Shannon Powell

Founder & Director

Hello, my name is Shannon Powell and I grew up in Mesa, Arizona. I have a degree in Elementary Education and hold a current teaching certification with an Early Childhood endorsement in the state of Arizona.  I am currently enrolled in the Master’s Program at ASU in Early Childhood Curriculum and Instruction.

I am passionate and enthusiastic about teaching children, and I have gained a lot of teaching experience outside of the classroom as well, teaching my 5 children, 4 of which are now adults.  I am loving the early childhood age even more after becoming a Grandma in 2021 when we welcomed our first grandchild, my adorable, red-headed grandson, Oakley!

I created TotSpot Preschool after researching many local preschools and programs for my own daughter. It is important to me that a preschool not only meet my high standards as an educator, but also meet my expectations as a mother….for an affordable price. Since completing my degree, I have completed hundreds of hours of training and continuing education including ECERS & CLASS certification in order to strive to maintain a positive learning environment and high-quality preschool program in our community. In an effort to continue to improve our program, both locations begun participating in the Quality First program in 2021 and we are excited to continue to improve our program in order to maintain the very best learning environment for our students and families.

I enjoy finding ways to give back to our amazing community, with the help of our awesome TotSpot Preschool families. Each year, we raise funds for an organization or family in need. In the past we have been able to donate thousands of dollars to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), our local Children’s Crisis Center, local organizations who support foster children, food banks and two of our very own TotSpot teachers battling breast cancer. I love working as a CASA volunteer, which is a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in our foster care system.

My hobbies include gardening (I love to grow anything and everything edible including rare & exotic things and tropical plants and have been known to bring home grown bananas to work). I also enjoy hiking, camping, fishing and pretty much anything outdoors.

With the help of my amazing TotSpot team, we hope to help inspire YOUR little one with a LOVE of LEARNING!

(Founded TotSpot Preschool in 2008)

Kristen Benson
Assistant Director & Accountant

Hi, my name is Kristen Benson, and I love being a part of the TotSpot staff.   I grew up in Orange County, California. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Brigham Young University in 1995. I worked in the accounting field for a few years before staying home to raise my 3 daughters. I have helped teach each of them in a home-based preschool and have worked with children in my church for the past 12 years, I have also taught piano out of my home. I love to read, cook, decorate and spend time with my family.

I enjoyed being a teacher in the classroom my first two years at TotSpot before joining the Admin staff as a full time accountant and Assistant Director.  We have such a fabulous staff at TotSpot and when I come to work each day I feel like they are a part of my family.  I believe preschool is such an important time in a child’s life because it creates a love for learning that will hopefully carry on for the rest of their school years.

(Joined TotSpot Preschool July, 2010)


Beth Benkel

Assistant Director Gilbert Location

Hi! My name is Beth Benkel and I am very excited to be a part of the TotSpot Preschool team. I grew up in Rhode Island, attended college at the University of Arizona and have stayed out west since I graduated in 1994. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a Minor in Family Studies. I have been working with children and families, both in and out of the classroom, for over 20 years. My experience includes working as a teacher, director, advisor, case manager, and camp counselor. Additionally, I have three teenage sons who call me Mom.

When I’m not busy being a “boy” mom, I enjoy going hiking, skiing, shopping and spending time with my husband, dog, extended family and friends. I also love Winnie the Pooh and all things purple. I am passionate about early childhood education and look forward to sharing my knowledge, enthusiasm and joy with this community!

 (Jointed TotSpot Preschool July, 2022)


Gillian McGill

Assistant Director Chandler Location

Hi! My name is Gillian McGill. I was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was there I earned my SVQ 2 and HNC in Childcare and Education (the equivalent of a bit more than an Associate’s degree in the states) in 1997.I also went back to school to study Midwifery in 2002.My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2007 due to my husband being relocated with work. Prior to moving here, we spent some time in Portland, Oregon and Dublin, Ireland.
Throughout the years I have had the pleasure of working with children in various childcare settings and am very much looking forward to getting back to teaching after taking some time out to look after my own 2 beautiful children. I absolutely love working with children and am very excited to be part of TotSpot Preschool.

(Joined TotSpot Preschool April, 2012)

Nelay Young

Assistant Director Chandler Location

Hi my name is Ms. Nelay and I love being part of the Admin team! I spent my first six years at TotSpot as a head teacher in the 2’s, 3’s & pre-k classrooms! I also taught the virtual 3’s class during the 2020-2021 school year. Prior to my time at TotSpot, I taught for the Mesa Public Schools as an Elementary School Teacher for six years. I am an Arizona native, grew up in Mesa, and attended Northern Arizona University. I graduated from NAU in 2000 with a Degree in Elementary Education.
During my first year of teaching, I met my husband, Nathan. We have three beautiful daughters: twins Ashlynn & Amara and our baby girl Bryssa. Our family LOVES to watch cooking shows and cook all together in our home kitchen. Some of my hobbies are baking cupcakes, hiking Arizona, and taking beach vacations.

(Joined TotSpot Preschool July, 2011)