Park Street Academy preschool in Montclair, New Jersey, prides itself on having a professional faculty that facilitates learning using a positive, multi-modal and hands-on approach. Our Team Teachers are NJ State Certified in Early Childhood or maintain a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. All remain current with teaching methodologies by participating in continuing education courses and seminars.

Each teaching team works together to provide an exciting learning experience in all the content areas for our students. While each teacher has his/her own style, the goal is always to develop self-esteem and love of learning.


Lisa Raphael


Lisa is the Owner and Director of Park Street Academy, founding the school in July 1996. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and is New Jersey State Certified in Special, Elementary & Early Childhood Education, through William Paterson University. Lisa is also a certified Wilson® Dyslexia Practitioner. She earned her National Administrator Credential from the National Child Care Association (NCCA) and is a member of the Learning and the Brain Society, the National Autism Association, the Association of Supervision of Curriculum & Development (ASCD) and the American Camp Association. In 2015, Lisa became a member and certified instructor with New Jersey Workforce, a statewide initiative implementing systems to enhance preparation and continuing education of early childhood and afterschool practitioners. She is a recognized Child Development Associate (CDA) instructor and Professional Development Specialist with the National Council for Professional Recognition. Lisa has earned her advanced certification as a Nurtured Heart Approach Certified Trainer. As Lisa’s first love is being in the classroom, she teaches PSA’s Fine Arts and Sign Language classes to our Pre-K and Kindergarten students. 

Sandy Weber

Business Director

Sandy joined PSA in 2000 after years in the fields of women’s health administration, small business management, general medical administration, family planning research and community organizing. She has worked as the Coordinator of Outpatient OB/GYN services at Kings County Hospital Center and as the Director of the Community Family Planning Council’s Mobile Clinic program in the boroughs of New York City. Sandy has a Bachelor of Science degree in Social work from Adelphi University and a Master of Public Health degree from Columbia University, where her focus was women’s and children’s health.

Christine O’Gara Mazzacca

Assistant Director / Freshman Team Teacher

Christine earned her BA in Fine Art from Montclair State University and has over 20 years of experience working with young children. After working with us as a Freshman teacher from 2006-2010, she then worked at the Newark Museum running programs for children and families. Christine also served as the Assistant Director of a daycare in Florham Park and was Assistant Director of Nemnet Minority Recruitment, a national teacher recruitment agency. Fortunately, Christine rejoined our Freshman team in 2015 and as of 2020, holds a dual role as a teacher and Assistant Director, applying her exceptional administrative and organization skills for the benefit of the school.

Freshman Team Teachers

Alexa Davis

Freshman Team Teacher / Summer Camp Coordinator

Alexa has been a vital member of the PSA staff since 2000 when she became a teacher on our Freshman team. She holds a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential and created and taught several of our afternoon clubs, including Kids’ Café, for twenty years. She has now passed those torches to her daughter, Senior South support teacher, Miss Gabby.  In addition to her continuing role as a Freshman teacher, Alexa plans, organizes and oversees our exciting summer camp program.

Brianne Gerne

Freshman Team Teacher / Professional Development Coordinator

The unflappable Miss Brianne joined our Freshman team in 2001 after attending Montclair State University and the Nursing Program at Mountainside Hospital. She holds a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Brianne employs her insight and experience to curate professional development opportunities for our staff to maintain continuing education credits and to stay current on new research and techniques in early education.

Christine O’Gara Mazzacca

Assistant Director / Freshman Team Teacher

See bio in Directors’ section.

Freshman Support Staff

Lenka Schoonfield

Freshman Team Support

Lenka became part of the PSA family in 2020 as an afternoon teacher for our Senior North students. She was an Assistant Teacher at the Early Learning Center in Fairfield, NJ, for 22 years gaining a wealth of experience and skills. We are thrilled that Lenka was ready for a change, becoming a full-time member of our vital support staff!

Christina Miltner

Freshman Team Support

Christina is a Freshman at Rutgers University where she majors in Criminal Justice. A graduate of Bloomfield High School, she joined our afternoon team in September 2020.  Although she is usually found with the Freshman class, she lends a hand in both Sophomore classes every afternoon. Her experience as a coach in the North Arlington Recreational Cheer program has served her well, as she is the assistant for our afternoon Gymnastics enrichment class!

Lucy Sierra

Freshman Team Support

Lucy Sierra joined our Freshman team in March 2023. She graduated as an honor student at Lacordaire Academy in June 2023, with leadership roles in numerous clubs and school honor societies and impressive experience volunteering in a variety of settings. Lucy heads to Boston University in January with plans to study Political Science. Her Freshman students and our entire staff will miss her sparkly personality and eagerness to help. We will be thrilled to have her back whenever she’s in town on school breaks!

Grace Acheson

Freshman Team Support

A native of Billings, Montana, Grace is a junior at Montclair State University where she is a psychology major, minoring in Family Science and Human Development. Therefore, she is a natural fit to teach Wiz Kids, our Wednesday afternoon science club. When she’s not teaching our children to make lava lamps or leading them in static electricity experiments, Grace can be found assisting the Freshman class and occasionally the Senior North class. As a true jack-of-all-trades, she also assists Miss Gabby for the Friday afternoon Kids Café club!

Sophomore West Team Teachers

Amanda Rooney

Sophomore West Team Teacher

Originally joining PSA as a Senior South Team Teacher in early 2021, Amanda joined the Sophomore West team in July 2023.  She has been an early childhood educator since 2005, teaching Special Education, Kindergarten, and 1st and 2nd grades, in several private schools and public-school districts. In addition, Amanda was the Center Director at Kiddie Academy in Florham Park for more than three years. She holds a BA in Spanish with a Business minor from the College of Saint Elizabeth and has a K-8 Teaching Certification from Caldwell College. Amanda has the perfect touch for this young 3s class, rounding out a fantastic team!

Jessica Juhrden

Sophomore West Team Teacher

Joining us in summer 2021, Miss Jess realized her love of teaching while participating in a Future Educators of America program in high school, through which she led sports, science, art and literacy activities for elementary school children. She holds an Associate degree in Early Childhood Education from Passaic County Community College and a Child Development Associate (CDA). Her college field experience included working with disabled children at the Roberto Clemente School in Passaic, and she has also worked as a Lead Teacher at Lightbridge Academy in Millburn. In addition to being a Team Teacher, Jess also teaches Make & Take, our Tuesday afternoon arts & crafts club!

Rebecca Bastien
(Miss Becky)

Sophomore West Team Teacher

Joining us in November 2022, Becky Bastien is a welcome addition to our Sophomore West teaching staff. She has worked with young children since she was 16, including recent positions as a Lead Teacher at the Goddard School in West Orange and The Learning Experience in South Orange. Previously she was an Assistant Teacher in the preschool at the Maplewood YMCA for ten years. She will complete her BA in Early Childhood Education Administration at Purdue University (online) in 2025. When not teaching, Becky is an avid reader!

Sophomore West Support Staff

Addison Goodspeed-Moses

Sophomore West Team Support

Addison joined our ranks in July 2023. She is a Montclair High School Senior planning to attend college next year to major in history and politics. Addison has experience as a camp counselor and in private childcare. When she’s not at PSA, she’s busy with school activities including fencing, debate club, and stage crew for the school’s theater program. Addison is a terrific asset to our Sophomore West support staff!

Naomi Gilmore

Sophomore West Team Support

It’s always joyful when a PSA alum grows up and joins the PSA staff, so when Naomi Gilmore asked to work here in the afternoons, we couldn’t have been happier! Not only did Naomi attend PSA, she did her middle school community service internship here several years ago. Now a Junior at Montclair High School, Naomi is a natural in our Sophomore West class. She said that being with the kids “brightens her day!” and she definitely brightens PSA.

Sophomore East Team Teachers

Lisa Howard

Sophomore East Team Teacher

Originally joining the PSA family as a parent, Lisa holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Pace University and has twenty years of experience working in finance and managing computer information systems. Fortunately for us, it became clear that her heart and passion were in early childhood education, prompting a career change. Lisa earned her Child Development Associate (CDA) credential and joined our faculty in 2005.

Sabrina Hodgson

Sophomore East Team Teacher  

Sabrina attended County College of Morris and Montclair State University, majoring in Early Childhood Development. She was a head teacher at Executive Kids in Cedar Grove for three years and holds a CDA (Child Development Associate) credential. After working in our summer program, we drafted Sabrina into our permanent faculty as a Sophomore Team Teacher in 2016. Previously, Sabrina previously taught Wiz Kids and Make & Take, two of our terrific afternoon clubs. Now she spends her out-of-school time with her adorable carrot-topped baby girl!

Daniela Wahlers

Sophomore East Team Teacher 

Daniela joined our afternoon team in 2020, and has been a member of the Sophomore East Team since September 2022. She has an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education & Family Studies from the County College of Morris, as well as a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Prior to PSA, Daniela was a teaching assistant at First Mountain Preschool in West Orange and a camp counselor in the West Orange Summer Recreation Program. We are grateful Daniela brings her spirit and energy to PSA.

Sophomore East Support Staff

Ayanna Brantley

Sophomore East Support

Ayanna originally joined us as part of her Senior Option internship through Montclair High School in the spring of 2022. She was so terrific, we hired her as a full-time summer camp counselor. She now attends Montclair State University where she is majoring in Exercise Science. You can find her helping out in the Sophomore East class most afternoons. She loves fitness and basketball and is a natural to assist Miss Gwen with our Martial Arts and Super Sports enrichment classes!

William Mansfield

Sophomore East Support

William, the newest member of the PSA family, is a senior at Clifton High School. When the kids aren’t piling on top of him as if he were their own personal jungle gym, William spends time volunteering at Toni’s Kitchen, playing guitar, and playing on his school lacrosse team. He plans to attend Penn State Tech next year.

Senior South Team Teachers

Gwen Abreu

Senior South Team Teacher

Gwen first came to PSA in 2005 as a camp counselor and to assist with our afternoon programming. She attended East Stroudsburg University and Montclair State University majoring in Physical Education/Health and holds a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Gwen trained as a basketball coach for kids K-16 years through the Knicks USA Youth Development program and she continues to coach AAU basketball (travel program) in Millburn, NJ. Needless-to-say, Gwen teaches our weekly afternoon Super Sports class. She is the Pied Piper of PSA!

Carmel Mansfield

Senior South Team Teacher

Carmel was born in Southern Ireland, County Tipperary, and moved to the United States as a teenager. Employed as a nanny for a Montclair family for twenty years, she later attended Dover Business College and received her Patient Care Technician certification for nursing. Fortunately for us, Carmel redirected her career to early childhood education and earned her Child Development Associate (CDA) credential before bringing her Irish wit and wisdom to the Senior South team in 2016.

Senior South Support Staff

Maya Roberts

Senior South Team Support

A graduate of Montclair High School, Maya joined us in September 2021. After attending Teachers College of New Jersey (TCNJ), studying Early Childhood Education and English, she transferred to Montclair State University where she is majoring in Family Science and Human Development. Maya has experience babysitting and has worked previously as a counselor at Steve & Kate’s Camp at Lacordaire Academy. Although Maya can be found with the Senior classes at the end of the school day, she helps with Sophomore East, and teaches our Monday afternoon Book Crew class as well. Maya is super kind and easy-going. We appreciate her kind, gentle approach with all our kids!

Mia Asquini

Senior South Team Support

A Senior at Montclair High School, Mia joined our afternoon team in September 2023. She is planning to attend college next year to explore her interest in cognitive studies. In addition to working with our Pre-K kids, Mia is the head of Stage Crew for the high school’s theater program and is a member of the school’s chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), where she is proud of her work in social and political advocacy. Mia enjoys the fact that she and her students at PSA are all “Seniors!” She said that working here “fills her up every day!” What more could we ask for?

Senior North Team Teachers

Rose Marie Petrucelli

Senior North Team Teacher

“Miss Ro” graduated from Kean University with a BA in Early Childhood Education and has been a preschool educator since 1980. Prior to joining PSA’s Senior North Team in 2011, she was a teacher and director at Suburban Hills School, a teacher and director at the Essex County Child Care Center, and a preschool teacher in the Totowa and North Caldwell public school systems. She has expertise in teaching, management and curriculum development. 

Kathy Elker

Senior North Team Teacher

Kathy joined PSA in 2007 as a Senior North Team Teacher and maintains a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Prior to becoming a teacher, she worked in the medical field for 30 years at St. Barnabas Medical Center as well as for several private physicians. She graduated Lyons Institute of Technology with a certification as a Medical Assistant. Kathy is our in-house “go to” for all things medical!

Inuka Ivaska

Senior North Team Teacher 

Inuka Ivaska became a Team Teacher in the Senior North team in September 2023, having joined us the year prior as a support team member and substitute teacher. A graduate of Duquesne University, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism. Inuka combined her passion for theatre with her love of children, working with numerous regional and off-Broadway theater companies, performing all over the world. Her work with Dance.Laugh.Learn. gave her the opportunity to bring yoga, music, and dance to children in New York City schools, so naturally, we enlisted her to teach our Thursday afternoon Dance Club!  Inuka’s teaching experience includes working as an Assistant and Lead Teacher in several early childhood programs including Lightbridge Academy and Mighty Sprouts Montessori. She has taken numerous classes in pursuit of a Masters in Early Childhood Education. We are delighted that Inuka has brough her many talents to PSA!


Senior North Support Staff:

Lucas McClendon

Senior North Team Support

A graduate of Montclair High School, Lucas spent his Freshman year of college at Essex County Community College studying Physics. He has transferred to Bloomfield College, and now majors in Early Childhood Education, which warms our hearts! Lucas worked at the Montclair Kimberley Academy Star Camp for two summers as a camp counselor, and taught robotics to children 6 to 12 years of age. He is fluent in French.

Farahnaz Gerayeli

Senior North Team Support

An accomplished dentist in Iran and Germany, Farahnaz worked with children and adults, including providing school-based dental care to disabled children through the German public health service. Following her grown children to the U.S. where she is a permanent resident, Farahnaz moved to Montclair in 2021. Fortunately for us, she loves young kids and has come on board as an afternoon staff member with the Senior North class. When not at PSA, Farahnaz is pursues her interest in sports, design, and photography. We are lucky to have her onboard!

And last but not least…

Maria Pena Batista


Being responsible for the cleaning and sanitizing of a preschool is no small task anytime, let alone during a pandemic. A native of the Dominican Republic, Miss Maria worked for several years as a Home Health Aide. She joined us in July 2020 and ensures that our facility and its contents are clean and safe. She does an exceptional job, and we are grateful to have her in the PSA family!