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.

Theresa

Theresa DiMuro-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.

Laura

Laura Grande

Dandelion Teacher; Worker Owner

Teacher Laura was originally welcomed into The Rose Garden as a student teacher. She is now the Lead Teacher in the Dandelion classroom. She 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.

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 and Smith College, 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 graduated the 200 hour 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 made her way back to the Sweet Peas as Lead Teacher. Meredith is one of the Worker Owners of 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 come to value this rhythm; its consistency is helpful in structuring her sense of time and anchoring her place in space. She notices it does the same for the children. She emphasizes what a gift it is to work in an environment where people are learning and practicing such a beautiful way of being.

Jordan

Jordan Mitchell

Administrative Assistant

Teacher Jordan is a lifelong Buffalo resident with community ties going back four generations. Jordan has a passion for education, social justice and urban development and strives to channel those passions into her everyday work with children here at The Rose Garden. She is a graduate of Buffalo Seminary and holds a B.A in Psychology and Gender Studies from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA. Her work in Early Childhood has not only deepened her understanding of the how children come to know themselves and their place in the world but it has also reinforced the importance of the Early Childhood Education on the long-term physical, emotional and intellectual development young children. Jordan hopes to one day take the lessons she has learned with her into a career in Social Work or Legal Advocacy with the goal of enriching the lives and opportunities of all children.

Jessica

Jessica Widmer

Interim Cook

Teacher Jess is an emerging artist here in the city of Buffalo. She aspires to merge her passions for art, community action and outreach with her love of working with children. Artistically she experiments in a variety of media including drawing, sculpting and textile work. Teacher Jessica has loved drawing and reading since she was a child and was known for walking and reading at the same time! She combines her many interests and talents here at The Rose Garden and in teaching art education courses and exhibiting her own art work locally. Teacher Jess graduated from Buffalo State in 2014 with a dual degree in Art Education and Ceramics. She has been an assistant teacher both at the Albright Knox Art Gallery and at the Buffalo State Childcare Center. Jessica brings her artistic skill and bubbling enthusiasm to her work here at The Rose Garden and has found special joy in bring her creative energy to the TRG kitchen.

Rebecca

Rebecca Schwarzberg

Rosebud Assistant Teacher, Acorn 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.

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 2012 and completed her Master’s 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.

Obsidian

Obsidian Bellis

Sweet Pea Assistant Teacher

Teacher Obsidian is a visual artist and Buffalo native. Their interest in care work has evolved and elevated their artistic endeavors as both require patience, nurturing, intention and imagination. In the past they have taught vison board creation, illustration, sticker and costume making workshops for grades K-5 in a variety of school settings. Obsidian enjoys working with younger people and is often inspired but their energy and curiosity. They hope that the experience they’ll gain at The Rose Garden will help to prepare them for post-partum doula work in the future as well as to create more engaging activities to share with children of all ages.

Nikki

Nikki Gross

Dandelion Assistant Teacher

Teacher Nikki, a Brooklynite born and raised, is new to the Buffalo area and is loving the experience of exploring a whole new city. Nikki earned her Master of Fine Arts in Children's Literature and Young Adult Writing from the New School in NYC and has a love for all things creative such as painting, coloring, writing and scrapbooking. In addition to her own love of the written word she also has a profound passion for cultivating and expanding the creativity and artistic potential of children. She’s currently in the process writing, editing and rewriting her first manuscript in the genre of young adult fiction and hopes to one day own a cozy bookstore and café with a vast collection of children’s books.

Frances “Frankie”

Frances “Frankie” Frett

Sunflower Assistant Teacher

Teacher Frankie was raised among teachers and educators from all fields. As such she has nurtured a lifelong passion for learning which as evolved into a love a crafting and creating. Crafting has become an invaluable part of Teacher Frankie’s life. By developing these talents, she has also gained a deep appreciation for the for the role a supportive community can have in her own growth. After graduating from The Park School Frankie went on to study Sociology at Arcadia University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There she learned a number of ways to confront social inequalities through community work. It was this commitment to service work that lead Teacher Frankie to return to the WNY area in the hopes of giving back to the communities that helped to shape her. She is excited to have found The Rose Garden and believes it will be a perfect opportunity to meld her love of children, the arts, domesticity and community building.

Victoria “Tori”

Victoria “Tori” DeVito

Substitute

Teacher Tori is a recent Music and Education graduate of SUNY Fredonia. She specializes in clarinet but has learned 12 other instruments including: ukulele, guitar, percussion and piano. Tori has been working with young children since the age of 16 and has always loved how rewarding the work is. She hopes to continue to foster her love of childcare throughout her lifetime, hopefully being able to fuse her love of music and childcare.

Julia

Julia Sosnowski

Substitute

Teacher Julia is a recent graduate of SUNY Buffalo with plans to peruse a Masters in Math Education at her alma mater. She credits her time as a camp counselor in the Finger Lakes region of New York as the impetus for her desire to work with children. There she was able to interact with children of all ages and fostered growth for her love of young children as well as to learn about herself as a leader.

Brittany

Brittany Lewis

Substitute

Teacher Brittany first began working with children in 2014 at The Institute for Autism Research at Canisius College. What started as an internship soon became a passion which inspires her to redirect her path from veterinary studies to child behavior and Psychology. Teacher Brittany has spent the last few years working as a Direct Support Professional in a classroom and afterschool program, for people ages five to 21. Brittany will complete her degree this year and hopes to begin a long loving career in Early Childhood Education.

Zoe

Zoe Scruggs

Substitute

Teacher Zoe is an all-around creative spirit. She is an active artist, musician, lifelong thespian and member of the Ujima Theater Company living and working in the city of Buffalo. However, above all else music is her passion and as a teaching artist she finds great joy sharing that passion with her students. Zoe is excited and grateful to join a team of strong and loving women.

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!