Meet the wonderful people that will be teaching us at Building Relationships and Lasting Connections.

Dana Smith Ellingson

Dana Ellingson has been in the early childhood field for over 23 years. During that time, she has worked as a family child care professional, child care center teacher, mentor program manager, and coach. Dana is currently pursuing her master’s degree in early childhood education. Her recent focus has been on supporting adults that work with children to build quality in the early childhood education field, serving as an Infant and Toddler Specialist with the Center for Inclusive Child Care and an independent instructor.

Cindy Goldade, M.Ed.

Cindy is the owner of In-Motion Intelligence in Lino Lakes, Minnesota, where she consults with clients and is a master adult education instructor. Her career started with a Bachelor’s in Education that was quickly followed by a Master’s with a focus on Montessori. As owner and operator of Evergreen Montessori School, Cindy taught 3 – 6-year-olds for over a decade, during which time she learned of the Brain Gym program and proceeded to become a licensed instructor. Today, she is an International Brain Gym Faculty Member. She consults with clients and facilitates courses throughout the upper Midwest, including Hamline University and University WI-River Falls. With more than fifteen years applying what she teaches personally, professionally, and as a mother of three, Cindy combines her experience with over 1000 hours of mind/body course work to shape her expertise. She specializes in helping build the physical skills required for reading, focusing, listening, and stress processing.

Pat Gentz

Pat began serving children and families as a licensed Family Child Care Professional in Dakota County in 1983. One of her greatest joys is having her own grandchildren in her care. Pat’s initial teaching opportunities were offered in 1994 and to this date, she continues to teach for Think Small, local child care associations, neighborhood groups, and other early childhood organizations across the state. Pat is certified to instruct many of the classes that have been developed by DHS to meet the licensing requirements. Pat is a strong advocate for the Family Child Care profession and a mentor to many caregivers. Pat and her husband, Randy, live in Lakeville. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking, baking, entertaining, sunrises and sunsets, watching most sporting events, traveling, furthering her education…and having FUN!

Joyce Flynn

Joyce has a B.A. in Mass Communications from St. Catherine’s University. She is a registered parent educator who has worked in the field for over 30 years. Joyce is an approved instructor for training and professional development through MNCPD. She has conducted workshops, seminars, and classes for various schools, churches, child care facilities, work place “brown-baggers,” Think Small/Child Care Aware, and other community organizations. She has raised three sons and is thoroughly enjoying her eight grandchildren.

Kim Woehl
Acorn Education and Consulting

Kim owns and operates Acorn Education and Consulting. She had a successful licensed family child care business for 22 years and has been educating child care professionals since 1996. You can find Kim around the state teaching onsite classes as well as online classes through the Eager to Learn program. Kim is passionate about her work and especially enjoys helping caregivers find solutions to behavior and environmental challenges in their programs. She believes that everyone is capable of learning and strives to encourage everyone to set some personal goals and then reach to obtain them.

Molly Hughes, M.A.

Molly Hughes has worked in the Early Childhood Education field for over 25 years in a variety of settings. She currently works as a family child care professional by day and as a Master Trainer evenings and weekends. She believes professional development is essential to helping caregivers feel confident and stay excited about their work. Molly loves to hike, knit, and snuggle up on the couch with a good book (alone or with little friends).

Jackie Harrington

Jackie has been an active early childhood practitioner in Rochester, Minnesota for 20 years. She enjoys connecting with others in the field in her other roles as Achieve Trainer II, Eager to Learn instructor, family child care professional, mentor and early childhood advocate. She strives to connect her training topics to program practices in real life, hands-on ways. Her topics focus on nature, music, observation and documentation, assessment, curriculum, the early learning standards, and other ways to support children in everyday experiences in your program. Recently, her calendar was filled bringing the Minnesota Infant Toddler Credential to numerous cohorts of early education professionals across southeast Minnesota. Outside of early childhood, she enjoys perennial gardening, The Great British Bake series, crocheting, and running 5/10Ks.

Stephanie Ponticas
Hearts and Minds Daycare

Stephanie is the owner/operator of Hearts & Minds Preschool, a 4-Star Parent Aware rated family child care business. She has been working with children most of her adult life, starting with her nine children and 17 grandchildren. She has been working as a licensed Family Child Care Professional for the last 18 years. She has a passion for teaching both children and adults, especially when she can teach adults more about children!

Andy Johnsrud, M.Ed.
Warriors of the Open Hearts

The practical skills we teach were born of necessity! From this necessity has grown a unique and practical perspective that equips adults with what they need to give all kids their very best shot at success in the real world. Twenty years of experience as a public school teacher provided a guarantee that we don’t get guarantees with kids. Because we can’t control another person’s behavior or life, our actions and responses must be skillful. Healthy adults give kids the greatest gift possible – the gift of example through loving limits

Raelene Ostberg, M.Ed.

Raelene’s dream of being an actress was transformed forever after the birth of her first daughter. Through the assistance of the amazing childcare providers and early childhood teachers she had the privilege to work alongside, Raelene successfully raised two daughters, obtained her B.A. in Theater and M.Ed. in Family Education from the University of Minnesota, and became an Achieve Master Instructor and Licensed Parent Educator. Raelene has dedicated herself to developing and delivering transformative keynotes, in-person workshops, live Facebook “Naptime Nuggets,” and other online education series. Her work is focused on decreasing stress, enhancing joy, and bolstering the success of early childhood professionals, leaders, and coaches in their critical work. To date, Raelene has delivered fun and useful learning experiences that have informed, engaged, entertained, and inspired thousands of early childhood professionals and parents.

Exceptional education for childcare professionals who care.


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