Our Teachers

Our wonderful staff is the heart and soul of our program, so we employ only highly motivated, loving and caring individuals. Many of our employees have been with us for over 5 years and several have been with us 10+ years.

Teachers at our center are committed to lifelong learning. 


Each individual:

  • Receives at minimum 15 hours of training in early childhood education, every year

  • Is certified in CPR and First Aid

  • Is trained to recognize and report child abuse and neglect

  • Is trained in Safe Sleep for Oregon's Infants

  • Is trained in Introduction to Child Care Health and Safety

  • Holds an Oregon Food Handler’s card

  • Has passed an Oregon Criminal History Background Check which includes an FBI Check


We help facilitate our staff in attaining necessary training and encourage them to continue to grow professionally, benefiting themselves while further developing Airport Learning Tree’s program.

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Penny Haakinson

Penny founded Airport Learning Tree in August 1998 and continues to be involved in all aspects of the school. She also owns Orchards Children's Village in Vancouver, WA, which has been in operation since 1999.


Penny says: “Being involved at Airport Learning Tree is a wonderful experience. No two days are ever the same. The children renew my spirit everyday with their honesty and fresh outlook on the world. I believe strongly in service and hope that we help make young parent’s lives just a little easier.”


Prior to Airport Learning Tree, Penny coached track and taught at Gladstone High School. She also loves to sing and dance.

Jan Andrade

Jan is a Wobblers teacher. She has worked with Airport Learning Tree since 2000. She enjoys watching the children change and grow every day.


She also loves photography and art and is a member of an online art gallery.

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Debbi Alger

Debbi is likely the first person to greet you in the morning at ALT. Debbi has been with Airport Learning Tree since 2001. She loves spending time with children and seeing their cute little faces every day.


Something you might not know about Debbi is that she worked and lived on a crab processing ship in Alaska for two years. Wow!

Deby Waldner

Deby teaches our preschoolers and can be found at the front desk in the afternoons, as she is the Assistant Director. She has been with Airport Learning Tree since 2001. Deby loves the funny things children say.


Outside of ALT, she loves horses and gardening, and likes to collect sticks and rocks.

Shirley Panit

Shirley is a Jill of all trades. She spends the most time teaching the infants & school age kids. She also drives the vans and cleans and fixes things around the center. Shirley has been at ALT since 2007 and loves every day here.


She has been with some children from infants to school-agers. 

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Chela is a teacher in the Toddlers II classroom. She worked at ALT for 6 years, then took a hiatus, and we are happy to have her back again since 2014. Chela likes everything about teaching at Airport Learning Tree. 


She has a house in Mexico that she is almost done building. Fantástico!

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Ru Coyne

Ru teaches Kindergarten in the morning & manages the office in the afternoon as ALT’s Director. She takes school-agers on field trips in the summer & has been with ALT since 2011.

Ru loves teaching & is very proud of the relationships she has built with the children and their families. 

Lissette Molinero

Lissette, has been with ALT since February 2017. She leads the Jr. Kindergarten room. Lissette loves how diverse ALT is from its families to its staff. And of course, she loves all the kids smiling faces.


At home, she is surrounded by water. While she enjoys looking at it, Lissette can’t imagine ever going for a swim in it.

Jessie Fry

Jessie is the center’s cook, but also helps anywhere else she is needed including van runs. She joined ALT in 2015.


Jessie doesn’t have kids of her own, so she especially delights in ALT’s fun and always fascinating children. Even when you are having a hard day, the love and energy of our kids can cure anything.

Bri started at ALT in February 2017, and has found a home in our toddler room. She is a wonderful artist and just recently got married. 

When we say that Tracy can do anything at ALT we mean it! Whether it's van runs or field trips, grocery shopping, extra cleaning duties or infants to school-age she is a multi-use tool. She started in 2010, and along the way moved out of town for three years. We were thrilled when she returned for good (we hope) in February 2017. She enjoys watching kids learn different things, having them accomplish it, and then seeing the joy in their eyes. She does not like seafood and just recently became a grandma!

Crystal Fuerstenau

Crystal worked for ALT for several years in the past before returning in May 2018. She welcomed her third child, a baby boy, in September 2018. Crystal spends a lot of her time in the infant room, but is a jack of all trades and can go into any classroom. She loves helping kids learn new and exciting things.

Crystal is the proud owner of nine chickens, three dogs, and two cats - in addition to her three children. 

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Nicki spends most of her time with the school-age kids. She started in May 2018. She enjoys being creative with the kids and finding projects that will really engage them. She is also a doula as well.

Reba VanWormer

Reba works primarily with the younger toddlers and has a preschooler of her own on. She started at ALT in November 2018. She enjoys making the kids laugh and connecting with the "harder" kids. She is also a photographer and will be taking photos at our events. Reba is a collector of things with ladybugs on them; she even has a ladybug tattoo!

Since joining ALT at the end of 2018, Jessi has spent the majority of her time in our Jr K class. She enjoys watching the imagination of the children go wild and hearing their funny stories. She also loves how much they love story time!

Jessi has quite a bit of theatrical experience as she was an extra on a TV show called the "The Librarians." She's been in 20+ stage productions both on stage and behind the scenes. 

Rachel works primarily in PS, but is happy to go into any room needed. She began as a volunteer in October 2018 as she finished up her schooling and then was hired as an employee at the beginning of the year. She enjoys getting to know the children and finding out the things/activities they enjoy. Each one has a very unique personality and she enjoys watching them get excited about the things they create.

Rachel is one of six children. She has one full blood sibling and four half siblings. There are three boys and three girls including her. 

Mariah Karm

Mariah joined ALT in June 2019 and works primarily with the kindergarten and school-age kids. She works as a closer so she gets to spend time with all the kids at some point in the day.

She loves getting to see all the sweet kiddos everyday and learning along side of them.

She loves arts, crafts, and music. She is happiest with some art supplies and music to hum along to!

Daja White

Daja joined our team in September, 2019 and works primarily with the infants. She loves babies! But all the kids are wonderful, and she says her co-workers are great as well.

Shockingly, Daja is the oldest of 13 kids!