Our staff members are certified Early Childhood Educators by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care. The entire faculty is CPR and First Aid trained and all participate in ongoing professional development.
Our staff is comprised of eleven members: our Director, a Community Coordinator, a Business Manager, and nine Teachers. There are two Teachers in each morning classroom program and three additional Teachers for the Lunch and Extended Day Program. The classroom names are based on their proximity to the entrance to the school:
- Front Room (3’s)
- Middle Room (4’s)
- Far Room (4’s & 5’s, pre-k)
Liz O’Neil, Director
Swarthmore College, B.A, Psychology
Harvard University, Ed.M
When my family found CNS after moving to Lexington in 2001, it was a homecoming for me of sorts. I grew up around a cooperative preschool in New York where my mother was both director and teacher. A ‘graduate’ myself of that school, the wonder and joy and warmth of a place where both children and adults share experiences and common values resonates with the very core of my true self. I felt privileged to have three of my four children attend CNS and I was thrilled to join its faculty in 2004. CNS is a special place where wonder and discovery meet patience and respect. It is a joyous place to come each day as I continue to learn and grow along side some very wonderful people, both big and small.
Robbie Blackett, Community Coordinator
Ohio Wesleyan University
The minute I walked through the doors of CNS 10 years ago, it was love at first sight. I knew it was the right school for my then 3 year old. She proceeded to have two wonderful years at CNS. Last year, I was lucky enough to spend the year subbing in all 3 rooms. I fell in love with the children and knew I wanted more. When Joanne offered me a full time job in the Front Room, I accepted without hesitation. After teaching for four years, I transitioned to my current role as Community Coordinator.
Sisy Thomas, Front Room
University of Massachusetts, B.S.
Sisy started her journey while in medical school, volunteering in the Child Life Department of the nearby children’s hospital. There she learned the profound awe and importance of a child’s view on life. Sisy has been an early childhood educator since 2001 and fortunate to work with every age group from 0-6 years, seeing the progression of development. She has also been able to learn through her roles as teacher, program coordinator, assistant director, and parent. She has stayed involved with teaching through her experiences as a parent at Lincoln Nursery School and Community Nursery School. Her greatest learning experiences have come from being with her own two children, Joshua and Lily, who teach her something new, joyous, and remarkable every day. She loves exploring the world with her family and finding inspiration through music and art.
Noni Cooper, Far Room
Hampshire College, B.A.
After spending much of my own education in child-centered inquiry based learning environments, I came to CNS in 1998 as a parent and have never left. CNS embodies all that I have learned and that I believe when relating to children. I love the hum of the school, the camaraderie and collaboration of the teaching staff and the involvement and support of the families. My spirits are lifted every single day that I am interacting with and observing the children. I believe the future of the world rests in the souls of these young people and I believe the atmosphere and philosophy at CNS serve as a stepping stone for their futures. CNS is truly a magical place to be, both as a parent and as a teacher.
Cynthia Hansen, Far Room
Michigan State University, B.A.
Prior to joining the staff at CNS, Cindy was a teacher in the Harvard Public Schools for 19 years. During her time as a Kindergarten teacher there, she had the opportunity to participate in an international study tour of the preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Her experience on this tour fueled her desire to be part of a community that was inspired by the philosophy and values of the Reggio schools and that led her to CNS. Cindy has a big imagination and loves to create magical environments in the classroom. One of her great passions is sharing literature with children and helping them find their own stories to tell. She has three grown sons and two beautiful granddaughters. She love to experience life through their eyes.
Danielle Millett, Middle Room
Colby College, B.A. Spanish & Education
Middlebury College Language School, M.A. Spanish
I am so happy to become a part of the CNS staff after being parent and parent helper for the last three years! CNS has truly become part of our lives and this feels like a natural progression. My daughter, Solea has now moved to Kindergarten after a wonderful CNS experience and our son Kian is excited to be entering the Front Room … or the room with the yellow door as he says. I’m an educator by training, but this is going to be a new experience for me. I previously taught Spanish at Belmont High School for nine years. The Middle Room will be a new challenge and I am very excited to have the opportunity to be working with preschool children in such a cooperative and nurturing environment. Of course, working with Noni is going to be awesome too!
Julia Willwerth, Middle Room
Wesleyan University, B.A.
Lesley University, M.Ed.
I have a background in child psychology and counseling and have been teaching toddlers and preschoolers for the last five years. I love engaging young children in new activities and experiences and seeing how much joy they can find in the world they create, and we create, here in their classroom. It is always amazing to follow their journey over the course of my year with them, and I’m always excited to start a new one. I also have a preschool aged son, Leo, whose interests and insights continue to inspire me. He keeps me grounded, patient, fun-loving, and enthusiastic each day. It has been a wild and wonderful ride, balancing the rewards and challenges of parenthood and bringing the parenting experience into my teaching practice.
Denise Healy, Lunch Bunch & Extended Day
Marquette University, B.A.
Denise has been teaching at a cooperative nursery school for many years and began her work with preschool aged children at the Habitat in Belmont, MA. She has two grown children, Charlie and Ana, who also attended a cooperative preschool (and fondly remembers her parent help days!). She loves yoga, hiking, paddle boarding, and animals (dogs, especially!). She loves to bring her love of art and literature with the children at CNS!
Heather Hauser, Lunch Bunch & Extended Day; Come Play Yoga!
Hartwick College, B.A., Psychology
Heather has been teaching in a cooperative nursery school setting for many years. She specializes in creative movement and yoga for children, bringing it to many local schools and to CNS at every opportunity. Heather enjoys combining the different philosophies of Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio-inspired education in her work with children. Heather’s love of play, stories, and song is woven into all her afternoons at CNS. She is the mother of two grown children and one Yorkie, Lola.
Joanne Pressman, Consultant
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, B.A. Education
Lesley University, M.Ed.
CNS has been a very important part of my life for over twenty years. I have had the privilege of seeing Community Nursery School through the lens of a parent (1986-1988), a teacher (1988-1991) and director (1991-2010). One of the very best things about working at CNS is having the daily opportunity to watch and listen closely to children, and try to see the world through their eyes. There is so much to be learned from them! Collaborating with parents and teachers for the benefit of the children makes CNS a very special place. These partnerships serve to support the healthy growth and development of children – and all members of this nurturing learning community.