Melissa Callaway Moody, Director, Pre-k Teacher
Melissa grew up in Orange Beach as a member of one of the founding families of Orange
Beach. She is a Foley High School graduate and a graduate of the University of Montevallo.
As owner and Director of Discovery Island, "Ms. Lissa" as the children call her, has taken over
520 hours training in Early Childhood Education and Pre-School Management. She has been
married 33 years to her husband and co-owner Eddie R. Moody. They have 2 children,
William, who is 28, is a Troy University graduate and currently lives in Los Angeles. They also
have a daughter, Tessa, who is 23 is a graduate of Lander University in South Carolina. Both
children attended Discovery Island in its beginning years. Melissa was an officer for 6 years
in her church, St. Jude's Lutheran Church in Gulf Shores, where she has been a member
since returning from Atlanta. She is a member of the Children's Policy Council of Baldwin
County. In December of 2008 Ms. Melissa became the first Director in Baldwin County
certified by the State of Alabama in the state's newly mandated Alabama Early Learning
Copyright Discovery Island, Inc. 2017. All rights reserved.
Very specific minimum credentials are required of all of the staff employed by Discovery Island Child
Development Center. As you read about each individual Team Member please keep in mind that all of the
teachers have met these common standards.
All DI teachers have:
Katherine Hall, Assistant to the Director
Kate was born and raised in Louisiana. She graduated from Louisiana State University with
a BA in psychology. She enjoys working with young children and helping them learn
academically, socially, and emotionally. She firmly believes that years from now, a child may
suffering Saints fan. Her favorite time of the year is football season! She attends church
locally with her children.
A-kina Carter, Substitute Teacher
Ms. Akina, is now in her third year here teaching, and came to Discovery Island with 5
years experience working with children of all ages. She previously had dual employment
with the Baldwin County School System as a substitute teacher since 2008. She also
worked as the Pre-K Teacher's Assistant at Kids Plus in Foley. Ms. A-kina worked for DI full
time for four years as a three year old teacher. She as recently taken a full time position
with the Baldwin County school system and continues to substitute teach at Discovery
Island during school holidays. Working with children is her passion and she is working
towards a teacher degree part time. She also enjoys singing, dancing, traveling and
attending her church.
Esther Owen, Substitute Teacher and Assistant to the Director
Ms. Esther has been with Discovery Island for 12 years. During this time she has been both a
part time substitute and a full time lead teacher depending on her preference at the time and
the needs of her family of three children. Both her 12 year old daughter and 9 year old son are
graduates of our Pre-K program. Her 3 year old currently attends and is in Ms. Missy's class.
Esther has been a lead teacher in the infant room, the young 2 year old room, and previously
with the 3 year olds. She is also a trusted key holder to the center who Ms. Melissa relies on to
do any and all of the daily management requirements of the Center when Ms. Kate is out for the
day. Ms. Esther has taken over 120 hours of training while working at Discovery Island helping
her excel as a preschool teacher. She is returning to college to complete her degree in Early
Childhood Special Education. Esther attends Romar Beach Baptist church, where her
husband of 13 years, Ryan, is a deacon. We are happy to have her back full time!
Jennifer Strickland, 2 1/2 and Young 3 year old Teacher
Jennifer, who is in her fifth year at Discovery Island, is originally from Thomasville, Al. She
graduated high school from Catherinie Academy. At the University of West Alabama in
Livingston (UWA) she graduate with a BS in Elementary Education. She has spent time
substitute teaching in the Baldwin County School System, specifically at Gulf Shores
Elementary. She currently lives in Gulf Shores and has lived here for about ten years. She
is a member of lagoon Baptist Church. She has 1 son, Bryce who graduated from
Discovery Island and now attends Gulf Shores Elementary.
First Aid Certification
Infant and Child CPR Certification
Quality Child Care & Licensing Training
Proof of Citizenship
Child Development Training
Positive Discipline and Guidance Training
Child Care Professionalism Training
TB test and physical exam
State of Alabama Abuse/Neglect Clearance
Health and Safety Training
Language Development Training
Family Interaction & Inclusion Training
Additional yearly training and timely renewal of all certifications as needed
Ashley Freitas, 1 Year Old Teacher
Ms. Ashley was born and raised in California. Upon entering the Navy she was sent to the
Gulf Coast and stationed at Pensacola Naval Base. She fell in love with the area so she and
her boyfriend, Ryan, chose to stay here after she left the service. Ashley has always wanted
to find a career in Early Childhood Education and Child Development. She wants to learn
here at Discovery Island and then pursue a degree in the field. She is enjoying the children
and working at Discovery Island. And, we thank her for her service!
Tiffany Robinson, Infant Teacher
Tiffany Applewhite Robinson is a native of Mississippi where she attended Lanier High School
in Jackson. She was a member of the Award winning Rangerette Dance ensemble. She also
served as a junior achievement volunteer for kindergarten aged children during her senior
year. After graduating with top honors in her senior class, she went on to Jackson State
University to follow her passion for teaching young children. There obtained a Bachelor's of
Science Degree in Childcare and Family Education. She graduated as a dean's list scholar
and with Magna Cum Laude honors fall 2006. After college,she began her teaching career at
various learning centers in the city of Jackson serving as a young children's teacher for over 5
yrs. Most of her time was with infant classrooms. She is married to Micheal Robinson, a
United States marine and they have one son Karmell-Frank Robinson who is currently
enrolled in Discovery Island's Pre-School classroom. She also has a love for
fashion,dance,the beach, and participating in activities with her son.
Jenny Johnston, Young 2 Year Old Teacher
Ms. Jenny spent 18 years working for the Baldwin County School System at several schools
including the Magnolia School, the Summerdale School, and Fairhope Elementary. She
started as a Computer Lab Instructor and then changed to being a Special Services
Paraprofessional working with Special Needs children. Years ago she was Director at a
state licensed Center in Foley where she oversaw the operations for 100 children. Jenny
has been married for 14 years. They have 2 adult children and two grandchildren, Evian, 8
and Liam, 3 who are their greatest blessing. Jenny and her husband live in Foley with their
2 dog - children. They love spending time with family and outdoors and they are Alabama
Crimson Tide enthusiasts. Ms. Jenny says she is happy to now be at DI and working with
such devoted and caring teachers.
Rebecca Henley, 3 Year Old Teacher
Ms. Becca, orginally from Prairie du Chien, WI, has worked in the field of Child Care for 8
years. She was our one year teacher until the birth of her first child, Benjamin. At that time
she took an extended maternity leave. She chose to come back in a substitute position
allowing her more time at home with her own infant. She is in her second year as part of
the Discovery Island team. She loves dogs and has four. She is married to her husband,
Justin since 2012 and enjoys going to the beach and hiking.
Kristina Hilton, 3 Year Old Teacher
Kristina is one of our newest additions. She was born and raised in Pearl Mississippi,
graduating from Pearl High School in 2006. In 2009 she moved to Foley, Alabama. When
she was 23 she decided to go to Bible School to become a youth pastor. Graduating in
2013 Ms. Kristine is currently the youth pastor at Abiding Love Church in Daphne, AL. She
is engaged to her childhood sweetheart whom she met in the fourth grade. Ms. Kristina
comes to Discovery Island with 10 years experience working with young children. Kristina
loves working with children and is excited to be part of the DI team.
Donna Gurneck, Substitute Teacher
Ms. Donna was born in Southern California and has traveled all over the world. She had
California with her husband and Ms. Donna's biggest love, Opaline, her granddaughter.
Ms. Donna and her husband has been married for 34 years moving to Orange Beach 12
years ago. She still loves to travel and being mostly retired, she and her husband try to go
on cruises 4-5 times a year. Ms. Donna worked for awhile with the now closed Preschool
Park at Christian Life Church. We have happy to have her with us helping out occasionally
as needed. Ms. Donna is thankful to God for a blessed life.
Beverly Carroll, Substitute Teacher
she worked for the Mobile County School Board for 18 years. When she moved to Orange
Beach she took employment with the Baldwin County School Board working for 12 years at
Orange Beach Elementary School. Ms. Beverly has experience working at previous daycare
positions and in her church nursey for a combined 13 years. She has 2 sons, 6 grand
children, and 3 great grandchildren. She is now at Discovery Island because she still loves
working with children. We are happy to have her as part of our substitute team.
Cherish Winburn, Substitute Teacher
Ms. Cherish comes is originally from South Carolina. She recently move to the Alabama
Gulf Coast alone with her two English bulldogs. Cherish originally attended Lander
University for nursing but changed her focus to Early Childhood receiving her Associates
Degree in Early Childhood Education from Northeastern Technical College. She loves
working with children and helping them learn. She is enjoying working with all the different
ages of children at Discovery Island. She also is very serious about her work out routine
and has considered body building.
Raven Newton, Substitute Teacher
Raven is originally from Thomasville Alabama. She is a graduate of Thomasville High
School. Raven has been working with children for as long as she can remember, starting
as a babysitter, then a nanny, and eventually a teacher at a licensed daycare in her
hometown. Raven has worked with children of all ages. She was the lead afternoon
teacher to children aged 2 1/2 to 8 at her previous center. She enjoys working with children
and seeing them blossom into kind, intelligent individuals. She moved to Orange Beach
with her family in June of 2017. When she is not working she enjoys music, writing, theatre,
and anything that allows her to be creative.