Management

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Mindy Guss - School Director

I was born and raised in Mexico, where I attended a bilingual international school. I completed my undergraduate degree in elementary/early childhood education at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania and my master’s degree in Bilingual Special Education at Bank Street College in New York City. In my 17 year career I have taught elementary school in both NY and Mexico, including the International School in Monterey and the Child family Center at Rockefeller University. I joined Pusteblume as Preschool Director when the school opened its doors in 2012. As Director, I have collaborated on the development of the school curriculum and created our Spanish program. I enjoy working with all of the Pusteblume families, children and teachers and also make time to explore the city with my two girls and to escape to the ceramics studio.


Teachers

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Maria Fernanda Ruiz

Maria is originally from Ecuador. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the Universidad Laica Vincente Rocafuerte of Guayaquil in 2004. Maria brings 12 years of classroom experience at the preschool and elementary levels as well as several years as an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at Universidad Peninsula de Santa Elena (UPSE). She has also done extensive volunteer and community work with lower income families to promote proper care and enhance child welfare. Maria is currently preparing to defend her Master’s thesis in Early Childhood Education Educational Unit Design and Evaluation at Universidad Tecnica Empresarial de Guayaquil.

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Cristina Grisanti

Cristina graduated from the University Osnabrück, where she focused on Early Childhood and General Education and Special Needs Education. She is also a Certified Preschool teacher (‘Erzieherin’) from Dortmund and has eight years of experience teaching children and youth. To nurture children’s independence and confidence, Cristina finds it crucial to provide a warm, trusting and also fun and loving environment. She supports the individual strengths, needs and creativity of each of her students and she strongly advocates social learning. Cristina came to New York City in 2016 and lives in Queens with her husband and her little son. She enjoys spending time with her family, being outside and exploring the many exciting activities that NY has to offer.

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Tina Hernaiz

I am originally from Hamburg, Germany and have worked in NYC as a fashion and graphic designer for the past 15 years. After the birth of my son Leo in 2013 I felt the growing wish to work with children.  I have since organized and supervised craft projects in Leo’s daycare as well as craft tables at CPE2’s annual fall fair. I am very excited to work as an assistant teacher at Pusteblume this year. I love to craft and paint with children and I am passionate about healthy natural foods, lots of outside time and movement, books and language. I consider myself to be warm, nurturing, respectful and sincere. Most of all I really love spending time with children and creating a safe space for their endless curiosity. 

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Mehrnosch Mirzaei-Reyes

I have a Bachelor's Degree in Business Psychology and worked in advertising and project management for three years before becoming a teacher of the German language to different age groups. When I’m not at Pusteblume, you can find me teaching German classes at the Goethe Institute or following my second passion: bellydancing. I have a 2-year-old child and appreciate every minute I get to spend with my family. We are enthusiastic hikers in New York State’s beautiful parks. I love working with children because they inspire my creativity and show me a different perspective of the world. I can learn as much from them as they can learn from me. 

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Mariya Samoylova

Maria was born in Azerbaijan and grew up in Germany, where she finished her Abitur and attended the University of Bielefeld. There she studied German as a foreign language and Educational Science. Mariya speaks five languages and loves traveling. 

 

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Sylke Simons

I have been at Pusteblume since 2013. Born and raised in Berlin, Germany, I came to the US in 2005 and lived in Cambridge, MA for seven years before relocating to NYC. I have a German degree in Special Education, German Literature and Linguistics and a Masters in Psychology. I am also a Registered Nurse and have worked in multiple health care settings. After work, I love spending time with my husband, our two children Mathilda (9 years) and Carl (5 years), and KC, the cat. I feel very fortunate to be able to work with young children and to get to know their families. 

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Nina Stocker

I was born and raised in Solothurn, Switzerland. After I had finished my MBA at the University of Bern, I moved to New York to work in marketing. I have been a dancer since I was 12 years old. When I was accepted to a dance program at Broadway Dance Center in 2013, I left marketing to focus on my first love: dance. I also started working as a nanny and discovered how much I enjoy working with children. Before starting as a preschool teacher at Pusteblume, I worked as a nanny for several families and taught children of all ages. I am currently working on a second master’s degree in Early Childhood Education.

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Azra Torres

I am originally from Germany and moved to the United States in 2016. I now live in Brooklyn. My experience with children includes two years working as an Au Pair in the United States where I improved my English skills and experienced new cultures. I have also worked in Germany, Switzerland and the Dominican Republic. In my free time I enjoy being outdoors, reading and traveling. I have been a certified teacher since 2013 and I look forward to working with you and your children.

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Lourdes Vargas

I was born in Puerto Rico and migrated to the United States at the age of five. My parents believed that being bilingual is an advantage and a privilege and spoke to me in Spanish at home. My interest in the education field began when I started working at a local Head Start while raising my three children. I decided to obtain a BA in Behavioral Science in 2005 and then started teaching Spanish to non-Spanish speaking children at an immersion preschool. I returned to school and obtained an MS in School Counseling with a bilingual extension in 2013 followed by another MS in ECE-Birth-to 2nd grade, for which I am currently getting certified. I am also pursuing an Advanced Certificate in Play Therapy.

My passion is to help children become confident individuals, lifelong learners and globally-minded citizens. I embrace creative play, exploration and experimentation in a non-restrictive manner. In the classroom, I encourage free expression in a nurturing, caring and inviting environment.