Penny Vardas


I have been teaching here at UCELC since 2004. I have been teaching preschool for over 30 years (!) and I can not imagine doing anything else.

I grew up in south Florida and also lived in New Hampshire, Boston and Alabama. I’ve had the opportunity to work in some very fine schools, so I was happy to bring all of my wonderful and valuable experiences to UCELC.

It is my goal to make sure the children in my class have a nurturing, warm and caring environment. I want them to know they are unique, capable and creative individuals who have the tools to explore their world and their role in it.

Karla Leyte-Vidal


I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I moved to Florida in 1998, shortly after getting married. We have three kids that keep us busy. I came to UCELC as a parent in 2004 and joined the team in 2007. I have taught and supported at all preschool levels and for the past few years I've been doing physical education. I'm truly blessed to be part of the UCELC team.

Michelle Patterson


I moved to Orlando over 18 years ago when I met and fell in love with my husband while on the College Program at Disney. I transferred to the University of Central Florida where I earned my bachelors degree and began my dream career as a teacher. During my years in OCPS, I had the privilege of teaching grades k-3 including a special needs class in addition to being the extended day coordinator. Then God blessed me with 4 wonderful children and my career was placed on pause. As my children grew and started attending UCELC, I began volunteering at the preschool. The more I volunteered the more I became part of the UCELC family and revisited the joy that comes from working with children. Today, I am thrilled to be a member of the staff here and look forward to sharing with you and your family what makes our school so special.

Rachel Wernecke


I moved to Oviedo when I was 4 years old. I graduated from Oviedo High School and attended Seminole State College where I got my general AA. I then packed up my car and moved to New York, just to see if I can make it on my own. I eventually moved back after realizing life without Disney, the beach, and greenery all year long is not the life for me!

I am a proud mama to my eleven year old fur baby, a pit bull/ lab mix, that I rescued at only a couple weeks old. She has taught me to use my voice to help those who don't have one!

I have always had a passion for working with young kids. The reward of watching little ones learn and grow throughout the year is the best! I have been blessed with the opportunity to work at a few schools including UCELC in 2006 and the UCUMC nursery (my very first job) teaching children ages 1-4.

I am excited to be back and apart of the UCELC family and cannot wait to start this new journey with you and your family!

Ruth James


I was born in Plymouth, England and have been blessed with two wonderful children who are now in middle and high school. I have a degree in early childhood education. I worked as an early years teacher in the public schools in the U.K for ten years. I moved to Orlando in 1999 because of my husband’s work. In 2004, I became a lead teacher at St. Stephen Weekday School, a Christian school, in East Orlando. I taught the three year olds, and the VPK program for four year olds there until recently.

This will be my first year at UCELC and I am excited to be a staff member at this great school. I feel privileged to be working with your children and look forward to watching them learn and develop over the school year.


Jannette Vergara


I was born in Lima, Peru and lived with my family in California where I opened a licensed home day care until we moved to Florida. Here in Florida I was a stay home mom blessed with two children. I volunteered every year at their schools teaching Super Scientists, Spanish, and helping out in the special needs class. Later on, I worked in the medical field as a Certified Medical Assistant, but my call for teaching and children brought me back to this wonderful preschool where my son attended years ago. My love for our Lord will be my guide to provide each child with a caring, loving and safe learning environment.



Kelly Faber


I was born in New York but moved to Florida 1992 where I met my husband (who is also a native New Yorker).
I spent 16 years working in the defense industry for Grumman Corporation until my son was born.  A few years later my daughter was born and I knew my focus had changed and I was ready for a new career.
We joined the church and enrolled our children at UCELC.  The dedication and devotion of the staff led me to join as a 2 year old support teacher.  I continued as a support in the 2,3 and 4 year old classrooms until 2006. I left for a year to substitute in the Orange County Public school system.
I was lucky enough to rejoin UCELC in 2007.  I returned as a VPK lead teacher.  I have been here for 11 years now and I love spending time with the children in such a special place.


Katrina Barnes


I am a Florida native who has lived in Orlando since 2001. I am married and have two fantastic daughters. I graduated from University of South Alabama and worked briefly as a Child Protective Services Counselor for DCF before becoming a stay-at-home-mother. After my youngest was school age, I became a preschool teacher and over the years I have worked with 2s, 3s, and 4s. I love watching little brains grow and develop. This will be my first year at UCELC and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to teach in a family-oriented, Christian environment. I am looking forward to the journey this year will bring.


Darcy Williams


I am an only child who was raised by my grandparents in a small town called Christmas, Florida

After my twentieth birthday I met a wonderful man. His name is Sean and was in the United States Navy and now we have four wonderful children.

My youngest children started at UCELC. I did a lot of volunteer work and really enjoyed being around the children and the school. My son’s last year I began to work as a substitute support and the following year I moved into a full time position.

I feel that God had plans for me to be in this school and to be with these wonderful families. I’ve been here several years and hope to continue on for many more. I can’t see myself being any other place.

Melissa Kantrowitz


I was born and raised in Florida. I have had the love of teaching my entire life. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Florida State University with an Early Childhood Education Degree, I taught kindergarten and first grade for 7 years in Hillsborough and Clay County. I became a stay at home mom when my oldest son, Tyler, was born in 2002. Then in 2005, I had my twins, Reese and Bradley. We lived in Iowa at the time. My husband Alan and I have lived in Oviedo since 2012 and enjoy the small town feel.

I decided to go back to teaching since my children are now settled in school. I love teaching and being part of the children's early education. I am very happy to be a part of the UCLEC family!


Michele Reed


My name is Michele Reed. I am married and have two sons. I have lived in Florida since 1993, after moving here from Northern Virginia, where I grew up and attended college. I also spent my childhood growing up in Hawaii and Australia.

I am a member here at University Carillon Methodist Church, and have been involved in many Bible studies over the years. I love working with children, and feel blessed to be a part of UCELC. I believe each child is uniquely special, and should be able to learn in a safe and caring environment, surrounded by the love of God.

Cathy Forkenbrock


Hello and WELCOME to our UCELC Family!

I was born and raised in Stamford, CT and moved to Florida where I graduated from Florida Southern College with a BA in Communications. My husband Ralph and I have two wonderful children. Our son and his wife live and work in beautiful  San Diego, CA and our daughter is a Registered Licensed Occupational Therapist living and working in Miami.

I began my preschool educational career in 1994 when my two children were in their preschool years. I taught at Parkway Weekday Program for 13 years and started here at UCELC in 2008. I feel very blessed to be here as a Lead Teacher in the 4 year old VPK and Wrap Around Program. I really enjoy learning and growing with each one of my preschoolers (and their families). They are truly one of God's greatest blessings.

My family and I volunteer with the ALS Association - Florida Chapter in search for a cure for Lou Gehrig's disease. I look forward to our school year together and the special memories that we will make!


Val Battistello


I was born in Middle Village, NY and moved to Orlando when I was 21 to work at Walt Disney World. I worked there for 15 years. I met my husband here and have 3 handsome boys. I have been teaching preschool since 2005, when my youngest started preschool. I am so looking forward to my new adventure and path the Lord has for me here at UCELC and to share His love with your children.


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