Our Family


John and Cat Abbas

Hello! We are John and Cat, and we have been the proud owners of The Gingerbread House since 2018. We have 3 wonderful daughters ages 12,10, and 4. We knew early on that we wanted to have a big family and our passion for teaching young children during their earliest development years was the motivation that we needed to open an early learning center. We truly believe that the first 5 years of learning, play, and growth set the foundation for all of the years ahead and so we are so honored to have that responsibility for the children in our care. We are proud to serve Smyrna families and John was born in Nashville so the roots in our amazing city go back almost 40 years.

We look forward to serving you for many years to come!

Meet Our Staff!

All of our staff is CPR Certified & First Aid & SIDS trained. The children is our staff’s #1 priority. As a staff our goal is to prepare the children for the next stage in their lives by building them up mentally, socially and emotionally.​


Andrea Batey

My name is Andrea Batey, I am 36 years old and a mother of 3 beautiful children. I have been in child care for over 16 years with a focus in early childhood development and Childcare management. I am certified in CPR, Positive Behavior management, Personal safety, and TECTA (Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance). The best part of my job is watching children grow and preparing them with the mindset and skill sets needed as they transition to Kindergarten.

Jacquelynn Joya

Assistant Director


Jacquelynn Joya (Jacque) is 29 with 1 son and 4 years childcare experience at The Gingerbread House. We are very happy to have her as our new Assistant Director in 2019.


Evelyn Cantrell

Center Cook


Beloved Cook for over 15 years – loves cooking for the children and being the source of feeding/nourishing them day in and day out. Ms. Evelyn deeply enjoys working with our staff and has been a pillar of faith for our Gingerbread House family. She has a passion for gardening, watching football and is a huge fan of our hometown Tennessee Titans!!

Mary Sims

Peppermint Teacher


Beloved Teacher For 12 years. She loves working at Gingerbread House because of the people, the children and she just likes to help others. Ms. Mary likes to help children learn and as a mom and grandmother she cares for all children like her own. “I love my job! I get to see the smiles on their face and watching them grow up, go to school its so fulfilling.” Ms. Mary also enjoys watching her grand kids play football, basket ball and enjoys watching the NFL.


Lavonda Norton

Lollipops Teacher


Beloved Teacher For Nearly 7 Years. “I love working with my babies trying to teach them something new each day. I love the office staff and my coworkers. I have 5 children of my own and 12 grandchildren this is why I have such a Passion for working with kids.” Mrs. Lavonda’s favorite part about working at GBH is playing with the kids, teaching them and watching them grow. Hobbies: Playing games on her I-pad & she likes occasionally going to the movies. Her favorite movies and TV series are from Disney and Marvel Comics.