Nancy Drescher has been the Director of The Family Annex for over 12 years. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Queens College and a Master's Degree from Hunter. She then went on to earn her PD from Hunter in Supervision and Administration. Nancy was employed for many years as a teacher, staff developer, early childhood specialist, assistant principal and principal. She is a native New Yorker and enjoys spending time with her two grandchildren, Asher and Ruby, visiting museums, reading and traveling with her husband. Nancy is thrilled to be a part of The Family Annex community.
Lauren Finestein from the Nursery Team
Elena Garcia from the Pre-K Team
Elena Garcia grew up in a small beach community in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies and a minor in Psychology. During her college career Elena discovered she was very passionate about early childhood development and fostered her learning by studying abroad in Denmark and becoming involved in research studies. She is currently working towards her Master’s Degree at Brooklyn College for Early Childhood Education. Elena enjoys traveling, trying new cuisines, cooking, painting, and playing with her husky, Zorro!
Lindey Schmechel was born and raised in Kansas. She graduated from Oklahoma City University with a degree in Mass Communications and a minor in Psychology and Theatre. While finishing her degree, she spent two summers teaching at a literacy camp for children from low-income neighborhoods. Following college, Lindey worked at her local PBS station and realized her passion for working with children could turn into a career. It was then that she returned to school to receive her post-baccalaureate in Early Childhood and Family Studies through the University of Washington. Lindey enjoys music, reading, drawing, and exploring the city. Whenever she is able, she loves going to musicals!
Maria Luisa Criollo (Lu) was born in Machala, Ecuador; however, her family moved to Quito (Ecuador) when she was 3. She studied piano for 10 years in a conservatory and got her Pre-College degree in music. In 2008, she came to New York to pursue her BA in Vocal Performance at Manhattanville College (Purchase, NY), and graduated in 2012. She worked as the Music Director of an after school program in Tarrytown, NY, and that made her realized how passionate she was about teaching kids. She's now on the last year of her Master's degree in Music Education and has turned her entire attention to early childhood and how children's interests can be explored through music and art from the very beginning. She has been part of different summer camps and children's programs since 2011, in order to bring the music component to the classroom. In addition to this, she is a singer/songwriter and constantly performs in her home country. She loves to read, travel, and spend time with her family!
Lauren Finestein was born and raised in New Jersey. Lauren graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with a B.S. in Speech Pathology & Audiology and a minor in Family Studies. Lauren then returned to the east coast where she attended Teachers College, receiving her M.A. in Early Childhood Education & Early Childhood Special Education.
When she is not at school, Lauren enjoys doing yoga, cooking, and spending time with her family in NJ and MA.
Nicole Fox was born and raised in San Francisco. She completed her undergraduate degree in History and Art History at Rosemont College in Pennsylvania. After university, she spent several years in Seoul, South Korea where she taught English. During this time she began teaching at a preschool and quickly discovered that she loved working with young children. After returning to San Francisco, she started taking child development courses and teaching at an arts-based after school program. Nicole moved to New York last year to work on her Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education at Teachers College, Columbia. She has fallen deep in love with the city and loves exploring and learning about her new home. When she's not teaching or in class, Nicole enjoys knitting, bicycling, and cheering for her beloved San Francisco Giants.
Suzanne Pant is a true New Yorker, born and raised in Queens, NY. After twelve years in the hotel business, she decided it was time for a career change and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Cross-Cultural Literature at Hunter College. While finishing her degree, she volunteered at a program that helped children with physical and mental disabilities to swim and play sports. Suzanne quickly realized her new path and returned to Hunter and obtained her Master’s Degree in Childhood Special Education. For the past nine years she has been a special needs pre-school teacher working one-to-one with children in classrooms at various pre-schools including The Family Annex. Now Suzanne is excited to begin her work co-teaching in the Nursery classroom!
In addition to working with children, Suzanne enjoys spending time with her family, baking, running, and watching baseball. “Let’s Go Mets!”
Frances Hegarty is from tropical Brisbane, Australia. After completing a Masters of Teaching (Early Years) from the University of Melbourne, Frances decided to pursue teaching abroad. She taught preschool in Reggio Emilia inspired international schools in Hanoi, Vietnam and Bangkok, Thailand. She moved to New York three years ago and was teaching at a Scandinavian School before joining Family Annex.
The Reggio Emilia philosophy drives her practice and she continually strives to be a great teacher-researcher through ongoing critical reflection. She is committed to learning, growing and investigating the best way to approach early childhood education.
Outside of school, Frances loves all things food related and will go exploring new neighborhoods in search of great food. She loves to travel, read, watch films, see music and comedy and is always excited to discover all that New York has to offer.
Gisele Bouchard’s journey as an educator began over thirty years ago when she became a mother for the second time. “Home Day Care” was a great opportunity to combine motherhood and provide a service much needed in her community. Twelve years later, she discovered the Family Annex and has stayed for more than twenty years. She is a graduate of Mayer Fashion Designing Institute and has attended numerous classes and workshops in early childhood education at various colleges. Her primary language is French, having been born in Montreal, Canada. She truly enjoys what she is doing and still enjoys learning new methods to enrich children’s love for knowledge. Gisele’s favorite pastimes are going to live performances, listening to jazz, and finding new restaurants in the city.
Gisele is also grandmother to twin girls, Mecca and Malaysia.
Rebecca "Becky" Dollard is a city girl but a southern bell at heart. Born and raised in The Bronx, NY, Becky has and continues to frequently enjoy traveling to her parent's hometown of Hemingway, South Carolina to visit family. Her teaching career began with pre-schoolers in 2013, and she very recently graduated with her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education from The City College of New York. When Becky is not having fun exploring with the toddlers at The Family Annex she works on the administrative team for Harlem Children's Zone's Three Year Old Journey program. In the near future Becky will work towards obtaining her Masters Degree from Teachers College!