Berna has a B.A. in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and an M.A. in Early Childhood Education. She taught children between the ages of two and 16 years old prior to transitioning to her first leadership role in Early Childhood Education in 2006. Berna has a strong passion to support and advocate for diversity and equity in education. She has many years of experience working in the District with a diverse population including family styles, ethnicities, socio-economic and educational backgrounds. Volunteering is a big part of her life which includes providing training for educators, supporting families and taking part in various workgroups such as QIRS and SECDCC Program Quality Committee. In addition, Berna served as VP for Programs on the DCAEYC Board and is actively involved in local early childhood advocacy work. She currently is the Head of School at a preschool in Washington, DC.
Dr. Robert Gundling has over forty years of experience as an Early Childhood Educator. His career started as a kindergarten teacher in a public school system and includes leadership positions in Early Childhood Education at the local, state and national level. He has experience as an Adjunct Faculty member teaching courses in Human Development, Early Childhood Education and Curriculum and Instruction courses. His professional identity is as a practitioner passionate about doing everything possible to ensure all children have the opportunity to participate in a high quality early care and education program that provides them with the foundation they need to thrive in life. He is currently serving as a Senior Consultant with Better Futures, LLC Consulting Services. The services offered to clients include individualized services to solve problems and meet the needs of Early Care and Education Providers who are committed to making a significant, positive difference in the lives of those they serve. He is also the current President of the DC Association for the Education of Young Children (DCAEYC). For more information about his work, go to
Vice President of
In her nineteenth-year teaching at Brightwood Education Campus, Kalpana Kumar Sharma finds joy and happiness in working to shape the young minds in her classroom. To stay updated with the latest in the field of education she has acquired a Masters in early childhood special education from The George Washington University and has been conferred a fellowship by Leading Educators institution. In the last five years Ms. Sharma has volunteered to serve DCPS and her school community on various positions such as Teacher Leadership Innovation Early Childhood Coach, Teacher Selection Ambassador, Grade Level Chair, Social Media Ambassador, Member of the School Equity Committee, LIFT Ambassador, Teaching In Action Consulting Teacher, Member of the Chancellor’s Teachers’ Cabinet and Chairperson of Staff Culture and Wellness Committee. For her efforts and contributions Ms. Sharma was recognized with the Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Teaching, Wolf Trap Best Teacher Award and Values Award from Leading Educators, though her biggest reward is the great energy, curiosity, and excitement she sees in her students each day. Ms. Sharma believes that teaching gives the power to help a student realize his or her innate potential.
Vice President of
Jennifer Johnson is a 27-year veteran of the District of Columbia Public Schools as well as a native Washingtonian. Her passion about the plight of our youngest stakeholders and the policies that propel them towards academic and social success, is what navigates her days. Ensuring that educators have the resources required, and a drive to deliver quality lessons, is the catalyst to the success of our scholars in the district. As a member of DCAEYC, Jennifer has benefitted and grown as an early educator from the abundance of training opportunities, webinars, conversations, and publications. It is her mission to ensure that more educators, and families alike, are aware of DCAEYC and the multitude of benefits that are to be gained with becoming members.
Rahshita Lowe-Watson is a committed, student-focused Early childhood educator for the District of Columbia Public Schools. She has been an educator and advocate for children and their families for over 16 years. Rahshita is dedicated to enthusiastic and progressive education as a means of creating and nurturing a lifelong love of knowledge in all children. She firmly believes in helping children overcome barriers that impact their learning. Rahshita served as grade-level chair in which she mentored and supported classroom teachers. She is a member of the NAEYC Black Caucus Mentoring Initiative and is currently serving as Chair for the Washington Teacher's Union and DCAEYC Early Childhood Task Force.
Rahshita holds a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education. She has also earned a Master of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education with a specialization in bilingual/ESL from Erikson Institute in Chicago, IL. Rahshita resides in Maryland and enjoys the visual arts and writing.
Early Childhood Public School Educator Representative
Amy Beard has been an Early Childhood teacher for the last 25 years. She started her journey with working in local day care facilities including the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center and the World Bank Children's Center. She started working for DCPS in 2003 as a Kindergarten teacher and then a Head Start Pre-K 3 teacher. She has served in the Grade Level Chair position for the Early Childhood teachers at her school, assisting other teachers to uphold the Head Start guidelines. Amy serves as the Washington Teacher's Union building representative at her school, supporting the teachers with important union matters. She is also a member of the Washington Teacher's Union and DCAEYC Early Childhood Task Force. Amy has a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education. She earned a Master's in Art Degree in Early Childhood/Special Education from The Catholic University of America. Amy lives in Washington, DC and enjoys gardening and teaching ESL students online in her free time.
Retired Early Childhood Educator Representative
Jacqueline Hines received a B.S. degree in Early Childhood Education from Bowie State College. She has extensive experience working in the Wilson County, North Carolina school system, DC Public Schools system, and numerous community-based organizations including both residential and child care programs. She has been an Infant/Toddler Coordinator in worksite centers and a Lead Preschool Teacher with Bright Horizons. In 2000, she began her work as a Washington Teachers’ Union Building Representative as well as a Board of Trustee member of the Executive Board. She has skills in union organizing and program development and has served as a field staff community liaison for the past 2 years.
Jacqueline is a member of the WTU and DCAEYC ECE Task Force and serves as a Trustee with the WTU VEBA Board. She chairs the William “Bill” Simons Scholarship Committee and is a member of the National Black Child Development Institute, Delta Kappa Gamma International Society and a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
Jacqueline is the mother of Jon and three exceptional grandchildren, Jon the Second, Autumn, and Harmony.
Community-Based Early Childhood Educator Representative
Shannon Marie Mara is the Center Director of Senate Employees’ Child Care Center, the NAEYC-accredited, non for profit child development center serving families employed by the United States Senate. Shannon brings with her knowledge of current trends in the field of early childhood education along with experience at the ground level overseeing day to day operations of a child development center. She has experience in the classroom and as an administrator in various DC wards.
Shannon is active in the local DC Center Director’s Group and is uniquely aware of the current state of early care and education in DC. She works to collaborate with families, faculty and stakeholders to consistently deliver a quality experience for children and foster a community grounded in equity.
Shannon is originally from New England and attended college in the Midwest. She is a wife and mother of two young boys in DCPS.
Family and Home Early Childhood Educator Representative
De Lancey, also known as Bonnie, is an Accredited Family Child Care Provider that has been serving the Capitol Hill area for 23 years. Graduating from Southeastern University, Yvonne received her Bachelors of Arts degree in Early Childcare Education. She is the owner and founder of Bre Bre’s Child Development Home and former executive director of Footsteps of Children Child Development Center, where she continues to give the best possible learning experiences that will help prepare and develop young children. Yvonne Stewart – De Lancey is a big believer in service where she serves many boards and committees that address Early Childhood Education. She was the former mentor of the Washington Child Development Council, former observer of the National Association of Family Child Care, and the former correspondent secretary for New Family Child Care Providers Association. Currently she sits on the board of the DC National Association for the Education of Young Children, the DC Family Child Care Association, as well as the DC Early Learning Collaborative. Lastly, she is a member of the Washington Association of Child Care Centers. Furthermore it is Yvonne’s philosophy to ensure that her program is developmentally appropriate, as well as, spiritually and emotionally supportive for children from birth to age three.