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

Dolly Bhasin:
I became a part of Spring-Mar in 2019 as a teacher for the Explorers class. Ever since then, it has been a very fulfilling experience for me. Like most others at Spring-Mar, I too started as a parent volunteer, just not at Spring-Mar. I quickly realized that this was my true calling. Spring-Mar just reinforced that feeling for me.

I firmly believe in Spring-Mar’s philosophy of Learn through Play. It is a simple yet powerful method to engage all five senses and the importance of that cannot be overstated for a growing child. As a teacher who is also a parent, my most important concern is always keeping safety first and foremost. I am looking forward to carrying Spring-Mar’s mission forward every day in the class. Once done with school, I like spending time with my family, cooking and being active outdoors.

 

Pioneers – 3 year olds

Alison Heald-Webb:

We joined Spring-Mar in 2018 when our oldest started in Pioneers, and we knew right away we had found our community.  I was thrilled to join the staff as an aide in 2019, and I’m even more excited to be teaching the Pioneers class this year. I’m also starting my second year as co-chair of the hospitality committee.

I’ve been working with children in many ways for much of my adult life: as a Gymboree music and art teacher, an instructional aide with FCPS, a nanny, and as a volunteer in my mom’s first grade classroom. Spring-Mar’s philosophy of play based learning has worked well for our family, and I am excited to share it with other families in our community.

I grew up in Burke, and now live in Fairfax City with my husband and two boys, Charlie (6) and Liam (4). I studied opera performance in college and still love to make music, although it’s more “Wheels on the Bus” than “Magic Flute” these days. In my free time I like to embroider, play the ukulele, buy way too many children’s books, and go camping with my family.

Navigators – 3 and 4 year olds

Claire Read:

My 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. I enjoyed co-oping in their classrooms and being part of the Board of Directors. Since 2015, I have been a classroom aide and substitute. I love watching children grow and develop new skills. I’m thrilled to be the Navigators A teacher this school year.

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.

Michelle Brenner:

My family has been with Spring-Mar since 2017 from Playschool to Pre K. I started teaching the Playschool class when my second son was young and I have fallen in love with teaching at Spring-Mar ever since. This is my first year as a Navigators teacher. It is so exciting every day to see what these curious children discover in their world. Learning through play makes so many connections in their minds about what they are learning, their current experience, and the world around them.

I grew up in Fairfax Station and still live there now. I have a Masters in Education from George Mason University. For 6 years I worked with FCPS as a second grade teacher and an advanced academic resource teacher. In college, I taught pre ballet, tap, and tumbling to preschoolers. I love to dance, exercise, enjoy outings with my family, and I am looking forward to traveling again!

 

Inventors – PreK

rachel

Rachel 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, then the Navigators, and now the Inventors.

I studied psychology and education while earning my BA at Brandeis University. During and after college I worked in a preschool and a daycare before transitioning into public health. I’m currently working on a masters degree in Early Childhood Special Education at George Mason.

My three children have very different personalities and widely differing abilities, but they all thrived at Spring-Mar. When parents and teachers work together as closely as we do here, our children reap the benefits!

Sarah Abernathy:

I have been a part of the Spring-Mar family since 2013 when my oldest daughter started in Playschool. We immediately fell in love with the Spring-Mar community and could not have asked for a better place for our daughters to learn and grow. I served on the board for many years including being president for our last three years.

I was thrilled to join the Spring-Mar staff last year and to help with our virtual learning programs. This year, I am excited to be back in-person and teaching our Inventors A students. I have a background in speech-language pathology working with preschoolers and elementary school students. So I’m thrilled to combine my love of working with children with the wonderful Spring-Mar community.

 

Art Teacher

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.

 

Aides

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.

 

 

forstaterAnn Forstater:

I’m so happy to be back at Spring-Mar this year!  I have lived in Northern Virginia for the past 16 years (after years in Philadelphia and Boston), and raised my own son here in Fairfax.  I have degrees in sociology and education, from Brandeis University and Lesley University.  Over the many years, I have worked in a number of different non-profit settings, including educational and social policy research organizations, preschools, and more.  I volunteered in the Fairfax County Public Schools for many years, and also served as a Volunteer Coordinator for the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association.  I am a big fan of music, nature, play, and kindness.  I have always loved being around young children and love that Spring-Mar offers so many different opportunities for children to learn, explore, and grow in a nurturing environment.  And, I am always learning more, too, from the wonderful staff members at Spring-Mar!

 

Patrick Lent:

I first joined the Spring-Mar family six years ago when my son, Robbie, was an Explorer. I served on the Board of Directors for three years in charge of the Property Committee. We chose Spring-Mar because of the Learn through Play philosophy and the connection to the school through the co-op program. After my son graduated, I have remained active in the Spring-Mar community as a substitute aide and helped in the art room.

Originally from upstate New York, I received a Bachelors’ degree in political science from St. John Fisher
College in Rochester, NY. After graduation, I moved to the DC area and never left. I also received an MBA from George Washington University. Robbie continues to keep me busy volunteering as a Cub Scout den leader and a little league coach.

Liza Strydom:

I have been part of Spring-Mar since 2011. I started as a parent and board member, then I joined the Spring-Mar staff as a teacher, and now I am ready for my new role as an aide.

Both my husband and I were born and raised in South-Africa. We immigrated to America in 2003. We have two children that grow like weeds and a dog that believes he rules the house. I have the US equivalence of a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Industrial Psychology and Relations. My hobbies are gardening, yoga, reading books, crochet, needlework and art projects.

I love being part of the Spring-Mar family, working with small children and meeting amazing new people. I am looking forward to another great year.

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