Our Staff

Maria Cardarelli, Director


Since August 2018, I have been the Program Administrator of Children of the World Learning Center.

Born in Venezuela to an immigrant family from Italy, I was blessed to be raised in a diverse household where I was able to spend time in both countries. I have been in the U.S. for 23 years, where I adopted a third culture into my life and learned my third language.

I am married and have one daughter, who is studying at UNC Chapel Hill. I have a Bachelor in Science and a Degree in Psychology with a specialization in Family and Childhood Therapy. I worked for 15 years in Venezuela in that profession and continued my professional career here in the U.S. focused on family, community and social support and that relationship to education. 

For 18 years, I was part of the creative and pioneering team of the first preschool with a dual-language program that focused on educational support for Latino immigrants families.

Now I am blessed again with the opportunity to guide the first multicultural preschool program at Central United Methodist Church and be one of the leaders at Children of the World Learning Center.

My work is based on my professional ethics, treating people with dignity and equity, meeting them where they are, focusing on abilities, strengths and respecting the diversity as a positive gain and not as a negative exclusion.

I read and use every day a quote of Dr. Martin Luther King:

"We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity.” 

Jill Henley, Lead Teacher


A native North Carolinian and current resident of Mint Hill, I am a member of Central United Methodist Church. I have a BA in Elementary Education from UNC Chapel Hill, an MA in Literacy from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and am working on my Birth-Kindergarten Certification at Western Carolina University.

Most of my teaching experience has been as a kindergarten teacher in North Carolina and Colorado public schools. Before returning to teaching, I was able to spend time at home with my girls while also pursuing my certification at WCU. I enjoy putting my experience as a kindergarten teacher to work as I help our preschool children prepare to enter elementary school.    

I am also a Girl Scout leader and Sunday School teacher. I like to hike and camp, and I play the flute. My husband, Matt, is a machinist. Our daughters stay busy with school, church, and community activities. Our dog, Brownie, likes to sit on the front porch and watch people all day.

Irma Sandoval, Teacher Assistant


Originally from México, I graduated from Independence High School with a Certificate of Membership on Academic Excellence and Competency in the area of Early Childhood and have the North Carolina Early Childhood Credential. I am working on my Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education at Central Piedmont Community College. I am bilingual and I have three years of experience working with a dual-language program. 

 I am married and have three beautiful children. I have been PTA Secretary at Idlewild Elementary School and Bible school teacher for my church. I love working with children and I am committed to serving my community.