WE’VE GOT SERIOUS SKILLS
“A teachers has a unique role..it is not the role of mother or therapist or peer, but that of one who values learner and learning professionally.” ~David Hawkins-
Meet Our Team
Owner/Executive Director – Suzanne Gabli *Celebrating 16 years of service
In 1999 my husband and I were new parents looking for quality, safe, nurturing childcare for our precious baby to be. We decided on a quaint old farmhouse that was warm and nurturing environment for our Son. Three years later we were blessed with our Daughter and she also attended the center. In 2004 my husband Joe and I decided to invest in our children’s early childhood education and in the Highland community. We were presented with the opportunity to purchase this charming farmhouse and business. This was going to b e the place that we could insure that the children who attended would have great nurturing teachers, a safe and exciting learning environment, creating fond childhood memories and a sense of community for the families we serve. In conjunction with a great surprise that baby number three was on the way. Although this farmhouse had some rough edges and needed a lot of tender loving care, we knew it was filled with heart. We chose to build on the natural and organic beliefs that children are respected and where children are given the opportunity to experience joy in where great childhood memories are created. For this is what originally attracted us here. As a mother of three, I have watched my children experience various educational philosophies from private to public schooling. I was inspired to create a new learning environment where children are respected as individuals and are inspired to learn from the heart. I am an advocate for children of all ages. The Reggio Emilia approach to learning falls within my strong belief that all children are filled with joy, competency, power and resourcefulness. I believe in the, 100 languages of a child and that young children need many mediums to express themselves and the world around them.
Being a leader and visionary to develop a strong early childhood learning community is my passion. I continue as a life long learner to grow in this practice. I have been making strong connections with like minds in the ECE field. Following centers who are incorporating best practice standards. I have been an active part of Michigan Inspirations since 2011 as a steering committee member.
In 2014, I had the opportunity to visit and study at the Municipal Infant Toddler Centers of Reggio Emilia, Italy with CMU and Michigan Inspirations study group. For two weeks to study and learn about early childhood from the Italian perspective. The main part of the trip was visiting the city of Reggio Emilia, Italy. We visited Loris Malaguzzi International Centre and Guided Tours of Exhibits and Ateliers, Ray of Light and Atelier of food, Presentation of a Research Project from the School, Sharing Reflections, and Tour of the Infant/Toddler and Early Childhood Centers of Cavriago. Reggio Emilia is the birthplace of the Reggio Emilia Approach. This educational philosophy started after World War II and is based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery. Being on this journey for over 10 years at the time was a validation for our school and an inspiration of where we can still go. We continue to be inspired by this practice and love growing deeper in this context. I have presented at Baker College on best practice in ECE, MIAEYC Infant Toddler Nature Presentation, and Team Facilitated two day works shop on Really Seeing children with Deb Curtis and Margie Carter through Michigan Inspiration workshop.
I believe that given challenges, support, kindness, and love their accomplishments are vast and outstanding. With guidance, children together, work hard, play hard and care for each other and the community around them while exploring new and varied topics and questions. It is all about the relationships and we cultivate them everyday. I am so proud of our teaching staff, here at our school. We are on a great journey and making an impact in our community with family’s and young children is a blessing. They are amazing and wonderful people who care deeply about children and making each day here engaging with wonderful learning opportunities and fun. Today is the present enjoy every minute of it.
Director – Margaret Sclesky *Celebrating 1 years of service
Hello, my name is Margaret Sclesky and I am the Director of Building Blocks Preschool. I began my career in Early Childhood Education as a Head Start teacher in a double session program in Harrison, MI (Clare County) in 1992. I was promoted to Lead Teacher and site supervisor the following year. I remained in that position for the next 20 years until my classroom was closed due to budget cuts. I found a wonderful position at Oakland Family Services as an Early Learning Communities Instructor/Trainer. I provided professional development training for licensed program staff, unlicensed caregivers and parents. In 2013 I was promoted to Lead Instructor/ Parent Facilitator. During this phase of my employment I not only provided trainings, but added Play and Learns for children 0-5, PIWI (Parents Interacting With Infants) for children and their parents for 0-2, and facilitated “Positive Solutions for Families”, a 6 week series for parents and court ordered participants, who were required to take a parenting training class prior to unification with their children.
I have an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Oakland Community College, Highland Lakes Campus, a Bachelor of Arts in Family Life Education from Spring Arbor University and a Master’s of Science in Early Childhood Studies with a concentration in Early Childhood Administration, Management and Leadership from Walden University.
A bit about my personal life, I am the mother to 3 grown sons and my precious “fur-babies”. I have a very spoiled Yorkie named Sophie and an equally spoiled German Shepard named Xena. I love to scrapbook and make cards for my family and friends. I also love to read.
I am very excited to be a part of the Building Blocks Family and have been welcomed wholeheartedly by our amazing staff.
My passion is working with young children and allowing them to be curious, smart and engaging while they are learning skills to become lifelong learners. I am also excited to be working with parents on a regular basis. I look forward to many happy and exciting years at Building Blocks.
Preschool Program Mentor Teacher – Ms. Jen *Celebrating 12 years of service
Hello! My name is Jen Winkel and I am a Preschool Program teacher here at Building Blocks Preschool. I graduated from Central Michigan with a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development. I joined Building Blocks in the summer of 2008 as the Creative Arts Summer Camp teacher then become the Co-Lead Full-Day Preschool Program teacher that fall then transitioning to the Half-Day Preschool Program Teacher for the 2011/2012 school year. I have over 13 years of experience including 3 years at a NAEYC Accredited Program in Ann Arbor. During my time at Building Blocks Preschool I have played an instrumental role in implementing the Reggio Inspired Approach, an emergent curriculum, nature based learning, the Project Approach, and the in-depth documentation of each child’s journey at Building Blocks Preschool along with our Daily Learning Stories.
While growing up, I always enjoyed spending time with children. I spent many hours baby-sitting and at family parties you could always find me playing with the younger children. When I went to college I knew I wanted to work with young children but it wasn’t until my third year that I discovered the joy of the preschool age child. I had a class that was specifically based on the preschool age and I had the opportunity to spend some quality time in a preschool classroom. I fell in love with this age group and knew that this was something I wanted to make a career out of. Working with children is something that has always come very natural to me and something that I find a lot of joy in.
I love teaching at Building Blocks Preschool because of the small class size, our emergent curriculum approach and the freedom that comes with teaching the Reggio way. I look forward to continuing the success of our programs by implementing my beliefs of best practice for early childhood education while forming relationships with the children and families at our school.
When I am not in the classroom, I enjoy spending time with my husband Eric, my sons Tucker and Oliver and our dog Baxter. We enjoy traveling, boating, and spending time with family and friends.
Preschool Program Mentor Teacher – Ms. Jennifer *Celebrating 11 years of service
Hello, my name is Jennifer Young and I am a Preschool Program Teacher here at Building Blocks Preschool. I have an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Development from Oakland Community College and continue to be a lifelong learner. I believe that collaboration and relationships are key for learning. One of my strengths includes providing a classroom environment that coincides with different styles of learning. I believe strongly in the Hundred Languages poem written by Loris Malaguzzi. I also work hard to create a classroom culture where children feel connected to the teachers as well as each other.
In 2014, I traveled to Italy as a steering committee member of the Michigan Inspirations Collaborative group. While there I participated in a study tour at the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre in Reggio Emilia, the Early Childhood Centers in Cavriago, Italy, and places that honor children in Florence. During the study tour, I was able to spend time at the Ray of Light Interactive Exhibit experiencing firsthand about how children use lights, shadows and technology to learn about the world. Upon my return, I collaborated with Building Blocks teachers to open our own studio space where children can experiment with those elements of light.
One of the reasons I am excited to be working here at Building Blocks Preschool is the importance of our everyday documentation of the children’s growth. We observe and record their learning daily through photographs and anecdotal notes to create a document called a Learning Story. We email these Learning Stories daily to help provide a home-school connection for the children and their families. This approach of recording the children’s work as it progresses provides tools for them to visually reflect on their experiences as well as allows teachers and parents to build upon and share the learning.
I am very passionate about early childhood education and have shared my experiences with other teachers by presenting at local conferences including Community Sharing for Healthy Caring. I have presented the value of making learning visible through our Learning Stories to the ECDC teachers at U of M, Flint. Team Facilitated two day works shop on Really Seeing children with Deb Curtis and Margie Carter through Michigan Inspiration workshop.
On a personal note, my husband and I live in Milford and I have 3 college aged children. I enjoy kayaking on the Huron River, as well as just being outdoors. I also have a love of all kinds of photography, including nature and photo journaling.
Lead Infant/Young Toddler Mentor Teacher – Ms. Wendy *Celebrating 16 years of service
Hello, my name is Wendy Pugh and I am the Infant and Young Toddler Program Lead Teacher here at Building Blocks Preschool. I have worked at this school before Suzanne and Joe Gabli became the owners in 2004. I have worked as a Preschool Teacher and in 2006 I have been an Infant and Toddler Teacher. My goal in life is to constantly keep expanding my horizons, and one of my favorite ways is spending time with children. They are a continual source of joy to me I have been working with young children for over 20 years, and the wonder of watching a child discover and learn still grows with each year that goes by.
Most days I feel the children teach me more than I could possibly teach them. They have so much to offer the world, and I am honored to be a part of their discovery of this life. ONE of my favorite activities is observing children as they explore new materials. I got a lot of practice with my own two children, who are now young adults. I was born and raised in Michigan. love the Indian River area in Northern Michigan. Being in tune with nature is very important. I am a recycler and I see how things can be recreated and reused. Respecting our environment is very important to me.
I also love living in this area where it is so easy to find fun activities to do outside. Each season is exciting and there is so much to do in and around the Huron Valley area. I have thousands of hours of work experience, hundreds of hours of training and I have been working towards earning an Early Childhood degree. I am currently enrolled at OCC to complete my Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education. I am so excited for this wonderful experience of working with such great staff at an amazing school. Children are vivacious and make life so exciting. Each day is a new experience and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to spend my time here.
Young Preschool Program Teacher and School-Age Summer Camp Teacher – Ms. Jamie *Celebrating 8 years of service
Hi! I am Jamie Keller a Toddler Program Teacher and the School-Age Summer Camp Teacher here at Building Blocks Preschool. I joined the Building Blocks family in September of 2011 as the Before and After School Age Care Teacher. I graduated from Oakland Community College with my Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Development and I am pursing my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Oakland University.
Since 2012, I’ve had the opportunity to teach the School Age Creative Arts and Outdoor Summer Camp program. I enjoy working with children of all ages and it gives me the opportunity to share my love of nature, art and performing arts with the children.
I have over twenty years of performing arts and dance experience, while teaching it for thirteen years to kids of all ages. From ages eight to eighteen, I was a member of the Nationally Award Winning “Classy Dancer” Dance troupe. My most memorable experience was being hand- picked by Debbie Allen to perform in a National competition in Hollywood, California, being awarded first place overall in Michigan and third overall Nationally. I have performed in numerous musicals throughout my life starting at age three and have directed and choreographed two children’s musicals. I am a certified Acrobatic Arts instructor, spending hours studying the safest techniques to enhance muscle growth, strength and flexibility in children of all ages. I am currently teaching dance at The 8th Count Dance Studio. With performing arts and dance being such an important part of my life, I enjoy sharing it with Building Blocks Preschool.
Ever since I can remember, I have enjoyed teaching and being around children. Starting at age nine I started assisting in younger classes at my dance studio. From there I started teaching my own classes at age eleven. After I graduated high school, I knew that I wanted to work with children for the rest of my life. When I started taking classes at Oakland Community College, I was working at an after school program called “Kids Klub” in West Bloomfield. I realized that working with younger children was where I wanted to be. Children inspire me to continually be creative and optimistic.
I absolutely love working at Building Blocks! While growing up in Michigan I developed a strong love for nature and the environment. I had the special opportunity of having grandparents that owned a farm in the Upper Peninsula, teaching me how to care for, nurture, and respect all aspects of nature. This attitude towards nature has carried over to my daily interactions with the children. Building Blocks allows me to use the outdoors as a second classroom, helping me to share this passion with them.
Preschool Program Teacher – Ms. Megan *Celebrating 5 years of service
Hello! My name is Megan Tarrant, and I am teacher in the Preschool Program. I joined the Building Blocks team in September of 2014 as a Toddler Teacher. When it was time for those toddlers to move into preschool, I had the opportunity to move along with them into the Preschool Program.
I have lived in Michigan my entire life. At the age of four, my family moved to Novi where I grew up with my two older sisters. I come from a large extended family, full of teachers and artists. This inspired me from a young age into creative endeavors and into teaching as well.
After graduating High School in 2007, I attended Central Michigan University in their Education program. Coming from a family full of teachers, it was an easy decision to follow that same path. Initially, I started in the Secondary Education program, but soon found that wasn’t the right fit for me. During one of my classes, I had the opportunity to visit the CMU Child Development Learning Lab on campus. It was during this visit that my passion for early childhood education started, and I was introduced to the Reggio Emilia Approach. Spending time with children is truly a passion of mine. I love to watch their growth and development and am constantly amazed by their resilience and ability to find humor in any situation.
Preschool Program Assistant Teacher – Ms. Amber *Celebrating 3 years of service
Hello, my name is Amber Coponen and I am an Assistant Teacher in the Preschool Program. I began working at Building Blocks Preschool in the Fall of 2016. I grew up in the Highland/White Lake area and graduated from Holly Schools in 2012.
After High School, I attended Cosmetology School and worked as a Licensed Cosmologist. I am currently finishing my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education at Grand Canyon University. I have always known I wanted to be a teacher.
It is said that when you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. I have found this to be so true in a classroom setting. The atmosphere at Building Blocks creates so much good energy and fun. When I am not at work, I enjoy family time and I am loving life as a mother, raising my little girl. Our favorite activities together are going to the park, taking trips to the beach, creating art projects, and family movie nights.
Infant and Young Toddler Program Assistant Teacher – Ms. JoAnne *Celebrating 8 years of service
Born, raised, and living in Highland, Michigan, it has been a privilege to also work in Highland at Building Blocks Preschool. In the fall of 2011, I started working in the afternoon in the Preschooler Program. I was asked in 2012 to work the summer with the Infants and Toddlers and I have been with them ever since as an Assistant Teacher.
It has been an interesting journey at Building Blocks. The more I learn about the Reggio Emilia philosophy the more I realize how much I grew up with it in my childhood. I am thankful for this time at Building Blocks to have the chance to build relationships with the children and their families. Having the opportunity to learn from others and specifically Ms. Wendy has furthered my knowledge and experience.
When Ms. Wendy introduced me to the Magda Gerber/RIE philosophy, pertaining to “Caring for Infants with Respect” I realized that here again my mother had equipped me for taking care of children. Whether babysitting, classroom setting, etcetera. No matter how young or old, respect them by communicating with them. Babies are people too and should be treated as such; with kindness and respect.
School Age Teacher/Preschool Assistant Teacher – Ms. Sue *Celebrating 4 years of service
Hello! My name is Sue Shove. I am the Before and After School Age Care Teacher and Assistant Preschool Teacher in the Preschool Program. I attended Wayne State University then graduated from Detroit Business Institute. I am married and have three college age children. After the birth of my twins, I become a stay at home Mom. When they started preschool, I got a job as a Playground/Lunch Supervisor at Heritage Elementary School and have been at Heritage ever since.
My love of the outdoors a being physically active stated when I was a child. I was always outside. My parents took the family traveling with a travel trailer and we camped and visited many National and State parks. They signed me up for any and every sport and program at the neighborhood YMCA that was available. I was a Girl Scout, played in the marching band and played many sports in school. My love for children gave me the opportunity to be a Girl Scout Leader for 12 years and to participate in numerous Girl Scout, Boy Scout and band camps and events.
I love working at Building Blocks Preschool since I was hired in 2015. I believe in the Reggio Emilia Approach and appreciate the way all everyone works together for the benefit of the children and for each other at the school. We are all lifelong learners who strive to learn more because of the children. Our close connection with each child and family along with our commitment to our community makes it a pleasure to work here.
Young Preschool Program Teacher and Naturalist – Ms. Missy
Hello, my name is Missy Wheat and I teach in the toddler classroom. I enjoy being outside in nature and working with children. I’m so excited to be on this new journey at Building Blocks doing both. I realized that I was meant to work with children when I began as a camp counselor at age 14. Since then, I’ve continued to work in environments which help to foster their learning, such as the Flint Children’s Museum and For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum. At For-Mar, I was a naturalist and environmental educator. At the Flint Children’s museum, I was the sproutside educator where I was in charge of the outdoor space and programming. Throughout my 11 years of working with children, I have valued bringing Reggio Emilia style education into the lessons that inspire myself and the children I’m grateful to work with.
I have a two-year-old blue Quaker parrot named Gonzo, who my nephew named after the Muppet. He talks and loves to give kisses. I will be bringing him in to socialize and meet the students. I also have hermit crabs, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, as well as a dog and cat. Lastly, I recently added a yellow parakeet named Aurora to my animal family. I love to spend time with my nieces and nephews. In my spare time, I love tending to my plants and making fairy gardens and dream catchers. I have a passion for creating things and learning to work with new mediums. I am excited to have a creative mindset at Building Blocks and to help the children and program grow.