Meet Our Staff

Champions For Children

 

Staff Members:


Jackie Cannon, B.S., M.Ed., Adv. N.M.
Executive Director

Jackie Cannon is our Executive Director of Champions. She is active in the community and is dedicated to sharing the mission of Champions for Children with Smith County and throughout East Texas.

During the year, she serves on various Chamber of Commerce committees, Leadership Team of Tyler Area Partners 4 Education – including Chair of the Kindergarten Readiness Community Action Team, Secretary for the Association of United Way Agencies, and Ethics/Diversity Officer of Association of Fundraising Professionals, Leadership Tyler, and several other committees.

She seeks and accepts numerous speaking and service opportunities to build awareness for quality early education. Jackie’s passion for children sets the tone for Champions’ organization.

Andria Horton, B.A., MA
Director of Development and Operations

Andria Horton has been working in the area of community outreach for over 18 years, primarily serving in Tyler, TX. After graduating from Ouachita Baptist University with a BA in Biblical Studies and Sociology, she returned to East Texas (having grown up in Longview) and spent the next 17 years serving in Local Missions for Green Acres Baptist Church, where she developed a local multi-housing ministry, served in the GABC Community Outreach Center and helped plan and coordinate both local and international missions. During this time, Andria completed a Master of Arts degree in Ministry-Based Evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In February 2019, Andria joined the ministry of the Hand Up Network full-time, developing programs and curriculum during a time of rebranding. Andria is passionate about preparing the next generation to be strong leaders and believes that training begins with our youngest community members.

Kristin Omo, B.S., CDA-PDS
Child Development Specialist, Trainer

Kristin is a Professional Trainer and Child Development Specialist with Champions for Children. In addition to providing training, she assesses children for behavior and learning challenges and works with parents, directors and teachers to develop intervention plans for the success of the child. Kristin received her B.S. from UTEP in Pre-Clinical Lab Science, with a double degree in Psychology and Biology. She is a licensed Nurturing Pathways® Instructor and a licensed Brain Gym® Instructor/Consultant. She is a Professional Developmental Specialist for the CDA Council for Professional Recognition and an adjunct professor for Tyler Junior College.

Kristin has worked as a pre-school teacher, a certified Parents as Teachers Educator for TISD for the Teen moms and as an Early Childhood Intervention Specialist-FQ for ECI. She is a published researcher and assisted with the development of Champions' All Ready to Learn curriculum. Kristin is dedicated to making children’s lives better.

Image of Debbie Lauman of Champions For Children
Debbie Lauman, B.S., CDA-PDS
Child Development Specialist, Trainer

Debbie is a Professional Trainer and Child Development Specialist with Champions for Children. In addition to providing training, she assesses children for behavior and learning challenges and works with parents, directors and teachers to develop intervention plans for the success of the child. Debbie received her Bachelor of Science in Education with a K-12 teaching certification, and has over 28 years of experience in childcare.  She is a certified Irlen Screener and a Professional Developmental Specialist for the CDA Council for Professional Recognition and an adjunct professor for Tyler Junior College.

Debbie is a former director of a licensed childcare center and also served as a principal of an elementary/middle school. Prior to being a director, she was with the CCS program as a trainer and taught at Trinity Valley Community College. She has also been an Extension Agent, taught child development/family living in middle/high school and has been a preschool teacher.  Debbie’s knowledge and drive helps Champions for Children fulfill their mission.

Leigh Evans, B.S.
Trainer

It's all about the children! Leigh has spent her life working with and for children. Leigh graduated with a B.S. in All-level Art from Hardin-Simmons University and has an Early Childhood Certification from Texas Tech University. She worked nine years as a Sunday Division Coordinator for young children and 21 years as the director of Green Acres Baptist Church Early Education Center. Leigh has taught both private and public kindergarten and has operated a registered home childcare. She is co-owner of E&E Heartsavers teaching CPR and First Aid to childcare teachers, parents and churches. Leigh believes it's all about educating teachers to help children's growth.

Image of Alexis
Alexis Combest, LPC, RPT, NCC
Play Therapist/Licensed Professional Counselor

Alexis received her Masters in Counseling and Human Development at The University of North Texas where she trained at the Play Therapy Institute and specialized in working with children and adolescents. She has experience working with ADHD, trauma, depression, anxiety, and behavioral disorders. Alexis can help children and families with difficult issues like divorce, parenting a special needs child, stress, death and many more. She is committed to Champions for Children’s mission to help children be successful.

Melanie Thomas, LPC-Intern
Professional Counselor

Melanie received her Masters in School Counseling at the University of Texas at Tyler and completed her LPC training at Stephen F. Austin State University. She has 29 years of experience working in education, with the past seven years as a school counselor at Jack Elementary. She also has experience working with middle school and teenage girls while being a Licensed Professional Counselor-Intern for Hope Haven in Lindale, Texas. She has experience working with trauma, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and behavioral disorders. Melanie is thrilled to be a part of the Champions for Children team and is passionate about working with children, parents, and our community.

Kira Smith
Medical Billing Specialist

Kira completed the Medical Coding Professional Program at Tyler Junior College and has 16 years of medical billing experience. She has experience with billing and collections for Home Health, Dermatology, and Urgent Care. Kira also currently serves as the church secretary at her church. Kira is excited about joining the Champions for Children’s team. She believes that every child deserves the opportunity to be great!

Rachel Ashcraft, B.S.
Director of Marketing

Rachel helps to ensure the continued success of the specialized programs to help children succeed through her marketing and graphic design skills. She has been working with nonprofits since 1997 in various capacities including marketing, public relations, grants, special events, graphic design, and donor/volunteer recruitment. She has a BS in journalism and an AA in commercial art. Rachel believes that early intervention is key for special needs children. Rachel’s goal is to spread the word about Champions for Children’s mission and the importance of its great programs.

JJ Jan Johnson Administrative Assistant at Champions For Children
Jan Johnson (JJ)
Front Office Manager

JJ is Champion's front office manager. She assists with the website, calendar schedules, mailings, conference registrations and curriculum sales.  She also helps with our Resource Room and Lending Library.  JJ received her Child Development Associate credential from the Council for Professional Recognition and has over 31 years working in the child care field.

JJ has served as a Director, Assistant Director and Preschool teacher of all ages during that time. She has worked with children in her church as the Children’s Coordinator. She has also served as Vacation Bible School Director and as a Children’s Discipleship Training teacher.   JJ believes if a child is taught the basic essentials for development of life at a very young age, they will be able to conquer any obstacle throughout their life and succeed.

Joni White
Office and Facilities Manager

Joni is Champions’ Office and Facilities Manager. She helps teachers and centers in our Resource Room and Lending Library as well as maintaining our facilities and supplies. She also is in charge of reservations for use of our training rooms. Before starting at Champions for Children, Joni spent four years as a Pre-K teacher at a childcare center and became familiar with all the trainings and resources Champion’s has to offer teachers. As a mother, Joni has utilized several of Champion’s services such as Brain Gym®, Irlen® testing and counseling. Joni also served on the Champion’s Board of Directors for three years and is excited for the opportunity to serve Champions for Children once again. Joni believes that helping children, their families and teachers is the most rewarding job.

Mission

Champions for Children provides education, mentoring, tools, and support to caregivers, teachers, and parents to help children achieve their full potential.

Our Goals

  • Improve the quality of existing childcare programs
  • Provide training, mentoring and support to childcare teachers and parents
  • Increase social, emotional and intellectual enrichment for children in childcare settings and individually
  • Provide movement based programs designed to promote positive behavior and increase learning potential
  • Provide counseling services for at-risk children, including resources and education for paarents with children on the Autism spectrum
Learn More AboutChampions For Children

Upcoming Events for
Childcare Providers

May 2020
June 2020
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Upcoming Events for
Parents and Guardians

May 2020
June 2020
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