Faculty and Staff
We believe that school is a collection of people sharing common values, and so our faculty and staff are carefully chosen for their talent, humility, intelligence, humor and capacity for learning. 96% have advanced degrees in their field, and all have chosen to be at Blue School to be part of a growing and thriving community with shared purpose.
Elizabeth Lockhart supported teacher development as an Education Coordinator at Columbia University Head Start before joining the Blue School. Elizabeth has an MS in Infant and Family development with a concentration in Early Intervention/Special Education from Bank Street College and a BS in Early Childhood/Childhood General and Special Education from Manhattan College. Elizabeth also worked as an infant toddler teacher at Bank Street Family Center for two years, where she had the opportunity to lead a mixed aged inclusive room of infants and toddlers ages 6 months to 3 years. As a teacher, Elizabeth brings curiosity and exploration to the classroom. She is very passionate about following and fostering creativity and building an emotionally safe and loving community. Elizabeth currently lives in New Jersey with her husband, Julio. Elizabeth has found joy in meditation and yoga to start and end the day. She also enjoys going on different adventures and traveling with her husband.
Anna Padgett is in her fourth year in Blue School's Pre-primary program. Before joining this community, Anna spent three years teaching Kindergarten at an Expeditionary Learning School outside Baltimore. She also brings her eight years of early childhood teaching experience in independent and public schools in New York City. Anna graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Art History and Dance; she earned her MsEd from Hunter College. Anna is a songwriter and musician who currently performs and records songs and stories for young children and their families as The Good Ms. Padgett - she thanks her four-year-old Brooklyn music students for the name! Anna cannot imagine teaching without her guitar and loves to make up songs with children. Anna is continually inspired by the wide-open minds of young children; she is thrilled to be a member of Blue School's community of joyful, creative, and collaborative learners.
Mónica Palma was born and raised in México City. She has been living in the USA since 2005. In parallel to her art studio practice in Brooklyn, Mónica works as an art educator in various programs around the city, including the Summer Program at LREI. At Blue School she is excited to bring the kids closer to her Spanish language and culture. Through the exploration of everyday objects, handcrafts, and music from México and other Spanish-speaking countries, Mónica seeks to bridge the disciplines of visual art and language. She enjoys planting seeds that will give her students a deeper understanding and appreciation of Latin culture in New York and elsewhere. Mónica earned her BA at the Universidad Veracruzana in México and her MFA at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.
Tammy Seow comes to us from the City and Country School, where she taught 3s. Prior to C&C, she worked in early childhood education in various settings, including Downtown Little School and the Child and Family Center at Rockefeller University. Tammy hails from Malaysia where she was born and raised, but she has called Brooklyn home for the past two decades. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Brooklyn College with additional coursework in childhood development and psychology, as well as women's and gender studies. Tammy has been an education docent at a wildlife discovery center, a school group tours liaison for her neighborhood's soup kitchen, and a director's assistant at a shelter for mothers and babies. She also works with children and adolescents in afterschool programs as well as with an organization working to help keep immigrant and asylum-seeking families together. Tammy speaks a few different languages and dances with an Indonesian dance group. Mushrooms and botanicals, music, fascinating sea creatures and land dwellers or animals with wings, and anything that revolves around food are some of her other interests. She is looking forward to working with everyone in the Blue School community.
Karen Zippler is in her second year at Blue School as a teacher but her fifth year as a parent. An actor for 15 years, Karen got her first inkling that she might want to work with children while assisting in a 2s class at the Riverside Weekday School where she marveled at the intelligence, creativity and humor of young children. It would be many years before she found her way back to the classroom but she is thrilled she did. Karen holds both a bachelor's and master's degree in acting and is close to completing her Master's in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education. She has taught (and learned from) four year and five year olds at All Souls School, PS 321 in Brooklyn and for the past two and a half years at the City and Country School.
Andrea Dash first found her passion for working with young children 25 years ago when she began teaching in a 3’s classroom in Brooklyn Heights. It was there that she was introduced to the Reggio Emilia approach through intimate teacher workshops exploring new perspectives using different art media and natural materials. That experience has informed Andrea’s work with children, educators and families ever since. She has had a variety of roles in education, including classroom teaching at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, Plymouth Church School and Beginnings Nursery, mentoring college students, consulting and coaching teachers in public and private schools, and supporting families to create more intentional home environments. She even spent a year working as an apprentice on an education-based, organic rooftop farm! Andrea has a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology, an Master of Science in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College, and certificates in horticulture, permaculture design, and family health and wellness.
Ciara Hedderman was born in Ireland and spent her childhood there before immigrating to the Bronx. As a teacher, she has a passion for building community, exploring the natural world, incorporating culture and developing a lifelong love of learning - all while playing and having fun! Over the years the children in her class have explored some typical emerging interests of preschoolers such as Real Life Heroes, Outer Space, the Post Office and Dinosaurs, to name a few. They have also explored some unique interests such as Medieval Times, Urban Farming, Fairy Houses and Camping. While no two years were ever the same, all of the children have learned what it means to be a good friend. She taught Pre-K for 13 years at The Children's Aid Society, in Greenwich Village before joining Blue School in 2012. Ciara has her MS in Education, specializing in Early Childhood from Hunter College and her BA in Special Education, Elementary Education and Hispanic Studies from Mount Saint Mary College. Ciara has also worked as a SEIT (Special Education Itinerant Teacher) for 12 years, where she has helped preschoolers with developmental disabilities integrate successfully into their classrooms. Ciara lives in Astoria with her husband Bob and loves to spend her free time traveling and chasing the sun.
Kristen Johnson grew up in the heart of Manhattan from the age of three. She loves being connected to the city and relishes the habitual transformation of New York. Kristen taught children ages two to four years old for twelve years at The Children’s Aid Society in Greenwich Village before joining the Blue School in 2013. If you ask her where her favorite place to be is, she will answer “the classroom!” Kristen’s earliest memories of school were rich, magical sensory experiences. In her choice to be an Educator, she strives to work cooperatively with the children to create a warm, nurturing and inspiring space that the children will remember forever. Kristen holds her BS in Psychology from SUNY Binghamton and is working to complete her Masters in Early Childhood Education/Special Education from Touro College. She lives in Nyack with her two teenage children, husband and dogs.
Alexander Kavo finds great joy in helping children develop into the very best versions of themselves that they can be. Alex earned a B.A. in Religious Studies and Anthropology from Bates College before returning to New York City to follow his passion to become a teacher. Alex has worked with children in many capacities for the past twelve years of his life. He spent two years working at the Bank Street School For Children as a part time 4/5s and 5/6s teacher. Realizing that being a teacher felt just right, Alex then enrolled in the Bank Street Graduate School, where he is currently pursuing his MsEd in Early Childhood Education. For the last two years, Alex has honed his understanding of education as an Assistant Teacher in Bank Street's 6/7s and 7/8s classes, where he has developed strong philosophies around curriculum development, classroom management, and child-teacher interactions. Alex is excited for the opportunity to join the innovative community at Blue School. When not teaching, Alex's other passions include playing the guitar, traveling, and sports.
Rachel Lowdermilk discovered her passion for working with young children while student teaching at the Barnard Center for Toddler Development in 2007, and has been working with toddlers and preschoolers ever since. A graduate of the Bank Street College and Hunter College dual degree program in Education and Social Work, Rachel is passionate about creating a welcoming and nurturing classroom environment that supports children as they develop into deep thinkers and empowered citizens of their communities. Rachel is originally from Philadelphia (but a New Yorker at heart!) and has spent the past six years teaching at Evergreen Community School, a progressive preschool in Santa Monica, California. She is thrilled to be returning to the city she loves and to be joining the Blue School team. Outside of the classroom, Rachel enjoys traveling abroad with her husband, cooking feasts for her friends, and chasing squirrels with her dog, Maynard.
Jill Sobelman's journey to teaching began in the summer of 1999. She was eight years old and boarding the bus for her first year of sleep-away camp in the Catskills mountains. There she learned about independence, comradery and resilience. Her years as a camper and counselor led her to pursue a career early childhood education, so that she could work with children in both the summer and school months. Jill received her masters from the Bank Street School College of Education in 2016. For three years she was an assistant teacher at the Bank Street School for children in the 3/4s and 4/5s classrooms. For the past year, Jill worked as a head teacher at Jewish Community Project in a 4s classroom. This experience afforded her opportunities to foster classroom community, design curriculum and mentor a team of teachers. Jill is so excited about joining the Blue School family. She looks forward to establishing meaningful relationships with other teachers, co workers, families and of course with children.
4 / 5s
Annabelle Baylin began her teaching career at the Blue School in 2013 and is very excited to return to this incredibly warm community to teach the 4/5s! A born-and-raised Brooklynite, Annabelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mindfulness in Education from NYU and is completing her master’s in Early Childhood General and Special Education at Brooklyn College. She has taught PreK, Kindergarten, and 1st grade at both the Packer Collegiate Institute and Blue School. While she loved her years in Kindergarten and 1st Grade, she has a particular fondness for PreK. Some of her passions as a teachers include: bringing mindfulness into the daily routines of the classroom, facilitating an emergent curriculum, early literacy, having conversations about social justice with children, and making music. In her free time she enjoys spending time exploring NYC and upstate NY with her wife, traveling, and studying Indian music.
Karen Levenberg is now in her sixth year at Blue School. Prior to Blue she taught Pre-K for seven years at an early childhood center in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She has over 15 years experience working in NYC schools both in teaching and administrative capacities. A particular interest is introducing young children to science and art and observing their discoveries as they construct knowledge through play and exploration within an emergent curriculum. Karen holds a master's degree in early childhood education from Brooklyn College, a master's in public health from Hunter College and a BA in studio art/art history from Oberlin College. In her free time she hangs out with her two teenage sons and husband discussing Game of Thrones or trying in vain to win Settlers of Catan, and maybe running a marathon or half.
Laurie Seligman was born and raised in New Jersey, about half an hour outside NYC. Her journey into the world of education began in a silver passenger van packed with costumes, sets, and sound equipment. Upon graduating from Montclair State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre, Laurie spent two years traveling around the tri-state area, performing in theatres, libraries, and schools as an actress in a theatre for young audiences tour. It was during this time that Laurie discovered the honesty, spirit, and wonder of young children. This experience inspired her enrollment at Bank Street College of Education, where she recently completed her Master of Science in Early Childhood Education. Laurie has spent the past two years working at Bank Street School for Children as a 5/6s teacher and a 4/5s teacher. She is so excited to join the Blue School community, where children’s curiosity and creativity is fostered and embraced. Laurie will surely be found singing her way around the classroom, rhyming, creating puppet shows, storytelling, problem-solving, investigating, and making meaning alongside children. Outside of the classroom, she is passionate about brunch, game nights, and making friends with any dog she meets!
Jeannine Sloane feels grateful everyday to have found her "just right" work as a teacher! She moved to NYC 13 years ago to earn her BFA in film and television production from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Jeannine completed her MsEd in Early Childhood and Special Education at Bank Street College of Education. In addition to her studies Jeannine spent 2 years as a 4s/5s teacher and one year as a 5s/6s teacher at the Bank Street School for Children. Among the myriad explorations that bring her joy in classrooms are: storytelling with children, building with blocks, using found materials to create art, guiding community problem-solving meetings, singing throughout the day, talking about feelings, hosting weekly dance parties, and practicing mindfulness. She is thrilled to continue her journey as an educator at Blue School.
Pre-primary Floater / Support Teacher
Shira Newmark began supporting children in sixth grade, when she realized that she felt a special, strong connection to children with autism. She went on help these children throughout high school and college, before graduating with high honors and a MA in Special Education from the University of Florida. After teaching in Varying Exceptionalities classrooms, Shira become a Special Education Itinerant Teacher and an Early InterventionEducator, supporting children at various schools all over New York, including Beginnings Day School and Chelsea Day School, while also supporting adults with diverse needs at camps in Vermont and Guatemala over her summers. As a SEIT at Blue School, Shira found the school of her dreams and has since taught two, three and four year-olds here as well as being both a school wide and Pre-Primary Support Teacher. Shira is honored to embark upon her tenth year at Blue School, returning as the Pre-Primary Support teacher, with a passion for spreading mindfulness/heartfulness amongst the children and faculty alike, which she's been honored to present about at Blue School's Teaching Innovation conferences and Omega Institute’s Mindfulness in Education Conferences. Outside of school Shira is wrapping up her writing, her life's work around universal patterns of connection with love as the tie that binds all, to be shared through her collaborative project to amplify love through a website, app, publications, public events, on screen behind activist bands in concert and more. Shira also enjoys helping the performer Sandra Bernhard out with her gigs, and loves to perform herself, most recently in the choreoplay "SHE" standing up to violence against women, as well as enjoying writing songs, singing, drumming and dancing.
Jenna Martines, after receiving her BA in psychology from Wells College in upstate New York, returned to New York City to pursue her Master's degree at Bank Street College. Jenna has taught in early childhood classrooms at the Dwight School/Woodside Preschool, Packer Collegiate Institute and at the Co-op School in Brooklyn where she was a lead teacher for the two years. Jenna loves to bring her passion for dance and movement into the classroom.
Lily Pollak is thrilled to begin her second year at Blue School! Originally from Texas, this is her eighth year living in New York. Before coming to Blue School, Lily worked for three years as a lead teacher in public pre-k classrooms in Brooklyn. She holds a master’s in early childhood education from Hunter College and a B.A. in cultural anthropology from the University of Texas. She is fascinated by the unique lens through which young children see the world and takes particular interest in their social and emotional development. In her free time, she likes to travel, cook, and be outdoors as often as possible. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband Juan.
Alexis Schmidt, earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Davis and completed her Master of Arts in Teaching at the University of San Francisco. Alexis is a native Californian and began her teaching career at Marin Country Day School, the elementary school she once attended. With a desire to try something new, Alexis moved to New York City nine years ago and has been teaching at an independent school in Harlem ever since. She taught 3rd grade for two years and finally settled into her real love – kindergarten-- for seven years at Storefront Academy in Harlem. She spends her free time traveling to visit family and friends in California, Hong Kong and London. Alexis is looking forward to continuing her work as a kindergarten teacher in the new and exciting environment of the Blue School.
Amalia Velazquez is excited to begin her teaching career at Blue School. She graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a Bachelors in Childhood Education (B-6). She moved from Mexico when she was eight and has lived here since. Growing up she knew she wanted to pursue a career working with children. Outside of the classroom, Amalia enjoys hiking, running, going to museums and writing. She has a passion for exploring new places and trying new things!
Brandi Norton taught at The Spence School and at the Washington Market School before joining Blue School. She was born and raised in Alaska and received a B.F.A. in dance from the Juilliard School. Prior to her teaching career, Brandi performed with the Trisha Brown Dance Company for nine years before starting her own dance company, OtherShore. She earned her Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education. Brandi enjoys spending time outside, riding her bike, and walking her dog, Gracie.
Simone Polsky holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Bryn Mawr College with a concentration in Film Studies, and a Masters of Science in Early Childhood and Special Education from Touro College. Simone began her teaching journey in 2012 as a Head Teacher in a 2’s classroom in Chinatown, where she discovered the magic of guiding young children to discover their own innate love of learning. Since 2016, she has gathered a plethora of experience by teaching in public elementary schools as a Substitute Teacher for the DOE, including four maternity leave coverages.
In her personal philosophy, Simone takes a holistic approach to teaching children, taking care to honor the whole child and provide for their multiple intelligences. She is passionate about a constructivist, child-centered educational approach that supports children’s innate creativity and emotional intelligence. Simone enjoys making her own herbal teas and bath products, practicing yoga, reading, and spending time outdoors with her tiny but adventurous dog, Dirk.
Lissy Rosner is in the midst of her second year teaching First Grade at Blue School. She attended Boston University, obtaining a dual degree in Elementary and Special Education. Lissy also holds a Master’s Degree from Teacher’s College in the Reading Specialist Program. She is from Staten Island and loves to dance and to travel. She has a strong passion for teaching and learning and is excited to share her enthusiasm with her students. As a kindergartner, Lissy discovered that she wanted to be a teacher and has not changed her mind since!
Emily Zak has taught First Grade at Blue School for six years, after teaching both Kindergarten and First Grade at Little Red Schoolhouse. She holds a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Bank Street College of Education and lives with her husband on the Upper West Side. Passionate about progressive education, she brings her deep experience in early literacy and curriculum development to First Grade. She loves cooking (and eating!), reading mystery novels, and spending time exploring the city.
Jocelyn Benford is thrilled to return for a second year at Blue School (and her 17th year of teaching). Prior to coming to Blue, Jocelyn worked at a wonderfully diverse school in Brooklyn for 12 years, teaching both Kindergarten and second grade. Before that she taught in a multi-age second and third grade classroom in Seattle. Jocelyn grew up (mostly) in San Francisco, where she spent her high school years performing with the Center for Theatre Training. She received a BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and she spent many years working and training as an actress in New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle. However, she kept finding herself drawn to working with young people, and she literally woke up one morning and decided to go back to school to get a teaching degree. She received her certification from Pacific Oaks College NW, and eventually went on to combine both her passions by receiving an MA in Educational Theater from NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education. Jocelyn loves inspiring and guiding children’s natural curiosity, and she endeavors to bring creativity, discovery, and a joy of learning to her classroom every day. Jocelyn spends her free time reading, traveling (her most recent trips include Amsterdam and Morocco), cooking, and exploring her Brooklyn neighborhood with her teen-aged daughter.
Kristen Jayne is excited to begin her career in education at Blue School. After completing a Master of Music at the University of Oklahoma she moved to New York to pursue a career as an opera singer. When it came time to shift gears professionally, Kristen knew one thing for sure, she wanted to work with kids. Taking a leap of faith she began pursuing a Masters degree in education at Bank Street College and has never been happier. When not teaching or singing, she enjoys learning new crafts such as crochet, book binding, and sewing by watching YouTube!
Sarah Konowitz is thrilled to join the Blue School community! A recent graduate from Bank Street College of Education, Sarah has a Master of Science in Education, specializing in Museum Education and General Childhood Education (grades 1-6). In fall 2017, Sarah was a student teacher in 2nd A with Michelle and fell in love with Blue School, recognizing that Blue School’s students and teachers genuinely find joy in learning. (She also discovered her penchant for math games!) Sarah then received a School Programs internship at the Brooklyn Museum, where she taught visiting students about Egyptian art, exploring notions of power in ancient cultures. As an alumna of Oberlin College (Bachelor of Arts in Art History), Sarah is deeply committed to implementing anti-colonial and anti-racist teaching practices, believing that education is a form of liberation. Outside of the classroom, Sarah enjoys all that her home-borough of Brooklyn has to offer. She loves running in Prospect Park, practicing yoga, doing crossword puzzles, making art, and playing with her dog, Honey.
Michelle Philippin is so excited for her second year as a member of the Blue School family after teaching for seven years at Girls Prep Elementary on the Lower East Side. Deeply compelled by the way children think and learn, Michelle’s interests within education range from classroom practice and environmental structures, to neuroscience, and dramatic play. Michelle has studied Elementary Education (MA) at Relay Graduate School of Education and Educational Theater (MA) at New York University, and holds a dual degree in Theater Arts and Women’s Studies from the City University ofNew York (College of Staten Island). Before becoming a teacher full-time, Michelle worked as a teaching artist in schools across all five boroughs for The American Place Theater and The Leadership Program. When she is not teaching, you can find Michelle cooking, traveling, reading, community organizing, attending theater, exploring NYC on foot with her husband, Brad, and having long conversations with good friends, old and new.
Crystal Elmore moved to New York 10 years ago from her native Florida to attend NYU for a master’s degree in International Education. She has a B.A. in Elementary Education and is a few months away from completing her Master's of Education from Teacher's College. Having taught 2nd and 3rd grade in both Florida and Brooklyn, she knows that those two age groups are both inspiring and great fun. Crystal especially enjoys creating new curricular studies and collaborating with colleagues. Helping children learn to love questioning is a goal that Crystal always keeps foremost in her mind. When she's not teaching, she loves playing beach volleyball, making art, eating with family and friends, being outside, and traveling around the world!
Ashley King grew up in Westchester County, New York where her fourth and fifth grade teachers inspired her to pursue a career in education. After graduating from Skidmore College with a degree in Elementary Education, Ashley came to Manhattan to earn a masters in literacy from Bank Street College. She recently finished her degree, which culminated in writing and illustrating a children's book for her masters project. At both Skidmore and Bank Street, Ashley learned to use children's innate curiosity and excitement to direct her teaching. Outside of the classroom, Ashley enjoys doing yoga, crocheting, and creating artwork. She is looking forward to sharing her creativity and excitement with the Blue School Community!
Rebecca Kish grew up in Westchester next to the Long Island Sound, but has called Brooklyn her cherished home for 7 years. Rebecca earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Psychology from Hunter College and her master’s degree in Elementary Education from Brooklyn College. Previously, she taught in Hoboken and then for several years in Brooklyn. She takes particular interest in developing the whole child and seeks to find the balance between emotional intelligence, the creative drive for learning, and children’s natural talents. Rebecca is also a life-long learner and believes that one can never have too many books on a variety of topics. Some of her interests are: writing curriculum for curious kids, healthy cooking, frequenting art galleries, cultivating an indoor garden, and spending time with her Border Collie / Corgi South Korean rescue dog, Eden (or “Nudge”).
Maggie Stein is elated to join the Blue School community in 3rd grade! A native New Yorker, Maggie is very excited to share her love and knowledge of the city with her new students, and have them share their own New York with her. As an alumna of Gettysburg College (Bachelor of Arts in Folklore), Maggie is inspired by the stories and lives that create history, both in our own city and in others. Using this inspiration, Maggie is interested in what drives learning and exploring the natural curiosities of children. Maggie recently gained a Master of Science in Education, specializing in Museum Education and General Childhood Education (grades 1-6), from Bank Street College of Education. Maggie is a life-long learner who thrives off of laughs, questions, and adventure. Outside of teaching, Maggie enjoys spending time in parks, doing craft projects, traveling, museum visits, and snuggling with her cat, Lea.
Keren Lilu has over eight years of teaching experience in second through fifth grade. She came to Blue School from Ethical Culture Fieldston School, where she was a second grade lead teacher. Keren holds a BS magna cum laude in elementary education with a minor in psychology from the University of Delaware. She also holds an MS in literacy education (birth-grade 6) from Hunter College. Keren has taken a number of professional development seminars, among them a Lucy Calkins writing workshop for grades 3-5, a geometry and measurement seminar for grades K-8, and a responsive classroom workshop.
Ashley Semrick holds a MS Ed. degree in Museum and Elementary Education from Bank Street Graduate School, as well as a BA in Theatre and Acting. Before joining Blue School in 2013, Ashley taught elementary school in Brooklyn and children of all ages in New York City museums. Her previous work as an actor, director, museum educator, and visual artist now daily informs her joy-infused, curiosity-driven classroom practice. Ashley believes the best kind of teaching happens when responding to the authentic inquiry of students. When she’s not in the classroom, you can find Ashley waxing poetic about New York City history as a licensed tour guide, adventuring in her favorite museums, or singing and playing the cello in her rock band.
Cynthia Bogdanovich (4th and 5th Grade) left her home in St. Louis, Missouri to come to New York and be an artist. After operating a design studio, she turned to more creative pursuits, teaching. She earned her Master's in Education from Bank Street College and has been an elementary teacher for more than 15 years, teaching at The Ethical Culture Fieldston School, The School at Columbia University, and Staten Island Academy. Cynthia believes in an education that honors the spirit of the child. She is committed to creating a teaching model that nurtures independent thinkers and problem solvers that are fully equipped to navigate their way through a constantly changing world. When not teaching, she spends her time lap swimming, gardening, and creating in her studio in Pennsylvania.
Carrie Klein came to us from the Bay Area where she worked at several independent schools, most recently teaching fourth and fifth graders at Aurora School in Oakland. The parent of two independent school graduates, one a recent college graduate and the other in graduate school, she has an undergraduate degree in history from Hamilton College and a Masters in education from Bank Street. Before becoming a teacher, Carrie spent a decade writing speeches and working on arms control and foreign policy for the late US Senator Mark Hatfield. Carrie’s great passion (other than teaching!) is traveling and learning about new places. She was born in Worcester, Massachusetts but moved with her family to Salem, Oregon in the middle of seventh grade. She and her husband have also lived in several very different parts of the United States, including St. Louis, Missouri, Washington, DC, and Bainbridge Island, Washington. They now live just over the Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn Heights where they’re always planning their next adventure.
Elisa Berhaupt, Primary Learning Specialist, loves being a part of the Blue School community! She received her Bachelors in Childhood and Special Education from The College of Saint Rose and a Masters in Literacy Education from Hunter College, where she later returned as an adjunct professor. Elisa also received a Reading Recovery certification from New York University. She has experience teaching students with a range of learning styles. She began her career working with students with developmental disabilities in upstate New York. After moving to New York City, Elisa taught on the Lower East Side for several years. There she taught fourth grade, second grade, and as a Reading Specialist for students in grades Kindergarten through fourth grade. In her free time, Elisa enjoys spending time boating on the lake with her family, hiking with her dog, doing yoga, and traveling.
Andrea Maylath, Upper Grades Learning Specialist, is thrilled to join the Blue School community as a member of the Learning Support team. Andrea earned her Master of Arts in Education from Hunter College where she closely studied Special Education, and more specifically, students with learning disabilities. Andrea also received her Bachelor of Science degree from New York University in Childhood Education and Special Education with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. She has previously worked as a middle school head teacher at an independent school on the Upper West Side geared towards supporting students with learning disabilities. Andrea believes in the importance of integrating the performing arts into instruction and in her free time, she enjoys performing with the Danceworks company based out of Queens, New York.
Willa Vail, Primary Grades Learning Specialist, is excited to join the Blue School community and to return to her downtown Manhattan roots. Willa received her Master of Science in Education in Literacy and Childhood General Education from Bank Street College of Education. She comes with specialized training and understanding of children with learning differences. Willa understands and tailors her reading and writing instruction to support a child’s learning needs. She has previously worked in a school in Brooklyn geared for children with learning disabilities. Willa loves forming close relationships with children and seeks to help each one love literacy as much as she loves teaching it. When she's not in the classroom or solving crosswords at lightning speed, you can find her at the climbing gym, running to a good podcast, or playing board games with friends. During the summers she works at Camp Treetops in Lake Placid, NY where she gets to rock-climb, backpack, and teach swimming for seven weeks! She is also an Adirondack 46er.
Esther Kim, Math Specialist, grew up in South Korea and then Philadelphia, PA. She holds a B.S. in Business, Marketing and M.A. in Elementary Education. She taught fifth grade for 1 year at P.S. 198 and at Trevor Day School for 10 years, teaching both third and fourth grades. During that time, she discovered her passion for teaching mathematics. Her goal is to make math education relevant to all students by helping them see that math is something that is not just contained in the classroom, but it is all around us! Esther lives in midtown, Manhattan. She enjoys hiking, karaoke, yoga, and traveling and eating her way through different cities around the world.
Meredith Lorber, Math Coordinator & Middle School Program Developer, grew up in Nashville, Tennessee and moved to New York after completing her undergraduate degree from Brown University in Biomedical Ethics. Once in New York, she earned her Masters in Teaching from Pace University. In 2005, Meredith began teaching mathematics in Brooklyn and immediately found her passion in both the development of children and math education. Meredith strongly believes that mathematics is a creative pursuit and is interested in the way that students construct their own understanding of math through investigation and proof. As an educator, she hopes to to redefine math for students as the practice of tinkering and playing with numbers, shapes, and ideas.
Caitlin Barry, Middle School Literacy, hails from sunny and sandy Los Angeles. She earned a BA in Literary Arts and American Studies from Brown University, and an MA in Teaching English from Teachers College Columbia University. Prior to joining Blue School, Caitlin worked at Westside Neighborhood School in LA for five years, teaching middle school English and social studies. Caitlin thinks that encouraging students to read for pleasure, and inspiring them to identify as writers, are two of most empowering things a teacher can do. She also believes that critically examining all forms of text—literary, visual, and media—is essential for becoming a thoughtful global citizen. Outside of the classroom, you can find Caitlin exploring every park in New York City, playing board games with friends, and eating noodle soup and dumplings at restaurants around town.
Ari Bloom, Middle School Mathematics, has a degree in Interdisciplinary Science from The New School, a program that emphasizes the interconnectedness of math and science and places them in a social context. They have prior experience in museum education working with elementary and middle school students, as well as teaching undergraduate students. They are excited to teach math at Blue School as a relevant and powerful tool as well as something beautiful for its own sake. Ari’s favorite concepts in math are Lotka-Volterra equations, differential equations that attempt to model the dynamics of ecological systems. They are looking forward to joining the Blue School community and continuing to teach and learn in a progressive school. In their free time, Ari loves to read and bake bread.
Emma Feinstein, Middle School Mathematics, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from Amherst College, a Masters in Teaching from Pace University, and a Masters in Education Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University. Originally from Takoma Park, Maryland, she has spent more than 13 years working in math education in the New York City area. She most recently worked as an academic dean in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Having previously taught and coached math teachers in grades 5-9, Emma has a passion for all things mathematical. She is especially drawn to a hands-on, exploratory approach to learning and really enjoys working at Blue School. When she is not thinking about math, Emma enjoys running and playing the violin.
Meredith Lorber, Math Coordinator/Middle School Program Developer, grew up in Nashville, Tennessee and moved to New York after completing her undergraduate degree from Brown University in Biomedical Ethics. Once in New York, she earned her Masters in Teaching from Pace University. In 2005, Meredith began teaching mathematics in Brooklyn and immediately found her passion in both the development of children and math education. Meredith strongly believes that mathematics is a creative pursuit and is interested in the way that students construct their own understanding of math through investigation and proof. As an educator, she hopes to to redefine math for students as the practice of tinkering and playing with numbers, shapes, and ideas.
Dana Marra, Middle School Integrated Studies, joins Blue School with a background working in non-profit education and operations administration roles in New York City. Most recently, she served as a 7th Grade teacher in collaboration with other Reading and Social Studies teachers at a middle school in downtown Brooklyn. Dana has worked to strategically support learners in co-taught and small group settings in order to develop deep conceptual understandings of historical and textual narratives. She is especially interested in fostering curiosity and a love of reading in the classroom. Outside of school, Dana enjoys recycling, crafting, and practicing yoga as much as possible. Originally from New Jersey, she holds a B.A. in English Literature from New York University and a M.S. in Adolescent Special Education from Hunter College.
Megan Milas, Middle School Integrated Studies and Wellness, was born and raised in New England where she began working with teens as a certified Leadership Instructor with the Student Leadership Training Program (SLTP). With SLTP she helped to design and teach workshops, conferences, and overnight camp experiences aimed at empowering students to become leaders at their schools and in their communities. She began her teaching career in Houston, working with a newly founded school to expand their science and technology programs before moving to New York to continue teaching and complete her MA in K-12 Education. Megan brings over 10 years of science education and teaching experience to Blue School, and believes strongly that students learn best when they feel connected both to content and to each other. When not teaching, Megan enjoys exploring the city, US, and abroad with her husband and twin boys Brixton and Teo.
Corey Pickering, Middle School Integrated Studies, grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. She earned a BA in Religious Studies and a certificate in History from Indiana University and an MA in Social Studies Education from NYU. Corey taught and developed curriculum for Global Studies, AP World History and a History of Islam course over ten years at Millennium High School in lower Manhattan. She was a founding teacher at Blue School's Middle School and is passionate about centering social justice, self and social awareness and community engagement in the Integrated Studies curriculum and the middle school culture. Corey views teaching and learning as a joyful exploration of our world. She is honored and grateful to be on a team with such brilliant and kindred educators. Corey lives and plays in South Brooklyn with husband Stephen, and sons Bodhi and Cassidy.
Michele Tagliagambe, High School Placement Director: Born and raised in Brooklyn, Michele was previously Director of Middle and Upper School Admissions at an independent school in Brooklyn. Prior to joining the world of education, Michele was a practicing attorney and partner at a premier civil litigation firm. Outside of school, Michele enjoys bird watching, gardening and creating things by hand. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and daughter. Michele is excited to help guide students towards their next educational adventure.
Amy Zolla, Middle School Literacy, is thrilled to join Blue School to teach the sixth grade English course, Novels and Nonfiction and to lead the literacy work in the middle school. She brings with her thirteen years of experience teaching English Language Arts, reading, and writing in New York City, seven of which have been at The Anderson School. Amy earned her BA in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis, and became a New York City Teaching Fellow in 2002. Amy believes a strong English curriculum is really a study of the human condition. Thus, her classroom is a space for students to think critically, read passionately, and write well, all while grappling with tough questions about the issues that affect humankind. In her spare time, Amy enjoys making up stories with her daughter, taking her son for walks in his stroller, baking breads and desserts, practicing yoga, and running in Prospect Park.
Caroline McAuliffe is a fiber artist, educator, and community organizer specializing in materials driven education for children in alternative settings and schools. Caroline’s work in various settings has taught her how important it is to create safe and encouraging spaces to develop impactful learning. Caroline returns to Blue School for her 5th year as the Studio Arts Specialist for Ks through 5th grade. She loves to encourage community at Blue School with the Sunshine Committee, Mindfulness, and the brand new Upcycling Center. This year, she is fortunate to have not one, but two beautiful studio spaces. Stop by! In her own practice, Caroline creates woven wearables that explore folkloric familial nostalgia. She likes to dress up in her art and dance, further fulfilling her life goal of becoming a fool with authority. Caroline holds an M.F.A from Pratt Institute and completed her BA at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Studio Art and Arts & Education. In her spare time she organizes the Journal Square CSA in Jersey City, and spends time with the Hudson Pride Connections Center.
Mollie McQuarrie is a parent, visual artist, musician, and educator specializing in aesthetic education. Over the past 25 years, she has taken on many roles in education: classroom teacher, consultant, freelance gallery educator, adjunct professor, teaching artist, public school arts advocate, and arts integration specialist for public schools. In 2007, with a group of parents, she was involved in founding Red Hook Playgroup, a Reggio inspired preschool for working families, later becoming its "Atelierista." Mollie holds two masters' degrees. One in visual art from Queens College and another in education from Bank Street. Mollie believes that creativity, beauty and fun are non-negotiable components of every education experience for every age of learner. Aside from her teaching, Mollie makes collages, gardens, hosts sing-a-longs in her backyard, and plays the accordion and ukelele with Dirty Waltz Band.
Rose Nestler is enthusiastic about the power of art education and is thrilled to bring her excitement to Blue School! Originally from Seattle, Washington, Rose currently lives in Brooklyn, where she just finished her MFA with a concentration in sculpture and video at Brooklyn College. She received a BA in Fine Arts and Art History from Mt. Holyoke College in 2005 and has been working as a Teaching Artist and Educator in New York City for the past 10 years. Rose believes that visual thinking brings out the inherent genius in students, that is why she loves teaching art, getting to experience her students’ creative processes is something quite magical and inspiring. Though she likes to teach a variety of artistic mediums, teaching students sculpture is her favorite because there is a lot of problem solving and fun hands on experiences involved. In 2016 she was awarded a Graduate Teaching Fellowship at Brooklyn College and continues to work as a Teaching Artist for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Brooklyn Arts Council. In 2017 she was a Dedalus Foundation MFA Fellowship nominee. Her work has been exhibited in the New York area at a variety of galleries and community organizations including, Smack Mellon, CRUSH Curatorial, UrbanGlass, Causey Contemporary and CUCHIFRITOS Gallery and Project Space. Nestler has been an artist-in-residence at Chashama Workspace Program, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, Supporting Women Artists Project, and Byrdcliffe Artists Colony. When Rose isn't in the classroom or art studio, you might find her in the kitchen because she loves to bake, pie is her specialty!
Valerie Killen (Pre-Primary Music Specialist/Admissions Associate) was the very first full-time teacher and administrator at Blue School, and is grateful to be returning for her 13th year as a part of this incredible community that is so close to her heart. Val has been an early childhood teacher and administrator in NYC for over 20 years. At Blue, she has worn many hats, including serving on the school's first leadership team with the Blue School Co-Founders creating, developing and implementing the school's founding principles, educational approach, organizational infrastructure and admissions processes and systems. She has worked in the admissions office at Blue in varying roles for over 9 years. As a teacher at Blue, she was the very first head classroom teacher of Blue School's initial class of mixed age 2- and 3-year-olds. Val co-constructed and taught in the first 2s program, was the first Music Specialist (for 2-year-olds through K), and taught in and co-designed Blue School's first 2 summer programs. She was a 3s classroom teacher at Blue for 10 years. Prior to Blue School, Val co-launched Citibabes in Soho as their first Director of Children's Programming. She was a Head Teacher and the Adult Programs Coordinator at the Diller-Quaile School of Music for seven years. Val has an AB cum laude in English and American Language and Literature from Harvard University. She is certified in the Dalcroze method, Music Together, and as a yoga instructor. Originally from Boston, Val has lived in NYC for over 24 years, and in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn for the last 11 with her husband, their 8- and 5-year-old children, and 10-year-old cat. At home she enjoys spending time with her family, practicing yoga, meditating, singing, writing and performing songs, reading and writing prose and jogging.
Megan Moncrief began her teaching career with private and group music lessons after completing her studies at New York University in 2006, and branched out from there into teaching classes and directing ensembles around the city. Megan is Orff-Schulwerk 1 endorsed, and is excited to have been chosen for Carnegie Hall’s Music Educators Workshop cohort for the second year. Megan was the summer Music Director of Brooklyn Acting Lab from 2014 to 2018. She has worked as a teaching artist with Play Music NYC and Sonic Arts for All, and facilitated educational workshops at Brooklyn community arts and music space Silent Barn. Megan has a passion for learning new instruments and plays around a dozen (and counting)! Her performance career has crossed genres - she is a composer and versatile session player, and has presented her work at ISSUE Project Room, WNYC’s Greene Space, and a countless collection of the city’s vibrant independent venues, backyards, and basements. She loves composing for theater and film, and has collaborated with companies like Buran Theater, Target Margin, and Torn Out Theater’s Prospect Park Shakespeare series. In her downtime, Megan can be found hanging out with her two very good cats, performing with Manhattan Plaza’s Waterworks synchronized swimming company, or making embarrassing puns.
Science and Sustainability
Carly Sullivan Cox, Primary Science Teacher: Carly has a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Biology from Colgate University and a Master's degree in Environmental Education from NYU. Originally from Virginia, Carly returned to the Mid Atlantic region following college to teach high school science. Upon moving to New York City, Carly began working with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and discovered her love for teaching younger students. She has since worked in a number of elementary science settings and roles, most recently with the NYC Audubon for NYU's Wallerstein Collaborative. Carly believes that all students are natural scientists and is inspired by their curiosity and energetic pursuit of answers. Carly is very excited to join the Blue School community!
Carrie Vaughn, Middle School Integrated Studies Teacher, works with young people and faculty across the School on science of all kinds, and maintains the Bio Lab as a materials area and the Terrace as an outdoor science classroom complete with plants and other living things. She will also be works with our food program to help children think about the food they eat, where it comes from and where it is going. Carrie has worked in schools and at the Botanical Gardens, NYC Audubon, NYU Hudson River Education and Stewardship Program, and the Food Trust. She is also adjunct faculty at NYU and Pace.
STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math)
Rob Gilson, has been teaching since 2000, exploring student interests and community needs in order to engage children in their worlds. Notably, he helped develop and coordinate projects for children to beautify their communities with IMPACT OTR in Cincinnati, transforming vacant lots into organic gardens and blighted buildings into canvases for works of art. Rob earned an MA in Educational Studies at the University of Cincinnati and an M.Ed. in Secondary Math Education at City College of New York, and is also certified in Vedic Mathematics Teaching by the Vedic Maths Institute in the UK. In 2013 he established the Tinkering Club to empower children in using hand tools and design drawings to build everyday items and experience viscerally the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Design, and Mathematics (STEAM) of simple constructions. By blending traditionally separate content areas, children see the world as the amalgamation of all aspects of their understanding; the learning arises organically from the activity. Rob adores his wife Lynne, his daughter Shanti, kind people, sustainable living, kimchi, yoga, and bluegrass music.
Hannagan Johnson, K-8 Spanish, is thrilled to be joining the Blue School community and returning to New York City! After graduating from Columbia University in 2008, Hannagan returned to her native New Orleans, Louisiana to earn a Masters in Latin American Studies from Tulane University. She has spent time conducting field research on the U.S.-Mexico border and has lived in both Mexico and Spain. For the last four years, she has been teaching Spanish and absolutely loves working with young people. Though she will miss Mardi Gras, Hannagan is excited to be closer to her sister and young nieces in the Big Apple. Given her love for all types of Latin American cuisine, Hannagan already knows that she will be spending a lot of time at the nearest Venezuelan restaurant eating tequeños!
Mónica Palma (Pre-Primary) was born and raised in México City. She has been living in the USA since 2005. In parallel to her art studio practice in Brooklyn, Mónica works as an art educator in various programs around the city, including the Summer Program at LREI. At Blue School she is excited to bring the kids closer to her Spanish language and culture. Through the exploration of everyday objects, handcrafts, and music from México and other Spanish-speaking countries, Mónica seeks to bridge the disciplines of visual art and language. She enjoys planting seeds that will give her students a deeper understanding and appreciation of Latin culture in New York and elsewhere. Mónica earned her BA at the Universidad Veracruzana in México and her MFA at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.
Val DuVal has been with Blue School for several years, and beloved by everyone at Blue School. In addition to running programming during the school day for K-grade 8, Val offers several popular after school classes including Tumble Bugs, basketball and soccer. A highlight of last year was Val leading our community cheer at Field Day on Governor's Island, which he also helped plan.
Kathleen Helm grew up in Southern California and loves teaching the art of moving, playing, and exploring to students of all ages. She spent this past school year teaching Movement and Gym at the Bank Street School for Children, and is thrilled to join the Blue School community! Kathleen received her Masters in Fine Arts in Dance from California State University, Long Beach and is currently pursuing her Master of Art in Dance Education, as well as her NYS Teaching Certification at Hunter College. Her teaching experience spans from coast to coast and has included a broad range of ages–from infants to college students. She has been a teaching artist for Dancewave, the YMCA, Mark Morris Dance Group, Imagine Early Learning Centers, Harbor Heights Middle School, and taught beginning level courses for the Dance Department at CSU Long Beach. With her own project-based dance company, Kathleen has presented choreography throughout NYC, most notably at the 92Y, Dixon Place, Ailey Citigroup Theatre, and Gelsey Kirkland Center for the Arts. She enjoys staying active by taking long walks around Brooklyn, practicing pilates and yoga, and playing PE games with her students!
Rachel Evans is thrilled to join the faculty at the Blue School. She is an educator, actress and writer. She has been teaching for various organizations/non profits and theater companies since 2006. Rachel has taught acting, playwriting, devising, improv and more, from elementary school to senior citizens. For three years in a row, she received the SU-CASA grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council to teach senior citizens at a senior center in Brooklyn. As an actress, she has worked off-broadway and across the country in various theaters. Her one-woman show, Jew Wish, which she wrote, starred in and produced premiered at the NY International Fringe Festival. Her one-act plays and monologues have been performed with Primary Stages, Project Rushmore Theatre Company, and Elevator Up Theatre Company. She holds a BA in English and Theatre from Tufts University, and an MA in Applied Theatre from CUNY.
Benjamin Weiner and his backpack are delighted to be at Blue School. After studying theater at Columbia, Benjamin taught for three years at Saint Ann's School. There, he discovered Princess Backpack, a sassy character who has become his life-long teaching partner. Together, they use music and dramatic play to help children explore stories, emotion, and communication. (They have also released an album of children's music, visit www.PrincessBackpack.com to learn more.) He is the co-Founder of "Hey, Let's Make a Musical," an after-school program that teaches 1st-4th graders the fundamentals of musical theater, and helps them craft their own show. He frequently collaborates with the Onassis Foundation, developing workshops for children to explore Greek mythology. As a playwright, Benjamin has received grants and support from the Playwright's Center, the HBMG Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. He is the Playwright in Residence with the Upstream Artists Collective, committed to developing theater with an environmental conscience.
Movement and Dance
Mariangela Lopez, a native of Caracas, Venezuela, has been teaching movement and dance since 1999. She has built an extensive experience teaching movement to different communities and settings, from public schools Pre K-12 and high schools, domestic violence organizations, youth at risk organizations and AIDS organization such as Aid for AIDS, Latino Commission on AIDS, and Exponents among many others. Previously, Mariangela has been the Associate Director of Community Programs for Gina Gibney Dance, a teaching artist at the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU Undergraduate and Graduate Summer School, and a teacher of master classes in different universities across the country as a company member of Gina Gibney Dance. Mariangela has been presenting her work as a choreographer in different venues around NYC, Europe, Australia, and Latin America since 2001. She continues creating work under her company name, Accidental Movement, and has taught workshops in places such as Movement Research, Dance New Amsterdam, Brooklyn Arts Exchange and 92 Street Y among many others. Most recently Mariangela was the Coordinator of the Adventures in Dance Program and Modern Dance teacher for the pre-professional program at Ballet Hispánico School of Dance (2010-2013). Mariangela is a Certified Movement Analyst (CMA) from the Laban Institute of Movement Studies (2001), a Certified Yoga Teacher from Yoga Union, NYC (2003) and holds a Certification in Foundations of Dance Education from Dance Education Laboratory (DEL), NYC (2009). Mariangela was Movement Research Artist-in-Residency 2009-2011 and Brooklyn Arts exchange Artist in Residency 2011-13. In her teaching Mariangela applies her knowledge in Modern Dance, Composition, Improvisation, Yoga, Creative Movement, Ballet, Laban Movement Analysis, Bartenieff Fundamentals and Motif Writing (Language of Dance). Her most important goal as a teacher is to provide an experience in class where each participant can feel validated as a unique individual with the ability to make choices and celebrate the joy and empowerment of Movement.
Amanda Loulaki Middle School Movement and Dance, was born and raised in the island of Crete, Greece looking at the sea daily and walking as a child in the Minoan Palace of Knossos, dreaming and imagining other ways. Her education includes a BA from the Department of Education, University of Crete, Greece, a Certificate in Dance from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance, and an MFA in Dance from Hollins University/ADF. In 1994 she received a Fulbright Scholarship and moved to New York from Greece. While in New York, in addition to her 3-years of studies at the Merce Cunningham Foundation, she studied release techniques, improvisation, composition, contact improvisation and somatic practices. Amanda has been teaching in public and private schools in New York City and internationally for 28 years. She finds fulfillment in teaching in diverse schools in service to her belief that every child should have access to a well-rounded education, and an education that includes the arts. She is devoted to the stimulation of imagination and critical thinking and she creates an environment that allows students to get in touch with their creativity. Amanda’s choreographic work has been presented nationally and internationally since 2000. Since 1998, Amanda has been the programming director at Movement Research, a non-profit organization with the sole mission of supporting investigative, movement-based art.
Laura Winnick is thrilled to be joining Blue School as the Librarian, and fusing her interests in all things literary, research, and project-based learning. She received her Bachelor's degree in Honors English Literature from the University of Michigan and her Master's in Arts in Education from the University California-Berkeley. She has taught English for the past three years. Her project-based learning pedagogy - on topics from feminism to podcasting - has been featured on WNYC, EdWeek, and the New York Times Learning Network. Outside of teaching, Laura has many extracurricular interests which include hosting a book club, writing a newsletter, zine-making, and playing basketball.
Laura Camien, Director of Advancement, has spent much of her career building the Blue Man Group brand around the world. She began by helping the original Off-Broadway show grow into a global entertainment entity across the country and eventually around the world. As VP of Communications, she culminated her Blue Man career by earning a PR News Platinum Award nomination for the company’s 25th anniversary campaign. She served as Creative Director and Head Writer for Blue Man Group’s first book, Blue Man World. A published playwright, screenwriter and producer, Laura also formed Bridge Club Productions and developed various theatrical shows, including the original musical [title of show] and co-produced it’s Obie Award winning and Tony nominated Broadway productions.
Laura proudly hails from a family of teachers and educators is thrilled to apply her marketing and communications experience to support Blue School’s mission to reimagine education for an ever-changing world.
Sherika Campbell, Advancement Coordinator, Sherika is a Queens native and Brooklyn Friends School Alumna. She graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Sociology and returned to NYC after arguably the worst case of home sickness. Sherika previously worked for Math for America and The Kew-Forest School. Outside of the Advancement Office, she can be found either on the Rockaway Boardwalk or working on her Master’s thesis.
Linda Chang, Director of Learning Center, has more than 20 years of elementary teaching experience, including considerable teacher coaching and administrative responsibilities. She has served as the director of curriculum and instruction at Mott Haven Charter School in the Bronx. Linda holds a B.A. in ethnic studies at the University of Colorado and a Masters of Arts in Teaching for elementary education from Simmons College (Boston) and holds extensive training as a Reading Recovery teacher and a primary literacy coordinator from Lesley University (Cambridge). She has served as the early primary resource specialist and also as the co-facilitator of S.E.E.D. (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Randall de Sève, Admissions Associate, received her bachelor’s degree from Barnard College and her master’s from Teachers College, both of Columbia University. She taught young children for many years at Saint Ann’s School and is a bestselling picture book author who enjoys sharing her stories in classrooms and bookstores around New York City and its suburbs. She is thrilled to be joining the vibrant community of teachers and learners at Blue School, where she knows new stories are born daily. A longtime resident of Park Slope, where she lives with her husband and two daughters, Randall plans to walk (or run!) her beloved Brooklyn Bridge home as often as possible.
Jean Delgado-Caceres, Technology Manager: Jean is a New York native but spent most of his childhood in the beautiful city of Cuenca, Ecuador. He has worked with kids as a STEAM integrator at the Queens Public Library, where he taught science experiments, coding, and robotics. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering and Technology from New York City College of Technology. During his college experience, his enthusiasm for Technology has led him to expand his interest in robotics through a project for people with disabilities, as well as to publishing a research paper on Software Defined Networking. Outside of Blue School and the Tech world, Jean enjoys hiking, bouldering and playing soccer. He's so thrilled to be part of Blue School's new chapter at 156 William St and can't wait to continue exploring new advances in the Technology Department!
Gina Farrar, PhD, Head of School, has been involved in education for more than thirty years -- as a teacher, psychologist, and administrator. She has worked in special education and in mainstream schools, with all ages of children ranging from 3 months old to adults. Growing up in the South, Gina excelled in her traditional elementary and high school education. Her excitement about learning expanded when she entered Wesleyan University and began to take ownership of her learning. In her years there, she developed from a shy freshman too afraid to talk in class into a confident learner participating in collaborative and cooperative projects. As a dancer and a math major, Gina successfully balanced and nurtured her creative and academic sides. After college Gina moved to NYC during an incredibly creative time in the 80’s and the 90’s. She taught high school math at LREI and pursued her doctorate in clinical/school psychology from Derner Institute, where she deepened her understanding of self and social intelligence as well as the science of learning. After earning her doctorate, Gina spent years working with children clinically, in and out of school environments.
As she reflected on her collective years in the field and the breadth of knowledge she had obtained, Gina realized she could best utilize her well rounded educational experience as an administrator. She went on to be the director of special education programs in Brooklyn and Queens. Her most recent headship was at Williamsburg Northside School, a progressive, independent, preschool and elementary school in Brooklyn. Gina believes very deeply in the caretaking of the community that is a school. At the core, children do their best work and are most free to learn when they feel seen, heard and understood.
Wanda Frankel, Pre-Primary Child Development Specialist, is a licensed clinical social worker and early childhood educator who has over 25 years experience working with children, families, teachers and administrators in schools and clinical settings. In addition to Blue School, she is the developmental specialist at Brooklyn Friends School and a childcare center in Park Slope. Wanda taught preschool children at Lexington School for the Deaf for many years and then facilitated professional development experiences for early childhood teachers through Bank Street College. Most recently, Wanda was on the administrative staff at a special education preschool in Harlem run by the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services. She has a Masters in Special Education and a Masters in Social Work from CUNY Hunter College and has trained as a play therapist. Wanda is passionate about promoting the connections between families, teachers and administrators in order to enhance children’s growth and well-being.
Nico Garbaccio, After School Coordinator, hails from New Jersey and holds his BA in Journalism from Ramapo College. He worked as a sports journalist for two years after graduating, but he was always enamored with the infectious humor of young children, so much that he often feels that he is just an overgrown kid. Ever since stepping into the world of education, he has worked at schools and nonprofit organizations, most recently running a creative writing workshops program at 826NYC. He is thrilled to be at Blue School and is dedicated to finding new ways to make learning fun. Nico enjoys writing, exploring New York City, thinking up puns, learning odd facts in order to win trivia contests, and watching Simpsons re-runs.
Sarah Hill, Associate Director of Advancement, is excited to join Blue School! She has worked in development for the past 7 years, having most recently served as the Director of Development at Saint Stephen of Hungary School, an elementary school on the Upper East Side. Sarah was born and raised in New Jersey and received her BA in Communications from the University of Scranton. She currently lives in Hoboken and enjoys calligraphy and discovering coffee shops and book stores around the city.
Ashley Hughes, Director of Operations, is in her tenth year with Blue School. Prior to joining the administrative team, she worked as a director, stage manager and production manager on theatre projects throughout the city. She holds a BFA in Drama from New York University and an MFA in Theater, Contemporary Performance from Naropa University in Boulder, CO. She lives in Brooklyn with her two children, Ellie and Archie.
Mike Jackson, Chief Financial Officer, Mike joined Blue School in March 2019. Prior to joining Blue School, Mike was Chief Financial Officer at Supernova Companies, a financial technology company that offers financial and lending solutions to the wealth management industry. Mike has also served as Director at Brookfield Investment Management, as well as held positions at J.P. Morgan Chase, Prudential Securities, and WestLB.
Richard Jenkins, Education Technology Coordinator and STEAM Co-Curricular, received his BA from The New School in Creative Writing and English Literature. Born and raised just outside New York City, Rich is an avid reader, writer, hiker and a passionate naturalist – his expeditions have taken him from the Appalachian Trail to the wilds of the Canadian Yukon. Rich joined Blue School in 2010 after teaching at Beginnings: A Toddler Program, a Reggio-inspired pre-school. He lives in Brooklyn with his partner Chelsey and their (sometimes bad) cat Leo. Rich is currently working towards his Masters of Science in Elementary Education at Hunter College.
Laurie Kardos, Middle School Director, has spent nearly two decades working to create and lead innovative and inspiring educational experiences for children. Grounded in her classroom teaching and school leadership experience, she comes to us with a lifelong love of and appreciation for middle school students, their ideas and their enormous capabilities. She has extensive knowledge of new school startup, innovative curriculum development, and inquiry learning. In her most recent role as the Deputy Executive Director in the NYCDOE Office of New Schools, Laurie led a team to recruit, select and train new leaders for over 100 new schools, and to collaborate on creating several new middle and high schools. Prior to her work at the DOE, Laurie was a founding assistant principal at an innovative New York City high school that integrates academics, personalized learning, and design thinking. She began her work in education as a teacher and instructional leader at the Institute for Collaborative Education, a small, progressive middle and high school. Laurie holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Laurie lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.
David Levin, Controller. For the last five years, David has served as the Director of Finance and Administration for Legal Momentum, a women´s legal defense and education fund (originally founded by NOW in 1970), and before that, he worked for over a decade at the Fashion Institute of Technology as their Controller. Those who met with him during his visit to Blue School were impressed with David's deep experience with non-profit accounting, steady demeanor, and positive attitude, all attributes enthusiastically endorsed by his references. At FIT, David enjoyed the creative energy and dynamic programming, and he is looking forward to getting a chance to work closely again with dedicated faculty and staff in support of an inspiring educational mission.
Genevieve Little, Assistant Director of Admissions, is thrilled to be entering her second year at Blue School. Having first joined the community through the after school program, she is so glad to have found her permanent home in the admissions office. She loves to spend her days exploring Blue School classrooms and meeting new families through the application process. She has previously worked in education and publishing, most recently running an after school tutoring and writing program. Genevieve holds a BA in Liberal Arts from The New School, where she studied Creative Nonfiction Writing and Religious Studies.
Patricia Lynch, Primary Program Director, moved from Michigan to New York City after college. She knew immediately that she was meant to stay forever. Her college years were frequently interrupted by travels throughout the country dabbling in improvisational theater and social activism. However, once she stepped into a classroom as a teacher of young children, she never looked back. Education has been an exciting quest branching into many areas. Pat has worked as a literacy consultant, independent school administrator, graduate school adjunct and most importantly a teacher of children K-12. Working with the visionary Blue School community is a dream come true for Pat. The boundless potential and energy of the community is palpable and brings with it unique challenges and inquiries that could not be found in any other school. Pat has an undergraduate degree in English Literature and Theater Arts from Western Michigan University and a Masters in Elementary Education from Hunter College. In her spare time Pat loves to garden, read, watch tennis and build birdhouses.
Dr. Alice Mangan, Consulting School Psychologist, holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the CUNY Graduate Center and a master’s degree in special education from Bank Street College of Education. Formerly a member of the graduate faculty at Bank Street College of Education, Alice combines her passion for progressive, child-centered education with her training in psychology to thoughtfully respond to complex issues that arise in the life of a school community. In addition to her psychological and educational consultation in schools, Alice works clinically with children, adolescents, and young adults as well as parents and families providing assessment and evaluation, consultation, intervention and remediation, and psychotherapy. Alice’s research interests center on relationships between schools and families and the influence of learning disabilities on the psychological and relational life of the child, parent, and family system. Alice has a strong commitment to sensitively addressing concerns related to learning and learning disability, autism spectrum disorders, the interplay between disability and social/emotional development, parenting, and other crucial dimensions of identity such as gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity.
Harriet Richards, Child Development Counselor, started her professional path in working in higher education as a career counselor. Passionate about the arts, she worked with both undergraduate and adult students who were considering careers paths in the arts. While raising a family and working part time, she chose to pursue a Masters degree in Counseling at Villanova University. Moving into elementary and secondary education, Harriet spent nearly ten years working as a school counselor in both public and private schools, most recently at Princeton Day School. During this time, Harriet developed a keen interest in neuroscience and learning. She went on to earn a Masters degree in Mind, Brain and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Harriet brings a deep commitment to supporting the emotional lives of children and thrives on being able to partner with parents, teachers and administration in this endeavor. Harriet has two grown sons and enjoys visiting friends and family whenever she gets the chance
Vanessa Rosas, Program & Events Manager, is excited to begin her 2nd year with Blue School! Vanessa will be based at the 156 William Street Campus this year, and she's honored to have been a part of bringing the opening of 156 William Street to fruition. Before Blue School, Vanessa was with Wingspan Arts for four years managing afterschool arts enrichment programs throughout the boroughs. Outside of the Operations office, Vanessa loves practicing photography through her small portrait business, attending Broadway shows, and traveling the world. She holds a BA in Communications & Public Relations from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, and an MA in Theatre from Long Island University Post.
Domenica Ruggieri, Staff Accountant, joined Blue School in August 2014. Prior to joining Blue School, Domenica worked as an accounting associate at the Pontifical Mission Societies, a non-profit organization in NYC. She has more than 10 years of experience working within the accounting department and is currently pursuing a degree in Accounting. Domenica is thrilled to join Blue School and to be able to give back to the community. She lives in Staten Island with her husband and two young boys, and enjoys traveling, exploring different neighborhoods, baking, and spending time with family and friends.
Laura Sedlock, Pre-Primary Program Director, grew up in New York City, where she attended the Bank Street School for Children and the Fieldston School. She has a BA in English from Wesleyan University and a Masters in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College. Laura has fourteen years of experience in the field of early childhood education, having taught at the Bank Street School for Children, City and Country School, P.S. 321 in Park Slope, Brooklyn and Beginnings Nursery School. Most recently, Laura has been the Educational Director at Beginnings since 2008. She has also been an adjunct lecturer in the department of Early Childhood Education at Hunter College. Before entering the field of childhood education, Laura taught English to adults in New York and Indonesia, where she lived for four years. Laura finds the world of early childhood to be endlessly fascinating and engaging, and is thrilled to be part of a community with such an energetic and thoughtful approach to children and education. She lives in Brooklyn with her spouse and two daughters.
Maria I. Serrano, Human Resources, has worked in Human Resources for 13 years. For the last nine years, she has served as the HR Manager of a NYC multi-site non-profit organization. She was responsible for all Human Resources functions including recruitment, on-boarding, payroll processing, employee relations, compliance and implementation of policies and procedures. She has a Master of Science degree in HR Management. Maria is thrilled to join the Blue School community. She currently resides in Queens along with her son, Christian, who is her pride and joy.
Lauren Valenti, Registrar, has always had a career working with children and families. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from Mercy College. Her most recent work experience was the role of Assistant Director for BedRock Preschool . Other work experiences consist of working as a daycare teacher, tutor, counselor, and choreographer. Her background includes working with infants as young as 6 weeks old to adolescents up to 18 years of age. Her interests include cooking and hanging out with friends and family. While working with children, Lauren has gained a passion for education and the developmental progression of children. She looks forward to her next career chapter at Blue School!
Dawn Williams, Director of Admissions, has been a part of the Blue School community for the past 8 years. She came to Blue School as a parent first (of a then 3 year old who’s now a Blue School middle school student!) and shortly thereafter found her home in the admissions office. Dawn loves getting to know children and their families throughout the admissions process—from tour to interview—and answering any and all questions along the way. She also sits on the NYSAIS Admissions Conference Planning Committee. Prior to her work at Blue School, Dawn worked as a theatre director regionally and throughout the city. Over the past 20 years she has worked exclusively with non-profits including The Museum of the Moving Image, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, the Watkinson School, the Women’s Project, and the McCarter Theatre in educational, creative and administrative capacities. She has been a teacher of theatre, film, vermicomposting and children’s gardening and cooking. Dawn lives with her husband and son in Astoria.