Each of our teachers bring in unique strengths and passions that enrich our community.
Meet the Team
Lanny Cheuck - Owner / Director Lanny taught for the NYC DOE for 8 years and held other roles such as Literacy Coach, Department Chair, and a member of the Principal's Cabinet. After moving to San Francisco, she worked in a charter school for 3 years and became immersed in project-based learning and portfolio assessment. She is passionate about investigating how children demonstrate their learning and how they reflect on their own growth. After returning to NYC and becoming a mother, Lanny began working as an education consultant to principals and lead teachers. She taught school leaders on how to integrate portfolios into a graduation requirement for the 20 lowest performing high schools in Detroit, Michigan. This work led to transformative results in those schools.
After having her two young daughters, Maddie and Willa, Lanny became very interested in creating high-quality educational programs that are part-time and flexible for families living in North Brooklyn. The need for such a program and a love for green spaces and nature were the catalyst for wBees Forest School. Opening wBees Forest School has been a true dream come true for her.
Melanie Hernández - Head of School / Head Teacher Melanie was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. Throughout her life, she had the opportunity to attend six very different schools in three different countries. Since an early age, Melanie felt a great fascination for schools and the communities that build inside of them. All of these varied experiences has led to her strong belief in cultivating a sense of community, empathy and respect in the class environment as well as implementing an emotionally responsive practice. She has been working with young children for over twelve years with the last five years teaching at West Side Montessori School in the Upper West Side before joining wBees Forest School in 2016. Melanie is thrilled to continue her journey at wBees Forest School which embodies the approach to education that resonates with her. Melanie holds a B.S in Social Communications, an M.A in Early Childhood General and Special Education, and an Early Childhood Montessori credential. In addition, Melanie is a mom to a rambunctious toddler boy who loves to eat and play with their dog Lupe!
Jackie Mitchell - Educational Director / Head Teacher Jackie grew up in Richmond, Virginia experiencing the freedom of play in nature as well as the historic charm of the nearby city. The daughter of an educator, she felt early on the value of teachers and learning in life, and was inspired by studying ballet and French at a young age. Working toward a Masters of Teaching at UVa., in both French and Elementary Education areas, she planned to combine her love of languages with the sponge-like nature of early childhood. As a first year teacher, she taught 3 levels of high school French in her hometown before moving to Washington, D.C. and teaching pre-K in a bilingual classroom for several years. She first discovered the beauty and peace of Montessori philosophy and methods living in D.C., with many neighboring Montessori preschool programs. A respect for both Maria Montessori’s well-designed materials and her child-centered approach led Jackie to pursue AMS Montessori certification, at Barrie School, where she interned in classrooms surrounded by acres of nature. Soon after, she moved to Brooklyn, NY, to begin teaching in a North Brooklyn Montessori primary classroom. She enjoyed growing alongside her students, close teaching staff, and parent community. Now, guiding students toward being truly engaged in their own learning drives her teaching each day. She wholeheartedly agrees with Maria Montessori’s statement that a teacher’s greatest sign of success is being able to say: “The children are now working as if I did not exist.” With seven years of experience in a Montessori classroom, she is pleased to join the administration as an Educational Director and to lead wBees Seedlings this fall! Jackie also looks forward to getting married in Summer 2018, just before joining wBees’ team.
Gayla Brooks - North Brooklyn co-teacher / Music teacher Gayla Brooks is a musician, teacher, and dog-mom living in Brooklyn. She was born and raised in Hong Kong, spent 3 years in Singapore, and went to high school in San Francisco. Gayla attended college at The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU Tisch and holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Music Production and Music business with a minor in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. She is currently preparing for her graduate studies where she plans to study Special Education.
Gayla has played guitar for 15 years and the drums for 10 years and plays in a few Brooklyn punk bands. She spent her first year out of college as the assistant music teacher at the Aaron School, a Manhattan Special Education school. At the Aaron School, she worked with kids affected by ADHD, Autism spectrum disorders, as well as sensory processing issues. It was here that Gayla saw what a profound effect music can have on children with special needs and sparked the passion in her to continue her studies in this vein. This past year, Gayla worked as an assistant teacher at The Playschool, a teacher-run play-based cooperative school in Williamsburg. She is looking forward to bringing her passion for music and experience with young children to wBees Forest School this fall.
Anna Robinson - Bayard co-lead Anna Robinson holds a B.F.A. in Theater Performance from the University of Michigan and just recently earned her M.S. Ed. in Theater Education from the City College of New York. She has worked professionally as an actor and as a nanny for a family of two young children for many years.
For the past year and a half, she has been teaching with the Russell teaching team for both Seedlings and Sprouts and has learned so much about how to teach in a Montessori-inspired classroom. Besides having trained in teaching children's yoga, Anna has been bringing her love of story-telling and theater play to our students in both our morning and afternoon programs and is excited to join at the new Bayard location!