Jennifer Carvajal


Jennifer Carvajal received her B.S. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA and her M.S. in Education, with a concentration in Literacy, from Hunter College in New York, NY.  She taught at Beginnings Nursery School from 2002 to 2009 and participated in a study group in Reggio Emilia, Italy in 2007. Jennifer is on the Board of Directors at Teaching Beyond the Square and has been consulting for them since 2013. When she's not taking care of her twin daughters, she is leading professional development workshops and working alongside teachers and directors in the tri-state area as they strive to become more Reggio-inspired.

Yeshnaya Dougherty


Yeshnaya received her M.A. in Early Childhood Education from Lesley University and her B.A. in Environmental Studies from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia.  Passionate and inspired by the curious minds of young children, Yeshnaya's teaching practice and philosophy are largely shaped from her work with the Reggio Emilia approach and her experience teaching in progressive schools in NYC, where she has worked as a classroom teacher for children from eighteen months to eight years old. Most recently Yeshnaya taught at Beginnings Nursery and presented at the Wonder of Learning Materials Conference in April 2015. She finds great joy in sharing her enthusiasm and experience with other educators and has been consulting for Teaching Beyond the Square since Spring 2015, working with a variety of public and private schools.)

Shelly Gargus


Shelly has been teaching children between the ages of three to five in Reggio Emilia inspired schools since 2005, with the majority of those years at Beginnings Nursery School in Manhattan. She presented at the Wonder of Learning Materials Conference in April 2015, and loves engaging in dialogue with other passionate teachers and educators. She serves as a consultant for Teaching Beyond the Square, a non-profit started by Beginnings, dedicated to supporting educators and families, and improving early childhood education for all children. She is currently pursuing a MS.Ed in Special Education at Hunter College, and is the head teacher for the 4/5's class at Beginnings.

Colleen Goddard


Colleen Goddard is the Child Development Specialist at Beginnings Nursery School.  She has over 20 years experience in early childhood education.  Colleen received an Excellence in Teaching Award from the NYC Early Childhood Professional Development Institute in 2009, and holds a Master’s Degree in Human Development with a Specialization in Early Childhood Studies from Pacific Oaks College.  She earned an additional Master’s Degree in Human & Organizational Studies from Fielding Graduate University where she recently completed her Ph.D. in Human/Child Development.  Her dissertation explores the significance of transitional objects at the beginning and end of life.

She was a contributing writer for the New York State Early Learning Guidelines as part of the New York State Early Childhood Advisory Council and has been published by Psychology Today Online and  Colleen presents parent/ teacher educational workshops at early childhood schools and centers, on a variety of topics: The Significance of Transitional Objects, Separation/Attachment/Attunement, Mindful Limits and Boundaries, Power Play/Empowering Play & Gender Play, and How Children Understand Loss and Death.  Colleen also teaches at The NYU School of Professional Studies, Hunter College, and is a Fieldwork Supervisor for graduate students in general and special education at the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.

Robin Koo


Robin Koo is the Program Director of Teaching Beyond the Square, an innovative non-profit founded by Beginnings Nursery School, dedicated to exploration-based education. She developed the non-profit's programs and services to include bi-monthy Symposiums, an educational stipend, a Materials Center, a parent workshop series, and consultation work for schools interested in moving towards an exploration-based approach. The non-profit hosted the Wonder of Learning exhibit from Reggio Emilia, Italy, from January through May in 2015, in Brooklyn, NY. Robin was on the Steering Committee and was Chair of the Atelier Committee, which created the Natural Materials and Light & Shadow Ateliers to accompany the exhibit. Since the exhibit's presence in NYC, Robin has been collaborating with the NYC DOE Division of Early Childhood Education, and working closely with a variety of public and private early childhood school communities. She began her teaching career at Beginnings in 2001, first as a classroom teacher and then as the Studio Teacher starting in 2006, and in 2007, she helped establish the Materials Center at Beginnings, which she continues to coordinate and develop. Robin lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two children. She received her M.A. in Art & Art Education from Teachers College, and her B.A. in Visual Art & Art History from Bowdoin College.

Amy Miller


Amy Miller joined Beginnings as the Studio Teacher in 2009. She has a BS in Visual Art with a minor in Art History from Pace University and a MA in Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. In 2010, Amy co-presented her work with children, “Living in Spaces: Children translate ideas about iconic architectural spaces through various artistic media,” at the European Early Childhood Education Research Association’s annual conference in Birmingham, England. Most recently, Amy was published in the March 2015 issue of ‘Innovations,’ North American Reggio Emilia Alliance’s journal of education, with an article about collaborative work done with the AM 2/3s class. Amy has taught art classes for a variety of ages, from 2-3 year olds to adults with disabilities. She has also taught architecture courses to middle and high school students. Amy is a visual artist who specializes in stone carving and sculpture.

Alanna Pan


Alanna joined Beginnings in September 2013. She received her BA in Environmental Design with a minor in Environmental Studies from University at Buffalo, and her MA in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College. Prior to joining Beginnings, she worked in urban planning, community development, and environmental education. She also worked for many years as a children's garden instructor at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Jane Racoosin


Jane is the Director of Beginnings Nursery School, where she has worked since 1992. She received a BA in Psychology from the University of Vermont, a Masters in Early Childhood Education and a Masters in Supervision and Administration from Bank Street College. Jane has had extensive training in the Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education. She has attended workshops at Reggio inspired schools in the United States and been to Reggio Emilia, Italy to visit their early childhood programs and study their philosophy. Jane spearheaded a two-year relationship between The University of Vermont Campus Children's Center and Beginnings Nursery School. She has presented at the 92nd Street Y, Kean University, and The European Early Childhood Research Conference in Birmingham, England. Jane has been an adjunct lecturer in the department of Early Childhood Education at Hunter College. In 2013, Jane started Teaching Beyond the Square, a non-profit dedicated to improving early childhood education for all children, especially in high-risk communities. She also was the exhibit chair for New York City's 2015 Wonder of Learning Exhibit, the traveling exhibition from the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Linda White


Linda White is the founder of Imagination Play Project, LLC, inspiring creativity and collaboration through open-ended materials and play. She earned her undergraduate degree in Behavioral Disabilities and Early Childhood Education from University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a Masters degree in Social Work and Educational Counseling from Washington University. Linda provides counseling to parents, children and preschools, and has collaborated with numerous organizations including: Educational Alliance, The Rubin Museum, Asia Society, The Children's Museum of the Arts, Providence Children's Play Museum and the JCC Manhattan nursery school. Linda has also been involved in the development and training of Jewish preschools in Romania and Bulgaria, creating new Jewish life in those areas.