Staff

Our incomparable teaching staff is Brooklyn Free Space's biggest strength. Our staff has a long tradition of staying at BFS for years and years––and many who move on find their way back to us later. BFS doubled in size for the 2007–2008 school year. In growing from two to four classrooms, we welcomed, or welcomed back, some new staff members. We are happy to have long, fruitful relationships with these teachers.

Administration

Medina Khalil

Executive Educational Director

At BFS since 2010. M.S. Ed. Early Childhood and Childhood Education

Medina views the school as a place all the people who cross its threshold are nourished.  “The arms of the school serve as a frame, holding loosely enough that ideas have room to grow and thrive, and, supportively enough to nurture each one of us.  We are all encouraged to be brave, self-reflective learners. Each of the protagonists, the family, the teacher and the environment gather around the child, who is viewed as capable of anything she or he puts her/his mind to accomplish.”  Medina comes from an Arts background and views the arts as the medium through which discovery and innovation occur. Scientific thinking is the impetus behind inquiry and methodology. "Our teachers play a vital role in providing provocations, supporting the formulation of ideas, observing and documenting the children's progress along their journey into new concepts and relationships. Play is the center of all of this exploration and is the vehicle for a growing awareness and questions. Our Cooperative structure is echoed in the classroom, where each space shares a culture of respect for diverse ideas and identities. Early Childhood is a precious and magical time in a person’s life and we are continually grateful for the laughter, trust and joy that children bring into the world.”

Deidre Santos

Operations Manager - Interim

Deidre is an enthusiastic person who loves taking on challenges. She loves being an integral part of a team and enjoys working behind the scenes to help keep things running like a well-oiled machine. She has strong leadership skills with the tenacity needed to get the most demanding of jobs done. She has a BS degree in Business Management and Finance from Brooklyn College and has over 17 years working in operations and management.

Yannick

Custodian

At BFS since 2014

Yannick believes that a child's environment affects their development and behavior. Well-kept, indoor and outdoor environments make it easier for children to learn, to get along with one another and become independent. Yannick has been working in child care facilities for almost a decade and take pride in providing a safe and clean environment that allows the staff and all the children of BFS to feel welcomed and stress free.

Jitterbug

Daniela

Lead Teacher and Assistant Educational Director

At BFS since 1988. B.A. in Elementary School Education.

Daniela believes that children learn best about the world through spontaneous and creative play. She likes to help enrich the well-rounded harmonious development of the children in all areas from physical, cognitive, emotional, moral, and social to artistic. She believes in respecting the individual personality of each child, and in creating a trusting and emotionally rich family atmosphere in the classroom. Encouraging independence and self-esteem in the children, and establishing and maintaining well-balanced communication and cooperation with the families are her main goals. Daniela's lively warmth makes the children around her blossom.

Aida

Co-Teacher

At BFS since 1992.

Aida is renowned for her gift of helping children to develop emotional self-awareness and empathy while they explore the world around them. With her gentle, wise guidance, children learn to pay attention to and articulate their own feelings and those of others, which enriches and expands the classroom learning environment as a whole. Aida believes that children want to be loved and understood, and that they learn best with open-ended questions and hands-on activities.

Irina

Assistant Teacher

Irina is currently pursuing her BA in Early Childhood Education.

Irina has worked at Brooklyn Free Space since 2016 as student teacher, substitute and, now, an assistant teacher. After spending a few years in a Pre-K classroom, she decided to expand her teaching experience and join the little friends in the Jitterbug classroom. Together, with a team of amazing and caring teachers, she is committed to providing families with love and a developmental foundation for a lifetime of learning. At BFS, we know that play is the child's most important work, where children explore, question, socialize and discover answers to their questions.  Most of all, they have fun.  She thanks you for your trust and the willingness to share your children with us.

Dragonfly

Angel

Angel

Lead Teacher

At BFS since 2012. Angel is currently finishing up her M.S. in Special Education.

Angel believes that children learn best in a loving and nurturing environment, and that children who are given the freedom to express themselves develop into strong and independent individuals. She loves helping children understand their environment, friends and themselves. She strongly believes that teachers are responsible for shaping the positive growth of kids and in order to aid that, must be good listeners. What she loves most about children is their innocence, their different personalities and their way of thinking. She sees each child as unique, and treasures their uniqueness.

Laura

Laura

Assistant Teacher

At BFS since 1994

Laura believes that her first responsibility is to guide the children and help them establish confidence and, at the same time, give them all the tender loving care they need. Fun fact: Sometimes when she reads to the children, she changes her voice to match the characters in the book and becomes a little animated and goofy. The kids love it — they shout, 'More, more!' It's hysterical for everybody.

Amanda

Assistant Teacher

Amanda is currently pursuing her Masters in Childhood Education.

Amanda Kelly has been working with children for eight years.  She attended Sarah Lawrence College for her undergraduate degree.  Amanda began working in a Reggio Emilia daycare in 2016 as a substitute and After School Teacher.  She is fluent in English and Spanish.  Amanda is dedicated to bringing Spanish into the classroom.  She connects with her students through storytelling and imaginative play.  She is currently in the process of attaining her Masters in Early Childhood Education.

Sunshine

Bob Burke

Lead Teacher

At BFS since 2018. Bob has a California Site Supervisor Credential and will is pursuing his Masters in Early Childhood Education.

Bob is a recent transplant to Brooklyn from the west coast and is the dad to two college-age boys. After teaching for 9 years in Berkeley, CA , he is delighted to be in the Sunshine Room at Brooklyn Free Space.

Bob believes that Preschool children are thoughtful, capable and full of surprises. He believes in the value of taking time to discover the uniqueness and budding interests of each child and in using this knowledge to build relationships and a foundation for learning. Bob feels fortunate and grateful that he gets to spend most mornings in the presence of young children.

Camille

Camille

Assistant Teacher

At BFS since 2004.

For Camille, an important part of teaching young children is to help them accept their friends and themselves. She wants them to feel comfortable with who they are, and to get along with one another. She wants them to know there is more good than bad in the world, and to be happy about who they are. Watching the children grow and become more independent, and contributing to their development, has been a source of great satisfaction and excitement for Camille. She is warm and funny, and greets students cheerily with lines like, "Where's my wink?"

Claudenie

Assistant Teacher

Claudenie is currently pursuing her BA in Early Childhood Education.

Claudenie loves teaching because she loves seeing kids faces when they are curious about something. When they investigate and find out their own answers she is thrilled. She hopes they feel not only happy but comfortable. She believes they should be able to express themselves fully with her and their peers.  Currently, she is pursuing a Masters in Early Childhood Education.

Yakara Patrick

Assistant Teacher

At BFS Since 2018

Yakara has been working with children, from toddlers to school-age children, for over 20 years. She believes that with patience, love and a sense of comfort all children can learn at any age level. A child can teach an adult how to be happy for no reason and how to always be curious.

Rainbow

Oi Ling

Lead Teacher

At BFS since 2017. M.S. Ed in Early Childhood Education.

Oi was looking for a school that enables young children to have control over the subject matter in which they learn, and found it at BFS. Her ideal school allows teachers to observe children in their environment and use this information to help facilitate their explorations based on these observations. It is a great mutual fit! Oi has worked with young children from infants to Pre-K, giving her a comprehensive grasp of early childhood development. She has a strong passion for literacy and arts in early childhood which began when she was involved as the Cool Culture liaison at her first teaching experience. She saw first-hand how much growth and development can occur through arts, inquiry and family involvement.

Katherine

Katherine

Co-Teacher

At BFS since 2009. Kathy is currently finishing her B.A. in Early Childhood Education.

Every year Kathy is very enthusiastic to begin a fun-filled journey along with the families and teachers at BFS. She sincerely feels that it is amazing and beautiful to watch children as they discover and learn new things. She loves to see the joy and pride in their eyes when they realize that they could do things that they could not do before. To be apart of that is wonderful. She hopes to help children believe that anything is possible.

Lizzie

Lizzie

Assistant Teacher

At BFS since 2014

Lizzie was born and raised in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She has worked as a camp counselor and a substitute teacher. In addition to her love of working with kids she loves the world of theatre. Working in Early Childhood Education is something she’s known she wanted to do for a long time. Lizzie is so thankful and excited to be a part of the Brooklyn Free Space team.

Teaching Artists

Gabi

Gabrielle

Art Teacher/Atelierista

At BFS since 2008. M.F.A. 

"Gabi" is our Atelierista. When she thinks of what this role means to her, she considers herself a "Materials Exploration Facilitator," a" Fascination Exploration Doula, a "Beauty/Joy Tour Guide," and, finally, a "Sensory Experience Sommelier." Gabi supports the children and the teaching staff in exploring the “100 languages of children, knowing that when we have an opportunity to delve deeply into new mediums and experiences, we begin to develop mastery and understanding. Besides being an art teacher extraordinaire, Gabi is also a vintage treasure hunter, upcycler, & obsessive Image taker.
wemakeseedobrooklyn.blogspot.com

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Joanne

Music & Movement Enrichment Teacher

Joanne is the music and movement enrichment teacher for Jitterbugs and Dragonflies.

Joanne has a wonderfully inventive style with the children, drawing upon their interests to create improvisational creative expressions. Joanne has taught Music Together for many years, including at BFS in its past incarnation. She is well known in the neighborhood, and hosts her own playgroups through her own business.
flyingteapotmusic.com

Jeremy

Music Teacher

At BFS since 2014

Realizing that every child is born with their own unique musical awareness and creativity, Jeremy set out to create a program that helps foster every child’s musical journey and exploration. As a Music Education graduate of the prestigious, Berklee College of Music, Jeremy has had over 15 years of experience in and out of the classroom bringing his special brand of music education to thousands of children. As an accomplished children’s music writer and performer, Jeremy has won numerous awards including, A Parents Choice Award, John Lennon Songwriting Award, and Kid’s Music Award. Over the years Jeremy has also directed a non-profit which brought music classes to children in crisis, helped developed music curriculum for NYC school dept, toured the country performing songs for children, not to mention teaching thousands of music classes and lessons. He is also the director and founder of “Musication”, which bring music lessons and camps to children ages 3 and up.
musication.nyc

Additional Teachers & Staff

Maria

Maria

Assistant and After School Teacher

At BFS since 2008.

Maria believes that children need a teacher with patience, who develops a deep understanding of their words, feelings and needs. Maria feels that she is able to bring this consistent love and care to the children in her classroom. She loves working here, and feels that she is thriving as a teacher along with the children at BFS.