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-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




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:

This is my first year at Spring-Mar and I cannot be more excited to be a part of this amazing program. Like most others at Spring-Mar, I too started as a parent volunteer, just not at Spring-Mar. I realized very quickly 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 the school, I like spending time with my family, cooking and being active outdoors.

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!

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.


Liz Couchman:

I am thrilled to join the Spring-Mar team as a Navigator teacher! I grew up near Pittsburgh, PA, and I have lived in Fairfax, VA, for fourteen years with my family. My husband and I have three wonderful daughters: Beatrice (10), Adalyn (8), and Josephine (6).

My undergraduate degree is in theatre arts, and I have a minor in music. I taught school skills, music, art, and an infant class at Gymboree Play and Music. I had an in-home daycare for more than five years. Most recently, I have been a substitute teacher in the Fairfax County Public Schools. I coach Odyssey of the Mind, a creative, problem-solving competition for students from Kindergarten through college. I am especially invested in Girl Scouts as a school troop organizer and as a troop leader. In my free time, I enjoy singing and being outside to hike, jog, and camp.

I am excited to teach through play and to work closely with the children and parents at Spring-Mar!


Inventors Teachers – PreK

murphyAmy Darger-Stewart:

Amy Darger-Stewart has taught kindergarten and pre-k in Fairfax County for twenty years. She and her husband George raised four children and now have the reward of enjoying their five grandchildren. When she’s not teaching, she crochets and watches murder mysteries. She is lucky enough to travel with her family and her favorite place that she has visited is Universal Studios (specifically Harry Potter World).

She is looking forward to being a member of the Spring Mar community and sharing her love for all things nursery rhymes and Elephant and Piggy.


murphyDianne Tenney:

Bio coming soon!






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.




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!


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.