Our Staff


Ms. Jenette

Ms. Jenette Dean is entering her fifth year as HPUMP Director. She holds a B.A. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Maryland and teaching certification from Middle Tennessee State University. She also recently earned a Master's Certificate in Early Childhood Emergent Curriculum from East Tennessee State University.

Jenette has over 34 years of experience in early childhood education. She worked as a teacher's aide at the Kansas School for the Deaf, as a classroom teacher for military families in Aschaffenburg Germany, and in the Preschool for the United States Military Academy at West Point. She has many years of experience with children of all ages in preschools and elementary schools as a military spouse. Most recently, she was the Early Childhood Education Manager with the Creative Discovery Museum, where she developed the current PlayGym Program. She has served on the board for Chattanooga Area Association of Education of Young Children, CAAEYC, renamed ChACEE. She served a year on the Board for the YMCA and also on the Chattanooga Gang Task Force Early Literacy Board.

While at the Creative Discovery Museum, She organized and conducted numerous early childhood workshops for educators throughout the area. Jenette is the recipient of the 2015 Hilda Avant Service to Young Children Award.

Jenette has three grown children - daughter Kaitlyn who recently graduated from law school at U.T. College of Law, and sons, William and Patrick who recently graduated from the University of Chattanooga. Jenette's husband, Paul, is a retired United States Army officer who is also an educator for Hamilton County Schools and an adjunct professor at Chattanooga State Community College.

Ms. Allison

Ms. Allison

Last year Allison served her first year as Office Manager. The previous year she worked on Mondays in our Office and volunteered on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Allison has been in the HPUMP family for many years! Believe it or not, she attended HPUMP when she was a little girl! Fast forward several years later and her son, Wyatt - 7 years old - came to us as a Starshine Friend and left as a Rainbow Kid. Her daughter, Olivia - 5 years old - came as a Starshine Friend and is now a Rainbow Kid. Allison's Husband, Nick, is also a familiar face around the school as he helps on the Lumberjack Team!

Allison earned her Bachelors Degree in Human Health Performance from UTC and worked in sales and marketing in North Carolina, as well as administration work for Catawba Nuclear Station in South Carolina. All this was prior to becoming a stay at home mom in 2012. Her husband Nick works for Cigna.

In their spare time, the family loves exploring the outdoors with their two dogs, taking family trips, and eating dessert together. 

Ms. Marsha

Ms. Marcia

Ms. Marcia Harris, after being one of our substitutes for  3 years,  last year joined us as a co-teacher in the Twinklers class. She has previously worked as the director of Children's Ministries at Hixson United Methodist Church as well as their CDC Program. She also held the  position as the Site Director of Aftercare at St. Jude Catholic School where she worked for 15 years.

She and her Husband, Cornelius, are members of HUMC where they facilitate a Sunday School class of 25-45 year olds that include her son Brandon and his wife Stephanie. She was blessed to keep their grandchild,  Lena, now 7, and be Nana to Milah and Kylie from birth until all 3 went off to school. Her daughter, Brittany, lives and works in Knoxville as a case-worker.

When she is not caring for children, she spends most of her free time sewing and doing alterations.


Ms. Freya

Ms. Freya Hearn is excited to be on the HPUMP team again this year in the Twinklers class! Freya studied psychology at Bryan College and has over 10 years of experience working with young children in various settings, including nannying for several years and teaching a financial literacy program to 4th-6th graders at Junior Achievement. She is also a trained birth doula and is currently taking clients and attends a few births a year.  

Freya has two children: Winston - age 7 - is a First Grader at Normal Park and Aurora age 4 is in the Sunshine Gang.

She spent the last several years at home with her children, during which time she discovered and became enamored with the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. She hopes to complete a degree in early childhood education.

Freya enjoys creating multi media art, reading everything in sight, practicing yoga, and baking goodies. She lives in the Northshore area with her family and their three cats. 


Ms. Kelly

Ms. Kelly DeJong returns to our team for her seventh year as co-teacher of the Starshine Friends class. Kelly has a Masters of Rehabilitation Counseling degree from the University of South Carolina.  She has worked in homes and classrooms providing support and training to families and teachers of children with autism for over 10 years.  Her previous work experience was as a classroom coach at Siskin Children's Institute and a consultant providing home support for families and professionals of young children receiving early intervention services.  Kelly has two children, Jakob, 14, and Zayda, 13, who attend Chattanooga Center for Creative Arts. . Her husband, Ray, is an engineer at Komatsu.


Ms. Lisi

Ms. Lisi Phillips could not be more excited to be joining the HPUMP team! HPUMP has been one of her favorite places since she first visited there before her daughter Acadia started as a Twinkler in 2008. She fell in love with the Reggio Emilia principles, as they align beautifully with her personal thoughts on learning and her research and experience in pediatric physical therapy. Lisi has a B. S. degree in physical therapy from the University of South Alabama. She has worked with children in that aspect, as well as being a kindergarten assistant at the Bright School for 4 years. She is a member of Hixson United Methodist Church where she enjoys volunteering with children from infants to high schoolers. Lisi enjoys dancing, creating, and spending as much time as she can with her family. She has 2 daughters, Acadia, age 13, and Trinity, age 15. They both attend Boyd-Buchanan School. Her husband, Wade, is a pharmacist at Memorial Hospital.


Ms. Anna

Ms. Anna Kirk returns to our team for her sixth year. She is  a co-teacher in the Moonbeams class. Anna has an associates degree in Early Childhood Education at Chattanooga State.  She graduated Suma Cum Laude with her ECED, and is now working on her B.A. through Liberty University.

 Prior to coming to Highland Plaza Preschool, Anna taught 3 year olds at Burks United Methodist Child Development Center and was the 2–4 year old teacher for the Parents  Morning Out program for 4 years.  She enjoys teaching VBS and volunteers her time on Wednesdays and some Sundays teaching in the children's department for Red Bank Cumberland Presbyterian Church where she is a member. Anna discovered her passion for children while volunteering her time with kids as a teenager at the church her father pastored. 

 Anna’s two daughters are Sarah Grace, age 14, and a 9th-grader, and Katie Beth age 11, a 5th-grader. Anna's husband Brandon works for Publix. In her spare time Anna likes to read, hike and spend time with family and friends. She  also likes going to the beach as much as possible!

Sarah Grace age 14, plays the clarinet for the Soddy Daisy High marching band. Katie Beth, her youngest is a 5th grader at Allen Elementary and loves playing volleyball.

Anna loves  working with children in the Reggio-Inspired philosophy so she can help them become co-collaborators to their own learning and plant the seeds to becoming lifetime learners.



Mr. J.

Mr. J. Maddox returns to our teaching team for his eleventh year! He spent nine wonderful years in our Rainbow Kids classroom teaching pre-kindergarten children.He moved to our Moonbeams  classroom to impact the younger children. He is co-teacher with Ms. Anna. These two make a great team! J. is his first name- just the letter J followed by a dot. It is on his birth certificate that way. J. holds a BA degree in art studio from Tulane University, New Orleans, LA; his emphasis was in printmaking. Additionally, J. is a docent at the Tennessee Aquarium and volunteers at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre. J.’s son, Nick, is in 10th grade at Chattanooga Christian School and his daughter, Lainey, is in 8th grade at GPS.  J. also has a rescue dog, a black lab mix puppy named Downton.


Ms. Kim

Ms. Kim Jackson is a co-teacher in the Sunshine Gang class. She is a classically-trained actor and storyteller with a heart for teaching. Kim is a member of SAG-AFTRA and has spent most of her professional life working in theatre and film and finding ways to create opportunities for fellow Creatives. Before moving to Chattanooga over a decade ago, Kim lived and worked in Los Angeles. Prior to joining our team, she has served as Special Events Director at Rock City and as Interim Executive Director at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre while continuing to work as a freelance performer. Although Desdemona, Electra and Juliet remain an integral part of her soul, her greatest role to date is Mommy to HPUMP alumni, Mac and Millie. Kim’s husband, Will, is the Senior Manager of Innovation for See Rock City, Inc.


Ms. Jenna

 Ms. Jenna Leckenby started teaching at HPUMP in 2014, and has been a  Rainbow Kids teacher since 2018. She holds a Bachelors of Science degree  in Psychology and an Educational Specialist degree in School Psychology  from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Before joining HPUMP,  Jenna worked as a nanny during college, and then spent 10 years as a  stay-at-home mom to her daughters, Catie (born in 2004) and Julia (born  in 2008). Her husband, Keith, teaches middle school English at St Jude  School. Her hobbies include reading, yoga, and listening to podcasts.  She and her family attend St Jude Church.  


Ms. Lyndsay

 Ms. Lyndsay Slaten is honored to be a part of the HPUMP family. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Samford University and has several years’ experience teaching in early childhood education. She was privileged to be able to take a six year break to be stay-at-home and homeschool Mommy to Shepard and Sally Ann. They both attended HPUMP and talk frequently about how much they miss it. They now attend Chattanooga Christian School where her husband, Chris, teaches high school English. During the summers, they all get to enjoy their favorite family activity of traveling around the country for Chris to play house concerts. The Slatens attend North Shore Fellowship and share their home with a fabulous tabby cat named Berdie. 


Ms. Keri

Ms. Keri began working at HPUMP in January of 2016. She is currently a co-teacher in the Rainbow Kids Pre-K classroom with Ms. Jenna. She was born and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, but has called Tennessee her home since graduating with a history degree from Sewanee in 2001. She also holds a Masters degree in Elementary Education from Vanderbilt.

Before HPUMP she taught various grades at Jasper Elementary in Jasper, TN. While at Jasper she was involved with Destination Imagination and Odyssey of the Mind. She also stays busy as mom to Sam (born 2013), Joe (born 2015) and Maggie (born 2019). 


Ms. Stephanie


Ms. Stephanie Bailey has worked as an Atelierista at HPUMP since 2016. A graduate of Taylor University with a B.S. in Art Education, she has taught Art from kindergarten to high school. She also has experience in both special education and in outdoor education. Stephanie has been part of the HPUMP family since 2015 when her daughter was a part of the Sunshine Gang. 

Stephanie enjoys sharing her love of art with the HPUMP community including drawing, painting, mixed media and ceramics. When Stephanie is not in the classroom, she loves to play outside and explore the world with her daughter Anya and husband Drew, professor of  Outdoor Education and Recreation Management at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. 


Ms. Christine

 Ms. Christine Dayton serves as Co-Atelierista at HPUMP. She holds a B.S.  in Early Childhood Education from Clemson University and has taught  Preschool-3rd grade in both public and independent schools. Christine  has spent many years teaching in a Reggio inspired program and has  enjoyed several professional development opportunities to learn more  about the Reggio Emilia approach and visit other Reggio schools.  Christine has always enjoyed offering art experiences in her classroom  as well as private art classes. She is thrilled to be able to share her  talents and passion with the community here at HPUMP 


Ms. Ruth

This year marks Ms. Ruth Holladay's fourth year as HPUMP's Music Together Specialist.

She holds a B.S. in Early Childhood/Elementary Education and a Master's degree in Diagnostic and Prescriptive Education.

She's a certified teacher who has taught various abilities, ages, and grades over the years, but  mostly taught part time to be a stay home mom. Ms. Ruth has been on staff as a member of the HPUMP family for 13 of the last 18 years as either teacher or music teacher.

Ruth's husband is a full time Tennessee Army National Guard officer. They have two sons: William, 24, is an artist and media production technician at Southtree here in Chattanooga and Andrew, 22, is a recent Business Management graduate of Belmont University and is in GEICO's Emergent Leadership program in Dallas.

Ruth enjoys eating delicious food, listening to live music, attending sports events, and hopes to continue traveling and having more adventures with her husband this year. She finds great joy in going for walks with her McKamey rescue dog, Pepper.


Ms. Katie

Ms. Katie McKenna returns to the HPUMP team for her fourth year as our Admissions Coordinator and she also plays an important role on our Financial side.  Katie has been in the HPUMP family for 7 years; while her sons Owen (10) and Brecken (7) were both attending, she was often found volunteering in the office or working on marketing support for StudioPendous.  She earned her Bachelors in Marketing and Masters degree in Business Administration at UTC and worked in sales and marketing in several different industries prior to becoming a stay at home mom. Her husband Kevin is a Citrix engineer with BlueCross BlueShield.  In their spare time, the family loves exploring new places or tinkering with new projects.  Their latest project is the augmented reality sand table you’ll find in the Gathering Room. Katie also welcomed another son, Bennett, who just turned one.