Suzanne is Sunshine's director and a Lead Pre-K class teacher. Suzanne founded the school in 1986 with the goal of providing nurturing care and early education for children in the community. Her husband Don crafted the timbered cottage we call Sunshine Special on their home property, a very quick commute. She has one daughter who with her husband and two children resides in Northwest Ohio. Trained as a teacher of public speaking and general liberal arts with a degree from University of Michigan, Suzanne continued to take education courses for early childhood education from Eastern Michigan, Michigan State, and Washtenaw Community College. Most influential to her philosophy of education have been the seminars and conferences she has attended in the U.S. and at the Loris Maluguzzi International Center in Reggio Emilia, Italy on the Reggio teaching approach. She reflects, "Over the years I have enjoyed listening to children and to learn with them, keeping in mind their strengths and interests. My work with children and relating to their parents while collaborating with Sunshine's teachers to provide a creative and respectful place for our youngest children to grow and learn has been a great joy in my life."
Peggy, our Preschool Program Lead Teacher, is in her 26th year at Sunshine Special as a co-teacher and financial administrator. She is married and has 2 daughters. "I look forward every year to meeting new families. I value each child's uniqueness and watch the children learn through play and exploration."
Irene is an art teacher and a local artist. She has graduate degrees from Wayne State University and is originally from Ukraine. Irene loves to explore children's creativity by offering them a plethora of high quality materials, organizing art and interest related field trips, and exhibiting kids' artistic efforts in downtown Ann Arbor during Youth Art Month. Irene engages local artists to present their skills to the children (i.e., sculptor Barbara Melnik Carson (second on the right) is a frequent guest artist). She is a member of iMamas Artists, an art collective based in Ann Arbor.
Hannah has been at Sunshine Special for almost a year as an assistant teacher. She just graduated from Eastern Michigan University in April 2020 with a degree in psychology and a minor in criminal justice. "I enjoy being around the children and seeing them grow each day."
Bendo is in her first year at Sunshine Special as an assistant teacher. She graduated from Pioneer High School in 2019 and is finishing up her gap year then attending WCC in the fall.
Denise has spent the last two decades sharing her love of music and play with children. Denise has spent seventeen of those years at Sunshine Special School. She is licensed by Kindermusik International since 1997 and is certified to teach all levels of the Kindermusik curriculum.
As mother of three, Denise realizes the importance of developing the whole child from birth by using music as a stepping-stone to help the child become all that he or she can be. There is a tremendous value in music and it can play a vital role in the development of young children. She is committed in helping families find the joy and excitement of
making music a part of everyday life and developing an appreciation of music that will last a lifetime.
Denise Owens is proud to be a member of the Kindermusik Educators Association Maestro Program, and a recipient of the WHO'S WHO Strathmore's award.