Faculty and Staff

Our staff is carefully selected for warmth, understanding, and the ability to work for the best interests of children and parents.  Creating a classroom in which play leads to learning requires special skills on a teacher’s part.  Our teachers not only help children do things, but also guide them to use their own resources and abilities.

Several of our educators have a personal connection to Spring-Mar, originally joining the community as parents and continuing on because the Spring-Mar experience ignited or reinforced a love of working in early childhood education.

All of our teachers truly appreciate their important role in teaching children to love learning and creating an environment where kids look forward to going to school each day.

Our staff

arrow-H3Director

arrow-H3Explorers Teachers – 2 year olds

arrow-H3Pioneers Teacher – 3 year olds

arrow-H3Navigators Teachers – 3 and 4 year olds

arrow-H3Inventors Teachers – PreK

arrow-H3Art Teachers

arrow-H3Music Teacher

arrow-H3Movement Teacher

arrow-H3Classroom Aides

 

Director

Lubna Farid:

I have been with Spring-Mar since 2005, as a parent, a board member, an aide,  a teacher, and now as school Director.  My undergraduate degree is in Studio Art from Williams College and my master’s degree is in Art Therapy from George Washington University.

Spring-Mar’s excellent tradition of valuing children, acknowledging their individual needs, and providing rich experiential learning opportunities was what initially drew me to the school as a parent. I have always been interested in how children learn and the staff and I strive to incorporate best practices for early childhood learning as we continue and expand on Spring-Mar’s wonderful educational tradition.

Explorers – 2 year olds

Emily Chitnis:

Since joining Spring-Mar last year, I have assisted in the 2’s and 3’s classes as a co-oping parent, an aide, and a substitute. My background is in elementary education and education administration. I’ve taught at every grade level K-12, and am now taking on the adventure of teaching 2 year olds. This could be my most interesting year of teaching yet! I can’t think of a better place to start this new adventure. Spring-Mar is a special school with a warm community of teachers and families working together to nurture young children.

 

Bridget Ramirez:

My name is Bridget and I’m so excited to be part of Spring-Mar as the Explorers B teacher! I was born in Queens, New York, to my Colombian parents and moved to Springfield, VA just in time to begin kindergarten at the age of five. I grew up through the FCPS system and have been teaching for eight years in various schools in the northern Virginia area, from little infants to high schoolers. I received my Bachelor’s in Geography from George Mason University and have returned to Mason this semester to begin my Master of Education degree in Early Childhood Education since I especially loved working with children ages 12 months to 36 months. In addition to attending school and working, I also do volunteer work and enjoy reading, playing with my dog, badminton, dancing, walking in the rain, video games, and being with my family and friends. I look forward to helping the children learn to love being at school, becoming part of the community that is Spring-Mar, and having the parents be a part of their child’s first experience at school.


Pioneers – 3 year olds

Liza Strydom:

I have been teaching at Spring-Mar for awhile now. I was introduced to this great preschool a few years ago when Michelle (my oldest child) started in the two’s class. When Keegan (child number two and my youngest) graduated from Spring-Mar, my days as a Spring-Mar parent and board member ended. Luckily, I am still enjoying this great environment as a teacher.

Both my husband and I were born and raised in South-Africa. We came to America many years ago and made this our new home. I have the US equivalence of a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Industrial Psychology and Relations.

I love being part of Spring-Mar. We have, in my opinion, the best Director, teachers, parents and children. I strongly believe in the learning through play philosophy that we follow. Also, because Spring-Mar draws parents that want to be part of their children’s education, we get the cream of the crop. Everyone’s opinion matters and everybody learns from each other.


Navigators Teachers – 3 and 4 year olds

rachelRachel Berger:

Like many of our staff members, I grew to know and love this school through eight years as a Spring-Mar parent. For three of those years, I served on Spring-Mar’s Board of Directors. In 2014, I was thrilled to join the staff, first teaching an Explorers class and then the Navigators.

I studied psychology and education while earning my BA at Brandeis University. I spent my summers working as a preschool teaching assistant during college then taught full time in a daycare center’s afterschool program. Later, I returned to school for a Masters of Public Health from Johns Hopkins.

My three children have very different personalities and widely differing abilities, but they all thrived at Spring-Mar due to the school’s philosophy and warm, encouraging staff. I love Spring-Mar’s emphasis on learning through play, the strong sense of community, and our commitment to fostering “curiosity, language opportunities, creativity and socialization.” (I can’t say it better than the website does!) When parents and teachers work together as closely as we do here, our children reap the benefits.

Sara Mitcho:

I joined the Spring-Mar community as a parent in 2011 when my oldest son was three. Since then, all three of my children have become Spring-Mar alums. While co-oping for six years and helping lead a playschool class for one of them, I grew to love the co-oping model and the learning through play philosophy. I spent five of those years working on the Board, first as Vice President and then as Marketing Co-Chair. This is my first year teaching at the school and I am so excited for the opportunity!

Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time teaching, mostly college courses. I’ve also spent a summer teaching reading classes to young children to adults, and I’ve even worked as a group fitness instructor! I have a PhD in Cultural Studies and continue to teach at the college level, but my experience with my own three children has kept me engaged in the early childhood learning experience.

While teaching older learners is certainly different than teaching preschoolers, in both settings, I aim to foster a love of learning, endless curiosity about the world, a willingness to try out new things, and confidence in my students’ ability to be active participants in their communities.


Inventors Teachers – PreK

murphyConchi Murphy:

I have been involved with Spring-Mar Preschool for 12+ years.  My first experience at the school was as a parent when my son Ben joined the 2’s class (he is now in high school!).  I also served on Spring-Mar’s school board as Hospitality Chair and Co-President.

In 2003, while Spring-Mar was going through a transition I found myself volunteering to co-teach one of the 3/4 classes.  I thoroughly enjoyed that year, and jumped at the opportunity to start teaching at Spring-Mar full-time when I was offered the position in 2006.  I have been teaching at Spring-Mar ever since and still love teaching and the community spirit that Spring-Mar provides.

My hometown is Cardiff in Wales, and I am fortunate to be bilingual in Spanish, born of Spanish parents.  I have a degree in Business Administration from Huddersfield University in the United Kingdom.  Before becoming a mom and a teacher I was a Marketing Manager for a computer retailer in San Francisco.

I love teaching and challenging the children and watching them grow and develop over the year they are with me.  Spring-Mar is not only my workplace, it’s my second home.


Loura Workman:

This is my second year at Spring-Mar. I am originally from South Africa, but moved to the United States after marrying my husband. I have a BA in Journalism and Media Studies from Rhodes University and a Honores in Afrikaans and Dutch from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. I started out as a high school teacher, teaching English and Afrikaans in South Africa. I then moved to South Korea where I taught English for a year. For the past 7 – 8 years, I have been involved in early childhood education and absolutely love it.

Spring-Mar has given me the opportunity to see children flourish in a setting that makes them feel safe, loved, and able to learn through play. It is a privilege to be part of this school!

 

Art Teachers

Patti Barber:

I’m excited and proud to be a part of Spring Mar Cooperative Preschool. I have been an Art Teacher at Spring-Mar since 2005. I love watching the children grow and learn through play and art. In the Art Room we provide lots of creative, artistic activities to enrich the kids’ lives with learning while having fun. Preschoolers are so unique, and I love getting to know each of them. Not only are the children amazing at Spring-Mar, the staff is also great to work alongside. Each day, I look forward to making wonderful art projects and memories with the children and parents of Spring-Mar.

 

mcdonalsCaroline McDonald:

Being a part of the Spring-Mar family has truly been a blessing to me for…well, let’s say for over ten years now! We moved to the area when my husband was transferred here as a naval officer and stayed for the excellent school system. I am originally from Franklin, Tennessee and attended both Rhodes College with a major in Elizabethan History and St. Johns’ College, Oxford University in Oxford, England, earning a diploma in Shakespearean Studies.

It’s truly delightful to be able to get to know, not just the children in one class, but each and every child as they rotate in and out of the art room. I love watching children’s love of art grow as they are exposed to different art mediums–the first time they use watercolors, the first time they make worms out of play dough or the first time they make oobleck!

For me, the best thing about Spring-Mar is the real feeling of community you get here, truly like being part of a family. Spring-Mar is a large, diverse, supportive group of mothers, fathers, grandparents and teachers that support and nurture your child. I think this sense of family is especially important in this area with so many families, including military families like mine, being separated from their extended families and moving about so much.  If you truly take advantage of all the opportunities that a co-op model offers, you will be blessed with friendships that can continue for many, many more years beyond preschool.

 

Music Teacher

cooperLinda Cooper:

In 1991, I was the parent helper in the block room one rainy day. I un-taped the “do not play” signs on the school’s piano and did some nursery rhyme singing with the kids. Director Maureen Wersinger came in and suggested I try out for the newly created music teacher’s job. Maureen and Spring-Mar changed my life.

My three children, Rob, Matt and Stephanie all are Spring-Mar alumni; now two engineers and the other a doctor. The block room and doctor week may have started those careers. Matt and his wife, Jennifer, have 5 children. I have a Master’s degree in Neurophysiology, but love my career changes to music teacher and quilter. I also volunteer my music in Head Start and Special Ed classes in the county.

I love the interaction between the parents, teachers and children. I’ve seen the almost magic way music can introduce language and joy and satisfaction in the kids.up

Movement Teacher

Ineta Jones:

I have been a part of the Spring-Mar family since 2013. Both of my children are proud alumni of Spring-Mar. During my years as a parent at the preschool, I was a room parent and served on a board as Marketing and Communication Co-Chair. I grew up in Latvia and moved to the US in 1999. I live with my family in Clifton. I enjoy hiking, gardening and just being outside.

 
 


Classroom Aides

forstaterAnn Forstater:

I was born and raised in Philadelphia, spent many years living in the Boston area, and moved to Northern Virginia 14 years ago, when my son was just about to start Kindergarten.

I have worked in a number of different educational and non-profit settings over the years. I have a B.A in Sociology from Brandeis University, where I was on the Board of a student-run organization that reached out to the larger community around us, and, as such, I was the Coordinator of a Toddler Playgroup program in Waltham, MA, for four years. I also worked at a variety of preschools while home in Philadelphia each summer. After college, I worked at the Boston Children’s Museum, and after that, in the President’s Office at Lesley University, in Cambridge, MA, where I earned a Master of Education degree at Lesley University’s Institute for Arts and Human Development. During these years, I was also a long-time working member of the Boston Food Coop, and a strong proponent and member of other cooperatively-run organizations.

After earning my M.Ed., I worked as a research associate in the field of educational and social policy research for many years in Boston, before marrying and relocating. Since settling here in Fairfax 14 years ago, I have enjoyed raising my son, and volunteering for many local organizations, such as Volunteer Fairfax, Reston Fellowship Houses, Britepaths, Fairfax County Public Schools, and more. I was on the Board of Thomas Jefferson High School’s Crew team and served as a Volunteer Coordinator for the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association’s regattas on the Occoquan.

Last year, I joined Spring-Mar as a long-term substitute Aide in the Inventors B Pre-K class, and also filled in, when needed, as an Office Aide, and substitute Aide in other classrooms. I am happy to be returning to Spring-Mar as an Aide in the Inventors B Pre-K class again this year, and look forward to meeting and getting to know more of you in the Spring-Mar community!

 

Claire Read:

Our family has been a part of the Spring-Mar community since 2008 when my oldest son started in the 2’s class. Both my sons spent three fun years each at Spring-Mar. During that time, I not only enjoyed my co-oping time in the classroom but spent four of our five years serving on the Board as a Property Co-Chair and a Membership Co-Chair. I learned a lot about the school and the ‘learning through play’ philosophy. I love watching children grow and develop new skills and I’m thrilled to be back at Spring-Mar as a Classroom Aide.

I am a native of the DC area. I have a B.S. in Biology from Towson University and my early career was spent doing research in the biotechnology field. I have also worked as an administrative assistant at a Montessori school and at a university. I am an avid runner who also loves to do crafts and attend my boys’ sporting events.up

 

arrow-H3Meet our Member Leaders

The operation of our school is possible not only because of our talented staff, but also because of our dedicated Board of Directors.  Read more about the Board here.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save