|Khahtee V. Turner|
Founder and Director
Director of Learning and Family Life
Program Supervisor and Coordinator
Co-teacher, Studio Terra (Kindergarten)
Co-teacher, Studio Terra (Kindergarten)
Co-teacher, Lyra Class (1st and 2nd Grade)
Co-teacher, Lyra Class (1st and 2nd Grade)
Co-teacher, Aquila Class (3rd, 4th, 5th grade)
Co-teacher, Aquila Class (3rd, 4th, 5th grade)
Co-teacher, Studio Terra (Kindergarten)
(On Maternity Leave for Spring 2018)
Consulting Literacy Specialist
Consulting Math Specialist
KHAHTEE V. TURNER: Founder and Director
Khahtee V. Turner is a community leader, an educational visionary, and a humanitarian and advocate for the propagation of the arts, creative enrichment, and compassionate awareness practices and offerings in early childhood. As the founder and director of the Brooklyn, NY non-profit Studio Creative Play, for 14 years—alongside artists, musicians, and educators—Khahtee has lead a unique, comprehensive, and transcendent community experience. Through its mission, Studio Creative Play holistically nurtures the awakening and blooming of each individual’s voice and expressive capacity in the most sacred and salient time of formative development: early childhood.
Key to the rhythms and intentional extensions of Studio’s programming is the inclusion and embracing of the family, the parent, and the community in co-learning. For then, alongside our children and neighbors, we have so much more to offer to the peaceful evolution of our own world as we reach out to lead, exchange, and give of ourselves. The Studio community has daily rejoiced and evolved through this philosophical approach predicated on the regular exposure to and immersion in learning through nature discovery, science, arts and design, and music. As a relationship-based program, the centerpiece of Studio’s whole and artful learning process is also rooted in the guidance of meditation that includes an open practice of joy, loving-kindness, and gratitude filled play.
As Khahtee has grown as a professional and leader, she has also taken her program worldwide to share these foundations of nurturing creative consciousness and interconnectivity with our global neighbors. She has taken educational experiences and resources to remote and underdeveloped areas of Mexico and Nepal, and has shared resources and global community workshops during her visits to Icelandic schools. In alignment with the philosophical practices she’s developed over the last decade, she’s also produced videos, online educational resources, and enrichment games and activities for families with young children.
Alongside the ongoing growth of Studio, Khahtee founded The Roberts Field School, a kindergarten through 5th grade program, which she also directs. In the establishment of Roberts Field, she maintains her fierce devotion to offer the community the tenets and practices of Studio through an interdisciplinary approach to elementary education.
In autumn of 2017, Khahtee will launch a new online program, How To Play, which offers weekly inspiration for finding simple, yet ubiquitous beauty and playful practice in all areas of our lives and environment, especially as it relates to and includes our children.
And in any morsel of her free time, Khahtee can be found running, surfing, playing cello, meditating, and jumping in wholeheartedly with her beloved nine-year-old son and three-year-old daughter in all that the world has to offer. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
NELL SHAPIRO: Director of Learning and Family Life
As an educator, Nell believes students’ engagement, enthusiasm, and ownership of their learning are the fundamental building blocks of the most meaningful and effective schooling experiences for children of all ages. While traditionally teachers have been thought of as those who instruct and impart knowledge or skills, Nell instead supports the progressive notion that the most effective teachers are those who act as facilitators alongside their students. In this way, the teacher’s primary role is to craft and coordinate interdisciplinary experiences that invite students to discover and explore new concepts or information in engaging and hands-on ways. As the Director of Learning and Family Life, Nell’s priority each and every day is to support teachers in fostering this type of learning environment.
High quality teaching, though, is only one of the two fundamental elements of an excellent, holistic education; the second is the partnership between a child’s family and their school. Regular and ongoing family engagement opportunities at school and in classrooms strengthen the collaboration between all participants in a child’s life and education, providing fertile ground for a child’s deep trust, enjoyment and educational efflorescence. In her role as Director of Family Life, Nell is committed to ensuring that families remain connected to class curriculum as well as weekly learning activities. This takes many forms, including curriculum workshops, classroom newsletters, Family Fridays, and many of the initiatives of the Family Committee, with whom she collaborates on a monthly basis.
Prior to joining Roberts Field, Nell’s experience in education includes work in both public and private schools—having taught a combined 12 years of preschool and middle school English Language Arts. She has also worked outside the classroom as a Family Engagement Strategic Planner and an education consultant. In these roles, Nell trained teachers and collaborated with school directors to develop resources and programming centered on the needs and interests of families and children within school communities.
Nell holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Education from Boston University and a Master’s degree in Mind, Brain, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Away from RFS, Nell has finally made the time to pursue her first painting lessons in almost 20 years. Working with the Studio/Roberts Field staff has genuinely inspired her to return to her artistic roots, and she’s started that exploration with watercolor classes at a nearby Gowanus gallery. In hopes of stepping up her musical game, Nell has also taken to borrowing two-year old Theo’s ukulele and teaching herself a song or two as he pounds away on the drums or the keys. But above all, the time she spends with her family in parks around Brooklyn or exploring outside the city is what Nell holds most dear.
ROBIN PICKERING: Program Manager
Robin has been an active leader for Studio Creative Play in various capacities for over ten years, from editing content for the Studio Creative Play website, to helping produce educational videos and managing other large development projects. Over this decade plus of time, Robin’s work with SCP has also extended to global ports, such as traveling to Iceland and Mexico to further share Studio’s mission and curriculum with other schools, organizations, and communities, and to build ongoing partnerships with these groups.
Robin very much enjoys being the Program Manager, as it gives her the opportunity to deepen her relationship with all things Studio and Roberts Field and to serve the Studio-RFS community on a daily basis. She feels privileged to work alongside such a strong leadership team, and to be surrounded at the school always by music, color, forms, and shapes of all dimensions, in an environment that is so kind, thoughtful, nurturing, and joyful. She loves the mornings when she has time to be at the door to greet families and children as they come in to see what the day holds.
Robin has been teaching yoga in Park Slope and NYC since 1999. She comes from an educational publishing background (English Language Arts for grades K-8, with a specialization in primary grade reading), and in publishing has edited and project managed everything from NYC test prep materials to phonics practice books to reading basals for grades K-12.
In her free time, Robin plays electric guitar and is very active in the Brooklyn music scene, but also loves nothing better than a three-hour stroll through the Botanic Gardens and a quiet coffee on a bench.
WARD WILLIAMS: Assistant Director/Music Ambassador
Ward brings his organizational and leadership skills to the SCP/RFS team in his role as Assistant Director/Music Ambassador at The Roberts Field School and Studio Creative Play.
Since 2006, Ward has been an active musical and teaching participant in hundreds of SCP classes, programs and events. As Music Ambassador, he builds on his previous musical instruction at SCP and RFS, and expands the students’ knowledge, repertoire, performance skills, and enjoyment of music.
From the first day he entered Studio Creative Play, he has been amazed by the warmth, encouragement and positivity demonstrated by Khahtee and the other teachers towards the students. What really resonates with him is the perfect balance of a carefully orchestrated, curated program and an environment where children feel free to explore and express themselves fully. He has been the SCP’s “Resident Cellist,” sharing music accompanying the reading of books, leading movement and yoga, performing to celebrate Martin Luther King on his holiday, and teaching the students about the cello—how it’s made and how it’s played. In 2013, he developed a music class called “Vibrato” for SCP, teaching musical concepts, theory and appreciation. In 2015, Ward was a teacher for the baby Villagio class. During the Spring of 2016, he led music classes to develop the Studio Creative Play and Roberts Field song circle.
Ward is a graduate of UNCSA Conservatory of Music (Bachelors of Music: Cello Performance), has over two decades of music performance and teaching experience throughout the United States and abroad.
Ward is a professional musician who appears regularly in the orchestras of the Broadway musicals Waitress and The Great Comet. He performs at many venues throughout New York City and has recorded string arrangements for many artists.
ANGUS DAVIDSON is the Program Supervisor and Coordinator for Studio Creative Play and the Roberts Field School, and co-teaches in the Studio Polaris Threes classroom with Gigi Chew. He has been involved with Studio Creative Play since 2015. As a musician and educator, Angus strives to integrate creative expression into the classroom. He has taught music in Studio and Roberts Field classrooms, and previously taught in the Venni Fours Program as a Rigel co-teacher.
Angus graduated from Hampshire College in 2014 with a BA in music and a concentration in piano performance and conducting. After graduating from Hampshire, Angus taught kindergarten for a year in Gwangju, South Korea, before relocating to New York in the fall of 2015. His teaching experience has spanned private lessons, choral direction, and classroom teaching. Angus was a candidate for the Ottorino Respighi Prize in Conducting at the inaugural New York Conducting Workshop, and attended the Yarn/Wire Institute at Stony Brook University in 2017. He and Polaris co-teacher Gigi Chew recently co-founded Spark Arts Studio, a summer program for children drawing on their love of art, music, and nature.
Angus brings elements of drama, music, and the outdoors to his work at the Roberts Field School. When he’s not teaching, Angus is often playing music, spending time outdoors, reading, or writing.
ALLISON JECH is a co-teacher in the 1st and 2nd grade classroom, Lyra, where she is a passionate and committed community member, dedicated to the growth and development of conscientious, well-rounded learners.
Allison was initially drawn to The Roberts Field School due to their firm belief that children should be free to explore and investigate their world in order to learn in a meaningful way. The Roberts Field School has cultivated a nurturing environment which focuses on interweaving creative, academic and social-emotional growth. This focus on mindful participation enables children to feel safe to take creative and academic risks. When this occurs, the most authentic and significant learning transpires.
Allison is now entering her seventh year as an educator. Over the course of her career, she has had the opportunity to teach a diverse group of students in both urban and suburban settings. As a result, she has become skilled at collaborating with her colleagues to create engaging, interdisciplinary lessons that reach each unique learner. Allison believes in cultivating a child’s creativity through explorative learning and through developing meaningful relationships with children and families. She enjoys implementing a hands-on, inquiry-based method of learning that engages children.
After a brilliant 2016-2017 school year in Lyra with her Co-Teacher Kyle, Allison is delighted and motivated to create an immersive, holistic educational experience for the students of Lyra with Kyle again this year. Allison believes that teaching with Kyle is a natural, wonderful fit that allows the children in Lyra to experience meaningful learning opportunities, and to feel supported in all artistic, social, and academic pursuits. Allison is overjoyed to be part of a community enriched with a partnership between staff, students, and families.
Allison has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Arizona and a Master’s of Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University. She currently lives in the East Village with her husband and dog. When not teaching, Allison enjoys being outdoors, walking around the unique neighborhoods in the city, playing tennis, taking her dog to the park and on hikes, practicing her new hobby – modern calligraphy– and traveling anywhere and everywhere!
CAROLINE GUZMAN has been immersed in the joyful exploration and merry art-making of Studio Creative Play since 2011. She returns this year to serve the Studio Creative Play/Roberts Field community as a co-teacher in its Studio Terra Kindergarten for the second year. Across Caroline’s time in early childhood with Venni Studio, she acted as a Staff Supervisor, taught children from ages two up through six, and worked with her co-teachers to design both half day and full day programs that would meet the diverse needs of their students. She greatly values the opportunities past and present to deepen her craft with the RFS team of educators — focusing on the use of play towards affording authentic occasions for academic discovery. She is a firm believer in the power of imagination, and gets energized every day by a kindergartner’s ability to manifest “the pretend.”
Caroline holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dance from Connecticut College, where she also completed her Elementary Teacher Certification. In 2006, she graduated among the first teachers in her state with a unique cross endorsement in the field of dance for students in grades K through 6. She continued her training at the American Dance Festival, where she studied under a Young Artist Scholarship and had the privilege of performing in its International Choreographers Commissioning Program.
When teaching, Caroline follows the credo that young minds are most active if their bodies are similarly free. In January 2012, she helped SCP to launch its Live Earth curriculum as a weekly lab in physical expression, spatial awareness, and creative dance. She is passionate about sparking a child’s kinesthetic understanding of new ideas and fostering movement as an integrated tool for comprehension in the classroom. Additionally, she feels very connected to the emphasis that The Roberts Field School places on outdoor investigation and a child’s access to nature. Few things capture a kindergartner’s imagination more immediately or more fully than a couple of sticks, some rocks, and the park as their stage.
Outside of school, you’re likely to find Caroline sewing a soft sculpture, tinkering with a costume, or knee-deep in papier-mâché. Her theatrical designs have made their way to stages in Long Island City, and her annual contributions to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade have been covered in the online editions of many news sources, including The New York Times. She is so eager to start making art, making discoveries, and stirring up plenty of fun with Studio Terra Kindergarten again this Fall!
CHRISTIE BARRON is thrilled to join the Robert’s Field School community as a co-teacher for grades 3 through 5. She believes strongly in the power of play. Through her years as an educator, she has found it to be the catalyst, if not the source, for children making meaning of the world both around and inside of them. Christie’s teaching style is a whole-child approach, with an emphasis on agency, flexibility, tolerance, compassion, community, and curiosity. She encourages children to come up with more questions than answers and to commit to staying open to new ideas and possibilities that might arise on their journey together.
Christie’s experience as an educator over the past eleven years has been in the public school system, most recently at The Neighborhood School, a progressive school in lower Manhattan. Prior to that, Christie worked with children living in low socioeconomic status communities and began her Master’s degree in Behavioral Disorders in Special Education. She wrote and implemented her thesis on the benefits of mediation, or mindfulness, with at-risk youth in grades 3 and 4. Here she discovered her interest in the whole-child style of teaching and learning.
Christie received her Bachelor’s Degree in Childhood Education from Iona College and graduated with a Master’s Degree as a New York State Certified teacher from Hunter College. She has worked on several projects over the years, including investigating with hospice care workers the concept of care through movement, and Sense Writing in Israel with refugees seeking asylum. Christie is a certified yoga instructor and continues to teach classes and somatic workshops in Brooklyn.
In her free time, Christie enjoys spending time with the people she loves, writing, dancing, swimming when it’s hot, and making fires when it’s not. Christie is fascinated by the mind/body connection, and all the ways in which we can re-learn to play as adults, wherever life has taken or may take us. She is a strong advocate of laughter, especially when it’s contagious!
JILLIAN ROSSITTO is returning as a co-teacher in Studio Terra kindergarten class. With over twelve years of experience in education, her love for teaching is rooted in the profound power of early childhood education. Jillian holds an early childhood teaching certificate in both Connecticut and New York, a B.A. in Psychology from Salve Regina University, and an M.A. in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Special Education from Southern Connecticut State University. She was the recipient of the Connecticut Early Childhood Education Council Annual Scholarship and has presented at Columbia University Teacher’s College for the Inclusive Classroom Project.
Jillian has a diverse teaching background and has had the distinct pleasure of teaching in both the non-profit world and public and private schools. She is well versed in social and emotional learning and understands the importance of rich, thoughtful, and creative artistic experiences, especially during a child’s most formative years. In fact, she loves early childhood so much she is also a certified pediatric sleep consultant and founded her own pediatric sleep consulting business in 2012. When she is not in the classroom or helping sleepy babies, you can find her entertaining and putting serious love into her cooking, traveling the world with her husband, or swimming and reading at the beach. She also loves going to music festivals, farmers’ markets, museums, and concerts. She takes full advantage of all the diverse cultural experiences that New York has to offer.
There are many aspects about the Roberts Field School that are in alignment with Jillian’s educational philosophy, and she is overjoyed to have another year filled with fun! She looks forward to delving deep into the units of study with messy art projects, creative movement, and diverse musical expression. It brings her great joy to teach young children in such a nurturing and supportive environment. After seeing the school’s principle philosophy in action, she knows firsthand that children are happiest when lovingly nurtured and engaged in a stimulating environment where they can freely create, learn, and explore! She also feels so lucky to be a part of a school that has such an inclusive and deep sense of community. Jillian delights in the rich kindergarten curriculum as it allows her to meet her students where they are as individual and diverse learners. One of her favorite things about teaching Studio Terra is that she is always having adventures while learning and growing alongside her students.
Jillian is excited about connecting with the families of her new students and nurturing her students’ young minds and spirits both inside the beautiful and historic building and outside in the rolling hills and vast fields of the iconic Prospect Park. As a nature lover, she is excited to return to the park with her class so that it can feed into her inspiration as she presents ideas that spark her students’ imagination and creativity. She is enthusiastic about another year of wonder where she can help foster the deep feelings of belonging and community for each of her students in her kindergarten class.
JO BEST is returning to Roberts Field as a 3rd through 5th grade co-teacher. She believes that children should be active participants in their academic, social, and emotional learning, and places a strong value on child-centered exploration. Working at Roberts Field has deepened her awareness of, and desire to facilitate, an interconnected curriculum that celebrates the value of the child as a whole. She strives to not only weave together different academic subjects, but also support and incorporate children’s growth as socially proactive and emotionally mindful human beings. She believes that a successful classroom community is full of students and teachers who think deeply, continue to ask questions, and encourage each other’s learning and growth.
Before joining The Roberts Field School family, Jo worked at The Dalton School for three years, teaching both first and third grade. Working at Dalton enabled her to incorporate teaching outside of the classroom into the school’s curriculum, most notably in the math and social studies programs. Prior to teaching in the classroom, Jo worked at the Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea and the Center for Architecture. At the Center for Architecture, she taught a variety of model-making programs for elementary and middle school children. Jo continued to pursue her passion for bringing a myriad of materials and experiences into the classroom by attending The Library of Congress Summer Teacher Institute this summer. She learned how to use the library’s vast collection of primary sources to enrich student learning. She cannot wait to bring all she has learned to the Aquila classroom and the Roberts Field community.
Jo has a Bachelor’s Degree in Art and Art History from Colgate University, and graduated from Bank Street College of Education with a New York State Certification in teaching and a Master’s Degree in Museum Education.
In her spare time, Jo loves going to all the different museums in New York City. Her favorite museum is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but the American Museum of Natural History also holds a special place in her heart. If she is not wandering through a museum, you can often find her cheering on the Mets or reading a book under a shady tree.
KYLE FERLIC ANTHONY has been with the Studio Creative Play community since 2012, and this year marks her second year with Roberts Field School as a first and second grade co-teacher. In the classroom, she works to create an environment conducive to imagination, curiosity, and exploration. Enamored with the world around her and constantly striving to learn more, Kyle hopes to engage her students and stir in them the same intrepid curiosity. She looks forward to fielding and asking questions, tromping through the park in all seasons, and weaving together a community in the classroom and out in the world. She believes in developing a love and thirst for reading—her bag is never, ever without a book, article, or comic. Her reading hero is her mom, always reading three or four books at a time, towers of next-reads precariously stacked next to her bed, pouring into her daughters that same infectious love. The warmest memories feature Kyle and her sisters, curled around their mom, wrapped up in blankets listening to The Hobbit, Great Expectations, Call of the Wild, and countless picture books.
Kyle graduated with a B.A. in Art History from Ohio State University in 2008, and continued on to earn her M.A. in Art Therapy from New York University. While pursuing her master’s degree, Kyle interned with children and adults with a myriad of cognitive and physical developmental delays at after school and in recreational settings. There she became enamored with helping children learn, develop, and effervesce through the creative arts. Post graduation, she became a teaching artist at the Children’s Museum of Art where she nurtured her growing passion, churned up a bevy of art projects for zealous art-making patrons, and solidified her desire to work with children via the arts. It is Kyle’s belief that no matter what path the child takes later in life, if immersed in the arts early on they will grow up viewing the world through a creative lens and approach challenges from a unique and flexible perspective.
In addition to her drive to educate children and foster their imagination, Kyle is a freelance artist and illustrator. If she isn’t teaching or playing with her dog, you can find her working on her most current project, an activity book all about influential women! Growing up in the Anthony household, art making was strongly encouraged and art supplies and art history texts were always readily available, cultivating in her a deep respect for art and the process of art making. As an adult, she visits galleries, loves discovering new artists, while relishing in exhibits of old favorites. She is excited to help instill this verve for creativity and art in the Lyra classroom this year!
KIRSTEN BAKKEN is excited to join the Studio Terra class and the Roberts Field School community!
Originally from Flint, Michigan, she holds a bachelor’s degree in French and history from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in linguistics from Michigan State University. After graduation, Kirsten moved to Chicago and served as an AmeriCorps volunteer at Asian Human Services, where she fell in love with teaching and working with children. She taught English as a second language classes to adults and tutored elementary school students in the organization’s after school program, a job she adored.
After her time with AmeriCorps, Kirsten moved to Washington, DC, where she completed the Capital Teaching Residency, a teacher preparation program in the District. For the past seven years, she has worked as a pre-k teacher at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, an incredibly vibrant, diverse, and inspiring community of students, teachers, and families. At Haynes, Kirsten worked with the school’s youngest students to develop their early language and literacy skills. Her absolute favorite thing to do with students is to read and act out a favorite book, and to watch as children make a story their own. She is endlessly fascinated with children’s many ways of seeing and representing their world through play, drama, art, and construction.
Mona Voelkel: Reading Specialist
Mona is inspired by the mission of the Roberts Field School and is excited to return to the Roberts Field School this year as a Reading Specialist.
She holds degrees from Fordham University (B.S. Business Administration) and Lehman College (Education/Reading). She achieved National Board Certification (Literacy) in 2005 and successfully renewed that certificate in 2015.
Besides her experience as a classroom teacher and reading enrichment teacher in the Bronx, Mona has been a Reading Specialist at the Kensico School in Valhalla, New York for the past 20 years. Her passion is nurturing a love of reading and writing in her students.
Outside the classroom, Mona is an aspiring playwright. She also loves to travel (especially to the beaches of the Outer Banks), run, and spend time with family and friends.
Back to Top
ALYSSA NEWMAN: Consulting Literacy Specialist
Alyssa earned her degrees in Inclusive Elementary Education and English from Syracuse University’s School of Education. She went on to receive her M.A. as a Literacy Specialist from Teachers College, Columbia University. Alyssa then served as a classroom teacher across the primary grades in NYC public schools, including one new, growing school. She later worked as a Reading Recovery teacher outside the classroom, and also took on the role of Special Education Teacher Support Service (SETSS) teacher where she differentiated for students with Individualized Education Programs.
At Teachers College, Alyssa co-taught Methods and Materials for Reading Instruction and has presented at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s Saturday Reunions and Institutes in NYC and across the U.S. In this role, she worked with educators from all backgrounds and levels of experience.
Alyssa currently works with principals, coaches, and teachers as they develop strong, balanced literacy models within their schools. As a co-founder of Prime Learning Advisors, an educational company that works with both schools and families to support young children, Alyssa hosts workshops and models/coaches within the classroom setting to build strong and successful literacy programs.
Back to Top
DEANNA CATANZARO: Consulting Math Specialist
Deanna began her journey in education as an undergraduate at New York University, where she earned dual degrees in Childhood Education and Special Education, as well as a minor in Psychology. Eager to begin her dream job as a teacher, Deanna began teaching in a second grade ICT class the fall after she graduated from NYU, while she simultaneously began pursuing her Master’s Degree in Literacy from Hunter College. For the next six years, Deanna served as one of the founding teachers at PS 267 in District 2, where she taught across the primary grades in various classroom settings.
As a teacher helping to grow and strengthen a new school, Deanna collaborated daily with her colleagues and administrators in order to develop engaging curricula accessible to all learners in literacy and mathematics. She took on several leadership roles, including serving as the lead teacher on the kindergarten team and mentoring first and second year teachers. Deanna also co-planned and facilitated several workshops for parents on the importance of developmentally appropriate mathematics instruction.
During her years as a classroom teacher, Deanna was fortunate to work closely with master coaches of mathematics. Deanna found this work to be transformational, in both her own teaching practice and philosophies about mathematics instruction. She grew fascinated with the open-ended, authentic approach to teaching and learning mathematics, where students construct their own deep understandings of big ideas and strategies through guided investigations, minilessons, and games.
Deanna currently works as a mathematics consultant in schools across the city, where she supports principals, coaches, and teachers in constructing a deeper understanding of mathematics content in order to improve instruction and, in turn, increase student achievement. As a co-founder of Prime Learning Advisors, an educational company that works with both schools and families to support young children, Deanna hosts workshops and models/coaches within the classroom setting to build thoughtful and comprehensive mathematics programs.