As veteran teachers, we were very tired of spending hours writing plans for our substitutes that met our standards.

We went to work sick because it took too much time and effort to write the quality sub plans we typically left in our absence. Or, we drove to work sick, wrote our plans, made the copies of worksheets needed and went back home to fall into bed. Life happens; sometimes our children get sick or there is a family emergency, leaving us no choice but to depend on our colleagues to help out with plans and copies. Any of this sound familiar?

We decided we had to come up with a solution to this problem that most teachers face. Our goal was to create a website where teachers would be able to easily download scripted sub plans (written by teachers!) that follow the current standard they are teaching.

With that vision in mind, Daybreak Lesson Plans was born. Teachers can now rest assured that leaving a sub with our plans (instead of easy worksheets) will help ensure that their students aren’t going to miss out on a day of quality instruction.

Teachers are used to taking care of everyone around them; students and family included. Now we want to take care of teachers and offer them quality lesson plans when they need them, and the gift of time to spend taking care themselves, their family, and their students.

Meet Our Team

Photo of Joy Wenke, CEO of Daybreak Lesson Plans

Joy Wenke, CEO

Joy Wenke, our CEO, has worked in both urban and rural areas for more than 33 years as a bilingual teacher, coach, and as an educational consultant. She understands the hard work and dedication it takes to be a teacher. Throughout her career, the majority of the students she taught were identified as English Language Learners. Along the way, she got her M.S. in Educational Leadership as well as an administrative credential. In reflecting on the goal for students to become proficient at reading and writing complex informational text, it is her professional opinion that we are all academic English Language Learners. Her passion is to help teachers grow in their personal practices. She facilitates educators to better meet the needs of all their students by purposefully and meaningfully using academic language across the content areas in speaking, reading, and writing.

For the last several years, Joy has been providing professional development to teachers on lesson design, execution of instruction, as well as conducting model lessons with students. Working with professional learning communities, she coaches teachers on the analysis of student work for the purpose of designing powerful and engaging instruction. One of her primary goals is to help teachers incorporate strong oral language practice in collaborative ways with their students in order to support academic language development in both speaking and writing across the content areas.

As she works in different schools and districts across the United States, one of the most frequent comments from teachers when attending trainings is about the amount of time that it takes them to write their plans for the substitute. Spending 1-2 hours writing comprehensive plans adds just one more thing to do to the already overwhelming “to do” list. As a result of this problem that teachers face, the Daybreak Team developed a website to help teachers meet this need for quality substitute lesson plans in less than 10 minutes. Making your mornings easier is our goal.

You can read more about Joy’s dynamic and interactive teacher learning sessions, including coaching, model lessons, and collaborative planning, by visiting her personal website at

Susan Bessette, Director of Marketing and Finance

Susan Bessette, our Director of Marketing and Finance, graduated from UCLA in 1986 with a degree in Psychology and an emphasis in Business Administration. She is GATE Certified and currently teaches 4th graders at the Accelerated Achievement Academy, a magnet school for the Hollister School District, working with gifted and high achieving students. In 2014 she was honored by KSBW with the Crystal Apple Award for excellence in education by California’s Central Coast leading news station. Susan has a combined 24 years of teaching experience in the regular education classroom, working in the South San Francisco Bay area.

Susan feels that writing guest teacher lesson plans is one of the most stressful components of teaching. Being a part of Daybreak has given her the opportunity to relieve some of the unwanted stress in education for colleagues.

In her free time, she enjoys spending as much time as possible with her family and time by the beach. She has a private pilot’s license, loves gardening, cooking and a passion for adventure.

Photo of Laura Bueno, Daybreak Lesson Plans Director of Curriculum

Laura Bueno, Director of Curriculum

Laura Bueno, our Director of Curriculum, graduated from Elmhurst College in 2005 with a degree in Elementary Education. She later went on to obtain a Master’s Degree in Teacher Leadership from Roosevelt University in 2012.

During her 11 years of teaching experience she taught grades 3-5 in a general education setting in 3 different districts in Illinois. Having the opportunity to work in several schools gave her a diverse experience of working with high performing students, low SES students, and ELL students.

Laura understands firsthand the struggle of constantly writing sub plans. Throughout her career, she served as the PBIS coach in her building for 5 years, was a member of The School Improvement Team, and mentored new teachers. Within her district, she also served as the 3rd grade facilitator for the Math Power Standards creation. All of these roles took her out of her classroom, sometimes 2-3 full days a month, for training, curriculum work, or meetings. She never wanted her students to be without quality instruction and would always write very detailed fully scripted sub plans. It was the only way she felt she could ensure true learning in her absence.

She has recently stepped away from the classroom to stay home and be with her 1 year old daughter. She has enjoyed finding a balance in being a mom, a wife, and having her own professional ventures. She is thrilled to have found a company that allows her to use her creative nature, organizational skills, teaching experience and degrees.

Yvette Kirchhoff, Director of Operations

Yvette Kirchhoff, our Director of Operations, graduated from the University of Illinois in 2009 with a degree in Elementary Education and later obtained her CLAD credential through Stanford University.

Out of college, Yvette taught in San Jose, California for 4 years, during which she spent 3 years teaching 4th grade and her last year serving as a Kindergarten teacher in the morning and Academic Dean in the afternoon. The majority of her students that she taught during those 4 years were identified as English Language Learners. It was during that time that Yvette also served as the school’s RtI coach, was a member of her school’s Instructional Leadership Team, and mentored 2 student teachers. After spending 4 years in California (and falling in love with the Bay Area), Yvette and her husband decided that it was time to move back to their home state of Illinois. Here she spent 3 years as a bilingual 4th grade teacher in Elmhurst.

It was during her last year of teaching that Yvette found herself out of the classroom quite a bit due to the fact that she was a part of her district’s 4th grade Curriculum Development Team and also had a baby girl at home. She understands personally the struggle that teachers face when they want to do the right thing for their family and career, but also have children that they care about in the classroom. Leaving quality sub plans was a high priority for Yvette and she would find herself spending hours in the evenings as she prepared to be out of the classroom, or would run into school at 5 AM when she found her daughter had woken up sick.

Currently Yvette is taking some time away from the classroom to be with her 2 year old daughter and to help her entrepreneurial husband with his company. She is enjoying being a part of the beginning of Daybreak Lesson Plans as she believes that it’s going to be greatly helpful to teachers.

Photo of Andrea Murgu, lesson writer at Daybreak Lesson Plans

Andrea Murgu, Curriculum Consultant

Andrea Murgu, one of our lesson writers, graduated from Northeastern Illinois University in 2001 with a degree in elementary education and middle school endorsement in Language Arts and Social Studies. After a few years of teaching, she obtained a Master’s Degree in Education, with an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction from California State University, Fullerton in 2005.

After student teaching (3rd grade) and working as a substitute teacher (K-5) in a Chicago public school, she accepted her first full time teaching position in a school district in Evanston, Illinois. There she was involved in a scripted reading support program for K-3 students for a year. She then moved to California and worked at a 7-12 school in Costa Mesa for 9 years. During this time, she primarily taught 7th grade Regular Language Arts as well as the Honors program, which she designed in order to challenge high performing and gifted students. Other courses include: SDAIE (Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English) Language Arts and Social Studies, a course intended to meet the needs of ELLs, a beginning ELD class for grades 9-12, Scholastic READ 180 (a reading intervention program) for grades 7-8, and skills for teens for grades 7-8 where she worked with students on life skills including organization, time management, accountability, study and test taking skills, and homework completion.

Andrea also held various leadership roles throughout her career. She mentored student teachers, served as the middle school Language Arts department chair, and worked as the BTSA (Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment) lead support provider. She enjoyed sharing her passion for teaching and the balance of working with children and adults.

Andrea has taken some time off from the classroom to spend more time with her two sons, ages 3 and 6. She truly enjoys applying early childhood learning principles in the upbringing of her two sons. It is a rewarding experience for her to implement her qualifications as a teacher and a mother. She takes pleasure in traveling, exercising, and dining out with family and friends. She has knowledge of conversational Arabic, Romanian, and Spanish, which she enjoys speaking with family and friends when traveling to the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America. She likes reading novels as well as best selling sociology and psychology books.

Dawin Strelow, Curriculum Consultant

Dawin Strelow graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2005 with a degree in Elementary Education with a certificate in science. She was a substitute teacher for one year in the Madison area before moving to the Chicago area in 2007 where she accepted a full-time teaching position in Elmhurst, IL. In 2012, she obtained her Masters Degree in Literacy and certificate to teach English as a Second Language.

During her 10 years of teaching, she taught full day At-Risk kindergarten, a bilingual first grade classroom, and third grade. The diverse population in her classrooms has given her experience teaching children identified for special needs, ESL, students of low income, and children who are at risk academically, socially and emotionally. She also served on district curriculum writing teams for language arts, math, and ESL for 7 years. She was a mentor, organized an annual schoolwide event celebrating diversity, was part of a 2-year project researching the impact of daily PE and integration of movement in the classroom on student learning and health, and coached the high school varsity dance team for 5 years. From these different roles, she has developed her passions and interests in diversity, music, arts, dance, movement, building language and social skills and has integrated them into her daily lessons.

While writing the lesson plans for Daybreak Lesson Plans, she tries to focus on incorporating hands on and engaging activities, and integrating her strategies of language building, social skills, and movement into her lessons. She wants teachers to get the most out of the lessons where the crafts/activities/games can be reused in centers and for future years.

Currently, Dawin has taken some time away from the classroom to stay at home with her 2 year old daughter. During her teaching career she was consistently advised to go into curriculum, so she is happy to join the Daybreak team to pursue a path in curriculum and to keep her teaching brain alive. She is excited to have a place to share her favorite lessons and ideas, and to be a part of a company that helps teachers.

Michelle McCoun, Curriculum Consultant

Michelle McCoun graduated from San Jose State University in 1991 with a degree Social Science. She began teaching in 1997 in Santa Clara County, California. In 2001, she obtained her Master of Education Degree in Cross Cultural Teaching with a CLAD credential from National University. She will confer her Administrative Credential in May 2017.

Michelle possesses over 20 years experience in elementary education. Her professional history includes the position of bilingual first grade educator in Gilroy Unified School District and as an educator in transitional kindergarten, kindergarten, first, second and fifth grades for Hollister Elementary School District. During her years in education, Michelle has taught 18 years in the Migrant Summer School Program for at-risk intervention implementing programs to increase student achievement for pre-kindergarten to fifth grade students. In addition, she has also taught the Migrant Arts Program and a science enrichment program during summer school.

When the Hollister Elementary School District began the district-wide implementation of a new set of teaching strategies (Thinking Maps ®), Michelle became one of the first district coaches/trainers. She continues in that role 5 years later, providing professional development to staff of the district. She also currently works in the role of Academic Coach to both veteran and new teachers at her current school site modeling best practices lessons and strategies as well as collaborating with lesson design. In another capacity, Michelle took on the challenge of developing and teaching the first Transitional Kindergarten class in the district 4 years ago. She served as the lead teacher and mentor as the program expanded to four classes over the ensuing years. She continues to research and seek out what is best for students, especially for English Learners and students who live in poverty.

At home, Michelle is the proud momma of two sons and a daughter, Brian 25, Brett 23 and Ashley 34. She also is an adoring grandmomma, or G-ma as her grandson Jacob calls her, to three super awesome kiddos, Alyssa 6, Jacob 9 and Logan 10 years old. Her favorite moments are spent in the kitchen baking and cooking for her family, especially for the often attended Sunday night dinner.

Michelle is a proud member of Daybreak Lesson Plans and is dedicated to the practice of supporting educators with dynamic lesson designs that enable the delivery of high quality, standards driven and research based lessons that deliver to all learning levels within any given classroom.

Jennifer Kaul, Text Writer

Jennifer Kaul graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education. She majored in language arts, minored in science, and was part of the honors program. While earning her degree, she completed a thesis on integrating literature into the content areas of math, science, and social studies. She went on to present this thesis at the university’s undergraduate symposium and received a scholarship award as a result.

Jennifer has six years of elementary teaching experience, four teaching departmentalized fifth grade language arts and two teaching fourth grade in a self-contained classroom. While teaching, she served as a member of the language arts committee, the common assessment team, and the leadership team. She had the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues as well as experts in best practices to create standards-based instructional materials and assessments.

In addition to her time in the classroom, Jennifer has two years of curriculum development experience. Working on projects spanning from kindergarten through sixth grade allowed her to gain a deeper familiarity with standards across grade levels. She researched and composed several exam passages and instructional texts, many of which encourage students to consider environmental factors, historical events, and new technologies. She also worked to revamp an anthology program that included a textbook, workbook, and teacher guide.

Jennifer has written her fair share of sub plans. She knows how hard it can be to try to think of everything someone might need to successfully teach your students, especially when it’s early in the morning and you’re not feeling well. Jennifer has also been on the other side, as a substitute teacher, and often felt the quality of her day (and that of the students) was directly related to the quality of the sub plans left. She hopes her work for Daybreak can help make life easier for all those involved!

Jennifer enjoys spending time with her husband and their baby girl, reading, playing the clarinet, and writing children’s/young adult literature. For more information or to check out her writing (much of which is appropriate for classroom use!), visit her at

Sonia Bagwe, Editor

Sonia Bagwe graduated, with honors, from Northeastern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education (endorsements in Middle School, Social Science and Language Arts). Upon attaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Education, Sonia began teaching 3rd-8th grade Social Studies at a private school in the city of Chicago. After a few years of teaching, Sonia decided to enhance her teaching skills and qualifications by obtaining her Master of Arts in Education – Curriculum and Instruction.

Sonia’s teaching career has been geared toward the empowerment of elementary and middle school children. Throughout the course of her career, she has had wonderful opportunities to teach diverse groups of students, including those who performed at grade level, those who were gifted/exceptional and those from various socioeconomic/cultural backgrounds. As a result, she became proficient in designing creative and stimulating lesson plans, which accommodate multiple intelligences, taking a hands-on approach to learning and keeping students interested and focused.

Aside from teaching duties, Sonia served as Lead Teacher at her school as well. Her role took on an administrative tone as she assessed educational programs, contributed to a school improvement plan, aided in the design, implementation and management of information systems to track school goals, evaluated teachers, assisted in the selection of new employees, created a school-wide discipline policy, and oversaw the school’s operation during the principal’s absence.

Sonia currently isn’t teaching in the classroom, but is an educational consultant for various educational/communication companies. Additionally, she is dedicated to serving on the Board of Directors for a charity called Cancer Kiss my Cooley (CKMC); helping children who are battling brain cancer. In her free time, you will find her indulging in her foodie side with her husband, friends, and family and cozying up with her three shih-tzus!

What Our Customers Say

“If a substitute were utilizing these plans, I do not feel that a day of learning would be wasted. I do appreciate that there are opportunities for breaks and that the lessons are divided into segments; so it would be easy to have a stopping point and the teacher could even return to the point where the substitute left off.”

W. Brown 4th Grade Teacher, Elmhurst, IL

“With these substitute plans I definitely think my students would have a productive day of learning when I am absent because it is much more detailed and rigorous then the lessons I normally leave for a sub.”

A. Dickison 2nd Grade Teacher

“I loved the detail of each lesson! The teacher script was dynamic and age appropriate, and the format was easily transferable to my other ELA lessons (“put it in your pocket to use for later,” “respectfully sit next to your partner,” etc.)”

R. Nelson Kindergarten Teacher

“The downloading of lesson plans was super easy and the lesson plans look fabulous! Love the text and consistent design throughout the website and lesson plans and love that you can edit/type into the classroom schedule & logistics file then send them electronically. So helpful and easy!! The font selection and colors are great! I could imagine everything running so much more smoothly and less hectic if I was able to have a lesson plan that I could send electronically to my school/sub in the way that you have provided.”

C. Kubiesa

“The substitute noted that the lessons were very structured and all the kids responded well and were all on the same page. I like how the lessons are very scripted for the substitute as well as the step by step process and the small amount of materials needed to make the lesson plan.”

L. Gadd 2nd Grade Teacher

“I like that I can filter by grade and/or subject on your website. It was also really nice to see brain break suggestions imbedded in the lesson plans!”

Y. Guzman

“Students seemed engaged with the lessons. They especially liked the book format and interpreting the pictures. They not only enjoyed drawing pictures of glaciers and doing the thinking, but it also seemed to really reinforce how to interpret and use details to support their interpretations. I liked that the lesson was a mixture of both language skills and science! These students have a lot of good things to say when it comes to discussion.”

C. Ramos 4th Grade Substitute Teacher, Hollister CA

“The Math and ELA lessons were both centered around one story, it was organized and laid out in a SUPER easy format that any sub could follow.”

W. Sandlin Kindergarten Teacher

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