Mariah is a parent, educator, entrepreneur, and author of the book, Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder (Shambhala Publications, 2011). With over 25 years of experience working in the field of education and a Master of Science degree in Education from Bank Street College, she has worked as both a teacher and lower school director at highly respected schools such as The Dalton School in Manhattan and Ross School in East Hampton, New York. Her second book, Playful Learning: Beyond the Basics, is slated to be released in the fall of 2018.
Growing up, Mariah was always that girl sitting in class thinking about how she would do things differently if she was the teacher. Now, she is happily working with a team of gifted educators to bring life-changing lessons to children, families, and schools around the world. In her free time she can be found taking long walks, enjoying a cup of tea, or swimming in the Atlantic with her husband and two daughters.
FOUNDER / AUTHOR
Jacki has been working in the field of education for over 15 years. She is an experienced elementary and early childhood teacher, private tutor, and curriculum writer. Jacki is an East Hampton native and is raising her own family here on the South Fork. Through her love of exploring, experimenting, and creating she strives to help facilitate the natural ways children learn every day. Jacki has a B.A. in Art History, an M.A. in Childhood Education, and a New York State Certification in Elementary Education. She previously worked as an Elementary Teacher and Learning Specialist at Ross School in Bridgehampton. After having her own children, she worked as a Head Teacher at It Takes A Village, a nature based preschool in Hampton Bays. When not working with students at Playful Learning you can find Jacki gardening, cooking, walking her dog, and trying to keep up with her active and creative family.
ASSOCIATE STUDIO DIRECTOR
Nicole is a former elementary school teacher who taught for 16 years at an alternative, arts integrated school in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to developing curriculum for Playful Learning, she is a teaching artist at a fine art based, process studio where she is passionate about incorporating her love of children’s literature with art. Nicole encourages children of all ages to play, imagine, get a little messy, think critically, learn about the world, and just find the joy in being creative. Nicole has a Master of Education from The Ohio State University and lives with her husband and two daughters in Upper Arlington, Ohio. When she isn’t at the studio or crafting a lesson for Playful Learning, she is volunteering at her daughters’ school, reading from an ever-growing book stack, scrolling Instagram for inspiration or browsing the shelves for new arrivals at the local independent children’s bookstore.
Ali currently serves as Community Relations Director Playful Learning. Previously, Ali has spent the last ten years based in New York City working in digital marketing and operations for companies such as Unilever and Criteo. Ali earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. She has found many applications to connect her background in psychology to the business setting. Ali enjoys the year-round, natural surroundings that Long Island provides as well as traveling and experiencing new cultures.
For the past five years, Deanna has been working with children ranging from ages two to eight. She enjoys helping them find a sense of wonder and joy by learning through art and exploring the outdoors. Deanna has also worked in numerous management positions at local medical and hospitality businesses. She graduated from Wittenberg University with a B.A. in Anthropology and a focus in Archaeology. In her free time, Deanna enjoys running, painting, and experimenting with different forms of media in art.
ADMINISTRATION & TEACHER
Megan Payne has been working with children for over 20 years as an Elementary School Teacher, Literacy Specialist, and tutor. After graduating from Lycoming College with a B.A. in Psychology and Elementary Education, she later pursued her Master's Degree in Literacy Education. Megan has had the pleasure of working at a charter school in the Hamptons, which met the needs of both students in general and special education. She also has experience teaching at a preschool in East Hampton. Megan believes in educating children within a creative and loving environment that is filled with playful ways to address the needs and interests of children, both academically and socially. Megan currently lives in East Hampton, where she spends much of her time with family.
Leanna is a graduate from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she earned her BFA in Interdisciplinary Sculpture. Leanna has taught at It Takes a Village Preschool. She enjoys fostering the curiosity and creativity inherent in the children who attend Playful Learning. Leanna lives in Water Mill, NY and enjoys surfing, painting and singing at church in her free time.
From a young age, Marisa knew she wanted to work with children. Marisa attended St. John’s University for her undergraduate degree in Elementary and Special Education. In May 2019 she received her M.A. in Early Childhood Education from Champlain College. She has over five years of experience teaching two to four-year-old students. Marisa is inspired by children’s imagination and creativity, and she enjoys coming into the classroom every day. In her free time, she likes to collect shells on the beach and spend time with her two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Bonnie holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in illustration from Endicott College. She is trained in all aspects of studio art, and for the past 20 years has taught art to children at The Ross School, the Parrish Art Museum, MOMA’s Victor D’Amico Institute of Art (The Art Barge), and The Montessori School in Southampton, as well as coordinated children’s events at Longhouse in East Hampton. In addition to art instruction Bonnie was a co-teacher at The Montessori School and The Ross School. Bonnie has a strong interest in the Montessori Method of teaching and is currently working towards her certification.
During her spare time, she enjoys taking long walks on the beach with her two Cavalier King Charles puppies, Zoey and Vera. Together, they love to explore nature and all the beauty the East End has to offer.