Stimulate Your Child’s Curiosity


      Professionalism & the Sunflower Staff

 “Teachers are without question, the heartbeat of a successful school.” – Ernest Boyer

At Sunflower Preschool we believe that high quality education is better provided with well trained, well paid professional ECE (Early Childhood Education) teachers. All Sunflower staff are actively involved in ECE by taking classes, attending lectures and continuing an active interest in the field.

“The aim of education should be to teach the children to think, not what to think.” -John Dewey


Marisa Ellman Owner | Operator | Teacher 

Marisa became the new Owner/Operator of Sunflower in Fall 2016. Her mother, Debbie Ellman, founded the school in 1981 and she is honored that Marisa and the Sunflower teachers will continue providing high-quality childcare in a play- and nature-based environment. Marisa is passionate about delivering exceptional and nurturing care to young children during these crucial early years of development.

Marisa has a BA in International Studies and Political Science from the University of Oregon, and an MA in Government, Diplomacy, and Conflict Studies from IDC Herzliya in Israel. She grew up at Sunflower as a student, a teacher’s helper and then as a teacher for many summers throughout high school and college. Marisa spent four years in Israel teaching English, working for a non-profit to empower minority groups, and also volunteered to help refugee youth. She is currently working towards her Director Certification for Early Childhood Education. Marisa’s interests include hiking in beautiful Colorado, cooking vegan creations, learning about international affairs, traveling, and new adventures with her husband, Yaniv, their sons, Eitan and Nadav, and dog, Stella. 


Debra Ellman | Founder                                                                                  

Debra King Ellman, founder of Sunflower PreschoolDebra King Ellman, Founder of Sunflower Preschool and the Sunflower science based theme curriculum and outdoor environment. (Teacher and Operator from 1981-2016)

Debbie started Sunflower in 1981 with some core values that have helped Sunflower evolve and grow for 35 years. From the start teachers were respected and expected to be equal members of a team. The children were respected as well and as the years went by the ‘ Power of Play’ became the most crucial aspect of the Curriculum. The Indoor and Outdoor Classrooms have also grown to be hands-on and child-directed environments for young children to learn and grow. In this age of ‘nature deficit disorder’ Debbie is proud that Sunflower has encouraged children to dig in the dirt more than learn by rote indoors. Now it’s time for the ‘Next Generation’ at Sunflower as she stepped down from her role in Fall 2016 and proudly passed on the leadership to her daughter Marisa Ellman, who has the talent and strength to lead Sunflower for the next 35 years. See Debra in the news!


Carrie Luttrell | Teacher | Director | Co-Administrator

Carrie has been a teacher at Sunflower since August 2000.  Carrie received her BA from SUNY Buffalo in Speech and Language disorders and has provided speech therapy in the past. Carrie has recently received her director qualifications from the State of Colorado. Carrie also speaks some Spanish and can communicate Spanish effectively with young children. Carrie has 22 years of teaching experience and enjoys being a teacher at Sunflower.  Her non-teaching responsibilities are office administration and enrollment. Carrie’s personal interest include camping, hiking, travel, kayaking, long walks, and spending time with her family. She is married to Alex and they have a son (a Sunflower graduate-class of 2012) and a dog, Byrney.


Sunflower Mars | Teacher | Co-Director

Sunflower Mars joined the team in 2001. Her involvement began with internships for studies in Early Childhood Education at Front Range Community College. She is Director Qualified, and has been a teacher at Sunflower Preschool throughout the years. She is also the co creator of Herb Camp for Kids, and has taught after school Nature and Crafts classes at University Hill and Columbine Elementary schools. She is happy to be part of the team again, and looks forward to creating art, building relationships, and helping the sunflower children reach their highest potential. Her son, Sol, and daughter, Luna, are both Sunflower graduates! Her personal interests include her family, travel, dance, and nature.


Marcia Platt | Teacher

Marcia’s first experience at Sunflower was as a parent in 1996. She started subbing when her son, Dylan, was in his third year, and officially joined the Sunflower Staff in 1999. She has a BA in Psychology from the University of Colorado with an emphasis in child development. Marcia especially enjoys creating new materials, interactive bulletin boards, and games for the math area. She has two children, Dylan and Natalie, both Sunflower graduates. Her personal interests include swimming, hiking and spending time with her family.


Hana Le Desma | Teacher

Hana has a BA in Education and English Education from the University of Mokpo in South Korea. She had more than 10 years of teaching experience at public elementary schools in Korea and is currently working towards her Director Certification for Early Childhood Education. She moved to Boulder from Korea in August of 2012. Hana’s  first experience at Sunflower was as a volunteer in 2012. Hana was hired as a Sunflower teacher in the Spring of 2016.  She enjoys sharing her love of Korean culture through Korean tea ceremonies and music. She also loves teaching the children about nature and science. On her free time she works with children of all ages as a volunteer in a nonprofit organization called Boulder Valley ICO that takes children from low-income families on free nature outings. She also enjoys bird watching, gardening, hiking, and playing the Koto, a traditional stringed zither from Japan.


Jessica Levin | Teacher

Jessica has a BA in Psychology and Sociology and an MA in Education and Human Development with a concentration in Early Childhood Education from University of Colorado, and is also Director Qualified. Jessica has worked with children of all different ages, backgrounds, and abilities. She spent the last couple of years teaching toddlers and preschoolers and her passion for early childhood education flourished from these experiences. She loves creating art and engaging in dramatic play with children. During her free time, Jessica enjoys going to concerts, making art, spending time with friends and family, taking photographs, reading, and playing with her dog, Cooper. 


Ivy Bourgon | Teacher

Ivy Bourgon has her BA in Health Science from the University of Florida and is a certified yoga instructor with experience teaching children and families. Currently working towards her ECE certification, Ivy is excited to support our community and teaching team as well as contributing many mornings of yoga with the children here at our school. Ivy began at Sunflower as a parent volunteer and sub and has loved witnessing her daughter Yona thrive at our school. At home here in South Boulder, Ivy’s passion is cooking, creating wild art projects and practicing meditation with her beautiful family (and two magical cats!)