The Team

Jane Racoosin Founder

Jane Racoosin

Beau Edmondson Director of Strategy and Communications

Beau Edmondson
Director of Strategy and Communications

Jennifer Carvajal Senior Educational Director

Jennifer Carvajal
Senior Educational Director

Yeshnaya Dougherty Educational Coach

Yeshnaya Dougherty
Educational Coach

Wendy Gelsanliter Materials Center Educator & Coordinator

Wendy Gelsanliter
Materials Center Educator & Coordinator



Laura Sedlock

Laura Sedlock

Robin Koo

Robin Koo

Luigi Caiola

Luigi Caiola

Sipi Bhandari

Sipi Bhandari


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Jane Racoosin has worked in early childhood education for over 20 years. As a teacher, parent, and Director of Beginnings Nursery School in NYC, she has witnessed how children’s learning and emotional development are impacted by an exploration-based education approach. In her own classroom, she saw that children gained confidence and creativity when curriculum was developed in collaboration between teachers and children. She wanted to offer the same high quality early learning experience to all children across the five boroughs regardless of cost. In 2013, she started Teaching Beyond the Square to fulfill this vision and to elevate early childhood education’s importance in a public way. With the launch of New York City universal pre-k programs in 2015, Jane felt it was the perfect time for the Wonder of Learning exhibit to return to New York after a 25 -year hiatus. She was the organizer and chair of the exhibit which had over 11,000 people visit and see the work of the children and educators in Italy. The exhibit also provided free professional development for all teachers new to the field and seasoned professionals, from independent and public schools. 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, 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.

+ Beau Edmondson - Director of Strategy and Communications


Beau Edmondson is the Director of Digital Communications for Beginnings Nursery School, a Reggio inspired preschool and Teaching Beyond the Square, an innovative non-profit founded dedicated to exploration-based education; he’s also a teacher. Along with developing their websites, he has helped restructure how they use documentation as an integral part of their pedagogical approach to learning and communication. Beau was on the Steering Committee and was Chair of the Documentation Committee for the Wonder of Learning exhibit from Reggio Emilia, Italy, from January through May in 2015, in Brooklyn, NY, which gathered and displayed the half-year experience online. He began his teaching career at a Brooklyn Heights Montessori School as the music teacher for first through eighth grades. He began teaching at Beginnings in 2010 and developed their sound studio and music website for which he presented his work on the evolution of the music studio program at Blue School's annual conference on Innovation in November 2013. Beau lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and two children. He received his B.F.A. New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in Theater Performance and English Literature and his front-end web development education from General Assembly in New York City.

+ Jennifer Carvajal - Senior Educational Director


Jennifer Carvajal is the Senior Educational Director of Teaching Beyond the Square and is on Board of Directors. Jennifer has a passion for literacy, emergent curriculum, and open-ended learning experiences. She has consulted for Teaching Beyond the Square since 2013, leading professional development workshops and partnering with teachers and directors in the tri-state area as they strive to take a more progressive approach to education. She has partnered with The Jewish Education Project to lead special projects and cohorts, and she has presented at several conferences including Come Learn with Us and the Jewish Early Childhood Association's Long Island and Manhattan conferences. Jennifer taught at Beginnings Nursery School from 2002 to 2009 and participated in a study group in Reggio Emilia, Italy in 2007. She 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. When she's not chauffeuring her twin daughters around to soccer practice and hip hop class, Jennifer enjoys beating her family in competitive games of Slamwich.

+ Yeshnaya Dougherty - Education Coach

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.

+ Wendy Gelsanliter - Materials Center Educator & Coordinator


Wendy Gelsanliter helped develop the Materials Center at Beginnings Nursery School in 2007 and is currently the Materials Educator and Coordinator at Teaching Beyond the Square. Wendy has over thirty years of experience working with young children. Her most recent administrative positions include Associate Director of the Jewish Community Project’s Early Childhood Center, Director of the Park Slope Child Care Collective and Assistant Director of Beginnings Nursery School in Manhattan. Wendy has 19 years of experience as a classroom teacher for children ages eighteen months old through third grade at The Buckley School, Beginnings Nursery School and Blue School. In 2015, Wendy was part of the Steering committee for the NYC exhibition of the Wonder of Learning Exhibit, the traveling exhibition of the Reggio Emilia approach. Music is another passion of Wendy’s. As a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, she has produced three CDs for children and their families. Wendy has also taught music and movement classes in several locations. Wendy holds her BA in English from Hamilton College and a M.S. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College. In 2018, she participated in a study group in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

+ Laura Sedlock - Board Member


Laura Sedlock, Pre-Primary Program Director, grew up in New York City, where she attended the Bank Street School for Children and the Fieldston School. She has a BA in English from Wesleyan University and a Masters in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College. Laura has fourteen years of experience in the field of early childhood education, having taught at the Bank Street School for Children, City and Country School, P.S. 321 in Park Slope, Brooklyn and Beginnings Nursery School. Most recently, Laura has been the Educational Director at Beginnings since 2008. She has also been an adjunct lecturer in the department of Early Childhood Education at Hunter College. Before entering the field of childhood education, Laura taught English to adults in New York and Indonesia, where she lived for four years. Laura finds the world of early childhood to be endlessly fascinating and engaging, and is thrilled to be part of a community with such an energetic and thoughtful approach to children and education. She lives in Brooklyn with her spouse and two daughters.

+ Robin Koo - Board Member

Robin Koo

Robin Koo is currently the Studio Teacher at Packer Collegiate Institute. Robin was the Program Director of Teaching Beyond the Square from 2013-2018. In 2015, when Teaching Beyond the Square hosted the Wonder of Learning Exhibit Robin was the chair of the Atelier Committee, which created the Natural Materials and Light & Shadow Ateliers. During her tenure as Program Director, Robin worked closely with a variety of public schools and UPK centers, and private early childhood school communities, supporting them as they moved towards an inquiry-based approach to teaching. She began her teaching career at Beginnings in 2001, first as a classroom teacher in the 2s and 4/5s, and then as the Studio Teacher starting in 2006. In 2007, she helped establish the Materials Center. Robin is an Adjunct Instructor at NYU SCPS teaching courses for their Childcare Management diploma program. She received her M.A. in Art & Art Education from Teachers College, and her B.A. in Visual Art & Art History from Bowdoin College.

+ Sipi Bhandari - Board Member


Prabha Sipi Bhandari is Managing Director and General Counsel of Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., Deutsche Bank's US registered broker-dealer, investment advisor and futures commission merchant (FCM), and Global Head of Mergers & Acquisitions - Legal Americas. Prior to joining Deutsche Bank in 2007, Ms. Bhandari was responsible for Mergers & Acquisitions at Viacom Inc. Prior thereto, Ms. Bhandari was a corporate associate at the law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York. She began her legal career as a law clerk for the Honorable John M. Duhé, Jr. of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ms. Bhandari is a frequent speaker on M&A and corporate governance topics, including the role of investment bankers, fairness opinions and ongoing legal and regulatory developments.

Ms. Bhandari received her J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she served as Notes and Comments Editor of the New York University Law Review. She received her B.S. from Cornell University in Industrial and Labor Relations. She is admitted to practice in New York and is a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. In 2013, Ms. Bhandari received the Corporate Leadership Award from the South Asian Bar Association of New York.

Ms. Bhandari serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Teaching Beyond the Square and as a Member on the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Children's Museum and on the Steering Committee of Women in M&A New York.

+ Luigi Caiola - Board Member


Luigi Caiola is the Managing Member and CEO of B and L Management LLC, a real estate development company that focuses on multi-family residential projects. B and L owns and operates residential and commercial properties throughout New York City. A three-time Tony Award® winner, Luigi made his debut as a Broadway producer in 2011 with the historic revival of GODSPELL by Stephen Schwartz. During the 2016-17 theater season, Luigi will co-produce An Act of God with Sean Hayes, Dear Evan Hansen, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Natasha, Pierre and the Comet of 1812 with Josh Groban and Burn This! with Jake Gyllenhaal. Recent Theater credits include: During the 2015-16 theater season, Fiddler on the Roof, On Your Feet, The Color Purple (winner of 2 Tony Awards® for Best Musical Revival and Best Leading Actress) and Spring Awakening. 2012 thru 2014: The Elephant Man, An American in Paris, All The Way starring Bryan Cranston (winner of 2 Tony Awards® including Best Play on Broadway) Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (winner of 3 Tony Awards® including Best Revival of a Play) Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (winner of 1 Tony Award® and 3 Drama Desk Awards). Luigi is also on the Board of Directors of the New York City Center and The Bay Street Theater and Cultural Center in Sag Harbor. Luigi and his husband Sean McGill are devoted parents to former Beginnings attendees, Maria ‘11 and twins William ‘13 and Adam ‘13 and Luigi is the proud son of Bettina Caiola and the late Benny Caiola.

+ Dr. Piraye Yurttas Beim - Board Member

Dr. Piraye Yurttas Beim founded Celmatix in 2009 to empower women to be more proactive and informed about their fertility through better data, including genomics. She was on the front lines of the personalized medicine revolution during her doctoral work at MSKCC/Weill Cornell (NYC) and was inspired to create the company after completing her postdoctoral embryology research training at the University of Cambridge (UK). Realizing how many of the successful and career-minded women in her network were making major, life-defining decisions around fertility based on age alone, she set out to bring personalized medicine to reproductive health. In addition to her scientific credentials, Dr. Beim has also been widely recognized as an emerging business leader. She is a Fellow of the second class of the Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellowship program, a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, and was named a NYC Venture Fellow by the NYCEDC, to Crain’s 40 Under 40, Top 15 founders disrupting their industries by Fortune, and a Top Female Founder by TechCrunch. She lives in New York City with her husband and three children.

+ David Tisch - Board Member

Mr. Tisch, the founder of LSV Advisors, LLC, has over 20 years of experience in the alternative asset management business and investment banking. Mr. Tisch is the chief executive officer for the LSV family of funds with cumulative assets under management (including capital commitments) in excess of approximately $1 billion as of November 1, 2017. Mr. Tisch served as a Director at Deutsche Bank AG from 2002 until late-2005, where he raised capital for DB Advisors, LLC and in particular DB Global Masters and its constituent funds. The platform was formed in 2002 from DB Advisors, LLC proprietary trading talent, talent that was associated with the formation of independent fund managers. Prior to Deutsche Bank, Mr. Tisch worked in the leveraged finance group of CIBC World Markets Corp. from 2000 to 2002. Prior to joining CIBC World Markets Corp., Mr. Tisch worked in the private equity investment group at Gabelli Asset Management Inc. from 1999 until 2000. From 1995 to 1997, Mr. Tisch worked as an analyst in the investment banking group of Salomon Smith Barney.

Mr. Tisch received his B.A. in Economics from Cornell University in 1993 and earned his M.B.A. from Columbia Business School in 1999. Mr. Tisch resides in New York City with his wife Tanya and son James.

+ Tetyana Tisch - Board Member

Tetyana Pilyukova Tisch ("Tanya") is CEO and founder of Flora Flowers, a business that adheres to a strict certified organic practice of growing rare varieties of flowers. Tanya recognized an unmet demand for organic locally-grown flowers through her work with Shekomeko

Farms ("Shekomeko"), which she co-founded in 2015. Shekomeko Farms's business mission compliments Tanya's interest in helping farmers increase profitability through best inventory management and wastemanagement practices. Shekomeko has obtained praise from some of NYC's most notable restaurants sucn as Gotham Bar and Grill and Jean Georges's ABCv. Shekomeko and Flora Flowers have also secured accounts with companies such as Havas, one of the largest advertising agencies in the world, where it is the exclusive vendor to over 1,000 employees. Prior to founding Shekomeko Farms and Flora Flowers, Tanya attended Columbia University where she double majored in Political Science and Creative Writing and graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Betta Kappa in the class of 2015.

Prior to attending Columbia University, Tanya spent 8 years working as a model with some of the leading designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani, Alexander McQueen, Emmanuel Ungaro and many others. She appeared on covers of Elle, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire and was the face of Clarins cosmetics, MAC Cosmetics, De Beers, UGG among others. Tanya is married and a proud mother of her 17-month old son James.

+ Roxanne Batista - Board Member

Roxanne began her career as a pedagogue in 2007, within a Bi-lingual Special Education class. Via independent professional developments, college course work, and an avid appetite for self-coaching literature, she strengthened her craft and began to gain confidence as a teacher. As the years progressed, and her positions evolved from teacher to Assistant Principal, Administrator of Special Education and currently Director of Early Childhood Education (Principal), she has made it her duty to ensure that those in need of professional development and advisory are provided for so that they may become better teachers, parents and students. Roxanne founded the only stand-alone DOE Pre-K center, Garden of Learning and Discovery, in 2015 and it continues to provide rigorous STEAM instruction in a loving environment in which students discover their love for learning. Throughout the last few years, she advocated and obtained $2.6 million in Capital Funding to break ground for an Early Childhood playground across the street from the Pre K Center. Roxanne is the co-chair of the Bronx Borough President's Early Childhood Consortium, an active member of NAEYC, and was just honored by Councilmember Vanessa Gibson for the advocacy work that is done throughout the district.

+ Jenny Hunter - Board Member

Jenny Hunter-Astrachan grew up in Tennessee, where her Grandma Mae, a farmer and self-described pack rat, introduced her to the art of repurposing household materials. She was inspired to invent a fitted hinged dental retainer out of Grandma Mae’s broken hair pins, and became the envy of her 3rd grade class.

She has worked as a producer and a writer on various television and film projects, including The Daily Show, Da Ali G Show, Borat, Good Hair, and My Grandmother’s Ravioli.

Jenny lives in Brooklyn with her two great kids and great husband, who all love turning trash into treasure.