The RPNS staff is made up of 30 caring, competent, and experienced early childhood educators. In addition to two co-directors and an administrative assistant/school nurse, our staff includes 26 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 a part of the RPNS administrative team as the Director of Admissions, Marketing, and Technology, and she was a co-teacher for ten years. As Co-Director, Kristin continues her work with registration and admissions. Kristin is head of marketing, technology, and finances. 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 completed her Masters of Science in Education in Early Childhood Education and Literacy at Long Island University. In addition, she has her Post-Master’s degree in Special Education. Kristin has her Professional New York State Teaching Certifications in Early Childhood Education, Literacy, and Special Education. As a former member of the Bucknell Dance Company, Kristin 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 includes 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 nineteen 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 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 will begin her third year as part of the RPNS faculty! Many of our families know Geri as a former Rye Playschool teacher. In addition to teaching preschool children in our building, she has led small social distance children's groups through Little Learners Studio in Rye, NY over the summer. Before 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!
Patricia Sheahan also begins her third year at RPNS as part of our two-year-old teaching team on the first floor! Patty has 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!
Shirley Llanes has been part of the RPNS staff for seventeen 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 third year at RPNS. Darlene is well known by so 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.
Melinda Zambrano begins her sixth year teaching at RPNS. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from American University and a Master's in Early Childhood Education. Prior to joining RPNS, she worked at several independent preschools in New York City. She also has experience teaching Kindergarten and spent two years at The Windward School working with students who have reading and writing challenges. Melinda has a calm, positive, and thoughtful energy, and she is very passionate about working with young children.
Jovana Rodriguez begins her second year with Melinda Zambrano in the twos. She has been in the field of early childhood education for 7 years. Jovana previously taught preschool-age children at Ridgeway Nursery School in White Plains and Little Sparrows in Armonk for several years. She has extensive experience teaching two-year-olds. She has attained her B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Liberty University and will be continuing her studies to achieve her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She is passionate about working with children and enriching young minds through play and mindful experiences. In her free time, she enjoys reading, Zumba, and spending time with her husband and two children.
Stephanie Brice begins her third year teaching at RPNS. Stephanie has a Master's Degree in Educational Studies with a concentration in Early Childhood Education. Stephanie has seven 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!
Lisa Filardi also begins her third 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!
Three & Four Year Old Staff
Dawn Mytych has been a teacher at RPNS for thirty-three 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 six 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, NY, and has worked closely with teachers, parents, and administrators to build programs in the RCSD. Megan's gentle and kind ways ensure smooth teacher/child connections.
Traci Fiore has taught all our age levels over her twenty-seven 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 fourth year as part of the RPNS faculty as a three-year-old classroom teacher with Traci Fiore. Jessica holds a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and has nine 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!
Mary Szamborski has taught at RPNS for twenty-three 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 third year teaching at RPNS. Pasqua previously taught three and four year olds at Greenwich Catholic School. She holds a Master's 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 fourteen 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 for both age levels.
Nicole Soto is delighted to join the RPNS community this year. Nicole has a Masters 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 fifteen 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 be teaching with Mrs. Prata for her second year. 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). Last fall, due to Covid challenges, 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. Rute is very excited to be part of the RPNS community!
Four & Five Year Old Staff
Angela Speakman begins her fifth year teaching at RPNS. Angela formally worked at Elements Preschool in lower Manhattan. Her professional experience lies within 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 third 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 that majored 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 nine 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 nineteen years. She has her Master of Science in Education, N-6, from Hunter College and her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Fine Arts/Dance from the Tisch School of Arts at New York University. Cathy's interactions with students are melodic and filled with fluidity. Cathy looks at each student as a whole and enjoys getting to know everything about them.
Lisa Keegan has been a Co-Teacher at RPNS for five 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, she has experience managing after-school clubs for Milton School, and she 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 fourth 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. Most recently, 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
Joanne Coughlan begins her second year at RPNS. Prior to working as a staff support teacher at RPNS, Joanne worked at Resurrection Grammar and Middle Schools for twenty-three years. She was also the after-school coordinator at Resurrection for six years. She has always enjoyed working with children of all ages. Joanne has a market and management degree from Berkeley Business School. She looks forward to meeting every child at RPNS this school year!
Allison Costello also begins her second year at RPNS. Previously Allison taught at Putnam Indian Field School in Greenwich, Connecticut for seventeen years, and prior to that, she worked as a substitute teacher at Bridges School. She has extensive experience working in schools inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy and enjoys implementing the Project Approach Curriculum. Allison believes that this way of teaching offers children the flexibility to develop interests, the opportunity to learn their strengths, and the ability to make personal contributions to classroom work. Allison has a degree in Early Childhood Education. Allison looks forward to working with students of all ages this school year!
Dina DeSanto has been the physical education teacher at RPNS for the past twelve 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. Both of her children, Joy and Jillian, are former RPNS alumni. 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 Emelia philosophy embraced by RPNS, of child-led learning and development through play. Donna works collaboratively with parents, educators, and other therapy disciplines 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, Language Association (WSHLA).