Discovery Staff

Discovery offers families a supportive, knowledgeable staff that is educated, experienced, and committed to developing relationships with the children and families in their care. Classroom teachers have backgrounds and degrees in Early Childhood Education, Child Development, and other related fields. They offer a developmentally appropriate and child-centered program focused on helping children gain social and emotional competence, in a hands-on, play-based setting. Low adult / child ratios ensure that everyone receives special attention and quality services. Individualized programming based on observation and documentation is provided for all children in the program. Discovery’s staff includes:

Discovery Staff

Collette Box

Education / Experience – Has been part of Discovery since its beginnings in 1992, working with the two and three year olds and developing what is now known as the Playgroup. She added the responsibilities of Assistant Director shortly thereafter, and became the Director in 1995. She has a BS degree in Early Childhood Education and is halfway through a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

Professional – Advocates for children and families at the local and state level through professional organizations and advisory boards, striving to raise awareness about the importance of environments and relationships for children birth to five.

Interests – Gardening and outdoor environments and pursuits.

Fun Fact – Has gone back to school 5 times – the ultimate life-long learner!

Barbara Otey
Director's Assistant / Classroom Asst.

Education / Experience – Barbara was recruited to join Discovery staff after taking courses at FVCC taught by Collette! She started in September 2017 in a dual-position that includes work as Director’s Assistant and afternoon teacher, but she spends plenty of time in all the classrooms. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree from Alma College (Alma, MI) in Physiology & Health Sciences, and 20 ECE credits from FVCC/UM Western.  She has lived in the valley for six years, working first in a PT clinic and then in a variety of child care settings.

Interests – kayaking, backpacking, hiking & mountaineering, making art, and reading.

Fun Fact – Barbara has been a dancer since she was 9 years old and trained for a summer at Kansas City Ballet.

Beth Simon
Cook & Nutritional Planner

Education / Experience – Joined Discovery staff in June 2017. She has been in Food Service most of her working life, except for when raising twins girls and son. She owned / operated Simply Sweet Baking Co. in Kalispell for 4 years before moving to Beaverton Oregon to help manage the Pastry Department of a local upscale grocery store. She’s been back in Montana since 2015.

Interests – gardening, sewing and textile arts, raising chickens, and spending time with her grandchildren

Fun Fact – Grand Prize winter of Sunset Magazine Pie Contest “Apple Cranberry Currant Pie” from San Francisco Baking Institute.

Meredith Mikkola
Playgroup (Squirrel) Classroom

Education / Experience – Joined Discovery staff in July 2015. She has worked and cared for children in a variety of capacities throughout high school and college, including volunteering during college years with an after-school program and with Girls, Inc. She also worked in a Kindergarten classroom as a 1:2 instructional assistant in Massachusetts after graduation from college. She graduated from Salem State University with BS degree in Early Childhood Education and Psychology and is P-3 certified in Montana.

Interests – photography, mountain biking, hiking and exploring Montana, yoga.

Fun Fact – Was born in Tennessee!

Shay Reynolds
Playgroup (Squirrel) Classroom

Education / Experience – Shay joined the Discovery staff in February 2018 as part of a required college Practicum experience and worked in all three classrooms before landing in the Playgroup (Squirrel) classroom. She holds an Associate’s degree from FVCC in Early Childhood Education, and is currently in the process of becoming a licensed foster parent for the state of Montana!

Interests – Spending time with nieces and nephews, hiking, and painting.

Fun fact – Is an identical twin!

Pamela (Pam) LeBlanc
Playgroup (Squirrel) Classroom

Education / Experience – Pam joined the DDC team in March of 2021. She has a heart for compassion and service, working with elderly populations at Immanuel Lutheran as well as young children at a center in West Yellowstone.

Interests – Spending time with family and her adorable chihuahua Sammy, scrapbooking, various crafts, and thrifting

Fun Fact – Pam is a retired Military Chaplain assistant and worked on a Rapid Runway Repair (RRR) team while deployed with the Air National Guard during a training exercise.

Tamara Allery
Preschool (Mountain Lion) Classroom

Education / Experience – Joined Discovery staff in December 2010 as a part-time substitute and aide while maintaining employment at Glacier National Park in the summer months. Became permanent staff in September 2012. She has AS degree in Early Childhood Education from FVCC, and over the years, has intermittently completed on-line coursework through University of Montana Western in pursuit of BS degree in ECE. She has been working in the field since 2007.

Interests – Downhill skiing and snowshoeing, biking, hiking, kayaking, and tennis.

Fun fact – Born in Massachusetts to two Army parents, who raised Tamara & her siblings all around the world, including Saudi Arabia during the evacuation of Desert Storm in 1990.

Linda Crayne
Preschool (Mountain Lion) Classroom

Education / Experience – Linda is the most recent addition to DDC, having joined our staff in September. She has a BS degree in Early Childhood Ed./Special Ed. and her Masters in Mental Health in Family Dynamics/Behavioral Health. She comes with over 40 years of experience in this field, working as supervisor, administrator, and teacher in a number of preschool and child care settings from children ages 2-12 years. She most recently worked at Head Start as an Instructional Coach and as an adjust professor for Early Childhood courses. She grew up in the Flathead valley and has lived here most of her life, raising 3 children in Whitefish.

Interests – gardening, butterflies, animals (2 cats: Oliver & Simon, 1 dog: Merlin), the outdoors, and swimming.

Fun Fact – Linda worked at SeaWorld in the education dept. and lived on a sailboat during that time.

Raevin Koster
Preschool Classroom Aide

Education / Experience – Raevin graduated from Columbia Falls High School in 2020, and spent time caring for her young siblings and elderly grandparents, as well as helping her father with his photography business. Raevin subs in all classrooms as needed, and has been training as the preschool classroom assistant this summer (2021).

Interests – poetry, art, creative writing, psychology

Fun Fact – She wants to travel to England some day!

Torree Heaton
Pre-K (Eagle) Classroom

Education / Experience – First joined Discovery staff in 2010 while completing AS degree at FVCC. Returned to the organization in April of 2018. During the intermittent years, she completed a BS degree from UM Western, had a child, and worked as Family Support Specialist at the Child Development Center (CDC).

Interests – Gardening, reading, and family.

Fun Fact

Devin Saucy
Pre-K (Eagle) Classroom

Education / Experience – Devin joined Discovery staff in February 2021 and oriented quickly to the pre-K classroom routine to become the pre-K teaching assistant. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology & Human Services from Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia, although she is originally from Portland, OR. Her experience with children includes working at a summer camp for elementary schoolers, and she is eager to expand her knowledge of early childhood development and education. Devin lives in Lakeside with her boyfriend Hunter.

Interests – volleyball

Fun Fact – Devin was a varsity athlete throughout high school & college in women’s volleyball!

Heather Emper
Afternoon Assistant

Education / Experience – Heather joined the Discovery staff in the summer of 2020, and works as an afternoon child care assistant in a mixed-age setting. She has known Tamara Allery (also on staff) for years, and has a boyfriend who lives in the Philippines.

Interests – Reading, 

Fun Fact – Heather was born in NJ and grew up in South Carolina, which is where her unique accent comes from!

Brianna (Bri) Levanen
Admin & Classroom Assistant

Education / Experience – Bri graduated from Glacier HS and has taken Continuing Education classes at FVCC, including Sign Language with Preschoolers, which she shares with the staff & children at DDC. Brianna is the oldest in her family and is very comfortable being around young children as she regularly assists in caring for her younger siblings. Her early childhood experience includes an internship at Smith Memorial Daycare and employment at Trinity Lutheran Child Care.

Interests– Briana loves baking delicious desserts to share. In her spare time she enjoys yoga and taking painting classes. She is a talented painter! She likes to travel to see her extended family.

Fun Fact – Bri is the eldest of 8 sibings!

Laura Symmes

Education / Experience – Laura graduated from Glacier High School in 2020 and started working at Discovery that summer. In fall 2020, she started college at the University of Montana Western, where she is pursuing a degree in secondary education. When she is home for the summer and winter breaks, she subs at DDC and we love having her!

Interests – dance, hiking, reading, music (plays the violin), being with friends

Fun Fact – Laura danced in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2018!

Alexa Lamers

Education / Experience – Alexa most recently worked as a substitute teacher in the Kalispell Public School system, and is teaching 2nd grade at Edgerton Elementary School! Alexa has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Idaho, where she majored in Elementary Education and theatre.

Interests – musical theatre,

Fun Fact – Alexa is the first DDC alum to return as a teacher! Alexa attended Discovery in 2003-2004.