Teachers & Staff at the preschool
The Co-Op is fortunate to have a highly trained, talented, and dedicated teaching staff whose enthusiastic and supportive approach helps preschool children develop self-esteem and respect for others. The Director and many of the teachers also have a special relationship with the preschool, as their own children attended the Co-Op. Each teacher conducts a meeting with parents at our "Back to School Night" at the start of the school year to make them familiar with the classroom and with class policies. Parent conferences are held mid-year but can be requested at any time. Communication between parents and teachers is always welcome and encouraged.
Katherine Gammer, Director
This is Katherine's 10th year as the Director at the Ridgewood Co-op. She has a Bachelor's degree from Penn State University in Marketing and Psychology and attended graduate school at New York University for Counseling Psychology. All three of her children are Co-Op alumni and for 9 years while they were enrolled Katherine served on the Board as Fundraising Chairperson, Parent Advocate, and Class Parent.
Lauren Lewis, Assistant Director
This is Lauren's 3rd year at the Co-Op. She earned a BA in Art from Penn State University and worked in publishing and advertising. She spent 18 years at home raising her two daughters. During that time she was very active in her local PTO. She is excited to be working again and is looking forward to meeting all the Co-Op families and getting to know their children.
Mary Porterfield O'Connor, Head Teacher, Pre-K 4s Teacher
This is Mary's 7th year teaching at the Co-Op. She loves working with other Pre-K students in her class and the younger students in Lunch and Play and Enrichment. Mary has a Bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a Master's in Education from the University of Missouri, St. Louis. Mary is an active volunteer in the Ridgewood Public School system and she was a parent here at the Co-Op before she became a teacher at our school, even acting as the Co-Op Board President. Both of Mary's children are co-op alumni.
Dina Plavier, 4s Teaching Assistant
This is Dina's first year at the school, and she is excited to be part of the Ridgewood Co-Op family. After staying home a few years to raise her daughter, who just graduated from high school, she returned to work at Willard School for the past three years. She also served as a member of her daughter’s PTO and faith formation program. Dina loves working with children and is excited to meet the kids at the Ridgewood Co-Op this year.
Meredith Caulfield, Pre-K 4s Teacher
This is Meredith's 3rd year at the Co-Op. She has a Bachelors degree from the University of Delaware and a Masters degree in education from Fordham University and has taught Pre-K, Kindergarten and 2nd grade. She has been an active volunteer in the Ridgewood schools and is passionate about working with children, especially during their first years of school.
MJ Dotday, 4s Teaching Assistant
MJ is starting her 3rd year at the Co-Op. She has been an active member of the Hawthorne school system and has volunteered working with children throughout her daughters formative years. She has fallen in love with the students at the Ridgewood Co-Op this past year, and we love her caring and playful approach with all the students.
Diana Mazza, Group Teacher, 3s Teacher, Discovery Friday Teacher
Diana is happy to be a part of the Co-Op and is currently in her 14th year here. Diana has her A.A.S. in Early Childhood Education and has had diverse experiences working with preschool-aged children. She has several roles here at the Co-Op working as a Teacher in a class of 3 year olds, teaching the Discovery Friday Enrichment Program, supervising the Extended Day Lunch & Play Program, and assisting with our enrichment programs.
Tammy McCarthy, 3s Teaching Assistant
Tammy is in her 10th year as part of the Co-Op staff, serving as both an assistant teacher in our 3s class, as an assistant in our Lunch & Play program, as teacher in our French and Spanish Enrichment Classes, and as an assistant in the other enrichment classes. Tammy graduated from St. Lawrence University with a Bachelor's Degree in French. Both of Tammy's children are Co-Op alumni and she was an active member of our school while her children were enrolled here. She has also been a Girl Scout leader and class parent for many years in the Ridgewood Public School system.
Camille Canone, 3s Teaching Assistant, School Nurse
Camille graduated from Sacred Heart University with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing and was a Registered Nurse in Mother-Baby and Labor and Delivery for 21 years. She has also been a substitute nurse for the Ridgewood Public School system for the past several years and acts as both a teachers assistant and a nurse for the Co-Op when she is here 3 days a week. She resides in Ridgewood with her husband and my four children and this is her 2nd year at the Ridgewood Co-Op.
Nicole Torielli, 3s Teacher
This is Nicole's 11th year teaching at the Co-Op. She is a teacher in one of our classes for 3 year olds and she also teaches Enrichment classes. Nicole has a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, and a Master's degree in Special Education, both from Clemson University. Nicole also has a Master's degree in Supervision and Administration from Seton Hall University. She has taught 1st and 4th grades at Ridgewood's Travell Elementary School- and she has also taught 2nd grade- for a total of 7 years teaching. She has been an Adjunct Professor at William Paterson University, and a University Supervisor for Elementary and Special Education Student Teachers. Nicole has four Co-op graduates.
Elaine Coleman, 3s Teaching Assistant
Elaine holds a Bachelor’s degree in management and marketing from the University of Delaware. After working 16 years in higher education, Elaine had the opportunity to spend the past 2 years at home, with her 2 young sons. She helped them with virtual learning and took part in many volunteering activities at their schools. Elaine is looking forward to starting her first year at Ridgewood Co Op and is excited to be helping out in the 3’s room.
Ellie Gammer, 3s Teaching Assistant
Ellie graduated in May from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in the History and Philosophy of Science. She is a Ridgewood Co-Op alumnus, and she has worked as a substitute in the classroom for the past few years when she was home from school. She works as both a medical scribe in an ER and as an SAT/ACT tutor while she is taking a gap year before returning to school. She will also be filling in this full year for one of our teachers that has taken a leave of absence.
Jan Emmett, 2s Teacher, Discovery Friday Teacher
This will be Jan's 25th year teaching our 2's program. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Plattsburgh State University College. Jan still uses her creative talents not only in the preschool classroom and as a teacher in our Discovery Friday and Enrichment programs, but also by teaching sewing to children in the community. Jan's youngest child, Jennifer, is also a Co-Op graduate.
Stacey Lewis, 2s Teacher, Toddler & Me Teacher
This is Stacey's 4th year at the Co-op. She was a teacher for seven years with the New York City Board of Education after earning her degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of Rhode Island. She also has two young children who attend a local elementary school in the area. She loves working with children and watching them learn.
MaryAnn Weston, 2s Teaching Assistant
MaryAnn Weston has studied at both Berkeley College and Fairleigh Dickenson University. She has two children and has been an active member of the Ridgewood Public School system for many years while also working as a volunteer at the Ridgewood Public Library. Her 9th year with the Co-Op, MaryAnn is the teaching assistant in both the Monday/Wednesday 2s class and the Tuesday/Thursday 2s class. She is also an assistant for our Extended Day Lunch & Play program and our Enrichment classes. Mary Ann loves working with all of the children and being a part of their first preschool experience.
Barbara Dickman, 2s Teaching Assistant
Barbara is happy to join the Ridgewood Co-Op family this year. She has worked as a Preschool assistant teacher for 18 years. She is happily married and the proud mother of 4 beautiful daughters and 6 precious grandchildren. Barbara says, "There is nothing that brings me more joy than being around children, watching them learn and helping them grow. I believe it makes you a happier and more positive person in your day to day life".
Marlene Pillow, Music Teacher
Marlene has been the Music Teacher at the Co-op for 20 years. Her two children both attended the Co-Op. Graduating from the Eastman School of Music with a major in Voice, and from the New England Conservatory with a Master's Degree in Voice. Marlene is also a much-loved piano teacher in town and runs several of the drama programs for the local elementary schools.
Krystin Vecchione, Gym Teacher
Krystin is happy to be in her 3rd year teaching gym at the Co-Op. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Long Island University, and has previously worked as an assistant kindergarten teacher as well as a head preschool teacher in Rockland County, NY. She has also spent several years as a nanny. Krystin is a life-long athlete and has coached several age groups in basketball, softball & soccer. She has three children; two are Co-Op graduates andthe other will be in the Co-Op class of 2026!