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for people ages 2 1/2-6

Where community is encouraged, individualism is valued,and children are treated with love dignity and respect.

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BellaVita Staff

Our program, curriculum and environment are enriched by our amazing teachers. The low adult-to-child ratio contributes to the quality of the program and the happiness of the staff. Staff build relationships with the children, and add to the richness of the child’s experience. You are welcome to view any staff member’s resume, just ask. To read more about our teaching philosophy please click here.


Rachael Frisius-Henderson, M.A. Early Childhood Education- Teacher, Owner, Director

Rachael was employed as a teacher at The BellaVita School for three years prior to deciding to purchase it from its original owner Kari Ditta. It was during that time she fell in love with teaching children. As director of BellaVita her love for children has deepened, as well as her commitment to provide the highest quality care possible. She received her B. A. in Communication from the University of Massachusetts, and has constantly furthered her knowledge of Early Childhood Education through college courses and workshops. She is currently pursuing her M.A. in Education at the University of Colorado.

Rachael also teaches dance to the BellaVita children. She recently developed a Reggio Emilia influenced curriculum that incorporates all the Colorado state and federal academic standards. Rachael has owned BellaVita for over eight years and been a teacher for over 10.

Kelly Pleffner- Director, Teacher

Kelly joined the BellaVita community in 2009 as a parent when her youngest daughter who was then 4, enrolled into our program. In April of 2010, she began working at BellaVita while continuing her education with a focus in Early Childhood. In May of 2013, she received her Associate of General Studies with an emphasis in Deaf Culture and American Sign Language, and her Early Childhood Director’s Certificate. Kelly has lived in Longmont for 10 years with her “sweetie,” two amazing daughters, and dog “Princess Leia.”

Kelly is dedicated to identifying the individual needs of all children at BellaVita and is devoted to meeting those needs. Kelly believes that the development that takes place during early childhood is the most important and formative throughout a child’s life and that healthy social-emotional development is the foundation. She strives to teach and provide children with the tools and skills necessary for their future with a concentration on problem solving, conflict resolution, and self-regulation.

Kelly believes we all have a connection with the world around us and we all have a part in caring for ourselves, and our earth. She is passionate about living sustainably, growing your own food, and the beneficial properties of incorporating herbs into your daily life. She brings these same passions to BellaVita through her work on our annual garden/herb project and in supporting the earth friendly practices we use in our daily program. Kelly is committed to the BellaVita community and cherishes the time she spends with each child as they learn and grow.

Kirsten Viera M.A. Educational Psychology- Teacher, Chef

Kirsten has over 15 years of early childhood experience and has a strong concentration on Social Emotional Development. Her undergraduate work was completed in Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is currently working on her Masters Degree at University of Colorado in Early Childhood Developmental Psychology, to be completed in August 2014. She integrates the Reggio Emilia approach to education as well as other educational practices and philosophies. She owned and operated her own Preschool, Alpine Sunshine, in Boulder for four years before arriving at Bella Vita. She has a strong belief in the child based/play based methodology and believes that all children are natural learners. She is completely dedicated to the concept of an earth friendly environment to foster growth in both children and adults.

Amy Quinn - Early Childhood Teacher

Amy has always wanted to work with young children because she thinks they are the most imaginative, hilarious, sweet, and curious group of people on this planet. She believes that the human experience is all about learning, growing and treating fellow humans with kindness and compassion. Amy graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a BA in Human Development and a minor in Early Childhood Education. She has over ten years of experience working with children and loves being a teacher.

Rhonda Ritter - Music Teacher

Rhonda came to teach music at Bella Vita in January of 2013.  She has been active as a music educator for 30 years.  She graduated with a music education degree from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas and has taught preschool music, elementary music, middle school choir and high school choir.  She has also worked as a community choir director, church choir director and church pianist.    Rhonda is currently teaching private piano and voice lessons at her home in Old Town Longmont. She also teaches Music Together classes at The Family Garden and Mojos Music Academy in Longmont. For more information on Music Together classes, go to melodykids.com. For information on piano or voice lessons, call Rhonda at 303-682-9712.

Jacqueline Forsythe- Spanish Teacher

Jacqueline graduated from language school in Cannes, France and has been teaching Spanish for 14 years. She currently teaches Spanish to preschool aged children and is working on a children's Spanish CD. Jacqueline also works as a medical interpreter. Her family is from Quito, Ecuador.

Angela Justis- Herbalist, Science and Art Teacher

Angela is a certified herbalist with a background in science, botany and nutrition.  She received a BA in Biology from the University of Colorado and later graduated from The Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies where she received her technical training in herbalism.  During college Angela also trained as a teacher of classical dance and went on to teach ballet to children and adults through the Boulder Parks and Recreation Dance department.  At Bella Vita, Angela has the opportunity to share her passion for children, plants and healthy, inspired living through the creation of innovative, fun activities for children to learn about herbalism, science and the world around them.
Angela explores science and herbalism through exciting hands-on projects.  Her projects are designed to engage all of a child’s senses and inspire them to ask questions.  Often her classes have an element of crafting that brings out the creative artist in kids facilitating self-expression, learning and increasing confidence.
When working with herbs she uses gentle, nourishing herbs which help to enhance health in lovely simple ways.  Children respond easily to herbs and are often fascinated by their smell, taste and visual appeal.  Using herbs with kids especially in a hands-on way  gives children a wonderful chance to really explore this beautiful part of the world.
Angela is the mother of two wonderful  girls who are a constant source of inspiration to her life and teaching.  She shares her Bella Vita adventures including fun herbal craft and science ideas for working (playing) with children at mamarosemary.com.  Angela is also a contributing author for an online magazine, Natural Herbal Living Magazine.

Angela has been teaching at BellaVita for over nine years.