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. By connecting practice, policy, and research, the organization promotes high-quality early learning for all students from birth through age eight. We advance a diverse, dynamic, early-childhood profession and support all who care for, educate, and work on behalf of children.
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Pam Arlotta

Assistant Teacher, Nursery West, Playgroup West
Pam graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science Degree. Prior to the onset of her teaching career, she worked as a buyer for Bed, Bath and Beyond and Hechinger, a hardware chain in the South. Originally from Maryland, Pam has been living on Long Island for over 20 years and began her relationship with GCNS as a parent, who enrolled her two youngest children as students. She currently lives in Garden City with her husband, John, and their three children. She enjoys going to the beach, playing tennis, watching sports, playing cards and spending time with her family.
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Francesca S. Cohn

Educational Director

Francie graduated with Honors from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Romance Languages and Civilization (with a concentration in French) and earned a Master’s Degree with Honors in Early Childhood Education from Adelphi University. She is NYS Certified in Early Childhood Education, birth through second grade. Prior to her career in education, Francie completed editorial work and translation at Doubleday & Co. in NYC.

Francie’s involvement in GCNS has spanned over 25 years and her roles have included parent, assistant teacher and head teacher, working with all age groups. She has taught Pre-K, Nursery, Lunch and Literacy and led the STEM program for ten years. Her credentials also include parent education. 
 
Francie and her husband Paul live in Garden City; her three children are GCNS alumni. She is an active member of the Garden City Community Church, where she was the Church School Administrator for six 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. Her interests include art, music, dance, languages, literature, yoga, swimming, knitting, sewing and quilting. 
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Jackie Colon

Head Teacher, Pre-K East

Jackie graduated with Honors in two programs from Queens College with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She is NYS Certified in Early Childhood Education, Birth through Second Grade. Jackie worked as the head Pre-K teacher in a private school in Long Island City until the birth of her son, Lucas (alumnus of GCNS class of 2017).

She lives in Franklin Square with her husband, son and daughter, Nina, a current student at GCNS.
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Jessica Dowd-Wilde

Business Manager

Jessica earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Information Systems from New York University Stern School of Business. Prior to working at GCNS, Jessica worked for Goldman Sachs for almost ten years, primarily in the Asset Management Division.

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

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Gail Feldman

Assistant Teacher, Pre-K West

Gail earned an Associate’s 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 of her children attended. She has been working with the four-year-old class at 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 Major in Music (emphasis on Classical Performance) and a Minor in Fine Art. She has worked with children privately for over six years, teaching both art and music. Krysta’s connection with GCNS also began as a parent; her son, Augustine, is an alumnus of the school. Last January, Krysta won the 24th Festival of Song USA competition, an international singing contest where the winner wins a trip to Italy to perform! Krysta will travel to Italy in mid-September for the Festival.

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Rebecca Kelly

Assistant Teacher, Playgroup West

Rebecca is a GCNS alumnae and is the proud parent of three GCNS alumni: Liana (2013), Nina (2016) and Gemma (2019). She recently served on the GCNS Board of Trustees as both 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 graduated from St. John’s University with a Bachelor of Science in Quantitative Analysis. She began her career in banking as a corporate trainer and continued to do so for over 20 years. She has been very active in the Garden City School District, serving as the president of the PTA and chairing committees for 15 years. She has been a board member of the Garden City non-profit organization HOLA and volunteers at the CTC at the Mary Brennan INN. Cris and her husband live in Garden City and have three adult children.

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Carol Knoch

Assistant Teacher, Nursery West & Pre-K West
Carol holds several undergraduate degrees, including one in Culinary Arts, and has completed post-graduate work in various disciplines in the field of Engineering. She brings to the classroom decades of experience in Math and Science for Early Childhood/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’s laurels include a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from St. John’s University and a Master’s Degree in Reading from Adelphi University. She is NYS certified in Nursery-Grade 6 and holds a NYC Common Branches license. As a tenured NYC teacher, she taught kindergarten for over eight 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, all of whom are GCNS alumni. She took a break from teaching to raise her family and returned as a substitute teacher in the Herricks School District before joining GCNS. She enjoys baking, the beach and spending time with family and friends.

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Emily Merle

                                   Head Teacher, Playgroup West                                       Assistant Teacher, Nursery East & Pre-K East
Emily earned a Bachelor of Arts in Micro and Molecular Genetics from the University of Vermont.  She was a Special Education Home Support Provider for the Floral Park-Bellerose UFSD for eleven years and a child care provider for infants, toddlers and preschoolers at the Mother’s Center at the Floral Park United Methodist Church for seven years.  Emily has assisted in Playgroup, Nursery and Pre-K since 2015, prior to her role as Head Teacher of Playgroup West.  She 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, scrap booking and spending time with her family.

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Christine O'Neill

Head Teacher, Playgroup East

Christine graduated from Pace University with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and completed her Master’s in Elementary Education at Adelphi University. Christine’s career in education includes working as 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 five 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 undergraduate degree in Social Sciences from SUNY Stony Brook and a Master’s Degree in Education. She is NYS Certified in General Education and Students with Disabilities, Birth through Second Grade. Megan began her career working with adults with disabilities and moved on to working with children, beginning as head teacher in an inclusion classroom in a center that provided early intervention services, followed by providing early intervention services on a full-time basis. She 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.

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

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