School Administrators

School Administrators

Deb Capone

Executive Director and Founder

Deborah is a local Brooklyn mom of three children. Motivated by the lack of quality options available to her as she tried to find a preschool for her own children when they were young, Deborah created the concept for Parker’s Place. She previously worked as a manager and creative specialist at a boutique Business Management and Consulting firm in Manhattan. Deborah holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Northeastern University and an Associates Degree in Advertising Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Ryan Shaps

Director

Ryan has worked with children since his teenage years as camp counselor, traveling teen tour advisor, part time nanny as well as arts and crafts instructor. He facilitated the opening of a successful play space in New York City, and following that worked as an Assistant and then Head Teacher at the Olive Treehouse Group schools for 7 years. Ryan passionately believes in “The Whole Child Approach” and learning through play. He encourages creating a classroom environment where each student is engaged, supported and challenged. Ryan received his Bachelors Degree in Graphic Design at Lynn University. He utilizes his multi-dimensional background in his administrative role with the Olive Treehouse Group, after many wonderful years working as a teacher.

Katie Portelli

Education Director

Katie began as a classroom teacher with The Olive Treehouse Group in 2005. A Brooklyn native, she is a mom of two human children and one fur baby! Katie holds a MA in Early Childhood Education and Special Education as well as a BA in Sociology. After having worked with teenagers for many years in the non-profit sector, her love for teaching early childhood came about quite naturally when her own children were born. Katie developed and operated a licensed family daycare in her home before transitioning to the classroom. Katie loves supporting the OTG teachers as they develop curriculum and brings her passion for healthy living, cultural consciousness, and environmental awareness to program planning.

Parker's Place Team

Rory's Room Team

Greta Feit

Head Teacher

As a native New Yorker, Greta understands the beauty and wonderment of having this city be the place that raises you. She stayed true to her New York roots, by attending Hunter College for her undergraduate degree, where she studied Studio Art and Dance. Greta received her Masters in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College in 2018. Greta has been working with young children for over a decade. Whether babysitting, teaching children’s yoga classes, or working in the classroom, she has always been fascinated by the different ways children learn and interact with their peers. She believes that children’s curiosity should guide their learning, as any curriculum becomes more meaningful and relevant when young people have a say in what they learn about. She has found that being patient and playful with children is key to having them establish a love of learning and a deeper understanding of the world around them.

Kate Rakowski

Head Teacher

Kate graduated from Northeastern University with a BA in Theatre and has spent more than a decade working with young children. She got her start as a teacher working with a Head Start program in CT where she developed her passion for early education. She also performed children’s theatre with Connecticut Free Shakespeare and taught classes in improv and movement for students ages 11-18. Kate joined Olive Treehouse Group in 2014 and is currently completing her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education at Brooklyn College. She loves reading and creating stories with the children, messy art projects and exploring nature.

Daisy Amigon

Associate Teacher

Daisy is a Brooklyn native who always aspired to become a teacher. She is currently enrolled at Brooklyn College and is pursuing her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education with a concentratrion in English. One of her passions, which lead her to the field, is reading books to young children. She even aspires to write her own children's book someday! Daisy has previously worked with at risk preschool children living within the shelter system. It was here that she realized of the power of a positive early childhood educator in a young person's life. Daisy considers herself a student just like the children, and she believes that there can always be an exchange of ideas and learning styles. Daisy loves to learn and hopes to inspire the same in the children she teaches!

Aliza Sotsky

Assistant Teacher

Originally from Washington DC, Aliza graduated from Brandeis University and moved to New York in 2015 to pursue a life in the theater. She was quickly cast in a children’s educational theater group touring in New York City schools. It was there that Aliza discovered her love for educating children. Since that discovery she has taught voice, piano, acting and dance to children of all ages. In 2022 she received her Masters of Fine Arts at NYU. Aliza is fascinated by children’s innate understanding of music and story. She loves imaginative play, sing alongs, and story time. Aliza is thrilled to join the Olive Treehouse Group team and continuing playing and learning along with her students!

Jennifer Berton

Teacher

Jennifer believes that learning is a lifelong pursuit. After teaching elementary and early childhood Jewish education for seventeen years, she then spent a year at a Reggio Emilia inspired school, incorporating open ended materials into children’s play and allowing the students’ questions to drive the learning process. As a child, Jennifer played in the mud, climbed trees and explored outside. She believes children need to spend time outdoors freely exploring. In the classroom, Jennifer enjoys playing the guitar and singing on a daily basis, incorporating songs in multiple languages, as well as some of the folk songs that she grew up with. With a Master’s Degree in Childhood Education, Jennifer has worked with children from twos through third grade. Jennifer has lived in Park Slope for 25 years with her two children and many instruments!

Hudson's House Team

Sam Bruckner

Head Teacher

Sam graduated from Brooklyn College with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Sam has worked as an early childhood educator since 2012. Project based inquiry is the cornerstone of Sam's work with his students. He enjoys the process of making discoveries with the children, and witnessing the moments that they make connections between ideas. Sam loves working with children to create amazing structures through the use of blocks and other building materials, creating artwork, and reading literature and building stories with children. He shares his sense of humor with children, and is delighted as his students begin develop their own.

Jenesa Cabrera

Head Teacher

Jenesa joined the Olive Treehouse group in 2018. She grew up in Massachusetts, where she started babysitting at a young age for friends and family. In high school Jenesa started working at a local daycare, which motivated her to pursue a career working with young children. She then worked two private preschools, in addition to Bright Horizons. Jenesa moved to Carroll Gardens in 2014 to be a full time live-in nanny. She believes in a learning environment that fosters strong cognitive development, where children are provided the opportunity to think, understand, and process the world around them. Jenesa loves to read with the children, understanding that reading not only expands a child’s worldview, but also their sense of empathy within a global community.

Samantha Chan

Head Teacher

Samantha graduated from Brooklyn College with her Bachelors in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Art. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Early Childhood and Special Education. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Samantha has over 15 years experience in the early childhood field. From her experience in babysitting to growing within the ECE field and having two children of her own, Sam understands that it is important to help children develop socially and emotionally by giving them to tools and words to use so that children can express themselves successfully on their own. Samantha believes that children learn best visually and through hands on experiences.

Gina Runfola

Head Teacher

Gina was a substitute and assistant at a private Pre-K - 8 school in New Jersey for four years where she also taught music to grades Pre-K - 2 and music appreciation to 3 - 8. She’s tutored every age in reading, writing and literacy from two to twenty-two, helped host events at Bank Street School with Bank Street Bookstore, and spent four years as head of Children’s Books and events, and Storytime Lady, at a Barnes and Noble. Some of her favorite children's books include, Miss Rumphius, Inch By Inch, The Book With No Pictures and Good Dog, Carl. She studied literature at NYU and plans to continue studying education and literacy. She believes in listening to children carefully in order to help them learn to speak in their own unique voices.

Floater Teachers & Consultants

Jocelyn Wood

Speech & Language Pathologist

Jocelyn M. Wood is a bilingual speech language pathologist with over a decade of experience. She specializes in working with parents of young children to introduce speech and language activities into everyday routines. Her work has been featured in The Bump, Romper and Fatherly. Jocelyn offers both individual services and small group coaching that help children thrive. For more information, go to www.jocelynmwood.com or @speechwithjwo on Instagram.

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