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Meet the Preschool Colleagues, 2020-2021

The Preschool Faculty is a group of extraordinarily diverse, dedicated, committed and creative teachers. They are active in the classroom and beyond, and are exemplary life-long learners! The following is a brief introduction to our colleagues.
The Threes Program

Green Room

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Rachel Rowan

La Toya Greene

Rachel Rowan, Head Teacher

Rachel has taught in the BFS Preschool for the past four years in both threes and fours. Before coming to Brooklyn Friends, Rachel taught in Portland, Oregon at Childswork Learning Center, an emergent curriculum preschool. At Childswork, she was an Assistant Teacher in the Kindergarten and a Head Teacher in four and five year old classes. Rachel’s primary interests lie in constructivist based teaching philosophies, anti-bias curriculum and emerging literacy in young children. She holds a BA from Temple University and MS in Early Childhood and Inclusive Education from Portland State University.

La Toya Greene, Associate Teacher

Prior to joining Brooklyn Friends School, LaToya worked as a PreK teacher for three years where she utilized developmentally appropriate practices to support the growth and development of children in all domains. LaToya also served as a STEaM instructor for two years at Bright Horizons, designing and presenting exciting lessons that actively engaged young learners’ innate sense of curiosity while guiding their growing sense of inquiry and critical thinking. LaToya holds a degree in Chemical Technology, Health Administration with a minor in child development. She is currently pursuing a masters degree in Early Childhood Education at Grand Canyon University. She is enthusiastic about creating a fun engaging learning environment where students are supported wholeheartedly. Outside of school LaToya enjoys reading and going on adventures with her darling daughter.

Orange Room

Niamh Dolan

Sofia Schultz

Niamh Dolan, Head Teacher

Niamh begins her eighteenth year at Brooklyn Friends. She has taught first and second grade in the LS and is now in her eleventh year teaching the Preschool Fours. She has a Masters in Childhood Education and a special interest in the integration of academic learning into everyday activities. She loves thematic units of study, particularly the study of wildlife, and enjoys creating fun learning games in Math and Literacy.

Sofia Schultz, Associate Teacher

This is Sofia’s first year teaching at Brooklyn Friends. Sofia is an alumna of Brooklyn Friends, having graduated in 2014. She attended Connecticut College and received her Bachelor’s degree, and is currently working on her Masters in Early Childhood & Special Education at Fordham University. Sofia worked as an assistant teacher at the 14th Street Y and then at Preschool of America as a head teacher. She is especially interested in social-emotional learning and loves to sing songs and dance with the students! Sofia is very excited to be a part of the Brooklyn Friends Community once again!

Purple Room

Kirsten Ferdinand

Vanessa Brown

Kirsten Ferdinand, Head Teacher

Kirsten is beginning her first year at Brooklyn Friends School in the Purple Room. Prior to coming here, Kirsten worked as an associate teacher at Grace Church School and at the Bank Street Family Center. She holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Music Therapy from Shenandoah University and a dual Masters degree in Early Childhood: General and Special Education from Bank Street. Kirsten is open to sharing her own background and experiences into the classroom, to create an environment in which every child feels willing to share who they are as well. Music holds a special place in her heart, and she is always happy to engage in a classroom sing along. Kirsten is thrilled to be part of the BFS community!

Vanessa Brown, Associate Teacher

After working her way through college in pre-schools, Vanessa spent two years as a substitute teacher in NYC. Then transitioned to on-set tutoring for children in film and theater. It was there that she discovered “wrangling”; a job that combined her love of teaching with her passion for the performing arts. In over 20 years, she guided and nurtured the child performers on over 20 Broadway shows, including The Sound of Music, The Lion King, Newsies, Fun Home, and Miss Saigon. She is thrilled to return to the classroom with Brooklyn Friends.

The Fours Program

Blue Room

Camille Fobbs

Jazz Montanez

Camille Fobbs, Head Teacher

Camille begins her fifteenth year at Brooklyn Friends School, and this year marks her 11th year in the Blue Room. Born and raised in Trinidad, Camille has a Masters in Educational Theater from NYU and has developed her own drama curriculum for young children. She has co-presented at WPC (White Privilege Conference) and NYSAIS (New York State Association for Independent Schools) Diversity Conference and developed a “frequently asked questions” guide to talking about differences in early childhood. She is a graduate of The Interschool Leadership Institute and NYSAIS Institute for Teaching Diversity and Social Justice.

Jazelyn (Jazz) Montanez, Associate Teacher

Jazz is a singer and dancer who loves to promote an environment of artistic and holistic exploration. She has worked in the BFS Preschool, Afterschool, Camps, Athletics and Horizons programs for the past (16) sixteen years. A marathon runner, she organized the BFS Community Running Team in 2014, in sponsorship of our Student Financial Aid Fund. Jazz is an anti-bias education leader and has worked as a facilitator for our Upper School Latinx and The Youth Action Project of WPC (White Privilege Conference) student groups. She is an alumna of Brooklyn Friends, Graduating Class of 1998.

Red Room

Sharon Carter

Elyes Perez

Sharon Carter, Head Teacher

Sharon is an expert early childhood educator in her twenty-eighth year at Brooklyn Friends School. She particularly enjoys crafting nurturing and holistic curriculum ideas, mentoring new teachers, creating nurturing and holistic classroom curriculum and working to support parents. Sharon is a graduate of Medgar Evers College (CUNY University) in Early Childhood Education. She is passionate about social justice and building communities in the classroom and beyond.

Elyes Perez, Associate Teacher

Elyes is excited to return to BFS as she joins the Preschool Division. She begins her 15th year working in the early childhood classroom this Fall. Elyes has worked in various settings including as an Associate Teacher at our Family Center and as a Spanish Immersion Teacher at One World Project. Elyes sees her role as supporting and facilitating children’s development and learning by way of observation, reflection and engagement, and loves celebrating each child’s individuality and their unique contributions to the classroom community. She holds a Masters degree in Developmental Psychology from the Graduate Center of CUNY. In her free time Elyes enjoys going on walks, doing zumba, spending quiet time in nature, practicing yoga, and experimenting with new vegan recipes.

Turquoise Room

Magna Antoine

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Linda Villamarin

Magna Antoine, Head Teacher

Magna begins her first year of teaching at Brooklyn Friends in the Turquoise Room. She has a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Brooklyn College. Prior to joining BFS, Magna taught preschool at Open House Nursery School for many years. She is originally from the sunny island of Trinidad and is a proud Trini. She is passionate about helping children develop socially, emotionally and cognitively. She enjoys teaching children of all diversities, levels, skills and abilities. When not in the classroom, Magna enjoys spending time with her large family and travelling with her daughter. She loves to dance, read and watch old Westerns.

Linda Villamarin, Associate Teacher

Linda has been a member of the Family Center and Preschool faculty at Brooklyn Friends School for 13 years. Prior to her work at BFS, Linda was a Spanish specialist and Summer Camp Head Fours and Kindergarten Teacher. Born and raised in Equador, Linda has a love of family and community, and is deeply rooted in the values of her culture. Linda is a graduate of Brooklyn College, with an early childhood concentration in Math and Spanish. Linda loves child development and doing art with young children.

Yellow Room

Zoe Goldberg Stewart

Ruth A. McQuiggan

Zoe Goldberg-Stewart, Head Teacher

Zoe begins her sixth year of teaching at Brooklyn Friends and her fourth year in the Yellow Room. She has a Masters in Infant and Parent Development from Bank Street College. Zoe spent 10 years teaching early childhood education before taking a hiatus to raise her own children. Zoe taught Preschool Fours at BFS for two years before coming to the Yellow Room. She is passionate about child development in the early years and loves working with both children and parents.

Ruth A. McQuiggan, Associate Teacher

Ruth A. is beginning her third year at Brooklyn Friends School after two years teaching at The Family Center. She holds a BA in Film from Hampshire College and worked in production before beginning her career in Early Childhood. Ruth A. is passionate about creating a welcoming and nurturing environment where children can grow and discover.

Virtual Learning

Violet Room

Rachel Kleinman

Dorene St. Marthe

Rachel Kleinman, Virtual Teacher.

Rachel begins her fourth year at Brooklyn Friends School! Prior to joining the Preschool community, Rachel was the Admissions Associate at the Family Center. She is passionate about incorporating into the classroom children’s literature that features a diverse range of voices. Rachel has worked in a variety of educational settings from the coast of Maine to Denmark. When not in the classroom, Rachel can be found at the local bookstore searching for her next read.

Dorene St. Marthe, Virtual Teacher

Dorene has been in the early childhood education field for 10 years, with experience working in Universal Pre-K and other early childhood programs aimed at implementing best practices for children. Her interest in Early Childhood lies in being a vital part in a child’s early learning stages through an emergent and hands-on approach supporting creative expression. Dorene is currently an undergraduate at CUNY Hunter College, pursuing a double major in Early Childhood Education and English. In her spare time she enjoys learning new skills, reading and exploring NYC.

ALL-PRESCHOOL ASSISTANT TEACHERS
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Lynette Cummins

Anya Gene

Jackie Ortiz

Lynette Cummins came to Brooklyn Friends two years ago as our “super sub”, and last year we were thrilled to have her join the faculty as a Midday Assistant Teacher. We are happy to have her back again as an All-Preschool Assistant this year! Lynette has experience in a variety of educational settings. Before coming to BFS, she worked in a Charter School for 10 years with kindergartners. Lynette has an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood education and a Bachelor’s degree in Children and Youth Studies from Brooklyn College. Lynette is passionate about working with children and watching them as they develop to their fullest talent and potential.

Anya Gene joined the Preschool faculty in March 2020 as a Midday Assistant Teacher in the Red Room, after starting the year as one of our “super subs!” Before coming to Brooklyn Friends, she spent many years nurturing children as a caregiver and tutor. Anya is very passionate about helping children hit their milestones and improving their learning. She holds an Associate degree in Psychology, and is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Hunter College. Anya is very creative and loves to lead children’s arts & crafts activities to help them develop their critical thinking skills. She believes that every child can succeed by developing meaningful relationships with others!

Jackie Ortiz is an experienced Preschool Afterschool teacher who has been with the Preschool for over ten years, working with both Threes and Fours. She has a background in English Literature and has a talent for promoting a calm, nurturing and caring environment for children.

PRESCHOOL SPECIALISTS

Edson Elcock, Workout with Edson – Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago until the age of 10, Edson grew up in Crown Heights with his two older sisters and mother. Edson became a student at BFS in the 8th grade and graduated from the Upper School in ‘03. After spending his freshman year of college at Wingate University he transferred to Old Dominion University on a full soccer scholarship, where he majored in Sports Management, minored in Physical Education and earned First Team All-American honors. In ‘06 Edson was drafted into the MLS by the Kansas City Wizards. He spent the following season playing and living in Puerto Rico before spending the last four years of his career playing for the Richmond Kickers. After six years of playing professionally Edson wanted to share his knowledge of the game, and became a Head Coach of the Varsity Soccer team at BFS. He is now a full-time Physical Education teacher. Edson is happy to be here helping to mold his students into great human beings!

Jules Skloot, Dance – Jules is a performer, teacher, and summer camp director living mostly in Brooklyn, NY. Jules has performed most recently with Circus Amok and collaborated for many years in the creation of the Ballez, a dance company working reverently and irreverently within and around the form of ballet, to create performance spectacles that show and celebrate queer lives. Jules facilitates anti-oppression workshops and training, creative dance to people of all ages, and health classes to middle schoolers, and is committed to liberation and joy in all these endeavors.

Nancy Tanney, Music – Nancy is the Preschool Music teacher and is in her 14th year teaching at Brooklyn Friends School. Once a week, Nancy teaches songs and rhythm instruments, and helps everyone move and groove to music! In past years Nancy has taught Music at the Family Center and to our Kindergarteners. She has also taught Science in the Kindergarten and First Grade.

Tony Soll, Sing – Once a week the Preschool gathers together to “Sing with Tony”. We sing songs from the vast folk music tradition exemplified by Pete Seeger, as well as tunes by such writers as Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Guy Davis, Ella Jenkins and Tony. Some are stories, others are “zipper songs” where the children suggest what words to “zip” into the verses – foods, colors, animals – depending on the subject. We sing songs of the seasons, and songs that expand on the classroom curricula, like celebrating Martin Luther King, winter, apples, butterflies, food and much more! We build community spirit while having fun and working together to create a ‘joyful noise’!

PRESCHOOL ADMINISTRATION

Maura Eden

Joy Roberts

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Dr. Jane Davidson

Maura Eden, Head of Preschool. Maura holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Leadership from Bank Street College of Education. Prior to becoming Head of Preschool Maura was a classroom teacher and taught two, three and four year olds. She was also a dance specialist, teaching dance to children and adults. Maura was a professional modern dancer for ten years and has been an early childhood educator for more than twenty-five years. She has a special interest in the importance of play, social justice and the arts and their role in early education, parenting and in life! She is delighted to begin her twenty-second year at Brooklyn Friends and her ninth year as Head of the Preschool. Maura looks forward to supporting the continued growth, vitality, and creativity of all the teachers, students and parents of Brooklyn Friends Preschool.

Joy Roberts, Preschool Administrative Assistant. Joy has been part of the BFS community since 2014, and is now in her fourth year of supporting the Preschool. Before coming to Brooklyn Friends she spent many years in healthcare as an educator and advocate, and is also a licensed acupuncturist. Joy loves writing, painting, and relaxing at home with her kitties!

Dr. Jane Davidson, Preschool Developmental Specialist. Dr. Jane is a psychologist with background and experience in child development and early childhood education. Dr. Jane provides her expertise to our Preschool, leading workshops and guidance discussions for teachers, and Connect & Talk sessions for parents. Jane is available by appointment to provide parenting support for home as well as school challenges and questions.