High School, I was chosen to go on an exchange program to Beijing, China.
Linda Herman was born and raised in the Bronx. She now lives in Staten Island. She is married to Donnie, the love of her life, and has two wonderful children, Chris and Becky, their spouses, Claudia and Jared and three incredible granddaughters, Luna, Nila and Lily.
She has been working in Early Childhood for over 30 years. She has taught Two’s, Three’s, Four’s and Five’s in both Public and Private Schools. She has a Master’s degree in Early Childhood from Bank Street College of Education and a 6th Year Certificate in Administration from the College of Staten Island.
Linda is also the Library Lady in addition to being the Director.
When Linda got her first teaching job, she came home to her family and said, “I can’t believe that they are paying me for this. It is so much fun!” She is passionate about creating a loving, caring community for children and families.
Linda’s favorite color is green. Her favorite children’s book is Amos and Boris by William Steig. She loves bagels and eats one every day! When she goes home, she plays with her cat, Pookie and spends lots of time in her garden.
Kathleen Melvin has been at The Riverdale Temple Nursery School for 7 years. She is married with one child, a son, and lives in Hastings on Hudson, New York.
Kathleen loves the outdoors, hiking, biking and running! She is a graduate of Grace Business Institute. She started her career working for a bank in the Financial Department. She then worked as a Personal Assistant to a woman who ran fundraiser for Democratic Candidates here in her home in NYC. She then worked at New York Presbyterian Hospital and it was there she realized that she loved working with children and that’ how she arrived at The Riverdale Temple Nursery School!
Samantha Coogan, or Sammi as she prefers to be called, is a native New Yorker from Larchmont in Westchester County.
She has been working with children, infants to teens, for 25 years and she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from PACE University, a Master’s Degree in English and Creative Writing from SUNY Binghamton, and she has accumulated 30 credit hours towards a Master’s of Professional Studies in Secondary and Special Education from Manhattanville College.
Sammi has always had a passion for learning, and becoming a teacher was a natural career choice. “You laugh, you cry and you work harder than you ever thought you could. Your wallet is empty, but your heart is full and your mind is packed is packed with memories of the kids who have changed you life.”
When she isn’t teaching, you can find Sammi spending time with her nieces, Mia and Lexi, and her nephew, Nicky, or playing with her dogs, Maggie May and Molly Maguire. She spends the summers at Camp Hillard in Scarsdale, where she has worked since 1998; for most of those years, she was the Divisional Head Counselor for the three and four year old mini-day campers. Most recently, she has been working with the CIT’s, or the counselors in training, all rising 7th to 10th graders.
Sammi’s favorite colors are orange and yellow, her favorite novels include The Sound and the Fury, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Stand, and all of the Harry Potter novels. Her favorite films are to numerous to list, but Jaws and The Sound of Music are definitely at the top of her list. She is an avid fan on the New York Yankees, a spirited supporter of Stepinac Varsity Football, where her oldest brother works as a Head Coach, an ardent admirer of Gordon Ramsay and an unabashedly ravenous fan of The Walking Dead.
“We don’t stop playing because we get old. We get old because we stop playing.”
Alexandra (Ali) Abikzerwas born and raised in sunny South Florida, but has been in New York for the past 10 years. She has worked with children for many years, and she holds a Master’s degree in Early childhoodEducation from Hunter College.
Ali became a teacher because of her love for children. She is a big advocate of learning through play, hands on learning, and children playing an active part in their own learning. “There is nothing like watching a child explore their own interests, and giving them the courage, space and ability to do so.”
Ali’s favorite color is blue; her favorite book is Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss, and she loves chocolate peanut butter ice cream. When she is not teaching, you can find Ali playing with her three young children, Aidan, Noah, and Isabella.
Claire Viola is a native New Yorker from Thornwood. She has been working with children of all ages at Riverdale Temple Nursery School.
Claire holds an Associate Degree in Administration Services from Berkeley College and a Horticultural Certification from Botanical Gardens. Her passion is planting and doing creative projects with children. Claire enjoys gardening, communing with nature and is also a volunteer at Wave Hill.
“I love teaching in Nursery school because everything is new to them and to watch the progression throughout the year. To see the children’s smiling faces when they have accomplished a task, or when they tell me something they have learned that day. It’s fun to engage the children in activities that makes learning really fun.”
Claire’s favorite color is yellow and her favorite book is The Bridges of Madison County, her favorite movie is Dead Poets Society and she loves ice coffee.
When she is not teaching, you can ﬁnd Claire gardening, doing Yoga, sketching, and taking walks.
Sindy Cutler was born in New York and moved to Riverdale at the age of three. She was a congregant of the Riverdale temple as a child and remained a member with her own family when they lived in the community.
Sindy and her husband Andrew, are the proud parents of two wonderful daughters, both whom attended RTNS.
Sindy obtained her degree from SUNY Albany and has worked at RTNS for 20 years.
Sindy’s favorite color is soft purple. Her favorite children’s book is I Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. Her favorite food is sushi and when she is not at school she is reading and playing mahjong.
Every September she looks forward to meeting the youngest children at RTNS and watching them thrive in a classroom setting.
She considers herself a lucky lady to teach in such a warm and wonderful place.
AnnMarie Melia is a Native New Yorker, who was born and raised in the Bronx. She has been working with children in Riverdale for 15 years, and she holds a Master Degree in Early Childhood Education from Lehman College.
AnnMarie became a teacher because she wanted to make a difference in children’s lives. Teaching to her is both fun and rewarding.
AnnMarie’s favorite color is pink and she loves pralines and cream ice cream.
When she is not teaching you can find her at Manhattan College where she is a part-time Resident Director. She lives in the Dorm with the students. She oversees 17 Resident Assistants.
She loves to go out to restaurants and listens to all types of music.
Virginia Purdy, hailing from Brooklyn NY, homeschooled her own daughter (now a Special Ed/Early Childhood Educator) and rediscovered her passion for teaching after a career in post-production media.
She adores living and learning with preschoolers and when asked why she enjoys being a teacher she says “The joy and creativity young children possess is an endless inspiration to me!”
She has lived in Riverdale for over 20 years and, when not teaching, loves hiking with her husband and dog Lucy. She also enjoys traveling, reading, animals, nature and chocolate — not necessarily in that order!
Kara Tatelbaum has been eating, sleeping, and dreaming dance since she was a toddler. Now she’s excited to be teaching them!
After graduating from Poughkeepsie Day School, Kara earned her BFA in Dance from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and MFA in Choreography with a Teaching Assistantship from The Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase.
As a teenager, her love of teaching was cultivated at Ballet Arts Studio in Beacon, NY where by the age of eighteen, she was teaching five classes a week. To date her teaching credits include elementary outreach programs, Ivy League Universities, and pre/professional dance conservatories. Her dance company independentdancemaker has performed extensively in NYC and abroad.
Kara is a mom to Mattea, in the 3’s class, and baby Phinn who looks forward to coming to RTNS in a couple of years. Her favorite color is purple, Everybody Poops seems to be the hit of her household lately, and mint chocolate-chip is by far her favorite flavor ice cream. When she’s not teaching dance, Kara is also teaching Pilates and writing.
Madelyn L. Goodman is a native New Yorker from Brightwaters, New York. She has been working with children for over 20 years at the Riverdale Temple Nursery school.
When asked why she loves teaching, she’ll tell you, “Teaching is an extension of the love I have for small children. It was such a joy to raise my own, that I want to continue to fulfill myself by teaching other children.
Madelyn loves to spend her free time knitting, reading and travelling with her family. She resides in Riverdale with her husband and has two grown daughters.
Anna is originally from Warsaw, Poland, but has loved living in New York for the past few decades. Her background and education are in architecture, but Anna’s passion in life is children — she has worked at Riverdale Temple Nursery School for over 9 years, teaching two year olds, three year olds and four year olds.
Anna is also the costume designer at the Riverdale Children’s Theatre, and she has two kids of her own at home: a college student (an RTNA alumna!) and a rabbit named Kicus.
Sandi Daniels is thrilled to be part of RTNS. She has been teaching Early Childhood for twenty years. Teaching is not just a job, but is a passion.
She has her Master’s Degree from Manhanttanville College in Purchase, NY.
Sandi’s favorite color is yellow, she loves coffee yogurt and loves to eat pasta.
When Sandi is not teaching, she loves to go to the beach and loves to have her grandchildren stay with her. She loves to travel and enjoys long walks.