Preschool Staff

Meet the team.

Elise Coakley
Preschool Director
Meet West Lawn Preschool Director Mrs. Elise Coakley! Mrs. Coakley has a bachelor’s degree in both Early Childhood and Elementary Education from West Chester University, and brings years of teaching and leadership experience to our preschool!
Mrs. Coakley taught in the Children’s Center of West Chester United Methodist Church. She also worked as a substitute teacher in various school districts, and most recently taught nutrition and cooking education programs for pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade children in the Reading and William Penn School Districts, as an employee of The Food Trust.

She’s well known by the West Lawn UMC congregation as the Director of Children’s Music Ministry and is a member of West Lawn’s adult choir and brass ensemble.

Preschool families will come to love Mrs. Coakley’s caring and kind personality, as well as her strong organizational and communication skills. As a classroom teacher, the preschool children will flock to this gifted leader who excels in classroom management and creating positive learning environments.

Mrs. Coakley resides in Exeter with her husband, John, and two elementary-aged children, Jordan and Jenna.

If you are interested in joining our preschool staff, email

Erica Kairis

Lead Teacher (AM) PreK Class
Erica joined West Lawn UMC Preschool in September 2021 with over 22 years of preschool and classroom experience. Erica has a bachelor's degree from Penn State University in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Child Youth and Family Services. Before moving to Sinking Spring 10 years ago, Erica was a preschool program coordinator for a child development center in New Jersey. Erica and her family have been members of West Lawn United Methodist Church for over 10 years. During that time, she has been very involved in teaching Sunday school, helping to lead Vacation Bible School and has served in other ministries of the church. Erica is no stranger to the Wilson School District as she has been involved in classroom teaching and providing teacher support throughout the past 10 years. Her passion for teaching, strong leadership and teaching strategies in addition to her creative abilities and nurturing personality make her the perfect teacher to prepare our Pre-K students for kindergarten. We welcome Erica Kairis to our Preschool team!

Beth Tsakonas

Assistant Teacher (AM) PreK & Lead Teacher-(PM) PreK Class  
 Beth joined West Lawn UMC Preschool in September 2023 with 19 years of preschool teaching experience at Coventry Christian Schools in Pottstown. Beth graduated from Boyertown High School and has continued her learning throughout the years with many professional development courses and trainings relating to early childhood education. Beth’s enthusiastic and caring personality shines through in the classroom with interactive and fun lessons! Her positive and encouraging demeanor with her students allows each child to feel proud and excited for each of their accomplishments! Beth is an active member at her church, NorthStar United Methodist, and loves to share the Christian faith and lessons of God’s love with her students. In her free time Beth enjoys spending time with her husband and two adult children. She loves watching the Steelers and Penn State football, and in the warmer months she loves going to the beach! Beth’s easy going and cheerful personality make learning fun for our PreK students. She looks forward to teaching in both of the PreK classes this year as she helps develop their Kindergarten readiness skills and sets them up for both school success and important life and self-help skills. We welcome Beth Tsakonas to our Preschool team!

Joanne Marshall

Lead Teacher- 4-year-old Class M/W/F & Asst. Teacher 3s Class T/Th & Extended Day M-F
Joanne joined West Lawn UMC Preschool in September 2022 with 30 years of teaching experience. Joanne holds a Bachelors degree from Kutztown University in Secondary Education, Mathematics as well as a Masters of Education from Kutztown University in Curriculum and Instruction. Joanne just recently retired after 30 years of teaching math at Governor Mifflin Middle School. While she might be retired from one job, she is so excited to go back to the basics and instill the love of learning in a new generation of little ones! Joanne, along with her husband are members at West Lawn UMC where she has enjoyed volunteering in many of the ministries including VBS, Opportunity House server, a confirmation mentor, participating in our Relay For Life team, and serving on a mission trip to Haiti. Joanne has a passion for helping others and animals alike. She enjoys spending her free time with her husband and her dog, as well as doing puzzles. Joanne's kind heart, creative mind and bubbly personality are just what our 4-year-olds need to succeed in their pre-kindergarten classroom. Daily hands on learning and engaging lessons that will set-up the groundwork for a love of learning is what Joanne is most excited about achieving in this new chapter of her career. We welcome Joanne Marshall to our Preschool team!

Anita Powell

Assistant Teacher- 4-year-old Class M/W/F & Asst. Teacher PreK PM T/Th
Anita joined West Lawn UMC Preschool in September 2021 with over 46 years of preschool teaching experience. Anita holds a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from Lock Haven University. Anita has dedicated her life to teaching and shaping the minds of young ones. She started off teaching school aged children, before switching to a preschool aged class at a child development center in Bellefonte, Pa. Anita has spent the majority of her career at the Reading Hospital Child Care Center where she has filled many rolls over the years. She has been a toddler teacher and a preschool teacher in addition to eventually being an administrator for the center. Anita’s kind, nurturing and loving personality are the perfect fit for welcoming some of our youngest preschoolers. Their first experience with school will be one the children and parents will feel right at home in. Anita has lots of creativity and passion for teaching and helping children explore the world around them, which is all so new and exciting. She also has a passion for gardening and will bring that special gift with her as we have the opportunity to learn in nature as well as the classroom.  We welcome Anita Powell to our Preschool team!

Gabriela Padilla

Lead Teacher- 3-year-old Class & Assistant Teacher PreK PM Class M/W/F
Gabriela  joined West Lawn UMC Preschool in September 2022 with 3 years of preschool teaching experience.  Gabriela holds an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education from Reading Area Community College. In addition to being a preschool teacher, Gabby also works as a peer mentor to incoming Early Childhood college students at RACC where she helps guide them on their educational path and implements professional development trainings and seminars among other things. Gabriela and her husband have 2 beautiful girls which keep them very busy. Gabriela is bilingual (Spanish) and is excited to incorporate and provide some Spanish education to our classes.  While she is no stranger to the early childhood classroom, Gabriela is excited for this opportunity to be with our 3-year-old class. She is a kind, caring and gentle teacher who is sensitive to the challenges of young children just entering their first school experience. Gabriela will work to help you and your young child feel comfortable in the classroom as they learn to make friends, follow classroom routines and enjoy exploring through hands on learning.  We welcome Gabriela Padilla to our Preschool team!

Betsy Charnoff

Assistant Teacher- 3-year-old class M/W & Extended Day M/W
Betsy joined West Lawn UMC Preschool in December 2022 with over 30 years of teaching and social work experience. Betsy holds a Bachelor's degree from Albright College in social work and an elementary education certification from Alvernia University. While spending the beginning her career at Threshold Rehabilitation Services, Inc in various roles, she then changed careers. For the past 18 years she has been working in the Governor Mifflin School District in various roles, but the majority of her time was spent teaching fourth, and first grade, which she absolutely loved! Betsy brings a wealth of classroom experience and knowledge with her to our preschool. Her kind, patient and loving personality are a perfect fit for our youngest students. For fun, along with her husband and two adult sons they love to travel to the Islands and various beaches together. When asked what she was most looking forward to in working with this younger age group, she said, “this is a wonderful opportunity for me to help these children have their first experience with school. I get to help instill that passion and love for learning from the very beginning of their school career! I am also excited to have the opportunity to work in a classroom with smaller student/teacher ratios, so that I can focus on having more one on one time with each student to help support them and their educational needs in a fun and creative way.” We are thrilled to have Betsy in our classroom. We welcome Betsy Charnoff to our Preschool team!

Kaelin Mayo

Assistant Teacher- Extended Days T/Th
Kaelin joined West Lawn UMC Preschool in February 2024 as an Assistant Teacher in our Extended Day classroom on Tuesdays & Thursdays. Kaelin is a senior at Wilson High School. When she isn't on the field playing soccer and lacrosse she enjoys babysitting, and spending time with her friends and family. Kaelin will be attending college this fall and will be majoring in Pediatric Physical Therapy. She is looking forward to working with our preschool students and getting some practical classroom experience. Kaelin has a lot of energy, and creativity which the students absolutely love! Her ability to connect with the students is wonderful! They love having Ms. Kaelin in their classroom! We are excited to welcome Kaelin to our preschool team!

Elise Coakley

Lead Teacher- 2-year-old Class & Director
Elise is the Director of the West Lawn UMC Preschool and has over 18 years of various early childhood and elementary school teaching experience. Elise holds a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from West Chester University. She has spent the past 18 years teaching and caring for newborns through high school aged students. Previously, Elise worked for the United Methodist Children’s Center in various capacities including Lead Toddler Teacher, Assistant Pre-K teacher, Afternoon Supervisor and held administrative roles in the office. She has spent the past several years teaching nutrition education to Pre-K- 8th grade children in the Reading school district. Elise and her family are members and current employees of the West Lawn United Methodist Church. She serves as our Children’s Music Ministry Director while her husband is the Minister of Music for the church. Elise has a passion for young children that is shown in the way she interacts with little ones on a daily basis. She is kind, patient and caring which is exactly what our little 2-year-old's need for their first learning experience. She will encourage her students to try new skills, make new friends and have a positive learning and social experience, all while teaching them the fundamental skills young toddlers and preschoolers need to learn. We welcome Elise Coakley to our 2-year-old classroom.