In addition to being qualified Registered Early Childhood Educators, our teachers are trained in First Aid and CPR. The teachers are committed to ongoing professional development, in areas of child development, behaviour management, nutrition, documentation and curriculum planning. They are dedicated professionals who bring unique qualities and gifts to the program.



Denise Fretz

Denise Fretz, RECE, Supervisor

One of the first people you will meet or speak to at St. Jacobs Daycare is our Supervisor, Denise. She always has a smile and kind words for the children and parents alike as they enter the daycare each morning. Her dedication and commitment to the daycare has guided this much needed community resource for more than twenty five years. Denise also connects with other child care centres and relevant committees on an ongoing basis, which keeps the centre up to date on all regulations and innovations in the early learning sector.

Denise graduated from Conestoga College in 1991, and began working at St. Jacobs Daycare in 1992.  In addition to her ongoing work at St. Jacobs Daycare, Denise is a part-time instructor at Conestoga College, in the ECE Program.  She lives in Waterloo with her husband and two children.

Meghan Bennett, RECE

Meghan is one of our preschool educators.  She has an energetic and outgoing nature, which helps her connect naturally and easily with both children and parents.  The children love her wonderful creative art experiences and her positive attitude.  She has an eye for design, which helps turn our play spaces into beautiful and organized areas for learning.

Meghan graduated from Conestoga College in 2003 and began working at St. Jacobs Daycare the same year.  She completed the Redefining Early Learning course at Conestoga College. She lives in Waterloo with her family.

Anna Van Massenhoven, RECE

If you hear singing in the hallways of St. Jacobs Daycare, it could be our resident songstress Anna. Anna graduated from Fanshawe College in 1992, and began working at St. Jacobs Daycare in 2009. She is currently an educator in our toddler program.

Anna’s favourite day is Music Monday, when she combines her love for music and children in a special music and movement program with all the groups in the centre.  She has specialized training in early music education, and teaches private voice, piano and guitar lessons in her home studio.  Anna lives in Kitchener with her partner and her daughter.


Amanda Clemmer, RECE

Amanda is one of our preschool #2 educators.  Amanda has a strong ability to create exciting, relevant, and challenging learning experiences through observation and documentation of children’s play.  She draws on her knowledge of child development combined with her ability to connect with children and families to create a supportive, stimulating learning environment.

Amanda graduated from Conestoga College in 2016 and began working at St. Jacobs Daycare the same year.  She lives in Hesson with her family.

Shannon Shillington, RECE

In her part time position at St. Jacobs Daycare, Shannon Shillington connects with many children and families during the day. Shannon’s kind and gentle approach helps her to form strong connections with children in all areas of the centre. Since graduating from Conestoga College’s ECE program in 1990, Shannon has worked alongside various community and educational organizations. Her breadth of experience contributes to her passion for inclusion, and belonging for every child in her care.

Yasmine El Sakka, RECE

Yasmine is one of our preschool educators.  Her deep understanding of curriculum and pedagogy helps her challenge children’s thinking and creativity to the highest levels.  She has strong skills building relationships with each child in the program. Her background in interior design helps in designing aesthetic learning environments and engage the children in learning.  Yasmine graduated from the Conestoga College ECE program in 2018 and began working at St. Jacobs Daycare the same year.  She lives in Waterloo with her husband and two sons. She likes to go for walks and bike rides to discover various trails with her family.

Victoria Bender, RECE

Victoria joined the St. Jacobs Daycare team February 2019 as the Toddler 2 educator.
She graduated from Conestoga College in 2015 and brings with her a deep understanding of pedagogy and her experience as a Reggio Emilia-inspired educator for several years. Victoria’s bubbly and enthusiastic personality invites children into fun-loving and trusting relationships.
Her passion for early learning and care drives her each day to make deep and authentic connections with the children. She is responsive and intentional, as she provides provocations and opportunities in curriculum for the children that are meaningful and spark wonder. She loves the outdoors and is passionate about caring for the earth and its people. She lives in St. Jacobs with her husband.

Kaleigh Gaudette

Kaleigh received a Child Psychology degree from the University of Windsor in 2013, and her Early Childhood Diploma with the North American Montessori Centre in 2017 before joining the team as school age program educator in 2018. Through Kaleigh’s extensive knowledge of child development, combined with her creativity and love of exploration she embraces childrens’ natural curiosity and enhances their self-expression. She lives in St. Jacob’s with her husband and 2 dogs.

Hilary Matthews

Hilary graduated from Conestoga College in 2015 with training in fire fighting & health sciences. She has volunteered for many years at her church in children and youth ministries before joining the St. Jacobs Daycare team as school age program educator. Hilary brings a positive and caring attitude to the team as well as a passion for working with children. She is always smiling and brings joy and laughter to the children she encounters.