“One of the best pre-schools around. Both of our sons attended and I honestly could not imagine a better program with our two boys.”
Katherine “Kathy” Abbott
Kathy Abbott comes to Sprout House from the Summit Speech School with a wealth of non-profit leadership experience. She first joined our community as a parent and then has served as a longtime board member and president. Kathy holds her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a master’s degree from New York University. She lives in Chatham Township, New Jersey with her husband and three daughters. Kathy is an enthusiastic volunteer in our community having served on the board for the League of Women Voters of NJ. She is also active in the local Chatham Township government, serving from 2012 through 2014 and returning as a Planning Board member in 2020. She currently is acting as the new deputy mayor.
Leslie started working at Sprout House in 1997 when her youngest child was enrolled in the first Rising Five Program. She has a BA degree in history and art history, and worked as a Human Resources manager at AT&T and Bellcore for many years. She loves reading and traveling in her spare time.
Joanne Lockwood White
Sprout House Founder
Joanne Lockwood White founded Sprout House in 1985 as a pioneering school, which inspires self-directed learning, where kids are happy and intellectually engaged. She served for years as the director of Sprout House, teaching multitudes of children to appreciate the environment and how to “walk the walk.” She is continually bestowing her Early Childhood Education (M.A.) experience through advising, training teachers and assessing on matters of the edification of young children. A longtime active member of the Chatham Township community; and in her free time Joanne enjoys the serenity of the Pine Barrens and splashing around in the Long Island Sound with her husband, her grown daughters, who were once Sprouts, and their families.
Sprout House holds a special place in Jill’s heart. She started at Sprout House in 2002 as a full-time teacher after graduating with a master’s in education from Rutgers’s University. After, many fulling years, she moved with her husband to Manhattan. She stayed on as a substitute teacher, not wanting to leave her Sprout House family. Most recently, Jill has transitioned into working in the office when needed. Jill’s hobbies include paper crafting, especially card making and reading, preparing, and developing new recipes in her tiny NYC kitchen. She hopes to one day write her own cookbook. Jill also enjoys partaking in historical and cultural tours of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs. However, what Jill loves most is spending time with her family!
Susan Lanham holds a Bachelor of Arts from Hamilton College and is certified in Elementary Education. She has 25 years of Early Childhood experience tutoring, teaching pre–kindergarten and kindergarten. In her free time, Mrs. Lanham enjoys reading, hiking, gardening, and restoring furniture.
Valerie Oliva holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Montclair State College and a Masters in Educational Administration from Seton Hall University. She is fully certified in music K-12, elementary ed. K-6 and educational administration. After graduating from college, Valerie served as a Vista Volunteer in Ogden Utah. As a domestic Peace Corps volunteer, she concentrated on community organizing and bringing educational programs to the local elementary schools. After her year in Ogden, she began her 40-year career in education. Thirty-five of those years were spent teaching in K, 1 and 2 and five of those years were spent leading two Catholic elementary schools as their principal. She loves music, art, theater and sports; and she spends a lot of her free time biking, and walking.
Vineeta Gudwani first came to Sprout House as parent with her son in 1998 and fell in love. She has been part of the Sprout House community on and off ever since, as a cook, substitute and assistant teacher. Birds, butterflies, bees, trees and wildflowers are a few of her favorite things. In her free time, she loves cooking and feeding friends & family. She also loves painting, reading and walking in the woods.
Nina Slowinski holds a Bachelor of Science from Skidmore College and has over half a decade of experience working with children ages 2-16. While she has primarily worked with children in the arts and recreational settings, she is excited to continue her second year at Sprout House focusing on early childhood development. Outside of the classroom she enjoys stand-up comedy, mythology, and her carefully curated Discover Weekly Spotify playlists.
Elyssa Claudio holds a degree in Media Studies & Production from Temple University. She has over half a decade of experience working with children ages newborn – 14. Her passion and purpose in life is working with children. She is excited to continue her second year at Sprout House focusing on early childhood development. When she is outside of the classroom she enjoys reading and walking in nature.
Keisha Griffith has over twenty-years of experience in nursery and preschool education. Her core belief is that children learn through investigation, play and open dialogue. She is eager to facilitate new Sprouts, to foster their creativity and curiosity. In her time outside of the classroom, she enjoys morning strolls with her two children, the pitter patter of rain and the smell of citrus are some of her favorite things.
Maribel Escobar is an experienced Early Childhood lead teacher. She was especially attracted to Sprout House because of its outdoor curriculum and child-led exploring, creating, discovering and idea-sharing. In her free time, Ms. Maribel enjoys hiking, crafts, sports and spending time with her daughter.
Her definition of education is the ability to collaborate, create, explore possibilities, experiment and try new things. “Little children are like sponges looking to understand the world, while finding their independence.” She believes that children learn best when they make choices involving their own development. She is honored to be an influence in their early years.
Andrew has a deep understanding of Sprout House’s mission, since he was a Sprout House preschool student himself. He is passionate about teaching and coaching, and has strong knowledge of how to motivate children in a group setting. He also has extensive experience working with children who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Andrew is in the process of completing his Child Development Associate® (CDA) credential. For several years before coming to Sprout House, Andrew taught children at the Summit and Metuchen YMCAs as an aquatics supervisor and instructor. In his free time, Andrew volunteers as a coach for the Summit YMCA’s youth basketball and soccer teams and as an alumni ambassador for Oratory Prep School. Andrew actively participates in local NJ soccer pick-up leagues and also enjoys barbecuing and taking long hikes with his dog.
Danielle joins Sprout House after spending the last several years working in the entertainment industry as a talent agent for both children and adults. She has always enjoyed working with young people and was involved in educational outreach for various arts organizations throughout the city, including The Ghetto Film School, a program designed to help teenagers from diverse backgrounds receive professional film school training. Danielle has also helped facilitate the summer horsemanship program for the Girl Scouts of Northern NJ and continues to volunteer at an equine therapy facility for children with disabilities. In her downtime, Danielle loves cooking (and eating), watching international films, camping in upstate NY, and horseback riding.
Carolyn San Filippo
Carolyn holds a BA degree in Early Childhood Education from Goddard College. She began working at Sprout House as the cook in 1985 and became the Rising 5s teacher in 1998. In 2017 Carolyn became the Sprout House PM teacher. Her hobbies include reading, American History, biking, and hiking. Carolyn has been on the Sprout House board of directors since 1987.
Jen Mathews began her career in children’s publishing in New York, then continued working with storytellers like screenwriters and directors in LA. More recently, she has been a Scout leader, a PTO Environmental Committee Coordinator, a Friends of the Library Board member, and helped other local organizations such as the Chatham Township Environmental Commission and the Open Space Committee. Jen has three children, two of whom attended Sprout House. In her spare time she enjoys listening to podcasts and audio books, and spending time outside with her family, friends, and sweet pup, Scout.
What the parents say
“So many fantastic memories! All three of my kids attended, and we had great experiences, friends, and learning. Thank you!”
“Amazing, small, nurturing pre-school that gave my son a wonderful start. We went straight from four years at Sprout House to first grade in a diverse public school in a another town, and he had an absolutely seamless transition. I believe the solid, caring base he had at Sprout House prepared him. He is now in middle school and thriving – open-minded, intellectually curious, kind.”