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Our Staff

Staff members are positive role models and degreed educators. They are supportive, nurturing, warm and responsive to each child’s individual needs. We respect the parent as the primary and most important person in the child’s life. Our goal is to complement your role by allowing the children to feel secure and enjoy themselves when they are in our care.



Ali Knieling

My name is Ali Knieling and I was born in Kansas, but call Cookeville my home! After graduating from ETSU in 2015, with a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science, I moved back here and was lucky enough to join the Bright Ideas family.


I enjoy spending time with my family, anything outdoors and road trips too! I have had the joy of working in childcare as an Assistant Teacher, Lead Teacher for toddlers, and a Pre-K Teacher before becoming the Assistant Director of Lighthouse.


With my 8+ years of childcare experience, I have learned so much and cannot wait to continue learning and growing with your children!


Tabitha Durbin, Adventure River Lead tea

Minnow Marsh Lead Teacher 

Tabitha Durbin

Bio coming soon!

Diane Gore, Happy Habor Lead teacher.jpg

Happy Harbor Lead Teacher

Diane Gore

I'm originally from Southern California, but my heart is in my home of Tennessee.  My position at Bright Ideas Enrichment Center is as a Lead Teacher in the Happy Harbor classroom since 2017.  I have over 30 years of experience as an Early Childhood Educator.  My background is as a linguist, fine art and P.E. teacher.  I love my job and it has my total dedication and devotion to a loving environment that is always fun and safe for our sweeties.  My parents, I want them to know they can reach me at any time.  They so matter to me.


Laughter Lagoon Lead Teacher

Melody Johnson

I've been at Bright Ideas Enrichment Center for four years and have been a
teacher/caregiver for eight years. After returning to early childhood care, I made a professional commitment and recently earned a CDA in early childhood education.

I enjoy working with this age group as they are beginning to talk, ready to learn and explore the world around them. I envision teaching that of the Froebelian belief that a child's first educational experiences should be a garden: full of pleasant discoveries and delightful adventures, where the adult's role is to plant ideas and materials for the children to use as they grow at their own pace.

I am dedicated to the physical, emotional, social and intellectual development of each child and make it my goal to make sure that each child receives the best care and love that they all deserve.



Baby Bay Lead Teacher

Jenny Strickland 

Bio coming soon! 

Geri Mueller, Imagination Island Lead te

Imagination Island Lead Teacher

Geri Mueller

I was born in Queens, New York , but my childhood was spent in Fort Lee, New Jersey. I received my BA in Music Education in December of 2011 from the University of Rhode Island. After my graduation I made the decision to accept an internship overseas in South Korea, where I taught preschool music classes and assisted in a second grade class. I spent 2 years in South Korea, then moved to China where I taught Preschool - Grade 12 music classes. After a year in China, I moved to Hong Kong, where I taught music in a Montessori school to mixed-age groups of children. It was a fantastic learning experience as an educator, working to differentiate my teaching for students of a varying age range and abilities.


I am very happy to be in Cookeville, closer to family and friends after spending the last 6 years overseas. I am very grateful for the blessing to share my passion with my little "friends" here at Bright Ideas Enrichment Center.

Shellie Warren, Exploration Ocean Lead t

Exploration Ocean Lead Teacher

Shellie Warren

My classroom is home to our older 4- and 5-year-olds.  I hold a B.S. in Multidisciplinary Studies in Human Learning.  My master’s work specializes in early childhood education.  I have taught preschool for 25 years, and I have been blessed by each young child since my very first classroom.  My goal for this classroom is to chart a steady course toward behaviors and skills needed for formal schooling. 


My lesson plans are built around the TN-ELOS, the importance of play, and each child’s unique developmental progress.  Our room is a flexibly fun-filled place where we laugh, sing and conquer challenges.  I am thrilled to partner with my parents to teach these little guys how to navigate this thing called life!!

Olivia Smith, assistant.jpg


Olivia Smith


Faye Mullins, Cook.jpg


Faye Mullins


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