We Are A Gingerbread Family

We embrace the concept of a school family in our program. Conscious Discipline principles and practices foster a nurturing and supportive environment that empowers children to develop social-emotional skills, build meaningful connections, and thrive as confident, empathetic individuals within their school community.

Meet Our Team

Background (4)

Jennifer Agar

Co-Director of Azalea Gingerbread School
Mrs. Agar has been with Gingerbread School for over 20 years. Growing up, she was always around children, as her mother operated a daycare from their home. She holds of director's credential credit uncial and child development associate in early childhood.
" I love working with children. I enjoy teaching them new things they will use for the rest of their lives."


Taylor Surdyk

Co-Director of Azalea Gingerbread School
Ms. Surdyk has been with Gingerbread School for 10 years. She holds a Director's Credential and Child Development Associate. Ms. Surdyk is a Florida native, born and raised in the Saint Petersburg community. In her spare time, she loves being with her family, fishing, and going to Disney.
"Working with children is such a special gift. Knowing I am creating a difference in their lives while providing a safe and loving environment, brings joy to my heart".


Liz Craig

Director of Bardmoor Gingerbread School
Mrs. Craig has been with Gingerbread School for over 20 years. She holds a Directors Credential and Child Development Associate. She attended Maryville College in Tennessee and is currently attending St. Petersburg College working toward a degree in Early Childhood Education.

"I feel fortunate to work with people who also believe that helping to shape the children of today will help make a better tomorrow."


Justina Compton

Assistant Director of Bardmoor Gingerbread School
Mrs. Compton has been with Gingerbread School for more than 13 years. Mrs. Compton holds her Associates degree in Early Childhood Education. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor degree in Educational Studies and Community Leadership at St. Petersburg College. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and watching her children play competitive baseball and softball.

“I believe in the power of connection. Building strong relationships with our students and families is key to a successful educational journey”


Michelle Espaillat

Director of Carillon Gingerbread School
Mrs. Espaillat has been in the field of Early Childhood for over twenty years. She began working at Gingerbread School more than 20 years ago after moving to Florida from New York. Mrs. Espaillat holds an Advanced Level Director Credential, a Child Development Associate Credential, an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education which I obtained at St. Petersburg College and a BA in Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey.
"I believe 0-5 are the most crucial years of a child's life and providing a safe quality learning environment is the key for helping children succeed! Working with children keeps me young at heart!"


Tanya Lawson

Assistant Director of Carillon Gingerbread School
Mrs. Lawson has been with Gingerbread for over 9 years. Mrs. Lawson has worked in the Early Childhood field for over 17 years. She holds a Child Development Associates, Preschool Specialization Certificate and a Directors Credential. She is enrolled in Saint Petersburg College to pursue her Degree in Early Childhood Education. She enjoys spending time with her family and going on road trips.
“I believe it only takes one person to make a difference in a child’s life… I want to be that person.”

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Ildi McGinness

Director of Training and Teacher Support

Mrs. McGinness joined Gingerbread School in 2005. After moving to the US just a year prior, she was looking for a place where she felt safe and welcomed. Gingerbread School very quickly became her safe place where she learned all about early childhood. Coming from teaching at an elementary school in Hungary, she didn`t really have a lot of experience in early childhood, but with constant support and many trainings inspired by the people around her, she was able to extend her knowledge to leadership and coaching. After spending 12 years as a teacher in the classroom, she became the Assistant Director at Carillon. In 2022 Mrs. McGinness was promoted to the Director of Training and Support role. She is able to spread her love for and Conscious Discipline at all three Gingerbread School locations.

She has been married to her loving and supportive husband, Gerry, and together, they are raising two wonderful teenage boys, Michael and Patrick. In her free time, she loves cooking and baking.  She also loves outdoor activities, bike riding, hiking, and hanging by the pool.

"See the best in others ."