Laura J. Johns, Ph.D.
Director of Quality Initiatives for the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning
Laura J. Johns, Ph.D., is the Director of Quality Initiatives for the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. She is a Level III state approved trainer and has a strong background in early childhood program operations. Dr. Johns focuses on systemic initiatives that address increased quality in early care and education programs, holistic child development, cultural competency, and intentional teaching practices. She is also committed to collaboration with the early childhood community to address systems of care and the improvement of child outcomes.
Previously, Dr. Johns worked as a Director of Education for an early care and education franchise system, an adjunct instructor, a multi-site operations director, a center director and teacher. In her 20+ years as an early education professional, she served in a number of leadership roles including Past President of the Georgia Association on Young Children, Chairperson for the National Association for the Education of Young Children Affiliate Board and Chairperson of Advancing Careers for Education and Training. Dr. Johns has extensive experience in the areas of child development, curriculum, grant-writing, project implementation and project management. She has also been involved in a number of community organizations including Special Olympics, Odyssey of the Mind and United Way initiatives.
Dr. Johns earned her Undergraduate degrees from San Diego State University. She received her doctorate degree from the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Infant Toddler Specialist, Savannah and Surrounding Areas
Sharon Aston is an Infant Toddler Specialist for Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. She works in Savannah and the surrounding areas. Sharon began her career in early childhood education as a family childcare provider in Walsall, England. After completing her BA in Early Childhood Studies and English she worked as a teacher of infants, toddlers and pre-school aged children in both the private and public sectors. Since moving with her family to Savannah in 2006, she has worked as program director and trainer, becoming a Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC) certified trainer in 2010.
Infant Toddler Specialist, Northwest Georgia and North Metro Atlanta
Rachel Bartlone is an Infant Toddler Specialist for Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning working in Northwest Georgia and North Metro Atlanta. Rachel has a Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Family Development from Purdue University. She has worked in early education for over ten years. She has a background in Infant Toddler education,curriculum training and has held the role of Mentor Teacher for infants and toddlers. Rachel enjoys helping teachers ensure the best possible beginning for our earliest learners and is excited to be a part of the GAPITC team.
Annie M. Blair
Infant Toddler Specialist, Augusta and Surrounding Areas
Annie M. Blair (Ann) is an Infant Toddler Specialist, with Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. She is a native of Soperton, Georgia and has traveled extensively around the world with her now retired military husband Antonius and they reside in Hephzibah, Georgia. They have two adult daughters Allegra and Allyssa, and a precious granddaughter Ki’yana Janai Rouse. Ann earned her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Infant and Child Development from FVSU and holds a Mentor Teacher Certificate from Georgia State University. Ann is motivated, passionate and enthusiastic about learning and life. She is excited to join the GAPITC team and make an indelible mark that can never be erased.
Monique Johnson, MA
Infant Toddler Specialist, Atlanta and Surrounding Areas
Monique Johnson is an Infant Toddler Specialist for Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning serving in the Metro Atlanta area and Cobb County. She is a native of San Diego, California. Monique has a Master’s of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education and an undergraduate degree in Child Development. She is certified in Program for Infant and Toddler Care (PITC) and can provide services in English and Spanish. She has worked with children ages 0-5 for over 15 years across a variety of settings. She is a mother of four and in her free time enjoys traveling, going to the beach and reading.
Infant Toddler Support Specialist
Jacquice Jones serves as the Infant Toddler Support Specialist for Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. Jacquice is a Georgia native who was educated in the Atlanta Public School system. Therefore, she genuinely understands the importance of Georgia’s youngest learners receiving a quality education while they are at a very impressionable age; which is birth to age five. Jacquice is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Development. She enjoys the work she does for Bright from the Start and is excited about the implementation of changes and growth within the Georgia Infant Toddler Network.
Infant Toddler Specialist, Gwinnett and Metro Atlanta Areas
Andrea McFarland is an Infant Toddler Specialist for Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning working in Gwinnett and Metro Atlanta. Andrea has a Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Family Development from the University of Georgia. She has over 14 years of experience working in child development centers in all positions, ranging from Assistant Teacher to Director. Andrea has a passion for providing quality care for all children, regardless of the child’s age, ability or socioeconomic status. Andrea is eager to bring her experience and education into Infant and Toddler programs to help teachers to provide the highest quality care possible.
Miranda Murphy, MA
Infant Toddler Specialist, South Georgia, Albany and Surrounding Areas
Miranda Murphy is an Infant Toddler Specialist for Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning working in South Georgia. Miranda has a Masters Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Public Management from Troy University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with a minor in Child and Family Development from Georgia Southern University. She has worked with preschool aged children for over 10 years in various settings. Miranda really enjoys working with infants and toddlers. Miranda is eager to assist the teachers through GA PITC to ensure that all children develop physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively.
Brandi Swain, MA
Infant Toddler Supervisor
Brandi Swain is the Infant Toddler Supervisor, with the Department of Early Care and Learning. A native of Augusta, GA, she earned her BA from Augusta State University in Communications and a minor in Social Work and has her Master’s of Science in Education specializing in Early Childhood Education from Capella University in Minneapolis, MN. She enjoys spending time with her family and traveling. Brandi is extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with the many childcare facilities in the area.