WHO WE ARE

WAGE$ TEAM

Heather Hicks

Heather Hicks

Chief Officer of Statewide Initiatives; Director, Child Care Resource & Referral Network

Heather holds a Master of Education degree in Early Childhood from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. As Director, she is responsible for the oversight and direction of the Child Care Resource and Referral Network and its subcontracts. Most recently, she served as the Deputy Director, where she managed the Data Contract, Family Engagement, Technical Assistance, Infant Toddler Services, Health and Safety, Media and Public Relations and the Quality Assurance process which assures consistent delivery of services to all 95 counties and contractual compliance by each subcontractor.

Michelle Kelly

Michelle Kelly

Director

Michelle is the Director of Child Care WAGE$® Tennessee. She has been in the early childhood field for 20 years working with children from ages six weeks to preschool. Over the years she has filled a variety of roles, including Site Coordinator for CCR&R, classroom teacher, preschool assistant director, and director. She earned a degree in Child Development from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Katy Teg

Katy Teg

Deputy Director

Katy is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education. She has held positions as a teacher assistant and assistant director with child care and family home centers, working with children ages 6 weeks to 4 years old. As a Chattanooga native, she has volunteered with numerous non-profits within the community and is eager to incorporate her skills with the WAGE$ team.

Erin Wilcox

Erin Wilcox

Administrative Support

Erin provides administrative support to the Child Care WAGE$® Tennessee team. Erin is a native of the Chattanooga area and has worked in the nonprofit community in Chattanooga for the last 13 years. Growing up in a household with educators as parents, education has always been important in her life. After graduating high school, Erin went on to attend college in Alabama and Chattanooga for Early Childhood Education. She became a preschool teacher at a local learning center, then later became the Assistant Director at that same center.

Alex Farrell

Alex Farrell

Marketing and Communications Specialist

Alex is a Marketing and Communications Specialist for Signal Centers. He has been instrumental in developing social media strategy, designing web and print collateral, and participating in outreach events for the agency. He is excited to leverage his skills to ensure the Child Care WAGE$® Tennessee program thrives across the state of Tennessee. Alex has a bachelor’s degree in Theology and the Arts from Belmont University and a master’s degree in Theology and the Arts from the University of St. Andrews.

Jewell Lavalas

Jewell Lavalas

Education Counselor

Jewell graduated from Southern Adventist University with her bachelor’s degree in Family Studies Psychology, and is currently going to school to receive a Master’s of Social Work. She has been working in child care for several years and has a passion for Early Childhood Education. Until recently, Jewell was working as an Assistant Teacher in the child care program at Signal Centers, and is excited to continue her journey with Signal Centers in a different capacity.

Danielle Fernandez

Danielle Fernandez

Education Counselor

Danielle is an Education Counselor with the Child Care WAGE$® Tennessee team. She is eager to get the word out throughout the state about this exciting new program for Early Childhood Educators. Danielle has known she wanted to work in this field since she volunteered in a preschool classroom over 20 years ago. Since obtaining her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Ohio University, she has tutored and substituted for K-3, led infant and preschool classrooms, and served as director for centers in Ohio and Kentucky. She has been inspired by the lifechanging work Signal Centers has done for the local community and state and is enthusiastic to put her experience towards its success.

Stephanie Willingham

Stephanie Willingham

Education Counselor

Stephanie graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a Bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Studies. Prior to working with Signal Centers, she was a preschool teacher and then Director at another local early learning center. Early Childhood Education has always been a passion of hers and she is excited to work for a program that not only recognizes the importance of early childhood educators but is actively making a positive difference in their lives.

Alli Tootle

Alli Tootle

Education Counselor

Alli is an Education Counselor with the Childcare WAGE$ Tennessee Team. Alli has a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from Kennesaw State University, and she served as an elementary school teacher for several years prior to working at Signal Centers. Alli is excited about working with early childhood educators in order to recognize and reward them for their hard work and commitment to making a difference in the lives of children.