Staff

Administration

Rita Krans

Rita Krans

  • Director

About Rita

Ms. Krans, Director of Little Huskies Child Development Center, joins us from Denver, Colorado with a diverse educational administrative background. As co-founder and Director of CLK Childcare at CLK Elementary school in 2012, Rita majored in Psychology with an Early Childhood Education Licensure at Metro State College of Denver, received coursework in Special Education from Colorado University, and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Grand Canyon University. With a deep love for her friends, family, the outdoors, and being a well-versed foodie, Rita spends her free time bumming at the beach, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, running, gardening, sewing, and eating chocolate!

Kaeti Birondo

Kaeti Birondo

  • Program Director, Lead Infant-Toddler Teacher

About Kaeti

Kaeti Birondo started at Little Huskies in September 2016 as an Infant Teacher. In May 2019, she was hired as Infant/Toddler Lead Teacher. She became Little Huskies’ Program Director in June 2021. Kaeti has a degree in Early Childhood Education and has over 10 years of experience in working with infants and toddlers. She enjoys dance parties, hiking, swimming, board games, traveling, and spending time with her daughter, Lilly.

Emily Ruohniemi

Emily Ruohniemi

  • Kitchen Manager, Cook

About Emily

Emily has been with Little Huskies since October of 2021. She has been in the food service industry since 2015. She resides with her husband, Mike, and their two black labs, which are the center of their world! They enjoy taking their pups to the beach, hiking in the woods and spoiling them. Emily also enjoys golfing, skiing, and hanging out with family and friends.

Infant-Toddler Rooms

Kaeti Birondo

Kaeti Birondo

  • Program Director, Lead Infant-Toddler Teacher

About Kaeti

Kaeti Birondo started at Little Huskies in September 2016 as an Infant Teacher. In May 2019, she was hired as Infant/Toddler Lead Teacher. She became Little Huskies’ Program Director in June 2021. Kaeti has a degree in Early Childhood Education and has over 10 years of experience in working with infants and toddlers. She enjoys dance parties, hiking, swimming, board games, traveling, and spending time with her daughter, Lilly.

Deborah Bossenberger

Deborah Bossenberger

  • Infant/Toddler Teacher

About Deborah

Debbie Bossenbergerstarted in February 2012 as a Substitute Teacher. She was hired as an Infant/Toddler Teacher in June 2012. She has a degree in Early Childhood Education and has worked with infants and toddlers in a center-based setting for over 20 years. Debbie is married with two adult children and two grandchildren. Her hobbies include card-making, reading, and movie viewing.

Heather Huffmaster

Heather Huffmaster

  • Infant Teacher

About Heather

Heather Huffmasterstarted working at Little Huskies as a Preschool Teacher in June 2021. Prior to working at Little Huskies, Heather was a nanny in Australia to multiple young children. She has also worked at a childcare center with children from infants to preschoolers. She is currently pursuing her degree in Early Childhood Education. Heather enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, mountain biking, and downhill skiing. She has a big, fluffy dog named Sunshine that she loves to hang out with, as well.

Brittany Kuopus

Brittany Kuopus

  • Infant/Toddler Teacher

About Brittany

Britanny Kuopus started as an Infant/Toddler Teacher in June 2021.She has been working with infants and toddlers since 2016 and has a child development associate credential in Early Childhood Education. She is raising her young daughter, Isabella, with their two adopted pets, Kaneisha (doggy) and Pumpkin (kitty). In her free time, she enjoys live music, hiking, canoeing, camping, and reading novels.

Bethany Leonard

Bethany Leonard

  • Teacher

About Bethany

Bethany Leonard started in November 2007. She works as a Teacher in all of the Little Huskies classrooms. She has a degree and a teaching certificate. Bethany has more than 20 years of experience working with children. She enjoys music, reading and outdoor activities. Bethany plays in the Copper Country community Band during the summer. She also plays in a bell choir.

Danielle Bankemper

Danielle Bankemper

  • Building Resource Teacher

About Danielle

Danielle has been was hired in October of 2021 as our part time building resource teacher. She provides support in each classroom, as needed. Danielle is earning her Preschool Child Development Associate (CDA). Danielle was born and raised in the area. She is a mother of 3 little girls. When asked to share about herself, she said, “My girls showed me my love for learning can be even more rewarding when connected with teaching. I really love seeing that connection and ah-ha moment as a child learns a new skill and how pure-hearted they are. I have always had a love for learning and studied at Tech and Finlandia. In my free time you can find me reading, rock picking, crafting, or spending time outdoors with my girls.”

Olivia DuBay

Olivia DuBay

  • Building Resource Teacher

About Olivia

Olivia began as a substitute at Little Huskies and quickly earned the regular position as our building resource teacher. She has been providing support in each room as needed, since May 2021.When asked to share about herself, she said, “I'm from Petoskey, Michigan. I have three older siblings, and a niece and nephew who I am absolutely crazy about. My hobbies include skiing, scrapbooking, and crochet. I'm currently working at Little Huskies Child Development center, where I am a building resources teacher in every classroom.

I'm entering my third year at Northern Michigan University, expecting to graduate winter '22. I earned my Associate of Arts from North Central Michigan College May 2019. I chose the elementary education program with my focus in language arts because teaching and being around young learners is something that I have been passionate about for most of my life and English language arts are the subjects I was most interested in during my formative schooling. 

Before transferring to Northern, I worked in a Montessori infant and toddler program and currently work at Little Huskies Child Development. Both experiences have greatly influenced my love and appreciation for young learners. Having the opportunity to view the growth children experience in the first three years of life is what solidified my desire to pursue early elementary education. 

My philosophy of education: Each child is deserving of a caring, genuine, and honest education simply by being. I will use techniques and pedagogical practices that support the whole child and encourage each learner's desire for knowledge, respect, and understanding.”

Preschool Rooms

Rebekah Foix

Rebekah Foix

  • Preschool Teacher

About Rebekah

Rebekah Foix started in February 2019 as a substitute teacher. Since then, she has worked in all of the classrooms, in addition to gaining experience as the office manager and as the cook. In April 2021, she was hired as a full-time teacher. Rebekah loves crafting, reading, and doing just about anything outside!

Courtney Hendrickson

Courtney Hendrickson

  • Preschool Teacher

About Courtney

Courtney Hendrickson started working at Little Huskies as an intern in July 2013. She began as a fulltime Preschool Teacher in August 2014. Courtney has a degree in Psychology and Sociology with an emphasis on Early Childhood Education. In her free time, she enjoys seeing movies, staying active, being outside and spending time with family.

Nikki Kaufman

Nikki Kaufman

  • Teacher

About Nikki

Nikki Kaufman started in August 2012 as an intern. She became a full time Preschool Teacher in 2017. Nikki has a degree in Early Childhood Education and enjoys working with children of all ages. She is passionate about working with and advocating for children with special needs. In her free time, she loves spending time with her family, especially movie nights.

Kelly Wilmers

Kelly Wilmers

  • Preschool Teacher

About Kelly

Kelly started at Little Huskies as preschool teacher in November of 2021. When asked to share about herself, she said, “I have recently joined Little Huskies and I would like for you to get to know me more. I currently have an associate degree in Early Childhood Education from Gogebic Community College, and I have been an infant/toddler teacher for over 5 years. My husband Stephen and I are both from the local area and we have been married for 19 years. Our son Trevor is a senior in high school and will be graduating in May 2022. In my free time, I do enjoy running, traveling to new places, and evening family walks. I am truly excited to be part of this team, I look forward to working with you, and your children and watching them grow. 

Learn about Gretchen's House Teachers

Meet the Gretchen's House Administrative Team

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