Meet Our Educational Support Team


Zachary Mural, Ph.D.
Vice President of Education


Dr. Mural is a professional educator and trainer with over twenty years of youth development experience having worked as a summer camp counselor and administrator, YMCA branch and program director (supervising after-school programs, teen center, and camps), and multi-site school supervisor. Dr. Mural holds a Master’s degree in Youth Development from Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology from Michigan State University. In addition to providing training, Dr. Mural oversees our in-house training department and the continued development of Minnieland’s curriculum. Dr. Mural is a husband, father, an independent consultant for youth development programs, an Expert Online Training faculty member, a columnist for Parks and Rec Business Magazine, and a volunteer after-school endorser for the Council on Accreditation. His education, real world experiences, and passion for helping everyone who works with youth are the foundation of all of his professional endeavors.

 Dr. Mural continues to share his knowledge and passion for working with youth at numerous professional and academic conferences such as: the National Afterschool Association Annual Conference (NAA), The American Camp Association Annual Conference (ACA), The Best of Out of School Time Conference (BOOST), and The American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Conference.


Rosemary Burton, Ph.D.
Vice President, Accreditation and Industry Relations

Dr. Burton has over 40 years of experience in the field of Early Childhood Development. Dr. Burton received her B.A. in Elementary Education and Psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Dr. Burton earned her M.Ed. in 1988, and her Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education in 1995 from George Mason University with specialties in Child Development and Staff Development.  

In her current role Dr. Burton provides leadership on both national accreditation and state licensing bodies. Additionally, Dr. Burton develops and maintains key relationships in field of education and the communities that Minnieland serves.

Dr. Burton is a member of the Adjunct Faculty of Northern Virginia Community College. She has adapted and currently teaches a series of three early childhood courses that prepares child care providers for the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Dr. Burton has had articles published in Dimensions in Early Childhood, Journal of School Psychology, The Journal of Research in Childhood Education, and Child Care Information Exchange, Dr. Burton has also co-authored a book, Social and Emotional Prevention and Intervention Programming for Preschoolers. Dr. Burton has been featured as a conference presenter for the World Forum Foundation, Virginia Association for Early Childhood Education (VAECE), the Virginia Child Care Association (VCCA) and George Mason University as well as other national and international conferences.


Peggy McCarthy-Hughes, B.S.
Education and Curriculum Advisor

s. McCarthy-Hughes has been at the company since 1996 and has been in early childhood education since 1998. She holds a B.S. from Mary Washington College, and has completed graduate studies in Occupational & Technical (STEM) Education at Old Dominion University.

Ms. McCarthy-Hughes is an Education and Curriculum Advisor responsible for providing training and support to lead teachers and school administrators related to our Kid Steps curriculum at her assigned schools. Additionally Ms. McCarthy-Hughes assists in the development and implementation of teacher training. She also developed and oversaw the Junior Kindergarten, PREP (Preschool Readiness Enhanced Program), Curriculum Advocate, and Mentor Programs for the company.

Ms. McCarthy-Hughes holds the National Administrators Credential (NAC) and Preschool Certification from the North American Montessori Center. In addition, Peggy is active in Virginia’s Star Quality Rating System, trainer for ECERS, ITERS, & SACERS instruments, CSEFEL trainer/coach and a presenter at local and state conferences.


Lori Marano, M.S.
Montessori Program Coordinator

Ms. Marano holds both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Early Childhood Education from C. W. Post/Long Island University, New York. Trained in Montessori, Ms. Marano received her certification from the North American Montessori Center. She worked in a private Montessori school in Port Washington, New York, for seventeen years where she served as a teacher and administrator.  It was in Port Washington where she gained the knowledge and experience providing a quality Montessori education to the young child. Ms. Marano was instrumental in introducing the Montessori philosophy to our preschool program where it has since flourished. She is currently the Operations Specialist/Montessori Administrator, responsible for training, mentoring, and providing ongoing support to the Montessori teachers.


Myra Sawyers, M.Ed.
 Education and Curriculum Advisor

Ms. Sawyers has over 15 years of teaching experience.  Prior to teaching, she worked as an aide on Capitol Hill for a Member of the United States House of Representatives. Myra began teaching first grade in 1999 while attending the University of Virginia, Curry School of Education where she earned her Master of Education degree. In 2005 she took a position at Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) as an Adjunct Professor and taught courses in Early Childhood Education. In 2010 she joined colleague, Dr. Rosemary Burton, to develop a STEM based kindergarten program. While in the classroom, Ms. Sawyers worked with colleagues to develop STEM curriculum and methodology that incorporates children’s literature and the Engineering Design Process into daily lessons and projects. She and her Kindergarten teacher colleagues have presented their program at Virginia Association of Early Childhood Educators (VAECE) state conferences.  She also focused on developing and expanding the Morning Discovery preschool literacy program.

Ms. Sawyers joined the Education team in 2011 and is an Education and Curriculum Advisor responsible for providing training and support to lead teachers and school administrators related to our Kid Steps curriculum at her assigned schools.  Ms. Sawyers is a member of several professional organizations and is on several committees that are working on bringing more STEM programs into early childhood and primary grade classrooms.


Victor E. Everhart, Ph.D.
Education and Curriculum Advisor


Dr. Everhart received a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education from Southwestern in Fort Worth, Texas.  He received a BA in Education from Centenary College of Louisiana and a Master’s degree in Education from Southwestern.  He has 25 years of experience in the field of Early Childhood Education, and has a background working with education advisory committees and working on curriculum development.  He was on staff at Virginia Commonwealth University for six years working as an Education and Curriculum Specialist with the VCU Head Start Program and on staff at the VCU Child Development Center.  He has worked as a three-year-old teacher, Center Director, and an Education Specialist; and he is committed to involving children and their families in the most recent researched-based educational practices. Dr. Everhart is an Education and Curriculum Advisor responsible for providing training and support to lead teachers and school administrators related to the Kid Steps curriculum at his assigned schools.


Stephanie Klusmann, M.Ed.
Education and Curriculum Advisor

Ms. Klusmann was awarded a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Mary Washington in 2010. She earned a Master's of Education with a concentration in Curriculum and Instruction from Averett University in 2013.

Ms. Klusmann joined the company in the fall of 2010 and is an Education and Curriculum Advisor responsible for providing training and support to lead teachers and school administrators related to the  Kid Steps curriculum at her assigned schools. Throughout her professional career, Ms. Klusmann has worked with children of all ages and abilities, as well as their families. Although her interests in the Early Childhood field are varied, Ms. Klusmann is passionate about training, supporting staff members, and partnering with families.  



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