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.
Tamara Reynolds is our Director of Administration and Special Initiatives at Manitou. She brings decades of management experience to our team, as well as extensive background in Design, which shapes the aesthetic experience of our school. Her two children are happy Manitou students.
Amie Rose Anderson is our Early Childhood and Admissions Coordinator. As our founding Stepping Stones teacher, Amie now guides and supports the early childhood programs and our admissions process. She values Manitou’s dedication to social and emotional development, and teaches our school’s “Life Skills” program to our 2nd-8th graders. Originally from Garrison, Amie received her dual masters degree in Early Childhood and Childhood Education from Sarah Lawrence College. Amie went on to teach in several progressive settings, both public and private, including The Calhoun School in Manhattan. Amie continues to work for Sarah Lawrence College, where she helps to run a professional development series for teachers. She now resides in Beacon with her husband and two cats.
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.
Lisa Hall is our the Middle School ELA and Humanities teacher. Lisa started her teaching career here in the Hudson Valley over ten years ago. While earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education from SUNY New Paltz, Lisa worked in the food and farm industries. She taught in various public school settings before moving to NYC to become part of the foundational team at Academy for Young Writers, a small public high school in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was at AFYW where Lisa developed her love for writing curriculum. According to Lisa, each classroom community should develop its own curriculum reflecting the heritage, interests, ideas and learning styles of every member. As a teacher of history, Lisa focused her attention on literacy and understanding content through Habits of Mind. In 2013, just three days before her son Nico was born, she received her Masters degree in Adolescent Literacy from Hunter College. She recently participated as a fellow of The Good Work Institute, a fellowship of community leaders committed to thinking differently about how to do business and make connections in the Hudson Valley. This year she joins us in a part time position as she continues to run Marbled Meat Shop, her family business, with her husband Chris and son Nico.
Sakura Ozaki, our Middle School Math and Science teacher, 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!
Claudia Teves is thrilled to be rejoining the Manitou team as the 4th/5th grade 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). For more than a 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. Previously, Claudia taught in both the Bridge class and the inaugural middle school class at Manitou School. During her year away from Manitou, Claudia got married and purchased a new home in Sherman, CT where she lives with her husband, three stepchildren (part-time), and their dog, Lola.
Ken Sills in our 3rd grade teacher at the Manitou School. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin and began his career as a pilot, before becoming the Vice president of Caribe aviation in Puerto Rico. He first fell in love with teaching as a law student at UNAM in Mexico City, where he also learned Spanish. In 2000, Ken began teaching English as a Second Language at Westchester Community College and with Putnam/Westchester BOCES. Since then he worked as a substitute teacher in many Hudson Valley districts, landing at Green Chimneys for five years before joining the team at Manitou! He is passionate about helping children take charge of their own education, and encourages curiosity within his classroom. Ken loves gardening, motorcycles, designing and building electric vehicles, and all types of mechanical design! Ken lives in Putnam Valley with his family.
Jacqueline Wlodarczak is our head Elementary School teacher and 2nd 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.
Christi O’Donnell is teaching the 1/2 class this year. 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 child and a small herd of cats.
Adam Osterfeld is a Kindergarten/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.
Erica Costalonga is a Spanish Teacher at the Manitou School. Currently she teaches 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.
Amanda Punsoda, our head Bridge Class teacher, is a certified Montessori teacher with 15 years of early childhood teaching experience. She was a Head Teacher at West Side Montessori School in Manhattan for many years where she facilitated a multi-age classroom for children ages 3-6 years. She currently continues her work there as a consultant supervising student teachers in their practicum year while completing their AMS certification. Amanda also worked at One Work Project, a Spanish Immersion Program in Brooklyn. After her first child was born and ready for school, Amanda began a Montessori and Spanish play-group in Brooklyn called Olas de Amor with 12 other families. She continued to administer and teach in the program until her recent move to Beacon. Amanda believes that children are rivers of joy and teachers have the privilege to help create circumstances that shape and fill those individual river currents with opportunities for them to grow and be empowered with a passion for knowledge and sensitivity for each other. She has also taught dance, music, and yoga in a variety of settings. She graduated with honors from Laban- London City University with a Masters in Performance Theory and is currently pursuing a second Masters for Special Education at Concordia College. Amanda is also a very proud parent of two children, one of whom will begin school at Manitou this fall and the second of which hopes to join Manitou’s bright and beautiful ranks next year.
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. Kim is very excited to be teaching the Bridge Class this year, sharing her love of nature, science, music and art with her students.
Eliza Hartley Romanyschyn is a Head Stepping Stones Teacher at The Manitou School, in the Chickadees classroom. Before beginning her career in education, Eliza earned a BFA with a concentration in Printmaking and Art of the Book from the State University of New York at Purchase College. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she started a small business teaching cooking classes to preschool and elementary school aged children. That experience introduced Eliza to her love of teaching and led her to Bank Street College of Education where she received a dual masters degree in Early Childhood and General Education. She spent seven years as a teacher at City and Country School in Manhattan. She taught three, four and five-year-olds and designed and instructed workshops teaching fellow educators about progressive education and block building in the early childhood classroom. After twelve years of living in Brooklyn, Eliza and her family decided to move to the Hudson Valley. Eliza is so pleased to be breathing the fresh country air and share her love of nature, cooking and art with the youngest children at Manitou. Eliza lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband and son.
Dawn Miller is a Head Stepping Stones Teacher at The Manitou School, in the Bluebirds classroom. After receiving her undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont, she went on to earn a dual Masters degree from Bank Street College in Early Childhood and Special Education. She has worked to support teachers to incorporate project-based learning, play, differentiated instruction, and mindfulness in their curriculum. She works with the students and parents in her class to build a classroom community based on kindness and empathy, where all children feel valued and accepted. Dawn enjoys the outdoors, running, and nutrition. She lives in Putnam Valley with her husband and daughter who also attends Manitou School.
Nubia Wilchez is an assistant teacher in the Stepping Stones, and a Spanish teacher accross many grade levels. She was born in Colombia, and obtained her bachelor’s degree in Bilingual Education at Colombo Americana University in Bogota. Prior to working at Manitou School, she worked as an English teacher at Nueva Granada School in Bogota, where she developed and implemented curricula for English as a second language. Subsequently, she worked for seven years at Gran Bretana School, a highly regarded international private school, where she held the position of Spanish teacher. In addition to the regular classes, her work included teaching children with special needs. Most recently, Nubia taught Spanish at the After School Program to children from three elementary schools in Beacon, using contemporary, innovative academic techniques. Nubia lives in Beacon with her wonderful 11 year old daughter. She enjoys spending quality time with her family.
Conor Austin is an Assistant Teacher in the Stepping Stones as well as being the Afterschool Coordinator at The Manitou School. He is a graduate of Juniata College with a B.S. in PreK-4 and Early Childhood Education.
He has experience working with children of many ages, as well as teaching in many different Pre-K and elementary classroom settings. He ran an after-school program through his college for two years, and is delighted to be part of the after-school team at Manitou. Conor has taught abroad as well, including spending a semester in India, where he did field work at a matriculation school. He recently returned from six months in the Dominican Republic, where he taught English to young children and their teachers in an impoverished community in the rural outskirts of Santo Domingo, where his Spanish improved radically. He is a Cold Spring native and graduate of Haldane School. He plays guitar and writes songs, and likes to bird-
watch, having worked for a summer at Constitution Marsh Audubon Sanctuary. He is thrilled to running Manitou’s very popular Dungeons and Dragons club!
Erin McKeon Bell is the enrichment coordinator at the Manitou School. Erin has worked with children of all ages since she was a teen and began focusing on holistic health when she became a mama. Her career in the wellness industry spans women and family health coaching, massage and somatic therapy, and children’s yoga and mindfulness. Erin believes in creating a multidimensional approach to supporting a child’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and social needs. Erin works to foster a dynamic, playful, community environment that equips children with a sense of empowerment and belief in themselves.
Jennet Wildy is our Learning Specialist, serving students from all classes in Reading, Spelling, and Math. She began teaching in Colorado, receiving elementary education and ESL/ELL certification from the University of Colorado at Boulder and CU-Greeley. Her other certifications include Early Child Development and a Masters of Education in Literacy and Leadership.
Literature, theater and storytelling, the gift of words and expression, are at the heart of her teaching. Her fascination with how we learn and communicate led her to deep studies of children’s development. Between teaching in Colorado and New York she also served as a Children’s Librarian in Athens, Tennessee, and by weekly storytelling improved her understanding of children, from babies to young adults.
Following her ongoing interest in human development and best educational practices, she has studied many educators, from Marian Diamond to Rudolf Steiner to Nanci Bell. She strives for child-centered, inspiring, and meaningful learning.
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!
Julisa Rincon-Tomizawa is our Curriculum Advisor and Head of Summer Camp 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.