The RPNS staff is made up of caring, competent, and experienced early childhood educators. In addition to two co-directors and an administrative assistant/school nurse, our staff includes 28 teachers and a physical education instructor. Our speech therapist, occupational therapist, and physical therapist provide additional support services.
Kristin Kumar is Co-Director of Rye Presbyterian Nursery School with Margaret Sculti. Previously, Kristin was part of the RPNS administrative team as the Director of Admissions, Marketing, and Technology, and she was a teacher at RPNS for ten years. As Co-Director, Kristin continues her work with registration and admissions. Kristin is head of marketing, technology, and finance. Both Directors support all RPNS families and work with every member of the faculty. Kristin graduated from Bucknell University with a Bachelor of Science in both Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education. Kristin has her dual Master of Science in Early Childhood Education and Literacy from Long Island University. In addition, she has her Post-Master’s Degree in Special Education. Kristin holds Professional New York State Teaching Certifications in Early Childhood Education, Literacy, and Special Education. As a former member of the Bucknell Dance Company, Kristin also holds a Minor in Dance and greatly enjoys teaching creative movement to young children.
Margaret Sculti is Co-Director of RPNS with Kristin Kumar. Formerly, Margaret was the Assistant Director of RPNS and has been a part of RPNS since 1999. Margaret is the primary contact for special education needs and the RPNS Parent Organization, which organizes fundraising and outreach. She is also the school’s liaison with Rye Presbyterian Church. Margaret has an undergraduate degree in Psychology, has a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Lehman College, and is NY State Certified N-6. She was a teacher at RPNS for thirteen years and she has worked in the 2s, 3s, and 4s. She has extensive experience working with young children and their parents in special education. Helping children reach goals is her passion.
Kathy Bellotti is our School Nurse and Administrative Assistant. She has worked at RPNS for twenty years. As a Licensed Practical Nurse, Kathy manages the daily health issues of our children and staff, as well as, assists the Directors each day with the safety and supervision in front of the school building and other pertinent administrative responsibilities. Kathy looks forward to greeting new and returning families from our front office!
Two & Three Year Old Staff
Geri Peacock begins her fourth year as part of the RPNS faculty! Before joining RPNS, Geri was a Rye Playschool teacher for five years, and she has experience teaching multiple preschool ages. Over the summer, Geri is the Assistant Director of the summer camp at Manursing Island Club. Prior to becoming a classroom teacher, Geri worked as a flight attendant. Geri is upbeat and full of energy, and she has a strong understanding of young children's development. She always finds the positive side to a situation and enjoys building confidence within her students each day!
Stephanie Brice begins her fourth year teaching at RPNS. Stephanie has a Master's Degree in Educational Studies with a concentration in Early Childhood Education. Stephanie has many years of experience as a preschool teacher. Before joining RPNS, Stephanie worked as a Head Teacher at the Children's Garden Center in Tarrytown. We are thrilled to have her warm and welcoming personality at RPNS! Stephanie is looking forward to having her daughter Zuli begin her journey at RPNS this school year in the twos!
Shirley Llanes has been part of the RPNS staff for eighteen years. Shirley has her B.A. in Asian Studies from the University of Santo Tomas Philippines, her Certificate in Childcare from New York University, and her CDA from the Council for Professional Recognition, Washington, D.C. Shirley is well known around RPNS for her cooking and baking, which stems from her own interest and her Certificate in Pastry and Baking from the Institute of Culinary Education, NYC. She is a member of the Rye Storyteller's Guild, where she develops the many stories that she shares with our RPNS children.
Darlene Dahlgren begins her fourth year at RPNS. Darlene is well known by many RPNS students and families since she was our teacher intern for two years. She has spent extensive time observing and supporting all of the ages at RPNS and has embraced our Nursery School philosophy and daily routines. In addition to her teaching experience at RPNS, Darlene has taught preschoolers at Community Synagogue in Rye, N.Y. over the summer. Darlene holds her Childhood Development Associate Certificate and continues to further her education through additional professional development. Darlene brings energy that draws children into learning! She enjoys making the curriculum fun and engaging for young children.
Patricia Sheahan begins her fourth year at RPNS as part of our two-year-old teaching team. Patty taught toddlers at The Montessori School of Manhattan for over 14 years. She values Early Childhood development and enjoys promoting a nurturing and warm environment for students during their first year in preschool. Patty holds a Bachelor's Degree from Fordham University and is an English major. In addition, she holds a certification in Infant/Toddler Development. She is looking forward to developing a strong sense of community with her two-year-old families. Her gentle and kind way with the students will be sure to make for a memorable first school experience!
Lilly Kolb begins her second year teaching at RPNS. In addition to having her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education, Lilly has completed her Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and Literacy from Long Island University. Lilly has her dual New York State Teaching Certifications in Early Childhood Education and Literacy. Lilly was a preschool teacher at The Children's Center in Purchase NY for several years. Lilly also has experience working in Kindergarten at Edgewood Elementary School in Scarsdale, NY. Lilly is a passionate and insightful teacher who creates enriching and meaningful classroom experiences for her young students.
Three & Four Year Old Staff
Alessandra Praino begins her second year at RPNS. Alee previously taught four-year-olds at World Cup Nursery School in Chappaqua, N.Y. In addition to her head teaching experience at World Cup, Alee conducted the following enrichment classes: writing skills, science enrichment, children’s yoga, and music and movement. Alee holds a Master's in Early Childhood Education from Mercy College and is also NYS Certified. She is proficient in creating meaningful curriculum experiences for young children. Alee discovered her love for teaching by reflecting on her mother’s work experience as a seasoned classroom teacher. Alee is looking forward to having her son Leo begin his journey at RPNS this school year in the twos!
Molly Cacase is delighted to join the RPNS community this year. Molly has her Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from Manhattanville College. Molly has experience teaching both Pre-K and Kindergarten at Brunswick School in Greenwich CT. Additionally, Molly was a Kindergarten teacher at the Waterside School in Stamford for several years. She is trained in the Orton-Gillingham methods of teaching literacy and phonics instruction. Molly attended RPNS as a child and is thrilled to rejoin the RPNS community as a teacher!
Dawn Mytych has been a teacher at RPNS for thirty-four years. Dawn has her Early Childhood Certificate from SUNY Purchase, and she attended the international study leave in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Dawn's dedicated listening skills with young children have enabled her students to investigate and create the wonders of such varied subjects as Submarines, Firehouses, Rescue Helicopters, Pizza Kitchens, Suspension Bridges/Tugboats, Air Traffic Control Towers, and Trains! Dawn's attention to detail and her strong understanding of child development make the curriculum experiences in her classroom complex and meaningful.
Megan Wardle has taught at RPNS for seven years. Megan has a B.A. from Michigan State University and an M.A. in Education, Teaching, and Learning from DePaul University in Chicago. After earning her degrees, Megan worked in elementary schools primarily as a lead Kindergarten teacher in Illinois and Michigan. Megan has also served as the PTO president at Milton Elementary School in Rye and has worked closely with teachers, parents, and administrators to build programs in the Rye City School District. Megan's gentle and kind ways ensure smooth teacher/child connections.
Traci Fiore has taught all our age levels during her twenty-eight years at RPNS, and she has been a three-year-old classroom teacher for over twelve years. Traci has her Early Childhood Certificate from SUNY Purchase and her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from the College of New Rochelle. In addition, she has worked as the art program coordinator/instructor at several summer camps throughout Westchester County. Traci's strong creativity allows her to develop curriculum experiences that are unique and highly engaging for young children.
Jessica Fishman begins her fifth year as part of the RPNS faculty as a three-year-old classroom teacher. Jessica holds a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and has many years of experience working with preschoolers at the Christ Church Day School in NYC. Throughout her time there, she led several different emergent studies that reflected child-centered learning and expressed how learning goals are reached throughout the curriculum. Jessica enjoys working closely with preschoolers and values their voices in helping to drive curriculum experiences. Jessica brings an upbeat and caring attitude to RPNS! Jessica is looking forward to having her daughter Zoe begin her journey at RPNS this school year in the twos!
Mary Szamborski has taught at RPNS for twenty-four years. She has her Bachelor's Degree from Drew University and has earned credits towards a Master's Degree in Literacy Education from Long Island University. Mary attended a week-long study leave in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and she has also studied the Reggio Project Approach at many conferences at progressive preschools throughout the country. During her years at RPNS, she has taught both three and four year old classes. Mary values that every learner is different, and she adapts her teaching to meet the needs of all her students.
Pasqua Broccole begins her fourth year teaching at RPNS. Pasqua previously taught three and four year olds at Greenwich Catholic School. She holds a Master of Science in Childhood Education from Pace University. In addition, Pasqua is an experienced tutor and has experience running an engineering program for students. She is thrilled to be teaching in a Reggio-inspired educational setting and is eager to pursue an emergent curriculum with her new students. Pasqua's warm and meaningful student interactions promote respect for young learners.
Angela O'Keefe has been a teacher at RPNS for fifteen years. She has dual Master's Degrees in Early Childhood and Special Education from Manhattanville College and is New York State Certified in Special Education. Throughout her years at RPNS, she has taught both three and four year old classes. Her love of working with young children shines, and she enjoys making connections with families. Angela looks forward to building a dynamic and challenging curriculum.
Nicole Soto begins her second year teaching at RPNS. Nicole has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood and Special Education. She has been an Early Childhood teacher for thirteen years with ten years of experience teaching in Montessori school settings. In addition, Nicole has her Montessori certification in Early Childhood Education from the American Montessori Society. Before joining RPNS, Nicole taught as a Head Teacher at the Montessori Day School of Brooklyn for eight years before moving back to Westchester County with her husband and puppy. She is eager to share her love of music and storytelling with her students.
Allison Prata has worked at RPNS for sixteen years. Before working at RPNS, Allison was a teacher at Horace Mann School in Riverdale. She has her Master's Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from Manhattanville College. Allison is a teacher that puts her heart and soul into every experience with the children. She enjoys implementing journal writing in her classroom in order to enhance her students' fine motor development and writing skills. Allison has a warm and welcoming teaching style and values the connections she makes with her students and families throughout the years.
Rute Janerio is overjoyed to begin her third year teaching at RPNS. Rute holds a Master's Degree in Communication Studies. She has been a Montessori Educator for the past thirteen years and is an Early Childhood Teacher (3-6 years old) certified by the American Montessori Society. Previously, Rute worked as a Head Teacher at Hudson Country Montessori School for the past eight years. In addition, Rute speaks three languages (Portuguese, Spanish, and French). During the pandemic, she became an independent childhood learning consultant and created a home-based program that supplemented the asynchronous school days of Kindergarteners from the Rye Neck School District. She loves music and uses art as an extension to her lessons.
Four & Five Year Old Staff
Angela Speakman begins her sixth year teaching at RPNS. Angela formally worked at Elements Preschool in lower Manhattan. Her professional experience is in preschool administration and early childhood teaching. In the past, she held the titles of Program Director of Youth and Family Services, Senior Early Childhood Director, and teaching professional for eight years at the Greenpoint YMCA in Brooklyn. She holds a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College with her New York State professional certification, Birth-2nd grade. Angela has extensive experience working in early childhood classrooms and her passion is providing children with emergent curriculum experiences!
Shelby Camardella begins her fourth year teaching at RPNS. Previously she taught four-year-olds at The Children's Center at Suny Purchase where she provided a teaching approach that included project-based learning and "The Creative Curriculum." Shelby also mentored college students majoring in education on teaching expectations, classroom management, and child development. She has additional preschool teaching experience at Brunswick school where she taught Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten for two years. She is trained in Responsive Classroom that promotes effective social-emotional development for students throughout the classroom day. Shelby is NYS certified and holds a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Lehman College. She brings extensive knowledge on different approaches in early childhood education and a true understanding of childhood development.
Nancy Barbero has taught at RPNS for ten years. She has her M.A. from Manhattanville College in Special Education and Reading, and she is NY State certified, N-12. Nancy received her B.A. from Iona College/College of New Rochelle in Psychology/ Elementary Education (certified N-6) and Special Education (certified N-12). Her prior experience includes nineteen years of teaching at various preschools, as well as, Heathcote Elementary School in Scarsdale. Nancy finds value in the voices and actions of young children and holds classroom memories close to her heart!
Cathy Cunningham has been teaching at RPNS for twenty years. She has her Master of Science in Education, N-6, from Hunter College and her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Fine Arts/Dance from the Tisch School of Arts at New York University. During the summer, Cathy is the Director of the Rye Recreation Summer Camp. Cathy's interactions with students are melodic and filled with fluidity. Cathy looks at each student as a unique individual and enjoys getting to know everything about them.
Lisa Keegan has been a teacher at RPNS for six years. Prior to teaching the fours/fives, Lisa served as a leave replacement teacher and an additional classroom support teacher at RPNS for five years. Lisa has worked with all the ages at RPNS and has great experience working with our early childhood population. Lisa volunteered as a Rye Youth Council board member for three years, has experience managing after-school clubs for Milton School, and served as a PTO Board Member for four years. Lisa has a Master's Degree from New York University. Parents and students adore Lisa's upbeat and positive energy, and we are looking forward to having Lisa continue to teach our oldest students.
Candace Faucher begins her fifth year teaching at RPNS. Candace holds a Master's Degree in Early Childhood and has formally taught Pre-Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade in different parts of Massachusetts. She has a passion for emergent curriculum and participated in a student internship at the Cambridgeport Children's Center. There she used the Reggio-Emilia teaching model to construct activities driven by student interests. In addition, Candace worked as a full-time professional for the Carrie E. Tompkins Elementary School in Croton-on-Hudson. Candace's enthusiasm and confidence support our students and families to make for a successful school year.
Additional Staff Support
Lisa Filardi begins her fourth year teaching at RPNS. Lisa has extensive experience working in Early Childhood Education in a variety of roles. Throughout the years, Lisa has been a classroom teacher for students ages 2-10 in both preschools and elementary schools. Prior to joining RPNS, Lisa worked as an educational coordinator at the Children's Learning Centers of Fairfield County where she assisted the director in curriculum advancement, teacher reflections, and licensing procedures. Lisa holds a Master's Degree in Reading and Literacy, as well as a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education. She brings a sense of calm, infectious reflection, and great respect for children to our school!
Dina DeSanto has been the physical education teacher at RPNS for the past thirteen years. Dina brings a passion for working with young children, a strong knowledge of child development, and a ton of energy and enthusiasm. Dina has worked with all our RPNS classrooms throughout the years. She holds a Master’s Degree from Hofstra University, and she is New York State certified in physical education. She has a B.A. in Social Science, which focused on education and psychology. She is beloved by RPNS students and families!
Margaret Leddy, Licensed and Certified Occupational Therapist, works at RPNS as an occupational therapist. Margaret works collaboratively with the facility based therapists at Creative Wonders to provide consistent and child-centered treatments. Margaret has a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Frostburg State University and an Associate’s Degree in OT from Mercy College. She formerly was Leader Teacher in the Young Fours Program at Mamaroneck Community Nursery School.
Donna Massari, Licensed Physical Therapist, works at RPNS as a physical therapist. She has twenty-one years of experience in her field and finds working with young children to be most rewarding. She joined the staff of Rye Therapies of OT, PT & SLP, PLLC in early 2017, and has been providing facility, home, and school-based therapy for preschool children as part of the CPSE program. Donna earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Therapy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Her treatment approach is closely aligned with the Reggio Emilia philosophy of child-led learning and development through play which is embraced by RPNS. Donna works collaboratively with parents, educators, and other therapists to provide treatment plans tailored to each child’s speciﬁc needs.
Allison Stone, Speech and Language Pathologist, works at RPNS as a speech and language therapist. Allison works collaboratively with the facility-based therapists at Creative Wonders to provide consistent and child-centered treatments. Allison has a Master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology from New York University. She has provided speech and language services for children in Hong Kong, New York City, and Westchester County for more than 20 years. Her clinical experiences include providing services to children from birth to age 12 and evaluating and treating a variety of speech and language disorders. Allison is a member of the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) as well as the Westchester Speech, Hearing, and Language Association (WSHLA).