Our People

Our team of talented professionals brings passion, commitment and enthusiasm to Manitou.

 

Maria Stein-Marrison is the Director and a Managing Partner of the Manitou School. She previously ran the Manitou Learning Center, a bilingual preschool program in Garrison, NY. Formerly, she was a management consultant with over fifteen years of experience in strategy, process, and change management. She has worked with organizations in the US, Europe, Asia, and Central America. Her past clients include The World Bank, Citigroup, Standard and Poor’s, The New York Times, McGraw-Hill, the OIM, and IBM. Most recently, she had been consulting to an elite K-12 private school in Panama City, Panama on their overall strategy, organizational structure, and curriculum effectiveness. Additionally, for the last five years Ms. Stein-Marrison has been developing and teaching a curriculum of language learning for Spanish instruction. Her bespoke approach uses music, movement, arts and crafts, and games to teach basic vocabulary and grammatical structure, as well as develop speaking and early literacy skills.  She serves on the board of the Fundación Unanue at Seton Hall University.  She holds a B.S. from the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated magna cum laude. She lives in Garrison with her husband and two children, who are happy students of the Manitou School.

Rajay Bagaria is a Managing Partner of the Manitou School.  Mr. Bagaria has worked at several Wall Street firms including Goldman Sachs and Apollo Investment Management, where he spent eight years most recently as a Partner and Investment Committee member. In 2013, with backing from a prominent family office, Rajay established the credit hedge fund Wasserstein Debt Opportunities, which he manages as the fund’s President and Chief Investment Officer.  Mr. Bagaria received a BA from New York University with studies at the London School of Economics. Mr. Bagaria is passionate about education and about contributing to his community.  He currently sits on the board of Glynwood and lives in Garrison with his wife Dr. Rajni Singh, and their two children Arjun and Amalie who attend the Manitou School.

Julisa Rincon-Tomizawa is the head of Curriculum Development at Manitou.  Ms. Rincon-Tomizawa has been an Instructional Coach for the Greenwich (CT) Public and Private Schools, where she provides policy consultation at all grade levels and designs and implements teacher training, including helping general education teachers adapt classroom practices to meet the needs of students with special needs and second language learners. In her former role as Data Specialist in a New York City public school, she supported teachers in the collection and use of student performance data to develop effective teaching strategies, design curricula that meet the needs of a diverse student body, and provide professional support to teachers (new teachers to veteran teachers) within a K-5 school.  Mrs. Rincon-Tomizawa earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education and a Master’s degree in Urban and Multicultural Education from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, as well as a Master’s Degree in School Administration from Bank Street College of Education. She currently serves a Secretary of the Little Stony Point Citizens Association, and a Board Member of the Friends of the Butterfield Library.

Jacqueline Wlodarzack is our head Elementary School teacher and 2nd/3rd grade teacher at Manitou.  Ms. Wlodarczak is an educator and curriculum writer with over ten years of teaching experience in NY state and city public and private schools. In addition to teaching, she was the education editor at TIME For Kids news magazines and has created online and print content for education-related publishing companies. Ms. Wlodarczak holds NY state and city certification in Pre K through Grade 6 and earned an M.Ed. in education from Hunter College. She lives with her young daughter and husband in Cold Spring.

Esther Espinosa is our head Spanish teacher at Manitou. Together with Ms. Stein-Marrison, she is responsible for developing and teaching the Spanish curriculum throughout all grades.   Prior to working at Manitou, Ms. Espinosa was the Director of Academics and Curriculum Development for Elementary at “La Paz,” a private school in Mexico, where she also taught preschool and Elementary.  She holds a BS in Pedagogy from the Universidad Pedagogica Nacional of Mexico.

Amie Rose Anderson is the Admissions Coordinator and Head Stepping Stones teacher at Manitou. She also teaches a variety of special classes including Music and Life Skills. Originally from Garrison, Amie has been thrilled to return to the Hudson Valley. After receiving her Masters in Education from Sarah Lawrence College, Amie went on to teach in several progressive settings, both public and private. Prior to Manitou, Amie spent three years as a head teacher at The Calhoun School in Manhattan, where she taught both three-year-olds and first grade. Amie continues to work for Sarah Lawrence, where she created a program to train college students in playing developmentally specific folk songs for pre-school aged children. She now lives with her husband and two cats in Beacon, NY.

Adam Osterfeld is our First Grade Teacher at Manitou. Adam became a teacher after a career in children’s educational programming. He was a designer of Nickelodeon’s Blues Clues and Art Director of Bill Cosby’s Little Bill. Adam is NYS certified to teach classroom grades 1-6 and Visual Arts K-12. He holds a BFA from Pratt Institute and MST from Fordham University. Since becoming a teacher, Adam has taught in districts throughout the Hudson Valley. Most recently, he taught Art for Mill Street Loft in the Poughkeepsie public schools under the NYSED 21st Century grant. He lives in Cold Spring with his wife and two sons. His passion is using the Arts to enrich learning.

Christi O’Donnell is our 5th/6th grade teacher at Manitou. From nursery school through 12th, Christi has taught every grade but 11th in school settings ranging from public to private, urban to suburban, inclusion to dual language and even international. Immediately after graduating with a Bachelors Degree from Sarah Lawrence College, Christi was accepted in to the highly competitive New York City Teaching Fellows Program where she worked as the general education teacher in an inclusion setting for 3 years before becoming an English teacher at the German International School New York in White Plains. Christi holds a Master’s Degree in Education as well as NYS Teaching Certificates in General Education pre-K to 6 and English Language Arts 7 to 12. In addition to her work in the classroom, Christi is a published author and writes for the Westchester edition of the award winning website, Mommy Poppins. She lives in Peekskill with her partner and daughter and a small herd of cats.

Erica Costalonga is a Spanish Teacher and Teacher’s Assistant at the Manitou School.  Currently she teaches in the Stepping Stones Program, as well as teaching Spanish in the elementary grades.  Erica was born in Argentina, where she obtained her Bachelor’s in Pedagogy.  Later, she moved to New York, where she attended CUNY. She received an Associate degree in Science, becoming a radiology technologist.  Erica attended Pace University for another two years while working at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.  As a health care professional, she provided her patients with her best professional and emotional support. She also provided services as a Spanish-language interpreter. Nine years ago, she married, moved to Beacon, NY, and had a daughter.  Having a child brought back her old passion for working with children. She became a volunteer for Wee Play in Beacon, organizing activities for children, and is delighted to now be working at Manitou. Erica is passionate about her work with children, their curiosity, and their enormous capability for learning new things. She believes play and fun are essential components in a successful learning process. She lives in Beacon with her husband and young daughter.

Claudia Taylor is joining the Manitou team as the Bridge class teacher. She graduated with honors from New York University with a History major and Art History minor, and was awarded membership in the Nu Lambda Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta National History Honors Society. Claudia went on to earn her Master’s in Elementary Education on full scholarship through the New York Teaching Fellows Program, and she holds a permanent NYS teaching license (PreK-6). Over the past decade, Claudia has had the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills and experience as an educator in high performing public, private, and charter schools in the United States, as well as in bilingual international schools in Central America. While living in Costa Rica, Claudia opened and operated an import bookstore in a small beach community and learned conversational Spanish. More recently, she served as the Literacy Specialist at a top middle school in San Francisco and was the head teacher at a Reggio Emilia inspired preschool in Brooklyn. In her spare time, Claudia enjoys reading, cooking, dancing, and hiking. She is thrilled to be moving to the beautiful Hudson Valley and teaching at Manitou School!

Francisca Salas is the Spanish Teacher and Teaching Assistant in the Bridge Class.  Ms. Francisca is originally from Chile, where she worked not only as a teacher, but also designing nation-wide educational policy, standards, and curriculum.   She is delighted to be working at Manitou and to be living in Cold Spring with her husband and her three daughters.

Adriana Kearney is our Office Assistant and Teaching Assistant here at Manitou. Adriana first gained her love for education from her experience as a peer mentor in High School for elementary students.  After completing her Bachelors degree at Endicott College, Adriana started her career at a daycare center in the Hudson Valley. Her love for education and teaching continued to grow which lead her to Manitou. Adriana lives with her husband in Cold Spring.

Carla Peters is our Learning Specialist at Manitou. Mrs. Peters comes to Manitou with extensive special education teaching experiences in both Westchester and Putnam Counties. Immediately after receiving her Bachelor’s Degree from SUNY Oswego, Mrs. Peters began teaching 3rd grade at a residential treatment facility for boys in Dobbs Ferry, NY. After receiving
her Master’s Degree from the College of New Rochelle, Mrs. Peters taught in the Mahopac, NY Middle School. There, she taught in the 6th grade Partnership Program, a full inclusion program for children with learning disabilities. With over ten years of teaching experience in varied special education settings, Mrs. Peters’ most recent teaching experience was in the Irvington, NY public schools, where she taught 4th/5th grade children with
language and learning disabilities. Mrs. Peters holds NYS Permanent Certification in Special Education, Kindergarten through 12th grade. Mrs.Peters volunteers her time at her own children’s school through the PTA, and is also the manager for her daughter’s soccer team. Mrs. Peters lives in Cold Spring, NY with her husband, son, daughter and their dog, Daisy.

Linda Richards is Manitou’s Music Teacher.  Ms. Linda is a well-known entity in the Hudson Valley! Her work with the Clearwater organization as the Education Director, Music Director and festival volunteer coordinator came after 8 years of public elementary school teaching and raising her own two kids. A professional singer for her entire adult life, Linda’s numerous appearances at Clearwater festivals, Mohonk Mountain House, local events, coffee houses, and school auditoriums have made her the ‘Hudson Valley songstress’ she is. Her unique songstress and outdoor education skills also gave her momentum as the Manitoga Summer Camp Director in Garrison for 7 years. She currently performs with the Vanaver Caravan’s Pete Seeger tribute show, “Turn, Turn, Turn”, runs her own music program called S.L.Y.M.I. (Sing Like You Mean It!), bringing music and songwriting to children all over the tri-state area and is an instructor at Manitou’s Summer Camp. Linda is thrilled to be part of the Manitou School’s team this year – making more music!

Kim Chase has over 15 years experience teaching in a variety of settings from independent schools to institutions like the Bronx Zoo and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. She received her Masters in environmental science education from Antioch New England Graduate School after majoring in studio art at Colorado College. Also a musician, Kim formed a band with her husband while living in Brooklyn, New York, recording albums and touring the North East. Kim started at Manitou teaching after school programs in art and wilderness survival skills. In January she took over the music teacher position and assisted in the Stepping Stones classroom.  Kim is very excited to be a full time Stepping Stones teacher this fall sharing her love of nature, science, music and art with her students.

Margaret Watkinson is the Stepping Stones Program co-teacher. For 23 years, Margaret has worked in early childhood education as a teacher, director and owner of an inclusive preschool and child care in Maine. Margaret has a Masters in Special Education, with a focus on linguistics and certifications in both regular and special education. She also holds a CAS in Early Language and Literacy. Margaret is an ardent supporter of developmentally appropriate practice and is passionate about working with parents (and the their children!) to explore and create new ways to learn. She lives in Beacon with her husband and family.

Sakura Ozaki has over 18 years of teaching experience. She began her teaching career at a public high school in San Francisco, CA in 1999, and ever since she has enjoyed the challenges of teaching at all levels. Her most recent teaching experiences include authoring and implementing a series of hands-on science courses for younger elementary school children, co-teaching mathematics at the higher elementary level, as well as providing individual home instruction to her children in all subjects from Kindergarten through grade 6, including Latin, pre-Algebra and Organic Chemistry. Ms. Sakura has lived in 4 countries, on 3 continents and in addition to English, she speaks Japanese, German and Italian. She looks forward to combining rigorous knowledge acquisition and enjoyable hands-on learning in her teaching of mathematics and science at the Manitou School!