Our staff is carefully selected for their sensitivity to the individual needs of the children. Their role in the classroom is to create an environment that is challenging and invites active exploration and interaction. The teachers are all thoroughly and appropriately trained and certified in their particular fields and bring a wealth of personal backgrounds and experiences to the classroom. They are a highly diversified group with one common goal – the education of your children.

Headshot - Rita Epstein, owner

Owner

Rita Epstein

Rita began teaching in the public school system in the late 1960s. She was a lead teacher in a school where no student was older than 8 years old, taught multi-graded classes, classes of over 25 students, and inner-city groups. She has taught all grades from early intervention pre-kindergarten through remedial seventh grade English, as well as some High School courses. She has taught academically gifted classes in addition to classes with a variety of ability levels as well as guest lectured in local college classrooms. Her post graduate work is in Administration, Business, and Gifted Education. She was part of a consortium in the mid 1980’s formed to create gifted programming in the U.S. Virgin Islands where she lived and taught for a number of years. She had traveled to the islands on her sailboat, on a journey that took 15 days and nights through the Atlantic Ocean and heavy storms. While there she became a licensed charter boat captain, lived on her sailboat, “The Dulcinea,” and was active in 4-H Sailing Programs. She was a district coordinator for Gifted Education on Long Island, has been a consultant over the years to establish gifted programming in schools, and was the District Coordinator in Newburgh for Academically Gifted Students. She has studied Infant and Toddler education and has been trained in Preschool education and development. She has and continues to be involved with special education and has served as an advocate in the system for over 50 years. She was involved in mainstreaming and inclusion in the early 1970’s before it was fashionable. She served as the private school representative on the Newburgh Teachers’ Center Policy Board and is presently the site director for the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program at Windsor Academy. Rita is a member of MENSA, a graduate of Leadership Orange, is included in “Who’s Who of American Educators”, was on the Board of Directors for Zylofone – a performing arts center for disabled children and adults, has been active as a community member on various committees for the New York State Department of Health in Albany, and is the proud mother of a son, Nathan Rosenblum who is a journalist and who has his PhD in Philosophy. When not working, Rita is involved in long distance road biking, playing the cello and has begun watercolor painting. Rita loves to travel and has recently spent time in Italy, Greece and her beloved Caribbean. She began the elementary school program at Windsor Academy in 1996, became a partner in 1998. In 2003, she became the sole owner and director. Recently, she has appointed a new director but remains active on site as the owner of the business and building. Rita’s goal is to create an environment that celebrates and respects every child’s needs and abilities and helps foster a sense of joy and pride and self-confidence for all of the students at Windsor Academy.

Headshot - Jennifer Hawkes, Director

Director

Jennifer Hawkes

Jenn Hawkes has been working with children for the past 15 years and has been Assistant Director at Windsor Academy since 2013. She has a Psychology degree from Columbia University and an English degree and teaching certification from SUNY New Paltz. After teaching in public school, Jenn found that her true passion was with Pre-Kindergarten aged children, which is what she taught in her tenure at Windsor Academy and before returning to be Assistant Director. Personally, she has a wonderful husband, stepdaughter, and daughter who delight her days at home, and she is an avid traveler and reader as well. Being a part of the Windsor Academy family has become one of her greatest decisions, and she regards the staff and families here as truly the best around.

Infants and Toddlers

Headshot - Rachel Montanara, Infants and ToddlersRachel has worked in the Child Care field for 8 years. She has her associate degree in early childhood education. In her free time, she enjoys making memories with her two young children and going on hikes.

Headshot - Laura Shear, Infants and ToddlersAfter graduating from Denison University, Laura Shear came to New York and has worked in several Child Care facilities, from small to large, as Full-time substitute, Assistant Teacher, Lead Teacher, and Director. During her 30+ years in this field, she has specialized in Toddlers and Two-year olds. At this stage in her life, she is looking forward to concentrating on a toddler classroom and believes in singing with children as often and as joyfully as possible. Her hobbies include camping and historical re-enactment.

Headshot - Vanpen Smith, Infants and ToddlersPen comes to Windsor Academy with over twenty years’ experience in childcare. Her love for the children and genuine pride in their accomplishments helps create a warm and happy environment in the Infant room. She enjoys drawing and arts and crafts. Originally from Thailand, Pen lives in Washingtonville with her husband and daughter.

Headshot - Katie Stanton, Infants and ToddlersKatie Stanton grew up in a family of educators and always knew that she wanted to teach. She worked in the early childhood field for a total of 6 years, was a substitute teacher and then moved on to teach fourth grade in the Bronx for two years and is very excited to now be part of the infant-toddler center. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Education and her Masters in Literacy Education at SUNY New Paltz.

Katie believes that each child is unique, learns differently and should have the opportunity to be creative and imaginative while learning. She strives to create authentic, hands on learning experiences that are appropriate for all types of learners.

In her free time, Katie enjoys reading, the outdoors, and spending time with her family and friends. She is especially enjoying being a mom to her two sons.

Preschool

Headshot - Antoinette Campbell, Preschool TeacherAntoinette is a mother of 3 who enjoys working with children. She is originally from Jamaica where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education. She feels that sharing in the development and growth of a child is an absolute privilege. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and spending time with family and friends.

Headshot - Brianna Jaycox, Preschool Teacher

Brianna has been working in the childcare field for over 7 years, with children from infancy through preschool. She loves working with children and partnering with them through their developmental journey. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her 2 sons, her family, reading, and cooking.

Headshot - Ariel LaRosa, Preschool Teacher

Ariel started teaching at Windsor Academy in 2016. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communicative Disorders from University of Rhode Island. She is completing her Master’s in Education at Mount Saint Mary.

She enjoys creating a learning environment that stimulates children’s learning abilities. She loves working with the preschool class and believe this is an important year to develop independence and a love for education.

Headshot - Janissa McKoy, Preschool Teacher

Janissa has been a part of the Windsor Academy family since she was 2 years old. She volunteered for many years until she was old enough to get her working papers and has since been a dedicated teacher’s aide. She is a recent high school graduate and is going to continue her education by taking online college courses while working. She is looking forward to a great school year with your child.

Headshot - Suela Merdini, Preschool TeacherSuela moved to the United States in 2015 from Albania where she received a Master’s degree. She enjoys working with children and watching them learn and grow! In her spare time, she likes spending time with family.

Headshot - Michelle Ortiz, Preschool TeacherMichelle has been involved with childcare and education for almost fifteen years. She graduated from Rockland Community College with an Associate Degree and continues her training and education through the Orange County Childcare Council and the New York State Department of Office and Children and Family Services. In her free time Michelle enjoys reading and spending time with her family. Her sensitivity towards all children with their diverse needs and abilities helps create a classroom environment that is filled with love, respect and joy.

Pre-Kindergarten

Headshot - Miya Bisagna, Pre-Kindergarten TeacherMiya Bisagna has been working with children for over 15 years and has taught a variety of age groups. She attended Mount Saint Mary College, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. She has her permanent New York State certification in Elementary Education, grades Pre-K through 6. Miya enjoys spending time with family and friends, Broadway, arts and crafts and crocheting. Miya loves teaching Pre-K and strives to create a safe, nurturing and stimulating classroom environment.

Headshot - Shima Bisagna, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

Shima Bisagna began working at Windsor Academy in 2007. She has over 15 years’ experience working with children of all age groups. Shima received her Bachelor’s Degree in English and Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Mount Saint Mary College. She is New York State certified in Elementary Education, Pre-K through 6th grade. It is Shima’s goal to create a classroom environment that is safe, nurturing, fun and exciting, where the possibilities are endless! In her spare time, Shima enjoys reading, baking, Broadway shows and crocheting. She also enjoys spending time with her friends and family.  Shima is looking forward to another wonderful and productive year of learning!

Headshot - Joy Griffin, Pre-Kindergarten TeacherJoy Griffin a certified teaching assistant with over 3 years experience, who loves to work with children of all ages.  She is pursuing a bachelor degree in Biology and Education. In her spare time she loves to read, cook, and travel.  

Headshot - Karen Powles, Pre-Kindergarten TeacherKaren was the original co-owner and founder of Windsor Academy in the early 1990s. She has 30 years of teaching experience including working in the Bishop Dunn pre-kindergarten program as well as with exceptional learners in the preschool program at Abilities First. She’s been married for 36 years, has two children, one grandson, and lives in New Windsor.

Headshot - Ashanti Thompson, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

Ashanti Thompson is entering her third year at Windsor Academy. She recently moved to the area after teaching in the Bronx for four years. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in African American Studies and a minor in English with a concentration in Literature from Lehman College. She is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education B-2 at Hunter College. Ashanti is the mother to two young children, a daughter and a son. She enjoys reading, spending time with her family, and going to museums. Ashanti also teaches young children at her church and works closely with the youth group.

In the classroom, Ashanti combines fun with structure. She pushes students to explore and develop new skills, but is always ready to catch them if they fall. Teaching is her passion and that same passion is poured into her students.

Kindergarten

Headshot - Ann Giraudin, Kindergarten TeacherAnn believes that it is truly a privilege to spend her day helping children learn and grow. She has over twenty years experience as a Teaching Assistant in grade levels Kindergarten through fifth grade. Although she enjoys assisting in all academic subjects, teaching reading is her true passion. She is a fully trained in Orton Gillingham reading instruction. She has two daughters and two grandchildren and enjoys reading, gardening, baking and camping.

Distance Learning Instructors

Headshot - Amanda Barnett, Distance Learning Instructor

Amanda is incredibly excited to be a part of the Windsor Academy family! She is currently attending Mount Saint Mary College pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Her goal is to further her education with a concentration in Developmental and Child Psychology. In her spare time, she enjoys music, reading, writing, and spending time with her family and friends. She is committed to providing a safe, nurturing, and happy environment for all children.

Headshot - Eileen Mooney, Distance Learning InstructorEileen has a bachelor’s degree in history and childhood education certification, and a master’s degree in special education. She has worked in classrooms for the past 10 years with many different age groups. Teaching is something that has been in her heart since she was a young child, playing school with friends and always being the helping hand to her teachers throughout school. She believes that a classroom should be an incredibly positive learning environment for the students where they feel respected, supported, and comfortable to engage in the learning taking place. Outside of the classroom she loves spending time outside taking walks, playing sports and riding bikes with her family.

Headshot - Krissy Papula, Distance Learning InstructorKrissy has been working in childcare for over 20 years. She loves working with the children at Windsor Academy. She is working on completing her Bachelor’s Degree. She has two children of her own and has lived in Washingtonville for over 20 years. She’s looking forward to continue working at Windsor Academy for many years to come.

Headshot - Tierra Roberts, Distance Learning InstructorTierra Roberts is a certified Teacher’s Assistant. She graduated from Russell Sage College with her Bachelor’s Degree and is planning on obtaining her masters in teaching. In past years she has worked in the mental health field and residential homes, as well as having worked in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District for a few years as a substitute, Tierra has also worked in a preschool special education program as a TA. She always enjoys helping others and has always tried to be a positive light to everyone she meets.

When not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, watching superhero or Disney movies, drawing/sketching, doing puzzles, and trying new foods.

Teaching Assistants

Headshot - Tara Palumbo, Teaching assistantWith over 20 years of childcare experience, Tara’s love for the education field grows continuously. She studied Psychology and Childhood Education in college, further developing her passion for children and their educational and emotional growth. As a mother, providing a loving and nurturing environment is always her top priority.

Special Subjects

The Dance & Music Design School partners with Windsor Academy to provide your child with quality dance classes during their regularly scheduled day. At Dance & Music Design School we teach how your child wants to learn. Your child will learn to dance with a teaching style made for today’s generation of children. The basic foundation of ballet and dance work is taught using kid friendly imagery and story lines. Music recognition is taught as well as basic body placement. At Dance & Music Design School our teachers understand the need for this age group to move. Most of the exercises have dance steps that encourage movement, as opposed to traditional dance classes that demand standing at the barre or in lines for extended periods of time. While our classes are imaginative and creative, each exercise will lay the foundation for more complex dance training in years to come. Windsor Academy dancers will be invited to join our Cornwall studio’s Year End Show.

Master Angel Hong is the 2nd generation of Hong’s Martial Arts in New Windsor, N.Y. With her family’s experience in teaching the traditional martial arts of Tang Soo Do for 45+ years, Master Hong has been training since 4 years of age.

During Master Hong’s studies as a Business Administration major, she found her true calling teaching young children, youth and teens. She wanted to pass on the art of Tang Soo Do and all its greatness in empowering oneself to the next generation.

She recently moved back from NYC and began her goal as a business partner with her father – Grandmaster InKee Hong. Since her arrival, she has expanded the school and has built a Pre-K program.

Master Angel Hong promised herself to help children gain the discipline, confidence and self-esteem that this current generation needs. She wants to stop the “I Can’t” and turn it into a “Yes, I Can!” attitude.

Charleen is “The Mama” of Happy Buddha. Charleen has a deep spiritual practice that deeply informs her teaching style. Happy Buddha’s, “Mama Char” has been practicing yoga and meditation in many forms for well over a decade. After surviving a medical emergency in 2009, she realized that it was yoga that saved and helped her to heal. Since then, she has become even more devoted to her practice and to sharing her knowledge, love and devotion with the yoga community.

She completed her 200-hour Teacher Training Program at Happy Buddha. She is the Director and Lead Instructor of Happy Buddha’s renowned Teacher Training program which is recognized by the Yoga Alliance. In addition, she has completed Advanced Therapy, Pranayama, and Restorative Yoga with Rodney Yee in 2018. She has completed her Advanced Rasa Restorative Teacher Training Program with Jamie Lyn Skolnik from Laughing Lotus. Charleen is also a certified Yin Yoga Instructor. She has also completed her Kids Yoga Teacher Training with Liz Torres and continues with her studies with amazing teachers like Dana Flynn, Mary Dana Abbott, Cyndi Lee, Joshua Greene and many others. Charleen is also a Level Three Reiki Master and a certified Thai Bodywork practitioner. As the mother of three, and now the grandmother of one, she understands the constant fluctuations of modern life and incorporates a strong yoga practice in an effort to maintain, balance, strength, serenity, and humor. Students can expect a fun, energetic, and nurturing class. Charleen also has a strong energy connection with her students that has allowed her to work with those unable to attend classes in the studio due to health issues. Her healing touch has helped dozens find the peace and ease through yoga, that otherwise would not have been able to do so.

As a father of four, Ray is a natural with children. He develops age appropriate lessons to maximize every child’s experience. Ray is USA Gymnastics Certified. “I have truly found my passion. It is so rewarding pulling up to the daycares and hearing ‘X-Ray is here!’ I feel like a rock star!”

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Admissions

We invite families interested in Windsor Academy to contact us. You may call, fax, use our web site, write, or simply stop by for a visit. Although we are able to make appointments for a tour, our policy does not require that you do so.