Play. Explore. Create. Love. Discover. Run. Learn. Sing. Be Messy. Laugh. Be Free.
Sarah Carlson, Founder & Director
Sarah Carlson is a Bank Street Graduate with an M.S. Ed. in Early Childhood Elementary Education, and has taught in a variety of public and private school settings in New York, New Jersey and London for the past 17 years. She is certified as a Forest School Kindergarten Teacher through Cedarsong Nature School. Sarah holds Permanent Certification in both New York and New Jersey. She is certified in Infant, Child and Adult CPR and First Aid. Sarah is inspired by children's authenticity, energy, and expression and is rooted in the idea that we are always learning through experience, reflection, and finding the magic in day to day moments. She believes strongly in the freedom, health, and creativity that ample time in nature can provide.
Lilly Clark, Assistant Director & Teacher
Originally from New York City, Lilly Clark graduated from Brooklyn College with a B.A. in Childhood Education, minoring in Sociology. She continued her professional studies at Bank Street College of Education, focusing on the Reggio Emilia approach. Lilly believes in nurturing the whole child through unconditional acceptance and compassionate interactions that are respectful of the child's ideas, input, and social-emotional development. In her spare time she enjoys yoga, book club, color-coding spreadsheets, and exploring the city by bike with her family. Lilly is certified in Infant, Child and Adult CPR and First Aid.
Susannah Bortner, Director of Community & Family Outreach
Susannah is originally from Hershey, PA, but has been a Brooklynite for 14 years. She holds a BA in English with a minor in Women's Studies, an MFA in Poetry, and has 6 years of classroom experience with ages 2-5. Susannah has also continued her education with courses and certificates through CUNY's New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute. She is certified in Infant, Child and Adult CPR and First Aid. Susannah believes that children are powerful in both body and mind and that they possess the skills and strength to complete difficult tasks autonomously. She loves the freedom of play and nature-based teaching and is excited to be working with Brooklyn Nature Days. Susannah lives in Cobble Hill with her husband and two young sons and loves biking, reading Scandinavian crime fiction, watching Buffy, and playing strategy board games.
Alice Ryan, Teacher
Alice Ryan is a graduate of the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts and hails from California. She loves spending time with kids and has over a decade of childcare experience. It brings her great joy to share her passion for music, dance, and storytelling with the kids of Brooklyn Nature Days. Alice is certified in Infant, Child and Adult CPR and First Aid.
Anna Fitzgerald, Teacher
Anna Fitzgerald grew up in Connecticut's "quiet corner," volunteering there as a Big Sister (BBSS), studying Anthropology and Journalism while covertly liberating green houses on campus and collaborating on a few food gardens. Since moving to Brooklyn nearly 10 years ago she’s produced several literary projects for terraphiles and worked as a nanny for mermaids, a few Elsas and one space loving dinosaur. Before she started teaching at BND a few years ago, she coordinated educational all-ages events at the community arts venue she co-founded in Bushwick, where she now lives. She is wild about the park’s many-legged and the single-footed, hopes our kiddos come to recognize the calls of the feathered, and really will not cool it with the Linden blooms. Anna is certified in Infant, Child and Adult CPR and First Aid.
Amos Massey III, Teacher
Amos grew up exploring the lush forests, swamps and gardens of Central Florida, which gave him a lasting appreciation for the outdoors. After several years as an elementary school teachers’ aide, where he led students through countless trips and activities, he moved to New York where he worked for the nonprofit Housingworks for 7 years, eventually leading the auction team. Along the way, his love of nature returned to the forefront, and he transitioned into horticultural work for several Brooklyn companies. Amos is excited to return to an educational role with Brooklyn Nature Days and instill his love of plant life, nature and the outdoors in the next generation of nature lovers. In his spare time, he you can find him in his pottery studio, on a climbing wall or hiking trail. He's currently studying to aquire a certificate in horticulture.
Courtney Kotsionis, Teacher
Courtney Kotsionis received her BFA in photography from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is nearing her 10th year living in Brooklyn. Courtney is excited to be a part of Brooklyn Nature Days, where she finds each day more inspiring than the next. Courtney is passionate about being present and engaged with children, especially when she’s able to share her love of dancing, art, music, and nature.
Caroline Hannon, Teacher
Caroline was born and raised in Boston, MA & considers herself a radical educator. She traveled every summer with her family to southern Maine and discovered a love of the outdoors during her early years there. Caroline has been living in New York for nearly 10 years and has worn many hats including preschool teacher’s aid, coach, nanny, gymnastics instructor, art therapist, and mentor. During her time in New York, Caroline has spent most summers traveling the country for various social justice causes, most recently traveling to Standing Rock, North Dakota to document and support the struggle of the native people to protect their sacred lands. She feels strongly that environmental educators have a responsibility to be strong advocates for the environment, all day, everyday, and especially now. Caroline currently attends Hunter College where she is an undergraduate, majoring in Women and Gender Studies with a minor in Environmental Studies. Caroline is certified in CPR and Pediatric First Aid.
Deenah Shutzer, Teacher
Deenah hails from a small seaside town in northern Massachusetts. She most recently worked at the Brooklyn Public Library as an outreach educator in the Brooklyn Collection, the library's local history archive, where she got to touch dusty newspaper articles (using gloves!), skim through card catalogs, and teach Brooklyn's unique history to public school students every day. Prior to that, she worked for a number of arts organizations in the city as a Teaching Artist, leading drama classes and creative writing workshops in all types of classrooms. She loves to speak Spanish, talk about her neighborhood Ditmas Park, and take care of her friend's cats whenever possible.
Ellie Marble, Teacher
Ellie grew up in the woods of Connecticut hiking, splashing in the river, catching frogs, and gardening with her mom. She attended Vassar college in Poughkeepsie, NY where she received a BA in Educational Studies. While in college, Ellie discovered her love for outdoor education working at a farm gardening and cooking with children. After graduating, her passion took her to San Francisco where she spent a year as a garden teacher for a public elementary school and a year as a teacher at a forest preschool in San Francisco's Presidio National Forest. Ellie is so excited to be continuing spreading the magic of forest preschool education back on the East coast with Brooklyn Nature Days!
Jan Goldberg, Homeschool Teacher
Jan is thrilled to join the Brooklyn Nature Days community. Raising her two kids with her schoolteacher husband near Prospect Park -- and often in it - she feels very much at home outdoors and is eager to experience it anew through the children’s eyes. For the past seven years, Jan has volunteered in the ornithology department at the American Museum of Natural History. Before moving to Brooklyn in 2010, she helped create an overnight place-based education program for middle schoolers and collaborated with teachers on a school garden initiative in Ashland, Oregon. Previous lives include touring with a theater ensemble as a juggler and trapeze artist; other interests include baking, watching old films, and taking her kids bird watching. She received her BA in Anthropology from Penn and an MS in Environmental Education from Southern Oregon University.
Jess Levy, Teacher
Jess is a New York City native who comes to Brooklyn Nature Days with a decade of professional childcare experience, including founding, directing, and teaching in her own co-op play school in Park Slope. Jess is an avid reader, frequent Hudson Valley hiker, Krav Maga practitioner, and is highly enthusiastic about dogs, particularly her spaniel mix, Cannoli. She is certified in infant, child, and adult CPR and first aid.
Kaitlyn "Kate" Eldridge, Teacher
Kate grew up a block from the ocean in Long Beach, NY and has been living in Brooklyn for over 10 years. As a young teenager, her very first job was as a babysitter, and she has continued to work with children ever since. More recently, Kate has worked as an after-school counselor, a Montessori preschool teacher’s aide, a guitar teacher, a summer camp counselor, and as a nanny for children and infants as young as 2 months old. She is certified in Infant, Child and Adult CPR, and First Aid. When she's not working with children, Kate travels the world playing music with her band.
Manja Paschek, Teacher
Manja grew up in Berlin, Germany and has a degree in Early Childhood and Adolescent Education from the Friedrich Fröbel School for Social Education. Now approaching her 10th year as a New Yorker, Manja has taught in classrooms all over the city and is excited to bring her love of exploration and discovery to the students at Brooklyn Nature Day. She lives in Sunnyside, Queens with her husband and son and in her spare time she tirelessly surveys the bagels of New York with heroic determination.
Megan Supina, Teacher
Meg, a central Pennsylvania native, earned her Bachelor and Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Delaware. Over the years, Meg has had extensive experience with children as a babysitter, voice teacher, and paraeducator. Meg certified in Infant, Child and Adult CPR. Growing up surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, Meg developed a deep love of nature and she is excited to share that with the students of Brooklyn Nature Days. In her spare time, Meg loves yoga, travel, cooking, and snuggling with her roommates dogs.
Myllicent Felder, Teacher
Myllicent is working toward her Master's degree and certification in Early Childhood Education and Special Education at Brooklyn College, CUNY. She received her BFA from Purchase College, SUNY in Theatre Design/Technology with a focus in lighting design. She has been working with young children, in mostly play-based, child-led classroom for three years now, and is looking forward to many more. She is excited to step outside the classroom and explore the great outdoors with Brooklyn Nature Days. She is certified in Infant, Child and Adult CPR, AED and First Aid. Myllicent lives in Prospect Heights with her husband and her two cats, Oliver and Doodle. In her free time, she enjoys healthy cooking, reading non-fiction, and cuddling with her cats.
Nicole Simoneaux, Teacher
When she was 12, Nicole had her first job working at a day camp in Bush, Louisiana. Summers spent leading hikes through Louisiana’s wetlands have inspired her love of nature ever since. She is a graduate of Fordham University and has worked with children for over 8 years. When she’s not working, she enjoys reading about food science, baking, and going to see live music.
Nina Troy, Teacher
Nina Troy just moved to the big city from the mountains of Asheville NC where she lived for two and a half years after graduating from Guilford College in Greensboro NC with a BA in Theatre Studies and a minor in Education. While living in Asheville, Nina was a preschool teacher in the young threes classroom of a Kiddie Academy where she fell in love with teaching and working with kids, she loved coming up with lesson plans that involved hands-on experimenting, paint, and making huge messes. Since moving to NYC, Nina has been homesick for the Blue Ridge Mountains and is thrilled to have found a place where she can reconnect with nature and continue her passion for teaching. In her spare time, Nina likes crafting, drawing, and adventuring. She lives in Bed-Stuy with her husband and their little black cat, Bruce.
Sean Fagan, Teacher
Sean is a graduate of Florida State University with a diverse background in the recreational nonprofit world. A true Florida native, Sean has spent majority of his summers teaching children the joys of the outdoors at 4-H summer camp, from kayaking to archery. He spent his final years in Florida making wishes come true for kids with life threatening illnesses at Give Kids the World in Orlando. Sean moved to Brooklyn earlier this year, and is looking forward to all of the adventures Brooklyn Nature Days has in store!
Zannie Owens, Teacher
Zannie grew up on the banks of the Neuse River, one the the largest rivers contained entirely in North Carolina. They spent most of their childhood sailing, swimming, and exploring the Croatan National Forest, a vast and fascinating coastal forest that contains saltwater estuaries, beech and oak forests, wetland swamps, pine savannas, and many other beautiful habitats. At 16, Zannie was accepted to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where they studied classical guitar and music theory. Upon graduating from UNCSA, Zannie set out for New York City, knowing that it still retains its status as a mecca of sorts for young artists and creative types. Zannie has worked as a Montessori teacher, and has spent the last three years teaching music to young students. Their teaching practice focuses on learning through creation, by fostering an environment where the child’s curiosity and feelings can be processed, expressed, and honored. In their spare time, Zannie enjoys playing synthesizer, skateboarding, karaoke, and soaking up the sun in Prospect Park. Zannie is very excited to share their love of nature and play with Brooklyn Nature Days.
Kelly Brennan, Yoga
Kelly has been teaching yoga to people of all ages for over a decade. In 2007 she left her successful advertising career for the yoga mat and never looked back. Her passion for the practice truly shines whether she is 'playing' yoga with children, helping teens meditate, or guiding adults through a creative flow. Highly regarded as a kids yoga expert, Kelly spent four years regularly traveling the world training kids yoga teachers. She resides in Brooklyn and teaches in schools, studios, and privately in homes all over the city.
Yo Re Mi, Music
Yo Re Mi is thrilled to bring music, yoga and mindfulness education to Brooklyn Nature Days. Our unique musical yoga program enhances learning, encourages creativity and imagination, while promoting whole-child wellness. Having started at one preschool in 2014, Yo Re Mi now provides music and movement enrichment at over 20 schools and daycares in New York and New Jersey. Founders Dan Costello and Rachel Costello are local Brooklyn residents and their team of talented teachers are certified yoga instructors and professional musicians. See videos and hear songs at www.yoremikids.com