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 Morton

Ms. Morton

Owner & Director

Born and raised in Virginia Beach, VA. Married with three beautiful children, Vincent, Kennedy, and Sophia.

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

Ms. Erbe

Owner & Director

Born and raised in Virginia Beach, VA. Married and the mother of three beautiful children, Colton, and identical twins Evelyn and Abigail.

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.

Ms. McDaniel

Associate Director

Born and raised in Virginia Beach Ms. McDaniel lives with her fiancé and is a proud dog momma to a black German Shepard named Kobe. She has two beautiful nieces, Nola, and Natalie, and a handsome baby nephew named Cam.

After graduating from Radford University with a Bachelor of Science Degree with concentrations in Early Childhood/Special Education and Psychology, she began teaching Preschool students at St. Pius X Catholic School. From there, she furthered her career to become the Youth Development Director at a Licensed Child Care sports facility during the pandemic. At the facility, she produced new and creative ways to keep children engaged while following all the licensing requirements. Ms. McDaniel was in the National Honor Society in Education in college and has always had a passion for working with kids and helping people find their true potential. She has a huge heart and is super dedicated to education, organization, and helping grow Baylake Academy to its known and recognized great academy.

Ms. Bennett

School Coordinator

Ms. Bennett was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida. She moved to Virginia Beach in 1987. She currently lives in Chic’s Beach with her cat, Gia. She has one son, Michael, who graduated from the Citadel and is currently serving as a Naval Flight Officer. She enjoys cooking, traveling, fine arts and fishing. Most of all, she enjoys the volunteer work she does throughout the community.

After obtaining her Associate of Science degree from Tidewater Community College, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from St. Leo University.

After graduating from college, she worked for Southeastern Cooperative Educational Program as a School Community Trainer. This job provided her with the opportunity to teach work skills in and out of the classroom that would enable students with special needs to gain employment after graduating. She has also worked as a counselor for Families of Autistic Children of Tidewater. Being that she loves to travel, she had the opportunity to teach special education and second grade in the United States Virgin Islands.  After retiring from Norfolk Public Schools, she taught preschool at an early childhood learning center.

Ms. Bennett is very excited about being a part of Baylake Academy and looks forward to the challenges and opportunities to be instrumental in each child’s educational journey.

Teachers

Announcement is coming soon

2022-2023 Academic Year

Our teachers have a degree with an Early Childhood Education focus and/or extensive years of equivalent experience in a licensed educational setting. Teachers are CPR, First Aid, and AED certified; lead teachers also obtain a MAT certification. All teachers complete a minimum of 120 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. Our teachers provide opportunities that encourage curiosity, exploration, and problem-solving appropriate to the developmental levels of the students.  Look forward to an enthusiastic, energetic, self-motivated, supportive, and collaborative role model for your child(ren).

Mr. Sorensen

Kindergarten Lead Teacher

Mr. Sorensen was born and raised in Virginia Beach, VA.  After graduating from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science in Early and Secondary Education, Mr. Sorensen spent the next 5 years teaching at the elementary and high school level in Virginia Beach. With his love for athletics, he coached the varsity and junior varsity baseball teams at Cox High School. After many years of longing to travel he decided to take his talents overseas and teach at the international level. He then spent another 5 years traveling the world and teaching a multitude of grade levels at various renowned international schools while soaking up their culture and influence all while circling the globe. After returning home he taught for another two years at a private school in Virginia Beach before seeking a school with more innovative and inquiry-based approaches, thus joining the Baylake Academy Team. After seeing so many different educational classroom environments all over the world, Mr. Sorensen became more determined than ever to give back to his community and educate the next generation of leaders. In his downtime he likes to garden and spends his days at the beach under the sun with friends and family.

Ms. Morton

Associate Teacher & Extended Day Program Coordinator

Ms. Morton was born and raised in Va. Beach. She graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology, minoring in Psychology with a focus in Child Psychology and Development. After graduating ODU she spent time in Salvador, Brazil where she worked in an orphanage and preschool. During her time there she found a passion for working with children and supporting them in their academic progress. She has a great admiration for the field of science and looks forward to exposing her students to a wide variety of knowledge in the field.

Ms. Morton is an avid fitness enthusiast and is a well-known personal trainer throughout the community. She shares a deep passion for helping individuals reach their goals and feel their best inside and out. In her spare time she also enjoys volunteering, snowboarding, and traveling.

Emily Fish

Ms. Fish

Pre-K4 A 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. She 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.

Ms. Fish 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, Ms. Fish 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.

Ms. Harrison

Pre-K4 B Lead Teacher

Ms. Harrison was born and raised in Hampton Roads and moved to the Virginia Beach area about 3 years ago with her 3 boys and husband of 27 years. In raising her boys, she found her love of caring for children began operating her own home daycare for 12 years while obtaining her Associates of Science Degree from Tidewater Community College. Ms. Harrison quickly realized that teaching was what she was meant to do and worked as the Music and Movement/ Bible teacher for a local preschool for several years until she went on to teach at the private school her sons attended. There she spent the past 8 years in kindergarten, 1st grade and then eventually the Pre-K 3 classroom. She has had over 20 years of experience working with children and wants to continue her love for teaching here at Baylake Academy. Ms. Harrison is excited about bringing her knowledge and experiences to the classroom to excite, inspire, and cultivate not only learning but creative thinking in her students.

Ms. Lang

Associate Teacher

Ms. Lang was born in Annapolis, Maryland into a Navy family.  She has lived and travelled extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.  Ms. Lang has two wonderful children, a son and a daughter.   Her son presently resides in CA and has a successful business career, while her daughter lives in Virginia Beach working to shape global health policy at CHKD in Norfolk.

Ms. Lang earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education and a Minor in Office Administration from James Madison University.  Upon graduating from college, Ms. Lang worked in DC as the Administrative Assistant to the Vice President of an energy consultant firm.  From there, her life as a military spouse continued the opportunity for travel and she also became a “stay at home” mom raising their two children. During these years, Ms. Lang volunteered in the Boy and Girl Scouts of America programs and Co-Chaired the After School Enrichment Program at Kingston Elementary.  She and her family were honored to co-host a Moroccan child before and after surgery through Operation Smile, as well.

Prior to becoming a staff member at Baylake Academy, Ms. Lang tutored children in reading and writing both privately and in business centers. Recently, while working in the Virginia Beach Public Schools she was sought out to tutor reading (grades 1-2) and math (grades K-1).

Ms. Lang is pleased to be a part of Baylake Academy and feels blessed to have the opportunity to enrich the lives and learning of children.

Ms. Burns

Ms. Burns

Pre-K3 A 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 beautiful granddaughters.

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.

Ms. Pittman

Ms. Pittman

Assistant Teacher

Biography coming soon.

Ms. Wyatt

Ms. Wyatt

Pre-K3 B Lead Teacher

Ms. Wyatt was born and raised in Cebu, Philippines. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. In her hometown, she taught in public schools from Kindergarten to Fifth grade where she had the opportunity to explore a variety of methods and strategies in teaching students from different indigenous backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses in the community. Ms. Wyatt moved to Virginia Beach in 2010 with her husband and this city soon became her second home. A year later she transitioned into early childhood education, a profession that she quickly fell in love with. She had the experience working with children from infants through Pre-Kindergarten. She has seen firsthand how children grow in the different stages of their development having taught a variety of ages.

As a preschool teacher, she focuses on individualized learning for each child. Not only will the children learn and discover new things, but they will have fun doing so. Her goal is to help each child get ready to move up to their next level of development. It gives her the utmost pleasure to be a part of their journey.

Hallenbeck

Ms. Hallenbeck

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.

Ms. Moore

Ms. Moore

Pre-K2.5 A 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.

Ms. Lutz

Ms. Lutz

Pre-K2.5 B Lead Teacher

Ms. Lutz was born and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a proud Second-Generation American with most of her family located in Chișinău, Moldova. She is also a dog mom to a wonderful 3 year old chocolate lab who keeps her busy with hikes by the bay.

While studying Biochemistry at Hollins University, Ms. Lutz quickly found a love for the real-life applications of the study of the brain and the body. She found her passion lay in the classroom instead of in the lab after getting the opportunity to work with students both in and out of the classroom. She has switched her academic focus to early education and special education, hoping to ensure that all students have the tools they need to successfully move forward in life. She is passionate and enthusiastic about working with the next generation of leaders and is very excited to see her students explore and thrive this year at Baylake Academy.

Ms. Wigfall

Ms. Wigfall

Pre-K2.5 C Lead Teacher

Ms. Wigfall is originally from Hampton, Virginia and attended school at Virginia State University where she obtained her Bachelors in Family and Consumer Sciences. She has worked in the mental health field working with children in the school setting starting in 2012. While working with children with developmental disabilities and mental diagnoses she grew a new love for education and in 2017 realized she wanted to make the transition into education. In 2017 she married and moved to Upstate New York for her husband’s military obligations when she decided to start on her master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Ms. Wigfall completed her masters while continuing to work with children in the mental health field. Upon completion of her master’s degree and her husband’s retirement, her family returned to Virginia and she started her journey into the field of education.

Ms. Wigfall is extremely excited to excel in the classroom and spark new ideas for growth and development in the classroom. She has a huge desire to assist children in developing in the best way possible in all aspects of life. Ms. Wigfall is confident in her journey in early childhood education she will be able to touch so many lives and bring so much joy and excitement to education. Ms. Wigfall really enjoys crafting, music, dance, and all other forms of art and would love to share this with my students. She is excited to share these interests with her students and families throughout this journey.

Rachael Brewer

Ms. Brewer

Pre-K2 Lead Teacher

Hello, my name is Ms. Brewer and I’m excited to tell you a little about me. I was born in Clovis, New Mexico, the oldest of 3 siblings. I am a proud daughter of a military serviceman and as a result, have traveled and lived all over the world. My favorite experience was Spangdahlem, Germany! When I was in the 6th grade, we moved to Virginia and I graduated from Tabb High School in Yorktown. I attended Christopher Newport University, where I graduated with a BS in Psychology. While attending CNU, I played soccer for the college team. During my studies, I became interested in the development of children, and have been working in the field of Early Childhood Education ever since. I enjoy singing, dancing and reading and love to find ways to implement those in the classroom. I look forward to a long and beneficial relationship with Baylake Academy.

Ms. Duran

Ms. Duran

Early Explorers Lead Teacher

Ms. Duran was born in Oxnard, California. Her parents were both Marines and moved around a lot while she was a child. In middle school her parents finally settled down in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Ms. Duran attended Southeastern University and graduated with her Bachelors in Organizational Leadership.

In 2018, Ms. Duran went on a mission trip to Thailand and gained a passion for children. She has been involved in her church’s children ministry since she was a senior in high school and has always had a passion for children. Ms. Duran and her husband met in high school and have been married for two years. Her husband is in the U.S Navy. They recently added a new furry addition to their family, a giant schnauzer puppy named Panzer.  Ms. Duran loves to crochet, garden, and spending time with her family. Ms. Duran looks forward to working with your children and helping them learn and grow!

Ms. Johnson

Early Discoverers Lead Teacher

Ms. Johnson was born and raised in Smithfield, Virginia. She is the mother of three children, Dominique, Danielle, Steven, and a proud grandma to one wonderful little boy named Legend. She graduated with an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education and has worked for over the past twenty years at various child development centers, church programs, and private schools. Ms. Johnson has a passion for children and watching them grow and develop. Art, creativity and music are just a few of the characteristics that influence unique experiences in the classroom. She has a very nurturing personality and thrives off of positive energy. In her spare time, Ms. Johnson loves spending time with family, traveling, gardening, and line dancing.

Ms. Watson

Ms. Watson

Assistant Teacher

Biography coming soon.

Ms. Gibboney

Ms. Gibboney

Teacher Support Assistant

Ms. Gibboney is a Hampton roads native who graduated from Maury High School. After high school she attended Kee’s Business College, where she graduated with an associate degree. She is married and has one daughter, four beautiful grandchildren, and a Shih tzu named Gia.

Her introduction to Early Childhood Education started when her church announced that they needed volunteers to read to children, and she immediately responded. The experience brought her great joy and sparked a desire to nurture young hearts and minds. Ever since that initial experience she has enjoyed developing her career in the early childhood field. One of her favorite parts of working in this field is cultivating relationships with families and building a strong community. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, gardening, making floral arrangements, scrap booking, dancing and creating gift baskets.

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.