Our Team of Educators
Anna Rita Pergolizzi-Wentworth | Head of School
Anna Rita was raised speaking Spanish and Italian. Her linguistic and cultural background, coupled with her language interests as an adult, allows her to bring a unique perspective to language acquisition. Anna Rita is a firm believer that being able to communicate in more than one language opens windows to understanding the idiosyncrasies of people's histories, cultures, and everyday lives.
She believes that a Montessori classroom is an ideal place to encourage the learning of a new language because children are allowed to work at their own pace, are encouraged to learn from their mistakes, and are embraced for their differences in who they are and how they learn. She believes that this allows children to build the necessary sense of security required to take risks, especially linguistic ones.
Anna Rita joined Battery Park Montessori – a Green Ivy International School – from Del Mar Academy, an independent, bilingual Montessori and International Baccalaureate school located in Nosara, Costa Rica. While there, she taught, consulted, and served as its Head of School. Her journey with Green Ivy Schools began as a result of her search for her first child’s elementary education. Her son is now a 5th grader in the Mandarin language track at Green Ivy’s Pine Street School, while her now two-year-old son attends trilingual Battery Park Montessori.
Anna Rita has a B.A. in Russian Studies and Sociology/Anthropology from Middlebury College, an American Montessori Society administrator’s credential from West Side Montessori School’s Teacher Education Program, and an Ed.M. in Educational Leadership Studies from Teachers College, Columbia University.
When she is not working, Anna Rita enjoys traveling and spending time with her sons, husband, extended family, and friends.
Gabriela Santiago | Assistant to the Head of School
Gabriela was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and is an alum of Prep for Prep, a leadership development program that provides promising students of color access to an education in New York independent schools. She speaks English, Spanish, and French and is currently learning Portuguese in her quest to become a polyglot. Gabriela received a Bachelor's in Sociology with a minor in Fine Art from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. Since graduating, she has earned a certification in Data Science and Analytics during her free time.
After supporting Green Ivy Schools as both a camp counselor at Green Ivy Summer Camp and teaching assistant for the Twos classes at Pine Street School, Gabriela is excited to join Battery Park Montessori as the Assistant to the Head of School. She will bring her unique creativity, experience with children, love of learning, and tech-savviness to help nurture Battery Park Montessori’s caring and growing community.
When not at work, Gaby can usually be found baking, making art, playing at the dog park, or speed reading through novels.
Ana Chico | Lead Spanish Twos Teacher
Ana Chico was born and raised in Ciudad Real, Spain, a city located in the center of her mother country. Ana pursued her Bachelors in Hospitality and Tourism management in Seville. Continuing her education, she obtained a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics of Teaching Spanish as a foreign language in Nebrija University in Madrid.
While living in Madrid, Ana was an Assistant Spanish Instructor for immigrant workers interested in learning Spanish. Since then, she moved to NYC and gained wonderful teaching experiences: in the Spanish Language and Communication Program at the United Nations and as a preschool teacher at a Spanish immersion school in Brooklyn.
Ana holds an Infant Toddler Montessori teacher certification from West Side Montessori in New York City.
When Ana is not teaching, she enjoys spending her free time with family and traveling.
Stephy Guo | Lead Mandarin Twos Teacher
Stephy was born and raised in Suzhou, China. As a native Mandarin speaker, she also has a rich experience of studying abroad – she studied and worked in Canada for eight years. While there, she obtained an Associate Degree and subsequent licensure in Early Childhood Education, with a concentration in infant/toddlers and special needs. She has been working with children since 2013. Stephy recently moved to New York and achieved her American Montessori Society credential in Infant to Toddler Development. She will join us as the Lead Mandarin Toddler Teacher.
In her spare time, Stephy enjoys cooking, baking, and traveling with her family. She considers herself a “kind, understanding, and easygoing person” and looks forward to being a part of the Battery Park Montessori team.
Maria Horsford | Lead Twos Teacher & Preschool DEI Coordinator
Maria has a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education, Montessori certifications for children ages 0-3 and 3-6 and a New York State Teaching Certification in Early Childhood Education (birth-2nd grade).
Before joining Battery Park Montessori, Maria was a longstanding member of one of NYC's most respected Montessori schools – West Side Montessori. Maria has been teaching in Montessori education for nearly a decade. She lives in Brooklyn with her family. When she is not teaching she loves to read, go to the park and visit museums. Maria's favorite food is oil down, which is the national dish of her homeland, Grenada!
Claire Huang | Casa Mandarin Teacher
Claire was born and raised in Taiwan where she received her Bachelor’s in Chinese Literature and Foreign Languages and Literatures. Claire developed an interest in teaching young children while working at an after-school program as a second-grade teacher while in college. Subsequently, Claire graduated with a Master’s in General Education from Elmira College, where she also taught Mandarin courses to undergraduate students. Claire received her 3-6yo Montessori credential at West Side Montessori School’s Teacher Education Program.
After graduation, Claire moved to NYC and started working with children between the ages of 2-12 for several years. She always finds it rewarding to see how a child grows and is proud to be a part of the child’s life journey.
Being fond of music and arts, Claire applies her teaching skills to creative activities – she believes these forms of engagement are the key to optimizing learning.
Claire enjoys spending her leisure time playing the ukulele, cooking, traveling, learning new languages, and occasionally doing oil painting.
Marien Martinez | Casa Spanish Teacher
Marien is a native Spanish speaker who was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, from Cuban and Ecuadorian parents.
Marien earned her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from Universidad Católica Andres Bello, in Caracas. She also holds a Spanish teacher Certification from Instituto Cervantes-London and a Montessori Certification for infants and toddlers from the North American Montessori Center. Marien received her 3-6yo Montessori credential at West Side Montessori School’s Teacher Education Program.
She has more than ten years of experience in her hometown with children between the ages of 2 and 8 years old, and has been subbing for the past couple of years at Battery Park Montessori and Pine Street School.
Naysia Phifer | Twos Teacher
Naysia was born and raised in Maryland and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. She has received her master's degree in Early Childhood Education (Birth-2nd grade) from Relay Graduate School of Education. Naysia is in the process of receiving her Montessori Certification for infants and toddlers from West Side Montessori School Teacher’s Program.
Before joining Battery Park Montessori, Naysia started in education as a paraprofessional for children between the ages of 6-10 years old then began working with infants and toddlers once she moved to New York.
When Naysia is not teaching, she loves to go to coffee shops and bookstores and spend time with family and friends.
Kasia Ruszkowska | Casa English Teacher
Kasia was born in Warsaw, Poland, where she received her bachelor's degree in documentary film production. While still in school, she simultaneously worked as an English language teacher in both public and private school settings. She moved to NYC over 15 years ago to pursue a career in film and TV production, which she did for many years.
After becoming a parent, she became interested in early childhood education, and through osmosis—her son attended Montessori schools—she fell in love with the Montessori philosophy. She is currently enrolled at West Side Montessori School's Teacher Education Program, working towards her 3-6 yo Montessori certification.
She brings her love for nature and environmental education to Battery Park Montessori. When not teaching, Kasia is busy building an off-grid cabin in the Catskills with her family, mushroom hunting (she is a certified wild mushroom forager), and pursuing both architectural and portrait photography.
Emily Thomas | Lead 3-6y Teacher
Emily has a B.A. in Psychology, a B.A. in Theatre from Converse College, and her Montessori certification for children ages 3-6. She's been working with Primary-aged children since moving to New York in 2015.
A Montessori child herself from ages 2-12, she brings a deep understanding to her career by teaching the philosophy that was so instrumental in shaping her as a person. She believes all students can become joyful, self-actualized learners under the guidance of skilled teachers who present opportunities for challenging, engaging work, that will spark their curiosity and seed a life-long love of learning.
Originally from South Carolina, Emily loves to create art, spend time in nature, and explore the cultural treasures of New York City with her students. She feels a deep responsibility not only for their physical development but also for the development of their minds, hearts, and values.
Cyndi Wang | Casa Mandarin Teacher
Cyndi comes from Shaanxi, China, and has been in New York for six years. She has a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and holds a New York State teaching certification (birth to 2nd grade). Additionally, she will complete her Montessori credential in early childhood in 2022.
Cyndi grew up in a family-owned preschool in her hometown. She naturally loves being with children and believes meaningful play is the best way for children to learn and develop. She likes to make creative artwork and crafts with children to guide them to learn Mandarin.
In her leisure time, Cyndi enjoys cooking, baking, and exploring different kinds of restaurants. She loves to cook for herself and her friends. She thinks it’s the best way to relax after a long day!
Mariela Young | Lead Spanish 3-6y Teacher
Originally from Costa Rica, Mariela has been living in the tri-state area since 2010. She joins the team with more than five years of teaching experience as a Spanish teacher in Montessori Education. She has a Masters in Early Childhood with Special Needs at Concordia University and completed her B.S. in Psychology and Childhood Development. She has a Montessori credential as an Early Childhood Montessori Teacher from West Side Montessori.
Mariela is bilingual in English and Spanish, with intermediate knowledge in Italian. She values languages and supporting children in their linguistic journeys. She loves Green Ivy because she can do this while also working in a positive and collaborative environment.
In her free time, Mariela loves singing, practicing yoga, and pilates. Traveling and learning languages is one of her many passions.
Dr. Jennifer Jones | Founder
Dr. Jennifer Jones is the founder and visionary behind New York City's Green Ivy Schools network and a lifelong entrepreneur and advocate for evolved learning experiences for children from birth to high school and beyond.
She has developed 24 schools and draws from a rich background as school developer, international policy consultant, and teacher. She has advised boards and governments at regional, state, national and international levels, served as a university professor and authored a successful book on child development.
Her career is defined by pioneering efforts to break through economic and social barriers to ensure that young people from every walk of life achieve maximum potential through engaged, relevant and cutting edge approaches to education.
Her specializations include educational technology, transglobal education, bilingual education, literacy, and economic development.
Dr. Jones is the creator of Parenting for the Future, a new and engaging series of speakers, panels and hands-on workshops which invite parents of digital natives to explore and learn more about how technology will shape the lives of and future opportunities for their children.
Read more about Dr. Jones's work here.
Erin Miller | Chief Financial Officer
Erin received undergraduate and graduate degrees in Anthropology from Emory University and the University of Chicago, respectively. After leaving academia, she pursued an MBA at UCLA and has been working in Operations and Finance ever since, in a variety of industries ranging from dotcoms, to after-school programs, to independent schools.
Gary Mouton | HR Manager
Gary Mouton joins the Green Ivy Team with 15 years of experience in the education sector. In that time, he's served in the roles of Teacher, Office Manager, HR Generalist, and HR Manager. His goal is to provide the best HR services to all Green Ivy employees so they can focus on being the best in their role.
Rosa Núñez | Admissions Director
Rosa leads Green Ivy School's Nursery 2s to 6th Grade Admissions, building the community by sharing our unique and forward-thinking programming. Prior to Green Ivy, she worked at the Chinese Cultural Studies Program for Children at Columbia University as their Admissions and Operations Lead. Before that, she served for four years as a parent volunteer on the admissions team at The Spence School.
Rosa is passionate about STEAM and language learning and sits on the boards of two NYC children's organizations, Robofun and Vision Education Inc. She is also passionate about equity, identity, and courageous conversations that foster meaningful understanding.
Rosa is a native New Yorker who has lived abroad for many years as an ex-pat in Shanghai, China, and Hong Kong and returns whenever she can to her beloved Dominican Republic. She is a native Spanish speaker and speaks some Mandarin and Portuguese.
Carina Szabo | Director of International Admissions
Carina relocated to New York 15 years ago from England. She has a BA.HONS in Education and a PGCE in Primary Education.
Through her passion for travel, she has been lucky enough to teach elementary students in England, Budapest, as well as New York City. It was in New York City that Carina advanced her career and entered the admissions field. This led to her becoming Admissions Director; a gratifying role where she enjoyed building relations with many different families.
Carina is thrilled to be part of the Green Ivy team. She could not be more excited to support the school’s international families' transition to New York City and have them join the warm, supportive and diverse community at Green Ivy. Carina is a huge advocate for the development and well being of the whole child and is available to support families every step of the way.
During her spare time, Carina enjoys spending quality time with her family, playing tennis, pickleball, and immersing herself in the great outdoors with friends.
Austin Lopez | Assistant to the Admissions Director & Social Media Coordinator
Originally from Miami, Austin has enjoyed traveling around the world since he was quite young. Austin has been working in Admissions for over 3 years now and has cultivated over 4 years of social media management. Utilizing his skills in photography and Illustration, he's been able to create his own original board game and successfully run social media campaigns for various other brands. Austin obtained his BA in History and minor in Art History from Manhattanville College in 2018 and acquired his TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate last year.
Rich Rodriguez | After School & Summer Camp Coordinator
With over a decade of youth development experience, Rich has a passion for helping kids reach their potential through performance, play, and sports. A New York native, he has worked in many of the city’s educational settings, including public, private, charter, and religious schools. Having originally started teaching after school programs for music and martial arts, Rich soon began developing his own curriculums for anti-bullying, redefining masculinity for young men, violence prevention, and social-emotional learning.
Rich attended both Dutchess Community College and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, where he studied vocal performance. During that time, he was also a registered athlete under USA Boxing, eventually competing in the 2018 Ring Masters tournament. While no longer an active competitor in boxing, he also runs Harlem Free Fight Academy, a nonprofit providing free boxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu classes to teens, as well as mentoring and college/career prep.
When out of school, Rich is usually spending time with his daughter, or at the gym where he trains as an active Brazilian jiu jitsu competitor.
David Castro | Director of Facilities and Purchasing
David is a seasoned Property/Facilities Manager. He loves the problem-solving and hands-on aspects of the field; each day is different and presents various opportunities to exercise his skill set. But most of all, he loves the fact that he's part of a great team that gets to see our future leaders learn and grow at the Green Ivy Schools.
Johnny Gutierrez | Purchasing Manager
Johnny joined the Pine Street School facilities Team in 2019. Johnny is very passionate at his job as the Pine Street Facility Coordinator. Johnny has a great deal of experience in customer service, asset protection and project management.
His youngest child, Melody, also comes to Pine Street every day, as an elementary school student!
Malik LeTellier | Facilities Crew Member
Malik LeTellier is a native New Yorker, raised in Flatbush, Brooklyn. He was born on a military base, which would set the foundation for his professional life.
Malik enlisted in the U.S. Army straight out of high school. He trained at The US Army Signal Training Command in battlefield communication. His tours of duty included South Korea and Ft. Gordon, GA. His experiences included: maintaining communication for the US Army Command on the DMZ in Korea, providing medical care for Marine and Naval personnel, combat training, base security, fire safety and CPR.
Malik worked in corporate security with Allied Universal at the World Trade Center. During this time Malik began working at the Browning School and now he's happy to be part of the Pine Street School team!
Eddie Burgess | Facilities Crew Member
Eddie joined GI Facilities in 2019 as a member of the security team and handyman. When he is not keeping the schools beautiful, he is doing beautiful things. For the past 25 years, Eddie has supported people with disabilities, working with groups such as AHRC and The Lighthouse Guild. An avid biker, shopper and shoe lover, Eddie always has a smile and a vegan recipe to share.
Wendy Quero | Facilities Crew Member
Bio coming soon!