Cindy Palicka, Program Director, has over 18 years of experience working with children, three years as a full-time substitute teacher at a Manhattan private preschool, and fifteen years overseeing children and family programs for age birth through fifth grade at Trinity where the preschool is located. She has written and developed curriculum that specifically engages children in hands-on exploratory learning using a variety of mediums to teach the same theme. Having raised three sons in Manhattan, Cindy has personal knowledge of the wonderful complexities of bringing up children in such an exciting place as New York City. She holds a Master of Education degree in Elementary Education and is CPR & First-Aid certified.
Q: What exactly is play-based learning?
A: Play is one of the most significant means by which children explore, investigate, imagine and learn about how the world works and discover their unique place in that world. In play-based learning, structure exists but the emphasis is on guiding children to learn with lessons carried out through play and socialization, rather than academics. It is an active, child-initiated process that supports children’s learning in many domains including physical, social/emotional, creative, science, math, language, and literacy. Play-based learning allows children to play for the sake of learning, not forsake play for learning.
Q: What is your vision for the school?
A: Our mission statement defines two aspects of what we envision for Bridge Community Playschool. First, we want to offer young children a gentle, safe introduction to this new experience called “school”. And second, we want our student body to reflect the wonderfully diverse community of the neighborhood.
Elizabeth Parry, Head Teacher/Education Coordinator, holds a Master of Education degree in Special Education and is certified to teach birth-9th grade. Liz has been a classroom teacher for twelve years and specializes in differentiated instruction. She grew up on Long Island and has had the opportunity to teach in California and New York, as well as, abroad in South Africa and Vietnam. Liz was a competitive swimmer in college and is a certified swim instructor and coach. During the summer months, she runs her own program teaching young children the basics of swimming. Liz is CPR & First-Aid certified.
Q: You are certified up through grade nine. What do you find special about working with preschool aged children?
A: I am passionate about this age group! I enjoy watching them grow and discover new things which happens on a daily basis. Preschoolers are little sponges who soak up everything presented to them. They have that wonder and joy of learning that often times becomes a bit tarnished with the onset of adolescence. This age group is such a rapid period of growth for children and it is exciting to be a part of this beginning chapter of their school lives.
Q: What are some highlights of your classroom at Bridge Community Playschool that students and parents can look forward to?
A: I believe strongly in hands-on exploration in the classroom and as a proponent of differentiated instruction, I understand that each child comes to my classroom with their own unique set of learning levels and needs. As such, my classroom is always child-centered with different learning centers that can be adapted to meet each child’s interests and preferences. Having worked in a Montessori school for two years, I like to incorporate some of those methods and practices, particularly fostering independence and allowing children freedom to explore within limits, into my classroom at Bridge Community Playschool.
Melissa Manser, Head Teacher, has been an assistant teacher for the past four years, teaching ages 2 through second grade in both private and public New York City schools. She is excited to join our sweet school and is ready to incorporate the techniques she has obtained over the past few years into her own classroom setting. Melissa holds a bachelor’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology from Indiana University and is working towards her master’s degree in Early Childhood and Special Education. Melissa is CPR and First-Aid certified.
Q: What do you like most about working with children?
A: While I love all ages of children, little ones have my heart. I find it so exciting to share in their many milestones as they begin to grasp language and social skills. It is amazing to see the transformation that takes place from early fall when children start school until a short ten months later when they “graduate” to the next level. I look forward to being part of Bridge Community Playschool as it expands its horizons within NYC. It is very exciting to be part of the field of early childhood education.
Jaclyn Meltzer, Head Teacher, holds a Master of Education degree in Elementary Education and state certification in Gifted and Talented Education. Jackie has been teaching at the elementary level for 15 years and prides herself on bringing out each child’s full potential as a learner while fostering their social and emotional growth. She is a mother of two school-aged girls and resides right in our own neighborhood. Jackie loves spending time being crafty and exploring all the city has to offer.
Q: How does BCPS prepare my child for the next step in education?
A: Here at BCPS, we take satisfaction in knowing we meet and exceed the criteria that NYC private and public schools require and set forth. Our goal is to provide each child with a comprehensive and age-appropriate curriculum that is driven by high standards, yet also caters to the individual needs and emotional nourishment that young children require. I am positive that every child who spends their formative years at our preschool will be set on the path to educational success.
Lisa Chaparro, Assistant Teacher, was born and raised in New York City and has raised her own two daughters here, so she well understands the dynamics of providing a nurturing stability in an ever-changing environment. She has over five years of experience teaching preschool-age children as a volunteer teacher in a non-profit setting. Lisa is also an avid baker and owns her own cake pop business. Lisa is CPR & First-Aid certified.
Colette Apello, Assistant Teacher, has just completed her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education at Florida State College in Jacksonville, Florida. While Colette brings a youthful exuberance to the classroom, she also displays a high level of commitment to learning about best practices in educating young children. Colette, who is newly married, relocated to NYC with her husband in late spring. She is CPR & First-Aid certified.
Christine Cifu, Assistant Teacher, worked as a Pre-K assistant and camp counselor at Queens College while pursuing her education at nearby IONA College. Christine holds a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Research/Psychology. Now that both her daughters have entered elementary school, Christine is excited to re-join the workforce in the education field. Christine is CPR & First-Aid certified.
Sarah Villegas, Administrative Assistant, has come on board to help with the school’s ever-growing administrative paperwork. She is the friendly face that greets the families each morning. Sarah also lends a hand when needed in the classrooms and during large motor play. She graduated from Nyack College with a bachelor’s degree in Youth Ministry and is CPR & First-Aid certified.
Pauline Pisano & Anais Kim, Specialty Teachers. In addition to our regular staff, two specialty teachers join us each week.
Miss Pauline’s music classes are designed to engage children through rhythmic exercises, instrument exploration, movement activities and sing-a-longs. She uses original kids’ music, nursery rhymes with different rhythmic components and popular music from around the world to instill a love of “all things” musical in our children. Pauline holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from New York University and has also studied Music & Movement at Bank Street College of Education.
Miss Anais introduces the children to the Spanish language, through fun, interactive games and activities, each designed to help children begin building a vocabulary of simple Spanish words, concepts and phrases. Anais graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Syracuse University but she has a new found passion – teaching young children to embrace her native language.