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Our Teachers
Dieneke Andrus





I was raised in Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My family moved to Branford, Connecticut when I was fifteen.  Upon graduation, I decided to take a semester and work as teacher assistant in a local nursery school.  I then moved to Burlington, Vermont where I attended Champlain College for Early Childhood and later Johnson State College in Johnson, Vermont for Art Education. I became married and proceeded to start a family. We raised two daughters, Thea and Charlotte who are now in their twenties.  I was employed as a preschool teacher and as an art teacher in the public schools. 

We then moved to Westerly, Rhode Island in 2001. I worked as a teacher at Dunn’s Corner’s Preschool and helped pilot the very first Rhode Island Early Learning Standards. It was through this project that I started realizing that early childhood education was drastically changing along with the family unit and reform was necessary. I spent a great deal of time contemplating whether or not I should stay in the early childhood field all together. Instead of backing out, I happened to discover “peace education” and how this movement was the core behind Montessori education. Through a kind neighbor, I was offered a co-teaching position at South County Montessori School in RI.  I then attended Three Rivers College and received my AMS Early Childhood Montessori teacher training.  

A head teacher position became available to me at Calvary Nursery School in Stonington, Ct where I taught for nine years. I invested in that special school as if it were my own. I had the privilege of traveling to the highlands of Guatemala with my husband for an extended period over the summer and I volunteered in an orphanage as well as assisting in their schools. It was a life-changing experience that will always stay with me.  I received my Karma Kids Yoga teacher training and started pursuing a Nature-based EC teacher certification through Antioch University in NH. My husband and I relocated to North Carolina in 2018. While in NC, I had the opportunity of working at Rainbow Community School which offers a Montessori and Mindfulness approach. We moved back up to Connecticut six months later.




The desire to start Little Acorn Preschool came from working as a teacher for over Twenty-five years. It also came from trying to find the right school that would nurture my hands, heart and mind as an educator and as a person. I spent a large portion of my time visiting other preschools and substitute teaching in the public schools and I found myself extremely limited when it came to quality, philosophy, community and all of the things that I am passionate about and all of the characteristics that will make up our Little Acorn Preschool.


  • Nature-based learning with indoor and outdoor classrooms

  • Nurturing environment where children are inspired to use their hands, heart and mind

  • Focus on the development of the whole child

  • Sense of community offering seasonal celebrations and gatherings

  • Instill love of learning

  • Inspiration for art and creativity to allow for freedom of expression

  • Independence for children to learn at their own pace and ability level

  • Multi-age classrooms

  • State licensed facility

  • Certified Karma Kids yoga instruction

Ms. Erin


My name is Erin Burns and I have lived in America since 2011. Before moving to America aged 23 I grew up in a small market town in Suffolk, England. Growing up my family and I traveled often and I was lucky to have experienced many different cultures and people at an early age, these experiences fostered in me a deep love of ‘people’ and a huge appreciation for what makes us all unique. I studied at St Mary’s University in Twickenham Middlesex and earned a degree in theology and religious studies.


It was while at university that I met and fell in love with my American husband causing me to abandon my plans to teach in the U.K and instead moved 3000 miles away to Connecticut. While in Connecticut I pursued a career in early childhood education becoming a teaching assistant at Calvary Nursery School. While at Calvary my love for Early Childhood Education grew and after leaving my position in 2013, I worked as an infant and toddler teacher in a Montessori school and then as a camp counselor at Camp Hemlocks, a day camp for children and adults with additional needs.  I finally accepted a position as a Home visitor/parent educator with the Office of Early Childhood operating out of Generations Family Health center and Day Kimball hospital.


During my time at Day Kimball I became a certified instructor in ‘child sexual abuse prevention’ and worked with the hospital to educate the staff on how to keep the children and young adults in our community safe. In 2016 I became a parent to my amazing son and began a new journey as a stay at home parent. During this time, I was able to reflect on my career and could see that working in the preschool setting with children was what I had enjoyed the most. 


When Miss Dieneke contacted me with plans of opening her own school, I couldn’t believe my luck! The timing was incredible as I was getting ready to reenter the workforce... So here we are, getting ready to open Little Acorn Preschool with the amazing Miss Dieneke, who has been an admired colleague and trusted friend for the past eight years.


When I’m not at Little Acorn I spend my time with my amazing family and dearest friends, we love to eat and travel (we go home to England often). I enjoy watching lots English television and listening to podcasts about pretty much anything!