All Staff Are Members Of NAEYC

All educational staff are members of The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The NAEYC is the world’s largest organization working on behalf of young children. They promote high-quality early learning for all children, birth through age 8, by connecting practice, policy, and research. We advance a diverse, dynamic early childhood profession and support all who care for, educate, and work on behalf of young children.
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Pam Arlotta

Assistant Teacher, Nursery West, Playgroup West

Pam earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland. She was previously a buyer for Bed, Bath and Beyond and Hechinger, a hardware chain in the South. She lives in Garden City with her husband, John, and their three children. Pam was an active member of GCNS when her two youngest children attended. She is originally from Maryland but has been living on Long Island for over 20 years. She enjoys the beach, playing tennis, watching sports, playing cards and spending time with family.

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Francesca S. Cohn

Educational Director

Francie is the Educational Director. She earned a Bachelor of Arts with honors from Princeton University in Romance Languages and Civilization (with a concentration in French) and a Masters Degree with honors in Early Childhood Education from Adelphi University. She has NYS Certification in Early Childhood Education, birth through 2nd grade. Prior to coming into the classroom, Francie did editorial work and translation at Doubleday & Co. in NYC.

Francie has been a parent, teacher or assistant teacher working with all ages at GCNS for 25 years. She has also been a parent educator and has taught Pre-K, Nursery, Lunch and Literacy and led the STEM program for 10 years.

Francie and her husband Paul live in Garden City; her 3 children are GCNS alumni. Her interests include art, music, dance, languages, literature, yoga, swimming, knitting, sewing and quilting. She is an active member of the Garden City Community Church where she was the Church School Administrator for 6 years. She has been a Deacon, Confirmation teacher, Youth Mission Trip leader, Vacation Bible School teacher and is a member on the Board of Membership, Life and Development.

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Jackie Colon

Head Teacher, Pre-K East

Jackie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with Honors and a Masters Degree with Honors in Early Childhood Education from Queens College. She has a NYS Certification in Early Childhood Education, birth through 2nd grade.

Jackie worked as a Head Teacher teaching Pre-K in a private school in Long Island City, until the birth of her son Lucas (GCNS class of 2017).

Jackie lives in Franklin Square with her husband, son and daughter Nina, currently attending GCNS.

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Jessica Dowd-Wilde

Business Manager

Jessica is the Business Manager of the Garden City Nursery School (GCNS). Prior to working at GCNS, Jessica worked for Goldman Sachs for almost 10 years, primarily in the Asset Management Division as an Institutional Salesperson. She earned her B.S. in Finance and Information Systems from New York University Stern School of Business.

She serves on the Board of Directors of HOLA of Garden City as Treasurer and runs her daughter’s Girl Scout troop.  She is a CFA Level 1 Candidate and enjoys playing tennis and golf.  She spends most of her free time with her two children, Brendan and Cassidy, who are alumni of GCNS, her husband, Daniel and their dog, Garcia.

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Gail Feldman

Assistant Teacher, Pre-K West

Gail received an Associates degree in applied sciences and previously worked as a legal secretary. Her exposure to and involvement with the cooperative nursery school philosophy goes back more than 25 years.  She was very active at St. Mark’s Cooperative Nursery School, where both her children attended. She has had the pleasure of working with the four year old class at the GCNS for the past 12 years.

In her spare time, she is an avid reader and cook and enjoys spending time with family and friends.

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Krysta Ferrara

Music Teacher

Krysta graduated from Adelphi University with a Music degree, focused on Classical Performance with a Minor in Fine Art. She has worked with children privately for 6 years teaching music and art. Krysta’s son Augustine is an alum of GCNS. Last January, she was the winner of the 24th Festival of Song USA competition, an international singing competition where the winner of the competition wins a trip to Italy to perform! Krysta will travel to Italy mid-September for the Festival.

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Rebecca Kelly

Assistant Teacher, Playgroup West

Rebecca is a GCNS alum and is the proud parent of three GCNS alumni: Liana (2013), Nina (2016) and Gemma (2019).  Becca recently served on the GCNS Board of Trustees as the Co-Chair of Hospitality and the Co-Chair of the Children’s Event. 

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Cris Kilberg

Assistant Teacher, Pre-K East

Cris was a corporate trainer for over 20 years and started out in banking. She has been very active in the Garden City School District PTA, serving as president and chairing committees for 15 years.  She graduated from St. John’s University with Bachelor of Science in Quantitative Analysis. She has been a board member of HOLA of Garden City and volunteers at the CTC at the Mary Brennan INN.  Cris and her husband live in Garden City; they have 3 adult children (the youngest in college).


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Carol Knoch

Assistant Teacher, Nursery West & Pre-K West

Carol holds several undergraduate degrees and post graduate work in different disciplines of engineering, as well as a degree in Culinary Arts. She brings to the classroom decades of experience in math and science for Early Childhood to Elementary education and kitchen wizardry for added fun.

She has a broad range of interests but especially enjoys the outdoors with her family and fostering rescued animals.


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Kerri Macri

                                            Head Teacher, Pre-K West                                             Assistant Teacher, Playgroup East

Kerri earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John’s University where she majored in English. She then earned a Master’s degree in Reading from Adelphi University. Kerri holds NYS certification in N-6 and a NYC Common Branches license. She is a tenured NYC teacher; she has taught kindergarten for over 8 years and was a substitute teacher for a year before securing permanent employment.

Kerri has lived in Garden City for over 22 years and is married with three children, who are all GCNS alumni. She left teaching to raise her family and was a substitute teacher in the Herricks school district before working at GCNS. She enjoys baking, the beach and mostly spending time with family and friends.

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Barbara Malito

Head Teacher, Nursery West

Prior to raising her 4 children, Barbara taught Special Education with BOCES and 2nd grade and 5th grade at Stratford School in Garden City for 8 years. She came to GCNS with her children and stayed as a teacher.  She led Nursery West and Playgroup West for over 17 years where she and the Director, Francie Cohn, developed parenting sessions. Barbara holds a BA and MS in Education from Queens College. She has NYS Certification Nursery – Grade 6. She also has a Paralegal degree.

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Emily Merle

                                   Head Teacher, Playgroup West                                       Assistant Teacher, Nursery East & Pre-K East

Prior to becoming Head Teacher in Playgroup, Emily Merle has been assisting in Playgroup, Nursery and Pre-K since 2015.  She has a BA in Micro & Molecular Genetics from the University of Vermont.  Emily was a Special Education Home Support Provider for the Floral Park-Bellerose UFSD for 11 years; she was also the child care provider for infants, toddlers and preschoolers at the Mother’s Center at the Floral Park United Methodist Church for 7 years.  Emily has served as the Co-President of the PTSA at West Hempstead UFSD since 2018 and is the proud parent of two GCNS alumni.

Emily lives in West Hempstead with her husband and two children. She enjoys watching sports, reading, hiking/being outside, scrapbooking and spending time with her family.

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Christine O'Neill

Head Teacher, Playgroup East

Christine graduated from Pace University with her BA in Elementary Education and completed her MA in Elementary Education at Adelphi University. Christine was a substitute teacher for the Garden City School District, an Assistant Kindergarten Teacher for the North Shore School District and a Second Grade Teacher for the Elmont School District. Until the birth of her daughter Emma (GCNS Class of 2014) Christine worked for many years as a Human Resources Manager with JPMorgan Chase.  Prior to leading Playgroup at GCNS, Christine assisted for 5 years.

She enjoys reading, quilting, movies, musical theater and attending hockey games. Christine also enjoys co-leading Emma’s Junior Girl Scout troop.

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Megan Sorrentino

Head Teacher, Nursery School East

Megan received her undergrad degree in social sciences in 2003 from SUNY Stony Brook where she discovered a love for working with kids and people with disabilities. She spent the next 5 years working with adults with disabilities while still wanting to work with kids. In 2007, she decided to go back to school and get her Masters in teaching. Megan graduated with a teaching certification in General Ed and Students with Disabilities Birth thru 2nd grade.

She was offered a job teaching in an inclusion classroom in a center that provided early intervention services. Each child in the center was integrated into a typical daycare classroom for a small amount of time. She ran this classroom for about a year and then left to provide early intervention services on a full time basis. Megan then pursued her BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) which gave her a better understanding of behaviors and how to work with children with various disabilities. After getting married, having a baby and being pregnant with her second child, her family relocated from Brooklyn to Franklin Square and she started providing both early intervention services and CPSE services there. It was then that she came across GCNS and instantly fell in love with it.

She enjoys spending time with her family (2 girls, a boy and 2 dogs) and enjoys ice skating, traveling, watching the New York Rangers, leading 2 Girl Scout troops, swimming, and arts and crafts (both with and without her kids).


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