Cassie Larimer

I think I was always destined to work with children! As a child, I loved playing school and taking care of my younger brother. I also began babysitting as soon as I was old enough.

During college, while studying to become a French teacher, I worked at the childcare center on campus. It was then, that I realized that I love Early Childhood Education and haven’t looked back since. Although I have my BA in French, I have taken several classes in Early Childhood Education, as well as several specific trainings’. Some of my favorites have been Social Emotional Wellness in the Classroom, Infant & Toddler Theory and a Math & Science training, after which, I as well as my teaching team was featured in future training videos for the Denver Preschool Program!

When I am not teaching I love spending time with my husband, Jeff and our dog. We especially love traveling and try to do so as often as possible! I also enjoy reading, movies and game night! I am learning to crochet and am trying my hand at cooking new recipes. Most of all, I LOVE MY JOB!!!! I feel so fortunate to spend my days with your children! I get to participate in their growth and take great pride in providing them a safe and loving place to explore the world and their place in it.

Elvan Kaya

Elvan started the Happy Ladybug Early Education program in the summer of 2007 after working as an early childhood educator for the past 12 years. Elvan worked at Fisher Early Learning Center at University of Denver as a lead teacher for 6 years. She had been a part of the Fisher Early Learning Center since it has opened.  Elvan successfully completed intensive training at Fisher in the “Read, Play, and Learn!” curriculum and implemented best practices in the field of early childhood. During her career in Fisher, she took several graduate courses including ; “Brain development in Toddler years” ,“Developmentally Appropriate Practices“, “Positive Discipline” ,“Conflict Resolution” and “Fundamentals of Early childhood development.”

Elvan started Happy Ladybug because she wanted to make a difference in children’s lives.  Elvan’s dedication to providing a safe, nurturing and educational environment has been a proven success in the Stapleton and Park Hill neighborhood.

Before Elvan started her career as an early childhood educator, she worked as a counseling psychologist. Elvan’s University work involved helping students enrich their social, emotional and vocational potential as well as help them develop their coping skills for dealing with daily stresses. She also taught classes like “Conflict resolution” and “How to communicate effectively” to undergraduate students.

Heather Ingham

Hi! My name is Heather. I am so excited to be working here! I just moved to Colorado from Michigan. I have been in the Early Childhood field for 6-7 years. I started out babysitting for family friends and then later went on to study Early Childhood Education at the local community college. I will be finishing my Associate’s degree in the very near future. In my free time I enjoy practicing yoga, playing guitar, and spending time outdoors taking in the beautiful Colorado scenery!

Jennifer Santos

Hi! My name is Jennifer Santos, and I am the Lead Teacher in the Aspen (Two’s) Classroom. I have worked at Happy Ladybug since 2013, and in the Early Childhood field since 2006. I developed a passion for working with young children during my freshman year of college when I began working for Jumpstart with low-income children in preschools across Washington, D.C. I continued to work with young children throughout college as both a teacher and as a private nanny. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science from George Washington University as well as my Group Lead ECE Qualifications.

Once I graduated college, I returned to full-time work in the ECE field and have worked as an infant, toddler, and preschool teacher throughout this time. My favorite part of being a teacher is watching young children explore and learn through their environments each day. I am constantly amazed at the simple things that children see and get so excited to learn, that most adults including myself take for granted. I also have loved the bonds I am able to form with both the children and their families, this has been particularly true at Happy Ladybug.

I am a Colorado native, and love spending my free time with my close-knit family. I love crafting, cooking/baking, and being outdoors.

Karena Briggs


My name is Karena, and I am so excited to be part of the great team at Happy Ladybug!

I graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in Sociology and Anthropology, but have worked in Early Childhood Education for most of my career. I was an ESL teacher for a private school in Kocaeli, Turkey for the 2014/2015 school year, teaching ages 3-7 and 14. I had such a wonderful experience there, and I am so happy to be surrounded by parents and administrators who know and love Turkey, too.

Prior to teaching abroad, I was a Teacher's Assistant at the Early Childhood Center, an alternative theory pre-school in Delaware, OH. I learned from a program based on Social and Emotional Development, with a strong focus in Ecology and Health.

Happy Ladybug's theory is very complementary to my previous experience, striving to provide young learners with the necessary skills to succeed throughout their lifetimes. I am lucky to be part of Happy Ladybug, and hope to continue for many years to come!

In my spare time, I love knitting scarves and creating art with textiles. I love movies and concerts, walking in forests, laying in the sunshine, and most of all traveling smile emoticon.

Lauren Rowe

My passion for children began very early in life being the oldest cousin in my family and growing up around little ones all my life. I began babysitting as soon as I could get my CPR training when I was 12 years old! I have always been fascinated by their curiosity, imagination and development so it only made sense to pursue a career in Early Childhood Education.

I am currently an undergraduate at Metropolitan State University, attending classes four days a week, after work. My eagerness to understand children more in depth has pushed my determination and excitement to eventually become a lead teacher myself! I look forward to starting volunteer work and have my heart set on an Autism center. I will begin my TESOL course in between semesters and hopefully, someday in the future, it will help with my goal to teach English abroad.

In my spare time I love being around my goofy pup Mowgli, who seems to talk as much as any human does. We have a huge passion for the outdoors and are going on climbing our 10th 14er this next coming season, with all 53 in sight!! I would love nothing more than to be able to travel and backpack around the world taking photos. Other hobbies include reading, listening to vinyl (because it sounds so much better), and collecting vintage cameras.

My absolute favorite part of being a teacher is being able to experience new things with these children as they are learning and growing every single day. The love and trust shared between child and teacher is an amazing feeling and I've grown to truly respect each and every child for who they are. I always go home with a good laugh and new understanding as I, too, am growing with them. The Happy Ladybug and Elvan have been a true blessing in my life and I look forward to continue working with the passionate teachers we already have and the new children/families we will have.

Lauryn Buitrago

Hi! My name is Lauryn and I’m thrilled to be joining the team here at The Happy Ladybug Early Learning Center! My greatest passion is working with children. I have worked in childcare for the past fifteen years. I started babysitting in high school but it wasn’t until college that I discovered my natural gift with kids. In college I volunteered at a nonprofit working with at-risk youth. It was there that I realized how amazing it is to watch a child learn and developed into a stronger self and student.

I have a Bachelors degree from California State University, Monterey Bay in Psychology and have taken several other college courses to help maintain my knowledge in the field. I absolutely love working with children and facilitating there learning process. I believe all children need is a positive, structured and playful environment to thrive! In addition, having a calming, trusting atmosphere is essential to truly bond with a child.

I moved to Denver last October from Northern California and have completely fallen in love with this city. I enjoy hiking, reading, spending time with my loved ones and exploring this beautiful state!

Liz Quintana

I love teaching children new things. I love seeing their faces light up when they have accomplished something they have been working hard on and I love seeing the different stages of development in children. I take pride in encouraging children to do their best in everything they do.

I have experience in curriculum planning, engaging children in daily activities, daily scheduling sheets, CPR, first aid, Universal precaution, and communication with children and their parents. I also have a fun loving attitude and maintain a positive atmosphere in the classroom. I am ECE Teacher Certified in Colorado through Front Range Community College.

Natalie Olson

Hello! My name is Natalie and I am absolutely thrilled to be joining The Happy Ladybug team. I have been wanting to pursue a career in childcare for quite some time and it seems as though that dream is coming true for me now, which is so exciting!

I was a nanny for three young girls for two years after graduating high school and it was a wonderful experience.

I spend most of my free time with my family. They truly are everything to me. Our family includes animals as well. We have four dogs and one goat! I am crazy about animals. They have always been a huge part of my life and always will be. I couldn't ask for anything more when it comes to my amazing family.

I love travel, art, music, fashion, reading, movies, hiking, and photography. I am from Seattle, WA originally but I love it here in Colorado and hope to be here for a long time. It's stunning and I love watching the seasons change. Plus, I am one of those people who needs lots of sun so Seattle obviously isn't my ideal match year round, hahaha.

I am looking forward to meeting you and getting to know your children. Children make the world brighter and better. I learn so much from every child I meet and they always make me laugh. I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of their day. I know they will be teaching me so many valuable lessons and I can't wait to get started!

Wendi Rodriguez

Hello, My name is Ms Wendi.   Teaching children has always been a passion of mine since I was very young.  I started working in the field of early childhood when I was 17-years of age at a small independent preschool in Greeley Colorado. My wonderful experience their lead me to get my Associates in Early Childhood. Since getting my degree, I have had over 25 years of experience working with young children in small preschool environment, corporate preschools, Head Start program, being a nanny for a family with 5 children, working in a mixed aged preschool setting for a school district and being a mom.

I am a mom of an amazing 10-year-old boy. He has proven to be my most rewarding and challenging job.  I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, playing board games, working in my greenhouse and garden, watching movies and working at my son’s school as a volunteer. 

Over the years I have learned that children learn best through play and hands-on experience.  As a substitute at Happy Ladybug, I look forward to spending time in your child’s class and playing with them.