MEET OUR STAFF
Our teaching team is very excited to begin the 2023-2024 school year. Partnered with you, we will work diligently to foster learning, growth, creativity, curiosity and resilience in your child. We will seek to discover and nurture each child's unique qualities.
Karen Nisenson, Director and Pre-K Teacher
Karen has been a dedicated teacher at Pilgrim Preschool since 2008. One of Karen’s greatest pleasures is fostering the joy of learning and love of nature in young children. Watching children find their creative and independent voice is a special privilege. Karen has a BFA from Hartford Art School and has worked as a graphic designer in publishing and advertising in NYC.
After raising her family, Karen returned to the classroom to become certified by the State of New Jersey to teach both General Education and Special Education. Karen also holds an Orton-Gillingham Therapist credential which she uses both in the classroom and in her private practice. The Nisenson family has called Glen Ridge home since 1988.
Tyra Brown holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Manhattan School of Music in Viola Performance and certificates in Yoga Instruction, and floral design from the New York Botanical Garden. A twenty-two-year resident of Glen Ridge, Tyra and her family have been very active in the Glen Ridge Congregational Church and Boy Scouts of America Organization in Glen Ridge. Tyra’s years as Business Administrator of Skyland Camp for Girls in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina honed the organizational skills she will bring to Pilgrim Preschool as our new Building Administrator. “All three of our children are graduates of Pilgrim Preschool, and I look forward to sharing the Pilgrim spirit with a new generation of children and their families.”
Anna Doyle has lived in Glen Ridge since 2014. She received her BA in Psychology from Framingham State University and held various communications positions of increasing responsibility in several pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Both of her daughters are graduates of Pilgrim, where she watched them build the foundations for their social and academic futures. “I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of the Pilgrim community and look forward to helping your children uncover exciting new challenges and opportunities!”
A Glen Ridge resident since 2007, Angie and her husband Josh have two children- both Pilgrim alumni. Angie studied early childhood development and worked as a caretaker for four children while earning her BA in Communication Studies from the University of Iowa. She spent her career in management and the maritime insurance industry.
Angie has done a lot of volunteer work in the GR school system and is also a former member of the Pilgrim Board. She is very excited to be joining the Pilgrim family.
Ingrid Kozlowski lives in Glen Ridge, and is a proud parent of two Pilgrim graduates. She is a certified English and elementary teacher and spent 12+ years tutoring and teaching in public middle and high schools prior to becoming a parent. While her kids were young, she was an active school and community volunteer in Glen Ridge (Women's Cub, HSA, GRMPA, Piranhas swim team, robotics team coach). After substitute teaching at Pilgrim and local GR schools, she realized how much she missed teaching and took a position at Linden Avenue School as a special education and classroom aide, followed by being hired by Pilgrim Preschool in early 2018. She loves teaching preschool, and being at Pilgrim feels like coming home. Working with these young people constantly inspires her!
Since moving to Glen Ridge in 2017, Nadia Melichar was an active Pilgrim Parent for her two children. Then, she become an involved parent at Linden Avenue School, volunteering as a class parent, organizing events, and leading a Girl Scout troop. Young children's positive energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity inspire her interest in early childhood education.
Before teaching at Pilgrim, Nadia worked as a finance professional. She holds an M.B.A. from New York University Stern School of Management and graduated from Boston University with a dual degree in Economics and Management.
Nadia will be the lead teacher in the extended day Threes class.
Renee Nichols has called Glen Ridge home since 2002. She graduated from Villanova University, and her former work experience was in finance. She has volunteered in Glen Ridge classrooms and assisted in coaching soccer and field hockey. Her three children are Pilgrim alumni. "I am very excited to be an aide and foster early learning for the 3-year-olds and Pre-K.
Colleen O’Keefe grew up in Glen Ridge and attended Seton Hall University. Colleen has previously been an aide at Pilgrim with the 2.5 year olds and the 3 years olds. Colleen's family re-located temporarily to the Atlanta area but they missed Glen Ridge too much and have returned. Colleen has 3 daughters that keep her busy! She is happy to be back at Pilgrim and looks forward to spending time with the 3 year olds again.
A Glen Ridge resident since 2005, Gabby lives with her husband Ted and their four children. Gabby is a regular volunteer at Toni's Kitchen, a Girl Scout leader, an Advisor with the Girl's Club of Glen Ridge, and a substitute teacher in the GR school district. After earning a BA from Fordham University and a MA from NYU, Gabby spent several years as an advertising sales manager in numerous computer publications. The former Publisher/Editor and Founder of Parent Times and Toddler Times Publications, Gabby currently hosts THEGABTALKS podcast. "I love teaching! I am excited to be an aide in the PreK class and help the children grow creatively and foster their love of learning. " In her free time, Gabby loves to do yoga, travel, read, listen to Elvis, and Bruce, watch movies and spend as much time as possible with her kids, who will all be flying the coop way too soon!
Diane Schaming moved to Glen Ridge in 2016 with her two kids (who went to Pilgrim) and husband Bill. She has degrees in Music Education from Syracuse University and Voice Performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. She was a public school elementary music teacher in Baltimore County before moving to New Jersey. Ms. Schaming has studied and performed in Italy, Austria, Ghana, and China, and loves sharing all kinds of music with kids. She is the alto soloist at Glen Ridge Congregational Church and Temple Emanu-El in Westfield.
Julia Singh has always had a passion for working with children. Julia graduated from Arts High as an art major and, while in college, worked as a nanny and tutored young children. She worked at Parkside Montessori in Montclair for six years, teaching young children ages 2 1/2 to 6. She is committed to encouraging each child to grow and develop at their own pace and find their independence while developing social skills they will carry through life. She is very excited to teach in the twos class at Pilgrim Preschool!
Maureen Slomienski, a Glen Ridge resident, is the mother of two sons and the grandmother of five children. Maureen, having retired from her position as an elementary teacher of 36 years, joined Pilgrim Preschool as our music teacher. In 2021 she became one of our Pre-K teachers. Maureen believes that the boost from a quality preschool experience sets children up for success in elementary school. “I’m thrilled to be a part of the Pilgrim team!”
Nilay Uzun, a resident of Glen Ridge since 2016 and a graduate from Anadolu University in Istanbul, Turkey, brings a finance and banking background from her past experience. Her journey in the United States began with raising her two nephews, sparking a profound passion for working with young children and fostering their growth. During her free time, Nilay enjoys long hikes, practices yoga, and explores new destinations through her travels. She is looking forward to joining the Pilgrim Preschool family and working with the amazing teachers and children.
PILGRIM BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Carol Harpster, President
Marsha Watson, Vice-President
Lorraine Brown, Treasurer
Members at Large:
Karen Nisenson, Director and Pre-K Teacher
Paula Ely - Women's Association
Stephanie Haller - Parent Representative
Ingrid Kozlowski - Teacher Representative
Nina Kundra Shah - Parent Representative
Rev. Jeff Mansfield (Pastor Jeff) - GRCC Senior Minister
Cliona Stack - Parent Representative