Working closely with longtime Co-Directors Kate Delacorte and Meredith Gary, each Downtown Little School teacher brings something important to the school, its values and its culture.
Cecilia Bathory has been teaching at DLS since 2008. She has a Masters degree from Bank Street College of Education. She came to DLS as a head teacher in our Blue Room after working in both private and public school settings. Cece is now the face of the Purple Room, our oldest group, where her skill at shaping curriculum really shines. Through activities as varied as sewing, graphing, cooking, social role-plays, and storytelling, Cece nurtures children’s independence, their curiosity and their sense of school community. Each child graduates feeling confident, respected, appreciated and well prepared for kindergarten.
Jeanee Byrd has been teaching at DLS since 2004. She started as a student teacher; her easy adaptation to the Little School philosophy made it obvious that she would be an asset to the school, and 19 years later that couldn’t be more true! Jeanee is now a head teacher and pursuing a graduate degree in early childhood education and special education. She easily captivates the whole group with her humor, her dynamic read-alouds and her singing– Songs & Story time with Jeanee brings a smile to every child’s face, and even the most hesitant child can’t help but be drawn in.
Namgyal Tendol has been teaching at DLS since 2012. She arrived as a student teacher, became an assistant and then a head teacher. She has a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education/Special Education. Namgyal has worked with every age group in the school! She speaks four languages and enjoys bringing bits of children’s home languages into the life of the classroom. Her cooking curriculum is always exciting– children mix ingredients (many grown in our roof garden) to create their own dumplings, chapatis, pizzas and more. Making and sharing food together gives her classroom a warm home-away-from home feeling that is so important to our youngest age groups.
Juana Cruz has been a part of DLS since she was a teenager. She worked here first as a high school intern and stayed in touch for many years, until returning as an assistant teacher in 2017. Juana is a perfect fit for our youngest children; her warm, steady and patient presence has helped many hesitant children through the separation process. Juana is also skilled at supporting emerging pretend play, an essential developmental skill and the key to a rich and social school experience.
Leslie Cruz is in her second year at the school and is part of our long tradition of hiring teachers early in their careers and supporting their ongoing professional development. Leslie is pursuing an Associates Degree in early childhood education. She taught in the Yellow Room 3s last year and now has moved up along with her class to the Purple Room 4s, providing a sense of continuity for the children and an opportunity for her to dive into another age group and curriculum. Leslie intuitively understands the importance of the school’s balance between freedom and structure, supporting creative work while also reinforcing daily routines and classroom organization.
Ben Grill has been teaching at DLS since 2018. Ben has worked as an assistant teacher in both the Yellow and the Purple Rooms. He came to the Little School without teaching experience… and is now enrolled in an early childhood Masters program! It is exciting to see Ben apply what he’s learning in graduate school to his work at the Little School, truly bringing theory to life. Ben is skilled at observing and thinking about children, appreciating their individual strengths and needs. It's gratifying to know that the Little School has helped inspire a teacher who will contribute so much to the field.
Sara Robinson first worked in the office in 2010, and then as a maternity-leave substitute for many of our teachers over the course of 10 years, finally joining us as an assistant teacher in 2020. Sara has a wealth of experience with children of all ages and a natural ability to connect with a range of temperaments and personalities. Sara’s interest in nature is contagious, and children in her class have cared for snails, studied leaves and plants, and harvested and planted seeds from fruits that they had at snack time.