Anna Siegal, Executive Director
Anna is from New York, and grew up working with children in a variety of settings and capacities. After graduating from Williams College, she 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 true passion for working with children and teachers on interdisciplinary, inquiry based art projects, and cultivated an interest in academic leadership and collaborative curriculum design. In 2012, she began work at the American International School Foundation in Freetown, Sierra Leone. There, she taught fourth and fifth grade Humanities. As Early Childhood and Primary School coordinator, she oversaw an international faculty and staff of thirty, guiding them through an extensive curriculum review and redevelopment process that culminated in a globally minded, progressive curriculum for grades preschool – 8.
Anna joined RHP in January, 2013 as a Team Teacher in the Purple Room, and took over the role of Atelierista in September 2014. As Atelierista, Anna worked closely with RHP's students and faculty as they established and refined their approach to long term investigations. She's delighted to be stepping into the role of Executive Director in RHP's tenth year, and is looking forward to a great year to come!
Tanya Barrett, Assistant to the Director
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. Last year, 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’s excited to be the newest member of RHP, and is looking forward to bringing her diverse professional background and experience to the community.
Nora Painten, Garden Teacher & Program Coordinator
Nora is a farmer who has been gardening with students for 4 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 providing varied science and gardening experiences throughout the school year and summer. 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.
Laura Herold, Curriculum Coordinator and Purple Room Collaborative Teacher
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. Prior to joining the RHP family, Laura received her MSEd in Early Childhood General Education, and worked as an assistant teacher in the 3’s classroom at City and Country School in the West Village. 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.
Kenzie Rowlett, Purple Room Collaborative Teacher
Kenzie is a native of the central coast of California and comes to Brooklyn by way of Portland, Oregon. She is a graduate of Lewis & Clark College, where she studied literature and creative writing as well as American ethnic/cultural studies. Soon after graduation, she became an assistant at a small neighborhood preschool in Portland and has been teaching young children ever since. She began her graduate studies in Early Childhood Education through a joint program of Portland State University and Portland Community College and will be continuing at Brooklyn College next year. She has taught in several progressive, constructivist, Reggio Emilia and Montessori schools in Portland and New York, with children from six months to six years, most recently at Williamsburg Northside Preschool, and is extremely excited about joining the RHP community this fall.
Tara Canty, Green Room Collaborative 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 is thrilled to be joining the team at Red Hook Playgroup and looks forward to getting to know the children and families!
Jamie Smida, Floating & Extended Day Teacher
Jamie grew up in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and still lives there with her husband and daughter. She graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and received a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Though she began her career teaching third grade, her passion was working with the youngest students. After many years teaching kindergarten in NYC independent schools she found Red Hook Playgroup and has been thrilled with the opportunity to work in all three rooms and to be a part of the Extended Day program.
Jill Teitsworth - Art Teacher
Jill's history with RHP goes back to 2013, when she joined the team as a Green Room teacher. She left to spend a year as Blue School's Program Coordinator, but is overjoyed to return to the RHP community as the Art Specialist! Jill has worked with children for the past decade in a variety of roles and enjoys practicing art in both her professional and personal life. Outside of work, she can be found taking ceramics classes, creating fiber art, and teaching stuffed animal making classes. 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.
Hannah Verrill, Extended Day and Floating Teacher
Hannah is an artist and educator and was happily introduced to the arts at an early age while growing up in Brooklyn. She returned back to her beloved East Coast after living and studying in the Midwest for many years, earning a BA from Oberlin College in Ohio and an MFA from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. Hannah has nurtured her teaching practice in many contexts and with many age groups over the years, but most recently she has been a teaching artist with Abrons Art Center and Dia: Beacon. Hannah's goal as an educator is to awaken students to their creative and expressive abilities, which she believes every child to have in profound abundance. She is absolutely thrilled to be joining the RHP community.
Christie Aybar - Spanish and 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, and she looks forward to grooving out with children and getting to know families.