Teaching Team

Meet our Dynamic Team of Teachers

Seated L - R - Mrs. Gray, Mrs. Sensenig, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Bowles | Standing L -R - Ms. Cochran, Ms. Vaughan, Mrs. Elmer

With over 100 years of combined experience in education, our qualified team of teachers creates a fun, hands-on, learning experience that instills the love of education in all children.

We are passionate about what we do.

Kara Sensenig


Director for Bethlehem Preschool, Kara Sensenig earned her B.S. and M.Ed. degrees from James Madison University.  In addition to classroom experience, she was also Director of Stepping Stones Preschool at MSUMC for over ten years.  She has worked with Smart Beginnings and Virginia Quality, which is committed to Quality in Early Learning and is also a Certified Pre-K CLASS observer.  Mrs. S loves providing a foundation for children’s education, while creating a fun, hands-on learning environment and instilling a love for learning new things each day.

Billie Jean Elmer

Pre-K Lead Teacher, Billie Jean Elmer has a B.S. and M.Ed. in Education from VA Tech and Virginia State University, respectively.  Along with classroom teaching experience, she has over 16 years of experience as a 4-H Youth Development Agent.  Mrs. Elmer has extensive experience in traditional and non-formal education, with a strong background in curriculum and instruction. She is a member of Bethlehem United Methodist Church and sings and plays in the vocal and bell choirs, as well as serving in various church leadership positions. Mrs. Elmer has taught Pre-K at Bethlehem UM Preschool for over 5 years and loves to find many different ways of educating children on all of God’s creations in our outdoor environment.

Terra Vaughan

Pre-K Assistant Terra Vaughan went to school to earn a B.S. in Psychology with a special interest in Child Psychology. During college, she volunteered as an aide at Moneta Elementary School, working in kindergarten classes. She spent three years at Bethlehem United Methodist Preschool, teaching both he Thrilling Three’s and Terrific Two’s classes. She substituted in all classes last year and returns to us this year as Assistant Teacher in the Pre-K class. She enjoys spending one on one time to see the child’s personality shine and focus on areas they may be struggling to develop.

Karen Smith

Thrilling Three’s Lead Teacher, Karen Smith has a B.S. in Education from Monmouth University and a Masters degree in Education from William Patterson College. She is certified in Nursery School and Elementary Education, kindergarten through 6th grade in multiple states, and has extended coursework in pre-K education.  She is a certified National Validator for the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and has examined and validated schools across the east coast for 8 years.  Mrs. Smith has been a classroom teacher from pre-school to second grade and a Director of several preschools over the past thirty years. She loves to bring hands-on creative science exploration and investigations to her class, in addition to all other areas of learning.

Melissa Gray

Assistant Teacher for Three’s, Melissa Gray is a Licensed Practical Nurse.  She served as a school nurse for Bedford County Public Schools for over 11 years for children from preschool to fifth grade.  Her responsibilities included caring medically for children with illnesses and injuries, administering daily medications, doing screenings, teaching student and staff health related subjects, and having parent conferences. Not only does Mrs. Gray bring health awareness to our team, but also loves to teach Bible stories to the children in class each day. Mrs. Gray has been with Bethlehem for over 5 years.

Joy Bowles

Terrific Two’s Class Lead Teacher, Joy Bowles, came to Bethlehem United Methodist Preschool, after being at Heritage United Methodist Preschool for 22 years. She served as Lead Teacher for their three and four year old children for the past 12 years, as well as their Children’s Program Director for 10 years prior to that. She loves to create a loving, spiritual place where a child’s natural curiosity to learn is encouraged and applauded. She is the Lead Teacher for the Terrific Two’s at Bethlehem, as well as Lead Enrichment Teacher for Pre-K.

Linda Cochran

Terrific Two's Class' Assistant Teacher, Linda Cochran, recently retired respiratory therapist, holds an associate degree in Respiratory Therapy from Butler University, a bachelor’s degree in general studies and a master’s degree in Health Sciences Education (both from Indiana University).   Most recently, she was the Director of Clinical Education for the Respiratory Therapy program at Radford University Carilion (formerly Jefferson College of Health Sciences).   Her previous work history includes being the Education Coordinator for the Respiratory Therapy department at James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis for 17 years.  In addition to being a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT), she obtained further respiratory therapy related  credentials as a Neonatal Pediatric Specialist (NPS) and Certified Asthma Educator (AE-C).   She has experience teaching American Heart Association classes for Basic Life Support (BLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS).