Meet Our Staff

The Northland Early Education Center is committed to hiring dedicated, highly educated, and extremely qualified therapists, lead teachers and staff that continually work as one cohesive team to provide the highest, nationally-accredited early education and therapeutic services in Kansas City’s Northland. Our incomparable team consists of four therapists, nine lead teachers, 22 assistant teachers, and five administrative staff. Each of NEEC’s classrooms is staffed by one lead teacher and a minimum of two assistant teachers ensuring each classroom achieves lower than state-mandated student to teacher ratios.   NEEC prides its self on having one the most highly qualified teaching personnel teams in the Kansas City metropolitan area. NEEC lead teachers are required to have a Bachelor’s degree in early education or a related field. Many assistant teachers also hold a Bachelor’s degree and/or have or are working toward an Associate’s Degree in early education. NEEC’s four therapists who specialize in physical and occupational therapy, speech and language pathology and special instruction play a vital role in the Early Intervention Services program. Each therapist brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the NEEC program. NEEC’s therapists must meet all Missouri state licensure and certification requirements for practicing in the field and receive Missouri First Steps program approval.

All teachers and therapists are required to complete continuing education and training hours; lead teachers and assistant teachers are encouraged to complete 18 hours, with a minimum of 15 hours. NEEC’s annual budget allocates funds to send staff members to conferences and/or training’s that are off-site to assist with their continuing education. Some training opportunities frequented by the staff, include the NAEYC conference, CARF conference, training’s on behavior disorders and teamwork seminars. In addition, NEEC staff members hold monthly meetings to review and discuss policies, share information learned at training’s and to stay informed as a cohesive team. All staff members are committed to maintaining high quality standards for our early education program.



Brea Connett – Executive Director

Brea Connett, was named Executive Director in December 2017.   Her dedication and commitment to Northland Early Education Center’s mission has shown in her 17 years of service with the program.  She began her career at NEEC in 2000 working as an Assistant Teacher in the Blue Room (3 to 5 year old classroom) for over three years and as Lead Teacher in the Brown Room (2-year-old classroom) for four years after that.  In 2007, Brea was named the school’s Program Director, where she spent 10 years leading a large group of teachers and staff, ensuring that every classroom met accreditation and licensing standards, with quality and inclusion being the number one priority.  Brea will now lead NEEC in a new role as the Executive Director.

Brea was born and raised in Denison, Iowa and comes from a very large family with three biological brothers, two adopted brothers and two foster sisters. She moved to Kansas City in 2000 and earned her B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis in child development and education from Park University. In 2009, she completed a Masters of Education in Educational, School and Counseling Psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. In her spare time Brea enjoys spending time with her husband, Jeff, and four sons, Tanner, Jax, Lucian and Cannon.

As the Executive Director, Brea’s role is to oversee all operations of Northland Early Education Center, ensuring fiscal sustainability and organizational growth.

Natasha Lehman – Program Director

Natasha began as a lead teacher at Northland Early Education Center in February of 2004 after receiving her degree in Middle School and Education; English and Speech from Southwest Baptist University.  Her NEEC journey began as a Lead Teacher in the Green Room (1-year-old classroom) and transitioned with a group of students to the Yellow Room (2-year-old classroom) and then the Blue Room (3 to 5 year old classroom). When those children were ready for kindergarten, she moved to the Brown Room (2-year old classroom). From there, she transitioned with another group of students to the Orange room (3 to 5 year old classroom), where she stayed until recently being promoted to NEEC’s, Program Director in December of 2017.

Natasha was one of 50 recipients throughout the nation of the Terri Lynn Lockoff Child Care Foundation award in 2015. She serves on the Northland Early Education Council, was the 2017 NEEC Social Committee Chair and serves on other committees throughout NEEC. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Ben and two children, Garrett an Georgia.

As Program Director, Natasha ensures that all services are meeting accreditation and licensing standards and that families are satisfied with the quality of services they are receiving from NEEC.

Sean Cunniff – Development Director

Sean joined NEEC as Development Director in June 2018 after a career in TV News. Behind the scenes, Sean helped tell stories that mattered to people, kept the public informed on important issues and drove the community to action when it was time to step up and make things happen.

Sean grew up in a home filled with children. His mother did daycare out of their home and that is where Sean learned an appreciation and gained a passion for nurturing children and helping them achieve their goals. He graduated from Texas Tech University in 2011 with a degree in Electronic Media & Mass Communications. He enjoys speaking with people across various platforms and getting those people to take action on whatever their passion may be.

As Development Director, Sean is responsible for securing funding for NEEC through grants, fundraisers and annual giving contributions.

Cindy Humbird – Office Manager

Cindy has been a part of NEEC’s team since May 1991. Cindy has two grown sons, Allan and Kevin and five grandchildren.

Mary Shurtz – Office Assistant

Mary Shurtz began her position as Office Assistant in May 2014. Mary has three kids, four grandkids and two great grandkids. She has a daughter in Texas that will add to her grandkids in the future, when she finishes nursing school.

Lead Teachers


Paula Morrow

Infant Room / Birth to 12 Months – Pink Room

Hi, my name is Paula Morrow. I have worked for NEEC since 1992, all of which has been in the Infant department, though my association with the school began 1 ½ years earlier as a parent when my youngest son began receiving therapy services. I graduated from Kansas City Board of Education Program of Practical Nursing in 1984.


Whitney Dooley

Infant Room / Birth to 12 Months – Purple Room

My name is Whitney Dooley and I am the Lead Teacher in the Purple Polliwogs Room.  I worked here at NEEC from 2005 to 2012 in the Orange Room and then in the Gold Room where I got a chance to work in all the rooms, falling in love with the infant room.  I came back to NEEC in February of 2015 to help out in the Orange Room when I took on the position of lead teacher in the Purple Room in April.  I got married to my husband in October of 2014 and we had our first child in February of 2016.  I look forward to getting to know all the kids and their families.

Amy Croghan

1 Year Old Room – Red Room

My name is Amy Croghan, and I started working at NEEC in 2006. I have been the lead teacher in the Red Ladybugs room the entire time. I have my bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy from the University of Kansas and enjoy incorporating music into lesson plans and daily tasks. I am married and have a handsome son and beautiful daughter who have both attended school at NEEC. I enjoy watching young children absorb all the information around them and the relationships they form at such a young age.


Lauren Pitnick

1 Year Old Room – Green Room

My name is Lauren Pitnick. I have worked at NEEC since February 2014. I became the lead teacher in the green room in January 2017. I have worked in a preschool setting for ten years now. I am currently attending Park University to complete my Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. I am married and have a six year old son with special needs, and brand new baby girl. Teaching is my passion, and I couldn’t be more excited to work with your children and watch them grow each and everyday.


Jodi Carullo

2 Year Old Room – Brown Room

I am Jodi Carullo and I have worked for NEEC since March 2012. I have my Masters Degree in Special Education and a Missouri Teaching Credential in Special Education. I have been in the field of education for over 18 years. I love working with 2-year-olds! They make such huge changes in the year that I have them!


Logan Willoughby

2 Year Old Room – Yellow Room

While working on her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, Logan Willoughby began working at NEEC in the Orange, 3 to 5 year old room in March of 2016 and moved to the Blue room, the other 3 to 5 year old room in 2017. In February of 2018, Logan became the Lead Teacher in the Yellow 2 year old room.  She enjoys going to Chief’s games and having bonfires with her friends. She is excited and feels privileged to work with the children at NEEC.

Tammy Dodd

3 to 5 Year Old Room – Blue Room

Tammy Dodd has worked at NEEC since 2008. She has her CDA (Child Development Associate Certificate) and is currently finishing her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. While working at NEEC, she has had the opportunity to work with children of all ages. She enjoys watching children learn and grow.


Whitney Horn

3 to 5 Year Old Room – Orange Room

My name is Whitney Horn, and I started working at Northland Early Education Center in March of 2014 as a lead in the Yellow Room. I worked in there until July of 2016. I briefly left NEEC to work with adults with disabilities.  I soon found that my passion was working with children and decided to come back to NEEC as the lead teacher in Orange Room in December of 2017! I received my bachelor’s Degree in Recreational Therapy from Northwest Missouri State University in 2013. I got married in November of 2017 and we are expecting our own little bundle of joy this September! I love spending my days learning and creating with the pre-k classroom!


Sarah Bruce

Before and After School/Summer Programs – Gold Room

Ages 6 to 14

My name is Sarah Bruce and I am the lead teacher in the School age before/after/summer program. I have worked for this amazing school since September 1995.  I have been a lead teacher for the past 15 years.  I am currently attending classes to finish my degree in Early Childhood Education. My husband and I have  three children, Mariah, Isaiah and Alana.   I am excited to bring my knowledge as a seasoned NEEC teacher and experience as a mom of a child with bipolar disorder/ADHD and of a child with ADHD/Tic Disorder. I truly enjoy every day I spend here and that I get to help children be successful within the school environment and to help them reach their full potential.


Employment Opportunities

Northland Early Education Center will accept employment applications at any time; however, openings depend upon the school’s need. Please submit applications to the following address:

Northland Early Education Center  |  8630 North Oak Trafficway  |  Kansas City, MO 64155

For questions please contact us at 816-420-9005.

Northland Early Education Center is an Equal Opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, national origin, age, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, veteran status, gender identity or expression, or any other basis protected by local, state, or federal law. This policy applies with regard to all aspects of one’s employment, including hiring, promotion, compensation, eligibility for benefits, and termination.