Empowering Young Minds
The staff at RNS is always patient and dedicated to both the children and parents. They do a wonderful job supporting the children and giving them a wonderful program
where they develop and grow.
Thank you to all the staff at RNS for caring each and everyday for our children. You have created a positive environment for our children to thrive and develop.We are sincerely grateful for all you do to ensure our children are safe, healthy and most importantly happy!
A traditionally planned curriculum, with Montessori influences includes:
- Academically focused hands-on projects
- Exposure to all types of literature
- Thematic based curriculum integrating all subjects areas
- SMART Board Interactive lessons
- Enrichment classes such as Music, Yoga, Spanish and Pottery
- Directed and free play in our spacious indoor gymnasium
- Age appropriate learning experiences
- Outdoor physical activity
Our qualified and experienced staff understands child development and is talented, nurturing, and dedicated.
- Nurturing and dedicated, their love for teaching is evident in all they do.
- Are NJ state certified in Early Childhood Education.
- Have a great many years of experience working with young children.
- Use games, storytelling, play-acting and other methods/activities to help children develop language and vocabulary, improve social skills, and learn basic science and math concepts.
- Bring a firm understanding of the entire range of a child’s future academic experience to their love of working with learners at their most formative years.
- Have the knowledge and experience that lets them guide and encourage children to grow in all areas of development by providing the richest possible educational environment.
- Staff attend continuing education seminars throughout the year.
RNS’s staff is so welcoming, the teachers, aides, and directors are like family. They are warm and kind, really engage with the children and give everyone individual attention.
Meet Our Staff
Ms Maria D'Arpa
Program Director/TK Teacher
Welcome to RNS, my name is Ms Maria, and I am the owner/director of RNS Academy. I teach Transitional Kindergarten as well.
My career in teaching began over twenty years ago when I started substitute teaching in NYC. Although I applied to college with the intention of pursuing a law degree, teaching has always been my passion.
After graduating from Adelphi University with a BA in Psychology, I decided to go back to school for my Master’s in Early Education with a Concentration in Elementary Reading. I currently hold NYC, NY State and NJ Teaching Certifications.
When I think back to my childhood, playing teacher was always my favorite pastime.
Since beginning my teaching career I have had the overwhelming pleasure of getting to know so many wonderful young children.
Each year I am honored with the job of caring for, and teaching these amazing little people. I can honestly say, my job is my passion and I love every minute of it.
Mrs Donna Bissell
Assistant Director/YPK Teacher
I am Ms Donna and I assist Ms. D’Arpa, our amazing director! A favorite part of my day is welcoming our children to school. Smiling faces greet me every morning… what better way to start the day?
I am here to help our children throughout the day as well as providing support and communication to our parents! I want our parents to always feel at ease, knowing their children are safe, nurtured and cared for in a wonderful learning environment. I encourage parents to reach out to me anytime during the day to check-in on their child or to answer any questions.
My undergraduate degree is in psychology and social work and I have worked in Human Resources for many years. Prior to joining RNS, I worked with children for nine years. I am happy to say that I have completed the CDA (Child Development Association) written requirements.
My home life continues to keep me busy with four boys popping in and out along with our very energetic two-year-old chocolate lab!
Mrs Vicky Grullon
Ms Vicky Grullon has been working with preschool children for 14 years. She began her career in a Montessori setting and brings her extensive knowledge of the developmental milestones to our class by nurturing the children at their individual level.
Ms Vicky loved caring for our infants, and often times you will find her cuddling up to them in her rocking chair.
Ms Kristen Ortiz
Ms Dee Perez-Ferriera
Ms Kristen comes to RNS after a long career at the West Point Military Academy’s preschool. Ms Kristen has worked as a preschool teacher for 12 years.
When Ms Kristen is not working she is raising two boys, 18 and 10.
Ms Dee has been a preschool teacher for six years. She is also mom two young boys ages 2 and 4.
Ms Kristen and Ms Dee work with our Walkers class, nurturing their natural curiosity for the world around them while offering them all the support they need to navigate their first school experience.
Miss Jenny King
Miss Elina D'Arpa
Little learners class
Miss Elina is a photography major at Ramapo College. During her free time, Ms Elina works as a Teacher’s Assistant in our Little Learners class. Ms Elina enjoys guiding the children through circle time, daily routines and helping with all the fun projects each day.
Mrs Donna Bissell
Mrs Helen Vaupotic
young prek class
Mrs Helen Vaupotic lives in Ho-Ho-Kus with her husband, where they grew up and raised their son.
Mrs Helen holds a degree in Early Childhood Education and has been teaching for over 20 years.
This will be her sixth year at RNS. Before joining RNS, she taught at the Pinnacle Learning Center in Mahwah for fifteen years.
During her teaching career, Mrs Helen helped to create a program for 2 ½ year olds and had also taught in the 3 ½ – 4 year old program.
Mrs Helen enjoys teaching young children and looks forward to seeing them each day.
Mrs Angela Cichewicz
Mrs Liz Mellish
Mrs Angela Cichewicz has been teaching for over 30 years, beginning her career in the Catholic School system. Most people call her Mrs C.
She came to RNS back in 2016 as our YPK head teacher. The following year she had the pleasure of moving up to the PreK class and teaching the Letter People Curriculum, which she absolutely loves. Watching the children learn and grow has been a constant joy for Mrs C.
When Mrs C is not working she enjoys spending time with her family and grandchildren.
Mrs Mellish has been with RNS since 2010. It has been quite a journey and she had enjoyed every minute of it.
During her time at RNS, Mrs Mellish, has been lucky enough to have worked with many of the teacher’s here including Ms D’Arpa. She has also had the pleasure of watching the school grow and change as Ridgewood Nursery School moved from Ridgewood to Waldwick, and became RNS Academy.
In her free time, Mrs Mellish loves being with her three wonderful children and grandchildren.
Mrs Mellish looks forward to many more years of teaching preschool at RNS.
Ms Marlene Pillow
Ms Kristen Conte
Music & Yoga
Ms Pillow has been teaching music at RNS for eight years. Her love of music and teaching is evident to all that know her.
Ms Pillow graduated from the New England Conservatory with a Master’s Degree in Voice. She has worked as an Opera singer and shares her beautiful voice with RNS each week. Ms Pillow also runs our very popular Musical Theater classes.
Ms Kristen Conte