Our Staff

Jackie Ruano, RECE, B.A.


Jackie Ruano joined the Beacon Learning Centre in September 2001 as a kindergarten teacher. In January 2004 she became the centre’s Director. She was instrumental in overseeing the construction of the new facility which opened in April 2011, and the transition from a kindergarten based program to a child care program for toddlers and preschoolers. Jackie has a background in Modern Languages and Literatures (Bachelor of Arts, University of London, England) as well as an Early Childhood Education Diploma from Algonquin College.


Rebecca Bowes, RECE, B.A.

Assistant Director

Becky initially walked into the Beacon Learning Centre in 2010 on her daughter’s very first day of nursery school. She has returned to BLC many times since: as a parent, a board member and a fundraising co-chair. After completing her diploma in Early Childhood education at Algonquin College in May 2015, Becky returned to BLC as a teacher. After several years’ experience supporting Jackie and Violeta in the office, Becky was delighted to move into the role of assistant director where she strives to foster a warm, supportive and friendly environment for children, families, and staff alike.


Sandy Robinson, B.A.

Senior Preschool Teacher

Sandy began her career with children working in a childcare centre in Ottawa in 1980. She continued working in various childcare centres while completing her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (1987) at Carleton University, specializing in the early childhood years. When she began her family of three (now grown) children, she used her education and experience to build a successful home daycare which she ran for over 20 years. That experience has brought her to the BLC where she can continue her passion for working with children. Encouraging them to learn and grow in a stimulating, nurturing environment, as well as helping them feel confident and happy through play and social interaction, is what she believes is the basis for a love of learning.

Amanda Brighten, RECE, M.Ed.

Senior Preschool Teacher

Amanda strives to create a happy learning environment where children feel accepted and good about themselves and their evolving abilities. She recently completed a Masters in Education with a concentration in studies in teaching and learning and is currently taking ECE courses through St. Lawrence College to further her education. Amanda experiences great joy witnessing her students’ successes- both big and small!


Chelsea Macovichuk, RECE

Toddler Teacher

Chelsea graduated from the Early Childhood Education program through Algonquin College in 2015. In 2018, Chelsea decided to specialize in her field and graduated from the Special Needs Resource Consulting program at Seneca College. Throughout her career, she has worked with preschool programs, the Ottawa Catholic School Board, before- and after-school programs, and as a Resource Consultant with Children’s Integrated Support Services. Chelsea would visit BLC during her time as a Resource Consultant. She became familiar with the program and the teachers, and decided she would love to work with them one day! She believes in fostering a safe and nurturing environment that celebrates all children and their individual needs. She is so happy to be a part of the program!




Emily Elizabeth, RECE

Junior Preschool Teacher

In 2019, Emily started at BLC as a college student completing her placement. After that, she supplied at BLC while finishing her Early Childhood Education Diploma. After graduating from Algonquin College in 2021, Emily continued to supply in all programs giving her the great opportunity to know all the children. Now part of the Junior Preschool team, Emily believes in creating a nurturing, safe, and positive environment that will promote the children’s social, emotional and cognitive skills.  She looks forward to learning with the children, and watching them blossom into the unique individuals they are! 

Layla Aliriani

Part-Time Toddler Teacher

Layla has been an essential part of the toddler team since 2019. She shows warmth and a genuine love for what she does, to children and colleagues alike . Before arriving in Canada, Layla was principal of an elementary school in Yemen. She enjoys being with children and watching them learn and grow. In her spare time Layla likes learning to cook different types of foods, walking in the countryside, and spending time with her family which includes her four children.

Linda Fortin, RECE

Junior Preschool Teacher

Linda’s passion for working with children started while she was doing her co-op placement at BLC in 1998. Over the years, she has worked as a program assistant for children with special needs, as well as a nursery school and junior preschool educator. She attended Algonquin College on a part time basis and obtained her Early Childhood Education Diploma in 2018. It brings Linda great joy to be a part of children’s growth and development. She looks forward to learning and laughing with the children every day.

Karen Cameron, RECE

Toddler Teacher

Karen has been in the childcare field for over 30 years and has a wealth of experience as educator and program supervisor. Her diverse background ranges from home daycare, to work in a variety of childcare centres, and as an RECE at the Ottawa Carlton District School Board. Now an essential part of the toddler team, Karen first supply taught at the Beacon Learning Centre before realizing this is where she wanted to stay. She brings her love and passion for young children to BLC every day.  Her mission is to provide a safe, nurturing, play-based learning environment for all children. Karen has three grown children of her own and recently welcomed her first granddaughter.


Estuardo Cabrejo Whittembury, B. Ed

Nursery School and Middle Preschool Teacher

Estuardo holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Primary Education from San Ignacio University in Lima, Peru. He also completed French language studies at the France Langue Institute in Paris. He has ten years of teaching experience at the preschool level at English private schools in Peru most recently, Markham College. A creative and nurturing teacher, he is dedicated to the promotion of a welcoming environment for children, where they may develop their skills across all the developmental domains. Together with his teaching partner Bouchra, Estuardo has helped create a program that is play-based, emergent and so much fun. 

Bouchra Khodr, RECE 

Nursery School and Middle Preschool Teacher

Bouchra has been working with children for over 20 years. While raising her 5 children, she obtained a diploma in Teacher Aide in 1999 and then a diploma in Early Childhood Education in 2017. She cared for children at her home for about 10 years, supplied at different centres around Ottawa and worked with OCDSB for over 3 years. She has experience working with children of all ages. Bouchra loves to plan individual and group activities to encourage learning and develop social interaction skills. 

Amy Poirier


As cook for all of the Beacon Learning Centre, Amy operates under the principle that nutrition is the basis for all learning. She has been in the childcare profession for over 10 years, and has been running the BLC kitchen since 2015, designing and executing creative menus, bringing hot meals and healthy snacks to almost 70 children each and every day! Amy is a mother of two, a lover of animals, the outdoors, and all things crafty. She brings to BLC a passion for food, and enjoys the challenge of satisfying the palettes of young children.

Lindsey Miller

Junior Preschool Education Assistant; Afternoon Floater

Lindsey is in her 15th year with the Beacon Learning Centre. She has worked in all the programs which has given her the opportunity to get to know all the children as they grow. Lindsey spends her mornings helping in the busy Junior Preschool program. She helps with circle time, assists teachers during snack, prepares crafts, aids children at rest time, assists children with bathroom routines and dressing for outdoor play. Other aspects of her job entail getting snacks ready, dishes, laundry, and keeping BLC clean to keep the germs away! She loves working with children and getting to know the families while coming to a place every day where she can smile, have fun, and create a lasting impact.

Renate Steinmetz

Renate Steinmetz, M.A.

House Manager

Worldly Renate has an extensive education and considerable experience working with children. She worked for a brief period as a nanny in Paris and for 15 years, she was involved in Waldorf Education, from teaching her own children using this curriculum, to teaching language courses (grades 1-7) at the Trillium Waldorf School in Guelph.

While on a European posting with her family, she worked at Kinder Korner Daycare in Niederheid Germany, serving Canadian and other NATO families.  This was one of the opportunities that has given her experience in working with children of various national backgrounds.

Renate sees learning as self discovery and finds that the role of the teacher is to inspire a love of learning while nurturing the mind, body, and spirit of the child.  She finds that developing good language skills begins in the early years. Renate has experience in almost every role at BLC where her personality and hard work always shine.


Veronica Barerra

Teaching Assistant, Toddlers

Veronica began her relationship with the Beacon Learning Centre, when both of her children, now teenagers, were cared for and had their first learning experiences at BLC.

At that point, she appreciated the quality and commitment of the staff to look after the little ones, and being an at-home mom, that motivated her to get involved in the activities at BLC.

She started out as a volunteer, joining the staff in 2017 and progressively moving from supply staff into more permanent roles within the team.

Veronica has also been balancing her family life while taking courses that will empower her with the tools to provide the very best learning experiences for the children at BLC.

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Brook Rama

Toddler Teacher

Brook is very excited to be joining the toddler team. She started supplying at BLC in January 2023 but used to spend PD days at the center helping out her grandma Wendy who taught at BLC for many years.

Brook has coached kids in soccer and gymnastics as well as taught ukulele and has always had a passion for working with children.  

In her spare time she likes to hang out with her dog Frankie, play piano and guitar, play volleyball, and spend time with friends. In the fall she’ll be attending St Lawrence College to start the ECE program.

Manal Noman

Senior Preschool Teacher

Manal loves working with children. She believes that each child is a unique, competent, and capable individual and hence must be given the opportunity, the space, the proper environment and every educational requirement to grow and develop with full potential.

She has a Bachelor degree in Political Science and a High Diploma in Gender Studies, both from Sana’a University, Yemen.

She joined the BLC in 2019 as a substitute teacher then became a regular teacher as she started working towards her ECE degree.

She brings energy and positivity anywhere she goes mixed with an excellent, rational and knowledgeable mind.