Our teaching staff is highly trained in early childhood and is dedicated to their field. Their passion for teaching and love of children is validated on a daily basis in their hard work. Each staff member is CPR and First Aid Trained and has completed all of the requirements for the New York City Department of Health.
AYA ABDULHADI (3K Teacher)
This is Aya’s first year working at Stepping Stones. Aya lives in Staten Island with her family. She is pursing a Bachelor’s degree in education and hopes to be a great role model for students. Her background includes working in afterschool programs, daycares and other 3K location. She has a passion for teaching, arts & craft, intellectual games and outdoor activities. You can find her taking long walks around the neighborhood, or giving back to the community. She has taken part in volunteering opportunities such as cleaning up the ocean and hosting fundraising events. She eagerly anticipates utilizing her skills to shape, support, and motivate the future generation of students. Moreover, she believes that every student has unique talents and abilities that can be nurtured, and she is committed to helping each student recognize and develop their full potential.
NICOLE CANALE (Toddler Teacher)
Nicole has worked with children as an after school assistant and camp counselor for three years. This is her fifth year teacher at Stepping Stones. Nicole has worked in our threes and two year old program. She enjoys working with children and showing them new things. Nicole is currently attending Kingsborough Community College with a major in Early Childhood Education. In her free time, Nicole likes to discover new music and spend time with family and friends. She looks forward to getting to know the staff, children, and parents at Stepping Stones.
NADIA CASTILLO CHICO (3K Teacher)
Nadia is a recent college graduate from Brooklyn College earning a degree in Psychology. She is super excited to be the After School teacher this school year and is looking forward to working with her students. She has been in an educational environment for over three years and can’t wait to making last memories at Stepping Stones. She enjoys taking long walks and enjoys outdoor events. Nadia’s goal is to show her students that homework can be fun. She is looking forward to teaching and guiding the after school students throughout the year.
VICTORIA CABAN (Teacher & Associate Director @ Stepping Stones Center)
Victoria joined Stepping Stones in 2017. She grew up in Brooklyn and currently lives in Bay Ridge. When she first started at Stepping Stones she worked with the three-year-old program and continued working with the two-year-old program. Victoria, who goes by Ms. Vicky, has several years of experience in working in the field of education. Her previous experience included managing afterschool programs for a non-profit arts education organization and working at a partial separation two-year-old program in Brooklyn Heights. When she’s not at Stepping Stones, you can find her at Brooklyn College continuing her education. In her spare time, Vicky can be found baking something sweet or catching up on nerd culture. Vicky really enjoys creating a safe, fun, and enriching program at Stepping Stones and looks forward to the years to come.
JILLIAN ENGLISH (3K Teacher)
Jillian has been a teacher at Stepping Stones since 2018. She was a wonderful addition to the staff. She brings humor, fun, and creativity to all the students and teachers she works with. Jillian has been an extended day teacher, after school teacher and toddler teacher. Jillian graduated from Brooklyn College with her Bachelors in Early Childhood Education. She has a passion for art and loves to play any board games or creative games with the children. Jillian also welcomed her new dog this year, Binx! Her patience and kindness are seen on a daily basis.
DONNA FONTANA (Toddler Teacher)
Donna has been working at Stepping Stones since 2014. She has done it all, working in our afterschool program, three program and currently being a toddler teacher. Donna loves to snuggle up with a good book and hanging out with her family. She truly enjoys working with the children and loves being able to see how much the children learn and grow over the school year. She is extremely patient and kind and treats every child as if they were her own. She loves nurturing the children and helping them get adjusted to their new school environment.
DIANNA FURSA (Toddler Teacher)
Dianna joined Stepping Stones in 2021. Dianna currently holds a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education and plans to complete her Masters Degree in the near future. Dianna has always had a love of teaching and knew her passion was to be a teacher when she was in high school. She has been working with children under the age of five since 2011 in an early childhood program. She is excited to join Stepping Stones and guide the three year old’s into the love of learning and play. She also enjoys spending time with her husband and her two young children. Dianna is looking forward to a great year at Stepping Stones.
AMANDA GROSSMAN (3K Teacher)
This is Amanda’s first year at Stepping Stones. She has worked in education for the last 10 years. Amanda studied Elementary Education at Indiana University. Excited to return back home to Brooklyn, Amanda continued her teaching career. Her background includes working at baseball/softball camps, a Montessori school, tutoring ESL students. She has also been a camp counselor at Poly Prep. In her spare time Amanda loves to cook and paint. Amanda is looking forward to making fun memories with her students this year.
JILLIAN GUIDO (Preschool Teacher)
Jillian has been a two-year-old and three-year old teacher at Stepping Stones since 2017. Jillian has been an early childhood educator for over six years, in both early intervention and preschool classes. She has extensive experience working with children who have special needs and believes every young child learns in a personal and unique way. Jillian’s goal this year is to foster her students’ independence, explore the world around them, and learn through play. Jillian continues to study Early Childhood Education because she believes that a positive school experience at a young age sets the students up for success. You can find Jillian reading a good book or picking the perfect candle. She recently just became a new mom to a baby boy! Jillian looks forward to an exciting year ahead.
RUKIYYA ILHAI (3K Teacher)
This is Rukiyya first year at Stepping Stones. She was born and raised in Brooklyn and has always enjoyed working with children. She is currently enrolled in a study plan, continuing her education. Her background included working in a daycare, and a private speech clinic. Rukiyya also worked in an ABA clinic. Rukiyya recently celebrated her wedding last October. You can find Rukiyya shopping or going to her favorited café. In her spare time she likes to go on picnics. Rukiyya aims to promote her students’ self-reliance, encourage their curiosity about the world, and facilitate their learning through playful experiences this year.
ZAHRA KARNIB (3K Teacher)
Zahra joined Stepping Stones in 2022. She is born and raised in Bay Ridge. Zahra’s has worked in education for the last five years and is currently pursing her degree in Early Childhood Education and English Literature. You can find her at Zahra at her favorite store, Target. In her spare time, Zahra likes to take walks around the neighborhood, read books and spend time with her nieces. Her passions are to inspire and guide children throughout the classroom. She is fully committed to ensuring that this school year is marked by both compassion and growth Additionally, she plans to create a nurturing environment where each child feels valued and empowered to reach their full potential.
SABRINA MANGANO (3K Teacher)
This is Sabrina’s first year at Stepping Stones! Sabrina has previously worked with children in an after school program and daycare. She also has experience working as a 3K and UPK teacher. Sabrina graduated with a Bachelors in Childhood Education from St. Francis College. She is now getting her Masters in Early Childhood Education/Special Education at Brooklyn College. In her free time she like to watch good romance movies, spend time with her cousins, family, and two cats. Sabrina enjoys travelling, which has given her a unique perspective on teaching and learning. Enriching and inspiring children are her passions. She is fully committed to creating a school year filled with both compassion and growth opportunities. Additionally, she hopes to cultivate a classroom community where every child feels valued and supported.
MELISSA OCONNOR (UPK Teacher @ The Next Step)
Melissa returned back to Stepping Stones this year teaching in our UPK classroom. Melissa previously was a summer and afterschool teacher at Stepping Stones. Melissa has been working in the DOE Universal Pre-K classrooms for 6 years. Melissa is a mother to two silly boys and is currently expecting another one! She is born and raised in Brooklyn and a is a big NY Yankee fan. You can find Melissa boxing or taking a workout class. She hopes to write a children’s book with her own boys helping to create the characters. Her primary goal is to create an engaging and enjoyable learning environment that fosters a love for learning, where her students can not only gain knowledge but also develop personally. Watching every student in her class flourish into responsible and mature individuals brings her great joy. Melissa is thrilled to be back at Stepping Stones and can’t wait to teach this year.
ROSARY SCHININA (UPK Teacher @ The Next Step)
Rosary has been a teacher here at Stepping Stones since 2007. Rosary has had a love for teaching since she was 12 years old. Along with holding her position here, she is a mother of two children. Having children in grade school allows Rosary to empathize with your concerns regarding your child’s early childhood development and it helps her to prepare your child for their future education. You can find Rosary at our second location, The Next Step, where she has been for 19 years teaching our threes program and Pre-K. She is a caring, nurturing, and enthusiastic individual, who is dedicated to her classroom. Outside of her classroom, she enjoys spending time with her family! Rosary’s future goals are to continue teaching the incoming students of Stepping Stones. She enjoys watching every student in her class blossom into mature young individuals. She strives to provide a fun and interactive environment for her class where the children will not only learn but grow to love the process of learning itself.
DANA SENISI (3K Teacher)
Although this is Dana’s first year teaching at Stepping Stones, Dana has been apart of the Stepping Stones family as a parent to two wonderful girls. Dana holds a B.A in Early Childhood Education and has over ten years of experience in education and dance. Additionally, Dana has been a dance teacher and owns her own studio with her two sisters. You can find Dana at Disney World, one of her favorite places, and the beach. She is kind, patient and enjoys working with children of all ages. Dana is passionate about teaching her students and incorporating her love of dance and movement throughout the day. Dana believes that every child has the potential to succeed and is dedicated to helping each of her students reach their full potential.
LYNDA SENISI (3K Teacher)
Lynda has a passion and love of children and dance. She is inspired to teach children in her love of the arts and in education. Lynda is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Dance Education and is always compassionate in everything she does. She enjoys reading to the children and modeling good behavior. You can always find Lynda talking to the students and encouraging children through play. Lynda and her two sister own a dance studio in Bensonhurst where they’ve been teaching for the last 20 years. You can find Lynda grabbing a bite to eat or hanging out with her friends. She enjoys spending her free time with her family and nieces.
SYLVIA VILA (Toddler Teacher)
Sylvia joined Stepping Stones in 2022. She is thrilled to be working with the toddlers this year. Sylvia attended Duchess Community College and looks forward to continue her education. Sylvia has a background in camps, nursery schools, preschools and as a babysitter. She has five years in education under her belt. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with family, listen to music, shop and write. Observing the transformation of each student in her class into a mature and capable young individual brings her immense joy. Her aim is to establish an engaging and interactive learning atmosphere, where the children not only acquire knowledge but also develop a love for the process of learning.