Teachers & Staff
Our Staff of skilled educators and administrators support nurture a community of learners.
Our Teachers are trained educators from all over the world. We recognize and celebrate their different accents and unique experiences. We consider this diversity an important strength of our program.
Ambar Díaz, Lead Teacher, Mar (Sea) Classroom
While studying for her Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education, Ambar taught Kindergarten in the Laboratory School of Puerto Rico. Upon receiving her degree, she spent two years teaching Kindergarten and third grade at Colegio Bautista de Carolina in Puerto Rico, during which time she began coursework towards a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. There, she dedicated much time to developing the school’s early childhood curriculum, which focused on creating early learning activities for the preschool and Kindergarten program. In 2015, Ambar moved to New Jersey and began teaching Kindergarten at Jump Immersion School, where she gained a deeper appreciation for Spanish immersion education.
Ambar says she became a teacher because she loves playing an active role in helping children develop their innate potential. She enjoys teaching at One World Project because of its mission to help children use their surrounding environment to create real-world learning opportunities, as well as its emphasis on the Spanish language.
Belén Garcia, Teacher, After School Program
Originally from Spain, Belén spent time in Mexico City and Chile before moving to New York City 11 years ago. Beyond fluency in Spanish, Belén translates the language into English and has experience in private tutoring. She also studied the Arabic language and culture, leading to a degree in Arabic Philology.
Her wealth of experience, from educating her own three daughters, and knowledge of linguistics are evident as she creates a natural learning environment for children to acquire another language. She knows children learn best through play, and consistently engages learners in read-alouds, dramatic play and other child-centered activities
Cinthia Lucena, Lead Teacher, Aire (Air) Classroom.
Cinthia always loved spending time with children, and she found she had a natural way with them while working at the Center for Family Life Beacon in Brooklyn. “I believe children are the most important part of every society,” she says. Currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education, Cinthia works as an Assistant Teacher in the Forest Classroom (children ages 2 to 3 years old). She is especially passionate about helping her students develop new language skills. “I strongly believe bilingualism has positive effects on children’s linguistic and educational development,” she says.
“As a native Spanish-speaking teacher I can help children strengthen or develop new language skills. I also love introducing them to rhymes, songs, games, and counting in Spanish.”
Knowing that she can make a difference in helping her students “develop into happy, healthy little people” is what brings Cinthia the most joy in the classroom each day. “To be able to show them how to use their own confidence and skills and see them build the closest of connections… this is one of best feelings you can get as an early childhood teacher.”
Cinthia was born in Acupulco, Mexico and moved to Brooklyn at age 7 and has lived here ever since.
Gissela Arteaga, Assistant Teacher, Aire (Air) Classroom
Gissela got her start as a substitute at One World Project and quickly worked her way to assistant and, soon after, became a full-time teacher. As a result, she is well-versed in One World Project and its mission. From the concept of conservation and recycling to watching how children immersed in the Spanish language absorb it with such ease, Gissela brings a wealth of knowledge to her work.
She has always worked with children, caring for kids as a nanny for five years before joining One World Project. Her love of children naturally translates to working with kids under 4 years old as she fully understands the integral role that nurturing and play-based activities have in development.
Maria Rivera, Lead Teacher, Bosque (Forest) Classroom
After 12 years in Head Start and seven years as a Universal Pre-K lead teacher, Maria learned that her nurturing instinct worked best with 2-year-old children. During that time, she worked with a variety of support services, including psychology and therapy, which led her to pursue a dual Masters in Special Ed, as well as Early Childhood Education. Maria values the intimate environment and the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers at One World Project.
Jenny Luna, Music Enrichment Teacher
Jennifer is an educator and musician passionate about incorporating music and movement into all aspects of learning. Before joining OWP, Jennifer worked at two different preschools in New York City where she had the opportunity to work with children in special education programs. Jenny is drawn to teaching because she enjoys the “opportunity to impart knowledge to children and assist them in learning things that will help shape their lives in a positive way.” As a native Spanish speaker, she is committed to OWP’s vision of building multilingual communities. She holds a degree in Contemporary Music from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design and is an active performer at various venues around New York City.
Born and raised in Alamo, Texas near the border of Mexico, Jennifer moved to Brooklyn in August 2011.
Michelle Morales, Lead Teacher, Montañas (Mountains) Classroom.
Michelle brings a variety of experience that has contributed to her development as a teacher. As an account manager at Ferragamo she worked in a demanding environment requiring flexibility and a high degree of collaboration, and as an intern at the Families and Work Institute she was introduced to many of the theoretical principles that underlie OWP’s curriculum. In addition, Michelle is an involved PTA parent in her own child’s school and is committed to building active and responsive school communities. Her decision to focus on teaching stems from her belief that positive early childhood education experiences set the tone for future success in the classroom and in life. “Teaching Spanish,” Michelle says, “enhances this growth. I see students gaining Spanish skills every day and I know this builds their sense of competency.”
Michelle was raised in both New York City and Colombia.
Christy Gomez, Education Director
Christy is a native New Yorker and a committed educator with a Bachelor in Bilingual Education from Brooklyn College. Christy’s work experience includes her role as a creative writing instructor at Oasis Summer Camp in Queens working with children from underprivileged backgrounds and as an integrated co-teaching student teacher at P.S. 89 where she gained valuable experience in a dual language program. Christy is fascinated by the way children “acquire language and how they do this in a school environment where we are all learning together.” Having worked with many different age groups, she is impressed with the independence of very young children and is excited to learn more about how to incorporate multicultural inquiry into her teaching practice.
Christy, Colombian by descent, spent her summers as a child with family in Colombia and now lives in Queens.
Joanne Derwin, Co-Founder and Executive Director
Joanne is a mother of two bilingual children and an experienced nonprofit manager, educator, and social justice advocate. Before initiating One World Project, Joanne worked at the Alliance for a Greater New York and Urban Agenda, organizations aimed at building a thriving, green, and just New York. Previously, Joanne worked at the Ford Foundation and helped manage three grant-making initiatives with a combined annual budget of $12 million. Joanne has also done research for Partners of the Americas and the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership in Washington D.C. and spent two years working as an English teacher in Alicante and Barcelona, Spain. She is a graduate in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder and holds a Master in Public Policy from Georgetown University. Her vision for One World Project extends from the kind of education she wanted for her own children. “I always want to concentrate on preschool… This is a very special moment for families and kids in building community.” As OWP has grown, Joanne’s vision has expanded as well, with the preschool forming a component of a larger community resource. “We want to keep people connected in a nurturing space that supports cross-connections culturally and linguistically.”
Joanne lives in Windsor Terrace with her husband and two children.
Mónica Paillet Zurdo, Co-Founder and Program Director
One World Project’s Founding Spanish Teacher Mónica Paillet Zurdo brings over a decade of early childhood teaching experience to One World including her pioneering play-based language acquisition curriculum. Mónica has a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education both from the University of Valladolid as well as extensive training in Intercultural Education. Mónica’s work history includes jobs as a Speech Therapist for children 0-6, a Kindergarten teacher and the Academic Director and Teacher for the Colegio Español de Nueva York (CENY), a language immersion education program. As the founding teacher, Mónica has been instrumental in developing One World’s curriculum and education philosophy.
Even before she began her career in education, Mónica spent years babysitting and always knew she wanted to work with children. “Every day, children ask you different, new, extraordinary things,” she says. “There is always something surprising and enriching going on with children, and each one teaches you something fascinating about human nature.”
Mónica recently became One World's Preschool Director, where she brings her love of children together with her reverence for education. “A better world requires better education,” says Mónica. “I believe in the transformative value of school”.
Mónica was born in Spain and came to New York in 2005.
Silvia Fernandez, Administrator. After working in Fashion, Finance and Marketing around the world in Spain, England and Germany, Silvia moved to Brooklyn with her family of four and found a job at One World Project. In her role as Administrator, Silvia handles finances and administrative matters, and she is a liaison between parents and the school. “I love the environment at One World Project,” says Silvia. “I know everyone in our great community of families, which is very strong—we all support each other.” Silvia herself speaks three languages (Spanish, English and German) and she learned her second and third languages as an adult, which has its challenges. “I have to translate in my head and concentrate to speak in another language,” she says, adding that she is a huge proponent of One World’s immersion program. “For children this age, there is no effort to learn to speak, it comes so naturally. These kids are not just learning language, they are opening up to global culture—they see the world differently because of this school.”
Silvia grew up in Santander, Spain and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.