The SoulShine Story

Keeping the "child" in the heart of childcare

The SoulShine story starts in 2008 when Shannon Smith embraced a change to the definition of childcare. After years of working for “traditional” daycare providers, Shannon realized that the focus wasn’t on nurturing the whole child.

She decided to create a place where the child lives in the heart of a holistic, nurturing environment that also nurtures the earth's environment.

From its humble, grass roots beginning with just 20 families, SoulShine has blossomed into a thriving community of more than 200 families.

SoulShine strives to respect the ecosystem we all live in. We are all connected and working together for the greater good of our children and our community. SoulShine’s permaculture-inspired curriculum seeks to integrate human activity with natural surroundings, creating self-sustaining ecosystems. From the locally sourced food we provide, to every nature-inspired activity they experience, SoulShine continues its mission to teach the next generation of children, so they will be community-focused, culturally responsible and compassionate agents of change.

Take a Look at SoulShine's Purpose

SoulShine Founding Principles

We strive at all times to:

  • Create a sustainable, eco-friendly, home-like experience for your child
  • Identify and support the optimal physical, social, and emotional development of each child
  • Concentrate our efforts and resources toward student readiness and school success
  • Develop creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, language and literacy skills
  • Provide a wide range of developmentally appropriate experiences
  • Provide daily opportunities for development of good physical health, well-being, and movement skills
  • Help children learn how to handle their own emotions and consider the feelings of others
  • Develop each child’s sense of self-worth
  • Integrate multicultural awareness into all areas of the curriculum

We Practice Inclusion

SoulShine embraces the loving light that emanates from the heart of every human, adult and child alike. We hold our staff, our contractors, and our parents to the highest level of acceptance and inclusion, and we encourage our community to endorse this loving philosophy, both here and in the world.

  • We pledge to treat everyone fairly, equally and with respect
  • We embrace and encourage our differences
  • We pledge to welcome everyone, irrespective of
    • gender
    • race
    • ethnic origin
    • disability
    • age
    • nationality or national origin
    • sexuality
    • gender identity or expression
    • religion or belief
    • marital status
    • social class

Cindy Young

Campus Operations Officer
Kirkwood & Decatur


Cindy Young has been working in Childcare for over 12 years and she can't imagine doing anything else. The responsibility of helping shape young minds is very important and it gives her such a sense of accomplishment knowing she has a part in doing that. Cindy has been married since 2008 and has three boys: Bryce,  Austin and Conner.

Courtney Shelton

Executive Consulting Chef
Kirkwood & Decatur


Ms. Courtney is a New Jersey native. As a child, she begged her parents and grandparents to let her in the garden to help pick vegetables. Instead she found herself prepping ingredients for meals, and she never lost that love. Ms. Courtney's been a chef since 2007. She's a US Army veteran, and attended Atlantic Culinary and Kentucky University.

Destiny Smith

Human Resources Manager
Kirkwood & Decatur


Destiny Smith was born in Decatur, but grew up in Montezuma, GA. She returned to Decatur to attend Agnes Scott College and graduated with a BA in Psychology. Even though her role at SoulShine is in HR, she has a fondness for teaching and for dance. She combined them starting at 13, when she began teaching dance to girls ages 3 to 15. In her spare time, you'll find her taking dance classes, baking and enjoying shrimp scampi.

Kate Karassik

Corporate Office
Kirkwood & Decatur


Kate Karassik and Shannon Smith have been close friends since middle school and grew up working in childcare together. Kate received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and went on to receive her Masters in Education. She was a public school teacher for five years before joining the SoulShine team in 2011.

Oriana Padron

Operations Coordinator
Kirkwood & Decatur


Oriana Padron graduated from the University of Montevallo with a BFA.  She has a strong passion for children and has been caring for them since her early teens and began working professionally in childcare while still in college.

Shannon Smith

Founder & Visionary
Kirkwood & Decatur


Shannon Smith founded SoulShine in December 2006 and it is rooted in her belief that every child deserves the space and encouragement to create themselves through all forms of expression. Shannon has worked with children since 2002. She believes in positive reinforcement instead of traditional behavioral discipline.