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
Sharon Carter is an expert early childhood educator in her twenty-sixth year at Brooklyn Friends School. Sharon particularly enjoys mentoring new teachers, working with and supporting parents. In addition to teaching, Sharon is Associate Director of Enrollment for Preschool.
Sharon will be assisted by Bianca Sanchez. This will be Bianca’s third year in the Red Room and seventh year teaching Threes in the Preschool. Bianca also serves as an Afternoon Assistant in the Fours with the Green Room team. A talented photographer, Bianca is also a passionate yoga practitioner. She completed her yoga teacher training at Breathe for Change Yoga and looks forward to sharing her talent and training with our Preschool teachers and students. Bianca is an alumna of Brooklyn Friends School.
The Yellow Room has a co-teaching team of Linda Villamarin and Zoe Goldberg-Stewart.
Linda Villamarin begins her eleventh year at Brooklyn Friends and her sixth year in the Yellow Room. Linda worked as 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!
Zoe Goldberg-Stewart begins her fourth year of teaching at Brooklyn Friends and her second 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. She is happy to be in Co-Head teaching Threes with Linda for the second consecutive year, after having taught Preschool Fours at BFS for two years. Zoe is passionate about child development in the early years and loves working with both children and parents.
Jackie Ortiz (Afterschool) has her ‘home base’ in the Yellow Room and is a member of the team. (See more about Jackie below).
Camille Fobbs begins her thirteenth year at Brooklyn Friends School. This year marks her ninth 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.
Alexandra Portillo: This is Alexandra’s first year at Brooklyn Friends School. Prior to joining the Preschool, 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 Muay Thai.
Claudia Lewis, Preschool Afterschool Director (See more about Claudia below.), has her ‘home base’ in the Blue Room, and is also a member of the teaching team.
THE FOURS PROGRAM
Rachel Rowan begins her third year at BFS. After two years teaching in the Threes program, Rachel will be a Co-Head Teacher with Kathleen Cann in the Purple Room Fours. She has had a range of experience as an early childhood educator, working with three’s, fours and kindergarten. Her graduate studies focused on emergent curriculum and classroom environments, and more specifically how the classroom environment shapes development in young children. 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 is currently completing her Masters focused on Early Childhood Education. Outside of work she enjoys distance running, traveling and her rescue cats.
Kathleen Cann begins her second year at Brooklyn Friends as Co-Head Teacher in the Purple Room Fours with Rachel Rowan. 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.
Niamh Dolan begins her sixteenth 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 ninth 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!
Niamh will be assisted by Daisy Copelin. Daisy begins her fourth year at Brooklyn Friends School and second year in the Orange Room. 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 Orange Room and the Preschool team again this year.
Nohemi Benavides (Afterschool) has her ‘home base’ in the Orange Room, and is a member of the team. (See more about Nohemi below).
Lisa Ventry begins her twelfth 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.
Lisa will be assisted by Katy Haralson who will begin her first year at Brooklyn Friends School. 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 joining the Brooklyn Friends community and can’t wait for the upcoming school year to begin.
Bianca Sanchez, Red Room Assistant Teacher, is also a member of the Green Room team as an afternoon Assistant Teacher.
Preschool Floating Assistants and Afterschool Teachers
From 12:00-3:00pm every day, Preschool daytime teachers are assisted by Preschool Floating Assistants and the Preschool Afterschool Coordinator.
Nohemi Benavides has worked in the Afterschool and Summer Camp programs for the past seven years. Nohemi was an active volunteer in her local church, working with nursery and toddlers for many years, where she developed her nurturing and caring way with children. She is a member of the Orange Room team.
Claudia Lewis (Preschool Afterschool Director) is an alumna of Brooklyn Friends School. She has taught and administered the Preschool Afterschool Program for twelve 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. Claudia is a member of the Blue Room team.
Jazelyn (Jazz) Montanez is a singer and dancer who loves to promote an environment of artistic exploration. She has worked in the Preschool, Afterschool, Camps, Athletics and Horizons programs for the past eleven 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. Jazz is an alumna of Brooklyn Friends!
Jackie Ortiz is an experienced Early Childhood Afterschool teacher who has been in our Preschool Afterschool Program for over ten years. She has a background in English Literature and has a talent for promoting a calm, nurturing and caring environment for children. Jackie is a member of the Yellow Room team.
Preschool specialists will continue to provide immeasurable enrichment to our children’s classroom program. They are Jules Skloot – Dance, Kathy Hartzler – Library, Tony Soll – Sing, Nancy Tanney – Music.
Support faculty member Jane Davidson, Psy.D., our Developmental Specialist, will provide her expertise to our Preschool. Jane leads workshops and guidance discussions for teachers, Coffee Hours for parents, and is available by appointment to provide parenting support for home as well as school challenges and questions.
In addition to their teaching duties, our Faculty serve on a range of Committees within the school. Many of our teachers hold leadership roles on All-School Committees such as the Diversity Action Team (DAC) , Diversity, Guidance, Quaker Life and Service Learning. Teachers are also active in the Early Childhood and Independent School world at large. Our teachers have presented at numerous workshops, and engage in activism and community service work.
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-first year at Brooklyn Friends and her eighth 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.