Welcome to our school! We look forward to getting to know your child.
DIRECTOR: Darra Draheim
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Karen Gilliam
AGE RANGES: Two year olds to pre-Kindergarteners. Children are placed in classes according to which year they will attend Kindergarten. The age cut-off is August 1st.
Bears – Two years old by August 1st.
Zebras – Three years old by August 1st.
Giraffes – at least four years old by August 1st.
All classes will have a six children to one teacher ratio to provide the optimum learning environment. All classrooms have at least two teachers in attendance.
SCHEDULE: Traditions Preschool hours are 9:30 a.m.- 2:30 p.m. during the school year. We are open Monday through Friday. Parents may choose one, two, three, four, or five day attendance for their child depending upon availability. Summer camp information is under the enrollment tab.
EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY: Our philosophy is to guide the children’s development in all areas by a variety of activities. We will offer the traditional preschool activities such as readiness skills, circle time, arts and crafts, music, story time, share circle, etc. The lesson plans are developed by the Director and the teachers to be age appropriate and consistent throughout the program.
We have themes each week emphasizing colors, literary characters, holidays, habitats, etc. The study of traditional preschool skills revolves around the weekly themes. We are striving to strike a balance of activities to enhance all areas of a child’s growth, while provide a safe, happy, and positive “first school” experience.
TEACHERS: The Director and many teachers have Elementary Education degrees and teaching experience in the public schools. Our teachers have (or have had) children involved in our preschool. Those that do not have college degrees have substantial college hours and are also serving our community as scout leaders, classroom volunteers, etc. Turnover is very low with many teachers with decades of experience in a classroom. Staff members are CPR certified. We now offer Stretch-n-Grow Fitness classes included in the monthly tuition. Individual computer classes are also included in the tuition.
BUREAU OF CHILDCARE GUIDELINES: We meet or exceed Bureau of Childcare licensing requirements. All teachers are screened and documented according to their guidelines. Sanitation, fire safety, curriculum, and paperwork requirements are met in order to continue the excellence of our program. More information can be found in our parent handbook. All required forms for enrollment are available in the office
Meet the Teachers
Traditions Preschool, Inc.
DARRA DRAHEIM, Director. I have been a preschool educator for several decades. I graduated from MU - Columbia with a major in Elementary Education and a minor in Early Childhood education. I have previously taught Kindergarten, Sunday school, Bible school and taught third grade in Lee's Summit at Prairie View Elementary. I am a long time Lee's Summit resident, am married, and have two children, Jonathan and Elizabeth, who are now young adults. I am dedicated to continuing the excellence of our program, and I appreciate the opportunity to work with you and your child.
KAREN GILLIAM, Assistant Director. I have an 18 year-old son, Ryan, who is a Freshman at Missouri State, three grown daughters and four grandsons. Though my educational background is in business, I have worked with kids for most of my adult life, and have loved working with Darra for going on 14 years. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my husband, George and our children and grandchildren. Through the years I have taught all age groups in a preschool setting, in addition to helping teach Sunday School and Vacation Bible School in my church. I am so looking forward to a great year with your kids!
KARLA BARNHILL, Zebras. I am excited to be teaching Zebras again this year! I began teaching Zebras three years ago and love working with this age group. I have a Master’s Degree in Child Language from KU and I have spent many years working with children, aged 2–5 years, for language research. My husband Joey and I have two sons, Owen, in first grade, and Aaron, a 4th grader at Underwood Elementary. I am looking forward to having another great year in the Zebra room!
JOCELYN BECKLEY, Zebras and Computers. I graduated from Kansas State University with a Bachelor's degree in Social Science. I worked in human resources before the birth of my oldest son in 2005 at which time I became a stay at home mom. I am married to my best friend, Chris, and we have lived here in Lee's Summit for 8 years. Our oldest son, Connor, is starting first grade this year, and our youngest, Brandon, is going to be a Giraffe here at Traditions. In addition to teaching preschool for the last four years, I also am involved in the children's ministry department at our church in various roles. I am looking forward to a wonderful year here at Traditions, and am excited to watch my students learn and grow!
KAREN BENNER, Giraffes. I'm looking forward to teaching in the Giraffe classroom on Tuesdays and Thursdays this year! I have a Master's Degree in speech-language pathology with 10 years of experience of working with a pediatric population, mainly within the Missouri birth to three-year-olds program called First Steps, and also with children diagnosed with autism spectrum and sensory processing disorders. I am married and have three daughters: Erin, Melanie, and Chelsea, and am happily returning to work with Darra and Karen after teaching for two years while Melanie was in preschool. Chelsea will be attending Traditions this fall in the Zebras classroom.
CHRISTINE BRISON, Zebras. I am looking forward to teaching Zebras with Karla this year! I have been a substitute teacher for grades K-8 in Lee’s Summit for nine years and love teaching children. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Business and a Psychology Minor from Mizzou. My husband and I have lived in Lee’s Summit for 12 years with our two children and Jasper the cat. Adelaine (14) is starting Lee’s Summit North High School and Gabriel (18) is starting college at MSU in Springfield, MO. I love flower gardening, baking and the laughter of children. I’m excited for a fun year in the Zebras’ classroom!
JULIE BROOCKERD, Giraffes. I have been married to my husband, Tim, for 13 years and we have two daughters, Hannah-age 11 and Sophie-age 9. I have a degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. I’ve taught 2nd and 5th grade in the public schools and have taught preschool for 8 years, 5 of them under Darra and Karen’s leadership. I’m very excited to be working for Darra and Karen again and teaching your children. I’m looking forward to a great year.
LINDA BYRD, Giraffes. I am married and have two wonderful children of my own. Since my children are now teenagers, it is refreshing to “revisit” the younger years at Traditions. I count it a privilege to teach and nurture the young ones at this school. This will be my fourth year to have the joy of teaching children. Every child is a unique individual with a unique personality and I look forward to working with your child.
AMY HACHINSKY, Giraffes. I have been teaching preschool for three years. I graduated from Texas A & M at Corpus Christi with a B.S. in Elementary Education. I love teaching children. It is wonderful watching them grow and learn. I have four active boys. They are 13, 11, 9, and 7.
HEIDI HICKS, Bears. I'm so excited to have the opportunity to work in the Bears classroom this year! My husband Ben and I have two children, and a third on the way! Amelia, is in first grade this year, and Isabelle is excited to be a Zebra at Traditions. I received my B.S. in Art Education from KSU, and my MAED from Baker University. I have enjoyed working with students through classroom experience, Daisy scouts, and church activities over the last several years. I'm looking forward to working with your children and getting to know all of you!
JENNIFER MILLER, Zebras. I received my Elementary Education degree from the University of Saint Mary. I taught first grade at Westview Elementary, and then went back to working as a Nanny. I decided to stay home once my three boys came along (Jacob- Second Grade, Garrett- Kindergarten, and Nathan- a Zebra). This is my fourth year teaching Zebras and I am looking forward to a very fun year!
JOYCE MILLER, Giraffes. I’ve been married for 38 years and together with my husband raised four wonderful children. I’m the grandmother of 8 beautiful grandchildren! I’ve taught in the Zebras class for several years and in the Giraffe class last year. Before teaching preschool, I enjoyed being a dental assistant. I have been very involved in my church as an event planner, Sunday school teacher and Vacation Bible School teacher. I consider it a joy and privilege to be a part of your child’s preschool experience here at Traditions. I love children of all ages and working with them brings me so much joy!
ROBYN PADGET, Giraffes and Bears. I am thrilled and excited to be teaching Giraffes again! This will be my 5th year teaching with Darra. I graduated from CMSU (now UCM) with a degree in K-12 Music Education in 1995. My husband Doug and I have lived in Lee’s Summit for 15 years and have two wonderful children, Madelyn (10) and Connor (8). I absolutely love teaching this age group and watching their eyes light up when they learn something new. They never cease to make me smile! I am really looking forward to a great school year
ELIZABETH SMITH, Bears. I have been around children, and teaching children for as long as I can remember. My mother was an in-home care giver, and she also taught at pre-schools and day cares. Children were her passion, and I believe she passed that passion to me. In middle school and high school, I assisted in various aged classes for Vacation Bible School. After high school, I was co-teacher for VBS, and also lead teacher in Sunday School classes for children. I have also been working childcare and teaching swim lessons at Legacy Park Community Center, for the past year. I have been married for just about one year. We have no children yet, but we do see a family in our future.
CANDACE STEWART, Bears. I am so very grateful to be a part of Traditions Preschool! I am happily married to my husband, Jason, and we have two great sons. I previously taught preschool in Texas where we are from. I attend First Baptist Church of Lee’s Summit where I am involved in leading Bible study for 11th and 12th graders, serve on the Women’s Ministry Team, assist with 4th-6th grade choir and am a part of our Mom to Mom group. I am also Vice President of the PTA at Meadow Lane Elementary where my youngest attends first grade. I’m very excited about helping your child grow!
LESLIE WASSON, Zebras, Hello! My name is Leslie Wasson and I have lived in Lee’s Summit for 24 years. I am married and have four adult children. I have an extensive preschool teaching background! I have taught for 16 years with Darra and four-plus years at a local church. I have taught ages infant-5 year olds. Currently I am attending college to receive a B.S. in Dietetics and Nutrition and am very excited about it! I love Lee’s Summit and spending time with family and friends. I am looking forward to teaching the Zebras with Jocelyn again this year!