Staff

Sonja Neill-Turner

Founder and Executive Director


Sonja Neill-Turner is the founder and Executive Director of Brooklyn Sandbox overseeing the strategic direction of the school, admissions as well as school operations. Ms. Neill-Turner received a B.A. in Communications from the University of
Virginia. Her previous work experience entailed overseeing global education and leadership development for Sephora USA.

Sonja is a Park Slope parent and mom to Chase, a self-professed “mathamagician”. Her son’s limitless hours of play and discovery are the inspiration behind Brooklyn Sandbox.

An avid cyclist, you can find her on the rolling hills of the Hudson Valley or on the Prospect Park loop.

Lana Budd

Education Director


Lana Folk began her teaching career in 2006 as a substitute at a YAI preschool in Brooklyn as she worked to obtain a bachelor’s degree in childhood education from Hunter College. She was surprised to discover a love for early education and inspired by young children’s ability to problem solve, innovate, and collaborate. Continuing her education at Hunter College, she received a master’s degree in educational psychology. In 2009, she went on to teach at TriBeCa Community School: A Reggio Emilia inspired preschool in downtown Manhattan. There, she had the opportunity to share her classroom work and best practices at national conferences and with visiting educators from all over the country.

After nearly a decade of serving as a classroom teacher, Lana found an interest in supporting other educators in their practice and in 2015 made the leap into school administration as she assisted in launching two child care programs in Brooklyn. Lana’s background in educational research and social constructivist approaches to education now guide her work as Educational Director at Brooklyn Sandbox. With the belief that careful listening, relentless support, and reflective teaching can foster children’s sense of curiosity, activate their autonomy, and cultivate their understanding of the world around them, Lana strives to provide a research-based program that builds a partnership between school, parents, teachers and child.

When not collaborating with teachers or offering snuggles to the students in her care, you can find Lana running loops at Prospect Park, attending concerts and Nets games at Barclays Center, or dining at local restaurants near her home in Windsor Terrace.

Vanessa Lamoreaux

Art Educator


Vanessa Lamoreaux oversees our developmental art program. She graduated from Pratt Institute with a master’s degree in in Art Education and has extensive 18 years of experience as an art educator   holding positions in Renton, Seattle and NYC Public School Districts.  In addition to her work in the classroom, she has served as an neighborhood  Arts Commissioner where she curated gallery exhibitions and art festivals for Normandy Park.  Vanessa is a sculptor, painter and a lover of all things related to art. She spends her spare time creating art with her 9-year-old daughter, cooking at home with her husband and consulting schools on their art programing.  

TEACHERS


 

Orange Room (Two’s)

Alex Rivera-DeQuatro

(she/her)

2s Collaborative Teacher

Alex is excited to start her fourth year at Brooklyn Sandbox and her first year as Co Teacher in the 2’s classroom. Alex received an Associate’s Degree in Education Studies focusing on Early Childhood Education, and is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree at Brooklyn College in Early Childhood Education. Alex is passionate about working with children at this age because of their curiosity and excitement for trying new things! Last year, she led many cooking and baking projects, and continued a daily mediation program during our Morning Meetings. She
spear-headed the explorations in our Sensory Bin which led to many scientific conversations and inquiries
with our little ones! Before starting at Brooklyn Sandbox Alex was a caregiver for many years on the Upper East Side. Alex is a native New Yorker, growing up a stone’s throw away on 14th and 7th Avenue! She now resides with her partner in South Brooklyn with her three kitties Toby, Molly and Barry. Alex loves to spend time with her six nephews and two nieces.


Allison Bremner

(she/her)

2s Collaborative Teacher

Allison is super excited for another year in the Orange Room with the 2’s as Co Teacher! Allison received her Associate’s Degree from Teacher’s Training College in Georgetown, Guyana and has worked in the education field for almost 20 years! Allison is the proud mom to 4 amazing children, Xavier, Jarod, Jace and Riley. She is the resident go-to for any parenting question. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to smooth jazz with her husband.


 

Ruby Mendoza

(she/her)

2s Assistant Teacher

Ruby is the newest member to Brooklyn Sandbox, Orange Room team. She graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, with a minor in Youth Service and Therapeutic Recreation from Lehman College. While finishing her degree, she worked at Willow Nest Studio, where she grew to love working with children. She is thrilled to continue her work with children at Brooklyn Sandbox, and excited to implement new methods to help children reach their highest potential. Ruby loves to travel and try new things; her favorite country to visit thus far is Iceland. In her free time, she enjoys reading, going to concerts and taking her dog, Echo, on long walks.

 

Yellow Room (Four’s)

Kathleen Cann

(she/her)

4s Lead Teacher

Kathleen received her M.S.Ed. in Early Childhood Special and General Education from Bank Street College of Education. She has taught every age from 3’s through 2nd grade at schools including Brooklyn Friends School, Bank Street School for Children, and Hudson Lab School. She is so happy to have landed at Brooklyn Sandbox! She is particularly passionate about early literacy, preschool maker spaces, outdoor learning, and anti-bias curriculum. Kathleen is an avid hiker and enjoys time outside with her one-year-old, husband, and rescue dog.


Selina Ruiz

(she/her)

4s Assistant teacher

Selina moved to Brooklyn a year ago from Seattle and was born and raised in a small town called Walla Walla. She graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Family Studies. She attends Columbia University, Teacher’s College for her master’s degree in Elementary Inclusive Education. She has had many different experiences around children, such as being a special education assistant, an after-school teacher, a preschool teacher assistant for two-year-olds, and – her favorite position of all – a cool aunt! A few fun passions that Selina enjoys doing are photography, volleyball, and basketball, and she absolutely loves to
dance. If there is music, she will be dancing!


Shapri McKinney

(she/her)

4s Assistant and Afterschool teacher

Sharpri is a Brooklyn native and has been teaching in Brooklyn since 2014. Starting at the Brooklyn Music School as an arts and crafts teacher, she has gone on to teach subjects such as The History of Hip-Hop, Yoga, and various forms of visual art. She has taught and worked with groups of all ages between newborn and 14 years old. Shapri has a cat named Levi who is the apple of her eye. She enjoys making music in her spare time. She can’t wait to see what the school year has in store for us!

 

Green Room (Three’s)

Andrea DeJonge

(she/her)

3s Lead teacher

Andrea starts her 4th year as Lead Teacher of the 3s program at Brooklyn Sandbox. She has her Masters in both Early Childhood and Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education, and BFA in musical theatre from Central Michigan University. In her time at Sandbox, she has been consistently blown away by the capabilities and openness of children this age, and feels extremely lucky to learn and laugh with them daily. Each year is different because each class has their own interests and abilities and it’s always fun to see where the kids will take them! Andrea uses her passion for music and theatre in the classroom, breaking out her ukulele with the kids, and constantly making up silly songs/stories. She lives on the other side of Prospect Park in Kensington with her husband Brendan and their two cats, Chop and Scoop. They love hiking, biking to the beach, going to see live music, and cooking delicious meals together.


Alicia Winslow

(she/her)

3s Assistant teacher

Alicia has a BA in History and Communication, and graduated from Seattle Pacific University. She discovered her love of working with and growing alongside children while teaching at the Boys and Girls club, and hasn't looked back since! She has since been an Education Director for the Boys and Girls Club and a grade school substitute teacher. This is her third year at Brooklyn Sandbox and she is excited to work and learn with Andrea and the 3s. Alicia is passionate about creating a space for kids to experience and practice autonomy, strength and joy. Originally from Montana, she loves camping, hiking and enjoying all things outdoors in her free time, and during nature day at school! She also enjoys adventuring, learning from and laughing with her kindred souls – 3 year olds.


Kalina Condell

(she/her)

Afterschool Assistant Teacher

joins the afterschool team where her love of little people is evident in everything play. She is a fan favorite in the afternoons. She has worked as an assistant teacher in several area preschools while currently completing her BA in Early Childhood Education at Brooklyn College.

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