Educators

A message from the owners:

“As life-long members of the Virginia Beach community, we are honored to provide a leading early childhood educational environment to Hampton Roads. We have established a team of exceptional educators who apply the latest proven learning practices to meet each child’s needs. We are passionate about the continuous professional development of our educators, thereby increasing their proficiency to enhance the educational experience of each child. Ultimately, we look forward to inspiring your child(ren) to be independent thinkers, compassionate world citizens, and future leaders.”
– Chelsea & Tara

Chelsea Comarda Morton, Owner, Baylake Academy

Chelsea Morton

Owner

Born and raised in Virginia Beach, VA. Married with two beautiful children, Vincent (5 years old), Kennedy (3 years old), and Sophia (new born).

After graduating from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science in STEM Education, Chelsea spent 12 years in Business Management across various CPG organizations. During her career she went on to further her education and obtained a Master of Science in Instructional Design & Technology and currently serves on the Board of the Directors at The Epic Education Foundation. It wasn’t until after having two children and struggling to find a quality educational establishment that she realized the extreme need for a preschool that offered a safe and open learning environment where children could explore, discover, experience risk and failure, innovate, create, and problem solve, thus marking the beginning of Baylake Academy. She looks forward to providing your child (ren) with the best early childhood education program in Hampton Roads!

Tara Erbe, Owner, Baylake Academy

Tara Erbe

Owner

Born and raised in Virginia Beach, VA. Married and the mother of three beautiful children, Colton (5 years old), and identical twins Evelyn and Abigail (1 year old).

Tara, Graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Park, Recreation and Tourism Studies with a focus on child program development. Tara has spent 10 years in business management and marketing for non profit organizations and private small businesses. Growing up, Tara has always aspired to work with children in some capacity, everything from a CHKD certified childcare provider to volunteering for children’s summer camps.  Today, having children of her own, she realizes a need for an educational environment in Virginia Beach that meets her high expectations in education, nutrition, and sanitation standards.  Establishing a safe learning environment where creativity and innovation are nurtured, physical fitness and healthy eating habits are instilled, and problem solving and technological activities are promoted, is a high priority with a daily emphasis on kindness and mindful thinking.

Bev Yoakum

Beverly Yoakum

Director

Originally from Ohio, Mrs. Yoakum moved to Virginia Beach with her husband in 2016. The move was initiated by her oldest son and his wife, but by 2017, all three of her children had moved to Virginia Beach, the other two married Virginia Beach natives, and she and her husband now have 2 beautiful grandchildren. Mrs. Yoakum finds joy in being a grandmother and living on the bay. The community of Virginia Beach offers diversity, natural beauty, and down to earth culture she and her husband have grown to love.

Mrs. Yoakum graduated with a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education, Administration. She is an inspiring leader who thrives on working with diverse teams towards a common goal. Passionate about environments whereby people can accomplish extraordinary outcomes, her knowledge and expertise have been responsible for growing several successful schools and organizations. She thrives when connecting with and channeling the strengths of educators within a high-quality educational space. She is a visionary committed to achieving excellence and seeing others succeed.

Some of her professional achievements include; a Reggio Emilia, Italy Study Tour, Step Up to Quality coordinator, Ohio Early Childhood advisory member, National True Hero award recipient, Regional School Accreditation Team member, and currently serves on the inaugural Commonwealth Early Childhood Advisory Committee (ECAC). Mrs. Yoakum was selected from a pool of hundreds of applicants for a coveted seat. As an ECAC member, she helps shape the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) system for the Commonwealth, an initiative headed by our Virginia Governor.

As Director of Baylake Academy, she works with an exceptional team of educators and professionals passionate about providing an extraordinary school where young children lay the foundation for their life-long educational journey. She looks forward to bringing over three decades of experience to Baylake Academy, where she plans to run an outstanding program full of innovation, challenge, and wonder for each child attending.

Maria Hunger

Maria Hunger

Operations Manager

Maria, a Virginia Beach native, is married to her husband, Keith, of 36 years, has raised two beautiful children and is blessed with three grandchildren. Volunteering at a non-profit organization for sixteen years, she is a Trustee of the Ladies Auxiliary and an integral part of various committees which raise funds for various charities.

She recently retired from thirty-three years of Federal Civil Service as a GS-13 Records Manager. In addition to being a Records Manager, she was an IT Specialist, Knowledge Manager, and Quality Management Team member. Her journey afforded her many opportunities to participate in, and most times lead, the implementation of IT systems, curriculum, a Knowledge Management Strategy, Quality Management System, and a Records Management System.

As the Operations Manager, Ms. Hunger focuses on knowledge management, quality management, and records management. Her philosophy is threefold in that all organizations can benefit from their team members sharing, reusing information, collaborating and continuously learning as well as process documentation, improvement, and retention.

    • As a certified Knowledge Manager (KM Institute in Washington DC) and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (L6S School Norfolk VA), Ms. Hunger applies these methodologies and approaches in practical ways to enhance Baylake Academy business operations. Ms. Hunger uses her more than 15-year affiliation with APQC to improve the Knowledge Management and Process Improvement environment at Baylake Academy.
    • Accomplishing ISO 9001-2015 Standard Quality Management certification with the US Government has aided Ms. Hunger in identifying the importance of obtaining ISO 21001:2018 certification for running Baylake Academy’s Quality Management System.
    • Also, a very important part of business is managing records so that the right information is maintained for the correct amount of time by state and federal regulations. Ms. Hunger attained her Federal Records Manager Certification through the National Archives in Washington D.C.

Being able to implement these three lines of business in a learning environment such as Baylake Academy is a dream come true.

Teachers

Announcement is coming soon

Our Lead Teachers have a degree with an Early Childhood Education focus and/or extensive years of equivalent experience in a licensed educational setting. Each teacher is CPR, First Aid, and MAT certified and completes a minimum of 20 hours of professional development training annually to provide the best educational experience for your child(ren). Our teachers implement integrated learning approaches that incorporate STEAM, Phenomenon and problem-based learning, as well as individualized and differentiated instruction. Look forward to an enthusiastic, energetic, self-motivated, supportive, and collaborative role model for your child(ren).

Elizabeth Taylor

Kindergarten, Lead Teacher

Ms. Taylor has enjoyed working with children for the past eight years, five years of which have been spent professionally coordinating student learning goals and designing and implementing lesson plans. Before her career as an educator, she spent 3 years volunteering at Special Olympics camps working with children and adults with disabilities. Her passion sparked when improving inclusiveness and thoughtful education needed for all students.

Ms. Taylor started as a behavior technician at Home Care management, she worked with children on a one-to-one basis in order to improve educational and self-care skills; she also focused on taking the children on community outings and working on social and emotional skills.

While attending Western Carolina University she worked at The Boys and Girls Club of the Plateau, a program that focuses on serving underprivileged kids ages 5 to 15 years old in the community.

In her most recent position as a kindergarten teacher in Hong Kong she worked with 3 to 6 year old’s, teaching core subjects that were inclusive of all children. She collaborated with her fellow teachers in coordinating the curriculum, planning, and scheduling special activities, field trips, extracurricular activities, and online learning lesson plans for students.

Her hopes for students of Baylake Academy are to focus on innovation, creativity, emotional development, academic growth, and maturity to prepare them for the first grade and a successful academic career.

Interests she is excited to share with her students are drawing, sports, games, nature, and gardening. She is driven to excel in her position and is pursuing her educational journey by obtaining a Master’s degree in child development.

Emily Copeland-Fish

Pre-K4, Lead Teacher

Ms. Fish is a Hampton Roads native from a Navy family. She loves being an aunt to her year-old niece and enjoys traveling, cooking, and museum trips in her spare time. Emily graduated with an Associates of Science in Early Childhood Development from Tidewater Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Hollins University. She is aspiring to obtain her Master’s degree in early childhood education.

She has taught children of varying ages for over seven years in private school, day learning centers, and library outreach programs.

Emily is passionate about cultivating student’s curiosity, creativity, and problem-solving skills within her classroom. From her varying roles in the Early Childhood Education field, she has learned to be a leader who encourages and collaborates with fellow educators to develop intentional lesson planning and wholesome learning experiences. As a lead teacher at Baylake Academy, Emily is excited to bring her unique academic and professional experiences to the classroom and hopes to inspire a lifelong love of learning to her students.

Nance Burns

Pre-K3, Lead Teacher

Ms. Burns was born and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She has raised 3 beautiful children, graduates of Cape Henry and Norfolk Academy, and has been blessed with a beautiful granddaughter.

Ms. Burns is well known throughout the community for being an incredible educator, bringing over 20 years of experience in teaching Pre-K3 students. Over the years, she has built long lasting relationships with her students and their families, watching them blossom throughout their educational journey. Ms. Burns has a magical way with children, inspiring them to learn using the tools available to them in their daily lives. Her hope for the student’s of Baylake Academy is to learn without pressure, enjoy the excitement each day brings, and encourage creativity and discovery.

Liz Hallenbeck

Pre-K3, Associate Teacher

Ms. Hallenbeck is originally from upstate New York. She and her husband of 28 years moved to Virginia Beach approximately 4 years ago, after spending most of her life in the upstate New York area. Ms. Hallenbeck graduated from Cazenovia College with an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts and then went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Alfred University. She has been working in the field of social work teaching, counseling, advocating, mentoring and nurturing children of all ages for over 30 years. After making the move to Virginia Beach, she decided to focus on teaching early childhood education. She and a co-volunteer ran a reading group called Beach Readers, a program to promote literacy for young adults with developmental disabilities who had aged out of special education services but remained interested in improving their reading skills. Ms. Hallenbeck spent the last (almost) 3 years teaching at a local licensed early childhood program before joining Baylake Academy. She is beyond excited to be part of Baylake Academy and their mission for their students. Ms. Hallenbeck has found that being an educator in early childhood has been the most rewarding experience she has had during her career. Education is a passport to the future….and she looks forward to sharing her passion for teaching, being a positive role model, and inspiring young inquiring minds. Outside of the classroom, Ms. Hallenbeck enjoys reading, traveling, gardening, yoga and walking her dog.

Livia Almeida-Baldwin

Pre-K2.5, Lead Teacher

Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, Ms. Baldwin believes childhood is unique. Although every phase of life has its beauty, we’ll be adults in most of them, but children only once. Investing love, care, creativity, guidance, and respect in this time of life builds a solid foundation that will make all the difference in the development of healthy adults in mind and body, serving society later.

She moved to Virginia Beach in 2018 and married her husband, whom is also a teacher. She holds Bachelor of Arts and is licensed to teach English and Portuguese language.

Since 2012 she has been working in education and she started with the public schools of Campinas, the city she was born. She has taught English as a second language for all ages. She is bilingual in both the Portuguese and English language. She has also taught English in a bilingualism program for kindergartners at Renovatus, well known school in Campinas with over 50 years of history.

Being an educator is an honor she does not take for granted. While in class she strives to provide care and education considering the dignity that every little human deserves; each achievement, big or small will be celebrated.

She will share her many interests with the students of Baylake Academy. She loves playing guitar, takes long walks, and photographing nature.

Stephanie Moore

Pre-K2, Lead Teacher

Ms. Moore moved to Virginia in 2013 from North Carolina. She is the mother of a beautiful 8-year-old daughter Emma Claire. She enjoys volunteering her time to outreach projects for families in need. She also loves fishing when she has the opportunity and spending time with her daughter.

Ms. Moore has always held a place in her heart for children. She enjoys nurturing them and providing love and care.  In 2015 she began working as a childcare coordinator for a church and substituting at the preschool when needed. She then moved on to become the Children’s Ministry Director until January 2021. During this time her love for children flourished even more. She enjoys watching them learn, grow, and develop independence. She is engaging and enthusiastic about hands on learning with children.  She loves nothing more than seeing their little faces light up when they discover new things through exploration.

Ms. Moore has been a lead 2-year-old teacher at different education-based facilities and now looks forward to working with this team of passionate educators to provide love and care along with the knowledge and skills needed to encourage every student to thrive. She is honored to be a part of molding our future leaders.

Assistant Teachers

Announcement is coming soon

Our Assistant Teachers have a degree with an Early Childhood Education emphasis or similar field and/or extensive years of experience working with children in a licensed facility focused on the education of children. Our Assistant Teachers support our Lead Teachers and provide opportunities that encourage curiosity, exploration, and problem-solving appropriate to the developmental levels of the students.

network of experts

Network of Experts

We are fortunate to work with a network of well-recognized Experts that are highly involved in supporting our mission, curriculum and student development throughout the year. Our Network of Experts is continuously evolving, and we look forward to expanding this network.