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 Neikirk-Epes

Director, She/Her

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.


Dasha Nadolinski

Cook; Worker Owner, She/Her

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.


Zoe Scruggs

Administrative, She/Her

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.


Theresa DiMuro-Wilber

Rosebud Lead Teacher; Worker Owner, She/Her

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.


Natalie Douie

Rosebud Assistant Teacher,She/Her

Teacher Natalie was born and raised in Zimbabwe, where she spent most of her time outdoors in the African bush with her three sisters. After graduating high school, she worked a part-time job which allowed her to save up enough money to travel. She lived in Barcelona, Spain for a year, teaching guitar and looking after two wonderful children. She ended up in Buffalo due to her love of travelling and food, and wanted to continue her education in the United States. Natalie now has a degree in Dietetics following her belief in the mantra, "let food be thy medicine." She believes that diet is an integral part of community health, environmental sustainability, and spiritual well-being and hopes to use her Master's degree to enrich the community through education and political action for the improvement of the food system. Natallie hopes to go home to Zimbabwe one day, to work on initiatives that work towards fighting child malnutrition, which was the focus of her graduate thesis. In the meantime, Natalie will continue spending her days working alongside children, practicing yoga and meditation, gardening, writing, and of course ... cooking!


Rebecca Schwarzberg

Sweet Pea Lead Teacher, She/Her

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 Akers

Sunflower Lead Teacher,She/Her

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.

Frances “Frankie”

Frances “Frankie” Frett

Sunflower Assistant Teacher,She/Her

Birth & Postpartum Doula,Holistic Soapmaker

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.


Brittany Lewis

Dandelion Co-Lead Teacher,She/Her

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.


Nikki Gross

Dandelion Co-Lead Teacher,She/Her

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.


Leanna Lang


Teacher Leanna grew up on Grand Island and now lives in Buffalo. In her free time, she enjoys painting and being creative. She's been working in the hospitality industry for a while but never quite felt fulfilled in her roles. Leanna loves caring for and being around children and has always felt that she has a strong, mothering instinct since childhood. As a little kid, Teacher Leanna always wanted to play with babies. She dreams of one day opening her own at home daycare someday, making this experience truly important and close to her heart. Leanna is excited and grateful for the opportunity to be part of our family here at The Rose Garden. 


Julia Sosnowski

Substitute, She/Her

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.


Candace Gates


Teacher Candace became a big sister at the age of three. She learned a lot about taking care of children as she helped her mother take care of little Jamie. Now, Candace has a daughter of her own. The first year was a big challenge for her because she was not fully prepared for how hard it was going to be (but who is?) With the wonderful help her own mother has given Candace in raising her daughter, she was given the inspiration to go into the field of childcare. Candace continues with the belief, "If my mother can do it, then so can I." 

While working with children and coworkers, she is gaining a better understanding of young children. Teacher Candace pursued this field because of the positive feedback she has received from both children in her care and their parents. Her experiences relevant to her work in early childcare are taken from her own childhood memories. 

At Niagara Daycare, Candace works with children of all age groups. This provides her with the many experiences needed to raise her own child. She believes that attending CDA will provide her with the right tools to do her best in this field. Overall, the decision for Candace to go into childcare was influenced greatly by watching her mother take care of other children. She knows this is the right direction for her life to head. 


Jessica Widmer


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 artwork 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 a special joy in bringing her creative energy to the TRG kitchen.


Emily Ittes


Teacher Emily would describe herself as a life-long learner and that characteristic pops up everywhere throughout her life.

She was born in Seattle, WA and lived with her mom, dad, and older sister, Jessica (JJ). Her younger brother, Andy, was born four years later. As a child, Teacher Emily did ballet and played piano though her interest in those activities faced as she was exposed to new things. She started playing basketball in third grade and started Tae Kwon Do in fourth. Both activities became passions as Teacher Emily continued through adolescence. Both Emily and her sister successfully received black belts! 

School has always been important to Teacher Emily and she always loved attending school. As a child, especially a first-grader, Emily would religiously play school at home. She attended Catholic schools for her entire education and always found her teachers to be supportive, engaging, and interesting.

For college, Teacher Emily left the west coast and moved to New York to attend Fordham University. She thrived there - not only in learning but also with the new family of friends she made at school. Emily was fortunate to continue her studies through a study abroad program which opened her eyes to the world of travel! Travelling has become an important part of her life now, as she learns about other cultures and meets amazing people.

Teacher Emily graduated with an English Degree and her Initial Teaching Certification. She began teaching in the Bronx the fall after graduating. Teacher Emily says that her four years of teaching at PS 163 were some of the best education she could receive. 

Emily decided to move back west to be closer to family - never realizing that she would soon start a family with a guy from New York! She met her husband, Brian, through her college roommate. He, too, moved to Seattle and they started their family with just dogs before having their first child, Miriam. Emily says, "Becoming a parent has been rewarding. It's fun, challenging, and I'm definitely learning a lot!" 

Brian, Miriam, Moe (their dog), and Emily moved back to New York for some new opportunities and to be closer to Brian's family. Buffalo has been warm, welcoming, interesting, and they're proud to call it their new home! 

Would you like to join our team?

Would you like to join our team?

Please fill out the below application.

It can be emailed to hello@therosegarden.us or mailed to 257 Lafayette Ave. Buffalo, NY 14213


Employment Application

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!