Lighthouse Montessori Education Center offers quality education and child-centered hands-on experiential approach to learning. We are a gospel-based Montessori early learning center for ages 6 weeks – 10 years. We are a ministry of the the LaGrange First Church of God. Each individual on our staff is trained in Montessori practices through Trine University or Seton Montessori Education Center (Chicago) or through in-house training. Our staff come to our center with a variety of experiences, and with a commitment to provide the best early learning program possible for your child.
“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3
Lisa Howe Director
Lisa Howe has lived in LaGrange County for 25 years. She has 4 children and 3 grandchildren. 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 15 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, and LaGrange. 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 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, Susanna, and Juliette. “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 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!
Madison Schaffner Co-Lead Toddler 2 Teacher
Madison grew up in Defiance Ohio, and attended Tinora High School. Madison lives in Hamilton. She has a lovable litte boy, Noah, who is 15 months. She likes to spend time with her family, reading, and spending time with Noah outside. She has stared her path within higher education in Early Education. Madison says, “I love to watch children grow and learn new things; seeing what they are capable of and watching a new world unlocked right in front of their eyes.”
Madeline Pfafman Infant Assistant Teacher
I grew up in the Kendallville area and attended and graduated from East Noble High School. I played basketball, tennis and participated in the Noble County 4-H horse and pony club. The 4-H club gave me my first taste, of leadership and ability to touch other kids lives in a positive way. I started substitute teaching in 2021 and realized teaching was something that was very rewarding to me. I plan to go back to school eventually for education. I am engaged and have a daughter, Kimber, who attends Lighthouse. For now my time is forced on my family and helping the infants at Lighthouse discover little parts of the world all around them.
New staff coming soon!
Bio to come
Vanessa Souliere Lead Primacy 1 Teacher
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. Vanessa attended her Montessori training in the summer of 2022 and will be finishing up her credential soon. 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 Lead Infant Teacher
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.
Elizabeth Perkins Co-Lead Toddler 2 Teacher
Elizabeth grew up in Fort Wayne Indiana and moved to LaGrange. She attended and graduated Prairie Heights High School. She graduated from Trine University with a degree in psychology. She also just completed some classes at Saint Mary of the Woods in Early Education. She is married and has a son. She loves to fish and crochet. She attends Pleasant Lake Church with her family. She loves working with children and finds satisfaction when children find joy in learning something new or finally mastered a skill they have been working so hard to accomplish.
Amber Shire Floating Assistant Teacher
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.
Jaclyn Kenney Toddler 1 Assistant Teacher
I graduated from Mooresville High School in 2002. I played college basketball at Vincennes University and graduated from Ivy Tech CC with an Associates Degree in Applied Science in Paralegal Studies. I moved from Fishers to Angola in April of 2022. I have a teenage son who goes to Angola HS. I am the oldest of seven children, and have one nephew and two nieces which I love to spend time with. I love spending time with family, watching and playing sports, going to to church and worshiping God! My favorite team is the Pittsburgh Steelers!
Tabitha Miller Facility Support
I grew up in Hillsdale Michigan, and attended Waldron High Shcool. I grew up taking care of my four younger siblings. I’m married to my husband, Brandon, and have 2 child, Lucy and Charlie. We live in Orland with our dog and part-time tortoise. I love to run, go for walks with my family, and read. I like to be around children, they make me fee young and alive.
Ashley Packer Opener/Afternoon Support Staff
My name is Ashley and I am a mother of one. I originally was a resident of Fort Wayne, but have lived in DeKalb Country for abut 5 years now and have enjoyed a wonderful chur family through New Hope Christian Center, as well as, a community of individuals I consider as family also. I graduated from Snider High School in 2011 and presently a part time student through Ivy Tech College. Working with children has been what I consider an honor, and beautiful challenge and a joyful blessing because essentially our children are all of that and more so. They are truly a blessing that I believe if we are open to being taught, we can see how much Christ has to teach us through our children. I have been in the early education field now for about 4 years, and I am privileged to be part of this team!
Mallory Wofford Young Tot’s Assistant
Mallory grew up in Edon Ohio. She has two siblings. She went to Edon Northwest Local Schools until her sophomore year. Her junior year she attended Four County for a semester, and then graduated through home schooling a semester early! Mallory enjoys playing sports, going for drives, and coloring. She loves working with children and feels they are a joy to be around. She says children bring fulfilling moments to her soul.
Gina Jackson Primary 2 Assistant
I grew up in Tucson Arizona in the desert, and in the mountains in the north. I followed by passion of horses to attend college in southern Virginia, receiving my degree in Equine Studies. I then managed a horse show and gave lessons for 10 years. I am happily married to my husband Ryan, and we have a son, Ivan. We live in Waterloo, and we hope to have our horses on our farm soon. With having children I have found that I have a love for child development. Working at the Lighthouse I find my work is always full of joy! I love empowering the children in their learning and seeing them grow!
Emili Bryan Lead Tot’s Teacher
Bio coming soon.
My name is Emili and I am the mother of two amazing sons that are 13 and 9 years old. They are busy in a lot of sports, the oldest is in the honor band as well. We love to go on vacation or just small adventures together. We spend a lot of time with family and friends. I love working with children and get a lot of enjoyment out of the little ways they explore and learn. I have take some college in nursing and medical assisting. I have my cosmetology degree. I’m also a contractor on the side (painting, framing, tree trimming, siding and power washing). I love to be helpful in many ways. I enjoy making people smile!
Bri Theising Floating Assistant Teacher
I was born in Fort Wayne Indiana, but grew up in New Haven until the 6th grade. We then moved to Auburn, where I have lived and loved ever since. I spend most of my time growing up at my family’s business, Halter Pool Table, that closed a few years ago. I cheered throughout middle school at DeKalb, then in high school joined FFAan and was an active member until graduating. I loved the opportunities to grow as a leader. I am currently pursing my degree in early childhood education, and planning to further my training and education in Montessori teaching after receiving my degree. I have previously worked in Head-start . My small family and I love to go on road trips to different zoos, aquariums and any fun sports we can find. We love the outdoors. I am a member of the County Line Church in Auburn.
New Staff coming soon!
Karly Messenger Afternoon Assistant Teacher
Emma Close Afternoon Support Staff
Bio coming soon.