La Casita Preschool Teachers Believe:

  • All children have the potential to learn

  • Children learn naturally by interacting with people and objects in their environment

  • Children learn best when learning is personally meaningful and interesting

  • Children learn best when they make their own choices

  • Children have their own individual learning pace and style

  • Children have their individual emotional needs within a group. Some children will find a different way of doing a routine

  • When children are learning a new skill, they tend to repeat the skill until it is mastered

  • Always let a child do for himself what he or she can do before doing it for them

  • A good question is better than a good answer

  • Instead of asking "What color is the sky?" (A question which has only one answer), ask "I wonder why the sky is blue?" or "What do you see?" (A question that promotes thinking and reasoning, and has no wrong answers.)


Helen McDonald:  Co-Director and Teacher

Five well-trained and experienced teachers compose the teaching staff at La Casita. Helen McDonald: Director and Co-Teacher Helen received her B.A. in Studio Art and Psychology, with a concentration in Art Therapy. She graduated Suma Cum Laude from the College of Santa Fe. While in college, Helen studied Art Therapy and worked with at-risk children in the public elementary schools as well as conducting visual art and book arts workshops at the Children’s Museum and local elementary schools. She has also studied Early Childhood Education extensively at the community college. Besides homeschooling her children for five years, Helen has worked with children in a variety of settings, including teaching preschool and elementary school for 12 years. As a former La Casita Parent, Helen served on the board of directors during her time here. She has also done coursework towards a masters degree from St. John’s College. In her free time Helen is also an artist, craftsperson, and gardener. She is celebrating her fifth year as Director and Co-Teacher at La Casita Preschool. Helen finds working in a Reggio-Inspired school to be a rich and rewarding experience, and is passionate about cultivating the strong image of the child in families, schools, and community.

Elizabeth So: Co-Director and Teacher

Lizzie is delighted to be a part of La Casita, and to be able to facilitate the school in its joyful journey of discovery and play. After receiving her B.A. in English Language and Literature from Durham University in the UK, she later achieved a masters in Creative Writing from the University of St Andrews, in Scotland. She has worked with children and teens in the UK, Spain and USA, acting variously as a teaching assistant for children with learning and behavioral difficulties, an art teacher for migrant children and English teacher for non-native speakers. Lizzie learnt Spanish and Catalan during her years abroad, and is passionate about communication, creativity and artistic expression. She is a freelance writer and published poet, and has written for documentary film and children’s theatre.

Alison Harvey Cullen: Head Teacher

Alison is thrilled and honored to be La Casita’s head teacher, sharing the duties with co-teacher, Devon Corbet. Alison earned a MFA in dance from Meadows School of the Arts. She danced and choreographed professionally in Texas, California, and New Mexico. Upon having her own two beautiful children, Alison became very involved in art education and taught and facilitated the Art in the School program at Wood Gormley Elementary school. Over the years at La Casita, Alison has worked in almost every capacity; parent, afternoon teacher, morning teacher, substitute teacher, president of the board, and now head teacher. Alison embraces her job at La Casita indulging in her love of working with preschoolers, facilitating their confident self-expression, and fostering their natural love of nature and the arts.

Anya Eckert: Afternoon Teacher

Anya has been working with children for many years. She has taught in the private school setting, worked as a nanny, and been trained and worked as a peer counselor. She has also trained as a caregiver for children with special needs in the Santa Fe Community. Since working as a teacher at La Casita previously, Anya has been completing her Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Besides being a teacher, Anya enjoys jewelry making, mixed media collage, and other artistic pursuits. She is passionate about working with children. She appreciates seeing the world through their eyes, and is fascinated by the importance of the inner dialogue children experience in their creative process.

Cedar McCarthy: Afternoon and Morning Teacher

Cedar received her training in Early Childhood Education at the community college, and has been working with children in Santa Fe for many years as a lifeguard, swim instructor, babysitter, and teacher. Cedar enjoys exploring art and nature with children. She has a history of competitive swimming, and enjoys hiking and camping. She is currently studying at the community college.

LYNN KELLY: Our Founder and Consultant

Lynn earned a B.A. in English and Psychology from Cornell University. She also completed Education and Child Development courses at State University of New York and at The College of Santa Fe. Lynn graduated from UNM with distinction with a M.A. in Special Education with concentration in Early Childhood, Behavior Disorders, and Counseling Parents. Lynn founded La Casita Preschool with Teri Hackler in 1971. Lynn worked previously as an Early Childhood teacher in Buffalo, N.Y. In addition, she has worked as a counselor for New Vistas Independent Living Center and for the New Mexico Human Services Department. Lynn held leadership positions in the Santa Fe Association for the Education of Young Children and is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. She attends New Mexico NAEYC and New Mexico Child Care conferences annually. In addition, she frequently presents and attends National NAYEC conferences. A recognized leader in the Early Childhood Development community, Lynn has also presented workshops at New Mexico NAEYC conferences, Parents’ University (Santa Fe Community College), New Mexico Child Care Conferences, and the Knowing Children Series at the Santa Fe Public Library. In addition, Lynn has periodically taught classes at Santa Fe Community College in Early Childhood. Through the support of La Casita, she attended seminars at the famous Reggio Emilia preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Lynn was president of the Northeast AEYC in 2004-2005. In 2005-2006 she was president of the NMAEYC.


Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.
— Kay Redfield Jamison, Contemporary American professor of psychiatry