Staff

Aryanna Shepherd

Aryanna Shepherd

Preschool 2 Co-Teacher

Hi! I am Aryanna, I am originally from Jacksonville, North Carolina. I have lived in Loudon TN most of my life until my last few years of high school when I moved to Maryville. I am a teacher in the Pre-school 2 classroom! I have worked in the early childhood education field for 7 years, I absolutely love it. I love watching each individual student grow into the person they become, each child inspires me to keep making a positive impact everyday in the classroom, I’m excited to be here and meet all the new faces I see!

Brad Burleson

Brad Burleson

Junior Kindergarten Teacher

Hi! My name is Brad Burleson and I have taught PreKindergarten and Junior Kindegarten here at CCK for over 20 years! It has been a place that has allowed to me cultivate a great program to foster the independent skills needed to help a child succeed in Kindergarten.   I graduated from the University of Tennessee with a double major in Psychology and Elementary Education. My primary joy in teaching this age group is giving them the foundation for reading. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, hiking, tennis, and cheering on Tennessee! Go Vols!

Brittany Cruz

Brittany Cruz

Infant 2 Co-Teacher

My name is Brittany, I’m originally from New Tazewell, TN and I’m a recent college graduate from Carson Newman with a bachelor’s degree in child and Family Studies with a minor in General Psychology. I love helping others and working with students of all ages.

Camryn Taylor

Camryn Taylor

Floater Teacher

Hello, my name is Camryn Taylor. I have always loved kids so much; having the opportunity to be with them every day and see them grow is a blessing. I didn’t have too much experience with kids before CCK but always wanted to, now working here has given me the opportunity to learn so much about how to take care of children and I want to continue to learn new things every day. I feel a lot more confident with children now and I just love to have such great relationships with them all, it fills me with such joy.

Carrie McKinney

Carrie McKinney

Floater Assistant

Hello, my name is Carrie. My hobbies are reading and crossword puzzles. I love watching cooking shows. I love watching the babies at CCK as they grow and learn new things. I have a granddaughter (Ms. Jala) and a Great-granddaughter (Legaci). Who both attend CCK. I have already enjoyed my time here at CCK and cannot wait to watch these babies grow!

Debbie Hall

Debbie Hall

Preschool 1 Lead Teacher

Hello, my name is Debbie Hall. I am the lead teacher in Preschool 1. I have been working at CCK for 14 years. I really like my job because I love working with children. Teaching is the only profession in which you get to act like a kid again and get paid for it!

Denise Deibler

Denise Deibler

Pre-Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

Grisiela Rafael

Grisiela Rafael

Toddler 4 Teacher

Hi, my name is Grisiela Rafael and I was born in Miami, Florida, but was raised in Portland, Oregon. My parents love to travel, so I have been to all 50 states. I moved to Knoxville, TN is 2012 and graduated in 2014 and received my associate degree from Pellissippi State Community College. I have been in Early Childhood Educator for almost 6 years. Ever since I was a little kid, it has been a passion of mine to teach, I am so happy to be a part of your child and family’s life. I look forward to making a positive impact on every student that I come in contact with. I want to be a part of their learning and confidence building. I feel incredibly blessed to work at a place that encourages and nurtures a safe and loving environment.

Heaven Houston

Heaven Houston

Administrative Assistant

Hello, my name is Heaven Houston. I live in Anderson County with my husband and our 4 animals. I have my associate degree in early childhood education and my Tecta Certification. I am currently finishing up my AimHiTN Endorsement as an Infant Family associate. I will also be beginning my journey for my bachelor’s degree at ETSU in the summer. As you can tell I have a passion for furthering my education. My favorite hobbies are collecting cool cups and Stanleys. I am excited to be the administrative assistant. I look forward to growing with CCK.

Helen Brabson

Helen Brabson

Toddler 1 Assistant Teacher

Hello! My name is Helen Brabson and I have been working at CCK since 1981. I have loved working with children of all ages. I have two children, 6 grandchildren, and 7 great grandbabies, all of them are the light of my life!

Jaiden Gilbert

Jaiden Gilbert

Infant Co-Teacher

Hello! My name is Miss Jaiden. I was born and raised in Knoxville, TN. I graduated from Fulton High School and have attended PSTCC. I have worked with children for almost 3 years now and I love, love what I do! I am so excited to meet all the new faces. I love to travel and spend time with family.

Jala Jackson

Jala Jackson

Floater Teacher

Hi My name is Jala, I work in Preschool 2. I have worked with kids for 7 years and 2 of those years have been here at CCK. My daughter, Legaci, has also been here and a part of the CCK family as well. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends as much as I enjoy sharing my love, nurturing personality, creativity, and art with your kids. I am an enthusiastic person and look forward to meeting you and your families.

Jennifer Morse

Jennifer Morse

Toddler 3 Assistant Teacher

Dear Parents and Staff,
My name is Jennifer Morse and I am so excited to be part of the Children’s Center of Knoxville! In December my family and I made the move from San Diego to Tennessee!

Before moving to Maryville, I worked as the Director of Children’s Ministries at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church for 11 years. I was in charge of Sunday School programs for preschool through 5th grade as well as VBS. I was also a lead teacher for ages 3- preK for 10 years at Fletcher Hills Presbyterian Preschool.

In 2002 I graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelors degree in Liberal Studies.

I can’t wait to meet everyone!

Kristen Cannon

Kristen Cannon

Executive Director

My name is Kristen Cannon and I am your new Executive Director. Born and raised in Memphis, TN is where my passion for early education begin. From babysitting my nieces and nephew to serving in the church nursery, I loved taking care of children.  In 2001 I found myself in the TN hills where I have remained. During this time I have studied Early Childhood education, medical billing and coding and Buisness Administration. While hoping to one day pursue my dream of being an early childhood education consultant I continue to find joy in helping mold and make a difference in youth while serving the Knoxville Community.

 

Lee Jenks

Lee Jenks

Toddler 4 Assistant Teacher

Hey I’m Lee! I just moved here from Utah. I go by they/them pronouns, and I love getting creative. I like reading, making art, writing, and dancing. I’m almost always wearing my bright mint green Converse and Malachite necklace. I’m very excited for this adventure!

Malone Jimmerson

Malone Jimmerson

Floater Assistant

Hi, I am Malone and I am currently a freshman at the University of Tennessee. I have worked with children for years in my hometown of Memphis, TN and decided to continue the trend in my college years. 
Marilyn Caban

Marilyn Caban

Kitchen Assistant

Hello my name is Marilyn! I am a Christian and enjoy a good adventure. I am 30 years old and a single mother. I was born in Camden new jersey and raised in Mayagüez Puerto Rico. I am a single mother. I went to school for cosmetology and culinary arts which are my hobbies. I am currently seeking to continue my studies for what i would like to pursue as a career as a sign language elementary teacher. 😊 

 

Marisa Olvera

Marisa Olvera

Preschool 2 Co-Teacher

Hello everyone! My name is Marisa and I’m glad to be the newest member of the team here at CCK! Here are a few things about me. I am an artist at heart and I am currently studying to become an art teacher. I believe every child should have a chance to explore their own creativity through all mediums with the main goal being to have fun. One last bit of information about me- I am an old Hollywood film buff with my favorite actress being Betty Grable. With that being said, I am excited to be here at CCK!
Mihae James

Mihae James

Toddler 3 Lead Teacher

Hi, I’m Mihae James, co-lead teacher in Toddler 3. I am from Nashville, TN and have made Knoxville my hometown since graduating from my alma mater, Carson Newman College, I have worked as the toddler 3 teacher at CCK for the past 20 years because “teaching is my cardio.”

Penny Sleet

Penny Sleet

Toddler 1 Lead Teacher

I was born and raised in Knoxville, TN. I attended Halls High School and graduated from the University of TN- Knoxville. I live in Gibbs community with my husband and 2 children. I have worked at CCK with the youngest toddlers since 2003.

Sue Hall

Sue Hall

Infant 2 Assistant Teacher

Hi, my name is Mary Sue Hall. I have worked for CCK for over 20 years. I attended Doyle High School. I am from Knoxville. My husband is Rocky Hall. I have 3 children, Chris, Angie, and Jimmy. I have grandchildren and one grandson. I have a great love for children. I have a dog named Zeus. I love outdoors, reading, and watching old movies.

Tina Garner

Tina Garner

Pre-Kindergarten Lead Teacher

I am the oldest of 10 siblings and have had the privilege of working with kids from a young age. When I was 17.5 years old, I became an aide in a preschool classroom and began my education and career in Early Childhood Education. I have received my Associates Degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences and graduated California State University Chico with my Bachelors in Early Childhood Development as well as a Minor in Psychology. I have over 15 years’ experience as a Pre School teacher and 4 of those I Co-Owned my own center in California.

I have been happily married for over 20 years and have 2 amazing teenagers, a boy, and a girl. They are my pride and joy! I have spent the past 10 years in Nevada working along side my husband, where we owned and operated a Grocery Store in Sparks Nevada. We were privileged to be able to retire from that career, travel some, and start a new adventure across the US in Knoxville, TN., which after seeing many cities and states, we refer to as the sweet spot of America. We really love being in Knoxville.

I am so excited to be able to return to my career in ECE as a co-teacher in the Pre-K classroom at the Knoxville Children’s Center, I have missed being in a classroom and assisting in caring for and educating young children and look forward to being able to do this again.

Tracy Shields

Tracy Shields

Family Services Coordinator/ Assistant Director

I graduated from East Tennessee State University with my bachelor’s degree and Lincoln Memorial University with my master’s in education. I have taught children from Preschool to 7th grade special education. I have two dogs that I will talk about all day. In my spare time, I love to travel, cook and read.