Meet Our Teachers

Darlene Barbeau

Darlene's photo


Lead Infant Teacher

I am Darlene Barbeau, I am the licensee and owner of Happy Roots Learning Center.  I would like to share with you my education and experiences in the early childhood world.

          When I was very young I knew that I wanted to be a teacher.  During high school my favorite class was Child development.  At that time, I also began a part time job working in a local childcare center.  When I graduated from high school, I enrolled at Greenfield Community College, majoring in Early Childhood Education and graduated from this program in 1980.

        After receiving my Associates degree I worked in several childcare centers  and nursery schools.  When I had earned enough experience, I applied for and received my Lead Teacher/Preschool Certification.

      I have three adult children two sons and a daughter. When they were small I opened a family daycare in my home, enrolling children ages birth to twelve years old.  My children really enjoyed having other children to play with everyday and it really enhanced their social skills. I operated my family daycare for ten years.

  I later returned to Greenfield Community College and completed courses in Special Education, Challenging Behaviors in Young Children, and the Infant/Toddler Curriculum, I then received my Lead Teacher Infant/Toddler Certification as well.  I then received my Bachelors Degree from Norwich University.

         Eventually I enrolled at the University of Massachusetts and completed courses in Daycare Administration, Supervision, Management, and Policies of Operating a Child Care Center;  I received my Director I and Director II Certifications.

      I began working at Eaglebrook School, where I was hired to create a Toddler Program in their existing center, Pocumtuck Childcare.  When a Director position became available, I was hired as the Director and worked overseeing the operations of the entire center; while co-teaching in the Preschool Classroom and later co-teaching in the Toddler Classroom.  I maintained this position for sixteen years.

    In 2007 I adopted two young children from DCF, my son was ten months old and my daughter, his sister was seven years old.  It is a very rewarding experience to make a difference in a child’s life.  My son is now ten years old and attending Conway Grammar School; and my daughter is seventeen and is in the eleventh  grade at Mohawk Trail Regional High School.

     In October 2013 I found a building located at 235 Greenfield Road and with the help of my family we created this beautiful childcare center in South Deerfield. The center is licensed through Early Education & Care and was opened to the community on January 6, 2014.

Val Given


Infant Teacher

 I am Val Given. I am a new teacher in the infant room at Happy Roots. I have worked with Darlene, and her daughter Julie, when they first opened Happy Roots as a substitute teacher and I also worked at two other schools during that time. I have had many years of experience working in learning centers, private schools, public schools and working with special education students.

I have a BS in Sociology/Anthropology and a Music therapy certification from Northern University. I also have my EEC Teachers Certification in infant-toddler and preschool from the state of MA, and a Para ll certification from the state of NH. I am married and I have three children who are now between the ages of 10 to 18.

My goal is to provide a safe, happy and learning experience for all of the children at Happy Roots. I believe children learn best through exploring and experiencing the world around us; through play, interacting and communicating with peers and others. Children should be allowed to be curious about things, ask lots of questions, make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. I am extremely happy to be working at Happy Roots with Darlene and this talented-caring team.

Desiree Orcutt


Infant Teacher

 I’m Desiree Orcutt and I am a new teacher in the infant room at Happy Roots Learning Center. I am very excited to continue my journey of Early Childhood Education with the children at Happy Roots.

I have a lot of experience working with children of all ages, but I am excited to work in a setting different than that of the after school program where I have worked in the past.

I graduated GCC with my associates in Health Science and was enrolled in my second year of the nursing program when I decided being a teacher is what  I really want to pursue. Teaching has always been a passion of mine! I will enjoy seeing your children grow, develop and increase their motor skills. 

Kayleigh Brakey


Lead Toddler Teacher

My name is Kayleigh. I have recently joined the Happy Roots Learning Center team. I am in the process of obtaining my associate degree at Holyoke Community College in Early Childhood Education. I have an infant/toddler and preschool certification as well as a few years experience teaching preschool and toddlers in a center based program. I am very excited to join the Happy Roots family and further my career by providing a fun, happy and safe learning place. Ever since I was young I always knew that I wanted to teach and now having the opportunity to teach young minds and getting to watch them grow is amazing!

Lenette Williams


Toddler Teacher

 I’m Lenette Williams. I’m excited to be working as one of the teachers in the toddler classroom at Happy Roots Learning Center. I graduated in July 2017 from Brigham Young University – Idaho with my bachelors in Child Development. I performed my practicum while I was in Idaho in a toddler classroom and returned to Massachusetts to do my internship in a preschool classroom. I’m so happy to be working with the toddlers and to get to know each of them.

Sandi Castine


Lead Pre-School Teacher

I am Sandi Castine and I have been the Happy Roots Learning Center since May 2016. I have an associate degree in Early Childhood Education and over 25 years of experience in the field. My goal and passion is to provide a happy, safe, and fun learning environment for all of the children in my care. Working in private centers, public schools, and running my own daycare has given me a chance to enjoy children of all ages. My husband and I have two wonderful adult daughters, and have permanent custody of our adorable six year old nephew. I  have enjoyed working at Happy Roots Learning Center and getting to know you all.

Leah Yeglinski


 Pre-School Teacher

My name is Leah Yeglinski and I am a preschool teacher at Happy Roots Learning Center. I have been with Happy Roots in the toddler classroom since May 2017. I previously worked with preschoolers at the UMass Amherst center for Early Education and Care, for about three years. I have my preschool certification and I have been enrolled in classes toward my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology/ Sociology. My plans are to transfer my credits to GCC in January of 2018 and get my associates in Early Childhood Education. I look forward to continuing my teaching and learning  journey here at Happy Roots for years to come!