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About Us

For over 45 years, Horizon has been at the forefront of providing top-notch care and education, significantly shaping the lives of children. This enduring legacy, established in memory of our founder Mary M. Smith, continues to inspire and guide our commitment to excellence.

Our Mission: to provide high-quality early childhood education, care and youth development programs.

All our child care centers are open 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Afterschool hours vary by location. See individual location pages for details.

Please note that Horizon Education Centers are closed on select dates throughout the year.

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Our Service Areas

Horizon Education Centers proudly serves a range of communities in the greater Cleveland area, including Cleveland, Elyria, Grafton, Fairview, Lorain, North Olmsted, Olmsted Falls, North Ridgeville, Sheffield, Sheffield Lake, Berea, and Lakewood. These primary communities are at the heart of our commitment to early childhood education. Additionally, we extend our reach to other cities in Western Cuyahoga County and Lorain County, ensuring that our dedication to exceptional care and comprehensive programs reaches an even wider audience. Join us as we create a brighter future for children and families throughout the region and beyond.

Our Primary Operations

Horizon Education Centers performs two operations, primarily through partnerships with local partner school districts and community action agencies or collaborations:

Early Childhood Education

Licensed by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, Horizon offers year-round child care and preschool programs.

Afterschool Programs

Horizon offers before and afterschool educational programs to students between the ages of 6 and 14 years old.

*Infant care offered at select locations only

Meet the Board & Trustees

Julie Hammon

Lockton Companies

Georgia Hatzis

Ulmer & Berne LLP

Dave Kenney

Kenney & Son Home Improvements

Laura Reinhard

Cleveland Clinic

Michelle Lazette

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Matthew Maloney

Board Treasurer
Maloney + Novotny LLC

Tom Herbster

North Olmsted School Board

Amanda Lamb


Rachel Donnelley Smith

Lake Ridge Academy

Bill Barlock

Board President
IT Support Specialists

Brendan J. Mackin

Board Secretary
Assistant County Prosecutor, Cuyahoga County

Bret Fisher

Board President Elect
Achieve Credit Union

Meet the Executive Staff

David Smith, MPA

Executive Director

Cathy Heck

Chief Operations Officer

Sharon Knaggs

Chief Financial Officer

From Our Horizon Parents:

"Horizon's after school program has helped my son improve his performance in spelling and math. The staff gives him individualized attention that helps him meet his goals. The program also lets him make new friends and explore new interests. He has developed an interest in science thanks to the program and its excellent staff."

"My daughter suffers from separation anxiety and ADHD and with the help of the awesome teachers, she has improved drastically. They help you reach the milestones you set for your child and help get them ready for the outside world. The teachers make your child feel so welcome, it's like her second family."

"Two of my children attend Triskett Station. The staff has gone above and beyond for them. My daughter really struggled this year and they showed her compassion and love beyond expectation. They've never used a 'One Size Fits All' approach, but instead tailored their approach to her needs."

Meet the Administration Team

Meet our wonderful team of Horizon Education Centers' administrators, ensuring exceptional operations and early childhood education across a wide range of communities throughout Ohio!

Alyssa Strauser

Accounts Payable Coordinator

Education Pursuing business courses at Lorain County Community College

About Alyssa has worked in many different positions at Horizon since she was 16 years old. After working in a few of our centers, she found her way to the finance department as the accounts payable coordinator. Alyssa works closely to build relationships with current and potential vendors by receiving and processing invoices. 

Charlotte Frisco

Community Engagement Coordinator

Education Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Ashland University

About Charlotte has been working to enrich the lives of children and families in a variety of ways throughout her career. She is passionate about supporting parents, caregivers and providers in their ability to help the children in their care thrive. She believes healthy, well-supported communities are the key to building brighter futures and is excited to continue that work with Horizon.

Chrissy Belpulsi

Education Service Coordinator

EDUCATION Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education and Arts from Cuyahoga Community College, currently attending Grand Canyon University

ABOUT Chrissy Belpulsi taught preschool for 10 years in Medina, Ohio. As an early childhood education coordinator, she supports all of the preschool and toddler teachers by reviewing lesson plans, assessments, developmentally appropriate approaches in the classroom and coordinating any trainings that are needed. Chrissy is excited to take on a new role and to better assist teachers and staff members when she can.

Dana Grudzinski

Intake Coordinator

EDUCATION Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education from Cuyahoga Community College

ABOUT Dana has more than 20 years of experience in early childhood education and has worked as a teacher, administrator and enrollment specialist. She enjoys working with families and children to make sure their needs are met.

Dave Gerster

Division Executive Cuyahoga County
EDUCATION Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Policy Studies, with a focus on education policy from Syracuse University.
ABOUT Dave started with Horizon Education Centers in 2022. Previously, he was a program coordinator for the Shaw Center at Syracuse University, where he directed a program for English Language Learners from grades 1-12. He also managed over 200 K-12 tutors in partnership with the Syracuse City School District and taught government as an intern at the High School for Leadership and Public Service in Manhattan.

Felicia Markus

Community Engagement Coordinator

Education Currently pursuing Child Development Associate

About Felicia started her Horizon career as an Americorps member, teaching Social Emotional Skills to preschool and middle school students and managing her team as a Leadercorps member. She is excited to oversee current and future Americorps members, assisting them as they strive to make positive impacts on children and families in our communities.

Ieshia Sutton

Cuyahoga County Center Administrator

EDUCATION Associate Degree, Business Administration and Human Resources, Ohio Business College

ABOUT Ms. Sutton worked in healthcare for 10 years while also serving as an assistant childcare director. She then became a full-time director of her own childcare center. She enjoys spending time with her kids who keep her busy outside of work, and traveling with her husband. She is excited to be a part of a growing team like Horizon that prides itself in educating today's youth!

JD Smith

Manager of Planning and Development

Education Bachelor of Arts in Business Management and minor in urban studies from Wittenberg University. Pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at Cleveland State

About JD joined the Horizon team after three years of working in community development, where he oversaw housing programs and projects, community events, and farmers markets. He is excited to work with families and community partners to help Horizon grow.

Jennifer Butler

Finance Director

Education Business Courses at LCCC

About Jennifer came to Horizon in 2005 and through her experience in the centers and at Admin, has built up an extensive knowledge of the organization and its operations. Jennifer is QuickBooks certified.  As Finance Director, she handles various aspects of Horizon’s accounting and supervises and trains the Finance Coordinators and Business Coordinators in technical knowledge and customer service.  Jennifer is a firm believer in Horizon’s mission and works with her team to help accomplish it. 

John Scalli

Staff Accountant

Education Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Ashland University

About John joined Horizon in 2022 after previous stops working in various accounting positions. He is excited about the opportunity to use his prior experience to help the Finance team.

Josh Campbell

Data Coordinator

EDUCATION Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Bowling Green State University

ABOUT Throughout his life, Josh has always tinkered and worked on computers, A.V. Setup, and other technologies. He joined the Horizon Staff in September 2021. Josh has a natural curiosity about how things work and a continued drive in the pursuit of education.

Julie Piazza-King

Director of Community Services

EDUCATION Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Bowling Green State University; Bachelor's Degree in Education from Ashland University; Master's Degree in Liberal Studies with a focus on Educational Leadership from Excelsior College

ABOUT Julie has more than 25 years of experience in early childhood education. She has dedicated herself to ensuring that all children have the opportunity for quality early care and education experience regardless of income. Julie believes the early years are a critical time in a child’s life in terms of brain development, and she is excited to see that the field is finally gaining the recognition that it deserves.

Kaitlyn Heck

Information and Technology

Education Enrolled in Lorain County Community College for a degree in Finance

About Kaitlyn has worked in many roles for Horizon since she was 16 years old. After studying communications at Bowling Green State University for two years, she came home to serve as an AmeriCorps member for Horizon. She was then promoted to Business Coordinator for the North Olmsted location and is now looking forward to her new role in information and technology with the administration team.  

Kathy Thome

School Age Education Service Coordinator – Lorain County

EDUCATION Bachelor of Science from Kent State University, Elementary Education, emphasis on Preschool – Third Grade. 

ABOUT Have been serving children as a teacher in different programs in Northeast Ohio for 15 years, working with infants, toddlers and preschool. I am now acting as an Education Service coordinator for Lorain County School Age program. I grew up in Parma Heights Ohio, I spent 7 years in Cape Cod, Massachusetts after college, but came back to Ohio to be near family and friends. Now I look forward to the next chapter with Horizon as an education coordinator.

Katie Mahilo

HR Coordinator

Education Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Development from Walden University

About Ms. Katie taught preschool for three years and then began her career with Horizon. Prior to that, she taught toddlers/infants for two years. She believes that Horizon Education Center has the passion to help the children flourish.

Melissa Dettmer

Literacy Coordinator

Education Bachelor's degree in marketing from Ohio University, and MAT in early childhood education

About Melissa has worked in education since 2013 and joined Horizon as the literacy coordinator in 2020.  She enjoys supporting classroom teachers in the implementation of emergent literacy skills and especially appreciates working with community partners.

Melissa Snively

School-Based Site Director

EDUCATION Bachelor's Degree in Adolescence to Young Adult (AYA) Education with a specialization in Integrated Language Arts from Bowling Green State University, Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Cleveland State University

ABOUT Melissa taught English Language Arts for two years at Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Middle and five years at Shelby City Schools before coming to the administration office at Horizon Education Centers. She is excited to support all teachers in their instructional practices through data-based decision-making, organizing professional development, and monitoring lesson planning and curriculum.

Nick Wishner

Maintenance Coordinator
Education Electrical Maintenance Degree, Vatterott College

About Nick has worked in the maintenance field for over 10 years. As a child, he found the aspects of building maintenance and electrical systems fascinating and wanted to learn more. He feels this career allows him to do something new every day to help those around him. He also enjoys working around the children at the center and being a mentor to them. Currently, Nick leads a three-man team at Horizon.

Olivia Zink

School Based Education Services Coordinator
EDUCATION Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre Studies with a focus in arts programming from Wittenberg University.
ABOUT After receiving her Bachelor's Degree, Olivia moved to Cleveland to become an Americorps member in 2019. She also began work with Horizon, part time, in 2019 as a lifeguard and grew to love the organization. In October of 2020, she began full time at Horizon as a tutor and TA. Olivia hopes to continue to grow with Horizon.

Renee Shells-Theriot

Marketing Coordinator

EDUCATION Associate Degree in Administrative Assisting from Bryant & Stratton

ABOUT Renee has been with Horizon Education Centers since 2014 as the executive assistant to Dave Smith. In this position, Renee develops and implements marketing and advertising campaigns, tracks sales data, and maintains promotion marketing materials for Horizon in print and social media. Renee is also a member of OACCP - Ohio Association of Child Care Providers. OACCP represents the directors and business owners of over 600 licensed child care centers in Ohio.

Stephanie Keffer-Beall

CACFP Coordinator

Education CDA (Child Development Associate) Certificate from Lorain County Community College

About Ms. Stephanie has always been passionate about working with families and children. She has worked with children since she was 13 with her church group.

Tammy Dull

Accounts Receivable Coordinator

EDUCATION Received her GED

ABOUT Ms. Tammy enjoys working for a family-oriented company and loves to help the students and their families.

Teria Bivins

Division Executive Lorain County

EDUCATION Bachelor's Degree in Administration from Cleveland State University

ABOUT Teria Bivins started her career with Horizon right out of college. She has worn many hats, including preschool teacher, school age coordinator, program specialist, education service coordinator and now center director.

Wendi S. Webb

Administrative Assistant

Education Altoona Area High School, Business Education, Altoona Beauty School-Cosmetology/Teacher

About Before starting her career as an Administrative Assistant more than 30 years ago, Wendi owned a hair salon. She loves learning something new daily, spoiling her four grandchildren, and hunting for sea glass.

Wendi Sweeney

A/R Grant Coordinator

EDUCATION Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education from Lorain County Community College.

ABOUT Wendi has worked in the childcare field for 23 years as a teacher for all age groups and a co-administrator. She has cherished working with teams of people to develop strong support systems for the overall goals of the children and families in her care.

Wendy Johnston

Education Service Coordinator ECE, Lorain County

Education Associate in Applied Science Early Education and Bachelor's in Early Education Leadership

About Wendy is the Educations Services Coordinator for Lorain County. She enjoys supporting the teachers in Professional Development to enhance their skills with the families at the centers. She also supports them with curriculum in academics and Social and Emotional skills.

A Nonprofit Childcare Center

Horizon Education Centers is more than just a provider of early childhood education; we are a nonprofit community charitable organization. As a 501(c)(3) educational organization under 501(a) of the IRS code, we are committed to making a positive impact in our communities. We greatly appreciate the support of our donors, and we want you to know that all contributions made to our organization are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Together, we can continue to create a brighter future for children through quality education and care.


Learn How Our Centers Are Different.

Horizon's center-based programs are highly rated by Step Up to Quality, with programs and activities that promote wellness and readiness.


Schedule a Tour at a Horizon Location!

Get a firsthand look at one of our centers, with the opportunity to meet your child's teacher as well as learn more about the curriculum.


Enroll Your Child in Horizon Programming!

Join the Horizon family and experience the benefits our programs can have on your child's learning and development at every age.


Learn How Our Centers Are Different.

Horizon's center-based programs are highly rated by Step Up to Quality, with programs and activities that promote wellness and readiness.


Schedule a Tour at a Horizon Location!

Get a firsthand look at one of our centers, with the opportunity to meet your child's teacher as well as learn more about the curriculum.


Enroll Your Child in Horizon Programming!

Join the Horizon family and experience the benefits our programs can have on your child's learning and development at every age.