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Dedicated & Certified



My name is Natasha Mendes. I am the Owner/Director of The Smart Start Preschool & Learning Center. I have been in the early childhood field for over 25 years. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Central CT State University. I have a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Southern CT State University. I have worked with all the age groups ranging from infants through school age. I have my Head Teacher Certificate as well as the Director’s Credential. I live in Wallingford with my husband and three children. I have twin 11 year old boys and a 9 year old daughter. I love traveling, the beach and summer! 


Brittany Haigler

Toddler 2 Teacher

My name is Brittany, and I’ve been working at The Smart Start since 2021 and have enjoyed watching your toddlers grow as the lead teacher of the Toddler 2 room. My kids learn to connect with the world and love our sensory play time and engaging all their senses. I love creating new art and I share that passion with my children. I’m looking forward to helping to inspire and shape the minds of the next generation of wonderful personalities! 

Assistant Director

Hello, I am Ms.Nadiya. I have been teaching at The Smart Start since February 2019.  I studied Early Childhood Education to obtain my Head Teacher's certification in 2021. I work at The Smart Start because I love working with children and having a positive impact on their growth and development. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my son, shopping and going on hikes. I look forward to continuing to love and provide the best care for each and every one of your little ones!


Kathellen Conceicao

Preschool Teacher


Sayma Chakchouk

Toddler 3 Teacher

Nadiya Leipold-Ford

Natasha Mendes

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