Teaching is one of the few professions that permits love.
Randolph School teachers, staff, and leaders share a commitment to seeing and understanding each child. Drawing on our decades upon decades of teaching experience, we support children to celebrate and use their own strengths as they meet the many wonderful challenges of learning and growing up. Meet the people who work and learn at Randolph School...
I have been an itinerant member of the Randolph downstairs for over two decades. I first discovered the wonderful world that young people at Randolph are invited to engage in as a student myself, where I learned lessons and formed friendships that have endured throughout my life. Fifteen years later, I found myself back in the same block rooms and circles, but this time as an assistant teacher. This serendipitous chance to return to Randolph as a teacher during a break from college became an opportunity for me to fully grasp and articulate my intention to spend my life in education, and I have never looked back.
My passion for, and boundless interest in, natural systems and the living environments that surround us everywhere is a theme that has guided my life alongside my bottomless thirst for education. I have spent time living in the Hudson Highlands and the Berkshires, on the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and on blue water sailing vessels, in Maine and California in pursuit of these interests. While I appreciate learning and teaching about nearly everything under the sun, it is when beholding a salamander, chasing a butterfly, or tickling a jewel weed seed pod that I am most wholly in my element. (Coincidentally, I spent much of my early education at Randolph catching amphibians and looking for creatures in the creek and not so much time coloring inside the lines.)
Since graduating college I have worked extensively as an outdoor educator, leading groups of kids of all ages and from all socioeconomic backgrounds in cooperative team building and environmental education experiences in the outdoors. I also spent a year living in Japan teaching English to junior high school students. Having recently finished a Master's in teaching and certification in secondary biology education at Bard College, I am very enthusiastic to be at Randolph participating in an intentional learning community.
I am thrilled and fortunate to be a Downstairs teacher. I was introduced to The Randolph School in 2011 through Dutchess Community College. While attending Dutchess Community College, I was assigned to do my fieldwork with the Upstairs children. I was amazed each week by the learning environment and how welcoming the teachers and students were. I observed and was able to be a part of such valuable and memorable experiences. I hoped that I would have the opportunity to be a part of The Randolph School again one day in the future. After my fieldwork, in the summer of 2011, I was asked to participate in Randolph's summer camp program.
My passion for becoming a teacher started in elementary school. While attending high school and Dutchess Community College, I worked as an Assistant Teacher for four and a half years at a daycare center. I graduated from Dutchess Community College in May of 2012 with an Associates Degree in birth through second grade. I recently graduated Suny New Paltz studying with a bachelor's degree in birth through sixth grade. I am overjoyed to be apart of The Randolph School.
My life in teaching began with a year of service to Americorps where I was charged with building educational materials for a series of cultural camps on Montana reservations, I learned as much (if not more) as I taught and realized I wanted this to be the rest of my life. Moving back to New York I pursued my masters' in early childhood museum education at Bank Street Collage of Education while teaching in progressive public schools and museum based programs. Life took a few turns away from classroom teaching with the births of my three amazing children and our subsequent move to the Hudson Valley. I've spent the last few years teaching art in a montessori setting and leading outdoor experiences at the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum and am thrilled to be continuing my learning and teaching journey here at Randolph as a Downstairs teacher.
As a parent and educator in both traditional and nontraditional settings I am constantly amazed at children's sense of wonder and thirst to KNOW; I am extremely excited to be able to foster and feed these ideas with the youngest of the Randolph scholars.
I joined the Randolph School community back in 2011 when I was placed here for the semester working with the Downstairs children while I was a student at Dutchess Community College. I quickly learned that Randolph was an amazing place where children can learn through exploration and teachers can guide their students through the environment that surrounds them. After graduating from DCC in 2012 with an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Esucation I transferred to SUNY Cortland to continue my studies. I never lost touch with Randolph while I was away because I always came back to help work at the annual Maple Fest each year. I also have been apart of the summer camp programs since 2012.
After recently graduating in 2014 and earning a Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education-Birth through Second Grade, I came back to Randolph and subbed mostly in the Downstairs Program. Two years ago I became a part of the After School team and am so happy to continue to be apart of this community of life long learners. I became the Head Afterschool teacher last year and have loved working in the After School program and watching these children grow and express themselves in many ways.
I am excited to be back this year as the 4-day Downstairs Teacher. Being apart of this school community has fueled my passion for working with children and allowing them the freedom to express who they are and how they learn. I am looking forward to creating many more memories here with the amazing children at Randolph!
ANITA MERANDO ~ 5-6-7s Group
I believe that education is about being a researcher in your own life, learning, reflecting, and making sense of and connections to the world. Since 1983, I have enjoyed teaching children of all ages. My interest in teaching evolved while I was an artist-in-residence in West Coast schools, integrating music and storytelling into the teaching of language arts. As a pre-school teacher, I developed an in-home preschool for four and five year olds, basing the curriculum on exploring the sights and sounds of the Seattle area. After spending twelve years as an extended-day Kindergarten teacher, I received my teaching certification, Pre-Kindergarten through Eighth Grades, from Central Washington University, and my Professional Certification from Antioch University Seattle. I taught Kindergarten and was a Reading Support Specialist in Seattle Public Schools. My experience as a Fellow in the Puget Sound Writing Project, a branch of the National Writing Project, led me to work with the Seattle School District’s Writing Curriculum Design Team. During this time, I also worked with city and county agencies, designing and presenting workshops for early childhood educators on transitioning children to Kindergarten and on developmental reading and writing. In the summers of 2002-2004, I collaborated with printmaker, Laurie Brown, presenting integrated arts and storytelling workshops for children of all ages.
In 2006, I returned to my hometown, Cold Spring, and began teaching at Randolph School. At Randolph, I found a learning community that shared my view that learning is a life-long endeavor. I have taught humanities and creative writing in the Upper School program and Language Arts and Math in the Upstairs (Elementary) program. During this time, I completed a MAED from Antioch University and in the summer of 2009 I was a Fellow at the Hudson Valley Writing Project. I continue to present workshops for early childhood educators. When I am not teaching, I participate in two writing groups, and sing jazz standards at restaurants in the Hudson Valley. I also teach voice at C-Note Music School in Cortlandt Manor and have a private tutoring and voice practice. Anita's website
RENEE VITALE ~ 5-6-7s Group
My journey here at Randolph began in 2011 as a substitute teacher. Each visit to Randolph felt like a gift. I would leave thinking about how lovely it was to have spent my day with creative educators who can harness children’s natural curiosity in engaging and meaningful learning experiences. I began as a full time teacher for the Downstairs and After-school in 2014 and look forward to Team teaching the 5,6,7s group in the fall 2016.
I began my life in education by helping my mother in her elementary art classroom, and teaching ballet lessons to middle schoolers, but it was my time spent as a one-on-one aid in a special education classroom that solidified my decision to pursue a career in education. I earned a Bachelor’s in Childhood Education 1-6 with a concentration in Art History from SUNY New Paltz, during which time I gained valuable experience as a nanny for two families with preschool-aged children.
I have been a teacher for many years, enjoying my work with parents and teachers, with all ages of children, adolescents and adults. I have a tutoring and consulting teacher practice which takes me from my headquarters at High Valley, a center in Clinton Corners, all over Dutchess County and sometimes beyond. I am privileged to spend most days at the Randolph School. Here I focus on a particular student, or work with large and small groups, benefiting enormously from a chance to work with colleagues who share my enthusiasm for an integrated, alternative approach to teaching. This approach demands a great deal from teachers and students alike. Nothing is cut and dried; the challenges of cooperative learning are always demanding. But opportunities for discovery and creativity abound, and the satisfactions are beyond description. The Randolph community seems to provide an ethical groundwork that students and teachers can build on as they interact with the world beyond.
I grew up in Dutchess County and raised my son here. After graduation from Radcliffe College, I studied at Vassar College. A Masters Degree from Bank Street College of Education in New York City and NYS teacher certification in several areas came later, as well as recent course work in play therapy and in the teaching of reading. Besides being an educator, I have done writing, editing and critical reading of fiction and nonfiction books for a number of writers. I sometimes write poems, and I love to read all kinds of things, both to myself and aloud to others.
Goldy Safirstein ~ 7-8-9s
Hello Randolph! My name is Goldy Safirstein, and I am stepping in for a “second act” at Randolph this year. I taught at Randolph from 2004-2013. During that time, I taught every grade from first through twelfth, as well as serving on the Administrative Committee. I believe Randolph to be the most nurturing place anyone can send their child. In fact both of my sons attended Randolph.
I graduated from NYU back in the stone age with a BA in psychology. Following a circuitous path which included teaching some of the very first people to use word processing software, starting a health food co-op and selling life insurance (not very successfully) I returned to school in 2000 to pursue my long held goal of becoming a teacher. I graduated from Marist College with a New York State teaching certificate in elementary education, followed a few years later with a Masters degree (also from Marist) and a secondary English teaching license.
I did my student teaching as well as a six month substitute teaching assignment in the Poughkeepsie City School District. I have also taught SAT prep classes. In addition to my career as a teacher, I am also an artist, craftswoman and writer. I have had a few solo art shows in Beacon and Poughkeepsie and have sold my beaded jewelry and notecards locally as well. I am currently working on the fourth book in a series based upon stories about the alphabet that I have shared with children over the years.
During the past three years, I have been teaching toddlers and preschoolers. I taught mommy-and-me art classes as well as teaching art at the JCC Nursery School. I was the Toddler teacher at the Sol Silver Nursery School at the former JCC and was the on-call substitute at Wimpfheimer Nursery (Vassar College). Having spent the last few years with Toddlers and Pre-school age children means that I now have experience teaching all ages from 18 months through adults. When people ask me what my favorite age is, I say, “whatever age I happen to be teaching”. And it's true!
I cannot say how happy I am to be here at Randolph this year. Given my choice of any school, I would pick Randolph every time.
MIKE FERRARA ~ 9-10-11s Group
Hello Randolph family! My name is Michael Ferrara, and I teach the 9,10,11s in the Rainbow Room! I’m so very excited to be a part of the Randolph family!
My educational background began at SUNY New Paltz, where I graduated with a BA in English. Immediately after graduation, I took a month long cross-country trip across the United States in a car with two friends. Even though college had ended for me, I looked at traveling across our vast country as an opportunity to obtain even more knowledge. I brought a journal with me on my trip to document my experiences, and to reflect on them later. First and foremost, I consider myself a lifelong learner. I love being exposed to new ideas, concepts, places, cultures, and foods!
After the birth of my wonderful niece, and seeing how my interactions with her affected her development, I became passionate about becoming an educator. I went back to my Alma Mater, and I majored in Elementary Teaching. Later, I graduated with my Master of Science in Teaching degree, and have since obtained my professional certification as an elementary classroom teacher in New York State.
My experiences working with youth have included directing and teaching at Mill Street Loft’s Project ABLE program, volunteer work with the Children’s Media Project, substitute teaching, and conducting media literacy workshops with youth in the City of Poughkeepsie. I’m very passionate about inspiring youth to critically think, and to look at the purpose and power behind language. I also love to conduct open ended discussions with youth, where they can openly share and build upon their ideas.
BEN NILES ~ Administrator / Director
I am thrilled to be joining Randolph School as Director. Randolph celebrates 50 wonderful years of progressive, child-centered education. When Jean and I decided to move our family to Beacon, one of the first visits we made was to Randolph. Even though it was a Saturday and the school was empty, we stood in the parking lot and just grinned goofily, knowing we had found the school for our children. Our daughter Beatrice is now a Randolph student in the Downstairs and our son Otis will soon be following. It is one of the most wonderfully serendipitous events of my life to join them at the school as Director.
I have come to Randolph after spending the last 12 years teaching a variety of subjects at New Design High School in New York City. I was one of the founding teachers at NDHS, and was fortunate to work with an administration and staff that believed in many of the core progressive ideals shared by Randolph School. The struggle to maintain that progressive identity while embedded in a public school system was a formative experience for me, and I learned that a clear set of values and a strong sense of purpose can help guide a school through any challenges it may face.
I look forward to greeting all of our Randolph friends, both younger and older, as you walk through our doors each morning. I am excited to get to know you, and to support you all as a community of dedicated parents and educators. Most of all, I can’t wait to discover the sparkling individuality of each of your kiddos, and to work together with you and our staff to nurture and guide their creativity and curiosity.
KAREN SZCZUKA TEICH ~ Administrator / Admissions Coordinator
I have been working at Randolph School since 2006. My connection with Randolph School began in 2001 when my son entered pre-kindergarten here. As an active parent in the Parent Group and a firm believer in the school's philosophy it was a natural fit for me.
Currently, I am the Admissions Coordinator, and one of the Co-Administrators.
I also coordinate the school's social media, maintaining our Facebook pages, Twitter and Pinterest accounts. I send out the school's press releases, as well as coordinate the school's weekly electronic newsletter;The Friday Note.
Before Randolph School, I worked at Archie Comic Publications in Mamaroneck, NY for seven years and later became a stay-at-home mom. I studied Broadcasting, Journalism and Speech at Buffalo State College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts.
KATLYN Tomlins ~ Administrator / Business Manager
I am the Business Manager and one of the Co-Administrators at The Randolph School. My connection to Randolph began as a student in 1964 when my mother, Lee Tomlins, founded the school with two other teachers. After Randolph I went to high school at The Putney School, a progressive boarding school in Vermont, and then on to Bennington College. I received my BA in English from Columbia University in 1982.
When my son entered Randolph in 1989 I began doing bookkeeping and other part-time work for the school. In 1999 I started full-time at the school, the first non-teacher to join the full-time staff. I do everything from answering the phone to planning the budget for the next fiscal year; from monitoring the water quality to helping plan the annual giving campaign. My job is to support the mission of Randolph by creating an environment where progressive education can flourish. I try to run the business end of the school grounded in the Randolph philosophy — with trust, compassion, and respect for the individual.
ART, MUSIC, SPANISH, , AND AFTERSCHOOL TEACHERS
Art ~ Pam Koeber-Diebboll
Music ~ GINA SAMARDGE
My journey began as a K-3 music teacher in rural North Central Ohio, having just returned from a year traveling
in Asia, Africa and Europe. I was exposed to the Orff-Schulwerk approach to teaching music by a respected mentor and immediately fell in love with this holistic approach to music creation and education. While in Ohio, I began an after school 3rd grade African drumming/Orff Ensemble and we took our 22 drums, 15 xylophones, recorders, props and percussion instruments on the road to area schools.
But the distant call of a city that stole my heart when I was a teen was too irresistible and I left for New York City in 2002. While in NYC, I worked as an outreach artist in the public schools, directed the Brooklyn Conservatory Children's Chorus where I produced an annual Choral Festival, and began my own series of sing-a-longs and music and movement classes for children 4 and under and their caregivers in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I developed a summer camp for children 8-14 years old where the children wrote a show based on a theme; creating their characters and story, writing the script, selecting or creating music, lyrics and dances, and building their costumes, props and some set pieces. I also completed my first two levels in Orff-Schulwerk, studying with some of the most prominent educators in the field. I performed as an actress, singer and musician around NYC and abroad every chance I could.
After a serendipitous meeting at a Beacon Sloop Club sing-a-long in January 2010, I found my way to Randolph. What better environment for an arts educator! I look forward to each day at the school, where I have an opportunity to play both teacher and student to the children; to facilitate learning opportunities amongst educators who share my educational ideology; to sing, play, move, improvise, create, connect, ask, integrate and share. When not teaching, I continue to perform and study music, theater and clown, and work as a professional development educator for preschool, music and elementary teachers on integrating music into the classroom and cross-curricular project development. A constant student of the world, I am also an avid hiker, traveler, reader and have begun to explore gardening,cooking, writing and the visual art world.
Spanish ~ Alethea Olson
I was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota but my passion for language and culture began the first time that I stepped outside the United States at the age of 16. I was struck by the many different ways that people perceive and interpret the world. I am fully convinced that the more people we meet and the more languages we learn, the more we can step outside of our personal bubbles and begin to balance our perspectives.
My love for Spanish in particular took deep root during my semester abroad in Seville, Spain in 2002. I fell easily in love with the vibrant culture of passionate people, rich food, good wine, colorful architecture, and, of course, flamenco dancing. It was only later that I discovered the huge variety of cultures, foods, and temperaments that Central and South America had to offer. No less intriguing was their fascinating and often tragic history.
Since graduation, my life has been immersed in Spanish. I have worked as a pre-school Spanish teacher, in a Spanish immersion grade school, and in adult education within the Spanish community both here in the United States and in the country of Nicaragua. I currently also attend a Spanish speaking congregation and try to keep my ties to the Spanish speaking community strong.
I am so happy to be teaching Spanish in an environment like the Randolph School. I have loved learning and teaching as long as I can remember. The Randolph school has a fantastic hands-on approach that is perfectly suited to language learning. Language is not intended to be learned from a book but as a means of understanding our world and expressing ourselves. I can only hope that my love for the Spanish language, as well as the many and varied cultures of people that speak it, will be contagious!
ERIC TOMLINS - In Memoriam
Teaching is one of the few professions that permits love.