SSNS Director Janise Allyn-Smith Honored by Peers

Each day my child lights up when she walks into the classroom and is greeted by her loving teacher. My daughter has learned how to express herself in constructive ways and has learned to care about others’ needs as well through Janise’s guidance. 

—SSNS parent in Janise's class

SSNS Director Janise Allyn-Smith was honored with the 2017 Award for Devoted Service in Early Childhood Education by the Potomac Association of Cooperative Teachers (PACT).


The award recognizes teachers who holistically encourage children's emotional, social, and educational growth; who support parents in cooperative education; who are exemplary teachers in the classroom; and who embrace professional development and the pursuit of knowledge in early childhood education.


Janise's nomination includes themes familiar to parents who have worked at her side in the 3-year-olds' classroom: It describes her "sharing and caring" focus on social growth and how she honors children in all their emotions, whether they're throwing an unsafe toy ("Throw this foam ball instead!") or working through conflict with a friend. The nomination details her home visits and parenting workshops, along with her one-on-one assistance to families who experience grief or transition.


And it joyfully describes Janise's classroom—tables arrayed each morning with fine-motor or art activities, a sensory center, the gross-motor exercises she sets up, and how whether building with giant blocks or reading a story, she manages to balance the consistency and spontaneity that young children crave.


Janise often says that the hard work of childhood is play. The PACT award honors that maxim—and Janise's hard work in ensuring those opportunities.

Our Teachers


All of our teachers are certified in First Aid and CPR and have completed the MCCA 90-hour certification course in early childhood education. Additionally, they regularly attend conferences, workshops, and other continuing education courses.

Janise Allyn-Smith

SSNS Director and 3s Class Teacher


Janise teaches the 3s class and also teaches adults through parent education classes offered at Silver Spring Nursery School and the metro area. She grew up in Southern California and has lived in Maryland since 1979. Her three children and two of her five grandchildren all attended SSNS. She joined the staff as the 2s teacher in 1992, when her youngest child was in the 4's class. She subsequently began teaching the 3s, and in 1996 became Director of SSNS.


Janise received an AA in Sociology and has an AS in Early Childhood Education. She continues to attend professional trainings and workshops each year. She also offers parent education classes, works as a consultant for families, and provides professional workshops in the DC area. In April

2012, she received the District Award from Parent Cooperative Preschool International. In 2017, she was honored with the 2017 Award for Devoted Service in Early Childhood Education by the Potomac Association of Cooperative Teachers (PACT). Most weekends you can find Janise and her husband riding bikes throughout the Metro area.

Scott Mitchell

4/5s Class Teacher

"Mr." Scott Mitchell is in his 10th year of association with SSNS. Scott started as a cooping parent and served in many positions on the board of directors, including two years as co-president. He received his early childhood teacher certification in 2012 and over the last several years has served as an aide in the 3s class, lead teacher of the SSNS Toddler Time program, and lead teacher of Friday Theme class. Scott has also served as the volunteer coordinator of Takoma Park's Community Playtime and as a volunteer coach with Takoma Soccer. In addition, Scott has taught parenting workshops for the Takoma Park Recreation Department.

Prior to his work at SSNS, Scott worked at Recreational Equipment Inc. for many years, and enjoys a very active lifestyle today. Cycling, swimming, trail running, hiking and skiing are among his favorite activities. He can also frequently be found attending one of his daughter's gymnastics competitions, enjoying a suspense/mystery novel, or playing his drums.

Rebecca Brunson

2s Class Teacher

Rebecca spent her early life in Whitehorse and Vancouver, Canada.  Upon graduating from UBC with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education, she traveled to New York City to teach in a public elementary school for three years. When she and her husband returned to Vancouver, Rebecca had plans to enroll in a Master of Psychology program but discovered that becoming a mother was a much more demanding and amazing job than she had anticipated. She decided to tutor part time and dedicate her time to raising her children: Brooklyn, Jada, and Sonny. 


Rebecca and her family moved to Silver Spring in 2012, and she enrolled Jada in the 3s class at SSNS in 2013.  Rebecca's youngest, Sonny, graduated from the 4s class in 2017. She found herself becoming more involved in the school every year, first through subbing, then becoming the 2s aide and teaching Friday Theme Class. Rebecca loves to be outdoors, whether it's for photography, gardening, camping, or hiking.


Celeste Raker Dillen

3s Aide and Toddler Time Teacher


Ms. Celeste joined the SSNS community when her youngest son enrolled in 2012. After working with college students, after school programs, and Scouts (in addition to parenting three sons), Celeste discovered that her inner child is a preschooler! Celeste found a home at SSNS as the 3s aide and embraces the dramatic development of social-emotional awareness of this age. Celeste is also pursuing Early Education Certification and leadership training with Parent Encouragement Program (PEP). Celeste looks forward to co-leading her first class, Fall 2018. Recognizing the precious gift of toddlers and preschool, she thoroughly enjoys working with Toddler Time families and Friday Theme students.


Prior to SSNS, Celeste grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania. She graduated from Penn State University with a BS and earned her MS in Molecular Systematics in Botany from University of Wisconsin. Realizing she is more a people-person than a lab assistant, she worked for Minnesota Environmental Initiative, building cooperation between government, business, and environmental interest groups. Upon expecting her first born, she moved back to the east coast for family and became a full-time mom.

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