School Director

    I was born and educated in Ireland, and there I taught High School and Elementary School children. Working with very young children has been the most fulfilling and rewarding part of my career. My best teaching moments happen when I can be in the moment and listen to the children, then we are all learning together. Children are so much more connected with the power of the unconscious, and every day I learn from them how to let go of preconceived ideas and be humble in the face of their innate creativity. I believe that all good teachers are artists, capable of being in the moment, and responsive to the children who are their audience, and their inspiration.  I am the author of two books:  The Children’s Bill of Emotional Rights  and Emotional Education.  Both these books illustrate my philosophy of developing an emotionally healthy child so we can have an emotionally healthy world.  And both illustrate the methodology we use at our school.



  • Elaine Eng

    Deputy Director/ Head Teacher Twos Class

    I have been teaching at Little Mish since 2002 as the head teacher of the Twos class. I have experience teaching children ages 2-10 years. I earned a degree in Early Childhood education and Elementary education through NYU and Brooklyn College. I came into teaching because of my love for children and the belief that all children deserve a great education. I believe that all children are natural learners and have a basic curiosity in the world around them. I feel my role is to facilitate young children by providing a warm, supportive and creative environment for children to grow socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually. Working at Little Mish has made me more aware of the whole child and honoring them as individuals. The philosophy of being there to listen and validating a young child’s feelings has been a focal point for me during my years teaching at Little Mish. Outside of the classroom, I enjoy cooking, baking, listening to music and visiting the city’s great museums.


  • Glennis Ramirez

    Senior Assistant Teacher Twos Class

    I am an assistant teacher in the Twos classroom at Little Mish, and I have previously been working in the fours classroom. I have enjoyed being at Little Mish, there is a very big family environment-the teachers are close as well as the children. As well as teaching I am also learning at Little Mish not only from the rest of the teachers but also from the children. I am also the cooking class teacher for the whole school. I have four wonderful children, two who are twins. I enjoy and look forward to bringing new experiences to your children every day.

  • Melissa Kaskel

    Teacher Twos Class

    I am so excited to be starting my first year at Little Missionary as a teacher’s assistant for Elaine’s 2’s class! Growing up as the oldest in a big family, I have always known I am a natural with kids and love spending time with them. I am a graduate from Rollins College with a degree in English.

  • Anna Lewis

    Head Teacher 2s/3s

    I have a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education and a background in theater. To me, there is no greater joy or job than to help children find their way to be their authentic self in the collective community. I love to make art, read books, cook, explore nature, and play pretend with children. I learn so much from them. I have taught at the 92Y and the 14Y and am thrilled to begin my first year at Little Mish. I have three children of my own and am an invested member of the East Village Community.

  • Jessica Rubio

    Teacher 2s/3s Class

    I had been a substitute teacher at Little Missionary’s for the Twos and Threes classes in 2013. I love working with these children. I learn a lot from them, just me being around them for the short time that they are there. I’ve noticed that every child has their own personality, and different ways of dealing with situations. I have grown to have this bond with the other teachers at little Mish, not just working with coworkers, but instead like a small family that we all are a part of. This will be my second year as assistant teacher for the Twos and I am truly excited  to be a part of this environment, helping these wonderful children find themselves. Not only will I be helping the children they might also be helping me find out things about myself that I have yet to discover. I am a full time student majoring in psychology. I enjoy learning about people and how their minds work, I love reading and writing but most of all I love spending time with my family and friends. I am a very open minded person I love to learn new things and I feel like working at little Missionary’s will be the best thing at this time in my life were I am trying to find my self and what I truly love.


  • Kelsey Podaras

    Teacher 2s/3s Class

    Kelsey is a new addition to the Little Missionary team. She graduated this past May from The New School University with a degree in Literature and Gender Studies, and is now a teacher’s assistant for Anna’s 2-3 year old class.

  • Susanna Moller

    Head Teacher Threes Class

    I grew up in New York City and went to the Brearley School. Afterwards, I went to Grinnell College in Iowa and studied fine arts, concentrating on drawing and printmaking. I have worked at day camps and a community youth center, with children ages two through twelve. I also spent several semesters working at two detention facilities teaching art classes and serving as a writing tutor. I love working with students and helping to create a fun classroom and to support different learning styles. Similarly, I find it very important to shape a classroom that is as attentive to each individual student as it is to the whole group. As a teacher, I strive to encourage students to learn visually and to be imaginative.  I very much enjoy working with young children and feel very lucky to be with the twos class at Little Mish. Outside of school I spend much of my time drawing and riding my bike in Prospect Park.


  • Jessica Adam

    Teacher Threes Class

    I remember as a child wanting to work with children when I became an adult. My family can attest; my favorite activity was to play school, I would gather my students-dolls, stuffed animals, any available family member-and read them stories or give spelling tests. I loved going to school as a child, and even after college I went to graduate school at Hunter College, where I received my Masters in School Counseling.

    I have been working with children for 9 years, in their homes as a babysitter, and in schools as a teacher and counselor. I love the curiosity children have when exploring their world, and I enjoy watching as they make a new discovery. I believe children constantly learn through their environment, and I hope to guide the children I teach in conversations with their peers or feelings that arise throughout the day. I am eager to teach at Little Mish, to read stories to my students, and to join them as they discover their world.

  • Ben Tupper

    Teacher Threes Class/ Music Teacher

    I earned a Bachelor’s in Music from Pomona College and a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education. I have been working with children for six years in various capacities: as a student teacher, a classroom teacher, and a music teacher. I love pretend play, reading books, and sing alongs. I believe that music is a special medium that helps all children (and adults!) participate and become part of a community. Music also helps create stimulating multi-sensory experiences, like clapping, pounding, dancing, singing, and becoming aware of your own body. In music and in general, I am often surprised by the creativity and fearlessness of the children in my classroom. I am interested in following children’s ideas and helping to extend them as far as they can go.

  • Kelsey Glass-Johnston

    Head Teacher 3s/4s Class

    I grew up in the suburbs of New York, and, after college in Chicago, in 2011 I returned to New York and began working as an assistant teacher in the Threes class at Little Mish. I am available as a listening ear for the children—I spend my days talking to the children, reading to them, doing dramatic activities with them, asking them questions, playing with them, watching them play, putting visually stimulating objects in their field of vision and seeing what they do, and observing them. I see my job as being a facilitator of a child’s self development. I try to help create a classroom environment that gives children the safety and the space they need to grow. Inspired by the example set Little Mish parents, students, and other teachers, I strive to nurture a genuine respect for each child in the class. Outside of my work at Little Mish, I spend a lot of time doing improvisation and theater, both of which are very similar to being in a classroom full of three year olds.

  • Isabel Ramirez

    Senior Assistant Teacher 3s/4s Class

    I enjoy laughing and playing with the children in this class. I am blessed because I have the opportunity to get to know the children. I learn about their interests and the way they interact with each other. It is very interesting to see how they grow as individuals during the school year. Not only do I work with children, but I am raising three of my own at home.

  • Maria Benker

    Teacher 3s/4s Class
    A chance encounter in 2017 led me to a position with the after-school program at East Village Community School. I also started working as a substitute assistant teacher at the Children’s International Workshop, a preschool in Union Square. Up until then, I had been in the hospitality industry for over 20 years.  It soon became clear to me that I truly enjoyed working with children, and I had a flair for it! This past summer, I had the good fortune of being placed in my current position as an assistant teacher at Little Mish in the 3/4’s class. I am so proud to be a member of the Little Mish family and I am excited about the upcoming year!
    My daughter attended Little Mish last year (the 3’s class). As a former Little Mish parent, I know firsthand how special the school is. My beliefs around children and education are right on par with the schools’ philosophy. With an emphasis on emotional well-being and open communication, I strive to provide a warm, safe and supportive environment for the kids of Little Mish.
  • Kathy Ramirez

    Head Teacher PreK Class
    I started working at Little Mish in 2007 when I was in High School, as an assistant afterschool teacher and from then on I fell in love with Little Mish, the teachers, the classrooms, the children, the ambiance and the philosophy. I’ve always loved children because of their curiousity and their yearning to want to know more about the who, what, where, when, why, and how of things. I believe that not only do the children learn from the teachers, parents and guardians but we have a lot to learn from them as well.
    As the oldest of four children, there is something that stuck to me from when I was a child and that is that you should always keep that inner child in you. Growing up I was always taught that it is normal and acceptable to have any and all feelings and that I should freely express my emotions; with that I continue with the same lesson to the children I am around because feelings are a crucial part of life and being able to express them in a healthy manner is even more important. The biggest lesson I have learned so far with working with children is that each child is individual and unique and they should be treated as such.  In Spring 2015, I will be holding a Bachelors Degree in Psychology with a concentration on Education, then I will immediately go on to getting my Masters. On my free time I enjoy painting, reading, dancing, singing, playing sports, and spending time with my loved ones.
  • Fiona Sawyer

    Teacher PreK Class

    I am a recent graduate of Keene State College, where I studied Sociology and Art History. I am very excited to be working as an assistant with the Twos and Threes this fall. I have been a counselor at The Pelham Art Center. There I instructed children ages three to five in making art, putting on plays, and tended to their emotional needs. I have also been a babysitter for over ten years, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. It thrills me to watch the children grow and to help them explore their creativity. I always try to be attuned to the emotional needs of children. My psychoanalyst parents have promoted my understanding of emotional development, which I see as such an important part of education. I am in total agreement with the educational philosophy of Little Mish and love its warm, empathic community. In my free time I enjoy yoga, tennis, movies, hiking, photography, and art.

  • Angelina Landress Bowkett Dean

    Teacher PreK Class
    I have been working with children for the past 6 years. I have been a counselor-in-training, an after school teacher, a volunteer for a school in Chile, a teacher’s assistant, a babysitter, and for the past two years a nanny for 2 little boys. I have worked with  children ages 6 months up to school aged.
    I was born in Bogota, Colombia and moved to New York City when I was 6 years old. I had a difficult childhood but was adopted by loving parents at age 9. I was very lucky to have parents, teachers and mentors who listened to me and worked hard to understand my behaviors. With their support I learned how to express myself, focus better, and be a better member in my school’s community.
    My personal experiences have drawn me to pursue childhood education, specifically emotional education.Working as an after-school teacher and at the daycare I noticed that these environments were focused on having children follow rules and schedules, and not focused on the children’s behaviors, moods or actions.  I observed that this method of interaction was not working, so I started asking myself, “If I were in these children’s situations what would I need, what would I want?”  Just as I needed extra support, so did they. I decided I needed to break away from the basic teaching methods. 

    I am very proud to be working at Little Mish alongside teachers who put children and their needs first. My future goal is to become a kindergarden teacher or a middle-school guidance counselor. Outside of the classroom I love to paint, make jewelry, write poems and play sports.  I am currently writing a children’s book.

  • Christie Alexander

    Head Teacher PreK/K Class

    After leaving my career in the fashion industry and having my own children, I realized that I found spending time with and learning with young children very emotionally satisfying. This led me to seek a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College. As a teacher and parent, I love the energy, curiosity, humor and creativity that young children bring to each day. I love to read books to children, engage in fun, messy projects and explore and discover with them. I believe in the importance of observing and listening to young children in order to guide them in understanding and expressing their emotions in a positive way. I love the educational philosophy at Little Missionary’s and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work in the Pre-K/K Class.

  • Arielle Stein

    Teacher PreK/K Class

    From a young age I always knew that I had a deep love and admiration for children. Growing up I loved to babysit and spent all my summers working as a counselor at our local pre school’s day camp. Eventually, I was inclined to follow my artistic side and went on to study Jewelry Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. After graduating I worked for various jewelry companies but always felt the urge to get back into working with children, so I started substitute teaching at a preschool in Brooklyn. I worked with ages 2-4 and was immediately enamored by the children and their play, work, and senses of humor. It was such a natural fit that I then went on to teach an art class for a summer program ranging from ages 5 to 10 where we focused on clay, print making, and even got to work with jewelry. I have now worked as an assistant teacher for the last two years for both the 2s class and the 3’s class. In my free time, I have a jewelry company that I work on in my studio in Brooklyn. I am really looking forward to the upcoming year at Little Mish where I hope to continue to bring my love for children and background in fine arts to life.

  • Kim Wurster

    Head of After School

    Many moons ago when I first came to New York City, I began teaching at Gymboree play programs in order to supplement my acting career and it was there that my vocational path took a twist. I trained extensively in the physical development of infants and toddlers and through music, movement and using my skills as an actor to “play” I found that working in Early Childhood was the road I needed to be on. I went on to work as the Head Teacher of the Early Childhood Center at Childrens Aid Society in the West Village and created curriculum there that served over four hundred downtown families a year. When the center closed (due to the sale of the property), I went on to develop my own program, Little Peep Prep, which ran for four years here in the East Village. I love this neighborhood and its people, where I am raising my sons and have run a Mid-Century antique store on Fifth Street with my husband for over twenty plus years!  Little Mish is a gem of the EV and I am so honored to be a part it and the journey that families take as they begin their child’s educational voyage.

  • Vera Schenk


    I was born and raised in Northern Italy, were I worked with children from a very early age. In 2008, I left Italy to see and learn more of the world, while working for families in Switzerland and Austria. Five years ago, I came to New York as an au pair.

    While in New York, I earned my Associates degree in Early Childhood Education and have volunteered in many different afternoon programs in both private and public schools. My plan is to pursue my Bachelors degree Childhood Education and subsequently, my Master’s in Education.

    I first learned about Little Missionary Day Nursery in 2013 and immediately fell in love with it! I loved the size of the classrooms, and the teachers alike and felt a deep connection with the philosophy of social and emotional development. Respecting children, while allowing them to be who they are, is key to a productive learning environment.

    In my experience, I have found two things very helpful when working with children: listening and observing. Being able to actively listen is key to a establishing a positive relationship, while observing children in a natural and safe environment can tell us a great deal about who they are and how they learn.

    I am happy to be working in this great community and I can’t wait to meet all the children with their different personalities. I hope to bring all my travel and teaching experiences into the Little Mish classroom.