JUNIPER EARLY LEARNING CENTER

Holly Schafer, Director/Owner

Holly is a licensed Early Childhood Educator and Montessori Primary Teacher with over 25 years of experience working with young children in many different capacities. 

Prior to attending the Early Childhood Education Program at Okanagan University College, Holly taught preschool in New York, NY where she ran a program for two to three year old's called the "Two Group." Upon completion of her studies in the Early Childhood Education field in 1993, she was hired as an Assistant Teacher at the Okanagan Montessori Preschool in Kelowna, B.C. This was a wonderful experience! Having been exposed to many preschool and daycare environments, Holly found, what she believes, to be excellence in Early Childhood Education. Holly found her niche in the Montessori classroom and could never imagine a career that could be as fulfilling and inspiring as working with children in a Montessori environment. 

Holly went on to take her St.Nicholas practical training and examination at the Pacific Montessori School in Victoria during the summer of 1995. In March of 2002, she completed The Montessori Foundations Level 1 Certificate at the Western Montessori Teachers College in Port Moody, B.C. Because of her dedication and love for children, appreciation of the Montessori Method, and the desire to offer such a program to the families of Kamloops, she made the decision to open the Kamloops Montessori Preschool/ Kindergarten and Kamloops Montessori Academy in 1998. After 18 years of providing excellence in Child Care in the Aberdeen and Sahali areas of Kamloops, Holly was excited to extend her Childcare Centers into the Juniper community. 

Holly-Ann Fraser - Administrative Assistant                          

Holly-Ann is our Administrative Assistant. She came to us at the end of the summer 2018, and brings with her many years of administrative experience, from working in several medical office​s, as well as many other capacities. She moved to Kamloops from Alberta, shortly before starting work in our office. She has also worked with children in many capacities over the years. She has 4 grown children of her own and 5 grandchildren; has acted as a Sunday School Teacher, Youth Group Leader, and provided childcare from her home at different times, over the past 35 years. She and her husband were Directors of Torch Trail Bible Camp in Northern Saskatchewan for 3 years, where she also gained extensive experience in Administration and working with children of all age groups.                                                                                                                                                

Grace Gorman, Manager/Head Teacher in 3-5  Full DayProgram

Grace was born in Kamloops and attended Kamloops Montessori as a child herself. From a young age Grace knew she wanted to pursue a career with children. After graduating from South Kamloops Secondary School, Grace completed her Early Childhood Education diploma at TRU and has received her Montessori level 1 training. Grace is very interested in the development of children and learning how their creative minds work. Going through the Montessori program as a child, Grace knew that she wanted to work in a Montessori classroom and share her knowledge and experiences with her students. Grace is the Manager at Juniper Early Learning Center, as well as, the Head Teacher of the 3-5 Full Day Program.


Lin Roth, Head Teacher in the Infant/Toddler Program

A friend introduced Lin to the Montessori Method when her sons were preschoolers. She identified with the philosophy and began using many of the Montessori activities at home. Lin began teaching the Montessori method at Kamloops Montessori Preschool/Kindergarten in 2000.  She brings many years of experience to Juniper Early Learning Center, where she continues to delight in sharing this positive method with the children at school, and finds it very rewarding as the Head Teacher of the Toddler Program.

In addition to a Bachelor of Arts degree, Lin holds a Diploma in Early Childhood Education, including specialties in Infants, Toddlers and Children with Special Needs, which she completed in 2002 at TRU (formerly UCC). Lin has a Montessori teaching Diploma and a Library Aid Certificate, and has experience in elementary school libraries, and a background in teaching music. She has been a member of the ECE Program Advisory committee at TRU since 2000 and is a recipient of the Childcare Award of Excellence for the Interior Region, 2012.

A highlight for Lin was a trip to Italy in 2009 where she visited several Montessori schools in Rome and Naples. It was inspiring for Lin to see the site of the original Montessori school in the San Lorenzo district of Rome, which Maria Montessori began over 100 years ago. She even had opportunity to observe the classes there. Montessori truly is a universal philosophy of education dedicated to the whole development of children in all areas of life!

Margarita Ochoa-Fernandez, Head Teacher Preschool Program

Margarita Ochoa Fernandez, Teacher Preschool Program

Margarita was born and raised in Colima, Mexico. She holds a Psychology degree and a Kindergarten Teacher's degree back in her country of origin with 20 years of experience working in education with young children between 2 to 6 years old. Margarita worked teaching and academically coordinating the preschool and kindergarten program in a private elementary school in Colima, Mexico, for ten years. Then, she decided to train in Montessori, which she did in the Pierre Faure Institute in Guadalajara, Mexico, attending the teachers' summer school for seven summers. In 2012 Margarita founded and ran for seven years Colegio Arbore, a private preschool and kindergarten that works with the Montessori philosophy of education. In April 2019, she moved to Canada with her husband and three sons pursuing the Masters of Education at TRU; in April 2021 recently graduated. Since coming to Canada, Margarita started working in Childcare and has completed the Early Childhood Educator Assistant certificate. Margarita has always been trying to balance the educative system's expectations and the respect for every child's individuality and unique personality.

Lisa Gilroy, Head Teacher School Age Program

Lisa was raised in Kamloops, where her parents owned a re​staurant, which taught her many entrepreneurial skills and a good work ethic. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from UCC (now TRU) in 2004 and proceeded to travel to Korea where she found a love for teaching. Lisa continued her expeditions, which landed her in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for 10 years, where she taught English in a private, bilingual school, as well as, owned and operated her own business. This is where she met her husband, and had her son, before moving back to Canada. When she and her husband returned to Kamloops to raise her family, she also returned to school, and has completed her 'Early Childhood Educator' certification. She also,recently returned to school to complete her 'Infant/Toddler' and 'Children with Exceptionalities' certification.. She believes that children are strong and capable individuals, and through trusting and strong relationships, they will learn and grow as they play and explore their world in a safe environment.​

Pyper Tull, Teacher (ECE-IT) in Full Day (3-5 year old) Program

Pyper has always loved being around children and has a passion for helping others. She decided to pursue her dream of teaching and working with children in 2016, when she moved from her hometown of Squamish to Kamloops, where she attended the 'Early Childhood Education' Program at TRU.  Pyper has been working in our Preschool Program since October 2018, and has since gone back to school to attain her Infant and Toddler Certification. She recently attained her 'Special Needs' certification, as well.  Pyper’s favourite moments throughout the day are seeing the results of each child’s exploration and discovery in ordinary happenings.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Amy Utz, Teacher (ECE) n Full Day (3-5 year old Program)


Amy came to Juniper Early Learning Center, as a practicum student, while completing her Early Childhood Educator (ECE) certification. Upon, completing her certification, she took on the position of Teacher (ECE) in the Full Day (3 to 5 year olds) program. It is joy to have Amy here, and the children love having her as well.










Daniela Becker,  Teacher Infant/IToddler Program

Daniela is from Germany. She has 'Early Childhood Educator' certification from Germany as well as from Nova Scotia, Canada. Daniela has worked with children, from birth through the teenage years, for over 19 years in different countries, including USA, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand. Her experiences include different (bilingual, special needs) settings such as early childhood centers, after school centers, a children's home and private homes. She and her husband have started a new chapter by coming to Canada with their two cats, and she enjoys working with our team here at Juniper Early Learning Center.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

YounNam Lee, (ECEA) Teacher 3-5 Full Day Program

YounNam holds an Early Childhood Educator Assistant Certificate and Level One Montessori Foundations Training Certificate. She has worked in Montessori Education environment for over 5 years and has found her joy of working with pre-schoolers. Prior to working with very young children, she volunteered in childminding and after-school programs for 3 years in Kamloops. She attained a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and taught kindergarten, elementary, young adults and adults for decades back in Korea. She completed a Diploma program in Applied Linguistics with University of Victoria, where she enjoyed learning how to teach languages. She is currently working with children in our 3-5 Full Day Program. She arrives each day with the goal of taking care of all children as if they were her own.


Francesca Ross, Teacher (ECEA) Full Day (3-5 yeear old) Program

Francesca was born and raised in Kamloops. She lives here with her husband, 2 daughters and their family dog. She has many years of experience working with people – such as retail and customer service settings. In 2013, Francesca decided to make a career change and began to pursue the field of Early Childhood Education. She completed courses at TRU in the ECE field in order to obtain her ECE-Assistant status. In 2017, Francesca began working as a Child Care Support Worker for Children’s Therapy & Family Resource Center. She has worked with children with exceptionalities and behavior challenges, in many types of childcare settings. At the end of 2021, Francesca made the transition to working at Juniper Learning Center as an Assistant in the Full Day classroom. Her goal is to complete her ECE diploma and continue to care for children. She is so happy to be part of the Juniper ELC family and is looking forward to getting to know you and your children.


Livia Spooner-Reese, Teacher School Age Program                         

Livia was born in Kamloops, but went to boarding school on Victoria island. She has been interested in early childhood development all of her life, and has done a lot of babysitting in her earlier years. She has also been interested in pursuing a career as an ECE or Social Worker. Livia has taken the ‘Responsible Adult’ course and plans to further her education in the fields that will help with her ability to work effectively with children. She is looking forward to working with all the children at Juniper Early Learning Center and helping in their development by modeling, to each child, the important characteristics of love, compassion, respect and patience.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Jackson Pillipow, Teacher School Age

Jackson was born in Edmonton and later moved to Calgary where he attended Highschool. He has been working with children for about 8 years, in various roles. Jackson is currently studying history, at TRU, with the goal of going into the Education program, to become a teacher, once he graduates. Jackson has worked at with children at Juniper Early Learning Center for almost a year now, and he is thrilled to be with the children in the School Age program, for another school year!

Heather Arcand (ECE) Teacher Preschool

Heather was raised for most of her life in Kamloops and has chosen Kamloops as the place that she and her 13 year old son, Kolten, call home. Heather always knew she wanted to be a teacher and began volunteering at childcare centres right out of high school. In 2004 she began working in private care nannying, where she had the opportunity to work with children aged 0-17, some of whom were children on the Autism spectrum. In 2017 she began a program at Sprott Shaw Community College to attain her certification as an Early Childhood Educational Assistant (ECEA). Then in 2019, wanting to take on more responsibility and broaden her learning, she went back to college, and got her full Early Childhood Educator (ECE) certificate. She worked at Curious Minds Montessori for five years before venturing into other forms of childcare. She has found J.E.L.C. to be the right fit for her career path, and began settling in here at Juniper Early Learning Center early summer 2022. She started out as a substitute, doing break coverage and working in the School Age program. Heather has been excited to join our Preschool Program this fall, and also continues in the School Age program, and covering breaks in other programs