About RNS Academy

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.

Jenn P.

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!

Diana M.

Our Program

RNS Academy provides a safe, warm, and caring environment for children to learn through play and hands-on exploration.
Our curriculums are thematically based and developed to include subjects such as Science, Social Studies, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.  Activities are presented to children in a learn by doing format where learning feels more like playing and children are encouraged to explore and question the world around them.
Extra curricular classes such as Music, Yoga, Spanish and Pottery make RNS fun while providing the academic stepping stone needed to prepare young minds for life long learning.
A traditionally planned curriculum 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 Staff

Our qualified and experienced staff understands child development and is talented, nurturing, and dedicated.

Our teachers:

  • 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.

Cinthya H.

Meet Our Staff

Mrs. 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

Infant Class

Mrs Lauren Fisse &
Mrs Sierra Kiely

Walkers Class

My name is Lauren Fisse. I have three boys ages 12, 19 and 21. I have been teaching for 16 years. During the pandemic I worked at the Hawes Elementary school as a teacher’s assistant but am so happy to be back at RNS teaching the Walker’s class. I feel strongly that children learn both basic skills and personal expression through play and socialization. Working with preschool aged children is my passion. Knowing I have had a hand in helping the children grow and develop is the most rewarding experience.

I am Ms Sierra, a mom of four children ages 14, 12, 9 and 7. I hold a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology, with a focus on Child Psychology. I have worked with children for 27 years in both a public school and preschool setting. 

One of my favorite things to do is travel with my family to warm and sunny places. 

I love enjoy working with Ms Fisse in the Walker’s class where I am able to support and guide so many wonderful children in their first school experience. 


Miss Meagan McCorry &
Miss Julie Wolfe

Little learners class

I am Ms Julie and I am happy to be working at RNS after taking time off to raise my two children. 

I hold a BS and Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and have many years experience working with young children in both a preschool and public school setting. 

When I am not working I enjoy crocheting and crafts, nail art is one of my favorite hobbies. I have also published two children’s books. 

Getting to know all the amazing little people at RNS has been an honor. 

Mrs Donna Bissell &
Mrs Helen Vaupotic

young prek class

I’m Helen Vaupotic (Ms. Helen). My husband and I live in Ho-Ho-Kus where we both grew up and raised our son.

I have a degree in Early Childhood Education and have been teaching for 20 plus years.

This will be my fifth year at RNS. Before joining RNS, I was at Pinnacle Learning Center in Mahwah for fifteen years.

During my teaching career I helped to create a program for 2 ½ year olds and have also taught in the 3 ½ – 4 year old program.

I enjoy teaching young children and look forward to seeing them each day

Mrs Angela Cichewicz &
Mrs Liz Mellish

PreK Class

My name is Angela Cichewicz but you can call me Mrs C. 

I have been teaching for over 30 years, beginning my career in the Catholic School system. 

I came to RNS back in 2016 and taught the YPK class. The following year I had the pleasure of moving up to the PreK class and teaching the Letter People Curriculum. I have absolutely loved teaching this wonderful curriculum. Watching the children learn and grow has been a joy.

When I am not working I enjoy spending time with my family and grandchildren. 

I am Ms Mellish, I have been with RNS since 2010. It has been quite a journey, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. 

During my time at RNS I have been lucky enough to have worked with many of the teacher’s here including Ms D’Arpa. I have also had the pleasure of watching the school grow and change as we moved from Ridgewood to Waldwick. 

In my free time I love being with my three wonderful children and grandchildren. 

I look forward to many more years of teaching preschool. 

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


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