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Our Team

Parents

Parents are a vital part of the La Escuelita community, active in all facets of the school. From demonstrating proper dumpling making technique during a “Welcome to China” unit, to chairing a major school event, to lending a helping hand when time permits, parents are always welcome to contribute their time and talents to our school.

Parent Leadership Team (PLT)

Parents are a vital part of the La Escuelita community. The purpose of the Parent Leadership Team is to centralize and lead parent involvement and input in La Escuelita. The PLT provides a forum to discuss school-life issues among families and hosts school-wide events that promote school spirit, supplement curriculum or celebrate Latin culture. Membership is open to everyone and the PLT strives to schedule meetings at times that are accessible to the majority of families.   Based on meeting attendance last year, the PLT has decided to hold meetings at 8:30AM.  Free Early Drop off for all PLT attendees during meetings to facilitate more productive child-free discussion.  That said, babies and children are always welcome.  

 

The PLT will meet on the following dates during the 2016-17 school year

Wednesday, September 20, 2016 @ 8:30 am

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 @ 8:30 am

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 @ 8:30 am

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 @ 8:30 am

Wednesday, February 8, 2017 @ 8:30 am

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 @ 8:30 am

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 @ 8:30 am

Thursday, June 15, 2017 @ 8:30 am

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Book Fair/Feria del Libro

Every December, we provide our families and the greater community the opportunity to purchase high quality Spanish language books and bilingual books for children. We take great care in the selection of books to ensure that they are well-written and representative of diverse cultures. It is difficult to find quality Spanish language books via mass market retailers, so this event has been a valuable resource to not only La Escuelita families for the last several years, but to the wider community as well. Book readings, musical performances, coffee and treats add to the festivities. Proceeds benefit the STAFF DEVELOPMENT FUND.


Please join us on Wednesday December 7, 2016 for our annual Book Fair from 8:30AM - 4PM at 302 West 91st Street.   Hundreds of high quality Spanish titles will be available for babies through children in 6th grade.   

Reading Month

Parents take turns visiting their children’s classrooms in the month of January to share a favorite story. Stories in Spanish or in English are welcome; what is important is that it is a story that is loved and enjoyed at home. Children look forward to the day their parent comes and shares this special piece of home with their friends and Reading Month reinforces a love of reading to the children.

Health and Safety Month

April is Health and Safety Month at La Escuelita. The PLT recruits professionals that work in healthcare or public safety to visit our children’s classrooms throughout the month. Support pieces are sent home so that parents can reinforce these important messages to their children. Past visitors have included dentists, doctors, EMTs, police officers, firefighters, veterinarians, nutritionists and exercise professionals.

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Carnaval

Carnaval is a delightful Latin inspired celebration in May. Our street is closed to traffic for a party that includes games, food, music and dancing. Current and alumni families are invited to join us, as well as the surrounding community. Proceeds from Carnaval benefit the STAFF DEVELOPMENT FUND.

Graduation

We celebrate the children who are heading to Kindergarten in the fall with a special ceremony, followed by a picnic for all La Escuelita families in Crab Apple Grove.

Volunteering in Class

Parents are always welcome in class, after separation occurs. Teachers routinely invite and encourage parents to work with the children, whether it is to lead a craft, a cooking project, a science experiment, play an instrument or simply read a book; children adore visits from the parents. If you do not speak Spanish, the teachers will help incorporate Spanish into your presentation.

Administration

La Escuelita is led by Administrative Director, Kelley Grant, and our Educational Director Rosie Pichardo-Glean. While Rosie oversees teachers, curriculum, staff development, and admissions, Kelley manages the budget, promotes the school, and guides exmissions for our graduating families.

Kelley Grant

Administrative Director
I am the proud mother of a La Escuelita alum who attended the school from 2012 to 2015. During my daughter’s time at La Escuelita, I was a highly involved parent, serving as Class Parent, Chair of the Book Fair, Co-Chair of the Parent Advisory Board, and Board Member. I assumed the role of Administrative Director during the 2015-16 school year and I'm excited to begin another year at La Escuelita.  Before La Escuelita, I managed advertising spending for multi-million dollar brands at agencies within both IPG and Omnicom holding companies and later evaluated agency performance at Accenture. A 1995 graduate of Southern Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, I value the power of bilingualism and am raising my daughter to be fluent in Spanish. As Administrative Director, I am committed to ensuring La Escuelita continues to serve families who value bilingualism, play-based preschool education, diversity and inclusion.kelley.grant@laescuelitanyc.org

Rosie Pichardo-Glean

Educational Director
I was born in New York City to immigrant parents of the Dominican Republic. All my life, I always thought Spanish was just the language I spoke at home. Beginning work at La Escuelita in 2003, though, I quickly noticed that Spanish was a language that could flourish inside as well as outside of the comfort of your home. Over the next few years, I worked in all the classrooms, as well as the playgroups and summer programs, while completing my Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education at City College of New York. In 2009, I became the Educational Director of La Escuelita. In that role, I have had the privilege of working with teachers from all different backgrounds and nationalities. I became a mother to two beautiful children who also became part of the school’s family and are truly bilingual speakers and lovers of the Spanish language. In 2015, I received a double Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education in Early Childhood. rosina.pichardoglean@laescuelitanyc.org

Diana Rivera

Administrative Assistant
Born and raised in the Enchanted Island of Puerto Rico. In the midst of my career, I decided to move to New York in 2014, seeking new challenges and opportunities to utilize my expertise and further develop my knowledge. I have a Bachelor's degree in Advertising & Marketing and a Master's degree in Business Administration, Global Management. After over ten years working in the field of media, making promotions and marketing for different brands, I have the opportunity to work with La Escuelita. Being bilingual gives me the opportunity to contribute to the development of bilingual education of each child. I am very excited and committed to help provide all my knowledge for the benefit and growth of La Escuelita.
diana.rivera@laescuelitanyc.org

Teachers

We are fortunate to have a strong, dedicated teaching staff. With an average of six years of tenure at the school, La Escuelita teachers are an integral part of the school culture. Individual observation, weekly team meetings, and ample opportunity for professional development throughout the year all build a teaching team that truly knows your child, and are an asset to your family.

Pedro Carol Hernández

Assistant Teacher
I was born in Cuba and immigrated to the United States in December 2001, upon completing the course work for my Master's degree in Physical Education at the University of Matanzas. During my time at the university, I taught baseball and Cuban dance and music, winning several awards for directing and participating as well as for my work with students. Since 2003, I have been working at AHRC as a recreation assistant, working with children as young as five through adults. I joined La Escuelita in June 2005. My approach to education is that everyone can learn, and that learning should be both joyous and as efficient as possible. I agree with the Cuban philosophy that everyone has the right to be educated and must then contribute to the education of others.

Erica Olivo

Head Teacher
I have experienced first-hand the benefits of a dual language education. Coming from a Dominican family, I only spoke Spanish at home. When I arrived in NYC, I attended P.S. 75 for three years. I am currently enrolled at City College in a Bachelor's degree program in Early Childhood Education. Prior to joining the La Escuelita teaching team in 2007, I worked for several years at Bank Street as a counselor in the Bank Street Summer Camp and then also as an assistant teacher in the Bank Street Family Center. I am very enthusiastic about working in a dual language early childhood setting because of the energy and creative characters that younger students bring to their environments. I believe in the process of the students’ work instead of the product.

Jacqueline Vasquez

Head Teacher
I am excited to join La Escuelita. When I came to this country at the age of 13, I didn’t speak a word of English and did not have the advantage of participating in a Dual Language program, but instead received ESL services. I found learning English very difficult.
Based on my experience, I think that exposing students to a language-rich environment that supports their home language as well as the second language is very important. Students and families feel especially welcome when their home language and culture are validated in the classroom and throughout the school. I also believe that communication between staff and families is essential in order to enhance the learning environment created in the classroom. There should be a connection between home and school that enables the learning cycle to flow with ease.
I have several years of experience working as a lead/head teacher in the early childhood setting and some student-teacher opportunities in elementary school both in the general education classroom and the special education setting. At the present time, I have a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education from Mercy College and a Bachelor of Science in Bilingual Childhood Education and Spanish from City College.

Mariangelica Kohn Romero

Assistant Teacher
I recently moved back to New York City after a few years of teaching in my native Venezuela. There I taught 2nd through 6th grade students in a private K-12 joy-filled school on Margarita Island. I come from a long line of teachers and my greatest role model is my father who has been teaching for 50 years. I love to teach children through dance, song and play, because I firmly believe that learning is a gift and it should be enjoyed. I like to develop dynamic lesson plans to motivate my students no matter what level or age they are. I also have learned through the years that teaching is never a one-size-fits-all endeavor, as a teacher I must work to the individual needs of my diverse students’ learning styles. I have raised my daughters in a bilingual home and I know through experience that learning two codes of language and culture simultaneously expands children’s horizons and future possibilities.

Lina Rodríguez

Assistant Teacher
I grew up in a bilingual home, and have over three decades of experience as a preschool assistant teacher. Through the years, I have continued my own education, attending workshops and seminars to stay current on the latest techniques and theories. Much of my work has been influenced by my love for the arts. I received my certificate in fashion design from the French Fashion Academy School of Design, and have achieved success in helping children develop their own creativity as well as fine motor skills by teaching arts and crafts. I have a wide variety of interests, including doll collecting, travel, knitting and sewing, and bring these interests to the students through a well-balanced approach employing a broad range of activities to teach a particular concept. I am proud to be on the staff of La Escuelita, as it places an emphasis on becoming bilingual through play based activities, two aspects of early education in which I firmly believe.

Carmen Andrade

Assistant Teacher
I was born and raised in Cuenca, Ecuador where I earned my Associate's Degree in Accounting. In Ecuador, I taught English in Cuenca’s military school, but in 1999 I migrated to New York where I discovered my true passion in teaching. I worked in BWY, as a preschool teacher in Queens, NY. My passion soon motivated me to return to college where I obtained my Associate's Degree in Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts. Then I became part of La Escuelita and afterward obtained my Bachelor of Arts in Educational Psychology from Touro College. In La Escuelita I was given my dream job so far in my teaching career. I was given the opportunity to teach children my native language. Being bilingual can give one double opportunities in life.

Berenice Ruiz

Assistant Teacher
Born and raised in Colombia, I earned an Associate’s degree in Child Development from LaGuardia Community College, and continue to study for my bachelor’s degree from City College. I have more than 18 years of teaching experience working with preschoolers, both as an Assistant Teacher and Head Teacher. I enjoy reading books on reflection and connecting with nature by going on walks, as well as spending time with my family. I believe educators should have the students’ best interest at heart. With guidance and support, I focus on the whole child, knowing that students understand what they learn if it has meaning for them. I have been with the La Escuelita family since September 2006.

Francesca Benitez

Assistant Teacher
I was born and raised in NYC but all of my family is from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. Both of my parents as well as most of my relatives were born and raised there. As a child, I was fortunate to have been able to spend most of my summers in Puerto Rico and be fully immersed in my culture and learn my native language. I come from a family of many educators and I knew from a very early age that I wanted to become a teacher. Prior to joining the La Escuelita team I attained my experience working at after school programs within public schools, UPK programs and a special education school in Yonkers. I am currently enrolled in the School of Education at Lehman College in a Bachelors degree program and working on my teacher certification in bilingual education. Growing up in a bilingual household has inspired me to be a highly compassionate and committed educator with a passion for dual language education and long life learning, I would like to continue to develop my teaching skills while creating a challenging and fun learning environment for students.

Board of Directors

La Escuelita is fortunate to be able to draw upon a diverse, talented group of current and alumni parents for its Board of Directors. The Board supports the school's three core values by hiring and supporting the Administrative Director, ensuring financial stability, and developing long-term strategic vision. Board members devote time, energy, and support throughout the school year, driven by their passion for La Escuelita's mission and excitement to see it thrive.

Andrés Varon

Board of Directors
A software developer at the Jane Street Group, Andrés writes and maintains a variety of programs for trading. Before joining Jane Street, Andrés received his PhD in Computer Science from the Graduate Center, The City University of New York, and conducted bioinformatics research at the American Museum of Natural History. He received a Bachelor's degree in Biology from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. As a Biologist, he worked in the Colombian Biodiversity Information System, as well as studying the evolution, diversity, morphology, and anatomy of neotropical grasshoppers. Andres and wife Paola are parents of 2 kids: a current (class of 2018) and a soon to be student of La Escuelita.

Vilda Vera Mayuga

Board of Directors
Vilda is Chairperson of the NYS Industrial Board of Appeals. Previously, she was Deputy Commissioner for Worker Protection at the NYS Department of Labor and Executive Director of the Division of Immigrant Policies and Affairs. Vilda is an attorney and has practiced in the areas of civil rights, employment and labor law, as well as immigration. She is proud mom of Pilar who graduated from La Escuelita in 2015 and 2016 incoming La Escuelita student Joaquín. As a parent at La Escuelita since 2013, Vilda was Class Parent for the 3/4s class in 2013-14, co-chaired the Parent Advisory Board in 2014-15, and co-chaired the Carnaval committee in 2015 successfully leading the La Escuelita community in its first fundraiser. Vilda holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Boston University and is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico School of Law. Vilda and her husband Enrico strongly believe in bilingualism and multiculturalism, starting with fostering in their children their own Puerto Rican and Filipino cultures..

Melinda Agyekum

Board of Directors
Melinda originally hails from Savannah, Georgia and has lived in NYC for almost 15 years. As a Program Manager at Google, she thoroughly enjoys using her problem solving abilities to create order out of chaos. Melinda currently works in Google's Corporate Engineering organization managing technical infrastructure projects related to corporate data storage. Melinda holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), and a Master of Science and PhD in Computer Science from Columbia University. She resides in Harlem with her husband and two children. Although neither Melinda nor her husband speak Spanish, they are committed to raising their children to be bilingual and biliterate.

Jennifer Weiss Friedman

Board of Directors
Jennifer is co-founder and former director of La Escuelita.  Both of her children graduated from La Escuelita. Prior to founding La Escuelita in 2002 she worked as a bilingual speech-language pathologist in the public schools as well as for Early Intervention services and in private consultation. Jennifer taught and supervised graduate students in the Edward D. Mysak Clinic at Teachers College, Columbia University. Currently she serves as a volunteer for her daughter’s elementary school and son’s middle school, both public schools in Manhattan. She is also a pro bono consultant with New York Appleseed Network, an organization that promotes diversity in New York City Public Schools and focuses on equity in admissions to public schools.

David Folkenflik

Board of Directors
David Folkenflik is the media correspondent for NPR News, serving such newsmagazines as All Things Considered and Morning Edition as well as the network's digital platforms. Previously he was a reporter for the Durham, N.C. Herald-Sun, and the Baltimore Sun. Folkenflik is also the author of Murdoch's World: The Last of the Old Media Empires and the editor of Page One: Inside the New York Times and the Future of Journalism. A graduate of Cornell University, Folkenflik lives with his wife and daughters in New York City.Insightly Gmail Gadget

Hector Armstrong

Board of Directors
Hector currently works for Citi's Global Client Banking unit, which manages strategy for international clients for the retail bank. Previously, he was a Management Consultant for The Boston Consulting Group and at various roles within Citi Wealth Management Latam. He is the very proud father of Sebastian, who will be in the 4s class in the fall, and Eva, soon to begin in the 2s class. Hector holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Princeton University and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Both Hector and his wife Elizabeth are overjoyed and feel very fortunate that their children have the opportunity to receive a bilingual education, as they have family both in Puerto Rico and Mexico and feel that language is crucial to connecting with their Latin American roots.

Gabriel Wieder

Treasurer, Board of Directors
Gabriel is the parent of one daughter currently enrolled in La Escuelita, and one graduate. He works in financial services at a firm with a regional focus on Latin America. He has lived in Ecuador, where he taught English as second language, and in Mexico. His family has a bilingual home with strong ties to Mexico, the home country of his wife. Gabriel has Bachelor of Arts degree from Wesleyan University and a Master of Science degree from Georgetown University.

Jennifer Woodruff

Vice-President, Board of Directors
Jennifer is a co-founder and the parent of three La Escuelita alumni. As a monolingual parent, her primary motivation for opening the school was to find a way for her children to experience the many benefits of early acquired bilingualism. Prior to working with La Escuelita, Jennifer served as a middle school principal, an elementary school assistant principal, and a teacher in both preschools and elementary schools. Jennifer is currently working as a Project Manager for a professional development collaboration between Bank Street College of Education and the New York City Department of Education Pre-K for All initiative. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with honors in Education from Stanford University, a Master of Science in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College, and an Ed.D from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Martha Escobar

President, Board of Directors
Martha's oldest child was in La Escuelita's inaugural 2s class, and her youngest graduated in 2015. All four children spent three years at the school and are proudly bilingual.. She has served on the Board of Directors for the last six years. A stay-at-home mom, Martha and her family have a strong connection to Mexico, where her extended family is based in the city of San Luis Potosí. Martha graduated from Princeton University in 1994, and has a background in retail management. martha.escobar@laescuelitanyc.org

Ana-Maria Wheatcroft

Secretary, Board of Directors

Ana-Maria is the mother of three La Escuelita alums who attended the school from 2007 to 2014. She recently served as co-chair of the P.S. 87 Dual-Language Committee. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics. After spending 10 years working as an information technology programmer in the financial services sector, she joined the New York City Teaching Fellows in 2003 and completed her Master’s degree in secondary math education. Ana currently works for a quantitative hedge fund manager as a talent acquisition & culture specialist.