Our Child Care Staff in Columbia, MO

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

My name is Megan Geiger. I started my Early Childhood career at Mary Lee Johnston Community Learning Center. I was a teacher in the preschool classroom here. I took a position at Youth Empowerment Zone as the Director. I am very excited to be back at MLJ as the Program Director. I am currently working towards my bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education at CMU. I have lived in Columbia my whole life. I love working with the children and all the staff here. 

Megan Geiger
Program Director
Employee Spotlight
Carla Walker

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

She is a teacher in the Tigers Classroom!

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

Tell me about you:

I am a blessed 50 year old mother of two grown children and I also have five grandchildren. I was born in St Louis Missouri, I left St. Louis when I was about 18 months old. I grew up in Winston-Salem North Carolina and Paterson New Jersey. When I lived in St Louis Missouri I worked at the Saint Louis civil court building for about 8 years. When I moved to Columbia Missouri I decided to change my career path it, was the best choice I've ever decided to make; being a preschool teacher is the most rewarding job I've ever done in my life.


How long have you worked at MLJ?

I started working at MLJ September 16th 2019.

What is your favorite thing about MLJ?

I love the work environment it's very family-oriented, and of course I love my babies. 


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

  1. I was raised by my father.

  2. I met my mother for the first time when I was 31 years old.

  3. I'm writing a book.

What have you learned while working here? 

That I am enough! It has been an interesting life that I've lived but knowing who I am and having the confidence to step out on faith has been amazing. Becoming a preschool teacher was the best decision I've ever made. Where I worked before I was ready to quit and just go back to doing something else, but once I came to MLJ I realized that this is what I'm supposed to do I was just at the wrong place doing it.

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