LAA is very proud of all of our staff. Our teachers not only bring their expertise in childhood development and education to the classroom, but they bring their passions, interests and energy to our students, thus enhancing and enriching the educational experience. Read their bios to learn a little more about them. You might even be surprised to learn our talented staff is filled with dancers, bakers, musicians and book worms!

Lauren A. Harris

Owner, Executive Director

Hello! My name is Lauren Adams Harris and I am the Owner and Director of Little Ambassadors' Academy (LAA). I am a native Northern Virginian and I grew up primarily in Fairfax, VA. I have worked with children for over ten years in multiple capacities. I have served as Director, Lead Teacher, Teacher Assistant, and Program Specialist for programs with age groups ranging from toddlers to 5th grade. I have a Masters in Education, a Bachelor's degree in Finance, and an associate's degree in early childhood education. Prior to opening Little Ambassadors' Academy, I worked for an investment management firm here in Arlington, VA. During my time away from early childhood education, I realized it was time to go back to my passion. With a vision and a dream, I opened Little Ambassadors' Academy in November 2011. This has truly been an amazing journey and I continue to enjoy putting children, education, and families first here in Arlington at Little Ambassadors' Academy!

If I could only watch one TV channel, it would be...
HGTV. There isn't a show on this network that I don't love!

Yes, I really do enjoy...
mid-day naps. I rarely get them but absolutely love them.

The latest addition to our family is...
our daughter who was born in April 2015.

The best part about being a Little Ambassador is...
watching our students ask their parents if they can stay 5 more minutes in the afternoons. When children do not want to leave school in the evenings, I feel like we are doing something right.

Cissy Hart

Director

Hi There! My name is Cissy Hart and I am thrilled to be the Director of Little Ambassadors' Academy. With the exception of a few years overseas, I was born and raised here in Northern Virginia and have loved every minute of it. I have spent the past 13 years working with preschoolers in various forms. I began working in preschool summer camps when I was sixteen and continued this through college. I originally attended Radford University for Marketing and realized my true passion was to work with children, so I switched my focus to early childhood. As I pursued my dream I became a Lead Teacher and Camp Director for a private preschool in Vienna. In 2011, I was welcomed aboard the Little Ambassadors' team as the founding lead two's teacher. I currently hold a Child Development Associate and a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies through Penn State University.

I can never keep a straight face around...
my husband, he has a way of turning everything into a joke.

Yes, I really do enjoy...
dipping french fries in my frosty :)

My most influential professional experience was...
leaving my old job to go work for Little Ambassadors' Academy before the school even opened. I learned so much about team building, professionalism, and trust.

The holiday I like best is...
the Fourth of July. Nothing beats warm weather, fireworks, and barbecues.

Caitlin Butt

Director

Hello, my name is Caitlin Butt and I am thrilled to accept my new position as Director of our LAA Cherrydale Campus. I have worked with children for over 13 years in varying capacities and have been part of the LAA family since March of 2012. For my first two and a half years I was the lead teacher for LAA’s late birthday two’s class. I hail from Long Island, NY and have a passion for early childhood education, baking, and most importantly spending time with my husband and son! I graduated from Drexel University in Philadelphia in 2008 with a BA in Hospitality and Business Management with extensive classes and training in Early Childhood Education. During my time as a California resident I was a tutor for a young child with learning disabilities. Watching his progress over the next two years was more rewarding than I ever dreamed possible. I love being a member of the LAA team and watching our students’ growth. I am very excited for this opportunity and cannot wait to see what the future brings!

When it comes to sports, I prefer...
baseball games with my husband. I love the NY Yankees, but have some local pride for the Nationals.

On vacation, you can find me...
at the beach with tons of sunblock.

You might not know this about me, but...
I love to bake, especially cupcakes!

I never get tired of watching...
the TV show Friends. 

Renee Demmel

Office Assistant

Hello!  My name is Renee Demmel and I am so excited with my new position as Office Assistant at LAA Cherrydale Campus.  I am originally from Cape Cod Massachusetts, but I have lived in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years.  I followed two of my sisters to Virginia and love hanging out with them. This is my second year at Little Ambassador’s Academy, I was previously the  Lead Pre-K Teacher in the Fox Class 2015. I have worked with children for over 20 years in many different capacities. I have worked as a science teacher, 1st grade teacher, preschool teacher, and taught at an in-home daycare setting. I hold my Associates Degree in Early Childhood and a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education.  I have two children, and two precious granddaughters that I can't get enough of!
 
The film that comes to mind as my favorite is...Enchanted!
 
On vacation you can find me...visiting my mom in Cape Cod.
 
The best part about being a Little Ambassador is...being able to watch the children have fun discovering new things. 
 
When it comes to sports, I prefer...watching my granddaughter play soccer.

Anna Duncan

Toucans

I have worked with children for the past 16 years. I was welcomed by Little Ambassadors' Academy in 2012.

My childhood ambition...
was to be a teacher. :) Hooray!

I never get tired of watching...
my students for that "A-Ha!" look in their eyes in a key moment during a lesson or conversation. This age group matures quite a bit over the course of the year, and seeing that happen again and again only gets better.

On vacation, you can find me...
curled up with a book after a long hike; and that hike may be through nature, a museum, or the streets of my neighborhood and city.

The best part about being a Little Ambassador is...
teaching my littlest friends about the global community that we are all a part of, and helping them become aware of their place in that community. Also making them aware of their potential to help and shape our world into the place we want to live.

Brittany Hughes

Foxes

I have worked with children for the past 8 years. I was welcomed to the Little Ambassadors' team in 2014.

If I could watch only one TV channel, it would be...Disney channel. I am a kid at heart and I love watching cartoons because they are joyful and they make me happy as well!

I never get tired of...cleaning ! I love to clean and be organized!

The holiday I like best is...Christmas. Its a day where there is nothing but positive vibes! Everyone is smiling and there is nothing but love in the air. I enjoy the fact that families come together and a stronger bond is made.

If I had to survive on just one food, it would be...Chipotle!

Dawn Distel

Cubs

I have been working with children for the last ten years. I proudly accepted a position with Little Ambassadors' Academy in 2014. In my free time I love spending time with my three year old son and my baby daughter.

My greatest influence is... My dad, he is the hardest working person I know.

I would never pass up a meal at... Olive Garden!

My TV addiction is... The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.

For sports, I prefer... Kentucky Wildcats. Go Big Blue!

Erin Johnson

Koalas

I have worked with children for the past 6 years. I proudly accepted a position with Little Ambassadors' in 2012.

I turn into a kid again when...
any Disney movie comes on TV. I absolutely LOVE Disney! I still have all of them on VHS. :)

My four-legged family members are...
my 3 dogs and 2 cats. My dogs names are Kodi(Boxer), Aldo(Boxer), and Diamond(Bichon Frise). And my cats are KitKat and Reese (both Tabbys).

The thing that always makes me smile is...
my son Kaiden. I love everything about him and in my eyes he can do no wrong. Waking up to him every day, play time and even putting him to bed a night always brings a smile to my face.

The best part about being a Little Ambassador is...
watching each individual child grow up. Watching them explore new things is always a fun thing to see.

Gloria Lemus Perez

Foxes

I have worked in Early Childhood for over four years. I joined the Little Ambassadors' team in 2015.
 
The thing that always makes me smile is...a sunny day.                                                                                                
 
The best part about being a Little Ambassador is...getting additional support when needed!
 
On vacation you can find me...in Central America.
 
My greatest influence is...my mother (who is also an LAA team member!)

Katerine Williams

Whales

I have worked in Early Childhood for 8 years. I happily joined the LAA team in 2016.

Yes, I really do enjoy...going to school! I just started another Masters program at George Mason University because I just can't get enough!

I always laugh at...dogs pretending to talk. It gets me every time!

You might not know this about me, but...I grew up in Honduras and El Salvador until I was 9 years old, and went back to work in Honduras for five years during and after college. It was while I was working in Honduras that I discovered my love of teaching!

When it comes to sports, I prefer...volleyball. I play in an adult league and even help coach the McLean High School volleyball teams.

 

Kyeonshae Richardson

Cubs

I have worked with children for seven years. I joined the Little Ambassadors' Academy team in 2015.
 
I will always be grateful to...my great grandfather. He took the initiative to raise me and has been in my corner for 26yrs. Through difficult times and joyous times we have been a tight knit team. I love him to pieces!  
 
The holiday I like the best is...I LOVE the Christmas season.  I love seeing the city all decked in lights, watching reruns of great Christmas movies, and listening to the Christmas music 24/7 on the radio. But the most joyous part of the Christmas season is the new Christmas Eve Party I started with my family. They all gather in my room, which I decorate with holiday lights, I cook a small family dinner, my niece and I bake cookies. We are all dressed in fancy pajama’s and we watch Christmas movies and sing every holiday song that comes on the radio. I love that part.  
 
My TV addiction would have to be... Friends. That show is so funny. I have the complete seasons on DVD and still watch it on TV as if I haven’t already seen it (while mimicking the lines as the show plays out).  Friends, has everything I need in a TV show. It’s entertaining, there’s drama, and heart felt moments and sarcasm. I enjoy good sarcasm and that show has a lot of it! 

Lindsey Kite

Whales

I have worked with children for the last ten years. I hopped aboard the LAA train in 2015.

I never get tired of watching...Friends! I probably have every episode memorized by now, but it still makes me laugh!

You might not know this about me but...I foster cats and volunteer with 2 rescue organizations. I LOVE fostering and have fostered 27 cats and kittens over the past 2 years and found loving homes for every single kitty (including adopting one myself!) It's a passion of mine that I would say is almost tied with my passion for teaching :)

When it comes to sports, I prefer...Basketball and Soccer. I've always loved most sports and was an athlete growing up, but I played soccer at Oklahoma State University for a year. During the week I play on a social co-ed basketball and soccer team just for fun.

On vacation you can find me...Traipsing around a specific country! I love traveling and really enjoy getting to know different parts of that country. This year I spent time in Scotland and London, and next year I plan on heading to China and possibly Cuba if I can. I enjoy getting immersed within the culture. Although, there are times when all I need are a beautiful beach and a good book!

Maria Escuza

Spanish

I have worked with children for 15 years.  LAA welcomed me to their staff in 2016.

My most influential working experience was... working with blind children.

The latest addition to my family is... my grandson Rafael.

Yes, I really do enjoy... Indian and Arab dance music.

I turn into a kid again when... I play with the kids in the classroom.

Patricia Kans

Pandas

I have worked with children for 8 years. I joined the LAA team in 2016.

I turn into a kid again when... it's my birthday!

My childhood ambition was... to become a teacher.

My idea of a perfect dinner is... not having to cook or clean.

My favorite thing to do on the weekend is... spend time at the dinner table with my family.

Ronika Barnes

Pandas

I have worked in the Early Childhood Education Field for over 19 years. I was welcomed aboard the Little Ambassadors' team in 2014.

I come to life...as soon as I enter a classroom full of children no matter their ages.

In my spare time, I love to...run errands and shop at vintage stores everywhere.

The thing that always makes me smile...when I see a child get excited about learning something new!

The best part about being at Little Ambassador is...always seeing the smile on everyone's faces and how warm and caring the environment feels.

Amanda Eatmon

Starfish

I have worked with children for the last four years. I have happily been a part of the Little Ambassadors' Academy family since 2012.

The TV show I would rush home to watch is...Game of Thrones.

I love everything about...my life and my job.

My favorite food is...Papa John's pizza.

On vacation you can find me...on the beach reading gossip magazines.

Felina Holley

Sea Turtles

I have worked with children for the past three years. I joined the Little Ambassadors’ team in 2013 and I couldn't be more excited to be a part of the new school in Cherrydale.

My four legged family member is…my dog Bella! She’s like my daughter and without a doubt, my best friend.

I love everything about…candy! I have the biggest sweet tooth! I love fruity flavored things. My absolute favorite is Airheads.

My favorite season in Northern VA is…Fall! I love watching the leaves turn colors, enjoying the cool breeze, and of course, football season!:) Hail to the Redskins!

I admit, I’m a big softy when it comes to…animals. They definitely have a soft spot in my heart! This is the reason why I’m a vegetarian.

Maritza Gutierrez

Spanish

I have worked with young children for the past 20 years. I joined the Little Ambassadors' team in November 2014 and couldn't be more excited to share the Spanish language with all of the children.

My favorite food is... Olive Garden!

I love everything about... Dancing! I love to dance with children and especially love learning about dances in different cultures.

My favorite season in Northern Virginia is... Fall. The colors of the trees in Northern Virginia is breathtaking.

On the weekend you can find me... at the movie theater! I love watching movies and eating popcorn.

Resa Troast

Jellyfish

I have taught preschool for the last seven years. Little Ambassadors’ Academy welcomed me to their team in 2014.

Words of Wisdom…“Don’t let anybody steal your sparkle”.

My favorite thing to do on the weekend is…go camping, hiking, and mini road trips.

I turn into a kid again when…I watch Disney or Muppet movies.

My favorite author is…Oscar Wilde.

Selina Wilson

Seals

I have worked with children for over four years. I joined the Little Ambassadors' team in 2014.
My favorite food is... fried chicken, mac and cheese, rice, candied yams, and greens!
You might not know this about me but...I love watching cartoons, no matter what time of the day it is. Cartoons make me feel like a kid again and they always make me laugh.
In my spare time I like to...relax and spend time with friends and family.
My favorite thing to do on the weekend is...cuddle up in my bed, sleep and watch Criminal Minds.

Board of Directors/Advisory Board

Lauren Adams Harris has over 10 years of experience within the child care industry.  Mrs. Harris has served as a director, lead teacher and counselor for child care schools and programs ranging in ages from toddlers to 5th grade students.  She currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director for Little Ambassadors’ Academy.  Mrs. Harris holds a B.S. degree in Finance from North Carolina A&T State University and a certificate in early childhood education from Northern Virginia Community College.

Beverly Card, CFCS, NBCT is a nationally recognized master teacher in the field of family and consumer sciences.  She has taught early childhood education (ECE) and teacher cadet (TC) to high school students for over 40 years in Maryland and Virginia.  Her teaching allows the students to explore a career in education, complete two 25-day internships in nearby schools, and gain additional college credits.  Ms. Card has been elected to local, state and national office in two professional education organizations and has received numerous awards for her excellence in education. 

Wesley Harris has over 7 years of experience within the Information Technology and defense industry.  His experience includes managing defense budgets ranging from $17M to $39M including mitigating a risk portfolio of over $46M.  Mr. Harris has been responsible for leading both proposal and program teams to deliver requirements and capabilities to customers and end users.  Currently he is an engineering manager and the Systems Engineering Integration and Test lead for a software development program located in Northern VA and Maryland.  Mr. Harris holds a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Hampton University and M.S. degree in Systems Engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

Gloria L. Adams has over 25 years of experience within the educational industry.  She has instructed adults, presented educational and business workshops to professional groups and published professional articles.  Mrs. Adams also has over 10 years of business management experience in the telecommunication industry. She holds a B.S. degree in Elementary Education and a MBA degree in Finance.  She has lived in Northern Virginia for over 25 years, raising a son and daughter with her husband of almost 30 years. She is committed to Little Ambassadors’ Academy’s vision and mission. 

Michael F. Hotchkiss has over 26 years of financial management experience.  He has served as both Vice President and Sr. Vice President for financial institution and investment firms.  Currently he is the managing director for a Client Relations team focusing on business development located in Arlington, VA.  Mr. Hotchkiss holds a BBA from the University of Kentucky.

Larry Adams has over 30 years of experience within the health care industry.  He has been responsible for managing multi-million dollar budgets purchasing vehicles, properties and additional assets for multiple health care companies.  He currently serves as the director of operations for a health care company located in Maryland.  Mr. Adams holds a B.A. in Political Science from Slippery Rock University and a graduate studies degree in public administration from Clark Atlanta University. 

Courtney Martin has over 7 years of teaching experience in primary and secondary education.  She has served in multiple teaching positions ranging from 1st to 5th grade.  Ms. Martin has challenged students to master basic to advanced math concepts, directing a balanced literacy program and integrating Language Arts and Social Studies curriculums.  She has served on Multicultural and Admissions committees and has worked in independent, college preparatory and public schools.  Ms. Martin holds a B.A. degree in Sociology from Hampton University, a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Georgia, and a Master of Education in Elementary Education degree from Lesley University. 

A. Michael Sramek, CFA has over 16 years of financial management experience.  He has served as research analyst for various firms.  Currently he is a Sr. Research Analyst for an investment management firm located in Arlington, VA.  Mr. Sramek holds a MBA from Vanderbilt University and an AB in History from Princeton University. 

Tina N. Williams served as Vice President in Banc of America Securities’ Middle‐Market Investment Banking group in Atlanta. While at Banc of America Securities, she also spent five years in the Mergers and Acquisitions group and four years in the Corporate Finance group.  Ms. Williams has more than 16 years of experience advising clients in a wide variety of strategic and financial transactions.  Additionally, she has worked with management teams, boards of directors and business owners on various capital raising assignments including private placements of debt, high yield and follow‐on equity offerings. Her industry experience includes: retail and consumer products and services, textiles, distribution and basic manufacturing. She has developed a specialization in the restaurant/franchise industry after completing numerous restaurant transactions totaling more than $3 billion in value.  Ms. Williams earned a Bachelor of Science degree with distinction in commerce from the University of Virginia.  Ms. Williams currently lives in McLean, VA with her husband, son, and daughter. 

Little Ambassadors’ Academy Parent Representation

Thomas M. Ricketts, CFA has over 17 years of financial management experience.  He has served as research analyst for over 14 years.  Currently he is a Sr. Research Analyst for an investment management firm located in Arlington, VA.  Mr. Ricketts holds a B.S. from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Sonya G. Ricketts, DVM has over 15 years of experience within the veterinary industry.  She has served as a clinical veterinarian as well as an associate veterinarian for Columbia University and multiple animal hospitals across the east coast.  She currently lives in Arlington, VA with her husband and daughter who is currently enrolled in Little Ambassadors’ Academy.  Dr. Ricketts holds a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Ohio State University and a B.S. in Biology and Accounting from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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