Diane grew up in Marshall, Minnesota. She attended Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Granite Falls where she completed her Associate's Degree in Child Development, along with a Certificate of Education Paraprofessional.
Before moving to South Dakota she was Director and Lead Teacher of St. Stephen Preschool in Marshall for 4 years. She has been teaching and working with children for nearly 10 years.
In her free time she loves hiking, riding Harley motorcycles with her husband, reading, and baking. She recently got married to her husband Bob in October, and has spent the last couple months remodeling their house and enjoying married life.
Lead 3-4 yr Preschool Teacher
Joni is our lead teacher for the 3-4-year-old preschool class (the "Penguin" room). She started teaching at Divine Shepherd Preschool in 2014 and, prior to that, taught at Peace Lutheran Preschool in Rapid City. Joni has an Associate’s Degree from Northern State University in Aberdeen. She is married with two children.
Mobile Lead/Lead 1-2 yr Room Teacher
Katie Andreasen is our Mobile Lead and the main teacher in the “Duckling” room. Having grown up in a home daycare that her mom ran, she has many years of helping children and babysitting. In fourth grade, she knew she wanted to be a teacher! Katie completed three years of college in Elementary Education at MSU. She lives in Rapid City with her husband and two boys. She enjoys designing floral arrangements, watching her boys play baseball, and going camping as a family. Katie loves to teach children and watch their magic “ah ha” moments, that only they can show when they truly understand something!
Lead Infant Room Teacher
Mari Garcia was born and raised in Sturgis, South Dakota where she began her passion for working with young children. She married her husband, Jason, in 2004 and they have two children: Sebastian (age 12) and Liliana (age 10). Mari worked professionally with young children for ten years before she became a stay-at-home mom. She has had the pleasure of working at Divine Shepherd Lutheran School for the past year and has truly enjoyed filling her arms and heart with the joy only little ones can bring. She looks forward to getting to know each family within the center!
Infant Room Teacher
Melissa Peck, also known in the center as “Ms. Mel,” just recently started as a teacher at Divine Shepherd Lutheran School. She has a military background and has worked in childcare for many years prior to starting at the center. Mel lives in Black Hawk with her husband and three school-age children. They like to go swimming, ride bikes, and recently built a fire pit to enjoy S’mores!
Lead 4 yr - Kindergarten Ready Preschool Teacher
Christy Dye is the lead preschool teacher in the four- and five-year-old classroom (the "Owl" room). She has a degree from Missouri State University and 15 years of experience working with students with special needs from kindergarten to high school age. Christy earned her Child Development Accreditation in 2017 with an emphasis in preschool. This year will be her third year teaching this age of students.
Preschool Room Teacher
Kathy Espinosa is working in her first daycare position. She worked in fast food for 26 years with a little bit of childcare! She has three kids and two grandkids and has lived in Black Hawk since 2002. She loves the Black Hills area
2-3 yr Room Teacher
Carol Ruggles is our main teacher in the “Frogs” classroom. She has over 15 years of experience directing programs and working with children. She comes from a family of 12 siblings. Carol has four grown kids and two grandkids that keep her busy!
Ashley Hahn is in her fourth year of college at Black Hills State University, working towards a degree in English and Communication Studies. Ashley worked as a nanny for about five years before joining us at Divine Shepherd Lutheran School.