Jenna Wagman

Jenna Wagman

Jenna Wagman has been an early childhood educator in the New York City Department of Education for 11 years.  She has taught pre-k, kindergarten, second grade, and theater at schools all over Brooklyn.  In addition to her public school work, she spent three years as the the Head of Lower School for the Yachad Program at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope.  There she oversaw teacher development and implementation of creative, developmentally appropriate instruction.  She currently teaches pre-k at P.S. 516, a Reggio-inspired, emergent curriculum-based public school program, in Sunset Park.

When she’s not teaching, you can find her chasing her kids and dog around Prospect Park or making her husband wash loose parts that she stockpiles for her classroom.  

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.


Jenna Samotin


Jenna Samotin

Jenna Samotin is an artist and 3s teacher at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue Early Childhood Center in Manhattan. Jenna has a BA in Art History from Hunter College, and a M.Ed from City College of New York. Her love for all things artistic started at a very young age, as she kept a sketchpad and pencil with her at all times. A painter, photographer and filmmaker, she draws artistic inspiration from architecture, geometry, the shapes and textures of an urban landscape, and the aesthetic resonance of young children's artwork. From 2011-2013, Jenna was one of 88 NYC-based artists chosen to participate in a public art installation titled, "Sing for Hope's Pop-Up Pianos.” When Jenna entered the education world in 2007, she immediately connected to the creative intuition of young children, and continues to find inspiration in their work. In 2013, Jenna traveled to Reggio Emilia as a part of the International Study Tour. In 2014 Jenna presented her work “Exploring Mysteries, An Ongoing Curriculum Using the Reggio Emilia Approach” at the Elaine Kramer Child Development Workshops, UJA Federation of New York. Jenna also enjoys interior design and traveling the world.

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.

Anetta Kotowicz

Anetta Kotowicz

Anetta has been teaching music at Plymouth Church School since 2003. Having strong background in music & movement education as well as music performance and composition, she shares it with children using variety of mediums and exploration possibilities. Music theory, composition and improvisation is explored in motion, dance, art and science, engaging children into multi sensory experience.

Born and raised in Poland, Anetta received her Dalcroze Eurhythmics teacher Diploma. She graduated Mozarteum University in Salzburg (Austria) and received Carl Orff Institute Diploma in Musik-und-Tanzpädagogik (music and dance education). She is former faculty of Lucy Moses School at Kaufman Music Center in Dalcroze Eurhythmics department. She also taught at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) and Union Temple Preschool. While in Plymouth, Anetta composed the curriculum, where children's natural curiosity is transformed into hands-on music exploration.

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.