Meet Our Contributors

Sandra Noojin

Hello, my name is Sandra Noojin, and it is very nice to meet you! I am a wife; a mother; an avid researcher of early childhood education and development; a passionate educator; a lover of love and happy things and the founder of and contributor to Happiness in Education.

While studying to earn a Bachelor’s of the Arts in Psychology and Italian at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, I focused my field training on Applied Behavior Analysis. After graduating in 2011, I continued to work at a school where I further developed skills in teaching using Applied Behavior Analysis.

With this passion for educating, I then earned a Masters Degree and certification in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from Columbia University in 2014. I spent the next four years, first, teaching preschool in Brooklyn, New York and, later, working as a Special Education Service Provider around the boroughs of New York City.

As a preschool teacher, I taught students a high quality equal and equitable education; designed a curriculum that was culturally relevant; valued teaching a critical pedagogy; created individualized education plans and behavioral intervention plans; led inquiry based lessons; created differentiated lesson plans; taught using differentiated instruction; and designed subsequent lessons that were based on data from assessments and notes from observations. As a Special Education Service Provider, I created individualized academic and behavioral programs and worked with students one on one to foster their learning experiences in a home or inclusive classroom setting.

I am currently enrolled at University of Wisconsin-Madison where I am studying to earn a second Masters degree in Library and Information Studies with an emphasis on Youth Studies, School Media Certification and Literacy. I have a profound passion for teaching early childhood education, and with this Masters, I will be able to successfully create and provide programs that empower others to stay informed, advocate for social change, and share and create resources that will promote high quality equitable and equal education.

Welcome to Happiness in Education 🙂 I am so happy you are here 🙂

Megan Lake Beltran

Hello!  I am a mama to the sweetest baby boy, a wife, and an early childhood educator.   As a lover of learning, I have obtained my M.A. and am lucky to be continuously expanding my educational horizons.  I have been in the preschool classroom for ten years, where I have confirmed by strong belief in the power of play.  I am an advocate for play based learning, sensory exploration, small world play, loose parts, breastfeeding, and supporting one another.

Carissa Marks

Carissa’s background is in social and environmental justice with a focus on sustainable food access through outreach. She finds joy in engaging communities by using public gardens as educational tools to combat food insecurity. In addition to positively conveying the importance of a plant-based lifestyle, Carissa enjoys sharing interesting facts and trying to change perspectives about creatures that people often find “disgusting”, like snails and worms! She lives in the DC area with her husband, two children (ages 13 and 10), and their amazing, albeit smelly, rescue dog.

Emma Pelosi

Emma Pelosi is a special education teacher with a Masters degree in Early Childhood General Education and Special Education, as well as both general education and special education licenses in New York State. She has 5+ years of experience working with infants, toddlers, and children across the elementary grades in New York City’s public schools and is currently based in Brooklyn, NY. She has presented research and contributed to professional literature on topics such as print fixation in pre-reading children and culturally relevant pedagogy in the early childhood years. She believes in the power of joy to facilitate learning and strive to bring play, student interests, and positive relationship-building into everything she teaches!

Emily Maring

Emily Maring has been teaching preschool since 2011. She has a Masters in Early Childhood Education and a standard teaching license for Preschool to Third Grade. She has a gentle approach to teaching young learners with an emphasis on inclusion in the classroom. Emily has a wealth of experience working in a multicultural setting with diverse groups of children with a wide range of abilities, needs and skills. She has developed classroom management techniques and effective behavior strategies for working with young students. Every year she helps children learn to be autonomous and strengthen their self help skills in the classroom while also helping them attain the knowledge needed in preparation for Kindergarten. By empowering the children in her class she hopes they grow into well-rounded, high achieving students for the rest of their school careers. Emily lives in New Jersey with her husband, 4-year-old daughter, and Golden Retriever. 

Lydia Gauthier

Lydia was raised in rural Pennsylvania and could always be found barefoot and adventuring. Whether she was catching frogs in the crick or battling dragons in the woods (stick sword in hand and dramatics in full effect), Lydia found joy through imaginative, expressive play. Thankfully, she didn’t have to let go of that imagination as her life led her to working with young children. After starting a teaching position in a preschool, Lydia soon realized her love for yoga and movement. She quickly found that children have a hundred languages of expression and one of the most under utilized ones is movement. This led her to pursuing her certification in both Children’s Yoga and Special Needs Yoga. Since then, Namaplay was born and Lydia created a program for children to explore yoga, movement, meditation, BIG feelings and play in an open and joyous environment. Five years later she is still chasing dragons through the woods, only this time with the back up of her little yogis. Lydia considers herself extremely fortunate to work with such incredible kiddos and privileged enough not to have grown up too much yet. 
You can find Namaplay at or on Instagram @namaplayyoga
You can find written work from Lydia at her blog where she attempts to make sense of nonsensical words at

Emma Gehrman

Hi there! I’m Emma, but I’m probably better-known as “Ms. Gehrman.” I first caught “the teaching bug” at my very first high school job working as a youth swim instructor at the local YMCA. Throughout my undergraduate study, I always sought the opportunity to volunteer or work with elementary students — perhaps because these were some of the most powerful moments in my life growing up. After completing my Master’s program in Early Childhood Education & Early Childhood Special Education, I explored teaching in a variety of contexts and educational settings — from teaching at a preschool outside Boston,  to working as a developmental specialist providing services to young children and their families around the San Francisco Bay Area. 

A foundational pillar of my teaching practice is my firm belief in the importance of developing authentic, supportive, and trusting relationships with each of my students. Each year, I strive to create a sense of community amongst the little learners that enter my classroom, and extend that feeling to their families and caregivers, who I view as critical members of the teaching team. 

Three years ago I started teaching kindergarten at a neighborhood public school for a district outside of SF. Through my work as a member of this vibrant, dedicated, and caring community of teachers, young learners, and their families, I have truly come to appreciate the power of collaboration and how teaching is a never ending learning process — something I wish to share with other educators, like you!