ANNA SIEGAL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
After growing up in New York and graduating from Williams College, Anna began teaching in a Washington, D.C., charter school. In 2006, she moved to Mexico City, where she earned her Master’s Degree from the SUNY Buffalo program for International Educators. In her six years in Mexico, Anna developed and implemented the first Art program at the Early Childhood Center of the American School Foundation. There, she discovered a passion for working with children and teachers on interdisciplinary, inquiry based art projects, and cultivated an interest in academic leadership and collaborative curriculum design. From 2012-2013, she taught Humanities at the American International School Foundation in Freetown, Sierra Leone. As Early Childhood and Primary School coordinator, she oversaw an international faculty and staff of thirty, guiding them through a curriculum review and redevelopment process that culminated in a globally minded, progressive curriculum for children aged 2-14.
Anna joined RHP in 2014 and took over the role of Executive Director in 2016.
TANYA BARRETT, OPERATIONS & PROGRAMS MANAGER
Tanya is a native New Yorker and a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied Filmmaking and Japanese. Over the past several years, she's held administrative and operational roles in a number of organizations, including Banfield Animal Clinic and SeeThink Films. In 2015, Tanya returned from a two-year stint in Japan, where she taught English Language lessons to children of all ages in a variety of school settings. In addition to teaching in Japan, she organized charity events for local child welfare centers. Most recently, at Ark Media, Tanya coordinated production and provided research support for a documentary television project. She joined Red Hook Playgroup in 2016.
NORA PAINTEN, SCIENCE AND GARDEN TEACHER
Nora has been teaching and gardening with students at Red Hook Playgroup for 3 years. Nora hails from the West Coast but travelled east to attend college at Wesleyan University and never went back. Nora has settled into the rhythm of the four seasons over the years and loves working and learning with children through various scientific pursuits and experiences. She has yet to meet a kid without an innate love for the natural world and considers it a job of the utmost importance to foster this curiosity. Throughout her time at Red Hook Playgroup, Nora has become enthralled with RHP's investigative approach and has deeply enjoyed her experiences exploring the big ideas behind, and more nuanced entries into, a wide variety of student-selected topics. Nora is looking forward to her fourth year as Science and Garden Coordinator and her first year as Blue Room collaborative teacher.
LAURA HEROLD, CURRICULUM COORDINATOR & BLUE ROOM COLLABORATIVE TEACHER
Laura has been teaching at Red Hook Playgroup since 2014 and Curriculum Coordinator since 2016. While working as a guide and teaching early childhood classes at the Rubin Museum of Art in NYC, Laura realized her love for teaching young children and decided to pursue graduate studies at Bank Street College of Education; there she received her MSEd in Early Childhood Education. Prior to joining RHP, Laura taught for two years in the 3s classroom at City and Country School. Before entering education, Laura received her Bachelor’s Degree in Arts Administration at Goucher College, and worked in various non-profit arts organizations in NYC. She is thrilled to begin her sixth year at RHP!
TARA CANTY, DOCUMENTATION SPECIALIST & EXTENDED DAY TEACHER
Tara spent her early years in the Boston area but always knew she wanted to see the world. She lived in Florida and Colorado before settling in NYC where she decided to pursue a BA in Psychology at City College of New York City. For a number of years she worked in the non-profit sector, teaching and managing educational programs for young adults. She return to school to earn a Masters in Early Childhood Education at Hunter College School of Education. She then worked at TriBeCa Community School, a Reggio Emilia inspired preschool. She is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and was proud to be a presenter at the 2015 Dallas conference where she presented her teacher research on supporting autonomy and resilience in preschool aged children. Tara is a lover of animals and volunteers for a New York City animal rescue group, Ready for Rescue. She is a devoted yoga student and loves to travel. She joined the team at Red Hook Playgroup in the fall of 2016.
KENZIE ROWLETT, GREEN ROOM COLLABORATIVE TEACHER
Kenzie is a native of the central coast of California and comes to Brooklyn by way of Portland, Oregon. Soon after graduating college she became an assistant at a small neighborhood preschool in Portland and has been teaching young children ever since. She has taught in several progressive, constructivist, Reggio Emilia and Montessori schools in Portland and New York, and joined the RHP community as a Purple Room teacher in 2017. Kenzie studied literature and creative writing as well as American ethnic/cultural studies at Lewis & Clark College and is currently pursuing her Masters in Early Childhood Education.
JAMIE SMIDA, GREEN ROOM COLLABORATIVE TEACHER
Jamie joined RHP in January 2012 as a long term substitute for a teacher out on maternity leave, and she never left. Throughout her years at RHP she has been a floating teacher, Extended Day teacher, and in 2017 returned to the classroom as a collaborative teacher in the Green Room. Jamie began her career teaching as a third grade associate teacher at Packer Collegiate Institute and then spent the next 21 years teaching kindergarten at both St. Luke’s School and The Berkeley Carroll School. She lives in Park Slope with her husband, daughter (when she’s not away at college), and two cats. Jamie holds a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Boston College.
JILL TEITSWORTH, ART TEACHER
Jill's history with RHP goes back to 2013, when she joined the team as a Green Room teacher. After three incredible years, she left to spend a year as Blue School's Program Coordinator, but was overjoyed to return to the RHP community as the Art Teacher! Jill has worked with children for the past decade in a variety of roles in the classroom, in administration, and in after school programs. She also enjoys practicing art in both her professional and personal life; she has taught stuffed animal making classes, started a hand embroidery business, and created textile art that has been exhibited in local galleries. Jill holds a Masters Degree from Teachers College, Columbia University in Developmental Psychology and a Bachelors degree from Skidmore College in Social Work and Dance.
MICHELLE RUGGIERI, PURPLE ROOM COLLABORATIVE TEACHER
Michelle is a New Yorker who graduated with a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from the University of Fredonia. Throughout her career, she has had the chance to teach in nature-based preschools in Sweden, elementary schools in Japan, and English kindergartens in South Korea. Her love of teaching is cradled in educating students on respect for others, love of nature, problem-solving skills, and their own self-confidence. She feels most successful when her students can talk through their difficulties and emotions in seeking resolution. What drives her classrooms is the firm belief that all students, given the chance, have the ability to learn and grow in their own discoveries and with others.
CHRISTIE AYBAR, SPANISH & ENGLISH MUSIC TEACHER
Christie is a born and raised New Yorker, who has always had a passion for music and the arts. With over ten years of experience working in the childcare field, she's successfully taught children to engage with one another in a social and self-expressive manner. Through movement, song, and art, she encourages them to share, clean-up and gain a positive view of the world around them. She provides a pressure-free environment where each child can develop a creative foundation by learning the concepts, languages, and vocabulary of music and, as well as rhythm. Christie is very excited to be part of the RHP community, grooving out with children and getting to know families.
MERRY SCHOLL, PURPLE ROOM COLLABORATIVE TEACHER
Merry Scholl taught Pre-K for four years in Riverdale and Park Slope. She received her B.A. from Oberlin College, and is wrapping up a Master's in Early Childhood Education at Bank Street College this year. One of her favorite parts of preschool classroom life is block play; her favorite picture book right now is Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka. Born and raised in Riverdale, Merry has some great nature trail recommendations if you are planning a birdwatching excursion in the Bronx. She is also an urban farmer — she would love to talk with you about tomatoes.
TIRZAH BAKER, BLUE ROOM COLLABORATIVE TEACHER
Tirzah grew up in State College Pennsylvania. She received a Bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University in Art History and a Master’s degree from New York University in Museum Studies. She previously worked as a museum educator at institutions such as the Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art, the New-York Historical Society, and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, specializing in creating early childhood programs. Her work in museums focused on the intersection of community, social justice, and early learners. Tirzah is thrilled to further her practice of interdisciplinary teaching at Red Hook Playgroup next fall.