Our Teachers and Parent Educators

Capitol Hill Co-op teachers and parent educators embrace the cooperative, play-based preschool model and are attuned to the developmental needs and stages of each age group. They all possess a “can do” spirit and a desire to build community within the classroom, the teaching team, and the CHCP community as a whole. See some of their suggested reading on the Parent Ed Resource page.

Elizabeth, Mary Ellen, Erica - Halloween
Teachers Halloween 2016 - closeup.JPG

Our Teachers:

Erica Erignac
Elizabeth de Forest
2021-22 Classes:  Tots

2021-22 Classes:  Preschool, & Kindergarten Readiness

Elizabeth Headshot - 2020.jpeg

Erica started out as a social worker for mentally ill clients in New Jersey. It was there that she realized her true calling was working with young children. After receiving her master’s in Early Childhood Education from the University of Pennsylvania, she worked with special needs children placed in therapeutic foster care and then as a first grade teacher for several years. 


After moving to Seattle, Erica took a break from teaching to have children. She and her French husband are raising them bilingually. She was a CHCP parent for several years before signing up as a teacher in 2009. She believes a child-centered, play-based curriculum is the best approach to educating young children. Erica lives in Kirkland with her husband, two children, two cats and a plethora of fish.

Elizabeth has been an early childhood educator since 1988. For over 15 years she taught at St. Mark’s Cathedral Preschool across the street from CHCP. Before moving to the Puget Sound, she taught at a parent co-op in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

She earned her BA in History from the University of California, Santa Cruz, an early childhood teaching certificate from Cabrillo College in Aptos, CA and a Master's degree in Child Development and Early Childhood education from Wheelock College in Boston. Her teaching interests include play theory, early literacy, reflective teaching and social justice awareness. Elizabeth lives in Kirkland .

Mary Ellen Haley
2021-22 Classes:  Curriculum Support for Preschool & Kindergarten Readiness
Mary Ellen Headshot - 2020 - cropped.jpg
Kathryn Sharp

2021-22 Classes:  Infants & Twos

Kathryn Sharp photo.JPG

Mary Ellen joined our staff in 2007 after having taught at Lakewood Cooperative Preschool for 16 years. She loves the young families she works with and is strongly committed to making sure that young children are given time to play, time to be joyful, and time to be curious and awe-struck about the world around them. Her classroom curriculum is play-based and respectful of the children's ideas and interests.  

Kathryn joins our staff this year, in 2021. She began her journey in early childhood education in 2001 teaching first at the Seattle Central Parent/Child Center, and continuing on to work with young children at The Valley School and King Street Cooperative Preschool.


She loves the co-op model because it provides the opportunity to embrace and support not only the children in our lives, but the whole family as well. Coming from a background in dance, she finds special joy in teaching young, active, busy movers. She strives to create a classroom that encourages our youngest learners to play and explore their world with joy and wonder. When she is not teaching, she can be found sitting quietly with a cup of tea and a good book, hiking with her family, or tending her garden.

Our Parent Educator:

Jane Schmidt

2021-22 Classes:  Tots, Twos, Preschool,

& Kindergarten Readiness

Jane’s first experience with working in a cooperative preschool was when her twin daughters (who are now 16) attended Lakewood Cooperative Preschool (LCP) when they were 19-months-5 years old.  Jane was a working parent and was very involved on the Board, in the classroom and in the LCP community throughout their time there.  Six years ago, Jane was hired by Seattle Central College and was assigned to LCP as their Parent Educator.  For Jane, it was like coming “home” when she stepped back into the classroom and community at LCP.  This year Jane is delighted to have the opportunity to also work as Parent Educator for our beloved Capitol Hill Cooperative community, supporting and educating parents in their journey with their kids.


Jane earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Washington and completed her graduate-level training at the Parent Coaching Institute through Seattle Pacific University.  She is a Certified Parent Coach and Parent Educator and in private practice, and the founder of Parent Coaching Northwest, LLC. Prior to having children, Jane was a Peace Corps Volunteer at an orphanage in Bolivia – this is where Jane developed a deep love and passion for the importance of early childhood development and became a huge proponent of a play-based curriculum – giving kids an opportunity to simply play. 


When Jane isn’t working you will usually find her exploring the mountains or another country with her husband and twin daughters, on a mountain or road bike, in her favorite chair reading a good book, or in her kitchen creating something for her family, extended family or friends.