Our Team

Meet the wonderful people that make the PlayHouse a fun place to be.

Meet Our Board

Debbie Simmons – Board President

Nate Thomas – Vice President

Kelly Cox – Secretary

Carly Bowles – Treasurer

Larry Simon

Robert Gentry

Dr. Trudy Giasi

Susan Tomlin

Dr. Hayley Love

Meet Our Admin Team

Julie A. Ray, PhD – Executive Director

Dr. Julie Ray is our Executive Director.  Dr. Ray has been a teacher in kindergarten – 4th grade and was a professor in Early Childhood Education at Southeast Missouri State University.  She also served as the Chair of the Department of Elementary, Early and Special Education. She is the co-author of the textbook, Home, School and Community Collaboration: Culturally Responsive Family Engagement and is currently writing her second textbook, Assessing Young Children’s Development and Learning: Birth – Age 8. She earned a PhD in Early Childhood Education from the University of Missouri – Columbia. Her favorite part of the Discovery PlayHouse is watching the excitement of children who are visiting for the first time.

Contact: executivedirector@discoveryplayhouse.org

Haley Morgan – Early Education Coordinator & Operations Manager

Haley Morgan is our Early Education Coordinator & Operations Manager. Haley has been with Discovery PlayHouse since 2017 working as an associate and most recently serving as a supervisor. Haley graduated in 2019 from Southeast Missouri State University with a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education and currently received her Masters in Language and Literacy from the University of South Carolina. She is continuing to pursue education as a Youth Specialist. Haley has most recently been teaching 3rd grade at Charleston R-1 School District and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and dedication for helping little ones learn. Her favorite exhibit is the Theater because she loves seeing kids express themselves.

Contact: haley@discoveryplayhouse.org

Joseph Taylor– Secondary Education Coordinator

 Joseph is a 6th-grade Science and Social Studies educator. Joseph graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a Bachelors in Education. Joseph’s passion for education stretches from the classroom to the museum and beyond! Joseph joined Discovery PlayHouse in 2018 and took on the role of Education Coordinator in 2021. Joseph’s favorite exhibit is the Planetarium because “It’s out of this world!”

Contact: joseph@discoveryplayhouse.org

Educational Staff

Josh Taylor
Anthony Lamb
Michael Evans
Sophie Hodge


Amanda Pennington 
Vernecia Edwards
Brian Dorris
Layla Fliege
Emily Cowan

Wildlife Coordinator

Emily Cowan

Museum Associates

Skylar Calhoun
Breyanah Coleman
Danny Blackburn
Kam Eubank
Grace Morgan
Hannah Chase

Thank you to our incredible sponsors!