Deborah Kline has worked with children since she was ten years old—whether babysitting, teaching swimming lessons or coaching field hockey, Deborah was called to the field of education. She worked in a pre-school while she attended college at the University of New Mexico, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. She moved to Chicago and worked as an elementary school teacher before realizing her true passion was preschool aged children. Deborah started working at ALG when her 2 sons enrolled as students at ALG in 2006. After getting to know the staff and ALG community, she eagerly embraced the opportunity to direct the school in 2007. After two and a half years of directing the program, she realized she missed the classroom, where she was happily engaged as a teacher for six years. She is now back at the helm as ALG’s interim director.
Cara Elkins grew up in Adams Morgan, D.C. She attended Bryn Mawr College where she majored in Spanish and Education. After graduating, she returned to her elementary school alma mater, Oyster Bilingual, to teach. After teaching for a few years, she decided to pursue her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College in New York City. Cara began working at ALG in 2007 and loves the play-based philosophy of the school because she believes that “play is where the quiet child speaks and where the loud child listens.” She is ALG’s program director and leads the implementation of the curriculum. Cara is the proud momma of two boys, both alums of ALG.
José Rivera has been a beloved ALG teacher since 1980. He began his Early Childhood Education career in 1973 when a teacher friend recognized his skill with children and brought him on board at Rosemount Center. Since being at ALG, José has earned his CDA and taken classes in Living Stage Theatre and Effective Parenting. José can often be found regaling kids with silly rhymes at the lunch table or helping them construct Lego spaceships and send them flying to outer space to battle “bad guys.” He delights in telling tales of adventure and suspense, believing that stories are a safe way for children to explore emotions. José credits his long stay at ALG to his deep belief in the school’s philosophy of imaginative play. “We celebrate children being children, and I love that.” José is the proud father of a daughter who is starting her dance-teaching career in Charlotte, NC.
Natasha Nenadovic has taught at ALG since 1993. Born in Serbia, Natasha was a graduate of the Belgrade Medical School, where she earned a nursing title specializing in early childhood. She came to the U.S. as a nanny and the child she cared for attended ALG. Once her contract ended as a nanny, Natasha was quickly hired by ALG, earned her CDA, and has since built up the science and math portions of the curriculum considerably with her interests in things that grow, fall, multiply, and decompose. Natasha has also taken classes at Living Stage Theatre and in Parent Effectiveness Training. When Natasha is not at ALG, you can find on the go with her 3 sons (all ALG alumni) , looking after dogs, painting faces, or adding another language to her repertoire (she speaks 5 foreign languages).
Melissa Klein joined ALG in 2009 and she is proud to take part in the school’s long tradition of honoring dramatic play in developing creativity, cooperation and community. Melissa is a D.C. native who spent fourteen years in San Francisco, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. She has taught writing and theater in many settings, and is inspired by early childhood educator Vivian Paley’s work with story dictation and dramatization. One of Melissa’s favorite activities at ALG is working with children to write down and share their stories. Her son and daughter both attend ALG.
Tiffany Freeman first came to ALG in 2006 to perform as part of a theater company based on the Living Stage model. Since then she has worked as an ALG substitute teacher, summer camp teacher and later as the music teacher while still working as an actress and costume seamstress. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from PennState University and recently completed a career studies certificate in Early Childhood Education. Tiffany joined the ALG staff as a full time teacher in 2012. She has always enjoyed working with children and loves the play-based philosophy of ALG. She plays violin and guitar and enjoys cooking, gardening, charcoal drawing and swing dancing.
Taquin McMullen joined the ALG staff in November 2011 as our aftercare teacher. She has many years of experience working with young children including teaching 3-year olds in a private pre-school, running before and aftercare programs in Prince Georges County, and teaching Sunday school to pre-schoolers in her church . She earned her Bachelors Degree in Management from Potomac College, her Masters Degree in Administration from Central Michigan University and is working on earning her EdD in Administrator Leadership for Teaching & Learning. Quin loves the arts and dance, and often has the kids boogeying down in the afternoons.
NaTasha Smith is a student at UDC, studying early childhood development. She started working at ALG in 2014. She has been working with children, and loving it, since she was 12-years-old! NaTasha comes to us from Jumpstart Corporation where she was the lead teacher of preschool age children. She was happy to join her big sister, Quin, in Aftercare.
Patrick Prebula is a founding member of the Smithsonian Institute’s Tools of Discovery Teaching Artist Group in DCPS – a program that uses theater skills to help implement the Tools of the Mind curriculum into classrooms. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, he helped establish Teaching Cooperatives in underprivileged neighborhoods. He attended Montgomery College and the University of Maryland College Park to study Theater Performance with a minor in Creative Writing. While his background and education is theater based, his heart has always remained in the realm of imagination. He looks forward to a new year and a new adventure at ALG.
Daniel Walth grew up in the Heartland of North Dakota. He comes from a long line of peasant farmers so gardening is in his blood. Early on in his education a teacher influenced him greatly to pursue fine art. He trained as a painter and received his BFA at The Cleveland
Institute of Art. When he moved to Washington, DC he found ALG to be a perfect place for his two children. Now as a teacher at ALG he can share both his passions – Art and Gardening – with children in a cooperative play environment.
Pickett Craddock is a longtime ALG teacher, joining the school in 1971, when her son was 6 months old. Her daughter is also an alumus of ALG, as she accompanied Pickett to school from ages 1-5. Pickett served as the director and program director from 1981 until 2008, both at the location on Mintwood Street and its current site on 16th Street. A 1965 graduate of Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va., Pickett spent her junior year in Madrid as a Spanish major. She has kept up with changing trends with many non credit education classes and 15 college credit hours of education courses, 12 weeks of Living Stage and three sessions of Parent Effectiveness Training. Currently she is one of ALG’s two play specialists.
Amy Farina began teaching music at ALG in 2013. Amy is a musician, artist, and educator who teaches music and art enrichment in public and private schools, and private lessons throughout Washington, DC. In addition to teaching, Amy is an active visual artist and drum set and orchestral percussionist, performing internationally, composing, and recording since the early 1990’s. With a degree in fine art, and continuing education in percussion, Amy firmly believes that the arts should be available to all as a primary pathway to learning. Amy is the mother of an ALG alumnus (2013).
Christine Alexander joined ALG as a dramatic play specialist in 2013. She is also a founding member of the Smithsonian’s Tools of Discovery professional development program for early childhood educators in DCPS – a program that uses improvisational acting techniques to help teachers implement curriculum in classrooms. A graduate of The George Washington University, Christine was a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship in Acting and graduated with a B.A. in Theater with Honors. In addition to her work with the Smithsonian and ALG she teaches after-school workshops at Washington Revels and is a proud company member of Young Playwrights’ Theater. Christine developed her love and appreciation for the power of play through a life of silliness, games and playing outdoors, but mostly from former ALG teacher, Oran Sandel, who spent his life sharing the joy and potential of the creative spark we all possess.
Jeremy Lartigue is the parent of an ALG alumni, and started at ALG in 2013 as our capoeira instructor. Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines rhythm, Portuguese, and movement in a beautiful, non-contact art form. Jeremy comes to ALG with years of experience as both an educator and capoeista.
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