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
Taylor Dunbar
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Introducing Ms. Taylor. Some of you may recognize her.

She is a teacher in the Bumblebees and Fireflies Classroom!

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

Tell me about you:

My name is Taylor and I moved to Columbia from Eskridge, KS in January!

I enjoy being outdoors, spending time with my two cats and dog, and reading.

I love to paint and even write poetry and prose here and there!

My favorite movie is Alice in Wonderland and there are few things I love more than a cozy blanket and fuzzy socks.

My friends and family would describe me as witty, warm, and spontaneous!

How long have you worked at MLJ?

I have been at MLJ for just under 8 months. I’ve already made so many memories and cannot wait to make more!

What is your favorite thing about MLJ?

My favorite thing about MLJ is how it feels like family, for sure. I am so lucky to work in a place where my coworkers and I are close.

I also really love the close connections I can make with my kiddos and their families! The kiddos make every day so much brighter!


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

  1. I loved riding horses back in Kansas

  2. I am a military girlfriend and was raised a military child

  3. I’m a rock climber!


What have you learned while working here? 

I have learned many lessons while working at MLJ. I have learned that love is never wasted, being the most important.

My kiddos have taught me that you’re never “too old” to play and that seeing the world through a child’s eyes is the most amazing feeling.

I have also learned that you should “work smarter, not harder”… Thanks, Mrs. Tina! (: