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Staff

Eileen Shannon

Executive Director

eileen@openhousekids.org

Eileen first came to Open House in 1989 as a parent.  After she began helping in the Extended Day program she fell in love with teaching.  She enrolled in the Bank Street College of Education and spent several years as a Group Teacher here before becoming School Director in 1996.

Eileen has served as Director during a period of great growth and change at Open House. Spearheading and inspiring many initiatives and projects, including the move to 318 Warren Street, she has played a central role in making Open House the beloved and respected community institution that it is today.  She believes deeply in protecting the right of children to be children.

In her time off, Eileen enjoys traveling, good food and wine, practicing yoga and spending time with her family.

Tom Cucinotta

Education Director

tom@openhousekids.org

After working in the music industry from many years, Tom began to feel it was time for a change. Because he enjoyed music and kids he wondered if he could bring these interests together to make a new career himself. Eileen suggested he test out this idea here at Open House and he began coming to us weekly as a “music specialist.” This experience was such a resounding success he decided to go back to school for his Masters in Early Childhood Education. The rest is history. He led the both the Pond and The Meadow as a Group Teacher. Tom completed his Masters at Bank Street College and says he feels “happy and relieved” to have made the change to teaching. This year Tom will be inspiring and assisting all the teachers with curriculum design and implementation. He will also make time to strum his guitar and and tell some stories. In his spare time he practices yoga, plays music and surfs. His “homebreak” is the Rockaways.

Carey Johnson

Operations Director

carey@openhousekids.org

Before joining Open House full time in 2016, Carey worked as a business communications coach and a freelance fundraiser.  Prior to that, she was an Open House parent (Naomi, class of 2005, and Cecilia, class of 2007) and served the school as Board Treasurer and President.  And prior to that, in the Jurassic period, she taught middle school in Manhattan’s District 4.  She received her MBA from NYU and her Masters in Teaching from Teachers College.

In her time off, Carey strives to parent two adolescents and sings, writes, and performs music.

Nyeasha Washington

Front Desk Administrator

nyeasha@openhousekids.org

In 2007 Nyeasha left the world of business to come watch over our front door.  She loves the hustle and bustle, answering the phones, and keeping all of us on track. Open House feels like a second home to Nyeasha. Her mom Paulette was a teacher in the Pond Room and her sister Jewel is everyone’s favorite dance teacher and works in the Garden Room. In her free time, Nyeasha enjoys practicing her hair-dressing skills, making sure all of her friends are fashionably coiffed.

Safia Mohammed

Nest Room Group Teacher

safia@openhousekids.org

After getting to know and appreciate her skills as an associate teacher since 2014 and the completion of her Masters of Early Childhood Education at Touro College, Open House was delighted to invite Safia to be a Group Teacher in 2016. Safia moved to New York from Trinidad in 2002 to pursue a degree in education. During her studies, she worked as a caregiver and developed her passion for understanding and supporting young children. Through persistence and hard work she has achieved her goals to the benefit of all the children and families she meets.

Safia brings a wonderful mix of calmness and fun-loving energy to the classroom. After school and on weekends, she enjoys keeping fit exercising at the gym and the great New York tradition of window-shopping.

Claudette Channer

Nest Room Assistant Teacher

claudette@openhousekids.org

Claudette started out at Open House in 1993, working part-time in the Big Wood Room.   She soon moved to a full-time position and, for the last eight years, she has been assisting in the Nest. “I love watching the tremendous changes with the Twos,” she says, “how their language comes in and they grow so much more independent.  It’s a great year.” 

During vacations, Claudette loves traveling home to England with her son, Zachary, who is one of our graduates.  Claudette is also very active in her church where she is head of their Liberian Mission in Africa, a project focused on supporting educational programs for young children.

Jessica Tam

Nest Room Associate Teacher

jessica@openhousekids.org

Jessica came to Open House in 2003 as a student teacher. She stayed on to join our staff as an associate and has been with us ever since.  She is beloved throughout the school, bringing her gentle manner and voice wherever she is needed.  Many of our children have had the luck to have her as a caregiver in the afternoons and evenings, as well.  In her spare time, she likes to shop, try new foods and watch movies.  She finished her BA in Early Childhood Education at Brooklyn College.

Amy Weil

Garden Room Group Teacher

amyweil@openhousekids.org

Amy has been an early childhood educator since 1997. She has not only worked as an early childhood classroom teacher, she has also had a wide variety of challenges and experiences as a SEIT (Special Education Itinerant Teacher). She is particularly drawn to working with the “little ones” and we know that her warmth, gentleness and great excitement about joining us are going to make her a perfect match for our Twos. Amy has a Masters Degree from Touro College in Early Childhood Education and Special Education.

Renay Grant

Garden Room Assistant Teacher

renay@openhousekids.org

Renay has been at Open House since 1994.  She started by helping out in the Extended Day Program and soon became a regular floater.  For the last seven years she has been assisting in the Garden classroom.  “Open House is my second family,” she says.  I cannot imagine who or what I would be without it.  I love the kids and all my friends here.”  In her free time Renay enjoys listening to music and exploring the great outdoors with her children.

Veronica Trevino

Pond Room Group Teacher

veronica@openhousekids.org

Veronica began working with us in summer camp in 2006 and stayed on to lead the Garden Room in the fall.  She is a passionate educator and has completed her Masters Degree in Early Childhood and Special Education through Brooklyn College.   In addition to working at Open House, she runs the Afterschool Program at The Brooklyn New School, is part owner of the Beaner Bar in Williamsburg, and is organizing a children’s camp at the Hattie Carthan Community Garden and Farm in Bedford Stuyvesant. 

Patricia Walkes

Pond Room Assistant Teacher

patricia@openhousekids.org

Patricia Walkes came to Open House in 1994 when she was studying at LaGuardia College.  Over the years, she has had a chance to assist with many different age groups, but she has been working with the Threes in the Pond Room for the last five years.  She loves the comfortable, caring environment at Open House. She has a BA in Human Services with an emphasis in education from the New York City College of Technology.  In her free time she loves home decorating and cooking—especially during holiday times when her big family descends upon her. 

Lori Chipman

Savannah Room Group Teacher

lori@openhousekids.org

Lori Chipman first joined Open House as a student teacher back in 1984.  She started out in the Blue room, working with the Twos and Young Threes. She has been Group Teacher in the Savannah Room since 2003.  She received her Masters in Early Childhood and Special Education from Brooklyn College.  She loves teaching and preparing for the day ahead, but she also loves dancing and music and travel.  When she’s not at Open House, look for her in Mexico, the Dominican Republic or maybe some warm spot in Europe.

Paula Blau

Savannah Room Assistant Teacher

paula@openhousekids.org

Paula first came to Open House in 2000 as a student teacher. After subbing and working as a floater for several years, she became Assistant Teacher in the Savannah Room. She liked “floating” she says because it gave her a chance to get to know everybody, but “spending the year in just one room is also great because then you are able to really develop relationships with the children and their parents.” Paula received her BA in Early Childhood Education from Brooklyn College.  In her free time she enjoys swimming at the gym and taking long neighborhood walks.

Magna Antoine

River Room Group Teacher

magna@openhousekids.org

Back in 1988, the director of Open House, Chaffee Monnell, found himself suddenly in need of an extra pair of hands in the Extended Day Program.  Magna was then working as a caregiver for one of the school’s students and Chaffee had noticed her wonderful way with children.  He asked her if she had any extra time and she agreed to come in several afternoons a week to help out.  She fell in love with teaching almost immediately and has been here ever since.  She received her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from Brooklyn College and is currently Group Teacher in the Fours River Room.  We can hardly believe it, but her daughter, who attended Open House back in the day, is in college.  In her free time, Magna loves to dance and read and is hoping one day to find the time to write a children’s book.

Teresa Maryniak

River Room Assistant Teacher

teresa@openhousekids.org

Teresa was teaching kindergarten in Poland and working on her Master’s there when her family decided to move to the US.  She started studying again at Brooklyn College and became a student teacher at Open House in 2003.  She stayed on to assist in the River Room with the Fours and has been here ever since.  The many gratifications of working in  early childhood education keeps Theresa resolved that once her own children are grown she will continue working on her Master’s degree in this area.  In her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading and going to jazz concerts with her musician husband.

Meira Josovich

Meadow Room Group Teacher

meira@openhousekids.org

Meira began her career in early childhood education in 2002 and also has had experience both as a classroom teacher and as a SEIT. She has already spent considerable time in our Meadow Room in this latter capacity and she and Yvette are quite excited at the prospect of working together full-time. Meira is familiar with the new challenges and regulations presented to us by the Common Core Standards Initiative and she is very eager to have the chance to develop playful and multi-disciplinary curricula that will inspire our Fours. Meira has a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from The University of Phoenix, as well as a Masters Degree in Special Education from Touro College.

Yvette Ducos

Meadow Room Co-Teacher

yvette@openhousekids.org

Yvette began subbing at Open House back in 1984 and then jumped in to work full-time with the Fours.  She says the philosophy of cooperation and learning through discovery seemed wonderful then and remains so today.  She continues finding the Fours, with their curiosity and excitement about the world, a very gratifying age to work with.  When she’s not here exploring the world with our “seniors,” she loves cooking and taking long walks, snapping photos and sightseeing.   

Pema Lhamo

Associate Teacher

pema@openhousekids.org

Pema is originally from Tibet and was a teacher in a kindergarten there before her move to the United States. She began working at Open House in 2005.  Although she happily goes wherever she is needed, she can generally be found helping out with the Threes.  She says early childhood education is quite different in Nepal where the groups tend to be large (over thirty children) and there is a great focus on early academics.  She enjoys our developmental approach which allows her to get to know each child as an individual. Pema earned her B.A. in Early childhood Education at Brooklyn College. In her free time she loves cooking, particularly traditional dishes from her home country.

Asim Samuel

Associate Teacher

As an Open House graduate and Open House summer camp counselor since his teens, Asim has deep roots in the our community. An associate teacher since 2015 and a full-time student at New York City College of Technology, Asim reads constantly for course work and pleasure. With the little free time he has, Asim relaxes playing video games and spending time with his large extended family.

Harry Adams

Associate Teacher

After several years of working as a Camp Counselor, Harry joined the Open House staff in 2013. Harry is a graduate of St. Francis College and Open House. In a wonderful turn of the circle Harry assists his former teacher, Magna, in the River Room. Harry also enjoys running and reading graphic novels.

Jennifer Torres

Associate Teacher

jennifer@openhousekids.org

Jennifer started working here in 2005 as a summer camp assistant.  She was sixteen then.  She is now a full time student at Brooklyn College, studying early childhood education. She loves the family oriented environment of Open House.  Lately, she’s been working with the Threes and is fascinated by how they grow and develop over the course of the year. In her free time she enjoys dancing (hip-hop is her favorite) and hanging out with her cousins and sister.  Traveling is another of her passions and she hopes to see as much of the world as she can.

Norma Gelmis

Associate Teacher

norma@openhousekids.org

Norma started here in 2006 as a volunteer classroom helper. She enjoyed the experience so much she stayed on to become a part-time staff member.  She happily gives a hand wherever she is needed, but most often can be found in the Meadow. She particularly likes doing arts and crafts with the children and helping them gain conflict-solving skills. She, too, has learned new skills being here, she says.  She finds it very satisfying to find herself getting better and better at working with young children.  In her free time Norma likes to spend time with friends.  She enjoys adventuring in the city, exploring new places and going to movies, museums and restaurants.