Staff

Meet Our Staff

 Annette Johnson – Owner/Director
I am honored and proud to have owned and directed I Am! I Can! for 25 years and to be able to share in the educating of children and teachers in our community and many surrounding towns.  I am now welcoming second generation families who are returning to us.  The parents’ of the children that have attended I Am! I Can! inform us that their children were prepared for kindergarten academically and socially and are successful in their schooling.
I received my Associate of Applied Science in Child Care and continued schooling at National College of Education and earned my Bachelor of Arts degree.  Upon receiving my Bachelors’ degree I continued on to earn my Master of Science Degree.  I belong to the McHenry County Director’s Association.  My entire education has focused on being an educator of young children and learning methods on being a supportive Director that employs an educated staff with longevity.  The quote that best describes my philosophy is, “Somewhere something incredible is waiting to be known.”  My goal for the children at I Am! I Can! is that each child that leaves this center takes with them self-confidence, friendship, social skills and the wonder of learning which will prepare them for success in school and in life.
I live in Spring Grove with my husband and we have 2 amazing sons, a wonderful daughter in-law and three beautiful grandchildren that we adore.  I love to garden, teach swimming lessons and rollerblade.  I enjoy being with my family and friends and sharing our lives and experiences.


commareJoan Commare –  Teacher/Assistant Director
I have been at I Am! I Can! since it opened its doors in August of 1989.  We will be starting our 25th year this fall of 2014.  I began at I Am! I Can! because of my love for children and satisfaction I get from helping them love their first “school” experience.  This is my home because at I Am! I Can! it has always been about the best interest of each individual child.
I have my CDA (Child Development Associate credential).  I have also earned my ECE (Early Childhood Teaching credential) through the program ExCelerate which is presented by the State of Illinois.
I live in Spring Grove with my husband of 40 years.  We have raised 3 wonderful children and they have all married and are raising our 10 energetic  grandchildren. Some of these grandchildren are already alumni of I Am! I Can! and could not have gotten a better beginning to their school experience anywhere else!


watrousJenni Watrous – Teacher/Assistant Director
This fall I will start my eleventh year here at I Am! I Can! preschool/daycare.  I began teaching in 2003, when my children (now 17 & 14) attended here.  I have since earned my CDA (Child Development Associate) and my ECE (Early Childhood Education credential).  I am also a member of Gateways to Opportunity and NAC (National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs)
I absolutely love my job as a teacher of young children!  My personal goal is to create a loving and caring bond with each of my students in order to facilitate a safe and comfortable learning environment for them.
I live in Spring Grove with my husband of 17 years, 2 kids, 2 dogs and 2 cats.  They all keep me very busy!  I enjoy reading, crossword puzzles, camping and spending quality time with family and friends.


nimrickTricia Nimrick –  Teacher
I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Northern Illinois University, graduating in 1992.  I first became a part of I Am! I Can! in 1997 as a mother of a three year old daughter.  Over the next several years, I had two girls go thru I Am! I Can! and began my career here as a substitute teacher, soon filling an open position as an Assistant Teacher.  Knowing how much fun my daughters had here, I knew it would be a fun place to work!  I have been here for 14 years, first working with the three year olds and now with the two’s.
Many people will look at you and think you’re crazy to work with a room full of two year olds.  I don’t think that at all!  Two year olds are just so eager to learn and explore.  It is rewarding to watch them grow.  It may look as if we play all day, but our play has a purpose.  My favorite part of the day is first thing in the morning when many of them are still snuggly and want you to hold them.
Here at I Am! I Can! we all strive to be the best at what we do.  In order to achieve that, I am continuously taking in-services and attending seminars about early childhood education thru the 4-C of McHenry County Program to stay on top of the latest information.  I bring that newly gained knowledge back to the classroom to implement with the students and pass on to you, the parent!


IMG_3823Colleen Wolter – Teacher
I am excited to come back to teach at I Am! I Can!  I taught 3-4 year olds for 4 years at I Am! I Can! a few years ago.  I left to help my husband Mark run his business and I missed teaching, so I am back!  I live in Johnsburg and am mom to Justin (21), Nicholas (19), Luke (16) and Kylie (13) and all four of my kids went to I Am! I Can!  I am teacher qualified and have my First Aid Certification.  I am looking forward to working with your child and providing a high energy learning experience.  Teaching preschoolers is a wonderful thing and I look forward to seeing the children accomplish new things every day.  I Am! I Can! has such wonderful teachers, I am blessed Ms. Annette asked me back.


VoceLisa Voce –  Teacher
I first walked through the door of I Am! I Can! in 2002 when I dropped my daughter off for preschool.  Never could I have realized the impact that day would have on my life and the lives of my children.  Not only did all three of my children have the benefit of this wonderful school and its teacher, but in 2007, I joined the staff at I Am! I Can!  Since that time, I have earned by CDA and am continually taking classes in early learning and child development.  I am one of the lucky ones who gets paid to do something they love.  I marvel at how children discover treasures where others see nothing unusual.  This is a fun job EVERYDAY!

Outside of work, I like spending time with my family and my two sweet German Shepherds.  I especially love our summer vacations to Northern Wisconsin where we swim, boat and fish.  I also spend a lot of time cheerleading at my kids’ sporting events and my husband, Jim’s, triathlons.


Julie Owens – Teacher
I am very excited to start my first school year at I Am! I Can! have always had a passion for working with children. Throughout the past 14 years I have had multiple opportunities in working with children from running my own home daycare, teaching Sunday school classes and leading boys in a local Cub Scout Pack. Currently, I am attending classes and will continue to take classes to earn childhood and School- age credentials. As a mother of three boys, I realize how important their early years were and the positive impact I had on their growth. It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to work at I Am! I Can! which has a nurturing, loving environment where children can learn and experience new challenges that will help build their self-confidence while they play.


Carrie Harper – Teacher
I’ve had the pleasure of caring for children since 1992. I started this passion for teaching at a childcare center in Crystal Lake where I worked for almost 25 years! It was bittersweet to leave my work family after that many years but my son was starting kindergarten in Woodstock and I needed “mommy hours”. I then continued my compassionate nature to work for Greenwood Elementary Early Childhood Life Skills program for 3 years so I could accommodate my son’s school schedule. Working for the school district has been an amazing experience but I realized how much I missed teaching preschool so when I first met Annette and her wonderful staff I knew this was an opportunity I couldn’t let pass. Even though I’ve only recently joined the I Am! I Can! team, everyone has welcomed me and are true genuine people that I look forward to getting to know and learn from.

Through my Early Childhood course work at McHenry County College, I’ve become teacher/director qualified and also received my paraprofessional license when I was employed for the school district.

Outside of school I enjoy hiking, biking, camping and playing baseball with my son every chance I get.
We are very active in our Cub Scout pack where I am the pack secretary and also to provide leadership skills.


manschulaCarole Manschula – Teacher Assistant
I have been part of the I AM! I CAN! team since 2007.  I work in the 4 and 5 year old classroom.  When my son was three years old, I researched and interviewed just about every preschool in the area and decided to send him to I Am! I Can!  I believe very deeply in the value of a good education from an early age, so finding the right school was very important.  It was obvious to me that the teachers at I Am! I Can! were mature, experienced and had been with the school for many years.  The school was well-run and it had a solid, well balanced learning environment. Years later, I feel lucky to now work in such an excellent environment and with people I can learn from and grow with.
I love working with and teaching preschool age children, as they are in such an enjoyable stage of learning.  It is so exciting and rewarding for me to help the children grow academically and socially!
When I am not at work, I enjoy doing anything that gets me outdoors; exercising, walking my two dogs, riding my bike, in-line skating and gardening.  Most of the time my husband and son join me so we can enjoy the outdoors as a family.  I also have my  nose in a good book at every available opportunity.  I have lived in the area since 1999.


corsoCarol Corso – Teacher Assistant & Cook
I live in Johnsburg and have been married to my husband Rick for 30 years.  We have 2 daughters, 3 granddaughters and 1 grandson.  I have been at I Am! I Can! for 22 years!  I cook lunch for the daycare children and aide in the afternoon.  I am certified in food sanitation, CPR and First Aid.  Throughout the year I take several continuous education classes and in-service seminars.  With my love for art, I share many ideas with all of the classrooms.
When I am not at work, my husband and I love to travel, ride our motorcycle and race stock cars.  I love coming to work at I Am! I Can! and caring for and being with the children.  It is the most rewarding part of my day.


davisEla Davis – Teacher Assistant
I was born in Poland and moved to the United States when I was 18 years old.  For the past 11 years I have lived in Ringwood with my husband and two daughters.
Both of my girls attended I Am! I Can!, and  it was at that time that I began working here (2005).  They are teenagers now and enjoy visiting the school every chance they get.
Over the years I have learned so much from the staff.  I also attend in-service (educational classes). I didn’t know I would like working with small children as much as I do, each new year brings new faces and personalities which I enjoy so much.


IMG_3687Karen Flaschberger – Teacher Assistant
In 1999, our son attended pre-school at I Am! I Can!  Lucky for me a teacher aide position opened up and this was when I first began working at I Am! I Can!  Not only did my son get to go to a fun school, his mom got to work in a fun environment!  I worked until 2002 but had to leave due to multiple reasons (one reason was due to a debilitating back problem).  This saddened me to leave.  I am very happy to say I am returning to I Am! I Can!  I am currently taking ECE (Early Childhood Teaching credential classes) through the program ExceleRate which is presented by the State of Illinois.  I am also a member of Gateways to Opportunity.  I will continually be attending 20 in-service hours yearly to continue my education.  I am certified in CPR and First Aid.
I have been married to my husband for 35 years and we have 3 amazing children and 2 adorable granddaughters.  I enjoy taking walks, camping, reading, singing in the car, road trips, gardening and social media.