Our Staff

Tiny hands academy was born from the love and dedication of a local speech language pathologist, Melissa Dunbar. She has been working with children with special needs since 1994. She opened her first classroom in 2013 for children ages 18-36 months. The program grew and she changed locations to provide more classroom time. There she recruited her longtime friend Nancy Whitmore. Nancy had just retired from 32 years of providing love and learning in her home daycare. They taught for a year and then COVID 19 shut down the program.  They then learned that their classroom would need to be relocated due to state social distancing regulations. Determined to continue to provide services to the children in their community they searched for a new location. The First Baptist Church in Glens Falls generously agreed to have the program relocate there. The space had not been used for many years. The team spent endless hours renovating the space. In this process, the idea to expand and add a preschool room for three to five years olds was planted. They recruited Pam Conine, early childhood professional for over 35 years and Jessica French, a home daycare provider for over 10 years, to teach the preschool classes. They continued to renovate and build a complete preschool for children ages 18 months to age 5.  They continue to provide classes for children with special needs through the early intervention program ages 18 months to three. They strive to create an early childhood environment of enrichment, diversity and inclusion for their children.
tiny hands academy staff
Melissa Dunbar
Melissa Dunbar

 I am a speech Language pathologist and the founder of Tiny Hands Academy surrounded by amazing educators on our team! 

I graduated with my Masters in Communication Disorders in 1994. I worked for Glens Falls Hospital where I had the opportunity to be a part of their first Early Intervention Team.  I fell in love with working with children and their families. I obtained specialty certification in feeding and swallowing, learned basic sign language and continued taking classes on infant and toddler topics. 

My husband Mark and I started our family and had my son Zachary in 1997, and my daughter Sarah in 2000.  I started working independently doing Early intervention and preschool services  exclusively. In 2004 we adopted our third child, Matthew and our family was complete! 

I began early intervention enhanced group services in 2013. After being in several locations, we were offered the opportunity to move to the First Baptist Church on Maple Street. We are so excited to have added our preschool/pre-k program to our toddler services. We are dedicated to meeting each child’s needs to help them learn and grow through exploration and play.

Pam Conine
Pam Cololie

My name is Pam Conine and I am so happy to be a part of Tiny Hands Academy! I began my career as an early childhood professional in 1983 after receiving my degree in Early Childhood Education from Hudson Valley Community College. I worked in a preschool for 15 years as a classroom teacher for children from 18 months through 5 years old; as the Education Coordinator; and eventually as the Director of the Center. I was then blessed to become a parent of three great kids and worked with my sister Nancy in licensed Family Child Care for 10 years. When my youngest began kindergarten I became an Early Childhood Specialist with the Southern Adirondack Child Care Network where I developed numerous trainings for child care professionals in licensed child care. For the 13 years I worked at the Child Care Network, I have trained over 25 topics and I planned the Annual Early Childhood Conference held each Fall. My career has given me so many opportunities to continue learning about child development in all areas. Brain development and trauma informed care have been the most recent areas of professional development. I believe that children have an innate sense of their own development, that they each follow a similar path but at their own pace and that my role is to offer a classroom rich in varied experiences and follow the lead of the children to enhance the the environment so that they will want to explore and create throughout the day.

Sarah Vault
Sarah Vault

"I'm Sarah Viault and I live in Queensbury with my husband of 17 years and our 4 amazing kids. I've been a Licensed Practical Nurse for over 11 years but my passion has always been working with young children. I grew up in a home filled with children of all ages and walks of life as my mother ran a home daycare. This quickly helped me learn that there is no greater joy in life than caring for little ones.

 

I work in the Toddler Room and love and care for each of the kids as if they were my own. I'm so grateful to be a part of their lives and a part on the Tiny Hands Academy "family".

Nancy Whitmore
Nancy Whitmore

My name is Nancy Whitmore. I live in Queensbury with my husband. We have 3 amazing daughters and 9 beautiful grandchildren. I teach in the toddler classroom with Melissa. For over 30 years I owned and operated a group family daycare in my home. I have had 100's of hours of training in Early Childhood Education as well as many other aspects of operating a licensed New York State Daycare. In 1994 I earned my CDA( Child Development Associate). I have attended many state and local conferences and truly enjoy continuing to learn about new research and studies on Early Childhood Education. I have been friends with Melissa for over 25 years and even had her oldest son in my daycare when he was a baby. My daughter Jessica took over my daycare as sole proprietor in 2019 after being my assistant and partner for over 10 years. I was honored when Melissa asked me to join her in her Early

 Intervention Group as her assistant. Based on our love for helping and nurturing young children we have a wonderful personal and professional relationship and she is truly a a joy to work with. I am confident that taking this next step and opening a new preschool with these 3 amazing people and our combined experience and knowledge of Early Childhood Education that we will create a wonderful loving early learning experience for your children.  

Jessica French
Jessica French

Hi, I’m Jessica French.  I live in Queensbury with my husband, Jon and our four children (2 of my own and 2 bonus boys) Clayton, Sophia, Keaton and Landon.  My husband and I run a youth travel softball team so my free time is usually spent at the ballfield watching our daughter.  In the Winter I am usually at the hockey rink watching my boys play hockey!  With 4 kids they definitely keep us busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

 I have been in the Early Childhood field for over 12 years.  I was an assistant in a daycare for 10 years and then took ownership 2 ½ years ago.  I have had many hours of training and understand the importance of early childhood development!  I look forward to starting this new adventure with these wonderful women who share my values, beliefs, and love of education and development of young children!  I look forward to creating a learning environment for every child to thrive in.

Kathy Barnes
Kathy Barnes

My name is Kathy Barnes. I have 3 grown daughters and 4 incredible grandchildren. For several years when my children were young I ran a group daycare. I have attended many seminars and trainings on early childhood development and absolutely love watching children learn and grow through play and exploring the world around them. For the last 15 years I've worked as a home care aide for the elderly and have also worked with developmentally disabled adults. Being a caregiver is truly my passion. I find that working with children is so rewarding because as you watch them grow, learn and thrive you know you've had a part in making that happen. 

My spare time is mostly spent with my family. I spend as much time as possible with my grandkids, who I absolutely adore! I also travel as much as possible. Cruising the Caribbean is my favorite, but any ocean destination is fine with me! 

I work in the toddler classroom with Melissa and Nancy and am excited to start a new year helping your child reach his/her full potential!