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Dedicated & Experienced

The North Haven Child Development Center is passionate about your child’s happiness and development and devoted to providing them with a safe and nurturing environment where they can learn and grow.
You can rest easy knowing your child is in the best hands with our dedicated and experienced educators.

When it comes to our teachers, our standards are as high as yours.

Prior to hiring, all employees are background checked and complete a state and federal fingerprint card which is submitted to the department for a State Police Bureau of Identification and a Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Records check.

The North Haven Child Development Center employs highly qualified staff with education and experience specific to the age groups in which they work.

The Directors and Head Teachers at the North Haven Child Development Center all hold Degrees in Early Childhood Education and all of our staff members are CPR Certified, First Aid, Medication Administration and EpiPen trained.

The North Haven Child Development Center is committed to providing your child with the best educational services possible by enhancing staff’s skills and knowledge around Early Childhood Education.

Our staff is required to earn professional development credits and are encouraged to continue their education towards a higher degree in Early Childhood Education.

Staff receives ongoing training throughout the year on site by the director and consultants. Such training includes but are not limited to Early Childhood Education, Curriculum, Health and Nutrition, SIDS, Mandated Reporting, Special Education, Team Work, Diversity etc.

Staff is also encouraged and supported to continue their education outside of training to complete credited coursework in Early Childhood Education.

Meet our Team

The staff at the North Haven Child Development Center is a team of credentialed professionals who facilitate learning.
Get to know our dedicated and experienced Director, Assistant Director, Head Teachers and Assistant Teachers.

Picture of Lauren Grogan

Lauren Grogan

Owner & Director

Welcome! I am the Owner of North Haven Child Development Center.  I am a mom of two amazing girls who inspired me to create a nurturing environment for young children to thrive, grow and just be little.  I am fortunate to have an extremely supportive husband that not only believed in me but continues to support this journey. Growing up in North Haven myself it is an honor to not only raise my family here, but, operate a business in which we are able to be a part of so many other family’s lives. In 2014, while I was expecting my second child, I had a vision of creating what is now a reality here at NHCD Center. I hope to provide a safe and nurturing space within our community while offering high quality early childhood education for working families.  At the end of the day, we hope that you see us as your extended family as well.  When I am not working I enjoy spending with my family and friends. I have a secret love for cooking, planning parties and being active.

I completed both my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree at Southern Connecticut State University in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Special Education. Through my graduate degree I received my State Certification in Special Education for children Birth through Five years old and Special Education Pre-K to Third Grade. I have been working in the Early Childhood field for over 10 years. I have been a classroom teacher, a classroom coach and manager throughout this time span, worked for small privately-owned centers as well as a large Federal and State Funded Program serving just over three hundred children throughout the New Haven area. In addition, I am an active member of National Association for the Education of Young Children and also a board member of the Connecticut Association for the Education of Young Children.

More recently I have begun to consult for various Early Childhood Programs. As a professional in the field, I have an obligation and desire to share my knowledge and understanding with each family and staff member that enters the center. I have extensive training around The Creative Curriculum/Teaching Strategies GOLD, Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards, Ages and Stages Questionnaire, ITERS/ECERS and CLASS as well as Social and Emotional development for children ages birth thru five years old. Personally, I am passionate about the rapid growth and development that occurs during the first three years of life and importance of children being exposed to high quality education at a very young age in a loving environment.  I truly believe that Early Childhood Education sets the foundation for children and helps them develop a love for learning.

Picture of Glendaly Mercado

Glendaly Mercado

Program Coach and Assistant Director

My name is Glenda and I have been working here at NHCD Center for three years since the program was established.  However, I have known and worked collaboratively with Lauren Grogan, the Owner, for about 10 years in various roles within the Early Childhood Field. I taught Pre-School for 10 years before becoming a Staff Coach for a Head Start Program in New Haven.  In this role, I directly worked together with teaching staff to create and implement curriculum and child specific goals.  While teaching it was amazing watching the children be successful during their first years and I find it equally as important to support the staff in being successful as well.  It is so important to help staff bring their ideas to life so that children are able to experience play based learning.  I have so much fun transforming the classroom in relation to what the children are learning about!

I was a Head Teacher in the Preschool Classroom here at NHCD Center for the past three years and am eager to begin my new role as a Program Coach and Assistant Director.  When I am not here working I am very involved in my Church and enjoy acting and doing mimes.  I also love to read to support my own continued growth and learning.  I am bi-lingual and also enjoy teaching the children in both English and Spanish.  I completed my Early Childhood Degree in 2004 and hold my State Head Teacher Certification for children ages Birth-Five Years old.  In 2015 I was one of the first individuals from the East Coast to become Certified through WestEd in California on The Program for Infant and Toddler Care. I have extensive training around The Creative Curriculum/Teaching Strategies GOLD, Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards, Ages and Stages Questionnaire, ITERS/ECERS and CLASS as well as Social and Emotional development for children ages birth thru five years old.

Picture of Debbie Castelli

Debbie Castelli

Preschool Teacher

My name is Debbie and I have been working the field of Early Childhood Education for 8 years.  I have been working here at NHCD Center since 2017 with the Preschool Classroom. I have my Child Development Associates with a concentration in ages 3-5 years old.  I also enjoy attending new workshops and trainings being offered to bring new ideas and concepts to the classroom.   It is exciting to work with children this age because of their eagerness to learn new things.  I love to see a child try something new and accomplish a task for the first time.  Their excitement is contagious.  When I am not working with young children my family and I enjoy camping together on the weekends.  I have two daughters and one son and am a dog mom as well!  I also love doing crafts and making decorations! 

Picture of Marissa Panza

Marissa Panza

Preschool Assistant Teacher

Hi my name is Marissa and I have just started my journey in the field of Early Childhood Education.  I have been working with children preschool aged for just over 2 years and have been working at NHCD Center since 2017.  I am currently at student at SCSU in New Haven CT for my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Certification Pre-k thru 3rd Grade.  I love this age group of children because I am able to watch them grow and learn so rapidly.  I enjoy watching them get excited about new concepts they develop and being able to support them during this process.  When I am not working I enjoy shopping and read murder mystery stories!

Picture of Jocelyn Burgh

Jocelyn Burgh

Infant and Toddler Teacher

My name is Jocelyn and I have been working in the field of ECE for about 5 years.  I began my studies in Early Childhood Education simultaneously while working in the field which I found to be very helpful.  I was able to apply exactly what I was learning at college to my classroom with the children and families. During the course of my studies I focused much of my interest in Early Language and Literacy as it is the foundation for all social interactions and positive learning environment.  The first three years of life are important to the brain’s development, this means making the learning process fun and exciting is critical to their growth and development.  I am dedication to the social and emotional development of each child and making it my goal to ensure each child received the best care, opportunities and love they all deserve from me.  I have always worked with Infants and Toddlers and prefer this age group.  Children of this age are so passionate about playing and learning that I feel honored to be a part of their development and set a solid foundation for them. My favorite part is being able to witness all the firsts with each child.  I began working at NHCD Center when Room #2 opened in 2016.  Being here with my group of children from the beginning has allowed me to see their growth and development over the past few years.  In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my two year old, doing arts and crafts, swimming, hiking and visiting new places.

Picture of Gabrielle Velez

Gabrielle Velez

Infant and Toddler Teacher

My name is Ms. Gabby and I have been in the field of Early Childhood Education since 2016 between working and going to school.  I completed my degree in 2017 and have been working full time with children under three years old since!  I love this age group.  I feel as though I have the opportunity to be a child again through play with the children.  It is great being an observer to their rapid development and celebrating their milestones with them!  There is just something special about all the hugs and kisses these little ones share with us.  One of my favorite early childhood courses that I took through my degree was observations and participation.  It really helped me learn how to sit back and carefully observe natural learning of each individual child.  One thing that people might not know about me is that I enjoy making homemade hand soaps and completed a make up certification for fun!  I also love cooking new vegan recipes.

Picture of McKenna Hawkins

McKenna Hawkins

Infant and Toddler Teacher

My name is Mckenna and I have been working with children ages birth to five for a little over three years.  I started as a preschool teacher in New Haven and eventually transitioned to Infants and Toddlers when I started working here at NHCD Center in 2016.  I completed my Bachelor’s Degree from Southern Connecticut State University with a concentration in Psychology.  In addition, I have completed many trainings in Early Childhood Education, specifically Infants and Toddlers.  I originally majored in Education and developed a passion for bother learning and teaching.  I became interested in early childhood education because teaching the foundation for social emotional development helps prepare children for a positive learning experience.  To be part of that development is very rewarding and exciting for me.  Outside of teaching, I love hiking, drawing and pottery making.  I am also an avid animal lover and enjoy spending time with my dog and two cats!

Picture of Genesis Torres

Genesis Torres

Infant and Toddler Teacher Assistant

My name is Genesis and I have been working with Infants and Toddler since 2016 here at NHCD Center.  I am currently enrolled in school full time and also work full time.  Right now, I am taking Child Growth and Development and Life Span which I am able to directly apply to my teaching practice with the children.  I love seeing children grow to become who they are naturally through play while developing their unique personalities.  They are growing and changing daily, which is just amazing to see firsthand!  When I am not here, I enjoy traveling and seeing the world.  I also love cars and to experience new things.

Geraldine Pepin

Infant and Toddler Teacher
Picture of Yarixta Rivera

Yarixta Rivera

Infant and Toddler Teacher Assistant

My name is Yaritxa Rivera, most of the children call me Ms. Yari!  I have been working here at NHCD Center since 2018 as an Infant and Toddler Teacher.  I have 3 previous years of expereince working with young children ages 0-3 years in a childcare setting.  I am currently enrolled at Gateway Community College towards my degree in Early Childhood Education.  I am very involved in my church when I am not here working.  I teach and run a youth group and sing for Sunday morning mass.  I love working in the field of Early Childhood Education.  The children make me smile and laugh every day and help remind us of simple things in life.

Renee Kamienski

Preschool Teacher

Hello my name is Renee Kamienski.  I have been working in the early education field for ten years.  I received  my Early Childhood Education Degree from Gateway Community College. I enjoy working with this age group because they are so eager to learn about any and everything.  When I'm not working I enjoy kayaking, skiing, and traveling with my family.