Meet Our Staff

The I CAN Team makes the difference! Our team is made up of highly qualified teachers, an Administrator, and a Program Director who is well educated in childhood development and passionate about the success and happiness of each child.  Each teacher is dedicated to the development of every child and their learning potential. Our Teacher to Student ratios allow teachers to focus on the individual learning styles and needs of each child. Our team is committed to forming strong relationships with you to ensure the best possible experience for your child. Our commitment to effective communication will support your child's success at I CAN.

Program Director, Owner

Ms. Tiffany taught elementary school for over ten years, and then was promoted to Assistant Principal. After holding her administrative position for several years, she decided to dedicate her time to sharing her knowledge about early childhood education.  Unfortunately, too many Kindergarteners do not meet the benchmarks because they were not a part of a program that adequately prepared them.  Our team is committed to ensuring children in our program are ready for the challenges presented when they transition from our center into their Kindergarten program.  Ms. Tiffany is confident that, each day, her team helps decrease the number of children who are not prepared for Kindergarten.

Master of Science in Education, Old Dominion University

Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Mary Washington University

Administrator, Owner

Ms. Debbie served as an Operating Room (OR) Nurse and became the OR Nurse Educator for four years. She was then promoted to Director of Outpatient Surgery for Riverside Health System (RHS). While serving in that role for nine years, she was elected to serve on the National Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) Board of Directors. She later stepped down from her AORN position to serve as the Vice President of Behavioral Health with RHS. Ms. Debbie spent her final two years with RHS creating and shaping the Diversity Program and RHS Leadership Program, before retiring from RHS to serve as the Administrator of I CAN. She now spends each day managing I CAN employees and business operations, as well as interacting with students and parents.

Master of Science in Management, Troy State University

Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Christopher Newport University

Tiffany Tanner-Stith, MSEd, BS
Debbie Tanner, MSM, BSN
Mrs. Merlinda Speller
Administrative Assistant

Hello, my name is Merlinda Speller and I’m honored to be your Administrative Assistant. I’ve been working in early childhood for over 14 years but have been caring for children since before my teenage years. For more than 10 years, I operated and managed my own in-home Childcare Development Center through the Department of the United States Navy. My most recent job was with the Hampton City Elementary School System, where I cared for up to 500 children.


My husband and I have been married for almost 30 years and we have three wonderful children and two beautiful grandchildren. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to again work with children, as doing so has always been my passion. I love helping children grow and learn! I look forward to working with the lead teachers and team as they build their early childhood development skills. Remember, no child is ever left behind at I CAN!  

Ms. Tiana Johnson
Mirrors & Mirrors 2 Lead Teacher

Hello! My name is Ms. Tiana and I am the lead teacher for the Mirrors and Mirrors 2 classrooms. I truly enjoy working with the children and watching them grow every day. As my family and friends would tell you, I have always had a natural talent for working with children. I have actually been working with children since I was 13 years old. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, and I am currently pursuing an Associate's degree in Early Childhood Development. In the Mirrors classroom, we focus on your infant’s developmental milestones and the building of social skills.  This work smoothly transitions to continue in the Mirrors 2 classroom. In Mirrors 2, we focus on recognizing colors, shapes, numbers, and letters. I look forward to working with your child and watching them grow!

Ms. Whitney Porterfield
Windows Lead Teacher

Hello! My name is Whitney Porterfield and I am the Lead Teacher for the Windows classroom. I have been with I CAN since October 2018 and have several years of experience working in a childcare facility. Further, I have a passion for teaching and working with children! As a mother, I know it's comforting knowing your child is in great hands while in someone else’s care.


In Windows, we focus on learning shapes, colors, numbers, and letters, as well as language development. We enjoy sensory activities, crafts, music, and movement. I enjoy what I do and am excited to be a part of your child's growing and learning! If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out! 

Ms. Shelby Graves
Bricks Lead Teacher

Hello! My name is Shelby Graves and I am the lead teacher for the 'Bricks' classroom! I have been with I CAN since 2014 and really enjoy working with children--each child I work with leaves a lasting impression in my heart. I am currently pursuing my Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education. I have a passion for working with children and enjoy spending my days watching them grow and continue to grow in my class and beyond.

In Bricks, we focus on identifying letters, knowing sounds, and ability to write each. We discuss colors and shapes and begin to identify numbers. We work on building fine motor skills while focusing on an effective pencil grip. During circle time, we listen to stories and discuss the characters and settings. We also focus on calendar skills; discussing the date, months of the year, days of the week, and upcoming holidays. We are very busy learning new skills and I am eager to help each child reach his/her potential! I am also excited to build relationships with the families that I CAN serves while growing as a lead teacher! Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have at (757) 766-6161.

Ms. Hazel Truitt
Ladders Lead Teacher

Greetings! My name is Ms. Hazel and I am very excited for the opportunity to be the lead teacher in 'Ladders' classroom. Being able to be a part of the children's lives is absolutely wonderful. I will do my best to meet the needs of each and every child I serve. We will be engaging in circle time; here we will discuss shapes, colors, letters, numbers and more. We will also learn while we play in centers. I will always strive to engage the children in conversation to encourage language development and to just help me to get to know each of them better. The expectations are great at I CAN and I am excited to help each child rise to those standards. Teaching little ones has always been my passion. I look forward to helping your child to learn and grow, while having fun.  If you ever have any questions or concerns do not hesitate to let me know. You can always reach me by phone at the center (757) 766-6161.

Ms. Brooklyn Cooper
Windows 2 Lead Teacher

Hi! My name is Brooklyn Cooper and I am the Lead Teacher for the Windows 2 classroom. I am so excited to have the opportunity to teach and build relationships with these little people! In this class, our main focuses are knowing our numbers, letters, and shapes. We also work to build fine motor skills and develop language. Our curriculum is theme-based so, not only will your child be learning, they will also be having fun while doing it! The development of children is truly fascinating to me and I am honored to be a helping hand on their educational journey. I can't wait to meet your little one and aid in expanding their mind! If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call me at (757) 766-6161.

Ms. Kayla Dandridge
Bricks 2 Lead Teacher

Hello! My name is Kayla Dandridge and I am the Lead Teacher in the Bricks 2 Classroom. I am extremely excited, grateful, and honored to have this amazing opportunity to teach! I truly enjoy being with these intelligent little people every single day. Not only do I get the opportunity to expand their minds and watch them grow and succeed; I also get to share a special bond with each child. My students truly brighten my day and give me joy. I'm happy to see them learn and have fun doing it! In our class, we work on identifying and writing letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. We also work on fine motor skills with activities like cutting and glueing independently. We also engage in conversation throughout the day to develop new language skills. On a daily basis, I strive to meet I CAN's extraordinary standards in my classroom and will always continue to do so!

Ms. Carol Beimler
Ladders 2 Lead Teacher

My name is Carol and I am the lead teacher in the 'Ladders 2' classroom. I have been a part of the I CAN family since 2012. I enjoy working with children and have always wanted to do so. I enjoy the different personalities in my classroom and am very excited to have this opportunity to guide your children through their developmental processes!  In Ladders 2, our circle time is fun and educational. Our activities are theme-based and typically change at the beginning of each week. Our day also involves small groups, during which each group learns specific literacy and math skills based on their tailored to their individual abilities. We love to have fun, explore, and learn new things every day. I look forward to working with your child. If you ever have any questions, please feel free to ask. If a question arises while you are away from the center, please call (757)-766-6161. I’m looking forward to a great experience with you and your little one this year!

Want a team dedicated to your child's success?

Call I CAN 

We are dedicated to our students for life. We check in on students even after they graduate, and their successes are quite astonishing! All of our I CAN graduates have exceeded the benchmarks when tested during their first quarter of Kindergarten.