Our staff

We believe the most important quality of our staff is their warmth and sensitivity to the needs of young children and their families. We strive to create a caring community where children, families, and staff feel supported and enriched by being together.

Sheila Williams Ridge HeadshotSheila Williams Ridge, Director

M.A., Early Childhood Education, Concordia University
10 Child Development
612-624-9543, will0342@umn.edu

Sheila oversees the day-to-day operation of the Lab School. She serves as an information resource for parents, supports teachers, and manages the safety, food, and nutrition programs.

Elizabeth Criswell, Early Childhood Curriculum Coordinator

M.Ed., 2011, Early Childhood/Early Childhood Special Education, University of Minnesota
IMH-E®, Infant Family Specialist, Minnesota Association of Children’s Mental Health
125 Child Development
612-624-9543, crisw009@umn.edu

Elizabeth is the special education liaison in the Lab School. She works with the teaching teams and service providers as well as in the classroom with young children. In addition to holding an M.Ed. in early childhood education, Elizabeth holds a level 2 endorsement from the Minnesota Association of Children’s Mental Health, which means that she met state standards for “Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health® as an Infant Family Specialist (C II, IFS).”

Frances Durkin HeadshotFrances Durkin, Creative Curriculum Specialist

M.Ed., 1999, Early Childhood Education, University of Minnesota
127 Child Development
612-625-1900, durki009@umn.edu

Frances helps teaching staff and teacher candidates incorporate the arts and other creative learning experiences into the classroom curriculum.

Amy Pieren HeadshotAmy Pieren, Program Specialist

B.A., 1998, University of Minnesota
123 Child Development
612-625-6549, piere001@umn.edu

Amy provides administrative support to the director, staff, and early childhood programs. She also coordinates communications, enrollment, and billing.

Teaching staff

Amy VavrickaAmy Betz, AM Lead Teacher

M.Ed., 2007, Early Childhood Education, University of Minnesota
50 Child Development (Classroom)
125 Child Development (Office)
612-624-9543, vavr0024@umn.edu

Ayuko Boomer HeadshotAyuko Uezu Boomer, AM Lead Teacher

M.S.Ed., 2003, Early Childhood and Elementary Education, Sarah Lawrence College
20 Child Development (Classroom)
127 Child Development (Office)
612-624-9543, boome004@umn.edu

Marie Lister HeadshotMarie Lister, PM Lead Teacher

M.Ed., 2012, Early Childhood/Early Childhood Special Education, University of Minnesota
50 Child Development (Classroom)
124 Child Development (Office)
612-624-9543, list0019@umn.edu

Alyssa Wilt, AM Lead Teacher

M.Ed., University of Minnesota
50 Child Development (Classroom)
124 Child Development (Office)
612-624-9543, wiltx013@umn.edu