Educators

Sharon Cook, Kindergarten Facilitator & Literacy Coordinator. Sharon is an experienced educator, who has been with PCS since 2013. She is passionate about creating learning environments that are engaging, supportive, collaborative and creative. For 7 years she served as Lead teacher in 1st grade and as the Literacy Domain Coordinator for grades Pre-K through 4, at The Ross Lower School in Bridgehampton, NY. She holds a Master’s Degree and New York State Certification in Pre-K through 6th grade Education and has been either teaching students or mentoring other teachers for the past 20 years in all areas of elementary education.  In addition to teaching, Sharon has developed and written curriculum, test-piloted new programs in the classroom, worked with all special area teachers to create integrated units, and worked closely with and supported administrators and directors. As a devoted life-long learner, she has participated in professional development in Reggio Emilia, Italy, Columbia University's Teachers College, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which have left profound impressions on her pedagogical practices.  Sharon lives in Sag Harbor, NY with her husband Chris and has three children: Hannah, Abigail and Addison.

Eileen DeCecco, Middle Primary Facilitator & Special Education Coordinator  Eileen joined PCS in 2013.  A multi-faceted educator, Eileen has served as Middle Primary Learning Specialist, Early Childhood Teacher Assistant, school Guidance Counselor, and a Special Education coordinator in her time at PCS. She has over 20 years of teaching experience and has previously taught pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, as well as seventh and eighth grades.  She is a mother of two and believes that fostering a love of learning for all students is critical to their life-long journey.  She has experience in the Montessori and Reggio Emilia approaches and a strong belief in a community-driven school.  She earned a BS in Business Administration from St. John’s University and MAEd in Educational Counseling.  Living on the North Fork of Long Island herself,  Eileen understands how meaningful a school like PCS is to this community of thoughtful, intelligent, caring parents. Collaborating with co-workers to form an integrated, fundamental, open-ended curriculum is the key to success for the future of our children.

Megan Eilers, Upper Primary Assistant & Documentation Specialist Megan studied writing and theater at Vassar College as part of her Bachelor’s of Arts degree and continued her writing study at Bennington College in the Poetry Writing Master’s of Fine Arts program.  Megan has previously assisted in Early Childhood and Lower Primary classrooms.  As a writing guide, Megan strives to help children establish a writing practice that strengthens and nurtures each child’s voice.  Additionally, Megan is co-director of Hapi Theatre Conservatory,  a local children’s theater troupe specializing in guiding children through the elements of theater in the practice and performance of original plays.

Paola A. Flórez, Early Childhood Co-Facilitator & Spanish Specialist. Before coming to PCS in 2016, Paola taught Spanish at the Southampton Montessori School for ten years. In that time, she also became the teacher’s assistant in the preschool classroom for two years. Paola has taught music and movement at various camps such as La Ronde, Southampton Bathing Corp. and the Quogue Field Club Junior Sports. She is also a certified Music Together teacher. Paola earned a B.A. in Communication from William Paterson University and a M.A. in Media Studies from The New School University. She also earned her certification as an English-Spanish Translator from Adelphi University. Paola lives in Westhampton with her two children, Isabella and Dante.

Matthew Gardiner, Music Specialist is a musician and educator living in Mattituck with his wife and three children.  As the music facilitator for Peconic Community School, he is looking forward to continuing to build upon and deepen the music curriculum. Matt also works at East End Arts in Riverhead where he directs small musical ensembles and is developing a home-school general music program.  Recently, he has been involved in developing an improvisational music group to play social engagements and leading choral workshops on Long Island, and he teaches privately both instrumental and vocal lessons from his home studio. Matt holds a Masters in music education from Hunter College.  Matt loves sharing his passion for music with all his students , and expanding children’s knowledge of music history, musicians, and culture.

Valerie Gatz, Middle Primary Assistant & After Care Coordinator Val  is delighted to become a part of the Peconic Community School family. She comes to PCS with 25 years of teaching experience, a Child Development Associates Degree and  a certification as a teacher assistant. Val has experience working with children of all ages and believes that every child deserves to learn in a stimulating, engaging, and safe environment. Val is dedicated to the social and emotional development of each child and takes into consideration that every child has their own unique way of learning. Val is native to the east end of Long Island and loves being outdoors in nature hiking local trails with her husband and two dogs. In addition, Val volunteers at her church as a Sunday School Teacher and a Deacon. Val has two daughters and recently became a grandmother.    

Deborah Lukasik O’Shaughnessy, Art Facilitator  Deb has been part of the PCS family since 2016.   An artist, teacher and mother of three,  she lives with her family and her black lab, Luna, on a farm in Water Mill.  She studied Fine Arts  at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and has created large scale sculptures in St. Petersburg, FL. and Cape Charles, VA.  She also holds a Master of Science in Education specializing in individuals with special needs, and is a certified teacher of art for grades K-12.  She has been a teacher of art to people of all walks of life for over 25 years  nurturing the idea that art is a powerful tool that is accessible to everyone which encourages creative thinking, problem solving, learning and growth. Employing an art is life philosophy, she strives to find the parallels that bring art to the classroom and ways in which to integrate it into all facets of the curriculum.  When she is not working, she blissfully sits and dreams on her porch in the honey- colored sunlight, enjoying the everyday blessings of her home and family while knitting, painting or planning something delicious to cook.

Miranda Milligan, Early Childhood Co-Facilitator Miranda began at PCS as an early childhood facilitator in 2013.  Born and raised here on the East End, she attended Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania where she earned her Bachelor's degree in Philosophy and completed an Elementary Certification program. Upon returning to the East End after graduation, Miranda became a nanny for two young children and worked to receive her New York State Elementary Certification. Through nannying, Miranda realized her love for the early childhood age group and began as an Assistant Nursery Teacher at Ross Lower School. She continued to develop as a teacher and a learner as head Nursery Teacher at The Country School in Wainscott, before joining PCS. Miranda loves to play sports and be outside in nature. She enjoys teaching and exploring a curriculum keen on guiding children through the exploration of our natural world.

Ashley Russo, Lower Primary Facilitator & Math Coordinator.  Originally from Upstate New York, Ashley has 8 years of teaching experience.  She earned a Bachelor’s degree in childhood education from SUNY Oswego and a Master’s degree in literacy from Walden University.   Ashley is passionate about creating a learning environment that considers each student’s needs and allows students to explore their natural curiosity.  Growing up on a farm, she learned about the importance of sustaining agriculture and natural resources from a young age, and she brings this hands-on experience to her teaching.  Ashley currently lives in Hampton Bays with her husband and young son, and enjoys fishing, going to the beach, reading, and working in her garden.

Rebekah Smith, Wellness Specialist Rebekah grew up in Mattituck and began a yoga practice in high school, when she started attending classes with her mom, Anne Smith. She is also an accomplished soccer player, and has previously led children’s yoga and soccer seminars for PCS.  Rebekah graduated from Salisbury University, MD,  in 2015 with a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work. After returning to the North Fork, she completed a 200hr Kula Teacher Training. In addition to her position at Peconic Community School, she teaches yoga at NOFO Wellness Center, and at the North Fork Yoga Shala.

Shannon Timoney, Upper Primary Facilitator & Integrated Studies Coordinator. Shannon began at PCS in 2015 after working for 7 years at the Ross School in Bridgehampton, NY, where she taught and served as division coordinator of Early Childhood. During her time there, Shannon also taught grades 2 and 3. As a lead teacher, Shannon was very involved in writing, revising and editing curriculum. She graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a BS in Psychology and from Dowling College with a MEd in Childhood Education. She lives in Manorville and has two sons, Payton and Brody. Shannon is a passionate, community-minded individual who is always thinking of ways she and her students can serve their local community. Shannon recognizes the value of differentiating for her students and creating a stimulating classroom environment that showcases the learning process. She believes it is essential to build the classroom community together with her students. Shannon is a lifelong learner and is always open to new ideas and opportunities for continued growth.

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In Memoriam, PCS educator and mentorAlison Aldredge, former Early Childhood Director & Kindegarten Facilitator. Alison came to Peconic Community School with over 15 years experience leading and teaching in early childhood programs.  She held a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education.  She was the division coordinator and lead teacher for the early childhood program at the Ross School. Her teaching approach was suffused with the belief that children are natural researchers, observers, and capable problem solvers, who construct knowledge as they interact with the world around. She believed in creating learning experiences and structured opportunities for accountable discourse through creative, inviting and accessible experimentation. She possessed professional development training in Montessori and Reggio Emilia educational approaches, among others. As a mother of three, and long time resident of the East End, Alison was a vital  member of this nurturing learning community, and she will forever be a part of PCS.  

Executive & Administrative Staff

Maggie Kritsberg, Office Manager Maggie brings over 15 years experience working in non-profit school administration and child care to the Peconic Community School. As Education Coordinator at the East End Arts School she developed art and camp programming, implemented digital accounting procedures, and oversaw school staff and facilities. Her most recent position was as Registrar and Business Administrator in charge of student registrations, accounting and scholarship at East End Arts in Riverhead, NY. Additional experience includes teaching at pre- and after-school programs, practical knowledge of Montessori pedagogy, and planning and implementing of fundraising events. Born and raised in Sweden, she attended Lund University, Lund, Sweden with a concentration in Psychology and Swedish language. Maggie and her husband moved to the beautiful North Fork in 1996 to raise their two sons.

Kathryn Casey Quigley, Co-Executive Director Kathryn holds a Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University. She has over 10 years of experience in non-profit management, program implementation and evaluation. Kathryn has worked as a community organizer, led civic engagement programs and taught courses on service learning at Pace University. In addition, a classically trained ballet dancer, she has over 25 years experience dancing and teaching ballet. Kathryn grew upon the North Fork and returned to the area in 2011 to raise a family.

Liz Casey Searl, Co-Executive Director Elizabeth has a Master of Arts from New York University's GallatinSchool where she studied how drama and education can work to promote social change and empower young people. Working in the field of education and drama for over fifteen years, Liz creates programs that use theater games, movement, storytelling and drama strategies as vehicles for learning and discovery. Liz grew up on the North Fork and returned to the area in 2006 to raise her family.