Jennifer Adams, M.Ed., CAS School Psychology- Founding Director
Jennifer Adams has worked with children her entire career. She was born into a family of educators; her father was a superintendent in the public schools and her mother was a head of The Summit School, an independent school in Winston-Salem for children four years old through ninth grade. Jennifer attended Summit School where she was given the opportunity to learn in a stimulating child-centered environment that sparked learning and creativity. She spent summers working as a camp counselor at a local art camp, and during her first years of college, she worked as a preschool teacher while taking classes in the evenings.
In 1992 Jennifer moved to Fort Collins, Colorado to attend Colorado State University. There, she worked as an assistant teacher in a middle school classroom for children with learning and emotional disabilities. Upon graduation, Jennifer and her husband moved to Delaware where she earned a Masters in Education with a concentration in education of children with disabilities.
During her graduate program, Jennifer worked as a researcher at the University of Delaware's Center for Disabilities Studies. Through this experience, she was given the opportunity to help design the state's alternative assessment portfolio for students who were unable to take the state's standard end of grade assessment. At that time, Delaware was one of the leaders in the formulation of the alternative assessment and Jennifer was given the opportunity to present the portfolio assessment at conferences and forums across the country.
Jennifer began her teaching career in 1996 as a middle school teacher for students with learning and emotional disabilities. There, she learned about the benefits and importance of inclusive education, positive behavior support, and differentiated instruction. Jennifer returned to the University of Delaware and earned a Specialist Level degree in School Psychology in 2002. She and her family returned to North Carolina and Jennifer began work as a school psychologist in the Alamance Burlington School System. Jennifer has continued on this career path in addition to her work at The Little School and currently works in the public schools on a part time basis. In this role, Jennifer works as a consultant to teachers, counselor to children, and educational diagnostician. She is also a member of the district's Autism Evaluation Team and has received training in the assessment, evaluation, and instruction of children with disabilities on the Autism spectrum.
Jennifer has used that training as well as her knowledge earned in all of her settings to create and implement the Little School curriculum.
Mary Swanson- Owner
Mary Swanson was one of the first team members who helped open the doors of the Little School’s Davis Road Campus in September of 2005. From 2005 through 2009 she was head teacher and also taught our toddlers and Middlers. Mary has a teaching certificate in Early Childhood Education, North Carolina Early Childhood Credentials and Early Childhood Administrator Credentials.
She has a volunteer spirit and also works with a non-profit organization for children in wheelchairs and with physical disabilities. The organization, Bridge II Sports, hosts events that allow children and adults with physical limitations to compete in tennis, basketball, hand cycling and other sports. Bridge II Sports is a partner with the US Olympic Committee. Lovingly know as Miss Mary to all, she is an integral part of TLS spirit.
Wendy Vavrousek - Owner
Wendy Vavrousek has been in the world of education for 21 years. She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science from California State University, Chico in Child Development and immediately began a Master’s of Science program in School Psychology at San Jose State University (California).
While attending graduate school, Wendy worked as a lead preschool teacher for approximately 2 years working with young children ages two and five. After receiving her master’s degree she was hired by Monterey Peninsula Unified School District in Monterey, California as a School Psychologist. She and her husband moved to North Carolina. In 1994 and Wendy was hired by Durham Public Schools where she worked as a school psychologist for the first five years of her employment. In 1999, Wendy assumed responsibility for the Districts’ Safe and Drug Free Schools program, along with their Student Assistance Program. In 2002 Wendy became Director of Student Services and worked intimately with the districts Exceptional Children’s Program. In 2005 Wendy was promoted to the position of Executive Director for Student Support Services with Franklin County Schools. In this capacity, she served as the Exceptional Children’s Program Director and implemented many forward thinking and research-based programming initiatives for the district’s students.
Wendy also provided direction for the other support services such as school nursing, school social work, school counseling, and services for students experiencing homelessness. She was a member of the superintendent’s leadership team and advised him of instructional and student service needs. Wendy became a business partner with the development of The Little School's Waterstone campus two and a half years ago but joined us full time as our Program Director August 2, 2010. In this capacity, she will work closely with teachers overseeing our program implementation, coordinating staff training and supporting both teachers and families.
(super) Jessica Larson- School Director Hillsborough
Jessica followed her love of art and photography and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She woke up one day and realized that she needed a job after she left college, and began to develop her plan B. She turned her focus to arts-administration, working in Chicago's leading arts institutions such as The Rhona Hoffman Gallery, and The Illinois Arts Council. Working for a Children Theatre company, she began to work with at-risk youth in Chicago’s inner city through Arts-in-Education. Chicago was cold. Really cold. So her and her husband closed their eyes, pointed south on a map and ended up in North Carolina in 2000. She continued working with the at-risk population in North Carolina while working as a wedding photographer, and creating her own art. She has been populating the internet with websites since 1997, and ran a independent art supply store for seven years. Her son joined The Little School as a student in the spring of 2008 and they quickly became part of the community. Jessica joined the staff in January 2010 bringing all of her talent and skills with her. She was a member of the 2011 TLS teacher baby boom, and has since added another child to the school roster. She is called "Super" because she is super funny, super smart, and as you can see, super pretty. She also created this website and can write accolades about herself on a whim.
Shannon- Office Manager
Shannon has been with the Little School since it opened its doors in 2005. Originally an assistant teacher in the Middler Room, Shannon grew the roots of our infant program, serving as both the lead as well as the infant mentor teacher. Shannon has worked with children in many capacities in the past including running a home-based child care center, working with children with autism, and as an assistant teacher in another local center. Shannon is a very creative person who can tackle nearly any task from building furniture, to sewing, to wedding cake creation. In her spare time, Shannon likes to be at home with her family and her dogs.
Wendy C- Administrative Assistant
Wendy worked for more than 10 years with young children and received her North Carolina Credentials in Early Childhood Education. Married to her husband Oscar for fourteen years, she has two beautiful children and was an at-home mom for their early years and was able to be active in their school activities. Wendy has worked with our 1's, 2's and 3's since the Waterstone Campus opened in 2010, and has been an integral part of their growth and development over these months.