Loyan Beausoleil, Director and Head Teacher
Loyan Beausoleil is the school’s director and head teacher of the Orange Room. She has been with UPNS since 1999. Loyan holds a BFA from the University of Oregon and an M.S.Ed. from Bank Street College of Education. Loyan also holds the New York State Children’s Program Administrator credential. She has published on children and trauma, play and separation anxiety with the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Concerned Educators Allied for a Safe Environment and Bank Street College of Education. She also has a strong background in art, having worked as an art teacher, a studio artist and in the theater and fashion industries.
Following September 11, 2001, Loyan began documenting and studying the effects of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on young children who experienced them first-hand, a project called The Youngest Witnesses. She presented this work at Wheelock College in Boston, the National Association for the Education of Young Children conference in New York City and Chicago, the Playing for Keeps conference at Yale University, the Kentucky State conference on Early Childhood Education and at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville. Segments about this work have been featured on NY1, Good Morning America, and the CBS Early Show. A chapter by Loyan on the project is included in the award-winning book Forever After: New York City Teachers on 9/11, a compilation of teachers’ experiences of 9/11, published by Teachers College Press in 2006. She is co-author of the book Games That Sing: 25 Activities to Keep Children on Their Toes, published by Heritage Music Press, 2011. Games That Sing focuses on using movement, music, and games as transitions in the early childhood classroom. Recently Loyan has been focused on science and nature education for young children. She presented a early childhood science curriculum at the 2017 national conference of the National Association for the Education of Young children, and was recently selected to sit on the Teachers Advisory Board of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Edna Gonzalez, Assistant Director and Assistant Teacher
Edna celebrated her 25th anniversary as a teacher at UPNS in 2014. She has been the assistant director of the school since 2004 and is the assistant teacher of the Green Room for four- and five-year-olds. Edna also runs the afterschool and summer camp programs. Many children have benefited from her dedication, experience, skills and knowledge. Edna helps to build a strong community in the classroom, where all the children’s cultures are valued, and she shares her own culture through integrating Spanish into her everyday teaching. Edna studied Early Childhood Education at Jersey City University and Medgar Evers College.
Ali Chenitz, Head Teacher
Ali has been the head teacher of the Yellow Room for three- and four-year-olds since joining UPNS in 2007. She has been teaching children ranging in age from birth to six at public and private schools, including general education, special education and inclusion classes. She graduated from Bank Street College of Education in 2007 with a dual degree and certification in Early Childhood Education and General and Special Education from birth to second grade. Ali plays street hockey (no roller blades) on the Lower East Side every Sunday (except in the coldest winter months). She also enjoys needlepoint, gardening and art activities.
Jorge Suren, Assistant Teacher
Jorge has been a friend to UPNS since 2005. He has worked for various early childhood programs in the same community. Jorge was raised in a large household. Being the oldest of four children helped him learn to be a nurturing leader. He also has a passion for dancing and movement. He has danced in various companies that specializes in New York style Salsa, Hip Hop Jazz and Stepping. Jorge has a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education and Educational Leadership.
Julio Ruiz III, Head Teacher
Julio joined UPNS in 2007 as the assistant teacher for the Yellow Room and became the head teacher of the Blue Room in 2009. Prior to that, he worked at a private school for eight years, where he was head teacher of the Kindergarten class. He obtained a BA in Sociology and Psychology from Fordham University in 2001 and recently completed an MA in Early Childhood Special Education at Hunter College. Julio recently moved to the Bronx after living in Long Island for 32 years. He enjoys the smaller things in life, such as walking through Central Park during the fall season, or reading a book on the beach with the crashing of waves in the background. He also likes rollerblading through the streets of Manhattan during rush hour, and dancing away at one of New York City’s clubs.
Natalie Siregar, Assistant Teacher
In 2015, Natalie joined the UPNS team as the Blue Room’s assistant teacher. Coincidentally, Natalie spent 3 years prior teaching in another “Blue Room” at a neighborhood nursery in the upper west side and has experience working with 2-5 year olds in an inclusion classroom setting. Natalie graduated from Hunter College in 2013 with a MS in Early Childhood Education. She lives a hop, skip and a jump from UPNS and is a native of the lower east side where she currently resides. Natalie loves well-crafted children’s books, a good cup of coffee, quiet times and ah-ha moments. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with loved ones, mentoring amazing teens from her church and exploring new places both near and far.
Layla Shaar, Administrative Director
Layla joined the UPNS staff in 2012 after spending many years as a UPNS parent and member of the board of trustees. She is the mother of two UPNS alumni who are now attending middle schools.