STAFF

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.

Directors

Lisa Raphael

Director

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 earned her Child Development Associate (CDA) credential and created two afternoon clubs, Kids’ Café and Dance Club, which she taught for twenty years. She has now passed those torches to her daughter, Sophomore West 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!

Emerald Cowan
(Miss Emmy)

Freshman Team Support

Miss Emmy is a member of the afternoon Freshman Team. A graduate of Glen Ridge High School, she attended Montclair State University majoring in Psychology. She is expecting to complete her Child Development Associate (CDA) credential by Fall 2022. Emmy was a counselor in the Bloomfield Summer Recreation Program for five years in addition to holding other jobs throughout high school. She now plans and teaches our Make & Take afternoon crafts club. We are glad she has brought her love of young children and strong work ethic to PSA. 

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 usually can be found with the Freshman class, she lends a hand in Sophomore East a few times a week. Her experience as a coach in the North Arlington Recreational Cheer program has served her well, as she now assists with our afternoon Gymnastics enrichment classes!

Alicia Monroe

Freshman Team Support

A graduate of Montclair High School, Alicia is a member of our support staff when she’s not busy attending classes at Montclair State University. She is majoring in art, with a special interest in drawing and photography. Although this is her first official position working with young children, she has lots of experience being responsible for young siblings!

Sophomore West Team Teachers

Devin Beyer

Sophomore West Team Teacher

Originally a substitute teacher at PSA, Devin joined our support staff in 2015 and became a Sophomore Team Teacher in 2020. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology with a minor in History from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Devin plans and teaches Wiz Kids, our exciting afternoon science club. He is also our resident baker, making sure that no inch is spared from our waistlines!

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. 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. Jess expects to have her Child Development Associate (CDA) credential by Fall 2022.

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

Gabby Coe

Sophomore West Team Support

Gabby has been a member of Park Street Academy since she was a two-year-old student in our Freshman class! A graduate of Buxton School in Williamstown, MA, Gabby studied journalism at Rutgers University for two years, while working as an afternoon team member and summer camp counselor at PSA. Currently, she is a full-time support person in our Sophomore West class, having worked in every PSA classroom at one time or another. Following in her mom’s (Miss Alexa’s) footsteps, Gabby plans and teaches Dance Club on Thursday afternoons and Kids Café on Friday afternoons. And, utilizing her entrepreneurial acumen, Gabby has developed and sells her own line of cosmetics when she’s not corralling our children! 

Ayanna Brantley

Sophomore West Team 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 West class most afternoons. She loves fitness and basketball and is a natural to assist Miss Gwen with our Super Sports enrichment class!

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.

Jailene Reyes

Sophomore East Team Teacher

Jailene worked at PSA while attending Technology High School in Newark and during her freshman year of college. She earned her BA in 2020 with dual majors in English and Latin American Studies from William Paterson University. We are thrilled that she returned to us in 2021 as a Sophomore Support teacher and has now become a full-time Team Teacher in the Sophomore East class. Jailene is actively pursuing her Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, expecting to finish by Fall 2022. 

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. She has co-taught Wiz Kids and Make & Take, two of our terrific afternoon clubs. Sabrina is enjoying her maternity leave this fall, returning to her role as a Sophomore East Team Teacher in January 2023. 

Sophomore East Support Staff

Daniela Wahlers

Sophomore East Team Support

Daniela joined our afternoon team in 2020 after gaining experience as a teaching assistant at First Mountain Preschool in West Orange and as a camp counselor in the West Orange Summer Recreation Program. She will complete her Associate degree in Early Childhood and Family Studies at the County College of Morris in May 2023 and will also receive her Child Development Associate (CDA) credential in the Fall of 2022.  She is now part of our Sophomore East team where she is filling in for Sabrina Hodgson who is on maternity leave! Daniela also brings her spirit and energy to assist with our Martial Arts enrichment class. 

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.

Amanda Rooney

Senior South Team Teacher

Amanda joined the Senior South team in early 2021. 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 is the perfect complement to our Senior South team, and we are thrilled to have her on board!

Senior South Support Staff

Maya Roberts

Senior South Team Support

A graduate of Montclair High School, Maya attended Teachers College of New Jersey (TCNJ), studying Early Childhood Education and English. Currently, she is a Sophomore at 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 as well. Maya is super kind and easy-going. Just don’t call her in the morning!

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!

Latarsha McCall

Senior North Team Teacher 

Latarsha joined our Senior North Team in 2020 with extensive experience in early childhood education. Beginning in 2001, she worked as an Assistant Teacher, a Lead Teacher, and as Assistant Director of Precious Kids Daycare in Vauxhall, NJ. She has also been a paraprofessional in special education in Allentown, PA and in the Maplewood, NJ School District. She holds a BA in Sociology from Kean University as well as Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Latarsha plans and teaches Book Crew, our awesome children’s literature club on Monday afternoons. We are delighted that Latarsha has brought her talent and gentle touch to our Pre-K/Kindergarten class! 

Senior North Support Staff:

Vicky Fonseca

Senior North Team Support

A native of Peru, Vicky immigrated to the US in 1985 where she raised her two children while working in a variety of personal homecare and childcare positions. After being part of the PSA family since 2001, we are delighted that Vicky has become a steadfast member of our Senior North support team, supervising and providing loving care to our afternoon kids.

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

Custodian

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!