Pia Gundersen has lived on Martha’s Vineyard since 1995, having moved from New York City, where she was born and raised. She has a BFA from The Hartford Art School and also studied art history and psychology. It was while her children were in preschool that Pia became aware of the pedagogy of the Reggio Emilia and wanted to learn more about this method and approach to early childhood education. She has been teaching and learning in the classroom since 2010 and has been at Chilmark Preschool since 2013. She lives in Edgartown with her husband Kevin and their three teenage children, two cats and several chickens.
Liz Hirsch has an extensive background as an educator and has held leadership positions in various settings in Massachusetts and New York. Since her first visit to the island in the early ‘70s, she returned each year, developing a deeper appreciation for the Vineyard’s unique beauty and diverse communities. Liz is delighted to become part of the Chilmark Preschool Community.
As an educator over the past thirty years working in Preschool, Lower Schools and at the College Level,Liz gained significant experience in the classroom and enjoyed administrative roles, including spending 10 years as the Associate Principal at the Little Red Schoolhouse and 7 years as Director of the 14th Street Y Preschool within the Sol Goldman Y, a Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. She led the community on a journey to integrate the Reggio approach, and supported teachers professional development by, among other things, including them on study trips to Reggio Emilia, Italy. A lover of music and dance, Liz was a co-producer of Jazztrack and Les Muse de Femmes in NYC.
Liz holds an M.S. in Educational Leadership from Bank Street College of Education in NYC, and a B.S in Early Childhood Education from Wheelock College in Boston. Liz lives in West Tisbury with her partner. We enjoy frequent visits from children and grandchildren . They are wonderful gifts in her life. Liz’s interests range from floral design, gardening, dance and music to social and economic justice issues.
Anja moved to Martha's Vineyard in 2008 after spending some summers on the island. Born in Germany then raised in Oxford, England she spent time working in South America and the Caribbean. Her career in early childhood started early with volunteering at the age of 14 in the preschool classrooms at the International School she attended. After completing her Baccalaureate she taught English in Bolivia and volunteered in the 4-8 yr. old portion of the La Paz orphanage. In the Caribbean she ran an in-home, multi-age day care on the island of Antigua. Since 2011 Anja has been working at the Chilmark Preschool with Chris Abrams, Heather Quinn and Pia. She studied Social Anthropology and Development Studies at Sussex University in England. Anja lives in Aquinnah with her partner Spa and her two teenage sons.
A passion for working with children and a love of art was first cultivated in Stephanie when she began working as a junior counselor at the CCC summer program in 1986. She held positions in the preschool program and the art shack. During high school, she gained invaluable experience working alongside Madeline Way at the Project Headway summer program- learning the importance of coming to know the unique learning needs of each individual child. At Wheelock College she honed those skills in classes of child psychology and human development and was truly inspired by her professor, Diane Levin, taking such courses as “The importance of play in the lives of children”. She held a range of internships, including preschools with different teaching methods- Reggio Emilia and Montessori-she also held multiple art internships and ran an afterschool art club at the Rafael Hernandez School in Roxbury, MA. She graduated from Wheelock College in 1999, with a BA in the Arts and a provisional degree in Advanced Standing of Elementary Education.
Stephanie is not new to the Chilmark School Campus. She was a student at the old school in grades 1 through 6. Many years and much experience later, she held an assistant teaching position for 2 years in the 4-5 classroom. Stephanie has spent 13 years living and working away from Martha's Vineyard. After college she traveled across the United States seeking a home away from home. She always sought out work with children and families. It was during one of her journeys to New Mexico that she learned of an opening at the Plum Hill preschool. Stephanie was hired as the Lead Teacher and right away immersed herself in learning the Waldorf philosophy and taking an administration course to become the director. She carefully and passionate lead the school and insured its smooth transition from its original location at Featherstone farm, to its current location in West Tisbury. Her joy is to share her passions of art, music, love of the outdoors and simple wonders of working with natural materials into the lives of the children she teaches.
In 2014, Stephanie was able to purchase a homesite lot in Chilmark. She and her partner, James, designed and built their home and now live there with their 17 month old daughter, Iyla, and their 2 Australian shepherds.