Our Staff

We attract staff who appreciate our model and enjoy working with young children. Our teachers have been approved by a stringent process overseen by our licensor, New York State’s Office of Child and Family Services.  Due to the Rose Garden’s quality standards and unique model, our staff development exceeds the mandated 30 hours every two years. In addition to the qualifications outlined by our licensor, we are a LifeWays representative site and so our lead teachers are required to engage in a 200 hour LifeWays training. Personal development is an important part of the ongoing work of teachers at the Rose Garden. Children learn through imitation, therefore our staff strives to present a worthy picture of humanity for the child to imitate.

Stephanie

Stephanie Neikirk-Epes

Director

You can see Stephanie daily in the office and all around the Center. She has been a teacher for more than 30 years, and cannot imagine a day without children.

She graduated from The College of William and Mary with a dual degree in Psychology and Art History. She interned at The Carnegie Institute of Pittsburgh Museum of Art Children’s Room. She has done graduate work in Art History at The University of Pittsburgh and in Museum Education at Bank Street College of Education in New York City. She interned at The Guggenheim Museum and Manhattan Country Day School, and consulted at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  She is a certified Waldorf teacher having studied at Sunbridge College in New York.

She has taught all levels and ages from nursery school through college undergrads, and has always enjoyed creating opportunities for students to flourish. She directed a summer respite camp for autistic teenagers and young adults in Duchess County outside New York City. She taught at the First Presbyterian Church Nursery School in New York City and at TLC Daycare in Latrobe PA before becoming one of the founding teachers of the Pittsburgh Waldorf School. Marriage brought her to Buffalo NY where she became one of the founding teachers of Aurora Waldorf School in East Aurora New York. She carried a class from 1st through 8th grade, sat on the board, and took a rotation as Faculty Chair. One of her favorite activities with her talented, outgoing and musical class was writing and producing their class plays. Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance and Shakespeare’s A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream (neither of which she wrote!) were 2 favorites.

After an extended sabbatical to pursue other interests (as a florist) she became involved in The Rose Garden volunteering her time as cook, cleaner, and phone answerer in its first year. By observing the work flow of the teachers and studying the regulations pertaining to Child Care in New York State, she   developed and standardized the office procedures. In her 50’s she learned computer skills and brought them to her work in the office. She became Assistant Director and then Director in the fall of 2015.

She loves learning new things and helping things begin. It’s no surprise then that gardening is a favorite hobby.  She is looking forward to The Rose Garden’s transition to worker owned co-op, and will continue in her present role to bring stability and depth of experience.

Jordan

Jordan Mitchell

Administrative Assistant

Teacher Jordan was born in Buffalo in the summer of 1991. She comes from a small, tight family. She was raised by a network of grandparents and great grandparents. She graduated from Buffalo Seminary on 2005 where she was active in community service as well as academics. She went on to Mt. Holyoke College in MA where she was drawn to psychology. She hopes to pursue her PhD studying the intersections of gender, race, ethnicity and class especially as they relate to the fields of education, medicine and child psychology.

 

Meredith

Meredith Unger

Sweet Pea Teacher; Worker Owner

Teacher Meredith grew up in the Parkside neighborhood of Buffalo, NY listening to the zoo’s elephants trumpet and lions roar. She is a graduate of Nichols School ’08 and Smith College ’12, with a B.A. in Education and Child Studies. She has been a live-in nanny for three young children, student taught in two first grade classes: one public, one Reggio Emilia, and in fifth grade at the Smith College Campus School. Most recently she was the Program Assistant in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India where she oversaw and mentored 13 college students who were pursuing ethnographic studies during their term abroad. A spirited traveler, she has also spent time in France and China. Meredith took a doula training course during her time in Western Massachusetts, and is expected to graduate the LifeWays certification course in August 2017.
 
Teacher Meredith joined The Rose Garden in 2014 as assistant teacher in the Sweet Pea Classroom, then spent a year assisting in the Rosebud Classroom. Since spring 2016 she has been, joyfully, the Lead Teacher of the Sweet Peas.

Laura

Laura Grande

Sweet Pea Assistant Teacher; Worker Owner

Teacher Laura was originally welcomed into The Rose Garden as a student teacher. She is now an Assistant in the Sweet Pea classroom. She has completed her degree in Early Childhood Education at Erie Community College.

Her hometown is located just under an hour away from Buffalo in the small town of Akron, NY. Growing up, she had the privilege of being surrounded by nature and learning through play. She believes that play is essential for all ages, especially in early childhood. It is Laura’s goal to foster children’s creative imagination with respect, love, and warmth. She feels privileged to have this opportunity to learn alongside the children while experiencing the LifeWays philosophy and the beauty of childhood.

Theresa

Theresa DiMurro-Wilber

Rosebud Teacher; Worker Owner

Teacher Theresa graduated from Daeman College in theatre. She has been both a company member and taught at TOY – Theatre of Youth. Ultimately she became their theatre/school co-ordinator. She has toured city and suburban schools for TOY and for the Western New York Institute for Arts and Education. Theresa moved to California where she returned to school for early childhood studies. In California, she taught and then directed at the same center for 17 years. Now back in Buffalo with her husband Jeff, she lives on the West Side helping to revitalize the neighborhood. Currently she also acts with The Brazen Faced Varlots.

Josh

Josh Boyle

Dandelion Teacher; Worker Owner

Teacher Josh was raised in Buffalo. He attended the Aurora Waldorf School. Josh received his degree in Writing from Buffalo State College and has completed his Waldorf Teacher training at Sunbridge Institute. Josh has been a valued teacher at The Rose Garden since August 2012. He is a parent of two children in addition to being a Teacher. As the only male teacher, he is often seen with 3 to 12 children attempting to tackle him in the yard. Josh enjoys learning new games, songs and stories and sharing them with children. He is handy with a hammer, screwdriver and wood glue and is occasionally the Rose Garden’s photographer. Josh looks forward to continuing teaching in years to come as he finds each day a new joy at The Rose Garden.

Dasha

Dasha Nadolinski

Cook; Worker Owner

Cook Dasha grew up in the city of Buffalo. She attended the city Waldorf School start-up, The Beautiful River Waldorf School, and, after its closing, The Aurora Waldorf School. Dasha went to The Park School of Buffalo for high school. In the past handful of years Dasha has traveled cross-country twice, camping and seeing wonderful new sights. She has also worked long-term as a Nanny, and bought a home in The Rose Garden neighborhood.

The approach to food at The Rose Garden consciously meets the needs of the young child, while honoring the whole being. In training for this work, staff are reminded of the importance of acting with consciousness, taking time with words and movements, and really slowing down so that a moment of connection with a child can be given the full weight it deserves.

Dasha was pleased to discover this attitude of reverence could exist in the kitchen as well, and she puts this principle into practice in a few simple ways. She brings a joyful heart to each meal. She keeps the kitchen clean and beautiful so that the food may reflect these qualities. She embodies for the children equal importance of creation and clean-up. She is certain that by choosing to act with love and respect during preparation, serving, eating, and clean-up, this boosts the quality of the food and in turn the health of our bodies.

Here at the Rose Garden: Monday is Rice and Beans Day, Tuesday is Pancake Day, Wednesday is Soup Day, Thursday is Pasta Day, and Friday is Pizza Day. Dasha has really come to value this rhythm; its consistency is so helpful in structuring her sense of time and anchoring her place in space. She notices it does the same for the children. She reiterates what a gift it is to work in an environment where people are learning and practicing such a beautiful way of being.

Heather

Heather Jones

Sunflower Teacher

The eldest of seven children, Teacher Heather has been immersed in the intimate details of child development her whole life. Helping to raise and homeschool her younger siblings is the foundation on which she has built her professional career in child care. Throughout her work, whether nannying, teaching early childhood or Sunday school, as well as in her personal life, she enjoys making music. She plays a few instruments but is most passionate about singing. She has found music is a force that resonates in a significant way with children, so you will likely find her singing her way through the day. It is a rhythm that is as much for her own benefit as it is for that of the children. She looks forward to continuing to learn and grow with the other teachers at The Rose Garden and to deepening her relationships with the children and families with whom she works every day.

Jennifer

Jennifer Connor

Acorn Teacher

Teacher Jennifer spent her childhood exploring her backyard and neighborhood and singing Irish songs at her grandmother’s house near Boston, Massachusetts. After getting her B.A. from UMass, Amherst, she went on to teach young children for fourteen years. She has been greatly influenced by her work with children in nature and by her experience in Jewish early childhood centers, which are also intrinsically linked to the cycle of seasons and the soul and heart life of children. She is hoping to change the statistic that more children can identify brand names than regional trees.

After moving to Buffalo in summer 2012, Jennifer cycled across the state, from Albany to Buffalo visiting with peace activists and Native communities. One day she knocked on the door of The Rose Garden to see what it was and discovered a garden of delights replete with values and practices that are a joy to take part in now that she is a teacher here. Jennifer also hosts a monthly community sing and plays flute in Ahavaraba!; Buffalo’s newest Klezmer band.

Lisa

Lisa Akers

Sunflower Assistant Teacher

Teacher Lisa has been working with young children for about 8 years. She is very passionate about Early Childhood Care. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood from SUNY Fredonia in 2012and completed her Master’s program at Buffalo State in May 2016.

She believes that young children learn best through play and through their experiences with the world around them. Seeing children explore the world curiously and discover new things are what she loves best about working in the field of Early Childhood.

Meghan

Meghan Cobham

Rosebud Assistant Teacher

Teacher Meghan is a native of Victor New York, outside Rochester. As a new “Buffalonian” she is grateful to have found this wonderful community. She is a 2015 graduate of SUNY Fredonia with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater. Shortly after graduating from college, she spent a month in the Berkshires MA completing a 200 Hour certification from the Kripalu School of Yoga and Ayurveda. Currently she is pursuing her Acting/Modeling career and teaches yoga in the evenings.

Meghan utilizes her many talents at The Rose Garden. She has a knack for childcare with her fun-loving, free-spirited, intuitive nature. Coming from a family of three girls all farther apart in age than most, she had great practice growing up with a sibling 6 years younger than herself. Meghan has long been interested in childcare babysitting for her neighbors, teachers, her nephews and niece, and working at various summer theater camps. 2017 marks her 7th year working with children.

The more time she spends at The Rose Garden, the more she realizes how fundamental the Waldorf style is to a child’s early growth stages emotionally, socially, mentally, and spiritually. She can’t wait to discover more! She feels honored to be part of such a beautiful, genuine, loving, and accepting group of individuals.

Rebecca

Rebecca Schwarzberg

Dandelion Assistant Teacher

After graduating from Art School in Chicago, Becca found her way back to doll making which she had done as a child. She began selling dolls at the Chicago Waldorf School and was taken with all that she saw there. She began taking classes and summer workshops about Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy.

When she became a mother, she stayed connected through parent child classes and even ran the Aftercare program for a time. After 5 years as an at home mom with her son she decided to complete Waldorf teacher training.

She taught kindergarten at the Madison Waldorf School for 2 years. In that time she shared puppetry and doll making with the children. She also works in therapeutic puppetry and large scale marionette performance.

Interested in enrolling your child at The Rose Garden?

Find Application on our Programs page. Complete the form and send it to us by email or mail to secure a space!