Meet the VNS Staff

 

Erin Keiran

Director

 

While this will be Erin’s sixth year as Director, she has been a part of VNS in every capacity for many years. First as a student at VNS herself, a preschool and kindergarten teacher, a parent, and now as Director. Erin holds a BA in Developmental Psychology from Boston College and has studied Early Childhood Education at The Lesley University Graduate School of Education, and has more than twenty years of experience teaching young children. Erin is a certified Toddler Teacher, Lead Preschool Teacher, and Director II.

Erin believes strongly that by truly knowing children and their families well, and focusing on best teaching practices as well as meaningful experiences, children gain tremendous confidence in themselves and in their learning. Although no longer a classroom teacher, Erin enjoys spending time with all VNS children and their families, and working closely with her amazing group of teachers.

Erin lives in Harvard with her husband, Bill, son Patrick (17) and Sadie (15) and their Black Lab Silas. When not at VNS, she enjoys watching her children’s sporting events, skiing, yoga, and hiking.

 

 

Maureen Bajko

Twos

Assistant Director

Maureen has been teaching toddlers and preschoolers for eighteen years, this will be her ninth year at VNS. Maureen holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Education and has completed studies towards her Master’s in Education, as well as additional coursework in Early Childhood Education. Maureen is a certified Lead Toddler and Preschool Teacher, and Director II.

Maureen believes in hands on learning experiences to foster children’s growth in the classroom. Maureen lives in Lunenburg with her husband, thirteen and eight year old daughters, and their dog Cookie.  Besides spending time with her family, she loves to read, run and enjoys hiking. Maureen looks forward to another great year at VNS!

 

Emilie Staiger

Twos

We are so glad to be welcoming Emilie to our team this year. Emilie has been teaching young children for twenty years, and has a particular interest in curriculum and planning engaging activities for children. She has a degree in Elementary Education from Green Mountain College and is a certified preschool and toddler teacher. Emilie lives in Harvard with her husband, son, and twin daughters who will be attending our Threes program this year. In her free time she enjoys going to concerts, spending time with her family, and baking.

 

Jennifer Hamilton

Music

Jennifer was a classroom teacher and music specialist at VNS for six years. While pursuing her Master’s Degree in Library Science degree Simmons college and employment as a children’s librarian, Jennifer will continue as a music specialist for our younger classrooms. She has lived in Littleton for ten years and has taught music and math at the Learning Experience. She also served as the toddler story time teacher at Reuben Hoar Library for several years. She teaches piano lessons in her home studio.

Living in Virginia previously, Jennifer received her B.S. from James Madison University. She taught Kindermusik for seven years and also taught music at a Presbyterian Preschool where she developed her own curriculum.

Jennifer has 3 great girls of her own: Molly – 6 (a VNS alumn), Olivia – 15, and Emma – 18, a wonderful husband and 3 cats. In her spare time, Jennifer loves running, baking, and getting her nails done! 🙂

 

Michele Borsari

Threes

Early Morning

Extended Day

 

Michele is looking forward to her tenth year of teaching at VNS.  “My youngest son, James, attended VNS and I was so pleased with the school and the teachers.  I am really enjoying working with all of them.”

Michele has lived in Bolton for the past 14 years where she raised her four children. Her youngest son, James is entering Nashoba High School this year as a freshman. She holds a BA from Villanova University and a JD from The Dickinson School of Law, and is a certified preschool teacher.

 

She has been extremely active in the public schools her children attend, both in the classrooms and the PTA’s. For fun, Michele enjoys attending her children’s athletic events, exercising, reading and cooking.

 

Deb Barton

Threes

 

We are thrilled to be welcoming back Deb for her second year as a teacher at VNS. Deb is no stranger to the school, as her youngest daughter (now a Bromfield Senior) attended preschool at VNS.  Deb has a Masters of Fine Arts from RIT, with a focus on metalsmithing, with minors in woodworking and ceramics. She has been an active volunteer in the Harvard Public Schools and Harvard community since moving here in 2004. Deb has enjoyed coaching soccer over the many years her daughters played. She is excited to bring her art experience as well as lifelong love of Children’s Literature and storytelling to VNS. “Some of my favorite pieces of art that my daughters made came from her time at VNS!” Being around children is one of her greatest joys in life. She also loves her family, daughters, Grace and Izzi, husband Bill and dog, Ellis. Outside of VNS, Deb enjoys nature, reading, swimming, boating on Bare Hill Pond, skiing, traveling and

cooking for family and friends.

 

Anastasia (Stacia) Downey

Young Fours

Stacia holds a B.A. in English and a M.A. in Special Education with an initial MA state licensure in Moderate Disabilities.  She worked three years as a Special Education Assistant in the Acton/Boxboro Public Schools before taking leave to raise her three energetic children.  Stacia is a certified Lead Preschool Teacher and Lead Toddler teacher.

Stacia embraces the philosophy that each student is a unique learner, having their own interests, learning styles, and levels of readiness.  She believes we can be most effective as teachers by tailoring curriculum and experiences to best reach each individual child where they are at.

Although this is Stacia’s fifth year teaching at VNS, she has been a member of the VNS community for over 9 years.  Her three children, Sean (14), Brenden (11) and Briana (7) have all attended VNS in their preschool years.  “I am thrilled to be part of a team that has fostered such a positive learning experience for my children.”

In her spare time, Stacia enjoys reading, running, hiking, skiing, gardening and volunteering in her children’s classrooms.

 

 

Kelly Ohanian

Young Fours

Extended Day

            We are so glad to be welcoming Kelly back for her fourth year at VNS, and thrilled that she’ll now be joining us in the mornings as well. She comes to us with ten years of preschool experience before raising three children of her own. Kelly has a degree from Harvard University and has also had many years of high school and college soccer and ice hockey coaching experience. She loves taking the kids outside for active play, and has brought her passion for encouraging free play in nature to our outdoor spaces and enrichment programs. Kelly is a certified Preschool teacher.

Outside of VNS Kelly enjoys playing ice hockey, camping, hiking, and mountain biking.

 

Johannah Powell

Pre-K

Now in her twenty-third year at VNS, Johannah has covered most of the bases, teaching younger 3s, Young Fours, Pre-K, and Kindergarten. She has also taught several enrichment programs over the years. She is a certified Lead Preschool Teacher and Director. Johannah lives in Harvard with her husband. Her two grown sons are both graduates of VNS.

“Teaching children about the natural world is so important. First, children love it. They need it. It encourages self-confidence, love of learning and important observation skills in young children. Respect for growing, living things leads to respect for humans too,” says Johannah.

When she is not imparting her own love of learning, Johannah enjoys the ocean, reading, art, children’s nature books, walking, gardening, and appreciating nature. Her favorite volunteer job was conducting nature walks for her son Harry’s first-grade class. “One of the things I hope my students walk away with is a keen sense of wonder about the natural world around them,” says Johannah. “I hope they remain the curious naturalists that they are. If they learn to appreciate nature, they will protect it for generations to come.”

 

Mary Traphagen

Pre-K

Extended Day

Mary is beginning her seventh full year at VNS this fall. She comes to us with a MA in Early Childhood Education from Lesley University and has had seventeen years of preschool teaching experience. Mary is a certified Lead Preschool teacher and Director.  Mary is also very active in supporting the Harvard Public Schools, as a School Committee member and Girl Scout Troop Leader.

Mary believes that by fostering social skills and independence, three year olds feel successful in pre-school. She loves the threes’ natural curiosity, questions, energy and uniqueness. Each year, a major for goal for Mary is to guide her class to be a cohesive, supportive group. Mary has lived in Harvard since 2005 with her husband Matt, their four children, dog, cats, and chickens. When not teaching, Mary loves reading, trail running, swimming, hiking, gardening, traveling and spending time with her family and friends.

 

Sue McClain

Pre-K

Creative Connections

We are happy to be welcoming back Sue for her sixth year at VNS. She has a degree in Early Childhood Education from Wheelock College, and has completed graduate work in Early Childhood at Lesley University. Sue has a total of 15 years of preschool teaching experience in both public and private settings in the Boston area and is a certified Lead Preschool Teacher.

Sue lives in Harvard with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs. Outside of teaching, Sue enjoys walking her dogs, yoga, running, gardening, and being with her children.

 

Nancy Banker

Pre-K

Music

Nancy has also joined us as a former VNS parent, now in her 5th year at VNS. Nancy graduated from Bowdoin College with a BS in Psychology and received an MA from Lesley University in Early Childhood Education. She is a certified Lead Preschool teacher.  She has taught all different ages in elementary school before she stayed at home to raise her four children.

Nancy has always wanted to teach at the pre-kindergarten level, particularly once her youngest son went through the VNS program, twelve years ago. She is excited to continue her work with 4-5 year olds and the fantastic integrated curriculum.  Often Nancy has been heard referring to her work as the “dream job!.” She also combines her love of music and performing with her teaching as a music specialist for our older children.

Other passions besides teaching include creating all types of art, playing guitar with her band mates, and playing on a women’s ice hockey team.

 

Gayle Curley

Extended Day

Art

Gayle Curley has been with us at VNS for over twenty years. First as a parent with her own two children, and then as a teacher. Gayle graduated from Endicott College, has continued to take courses in Early Childhood Education, and is lead teacher certified.

Gayle says she has “loved the school and had to continue on in the capacity of teaching. I just love the children and has been a very rewarding job”.

After living in Harvard for twenty-three years, Gayle moved to Groton where she has resided for the last ten years. Her two children are in their twenties and are her pride and joy.