Our Staff

Mary Lee Johnston Community Learning Center has been awarded Missouri Accreditation (www.moaccreditation.org). To receive Accreditation, a child care center must exceed the minimum state requirements.  All classroom staff at MLJCLC have taken at least one college-level class in child development.  At a minimum, lead teachers at MLJCLC have obtained their Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate, and most have a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood education or a related field.

At MLJCLC, professional development is a priority.  All classroom staff attend at least 18 hours of training programs and seminars each year.  Every staff member has passed a criminal background check by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and a Child Abuse/Neglect Screening by the Missouri Division of Family Services. Building strong, positive relationships between the staff, children, and families is one of the most important things we do at MLJCLC. 

Hello!  My name is Gay Litteken and I am the Executive Director of the Mary Lee Johnston Community Learning Center.  I have been with MLJCLC since February of 2016.  I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education and Psychology from the University of Central Methodist.  I have resided in Columbia for 28 years and love our community.  I have been married to my husband Tim for over twenty years and we have three boys.  In my spare time I like to spend time outdoors, visiting family and listening to music.  I am a fortunate to be able to work with these amazing children and staff daily.  Knowing that we are helping others, providing tuition assistance so that families can go to work knowing their children are in a wonderful environment is so rewarding.    

Gay Litteken
Executive Director
Sydney King
Program Director

My name is Sydney King, I've been employed at Mary Lee Johnston Community Learning Center since August of 2010 and became the Program Manager in August of 2017. I obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Human Services from Columbia College in 2013. In April 2014 I married my husband, David, and we had our first child, Oliver, in 2016. I have family in Louisiana and Texas, so when I'm able to I go and visit them as much as possible. In my spare time at home I like to play outside with Oliver and watch Netflix.

Employee Spotlight
Melony Grotzinger

Introducing Ms. Gigi! Some of you may recognize her.

She is a teacher in the River Otter Classrooms!

We had some questions for Ms. Gigi so we could get to know her better!

Tell me about you:

I am a mother of 5 and a grandmother of 10

How long have you worked at MLJ?

5 years

What is your favorite thing about MLJ?

The children! I enjoy to watch them interact with each other.

I love seeing the growth and change from day to day 

What are three things about you most people don't know? 

  1. I have repelled off the Missouri State University of 100 feet

  2. I explored uncharted caves. I love spelunking

  3. I drove a jeep and trailers through Fantastic Caverns as a tour guide

What have you learned while working here? 

Patience! To slow down and enjoy watching the children move at their pace.

I’ve learned to work with different personalities (still working on this one.)

© 2017 by Mary Lee Johnston Community Learning Center

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