Oregon University with a Master’s degree in Language Arts and Secondary Education, Lara Moore is a licensed teacher (grades pre-kindergarten through 12) who spent seven years teaching English at an Oregon high school and nine years at Lower Columbia College teaching basic skills, English, and early childhood education. Lara is married to her husband John, and they have a daughter Emma. Lara enjoys hosting events for family and friends, quilting, reading, watching baseball, and volunteering. Lara has spent a career in education and is so pleased to continue that journey with Smart Start ELC. In her seventh year at Smart Start, Lara exercises her strong leadership, communication, organizational, and professional skills in our Smart Start ELC office as our Operations Administrator.
Marissa Hamlik has a Bachelor's degree in Elementary education and started working in the early childhood field in 2013. She has worked as a preschool/pre-k lead teacher at Smart Start ELC for five years, and a Kindergarten Teacher for three years. Her additional teaching experiences have included Assistant Teacher at Smart Start, student teaching in a 1st grade classroom at CVG, assistant teacher at Kids Campus in McPherson, KS, as well as tutoring children in our community. Marissa and her husband Joey have one daughter and one son. Outside of school, Marissa loves traveling, relaxing at home, and being with her family. Marissa is very passionate about the social and emotional growth of her students and is excited to combine that with the educational level of a Kindergarten classroom.
Alicia Bate has been a part of Smart Start for many years doing a range of various things. For three years she has been an Assistant Teacher in several of our Preschool/Pre-K Classes and now serves as our Pastor and Music Teacher. Alicia has training from Hillsong International Leadership College in Church Leadership & Songwriting and her Associate’s Degree from Lower College. She is also a Pastor in the Pacific Northwest Conference of the Free Methodist Church. Outside the classroom you’ll find Alicia serving Exodus Church and spending time with her family- her husband and son. Alicia is passionate about children understanding how deeply loved they are by Jesus.