Our Education Director is Co-owner Bryna Bilanow. is a mom herself with three boys, ages 4-10, and a Brooklyn native who has lived in Ditmas Park for nine years. She has over a decade of teaching experience in public, private, and charter schools, and a Masters in Education and Literacy from the Bank Street School. Her educational philosophy has developed through her years of study and classroom experience, as well as her time raising her own sons. Bryna brings to the program a deep love of children and solid foundation in early childhood education. She also loves to share her passion for the natural world with her students through nature walks, gardening, and science projects.
Co-owner Sarah Siegel is our school’s administrator and she also fills in as a part-time teacher as needed. Sarah is also a mom with two little girls, ages 4 and 6. She has led and organized multiple co-op playgroups, guest taught children’s art classes around the neighborhood and is certified in Music Together. She has a Masters from FIT in Fashion and Textile History and Theory and loves using her background to create fun art projects for kids. She is here to answer any administrative questions and help with a range of issues and questions that parents might have.
Elvira Nazaralieva is the assistant teacher in our 3's classl. She was born in Kyrgyz Republic and graduated from the University there with Bachelor Degree in Economics and Management. Originally her work focused on sales and marketing, but in 2001, she moved to NYC, and began working with children. Elvira’s experience caring for young children spans almost two decades. She is endlessly patient, compassionate, kind, loving and adores children and helping them learn and grow. She also has a calming presence that children really gravitate to. In her personal time she also enjoys yoga, reading, hiking, and going to museums.
Davanna Davis is our 3's group teacher. She grew up in Brooklyn, completed an AA degree in Early Childhood Education at Kingsborough, and is currently finishing up her BA in Early Childhood Education at Brooklyn College. Davanna has taught in preschools for 10 years and enjoys working with children because every day is different. She loves children's energy, honesty, resiliency, and creativity. Working with children is the most rewarding job she can think of! When not in school, Davanna enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with her family and cats.
Tomoko Shimizu is our Music Teacher, who teaches classes to our students twice a week. Tomoko infuses music theory in a sing-a-long style class that utilizes the whole body, whole child and the whole mind. Her ability to effectively communicate complex musical ideas in an extraordinarily fun and easy to understand way is amazing to witness. Tomoko is a board-certified music therapist and pianist born in Japan. She studied piano performance at Toho Gakuen Music High School in Tokyo, Japan and Music Therapy at Kurashiki Sakuyo University, Okayama. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music. In the summer of 2013, she moved to Brooklyn, NY and has been actively working as a music teacher ever since.
Yusuke Yamanouchi one of our extraordinarily talented music teachers. He is a guitarist and composer born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. He has had a long and storied career in the Jazz scene having studied at Iida Jazz School in Tokyo, and at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where he was awarded the Berklee World Tour Award. He has studied under prestigious jazz musicians such as Toshiki Nunokawa, Koichi Yabori and Shyunji Takenaka in Tokyo and jazz guitar from legendary jazz musicians including Brett Willmott, David Gilmore, Tim Miller, Tomo Fujita and Bruce Saunders, and jazz composition and arranging from pioneers in jazz such as Dave Johnson, Bob Pilkington and Jackson Schultz.
In 2013 he moved to NYC where his career as a live performer has kept him very busy, however he has still managed to find time to foster young talent and teaches private students and group music classes to promote music literacy in young children.