Linda Littenberg is the co-owner of A Child’s Place School with her husband, Abe Littenberg. She graduated from Texas Woman’s University with a bachelor’s degree in Home Economics Education and while there was inducted into the Phi Upsilon Omicron National Honor Society. Linda is a certified teacher with 16 years experience in the classroom. As an alumni parent she supports the philosophy of A Child’s Place School. She has visited the schools of Reggio Emilia in Italy and uses the first-hand knowledge she gained there to help our teachers implement their ideas. Linda also brings her knowledge, experience and creativity as a photographer to our school, enhancing our programs and record keeping.
“There is a new joy at ACP this year with extended outdoor time which creates many new experiences. The long periods of time connecting with nature has many benefits for both the children and the adults. This is an example of rethinking what is possible.”
Zach joined A Child’s Place School in 2019 as School Director. He graduated from New York University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Technology, but after a short internship at a recording studio, he realized that while music technology was his hobby, early childhood education was his passion. Over the next five years he worked in the Nursery division at Horace Mann School, Manhattan; first as an assistant teacher and then collaborating with other teachers to create a new studio space using the Atelier as the inspiration. During this period Zach attended Hunter College and obtained his Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Zach then returned to his alma mater, Chelsea Day School, to lead a four-year old class and run the summer camp.
Marriage and the arrival of Penelope, his oldest daughter, prompted him to take a year off to be a stay-at-home dad. But it wasn’t long before Zach felt the need to return to the world of early childhood education. Zach moved out of the city and landed in Toledo, Ohio where he took the position of Director of the Early Learning Center at Maumee Valley Country Day School. He brought with him his love of progressive, child-centered education, and by steadily introducing progressive concepts, including the Reggio-Emilia approach, Zach was able to double the size of the program. At this point, Zach and his wife Shannon welcomed their second daughter, Juniper, into the world.
In 2018 Zach took on the familiar role of Director of a preschool program in a larger independent school in Palm Springs, CA. Though the family enjoyed the warm climate, they missed the East Coast where Zach grew up and the majority of his extended family still live. Zach is extremely excited to be a part of A Child’s Place School and feels honored to be able to carry on the rich tradition of the school.
“The long-held values of A Child’s Place completely align with my own philosophy of Early Childhood Education. It is a joy to be able to work with teachers who not only share these values but also dedicate their lives to the children and families they serve. I am eager to see how the children respond this year to our new focus on outdoor education. I suspect that this renewed focus is something we will keep with us long after this pandemic has left.”
Elaine Athanasiou joined A Child’s Place as administrative assistant in 2012 and assumed the role of School Administrator in 2017 when Mary Murphy retired. Elaine has also spent time in the classrooms at ACP as a classroom assistant. She has a background in business administration and bookkeeping.
“I have witnessed first hand the work put in by our teachers and school director to make this another extraordinary year for children and families alike. I am so honored to work with true professionals who deeply care about the children and the work they do with them.”
Our professional teaching staff is composed of teachers and assistant teachers. Our teachers have bachelor degrees in Early Childhood and/or Elementary Education and are certified to teach nursery and/or primary grade levels. All of our teachers have continuing education credits and in addition, they complete a minimum of 15 hours of professional development each year in order to remain current in the field of Early Childhood Education. The staff has assumed leadership in professional development, sharing their work by presenting at state and national conferences as well as hosting institutes, workshops, and round tables for other educators.
Arlene Lyons has been an early childhood educator since 1985 and joined A Child’s Place School in 1992. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education at Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, New York. Arlene has presented at numerous early childhood conferences, workshops, and conventions, including NAEYC’s national meeting in Dallas and California, as well as meetings at Kean University and Brookdale College, both in NJ. She has also completed Dr. Becky Bailey’s Conscious Discipline training in Florida. Arlene is a master teacher in the Half Day Nursery Class.
“I have been at A Child’s Place School for over 25 years and every year is filled with new bonds and new wonders. The respect that the children are given here guides the learning process so that we are really seeing and meeting their needs and interests. No two years are ever the same and all of them have etched wonderful memories for me, and I hope for all of the children and their families as well.”
Debbie Piescor is a master teacher and has been the lead teacher in the Primary Program and a teacher in the Half Day Nursery. She is also the Curriculum Specialist for the school. She has been teaching since 1995, and joined A Child’s Place School in 2002. She holds a B.A. in Elementary Education & Psychology. Debbie has given presentations for the professional development of educators at several NAEYC conferences at the state and national level including this school year. She has also completed Dr. Becky Bailey’s Conscious Discipline training in Florida, as well as attending numerous professional development institutes, conferences, workshops, and training experiences in order to maintain an in depth knowledge base in all areas pertaining to early childhood education. This year, Debbie is the teacher in the All Day Nursery Class.
“While the outdoor environment has always been a big part of our curriculum, I am excited to see A Child’s Place School evolve into a program that spends at least fifty one percent of the day outside. Having an outdoor classroom has been a dream of mine for a long time. I have been an active witness and participant in so many rich learning experiences, projects, and investigations that have emerged from being outside over the past eighteen years. This year holds so much potential for the children, teachers, and families alike.”
Susan Wien has been teaching since 1983 and has been a master teacher at A Child’s Place since 1993. She has a B.A. and a Master’s Degree with graduate honors in Early Childhood Education from Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, New York. She has presented at A Child’s Place School Institutes for Educators from New Jersey and neighboring states, as well as at local colleges, conferences, and workshops. She has also presented at the state NAEYC conference in Atlantic City. Susan is a master teacher in the Half Day Nursery.
“After more than a quarter of a century at ACP, I still feel that the deepest and most meaningful learning takes place as teachers encourage children to observe and explore their environment, revisit their experiences and then communicate their understanding back to others. Our school’s response to recent events reinforces our belief that the world is still a place full of wonder and is worth learning about, caring for and protecting. The Reggio Emilia philosophy of the environment being the “third teacher” has always been evident in our beautiful spaces, but never more so than this year as the staff collaborated in an intentional redesign of almost every part of the environment, both indoors and outdoors.”
Sharon Rarig joined A Child’s Place in 2013. She holds a bachelors degree in Health and Physical Education from Slippery Rock University. Outside of raising her children, Sharon has taught physical education to students in Pre-K through 12th grade and has also been a substitute classroom teacher. Sharon is an assistant teacher in the All Day Nursery.
Karen was hired in 2003 as a teaching assistant. In 2011 she became a Teacher in the Primary Class. She has an Associate’s Degree in Teaching Assistance and Child care. She retired in 2015 but returned to the Nursery Class in 2018 when her grandson joined ACP in the Half Day Nursery Class and we are thrilled to have her back!
“I feel I have a unique perspective being both a teacher and a grandparent of an ACP student. As a teacher, I saw how our view of the child as an active, engaged, and independent learner supports them in making gains across the curriculum. Now watching my grandson reap the benefits, I know that he is learning important skills that will enhance his ability to be an active participant in the learning process. He is learning to ask questions, analyze information, and collaborate with peers. When something doesn’t go exactly how the children had planned it, I watch in awe as they try again and again, usually with an even better outcome. This resiliency will serve them well going forward, well into the future.”
Lindsay joined A Child’s Place in 2020. She graduated from Georgian Court University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education & Special Education. Before joining ACP, she taught preschool and pre-kindergarten at Seashore School for eight years. She always felt a connection to early childhood education and the ability to make a difference in young lives. Lindsay is a teacher in the Half Day Nursery Program.
“I love that ACP gives children experiences and skills that they’ll carry for life. I look forward to helping foster a love of learning and thinking based on the interests and imaginations of the children. I can’t wait to see where our investigations may lead us. I hope to bring the outdoors into our learning, becoming aware of the beauty that surrounds us in nature.”
This year, former Director of A Child’s Place School, Kathy Berkowitz brings her decades of experience and warm demeanor to the Half Day Nursery Program as an assistant. Kathy was Director of the Kean University Child Care and Development Center, a Reggio Emilia inspired school, for seven years before joining A Child’s Place. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and a Masters in Education as a Reading Specialist. Kathy has been a member of NJEEPRE (New Jersey Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia) for over ten years and has served in many positions including Chair. Currently she is Co-Chair of Programming for the organization. In 2009, Kathy participated in the North American Study Tour to Reggio Emilia, Italy and has participated in numerous presentations with her colleagues regarding the work being done in Reggio-inspired classrooms. In 2013 Kathy was awarded the NJ Child Care Association Director of the Year Award.
“I am so happy to be with the Nursery children this year laughing, smiling, singing, dancing, creating, exploring, and learning! I look forward to witnessing their new discoveries and triumphs as they become more independent and curious learners. Spending most of our morning outside has already led to a greater understanding of the natural world, as well as a sense of wonder, joy, and inquisitiveness.”
Billie joined ACP in 2020 as an assistant in the Primary Class. She is a talented artist who works with multiple media. Billie freely shares her creativity with the children and teachers and she has a knack of being able to turn the most uninspiring item into something useful and beautiful. While her children attended ACP, Billie helped with several Parent Shows by creating sets and sewing costumes.
Danielle is currently in the final year of her bachelor’s degree at Kean University. She is using the experience she has gained while working with children at the ACP Summer Camp over the past few years as an assistant this year in the Half Day Nursery Class.
“I am so thrilled to be joining ACP this school year after working at the camp for several years. I believe ACP really lets children tune into their natural curiosity, and it is wonderful seeing the investigations they devise. I am looking forward to seeing everything the children are interested in and what projects they come up with!”
Trish joined ACP in 2020 as a teacher in the Primary Class. She has a wealth of experience after spending 17 years teaching kindergarten in the Westfield school district. Tricia has a BA in Sociology with an Elementary certification and a MA in reading specialization.
“I am thrilled to join the ACP family and learn alongside my students. My hope for this year is to continue to offer the children opportunities to play safely and freely while learning to take risks . Being new to ACP, the areas of interest are endless. We have so much to explore and discover, and I am looking forward to challenging and supporting my students through their learning journeys this year. “
Ava is an alumni of A Child’s Place School who came to work at the ACP Summer Camp in 2020. Ava is in the first year of her bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design at The College of New Jersey. She provides valuable assistance to the Primary Class each morning for a few hours.
Dave Meinberg joined our staff as our Assistant Facilities Manager in 2015. Dave is Linda and Abe’s brother-in-law and his late wife Barbara was the school’s director for seven years. Dave is a retired Chief Master Sergeant from the US Air Force. He spent 30 years in the military and four years as a civil servant. During this time he was stationed primarily in Europe. Dave has been lending a helping hand at our school for a number of years but officially became a staff member in 2015.