MEET THE TEAM
Marni Fuente has over 16 years of experience in grants development and management, early childhood education, developmentally appropriate practice and assessment, teacher education and training as well as lecturing and consulting. During her tenure at Hillsborough Community College, Marni has secured and managed over $5M in grant funding to help cultivate innovative childhood education programs that provide targeted early literacy intervention, multi-generational literacy approaches, materials to strengthen the home-school connection and professional development to child care providers and families in Hillsborough County. In addition, she teaches college level courses in the early childhood departments at both HCC and Nova Southeastern University and is a certified trainer in multiple assessment tools. Her graduate degrees include an M.S. in Child Development and Education and an Ed. S. in Early Childhood Development with a concentration in curriculum and instruction. Marni has also consulted and collaborated on many state and local initiatives including the United Way’s Early Learning Campaign, Helios Early Childhood Education Theory of Change, Early Learning Community Conversation – 2K – Get in the Race and she is affiliated with several early childhood professional organizations (NAEYC, AACC, Zero to Three, NEA).
Denise Pullano has over 11 years of experience in early childhood education. She has worked for the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County as a consultant, conducting early learning assessments such as Kaufman Survey of Early Academic and Language Skills (K-SEALS) and Early Literacy Skills Assessment (ELSA). She has also served as a monitor for the VPK Program in Hillsborough County. For the past eight years, Denise has been working for the Early Literacy Matters (ELM) Program at Hillsborough Community College as an Early Literacy Coach and Trainer. Denise provides on-site support and training to early childhood teachers in early literacy strategies and teaches developmentally appropriate practice. Denise conducts early literacy assessments on and delivers weekly on-site small group literacy intervention to “at risk” children in Hillsborough County. Additionally, Denise is the liaison between myON Reader staff and the children and families in the ELM program. She has taught early childhood classes for the Early Childhood Professional Certification Program (ECPC) at Hillsborough Community College. Denise is a graduate of Florida State University with a degree in business and specialization in marketing.
Pat Morales joined the Hillsborough Community College Early Literacy Matters (ELM) team in June of 2002; she currently serves as an exceptional literacy coach of three and four year-olds and an early childhood trainer. Pat often presents professional workshops at early childhood conferences. She also serves as an adjunct professor for the Hillsborough Community College Early Childhood Program where she thrives teaching hopeful educators to become successful in their careers. Prior to joining Hillsborough Community College, Ms. Morales spent 30 years in family support programs and childcare management across the Unites States and Europe. As a military spouse, she taught in and managed several Department of Defense (DOD) and Royal Air Force (RAF) early childhood programs. Over the years, Pat has been responsible for various family education trainings/programs. Pat holds a bachelor’s degree in Management Studies from the University of Maryland University College and a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Florida. Pat has also served as president of the local chapter of the Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC), organizing professional events and trainings.
Lynn Mendelsohn has over 10 years of experience in early childhood education. She specializes in early literacy and is a professional trainer with the Early Literacy Matters (ELM) program, Hillsborough Community College. In her eighth year with the program, Ms. Mendelsohn has delivered both hourly in-service training and Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to early childhood providers. She began her teaching, counseling and student development career as a college student affairs administrator, gradually shifting her career emphasis to early childhood development while raising her own young children. Lynn is the author of several locally published articles and book reviews focusing on the use of good literature in the classroom to reinforce early literacy skills and early childhood best practices. Ms. Mendelsohn has a B.A. in history and political science from Colorado College, a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Western Michigan University and a permanent staff credential (C.D.A.) from Hillsborough Community College.
Kellie Hales has been a literacy coach with Early Literacy Matters (ELM) for almost three years. She has worked in early childhood education for 31 years as a teacher and administrator. She obtained 20 credits in Human Services from Elon College in North Carolina and obtained her C.D.A. and Director’s Credential from Hillsborough Community College in 2009. Kellie is currently earning an A.S. in Early Childhood from Hillsborough Community College and will complete her studies with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Florida. Kellie served as the Director of the Lowry Park Zoo Preschool for six years. During that period, she wrote and received a grant for a nature playground, developed a science-based curriculum and hosted the Hillsborough Community College Early Childhood Professional Credential (ECPC) program. Prior to her move to Florida, Ms. Hales created the “Planet Earth Science Club,” a private program for preschoolers that brought animals into the classroom to enrich children’s knowledge about earth and our co-existence with its animals. Kellie’s passion remains teaching children to value our earth, our environment and its animals through literacy activities.
Natasha Williams has over 16 years of experience in the early childhood education field. She began her studies in business and marketing at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada and finished with an A.S. degree in Early Childhood Education from Hillsborough Community College in 2015. She holds a staff credential (C.D.A.) from Nova Southeastern University. The transition from business to early education occurred in 2001 when Natasha, who had worked in retail, was offered a preschool teacher position in a private school in Brandon, FL. She realized immediately that her true passion is working closely with children and families, building strong relationships and home-school connections to ensure optimal child development and learning. In successive years, she became a lead VPK teacher and ultimately a Preschool Specialist—overseeing curriculum and activities center-wide while teaching a VPK class of her own—at a private preschool in South Tampa. Natasha has been working as a Literacy Specialist for Early Literacy Matters (ELM) where she has provided on-site support to early childhood teachers and has delivered weekly small group literacy intervention to “at risk” three and four year-old children.
Sue Dye is a passionate educator and advocate for early learning. Sue has an A.A. from the University of Florida and a B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of South Florida. With her previous teaching experience as a kindergarten and first grade teacher, she understands all of the duties associated with administration and management of the classroom; preparation of lesson plans, securing resources, motivation of students, evaluation and monitoring of progress, interaction with administrators and working with other teachers. At ELM, Sue holds the Early Literacy Trainer & Special Projects position in which she teaches preschool aged children in under-served communities early literacy strategies (print concepts, alphabetic principal, phonological awareness and comprehension). She enjoys creating and implementing tools or books to enhance and support each child care center’s curriculum as well as the use of songs, poems and finger play to support a literacy rich environment in each classroom.
Rachel Kummelman has over 5 years of experience working in Early Childhood Education. She graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2018 with her B.S in Child and Youth Studies. She has always had a passion for working with young children as she started her career working for the YMCA in their summer camp program for at risk youth. Throughout college she taught VPK full time as well as supervised the curriculum for her child care center. She is dedicated to enriching the lives of children, families and educators through her advocacy of diversity and inclusion. Currently, she serves as a Literacy Coach for Early Literacy Matters (ELM) where she prepares young children for Kindergarten in under-served communities throughout Hillsborough County.
Michelle Moore joins Early Literacy Matters (ELM) as an Early Literacy Specialist. Her career in education began over 21 years ago as an Elementary Education teacher in Kindergarten, 4th and 6th grades. Until recently, Michelle has spent the last 11 years as an Instructional Coach in Northern Virginia, supporting administrators, teachers, and students in Pre-K through 6th grade. Michelle graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science in Education. She earned a Master of Arts in New Professional Studies with a concentration in Teaching from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Currently, Michelle holds a Florida Educator Certificate in grades Pre-K - 6. Michelle is excited to bring her coaching and instructional experiences to Hillsborough County to promote literacy development in the early learning community.