Meet our Teachers


Rachel Whitmire-Griffith, Starshine Preschool Director
Email: Rachel Whitmire-Griffith

I've been married to the love of my life for just over 4 years and a momma of four awesome little ladies who never cease to amaze me.  This is my seventh year as director of Starshine Preschool.  After ten years of Preschool/Daycare experience and an Associates degree in teaching, God led me to Independence First United Methodist Church with my dream job, where I get to teach children and inspire adults about Jesus, the great “I AM”, who loves us more than we can fathom.  I’m excited to see Him work in the lives of little ones.  


I enjoy music, a good laugh and believe anything can be fun – it’s all in your perception.


Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

Melissa Saylor

Music Teacher


Who am I?  I am a wife, a mom of two boys, fun, energetic, accessorizing, sensitive, Jesus loving, preschool Music Teacher!  Born into a family of talented musicians, I can't remember a time in my life when music wasn’t being played.  I, however, was the "dancer".  I took dance throughout my childhood into my teenage years.  Singing really came later, when I attended a Christian Youth Camp at the age of 15, where singing became my passion.  I also became very involved working in Children's Ministry at my church - I led Children's Worship, Kid's Choir, was a Sunday School teacher, directed puppet teams and coached Bible Quiz.  I loved working with children and those experiences led me to taking on the position of Music Teacher at Starshine in 2005.   I work each year to build our music curriculum by adding new elements and always keeping it FUN! 

Amber Moreland

This is my third year at Starshine Preschool as the Infant teacher, and I have loved every minute of it. I have been married to my wonderful husband, Brant, for 12 years.  We have four amazing children; Caden is 11 and plays soccer, Dillon is 9 and is our gymnast, Ella is 7 and is part of a competitive dance team and Finnley is 6 and also plays soccer.  I have a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education and have loved working with young children since I was old enough to work.  In my spare time, I enjoy reading and baking. 

Stephanie Kenyon

2 year olds


I've been married to my husband, Aaron, for 16 years.  We've been blessed with 4 amazing children, ages 10, 8, 4 and 2 years.  This is my fourth year at Starshine and I'm looking forward to another great year.  Kids have, and always will be, one of my biggest passions. 

Claire Jones

3 year olds

My name is Claire Jones and I am married to my husband of 8 years, Connor. We have a 3 year old daughter named Macey. We both lead ministries at our local church and love doing so. I love teaching and have taught preschool, special needs students, and fourth grade students before I became a stay at home mom when Macey was born. I am excited to join the Starshine family!

Michelle Smirl


I live with lots of boys - my husband of 25 years, Dwayne, and our 3 sons, Jordan-23, Jacob-19 and Jackson-9.  We love spending time together and taking trips. 

Seven years ago on my first day of teaching at Starshine, I knew it was my calling.  I earned my Associates in Arts in 2012, with a teaching emphasis.  My favorite thing about teaching preschool is sowing positive seeds that grow into love of learning and for school. It's my goal for my students to know that God made them special and that they are loved and unique. 

Lisa Tracy


I am one of the Pre-k teachers here at Starshine.  I grew up in Independence, graduating from Truman High school and found Starshine in 2004.  My husband and I got married here at IFUMC in 1995. We have one son Devin who attended Starshine and graduated from Truman as well, he now attends Fort Hays University.  We have recently added a puppy named Gus to the mix.


In the Summer, my family spends a lot of time at Pomme de Terre Lake.  We camp, fish and play on our boat. 


400 W. Maple Avenue

Independence, MO  64050


Telephone: (816) 254-6900

Pastor:  JC Harp

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