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 trainings that are off-site to assist with their continuing education. Some training opportunities frequented by the staff, include the NAEYC conference, CARF conference, trainings on behavior disorders and teamwork seminars. In addition, NEEC staff members hold monthly meetings to review and discuss policies, share information learned at trainings and to stay informed as a cohesive team. All staff members are committed to maintaining high quality standards for our early education program.




Jill Bartlett – Executive Director

Jill Bartlett, Executive Director, has worked at Northland Early Education Center since July 2002. She attended college at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa as well as William Jewell College in Liberty, MO, where she graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. She came to NEEC with 15 years of experience in accounting and business management. She is a proud long term Northland resident and currently lives in Kearney, MO, along with her husband and two children.

As executive director, Jill is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the organization, including managing committees and staff as well as developing strategic plans in collaboration with the board of directors for the future of the organization.

Brea Connett – Program Director

Brea Connett, Program Director since 2007, is a familiar face at the school. She began her career at NEEC in 2000 working as an assistant teacher in the Blue Room for over three years and as lead teacher in the Brown room for four years after that. 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 three sons, Tanner, Jax, Lucian and Cannon.

As Program Director, Brea 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.

Andrea McKown – Development Director

Andrea McKown, Development Director, attended college at Missouri State University, where she earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations in Dec. 2003.  Andrea joined the NEEC team in August 2011. She has over 14 years of experience in fundraising, event management and marketing. Prior to joining the NEEC team, she spent five years with the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in Springfield, MO, leading their major fundraising events and directing their marketing efforts throughout the state.  Andrea lives in Kearney, Mo and loves spending time with her husband, Nate, three children, Gabby, Andrew and Aubrey and two dogs, Barley and Frank.  Andrea and her family will welcome a fourth child in December.

As Development Director, Andrea is in charge of securing funding for the school through grants, annual fundraisers and annual giving. In addition, her active involvement with area community events and organizations will raise awareness of the wonderful early education and therapy services provided by Northland Early Education Center.

Cindy Humbird – Office Manager

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

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 – Pink Puffins

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 – Purple Pollywogs

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

One Year Old Room – Red Lady Bugs

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.


Carmen Vandergrift

One Year Old Room – Green Grasshoppers

My name is Carmen Vandergrift and I’ve been with NEEC since April 2013 as an assistant and as a lead teacher since June 2013. I have my Bachelors in Elementary Education from the University of Texas. This is my seventh year teaching the infants/toddlers age group.   Most of my experience in early childhood education was in Texas. I enjoy working in this age group because they have so much energy and they make my job a lot of fun! I live in Liberty, MO with my husband and two kids.


Jodi Carullo

Two Year Old Room – Brown Bears

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!


Lindsey Linch

Two Year Old Room – Yellow Bumblebees


Hello! My name is Lindsey, and I’m the Yellow Bumblebee lead teacher. I have my bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Park University, and my Missouri teaching license which certifies me to teach birth through third grade. I have many years of hands on experience in various early childhood settings. I also have previous experience with special needs children and medical knowledge.  This is my second year at NEEC, and I love being the lead teacher in the Bumblebees!  I am a proud wife, mommy to three, and mommy to five cuddly fur-babies.  I enjoy crafting, family time, and going to sporting events in my spare time.  It is my goal to provide a foundation for each child to create their own success.

Megan Hurst

Three Year Old Room – Blue Baboons

Hello! My name is Megan Hurst and I am the lead teacher in the Blue Room. I grew up in a small town just south of St. Joseph. I attended college at Northwest Missouri State University. I graduated in December 2012, with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Early Childhood. I am certified to teach birth-6th grade. I moved to Kansas City in 2013 and began working in the Blue room at NEEC in October of 2013. I truly love the children here and learn so much from them each year. My hours are Monday-Friday 6:30 a.m-3:00 p.m. We are always open to visitors and volunteers!


Natasha Lehman

Three Year Old Room – Orange Orangutans

My name is Natasha Lehman and I began working as a lead teacher at NEEC in February of 2004 after I received my degree in Middle School Education; English and Speech from Southwest Baptist University. I had the opportunity to transition as the lead teacher from the Green Room (1-year-old room), to the Yellow Room (2-year-old room), and the Blue Room (3 to 5-old rood) with the same group of students. I also spent some time as the lead teacher in the Brown Bears 2-year-old room before transitioning to the Orange Orangutans 3 to 5-year-old classroom. I greatly enjoy the children in my Pre-K classroom and seeing their excitement for learning.


Sarah Bruce

Before and After School/Summer Programs – Gold Fish

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.