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 faculty and staff.
THE THREES PROGRAM
Head Teacher Sharon Carter is an expert early childhood educator in her twenty-seventh year at Brooklyn Friends School. She particularly enjoys crafting nurturing and holistic curricular programs for the classroom, mentoring new teachers, 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.
Alexandra Portillo is the Red Room Associate Teacher. Prior to joining the Preschool in the fall of 2018, Alexandra worked as an Early Childhood Education trainer where she provided professional development to educators on early childhood best practices and evaluated child care programs. She has also worked at Casa Montessori as a dual language (Spanish) teacher and was an instructor for the Adventures in Science program at The Museum of Natural History. Alexandra holds a degree in Early Childhood Education and Psychology from Brooklyn College. She is passionate about creating a welcoming and nurturing environment where children can grow and discover, and she is very excited to be part of the BFS community! Outside of school, Alexandra enjoys going to the Central Library to find new reading material, bike riding in Prospect Park, caring for her six rescued birds, and training in Muay Thai.
Zoe Goldberg-Stewart begins her fifth year of teaching at Brooklyn Friends and her third 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.
Katy Haralson will begin her second year at Brooklyn Friends School as Yellow Room Associate Teacher. Katy taught in the Preschool 4s last year. Katy is a graduate of New York University and holds a Masters in Elementary Education from the University of Florida. Before coming to BFS, she was a Head Teacher in a first grade class at the Cushman School in Miami, Florida. Katy enjoys basking in the sun with a good book and is always looking for page-turning recommendations. She is thrilled to be a member of the Brooklyn Friends community and can’t wait for the upcoming school year to begin.
Camille Fobbs begins her fourteenth year at Brooklyn Friends School. This year marks her tenth year in the Blue Room! She has a Masters in Educational Theater from NYU and has developed her own drama curriculum for young children. Camille 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. Camille leads the BFS New Faculty and Staff Orientation.
Linda Villamarin has been a member of the Family Center and Preschool faculty at Brooklyn Friends School for 12 years: this is her first year in the Blue Room. Prior to her work at BFS, she was a Spanish Specialist and Summer Camp Head Fours and Kindergarten Teacher. Born and raised in Ecuador, 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!
THE FOURS PROGRAM
Kathleen Cann begins her third year at Brooklyn Friends as Head Teacher in the Purple Room Fours. Kathleen is a graduate of Bank Street’s Early Childhood Special and General Education program. Before coming to Brooklyn Friends, she taught first and second grade at the Bank Street School for Children, preschool at the Butler Street Coop, and robotics at the Brooklyn Robot Foundry. Kathleen is especially interested in translating her academic interests in urban policy and planning into explorations of New York City with her students. In her spare time she likes to get outside, preferably with an ice cream cone in hand.
Associate teacher Daisy Copelin begins her fifth year at Brooklyn Friends School and third year in the Preschool 4s program. Prior to BFS she worked in a variety of early childhood settings in both the general and special needs population. She holds a degree in General Education from Nyack College, has completed extensive coursework in Childhood Education, and is delighted to be a part of the Purple Room as an Associate Teacher this year.
Niamh Dolan begins her seventeenth year at Brooklyn Friends. Niamh began teaching in the Preschool and subsequently taught first and second grade in the Lower School for four years. Niamh is now in her tenth year teaching the Preschool Fours. She has a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College. Niamh has a special interest in the integration of academic learning into everyday activities as well as incorporating free exploration and play in early childhood curriculum. She enjoys creating fun learning games in Math and Literacy and sharing stories from her native country of Ireland!
Rachel Kleinman, Associate Teacher, begins her third year at Brooklyn Friends School, and her first year in the Orange Room! Prior to joining the Preschool community, Rachel was the Admissions Associate at the Family Center. Rachel is currently pursuing her Master’s of Education at Bank Street College. 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.
The Green Room has a co-teaching team of Head Teachers Lisa Ventry and Rachel Rowan.
Lisa Ventry begins her thirteenth year of teaching at Brooklyn Friends School. She is passionate about creative and artistic exploration with young children and about knowing her students’ interests and learning styles through focused observation and recording. She loves developing curriculum based on those interests. Lisa has background in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts and History and Latin American Studies, and holds a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street.
Rachel Rowan 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 in Anthropology and a Masters in Early Childhood Education.
ALL-PRESCHOOL AND MID-DAY ASSISTANT TEACHERS
All-Preschool Assistant Teachers are assigned to a specific “home base” classroom but may also work in other classrooms as needed. From 12 noon to 3:00pm every day, Preschool classroom teachers are assisted by Preschool Mid-Day Assistant Teachers.
Nohemi Benavides has worked in the Afterschool and Summer Camp programs for the past eight years. An active volunteer in her local church, she worked with infants and toddlers for many years, developing her nurturing and caring way with children. Nohemi is the Mid-Day Assistant Teacher in the Orange Room and also works as an Afterschool Assistant Teacher.
Lynette Cummins has joined the Preschool faculty this year as Mid-Day Assistant Teacher in the Yellow Room. Lynette was our “super sub” last year, and we are thrilled that she will be part of the faculty! She has experience in a variety of educational settings. Before coming to BFS Lynette worked in a Charter School for 10 years with kindergartners. She has an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood education and is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Children and Youth Studies at Brooklyn College. Lynette is passionate about working with children and watching them as they develop to their fullest talent and potential.
Robbie Fowler first joined BFS as a substitute and afterschool teacher in the Lower School in 2013. He has a wide back ground in educational theater, directing and choreographing professional regional children’s productions. Robbie is trained in responsive classroom technique. Robbie is the Mid-Day Assistant Teacher in the Red Room.
Claudia Lewis, All Preschool Assistant Teacher in the Purple Room, and Preschool Afterschool Director, is an alumna of Brooklyn Friends School. She has taught and administered the BFS Preschool Afterschool Program for thirteen years. Claudia has a background in Human Development and Family Studies, and has a special interest in cultivating a responsive, creative and enriched environment for children.
Jazelyn (Jazz) Montanez, All Preschool Assistant Teacher in the Blue Room, is a singer and dancer who loves to promote an environment of artistic exploration. She has worked in the BFS Preschool, Afterschool, Camps, Athletics and Horizons programs for the past twelve years. A marathon runner, she organized the BFS Running team. Jazz is an anti-bias education leader and has worked as a student facilitator for our Upper School Latinx and Youth Action Project of WPC (White Privilege Conference) student groups. She is an alumna of Brooklyn Friends.
Jackie Ortiz is All-Preschool Assistant Teacher in the Green Room and Preschool Afterschool Head Teacher. She has a background in English Literature and has a talent for promoting a calm, nurturing and caring environment for children.
Preschool Specialists provide immeasurable enrichment to our children’s classroom program. They are:
Edson Elcock – Fours Soccer
Gili Warsett – Library
Jules Skloot – Dance
Maggie Carson – Library
Nancy Tanney – Music
Tony Soll – Sing
EDSON ELCOCK – 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!
GILI WARSETT – Gili Warsett begins her third year as a Preschool and Lower School Librarian at Brooklyn Friends School. Gili holds a B.A. from Oberlin College, an M.F.A. from Lesley University, and an M.L.I.S. from Pratt Institute. She has worked in New York as a school librarian in a public elementary school, a college, and a small Montessori school, and has taught Creative Writing and English to all grades through graduate school. She has served on a committee for Friends of the Brooklyn Public Library for the past five years, and is currently the Vice President of the Hudson Valley Library Association. Her writing has been published in multiple periodicals, including The New York Times. When she’s not in the stacks or playing outside with her own children, she is frequently swimming at the Y, where she imagines she’s training to become the next Gertrude Ederle, “Queen of the Waves.”
JULES SKLOOT – 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 trainings, creative dance to people of all ages, and health classes to middle schoolers, and is committed to liberation and joy in all these endeavors.
MAGGIE CARSON – Having worked in both public and independent school libraries for many years, Maggie is thrilled to be a part of the Brooklyn Friends School team as a Pre and Lower School Librarian. Born and raised in New York City, she attended Bard College where she received a B.A. in American Studies and fell in love with American music and literature. She spent many years working professionally as a musician, playing banjo and touring the States, Europe, and Canada with the band Spirit Family Reunion. Maggie is currently pursuing her M.L.I.S. remotely through University at Albany Information Science School Library program, and continuing to write, play, and sing original music. Maggie is happy to be a part of the BFS community, bringing her love of teaching, librarianship, and creative arts to the BFS library!
NANCY TANNEY – Nancy is the Preschool Music teacher and is in her 13th year teaching at Brooklyn Friends School. Nancy comes to see the children in their classrooms once a week, teaching songs and rhythm instruments, and helping everyone move and groove to music! In addition to being the Preschool music teacher, Nancy teaches Music at the Family Center, and to our Kindergarteners. She is also the Science teacher for the Kindergarten and First Grade.
TONY SOLL – 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. Although the children are seated, many songs have hand and body motions to correspond to the story. 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’!
Maura Eden, Head of Preschool, 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, has been part of the BFS community since 2014. Before coming to Brooklyn Friends she spent many years in healthcare as an educator and advocate, and is also a licensed acupuncturist. Her passions include children, education, wellness, writing and animals. Joy has been an active member of the All-School Service Learning Committee since coming to BFS, and enjoys being involved in projects and writing articles for the Service Learning blog. She is looking forward to welcoming and supporting our Preschool families this year.
Dr. Jane Davidson is a psychologist with background and experience in child development and early childhood education. She is the Preschool Developmental Specialist and is on site every Wednesday and Friday. Dr. Jane provides her expertise to our Preschool, leading leads workshops and guidance discussions for teachers, and Coffee Hours for parents. Jane is available by appointment to provide parenting support for home as well as school challenges and questions.
In addition to their teaching duties, the BFS Preschool Faculty serve on a range of Committees within the school. Many of our teachers hold leadership roles on All-School Committees such as Diversity, Guidance, Quaker Life, and Service Learning. Teachers are also active in the Early Childhood and Independent School field at large. Our teachers have presented at numerous workshops, and regularly engage in activism and community service work.