Meet our Director & Teachers Personal Attention Makes the Difference

Small group size translates to dedicated daycare attention for your child.

Heather Bussell

Heather Bussell, our Director, founded The Children’s Garden Nursery School in 1994, and opened the current facility in January of 2000. She has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Northeastern University and is a board member for the Montachusett Director’s Group. Heather and her husband Michael have three adult children and two grandchildren. As a lifetime resident of Ashby, Heather particularly enjoys traveling to far-far-away places, gardening, and awaiting the weekly arrival of her Hello Fresh box to cook with. She likes pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, is sometimes into yoga, and definitely has more than half a brain! If anyone could play her in the movie of her life she would want it to be Jennifer Anniston. She can probably name all the birds you see in your front yard, and her favorite ice cream flavor is Maine Black Bear, no cone please! If she wasn’t a director at her own center, she says she would probably enjoy working at a plant nursery! However, her favorite part of being a director is forming long term relationships with families, parents and kids alike.

Pam Pingsterhaus

Pam Pingsterhaus joined Children’s Garden in August of 2013. She has her bachelor’s degree in Advocacy from the Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an associate degree in Early Childhood Education. She has worked as a preschool teacher for more than ten years, and is currently our Curriculum Coordinator. Pam and her husband Craig are enjoying raising two energetic and very adorable sons, Reed and Coda, and their two tortoises, Plinko and Cliff Hanger—not so coincidentally also the names of her favorite Price is Right segments! In her free time, Pam likes to read, cook, and hike. On Saturdays you can find her grocery shopping and religiously obeying her household chore day (#momlife). PSA: She can and will beat anyone at any age in a hula-hooping contest—no mercy. She swears by L.L. Bean products, Cherry Hill ice cream, and TOMS shoes. Pam has a green thumb, is a science nerd, and to this day is still very suspicious as to why there are no ingredients listed on the box of a Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser

Tania Philbrick

Tania Philbrick joined our team in September of 2010. She has been working as an early childhood educator for more than 15 years, and is currently one of our Preschool teachers. Tania continues to work towards her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education through Fitchburg State University. In her free time she enjoys reading, shopping both on and offline, and baking. Day in and day out, Tania succumbs to her Thirty-One bags addiction and her obsession with all things pumpkin spice flavored. Her favorite children’s movie is The Little Mermaid, she exclusively drives Ford Escapes, and if you ever find anything pink or polka-dotted, it probably belongs to her. She would choose diamonds over pearls, heels over flats, and Pepsi over Coke, any day of the week. She greatly looks forward to her hair days, nail days, and tanning days, and one of these days she hopes she can actually finish her entire afternoon coffee.

Krystle Richard

Krystle Richard joined our team in September of 2013 co-teaching in the infant room, and she has been working with young children for almost six years. She continues to work on her Interdisciplinary degree at Fitchburg State University. Krystle is typically calm and quiet—a perfect-personality-match to be working with her little friends in the infant room. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and loves-loves-LOVES playing with her two dogs, Riley and Papi. Krystle is the biggest Red Sox fan you’ll ever meet, and she swears by Contigo travel mugs which keep her coffee hot all day and Contigo water bottles which keep her water cold all day. Krystle also likes to scrapbook, her favorite ice cream flavor is birthday cake, she loves going to the beach, and she identifies as an avid coffee drinker even though Dunkin Donuts coffee makes her jittery.

Amy Nicely

Amy Nicely joined our team in fall of 2016, co-teaching in the infant room. She has her teaching certificate from Fisher College in Early Childhood Education. Amy has a son whom she loves to spend time with and she also enjoys swimming, watching movies, and going for bike rides. If she could be one super hero it would have to be Wonder Woman because, in her words, she already is a Wonder Woman who does everything for her son! Her dream vacation is a trip to Bora Bora, her dream car is a ’69 Camaro, her dream house is a tiny house on a lot of land, and her dream job--if she wasn’t already a teacher--would be a hair dresser. Amy makes a mean meatloaf, and her go-to Saturday night movie is either Flash Dance or The Outsiders because she “used to have a crush on every single one of those guys.” Her hidden talent used to be baton twirling, but since she can’t do that anymore, she likes to think her new hidden talent is painting.

Jill Brown

Jill Brown joined our team in fall of 2016, co-teaching in the toddler room. She has a teaching certificate from Middlesex Community College and has been teaching since 2003. In March of 2016 she and her husband, Mike, welcomed their first baby, Lyla, to their family. Jill likes going to Red Sox games, barbecuing with her friends, and going to country concerts. Besides her daughter and her husband, near and dear to her heart is her 6 year old chocolate lab, Duncan, whose naming is not to be confused with the popular New-England-based coffee and donut chain—make no mistake, Jill is a Gourmet Girl™ (patent pending). On the weekends, you might find her closing down Bailey’s Bar and Grille, tenaciously working on her farmer’s tan, spending endless hours in Target, and sneaking vegetables into food she cooks for Lyla (and Mike, who are we kidding). If she could have dinner with anyone it would definitely be Ellen DeGeneres, and if she were stranded on a deserted island the one thing she would have to have with her is a radio

Sierra Jamison

Sierra Jamison joined our team in the fall of 2014 and has been co-teaching in our toddler room ever since. She has a degree in Elementary Education from the University of Maine at Farmington. In May of 2016, Sierra and her husband Jesse welcomed their first daughter, Willow, into their family. Moreover, they are currently and excitedly awaiting the arrival of their second daughter, whom they are expecting in November of 2017! For now, Sierra likes to read books to Willow about being a big sister and immensely enjoys watching Willow grow into a courageous and silly toddler. In her free time, Sierra likes playing Dungeons and Dragons, and taking her daughter out to different restaurants—especially Long Horn, which she says is her toddler’s favorite! Her celebrity crush is Ryan Reynolds, if she could eat one thing for the rest of her life it would most definitely be pickles, and if she could have dinner with one person it would be Emma Stone

Dominique Goyette-Connerty

Dominique Goyette-Connerty joined our team in July of 2016 as a teacher’s assistant, though her association with Children’s Garden dates all the way back to 2000, when she was the first toddler to enroll as the daycare opened in this new building. Dominique is currently a sophomore in the Honors Program at Fitchburg State University where she is majoring in Communications Media with a concentration in Professional Communications, and minoring in Spanish. In her day-to-day life she enjoys drinking copious amounts of coffee, bad puns, waitressing (using the term ‘enjoys’ very loosely here), and singing as if she stars in her own one-woman musical. When she’s not at the daycare, you might find her playing pick-up field hockey games, shopping ‘til she drops, trying to accomplish tasks while there’s still time left on the microwave, and proofreading. Her aspirations after college include becoming a producer in a broadcast newsroom, traveling all over the world, and finally finishing Don Quixote.