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-H3Aides

 

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

Bridget Ramirez:

My name is Bridget and I’m so excited to begin my second year with Spring-Mar! I was born in Queens, New York, to my Colombian parents and moved to Springfield, Virginia, just in time to begin kindergarten at the age of five. I grew up through the FCPS system and received my Bachelor’s in Geography from George Mason University. Prior to Spring-Mar, I had been teaching for eight years in various schools in the Northern Virginia area, from little infants to high schoolers, but I especially loved working with early childhood. In addition to working, I also do volunteer work and enjoy reading, playing with my dogs, badminton, dancing, walking in the rain, video games, and being with my family and friends. I look forward to helping my students thrive and enjoy being at school.


Pioneers – 3 year olds

Liza Strydom:

My time with Spring-Mar started in 2011 when I was looking into a preschool for Michelle (my oldest child). During 2013-2014 there was an overlap year when Keegan (my youngest child) also started at Spring-Mar and Michelle finished PreK. I started teaching at Spring-Mar in 2015 while Keegan was finishing his preK year. It was an interesting and fun year for me because I enjoyed my new role as teacher while I was also still fulfilling my role as parent and board member. While I miss my days as a Spring-Mar parent, I feel that being a teacher is the next best thing.

Both my husband and I were born and raised in South-Africa. We immigrated to America in 2003 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, you get to meet some amazing people. Everyone’s opinion matters and everybody learn from each other. I am looking forward to another great year!

Bridget Ramirez:

My name is Bridget and I’m so excited to not only be the Explorers teacher this year but also the Pioneers B teacher! You can check out my bio above under Explorers.

 

 

 


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.

 

Erin Brophy:

Our family feels so fortunate to have found the wonderful community of Spring-Mar. This school year I find myself fully committed as a parent, board member, and an excited new teacher.

I have been involved as a teacher and or caregiver to children young and old for over 20 years now. Be it babysitter, nanny, camp counselor, or teacher I have learned from every experience. The greatest lesson that has carried through no matter the age of the child was to not only teach but most importantly learn from each and every young mind.

Most recently I have been a stay at home Mom to my daughters Hannah and Quinn. Before, I was a 7-12th grade Art Teacher at Robinson Secondary School and prior at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (The Fame School in NYC). I earned an undergraduate degree (BFA) in Communication Arts from Carnegie Mellon University and my Graduate Degree (MA) in Art Education From The Teachers College at Columbia University.

My children have thrived in the learning through play model practiced at Spring-Mar and I cannot wait to experience this wonderful journey with the families and “friends” I will be lucky to have in my class!


Inventors Teachers – PreK

murphyJodi Taylor:

I am originally from a small town in Upstate NY called Norwich. I moved to VA back in 2002 to take a first grade teaching job at Langley Air Force Base, where I met my husband Tom. The next year, we relocated to this area where I worked at Groveton ES in Alexandria for 4 years. In 2007, I completed my Master’s degree at George Mason University, specializing in Early Childhood Education. A year later I would have my first daughter, Sophia followed closely by her little sister, Celia. I decided to stay home with my girls for the next 8 years. In 2016, I went back to teaching first grade at Bonnie Brae Elementary in Fairfax. While I loved getting back into the classroom I realized that a part time job would be a better fit for our family. That’s when I found this wonderful opportunity to join the Spring-Mar family this coming fall. I am so excited to meet all of my new students and their families.


Jennifer Quinn:

I’m so thrilled to be a part of the Spring-Mar family! I discovered Spring-Mar in 2015 when my son was four and quickly learned what an amazing and unique place Spring-Mar is! Since then my son Declan and daughter Emily have thrived in the play-based environment and warm community. I have enjoyed co-oping and being a part of an amazing group of parents and teachers working together. I have served on the Board of Directors for two years, and this year will be my first year as a teacher at Spring-Mar!

I grew up in Michigan, earned my B.S. in Engineering from the University of Michigan, and moved to Chicago to work as a consultant. It was my volunteer tutoring experience during this time that changed my life and led me to my career as an educator. I went on to earn my M.S in Elementary Education from Northwestern University and spent over ten years teaching Kindergarten through third grade before moving to Northern Virginia. I also worked as a coach for new teachers and provided professional development to other educators. Recently, I have spent time focusing on my young children’s development, tutoring students in elementary and middle school, and supporting teachers with standards alignment.

I am so excited for the opportunity to support children in their individual learning journeys and to work together with families at Spring-Mar this year. I hope to inspire cooperation, creativity, self-confidence, and most importantly…joy in early learning experiences!

 

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.

 


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

 

Erin Stafiej:

I joined the Spring-Mar community in 2015 when my daughter started in the Navigators class. As soon as we joined, I knew that we had found an amazing place. I have loved seeing both of my children grow and flourish in Spring-Mar’s nurturing, play based environment.

I’m originally from New England, where I received my bachelor’s degree in psychology from Connecticut College and then went on to get my Master’s degree in social work with a concentration in children and families. Since then, I’ve worked in family therapy, foster care, and adoption. After having my children, I decided to focus on their development, but I sill love enriching children’s lives through reading and play. I’ve run my own daycare, and also continue to do local story times and crafts in Fairfax. I’m proud to be a Spring-Mar parent, board member, and now an aide! I’m looking forward to a fabulous year supporting Spring-Mar’s little learners!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.

 

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