Yvonne Smith / Pre-K Teacher
Yvonne Smith is an early childhood educator whose teaching is rooted in principles of progressive education and developmentally appropriate practice. In her classroom, she focuses on creating an environment for all her students that is rich in potential and grounded in the natural world. She believes that young children develop skills, knowledge and understandings about the world through active experiences, support for their social and emotional development and attention to their interests and strengths.
Yvonne began her career in 1974 in a public daycare center in the Bronx; ten years later she joined the faculty of Central Park East 1 Elementary School, an East Harlem public school that pioneered experiential learning through an integrated curriculum responsive to children’s diverse backgrounds, interests, and abilities. A native New Yorker and graduate of NYC public schools, Yvonne received her B.A. and MSEd. from The City College of New York and was an active member of The Workshop Center for Open Education, established by Lillian Weber at City College. She supports teacher education and development through frequent lecturing and welcoming of educators and policymakers to her Pre-K classroom. She has contributed to numerous publications, the most recent of which is Teaching Kindergarten: Learner-Centered Classrooms for the 21st Century, edited by Julie Diamond, Betsy Grob, and Fretta Reitzes.
Fanny Roman / Kindergarten Teacher
Fanny Roman is an Early Childhood Educator who began her journey working with children as an after-school counselor at the YMCA. Over the years she has had the opportunity to work with students of all ages. After leaving the YMCA, she began a new chapter in her career when she joined the NYC Department of Education. Fanny taught Pre-Kindergarten for 9 years and since 2011, she has been teaching Kindergarten and working with English Language Learners. Because of her personal history, she has a compassionate heart for her students and understands the struggles of being an immigrant in an environment without knowing the language.
In her classroom, Fanny promotes opportunities for children to feel safe, be risk-takers and be part of a caring community. Fanny believes that through exploration and play, children develop important language, social skills and problem solving skills along with an understanding of empathy. These tools will help them through childhood and when they become adults.
Fanny currently works at PS244Q The Active Learning Elementary School where administrators, teachers, and staff strive to meet children’s academic, physical, and social needs with the belief that educating the whole child allows for learning at optimal levels.
Fanny received her B.A. in Early Childhood Education and Sociology from Queens College and her M.S. in Children’s Literature with a Bilingual Extension. She was born and raised in Queens, NY by a single immigrant mother. Fanny is married to her High School sweetheart and is a mom of three boys who fill her heart with joy.
Jessica Lawrence / 1st Grade Teacher
Jessica is a progressive early childhood educator committed to working in diverse school communities. She began her career in an after-school program in Washington Heights, NY, has taught in a play-based preschool and now co-teaches First Grade at Bronx Community Charter School. She shares: “Having had the wonderful experience of teaching Pre-K, Kindergarten and First Grade, I have worked with children across multiple developmental stages. This has enabled me to see firsthand the importance of choice, play and access to rich and varied educational experiences in the development of all learners.”
Jessica received her B.A. in Childhood Education and Judaic Studies from The City College of New York and her MSEd. in Early Childhood Special Education from Hunter College. A native of rural Wisconsin, she now lives with her young family in Washington Heights.
Andrene Robinson / 1st Grade Teacher
After migrating with her mother to NYC as a 3-year old, Andrene learned at a very young age how to navigate the customs and traditions of two cultures: while at home, those of her home country, Jamaica, and in school, those of her adopted country, the United States. During a student teacher internship while a high school senior at The Institute for Collaborative Education (I.C.E.), she discovered her passion for teaching and never looked back. Following the birth of her daughter and a six-year tenure as a paraprofessional with the Department of Education, these experiences eventually led her to Bronx Community Charter School whose progressive pedagogical philosophy is closely aligned with her own. She previously taught Kindergarten there, and now co-teaches First Grade.
Andrene attended public schools, going on from I.C.E. to earn her B.A. from Hunter College, and a dual MSEd. degree in Special Education and General Education from Hunter College School of Education. She says: “I worked alongside dedicated professionals who mentored me and helped me get my grounding when it came to special education… Being an educator is such an amazing and humbling experience. I could not see myself doing anything else.”
Kimberly Fritschy / 1st/2nd Grade Teacher
Kimberly Fritschy is an Early Childhood educator. She is a graduate of public schools. Kimberly began as a career changer and after having two children of her own. She enrolled in the early childhood program at Borough of Manhattan Community College where she received an A.S. in Early Childhood Education. She went on to pursue her B.A. from Hunter College and received a dual MSEd. degree in Early Childhood General and Special Education from Bank Street College of Education. Over the years, she has had the opportunity to work in many different settings, including Head Start programs, an ACS Day Care Center, the Third Street Music School Settlement and My Little Village Preschool. Kimberly currently works at The Earth School, the same public school where her two children received their elementary education.
Kimberly lives in the same community where she has been teaching for 17 years. She is dedicated to giving back to the community where she raised her own children. Kimberly’s special education background has also led to her connecting her love for horses and children. She has been a volunteer with GallopNYC for many years, assisting children of all ages in physical therapy and therapeutic horsemanship. Kimberly is a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher and works with the Billion Oyster Project. She is committed to ensuring that all children are given equal opportunities for learning in a city with so many disparities.
Kimberly’s practice is rooted in progressive education. She draws on many philosophies, but spent many years working within the framework of Reggio Emilia practices. She maintains that children learn best through experience, respect, responsibility and as a member of a community. Kimberly strives to create a place where all students and educators of diverse backgrounds feel welcome in a peaceful learning environment, where children are encouraged to explore and protect the natural world, create through a variety of media, engage in rich and meaningful conversations, and build a caring community of learners.
Vanessa Keller / 1st/2nd Grade Teacher
Vanessa Keller grew up in a family of public educators outside of Washington, DC. She was raised in a Latino/Irish American household and enjoys using Spanish in the classroom and with the families she works with. Vanessa attended Bank Street College of Education where she studied Special Education, General Education and Bilingual Education. She believes that children learn through play and she enjoys developing playful and engaging curriculum that is accessible to a range of learning styles. Vanessa has been teaching at The Earth School in the East Village for 15 years and has held a variety of positions from Kindergarten to 5th grade, as a classroom teacher and support teacher. She is currently co-teaching a first and second grade inclusive class. Vanessa is a strong supporter of public education and participates as an activist. She lives in Queens with her husband and two young children. When she is not teaching she enjoys spending time with her family gardening, traveling, and seeing live music.