Meet Our Team

  • Meet Our Team of Faculty, Administrators, and Board Members

    The staff invests energy with passion and dedication. Everyone strives to provide for the students. Each person understands their responsibility and lives up to it. Administrators, Faculty, and members of the Board of Directors cooperate and collaborate. They work together to create a vibrant space where children learn with joy.
    Come meet our team.
    Learn More.

    • Karen Giuffre’, M.Ed.
      Founding Director
      Teacher/Researcher, Humanities/Social Justice

      Karen Giuffre’, M.Ed.

      Founding Director
      Teacher/Researcher, Humanities/Social Justice

      Our director received her BA in Political Science and Communications from Hood College and her M.Ed. in Education and Partnership from Goddard College. She has also participated in Advanced Studies in Exercise Physiology at Springfield College and earned a Masters Certificate in College Counseling from UCLA.

      Karen began her teaching career in Harvard, Massachusetts where she taught 5th, 6th, and 8th-grade social studies. This was followed by years of serving as a teacher and director of fitness and recreation programs. Karen developed an elementary interdisciplinary curriculum as a researcher and writer and then as a trainer and promoter of the national physical education program, Physical Best. Karen’s children inspired her to create a progressive learning environment that honors all children as people. She founded Voyagers’ Community School in 2004 after spending 18 months composing the philosophical foundation that guides our day-to-day operations.

      Karen has garnered recognition as the Keynote Speaker and Presenter at both national and local professional conferences, including, most recently, the Association for Constructivist Teaching Conference and the Progressive Education Network. She has been a Guest on DisruptED TV, She has also advised many start-up school efforts. Karen serves as the New Jersey State Liaison for the Alternative Education Resource Organization. She also served as Chairperson and Treasurer for the New Jersey Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia, President of A Child’s Place Education Fund, a member of The Colts Neck 9/11 Committee, and past Treasurer and President of The Colts Neck PTO.

      Karen’s most recent project was directing the renovation of our new 14,000 square foot home, originally built in 1908. Our building was restored with thought to its original character, our contemporary needs, the necessary time-frame and the wants and visions expressed by students, faculty, and staff.

      Currently, Karen serves as the Co-Chair of the Middle State Association Accreditation Team. She leads a staff of 18 and directs all admissions initiative. She also oversees the operation of a new initiative, the Individualized Education Services program. Karen makes time to teach a rousing high school humanities course, with a focus on social justice and diversity. Karen’s passions include reading historical novels and memoirs, traveling, playing board games, chatting for hours with good friends and family and always dancing, everywhere.

      “There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.” ~ Martha Graham

    • Lori Naidich
      Director of Admissions

      Lori Naidich

      Director of Admissions

      Lori Naidich is happy to join the staff at Voyagers’ Community School. She comes from event operations, where she managed volunteer programs engaging local charities and non-profits. It was this rewarding experience that led Lori to change careers to one focused on community. Prior, Lori worked in fashion – buying and planning. Lori has a B.A. in English from Ithaca College. Dynamic, resilient and nurturing, Lori is a real thinker and a maker.

      “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” –Benjamin Franklin

    • Clayton Reynolds
      Associate Director of Admissions and Outreach

      Clayton Reynolds

      Associate Director of Admissions and Outreach

      A graduate of Voyagers’ Community School himself, Clayton has long been a beneficiary and advocate of our school’s mission to serve children. In 2018, Clayton earned his BA from Goucher College in both Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Peace Studies, graduating with the Honors Cum Laude distinction as a member of the International Scholars Honors Program. His studies focused on understanding the dynamics of power and privilege in our society and working to dismantle them, something he focused on through his work with both previously incarcerated individuals and young students in inner-city Baltimore Public Schools and the surrounding area. His time at college was marked by a drive to help others and the desire to continue this work in the field of education.

      For years, Clayton has been closely involved in the professional world of educators. He has been a panelist and speaker at several educational conferences, most notably Educating for a Just, Peaceful and Sustainable Future at New York University, where he sat alongside Dr. Jane Gooddall and Dr. Arun Ghandi to discuss the impact of humane education.

      As a global citizen, Clayton has traveled to over 18 countries, immersing himself in many different cultures. In the spring of 2017, Clayton spent seven months living and studying abroad at Tuscia University in Viterbo, Italy, a small, medieval town outside of Rome. He spent his time there becoming fluent in Italian, traveling across Europe, getting to know the locals, and teaching English to young Italian students at Scuola Elementare del Carmine. More recently, he teaches the high school level Humanities class at Voyagers’ where he uses the craft of reading and writing, as well as his own experiences, to underscore the importance of an expansive worldview in the classroom and elsewhere.

      Through his work in Admissions and Outreach Clayton hopes to expose as many parents, students, and community members as possible to our school’s mission. He believes every child deserves the holistic, well-rounded education that Voyagers’ has to offer, and is determined to make our goals a reality, When he’s not networking or teaching, Clayton’s passions include photography, anything involving music, spending quality time with his friends and family, and quoting his favorite movies.

      “Ancora imparo” ~ “Still, I am learning” – Michelangelo

    • Kadi Cook, M.A.
      Arts & Humanities Specialist

      Kadi Cook, M.A.

      Arts & Humanities Specialist

      Kadi joined Voyagers’ in 2008, coming from a rich background in the arts. She integrates many teaching styles and draws from various teaching philosophies, with a strong focus on the Reggio Emilia philosophy and Constructivism. She holds a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Integrated Teaching through the Arts from Lesley University. Kadi also holds a BA in English from the Colorado College, with a focus on creative writing and poetry. In addition to teaching creative writing, Kadi supports teachers and collaborates with them in their daily work with children, families and other stakeholders as our Pedagogista. She documents and analyzes the learning processes and experiences of children, and then draws implications that inspire teaching and learning. Currently, Kadi serves as the Co-Chair of the Middle State Association Accreditation Team.

      Kadi has presented multiple times during our education and peace conferences, at the Association for Constructivist Teaching and other progressive education conferences. Kadi is a Jill-of-all-trades, specializing in parlor tricks such as telling lame jokes, playing guitar and singing, cutting paper art, sculpting ceramic art, cooking, writing poetry, playing disc golf, and generally entertaining an audience. She is an avid junk hoarder, seeing the potential in all materials, and a collector and re-arranger of all things from nature. She would be equally happy spending all day in our art studio working on projects with the students as spending the day collecting flotsam and jetsam on the beach, planting in the garden or trying to tunnel to China. Her current obsessions—influenced by her 4-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter—include freight trains, marble runs, baby dolls, insects and scotch tape.

      “Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” ~ Plato

    • Richard Knab
      S.T.E.A.M. Specialist

      Richard Knab

      S.T.E.A.M. Specialist

      Rich has been a teacher at Voyagers’ Community School since its inception. Starting with a weekly hands-on math class and after-school robotics program, Rich’s involvement with the school grew over three years into a full-time teaching position.

      Rich attended New Jersey Institute of Technology and Thomas Edison State University where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Education. Rich brings to his teaching his experience in engineering and software industries and his extensive woodworking skills to all of his classes. He chooses to teach through analogies and hands-on experiences and relates subjects to real life. He is attuned to children’s “out-of-the-box,” problem-solving techniques and is devoted to encouraging and preserving this way of thinking. Rich is an engineer and an artisan whose handmade light tables and recently constructed loft grace the classrooms at Voyagers’. These inspire students to create and to connect art with science, math, and technology.

      Rich has been the coach of the Voyagers’ First Lego League Robotics Team since 2007. Over the years he has taught and mentored the team which achieved two invitations to the New Jersey state championships, one of which they won! He has won the Coach/Mentor of the Year award for his efforts in preparing FLL Robotics teams.

      Currently, Rich heads the Technology Center. He teaches Upper School math, high school science, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) classes. He also teaches various Electives and Essentials to all ages. His summer camp offerings have included robotics, technology, skateboard construction, rocketry, chemistry, and woodworking. In fact, several summers age Rich’s summer camp students built two canoes which they donated to the Girls Scouts of the Jersey Shore.

      Professionally, Rich’s passion for and understanding of progressive education has driven him to present at various educational conferences. Most recently he has offered a seminar about the Voyagers’ Project Week initiative at the Association for Constructivist Teaching Conference.

      “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” ~ Henry Ford

    • Diana Cascone
      Toddler/Preschool Director

      Diana Cascone

      Toddler/Preschool Director

      Diana has joined our team as the Toddler/Preschool Director. Diana earned her BA in Musical Theatre from Muhlenberg College and is a true lover and practitioner of the arts. She spent a semester in London studying and practicing her craft at the University of London. She earned her standard teaching certificate (K-5) through William Patterson University and has worked in a number of classroom settings from early education through High School. After the births of her 3 wonderful daughters, she decided to stay home for their early years. During this time, she began substituting at local elementary schools where she realized the need for more progressive, community-centered educational settings.

      After relocating with her family to Monmouth County, she joined the Westminster Nature Preschool team where she was able to hone in on what an “ideal” preschool classroom looks like. Her work at Westminster, where she helped to bridge a deep connection to nature for young children, inspires her to integrate nature into the Voyagers’ Preschool. Diana has a passion for the Reggio Emilia approach and continues to research how best to incorporate the philosophy and its tenets into the classroom. She truly believes that the learning process is most robust when children serve as collaborators and communicators, and teachers as their partners, nurturers, and guides. Tangent to this belief is her commitment to incorporating the “third teacher”, or classroom environment and aesthetics, into everyday learning.

      Diana’s mission is to work collaboratively with all school and community partners to support and nurture classrooms that are creative, involved, and connected to the passions and activities in the students’ lives.

      “The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover….” ~ Jean Piaget

    • Jaime Maddelena
      Lead Teacher - Toddlers

      Jaime Maddelena

      Lead Teacher - Toddlers

      Guiding young children through hands-on learning experiences based on the natural world is Jaime’s passion. She is a lover of nature and a mother of two wonderful children.

      Jaime started her journey towards working with children by attending Montclair State University to receive her BA in Family and Child Studies. From there, she continued her journey by starting in a small, non-profit, child care program where she went from being a teacher’s assistant to director in just 2 years. Then, Jaime’s journey took her to a non-profit agency where her job as a Quality Improvement Specialist directed her on a different path. This path led her to work with child care programs on improving their quality by working in the classrooms with teachers, developing improvements plans and providing trainings. It is there that she received extensive training in curriculum, health and safety practices, quality assessments and infant mental health.

      Through those experiences, she has developed a strong sense of understanding about the needs of children. She believes children are at their best when they are given a happy, loving and healthy place to learn and grow.

      “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” ~ Rachel Carson

    • Lesley Martin
      Outdoor School Specialist
      Teacher/Researcher ~ 6-8 ~ French

      Lesley Martin

      Outdoor School Specialist
      Teacher/Researcher ~ 6-8 ~ French

      Lesley joined the Voyagers’ team in the Fall of 2016, bringing with her a variety of teaching techniques collected through her experience instructing French at Rutgers University and English at three urban middle schools in Paris, France. Her focus on immersive Constructivist activities in the classroom help students acquire a wider and more innate understanding of foreign language; allowing the students to learn in the same manner as they did their native tongue. She holds a Masters in French Literature and a BA in both French and English from Rutgers University with a focus on the Biological Sciences: highlighting her personal passion for ecological health.

      Lesley spent summers in college working as a Surfguard at Sandy Hook, Gateway National Recreation Area and every other available moment outdoors. An avid hiker, mountain biker, road cyclist and camper who is a Monmouth County native, Lesley does not limit her outdoor adventures to this region. She has an intimate knowledge of many State Parks here in New Jersey and has toured, camped and hiked through many of the great National Parks out West including Yosemite, Yellowstone, Arches, the Grand Canyon and Zion. In 2014, following a graduate term abroad, she cycled from Leuven, Belgium to Nice, France; camping in the Belgian and French countryside along the way and finally traversing the Alps before arriving at her destination. She is a strong advocate for cyclists and currently directs the Women’s Cycling Club and Girl-Powered Program at Second Life Bikes in Asbury Park, designed to empower more women and girls through holistic well-being to ride in such a male-dominated arena.

      Lesley’s education in the literature, philosophy, and poetry of two languages, the instruction of foreign language itself, and profound experiences in nature both here and abroad have imparted a breadth to her thinking which allows for a greater understanding of the many languages of the individual learner. Taking cues from the Reggio Emilia philosophy, Lesley seeks to create space for her students to express the synthesis of new knowledge in whichever medium they require.

      “L’enfance a des manières de voir, de penser, de sentir qui lui sont propres, rien n’est moins sensé que d’y vouloir substituer les nôtres.” “Childhood has its own way of seeing, thinking, and feeling, and nothing is more foolish than to try to substitute ours for theirs.” ~ Jean – Jacques Rousseau

    • Deborah McNish
      Teaching Associate

      Deborah McNish

      Teaching Associate

      Deborah has 25 years of experience as a visual art teacher from the Lakewood School District. She developed and wrote curriculum for grades K thru 6, secured grants for a Read/Write Program for the elementary school, and is the Art Specialist at Voyagers’ Summer Camp. Deborah’s passion for nature and volunteerism is an exemplary influence for all of our students, but particularly for our middle school students. Her work with the Appalachian Mountain Club, Jersey Shore Running Club, and the Peaceweavers Intentional community, promotes well-being in many communities. She also volunteered with Sandy Relief efforts by organizing donations and performing demolition and relocation work.

      “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” ~ Chinese Proverb

    • Sandy Miller
      Executive Administrator

      Sandy Miller

      Executive Administrator

      With a BA in Early Childhood Education from Kean College, Sandy Miller has been educating children for 25 years. She developed the Primary Program at A Child’s Place School, was Director of Education for Head Start of Monmouth County, and a Teaching Assistant in Tinton Falls Autistic Program for early childhood students. Sandy teaches reading, writing and basic math skills to early learners in a meaningful environment that helps students see the value of their hard work. Energetic and creative, Sandy’s teaching philosophy ensures a fun and joyful classroom environment. She believes that every child is a powerful human full of potential and knows that children’s strengths should be respected and voices should be heard. Sandy was recently a presenter at the Association for Constructivist Teaching Conference, where she introduced a year-long literacy project.

    • Emma Nuneviller
      Teaching Associate, Preschool

      Emma Nuneviller

      Teaching Associate, Preschool

      Emma has always had a passion for helping students to see their full potential by learning in ways that works best for them. Her alma mater, Lasell College, helped to nurture this passion through many teaching experiences in public, private, and charter schools. While at Lasell, Emma was hand-selected to teach on the island of Antigua. While there she was fully immersed in the culture, and curriculums of the island. She also was able to do professional development and educate the teachers on the island about the Universal Design for Learning, which is a set of guidelines that helps teachers plan lessons that incorporate the learning types of all the students in the class. It was a truly memorable experience that taught Emma that alternative schools is where she felt that she could make the biggest impact on the children and they could on her as well.

      She graduated with a BA in Curriculum and Instruction from Lasell College in May of 2015 and joined Voyagers’ in September of that year. Just as Voyagers’ was learning to use their new facility, she was learning about the philosophy of the school alongside its students and other faculty members. She has attended the Progressive Educators Network conference in New York, the Association of Constructivist Teaching conference at Kean College, and went through intensive training to become a certified tutor in the practices of Lindamood-Bell. Through these many experiences of professional development, and the everyday experiences that Voyagers’ provides for her, she has grown to better understand the Reggio Emilia and Progressive philosophies of the Preschool/Toddler program. Emma is excited to experience another school year, create memories, and continue to learn with her Voyagers’ family!

      “Great things never come from comfort zones” ~ Anonymous

    • Tara Tomaino
      Teaching Associate ~ Literacy & Humanities

      Tara Tomaino

      Teaching Associate ~ Literacy & Humanities

      Tara is thrilled to be part of the Voyagers’ vision and staff!  Monmouth County is her home and she is excited to assist her community full-circle, especially in the context of learning.  Tara currently holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Linguistics from Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J.  She will be receiving her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, specifically in poetry, at Sierra Nevada College‘s low residency program in Incline Village, Nevada in January, 2017.

      She is a lover of all things words and considers herself a thinker and a professional learner above all else. Tara is just beginning her educator’s journey and not only hopes to be a part of the Voyagers’ family for years to come but also has goals of becoming a college professor. Her passion and creative nature are just a few of the attributes she feels will be a great addition to the learning experience of the students. Tara is beyond excited to learn from her fellow talented colleagues and grow alongside the students in their journey through self-discovery and education.

      When not studying, reading, or writing, Tara can be found enjoying the local boardwalks, music/writing scenes, and experiencing all the Jersey Shore has to offer. She is an avid fan of video games, animation, and comic books and believes in the power of all three to empower student learning. Tara loves cats, hiking, Fall, and is known to create her own cosplays for conventions. Her favorite type of sushi is a sweet potato roll.

    • Rebecca Volek
      Sign Language Instructor

      Rebecca Volek

      Sign Language Instructor

      In elementary school, Rebecca’s first-grade teacher learned the pledge of allegiance, from that point on she was hooked. She taught herself to sign and became familiar with deaf culture. Rebecca earned her Associate of Applied Science, American Sign Language Interpreting-English Interpreting from Ocean County College. She is the Co-developer of an adult Deaf Theatre project in collaboration with the Writers Theatre of New Jersey. She is also a volunteer ASL interpreting services for the college’s Dog Sees God: Confession of a Teenage Block Head play.

      “The only thing a Deaf person can’t do is hear”. ~ Dr. K Jordan of Gallaudet University

    • Ashley Crosby
      Teacher/Researcher, Preschool

      Ashley Crosby

      Teacher/Researcher, Preschool

      Ashley Crosby has been working at Voyagers’ Community School for five years. She joined us as a Teacher Apprentice from Brookdale Community College, where she earned her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education. At Voyagers’, Ashley is a teacher/researcher in the Pre-K class.

      She encourages the children to wonder, play, and explore while offering a variety of materials to foster their learning. Ashley believes strongly in collaborating with our Reggio inspired third teacher – the environment. She enjoys her weekly trips to the Bliss Arboretum with the 3-5 year-olds and encourages the children to discover and appreciate their natural surroundings!  

      When not working with children Ashley enjoys learning about and taking care of animals. In the future, Ashley will complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education.

      “Our task is to help children communicate with the world using all their potential, strengths, and languages, and to overcome any obstacle presented by our culture”   ~ Loris Malaguzzi

    • Ayanna Gordon
      STEAM and Upper School Math Associate Teacher

      Ayanna Gordon

      STEAM and Upper School Math Associate Teacher

      Ayanna Gordon is our new S.T.E.A.M. and Upper School Math Associate Teacher at Voyagers’ Community School. She is an alumna of Kean University, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Mathematic Sciences with a minor in American Sign Language in May 2018. She was the former president of Kean University’s Rotaract Club and continues out her humanitarian duties as a regular member now. Ayanna is a native of Asbury Park where she attended Pope John XXIII Regional School in Wanamassa, NJ and graduated from Shore Regional High School in West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently resides in Tinton Falls, New Jersey.

      Ayanna has been a math tutor for years specializing in algebra, calculus, and statistics. Her love for math didn’t come quickly. It was in college where she began to embrace the subject and dedicate herself to obtaining a degree in the subject. Ayanna admires students who struggle and try their best in math since she was in their position as a child. She has amassed many strategies and techniques to aid different learning styles. Ayanna looks forward to meeting her students during the 2018 school year. She hopes to make math each student’s favorite subject!

      “You can never stop and as older people, we have to learn how to take leadership from the youth and I guess I would say that this is what I’m attempting to do right now.” ~ Angela Davis

    • Larry Benner

      Larry Benner

      Having grown up on the Jersey Shore, Larry Benner just moved back to the area and is excited to weave his years of experience teaching and learning in and out of the classroom in various places into the Voyagers Community. He is an avid outdoors enthusiast; hiking, skiing, biking, surfing, climbing, and gardening. He has a B.S. in Biology from the University of New Hampshire including course study on the Isles of Shoals studying the intertidal ecology at the field study station on Appledore Island.

      He served two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal teaching Science and English as a Second Language to 4th to 8th grade students taking any chance he could get to hike throughout the Himalayas. There was a time he was a confident conversational speaker and reader in the Nepali language. When he eventually does return, there is no doubt the language cobwebs will clear and he could comfortably navigate the remote villages.

      Upon returning to the States, he worked in the Henry Mountains and Fish Lake regions of southern Utah leading high school students through 60-day therapeutic wilderness programs. Students learned to navigate by map and compass, build fires from handmade bow and spindle fire kits while using the sights, sounds, smells of nature to study life. The focus on the philosophies of experiential education lead to study at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, VT. He learned how to design, lead, facilitate international exchange and travel programs and landed an internship at the Putney School teaching ESL science and English and working the the International Education office.

      For the last decade or so, he lived in Brooklyn where he taught Biology and Earth Science at both the middle school and high school levels in the NYC public schools. With his budding interest in food and gardening, he summer interned at the largest rooftop farm in New York City, and most recently, installed and maintained multiple live green roofs in both NY and NJ.

      This year the focus is on environmental science. What better way to get reaquainted with his home than lead students inside and outside the classroom to study, explore, and experiment on the interconnectivity of our environment and how we interact with our one Earth.

      “Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.” ~ Paulo Freiri

    • Lana Leonard
      Toddler Teaching Assistant

      Lana Leonard

      Toddler Teaching Assistant

      Having years of experience with children of all age groups comes Lana Leonard, our toddler room teacher’s associate.  22-year-old, Brooklyn native, Lana started working with children as a camp counselor in 2009, Lana has had years of experience working with Ocean Township school district. Taking a position at Ocean Township’s aftercare program, serving all of the district’s elementary schools, gave Lana an expansive relationship and impact with her community’s youth ranging grades K-4.

      Additionally, while completing her associates in journalism at Brookdale Community College, Lana began working with an education initiative program called The Innovation Network (TIN). This program is designed to bring student-led, project-based learning into college classrooms while connecting to global issues at large. Lana was a co-project leader for this trailblazing venture and had the opportunity to co-profess a college classroom for which students had to meet the guidelines set out by Lana and the designated classroom professor.

      While in these leadership positions, focusing on education and journalism, Lana has and continues to advocate for inclusive education. Since 2014 Lana has spearheaded activist work with GLSEN Central New Jersey an education network for LGBTQ+ youth, parents, educators, and allies. In this organization, Lana has helped widen LGBTQ+ education policies through forums, workshops, writing, journalism, and her media outlet. Having the privilege to talk to people and students of all ages about their lives, rights, and policies in their education, Lana has exuded the mission to ensure that no child leaves a room without respect, love, and empathy.

      Through creativity and a passion for life, Lana gives her Voyagers’ toddlers the best of her. She only hopes that they leave the day having as much fun as possible, learning incredible things while feeling loved and cared for.

      Presently, Lana is working on completing her degree in journalism, while freelancing for businesses and magazines, composing a mini-documentary for a touring punk band, a poetry manuscript, amongst growing her media outlet. A busy human she is, but through and through Lana’s life is given to the dream of being free to explore the world, while living ever-present for people of all walks.


    • The Board of Directors

      The Board of Directors

      Susan Berke, President

      Cynthia Guariglia, Vice President

      Cindy Knab, Treasurer

      Karen Giuffre’, Secretary

      Christine Jaffe, Community Liaison

      Ellen Karcher, Development Liaison

      Jessica Gajano, Education Liaison

      Diane Rappoport, Operations Liaison

      Micki Stott, Individualized Services Liaison