Lighthouse Staff

Lighthouse Montessori Education Center offers quality education and child care centered on a hands-on, experiential approach to learning. Each individual on our staff is trained in Montessori learning practices. They come to the Center with a variety of childcare experiences and with a commitment to providing the safest, most beneficial early childhood education experience possible for your child.

Lisa Howe, Director

Lisa Howe

Lisa Howe has lived in LaGrange County for 20 years. She grew up in Fort Wayne and attended Summit Christian College (formerly Fort Wayne Bible College). She has a BA in Christian Counseling, and a Montessori Administrative Credential.  She has worked with families and children through a Crisis Pregnancy Center, Healthy Families, and Early Education for the past 20 years. She has been the director for Agapé Child Care Ministry for 14 years, and now also Lighthouse Montessori Education Center. She lives on a farm and enjoys the outdoors and gardening. She finds joy in being with my family and feel blessed to be involved in a church in Stroh and Kendallville. She loves that Agapé and The Lighthouse are putting light into the lives of so many little children. Our Montessori approach encourages discovery, independence, and a joy for learning. This is a passion for her, and she feels blessed God has chosen her to serve in his kingdom in this capacity.

Sara Pruitt, Operations Manager

Sara Pruitt

Sara Pruitt grew up about ten minutes away from Lighthouse on Lake of the Woods where her mom and dad still live today. She was a graduate of Prairie Heights in 2009 and graduated cum laude with her Bachelor’s Degree from Trine University in 2012. Sara has always felt a drive to serve others and has experience as a direct support professional, behavioral coach, ABA therapist, and Wraparound Provider. Sara has also recently married her best friend Jason. She feels truly blessed to be a part of making Lighthouse a unique educational experience for their daughters, Myla and Susanna. “I am beyond thankful to have been called to serve children in this way. My job makes my heart feel so full, and I truly love waking up knowing I get to come to Lighthouse to make new memories with all of our students.”

Emem Smith, Lead Infant Teacher

Emem Smith

Emem Smith was born and raised in Nigeria within a large Godly and loving family. She graduated with a bachelor in Computer Engineering from Enugu State University of Science and Technology. She is a believer in our Lord Jesus Christ. She is married to her best friend Corey whom God brought them together as one in 2012. They are blessed with a lovely son and daughter; they bring so much joy to her family. Montessori was first introduced to her in 2016 when she took her son to Agape. It blew her mind to see how precious it is to nurture children in the way of the Lord and also encourage their independence; bringing the characteristics God has instilled within them to light.  She has her Montessori certification in Infant/Toddler. Her personal philosophy of life in children is;  that every child is special and has so much potential that God has put within them just waiting to come out. She loves working with children! They are our future!

Jana Schlosser, Lead Preschool Teacher

Jana Schlosser

Jana Schlosser

Emily Smith, Lead Preschool Teacher

Emily Smith

Emily is currently attending Indiana Tech university in Fort Wayne. She will graduate in May of 2021 with her Psychology, BS. She will also graduate in May of 2022 with her Child Development, BS. Emily serves in the kids ministry at New Hope Christian Center. Emily and her husband are looking forward to fostering and/or adopting in the near future. Emily enjoys being outside and spending time with family and Friends.

Kiley Gingerich, Lead Toddler Teacher

Kiley Gingerich

Kiley has background experience in Early Childhood Education from Ivy Tech as well as Montessori Experience from Elkhart Montessori school. She plans on returning to finish her Bachelor’s Degree. She worked as a Teen Services Librarian and has been a part of the Garrett Public Library for ten years. When not in the classroom, she can be found spending time with her family and pets, watercolor painting, crafting, enjoying her musical hobbies, or focused on reading a novel.


Marisa Olivares, Teacher Assistant

Marisa Olivares

Marisa Olivares currently resides in LaGrange, IN where she grew up. She has two young dogs, a Husky and a German Shepherd that keep her busy and active! She went to Lakeland High School and then went to Grace College in Warsaw, IN to get her bachelor’s in Psychology and in Criminal Justice.
     She has attended Lagrange First Church of God since she was 5 years old with my parents and younger siblings. She is now the Children’s Director there as well! She has years of experience working with kids, including teaching Kindergarten. 
Since working at Lighthouse, she has loved the atmosphere and the relationships that have been developed with the staff and with the children here. She is very excited to continue to see how God uses Lighthouse to shine light towards families!

Jennifer Alvarez, Teacher Assistant

Jennifer Alvarez

Jennifer Alvarez is from Ft.Wayne,IN. She has 3 children, all who which attend Lighthouse MEC. This school is her first introduction to Montessori and she wishes she had known about it sooner.  Waking up, greeting all of the amazing kids in mornings, watching each child learn and grow more each day is something she looks forward to daily. Jennifer’s 2 year goal is to pursue a degree in Social Work and Child Development. During her free time, Jennifer loves exploring new places with her children, customizing t-shirt’s, and building her Photography Portfolio. 

Maddison Busche, Assistant Preschool Teacher

Maddison Busche

Maddison graduated high school in 2017 and went on to attend Purdue University for Psychology, but she put a hold on that to explore life. Some of her hobbies include; kayaking, hiking, writing poetry, boxing, and collecting stones/crystals. She doesn’t have her “own” family yet, but the family she does have is held very close to her heart. She used to work for the Early Learning Ministry and was a lead toddler/preschool aged teacher for a little over two years.

Vanessa Souliere, Preschool Lead Teacher

Vanessa Souliere

Vanessa grew up in many different cities and towns in Ontario, Canada but has always called Toronto her home. She holds an Associates diploma in Children and Youth Counselling, a Bachelor of Arts in Children and Youth Care, and has a specialization certificate in Autism and Behavioral Science. 

She has spent majority of her career helping children and families in Toronto, Ontario. She was an ABA Therapist to young children with Autism, working with the provincial government of Ontario. Vanessa has also worked with and supported young Native American mothers and their children with the Native American CPS in Toronto. Recently, she gained Montessori Primary experience as an assistant teacher at St Mark’s Early Learners in Auburn, Indiana. 

When not at work or working, Vanessa enjoys spending time with her husband Max and their two boys. You can always find them outside hiking at any state park on the weekends, spending vacation time near a National Park hiking, or at the Fort Wayne Farmers Market on Saturdays.  

Karissa Gram, Teach Assistant

Karissa Gram

Karissa was born and raised in Avilla but graduated from Garrett high school. Her and her family go to church at Legacy in Kendallville. They like to spend their Sundays together after church. Karissa and her family all meet at her parents house where we bring all 5 of our dogs to play together. Her whole life she has known she has wanted to work with children. She found her home at Lighthouse where she has fallen in love with the atmosphere, children and staff. Lighthouse truly feels like family and it’s beautiful to see all the love each and every member has for our children. 

Diane Miner, Assistant Infant Teacher

Diane Miner

My name is Dianne Miner. I was born and raised in Jackson Michigan. I have lived in Indiana for the last 37 years. I am a 63-year-old Mother of one daughter. I am recently widowed. My husband Tom and I met in Jackson MI Married and moved to Indiana in 1984. Our daughter was born in 1988. When she turned 3 we moved to Ashley, she now has 3 children of her own. My favorite thing in the world was being a mother until I became a Grandmother. I spent my younger years working in quality in 3 different industries and have several certifications in this field and an associate degree in business. I love to camp, garden, sew, crochet/knit.

I have always enjoyed children, I have taught Sunday school and taken care of the children in the nursery. I feel the love and patience that I have for children is a gift from God. I am a member and a Deacon of the St. Andrew Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Amber Shire, Infant Teacher Assistant

Amber Shire

Amber graduated high school in 2017 and is currently attending Indiana Tech. When she is not working you can find her with her dog Tanner or long boarding. Amber’s dream is to work/live on the ocean and hopefully find a way to save the coral reefs and stop shark finning.  

Brittanee Shrader, Assistant Preschool

Brittanee Shrader

Brittanee Shrader is wife and mother of 3 who lives local here in Ashley. She ran an in-home childcare for 3 years after having her youngest child. She enjoys spending time with family, hiking, photography and crafting. Montessori is completely new to her but she is totally for it and wishes she had learnt about it years ago. 

Let us partner with you in providing excellent care and education for your child.


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