We teach primarily by observing, questioning, guiding, and embracing children’s play.
Lincoln Nursery School has a faculty of unusual depth and experience. Our teachers embrace professional growth through a spirit of inquiry and collegiality. We are inspired by current best practices in early childhood education, as well as our collaborative community. We find that our work as teachers is enhanced by the transparency of our cooperative environment: we both support and learn from parent partners.
We employ a team of teachers who demonstrate incredible energy, creativity, professionalism and warmth.
Each class has two teachers. Mark Weltner (Studio Blue) teaches music and movement to each class once each week, and a liason from the deCordova Learning and Engagement team works with children in small groups on a regular basis, as possible during the pandemic. Nancy Fincke, the school’s director, leads our staff.
Nancy Fincke, Director
Nancy has been passionately leading LNS since 1995.
Nancy has been in the field of early childhood education for over twenty-two years. She has a Masters in Human Service Administration from Lesley University. Nancy began as an occupational therapist in an inclusive preschool and was then inspired to become a director after her own family’s experience at a parent cooperative nursery school. Nancy’s education prepared her to understand child development and programming/activities that foster independence in living and expression.
She recognizes that her role as a director is to help build community among the children, parents, and teachers, with the goal that everyone experiences a sense of well-being and democracy. She believes that the highest quality of early childhood education is offered when teachers are supported in their professional development, maintain collegial dialogue, while developing relationships with parents, the deCordova staff, and the greater community. Nancy encourages everyone to listen to the children, discover their interests, offer experiences and materials, value each other and have fun.
Nancy has deep gratitude for our amazing Lincoln Nursery School community. The daily sounds of children’s voices, the commitment of her colleagues/teachers, the parents’ support, and the alumni who stay in touch are continued reasons for her appreciation.
Sisy Thomas, Assistant Director
For over two decades, Sisy has found meaningful joy and wonder in working with young children during their early years. From her own childhood, Sisy can recall the profound experience of play and how it shaped her own life, ultimately leading to exploring the fields of science, medicine and education. It was her time in the Child Life department at North Shore-LIJ and Boston’s Children’s Hospitals that gave her a new perspective on partnering with children and supporting their way in the world. She was deeply struck by the insights she gained from listening and learning from the children around her. This solidified her pathway toward early childhood education.
As an educator, she has seen the extraordinary growth and individualization that happens between birth to age six and how pivotal it can be in becoming who we are. After many years in the classroom, Sisy realized she could expand her work by collaborating with families in an administrative role, most recently as a director. Supporting children in all their potential is the work of a village and there is no better environment for this than a parent cooperative school. This is why both her children went to such schools, including LNS (a few moons or so ago).
Sisy feels so fortunate to return as an assistant director to a school which inspired her greatly, working alongside Nancy, the dedicated teachers, supportive parent community, and the remarkable children who make it all possible.
Mark Weltner, Co-Lead Teacher and Music & Movement Teacher
Mark has been in the field of early childhood education since 2002. In addition to his work in Studio Blue, Mark is also the music and movement teacher for all age groups at LNS. Volunteering to run a music program at his daughter’s nursery school inspired him to teach music and movement at preschools in the area. One thing led to another, and soon he became a teacher at LNS. Mark joyfully embraces the myriad ways that children express themselves – each day brings an explosion of ideas! When explored and shared, these ideas enrich the whole community.
Diane Greeley, Co-Lead Teacher
In 2000, Diane began teaching preschool in Newton after falling in love with the school while her daughter was enrolled there. She taught four- and five-year-olds as well as being an assistant director. Diane is talented at implementing an emergent curriculum, inspired by the Reggio approach. She absolutely loves to observe children in their play while developing curriculum based on the interests of the children in her classroom. Diane was able to visit Lincoln Nursery School when her young cousins attended the LNS Pilot Program at the deCordova and she is delighted to be a part of the wonderful community at LNS as a Studio Blue co-teacher. She also volunteers as a Wish Granter with the Make A Wish Foundation, and at Horizons for Homeless Children.
Wendy Klix, Co-Lead Teacher
Wendy has been in the field of early childhood education for nearly twenty years. She was introduced to the schools of Reggio Emilia early on in her teaching and studies. While starting her own family, Wendy took the time away to start a family daycare. She yearned to be back in the classroom, working alongside colleagues who shared her passion for teaching. So after five years at home with her children, she returned to a school setting. Working in a cooperative preschool, she is inspired by the daily connections she makes with families while in the midst of a close-knit, supportive community. Wendy brings her love for the outdoors and all its inhabitants to the classroom. With the natural surroundings of the school, she is attentive to providing children experiences of all kinds with natural objects, turning their attention to the various calls of birds, and introducing them to the kindness of bugs. She carries with her a large treasury of wonderful memories, knowing that even the most challenging experiences make long lasting, positive, impressions on the lives of young children.
Sue Higson, Co-Lead Teacher
Sue has been in the field of early childhood education since 2000. After a few years in the corporate world left her yearning for more, she returned to school to become certified as an educator. She then opened a daycare and ran it for eight years before deciding to stay at home with her three children. She returned to work when her youngest son began middle school. Looking back and taking the time to self-reflect, Sue realizes that one thing that’s helped her in the field is her ability to listen and the desire to get to know the children in her care as well as their families. She is interested in learning not only the “big issues,” but also the small details that may seem insignificant to many, but which make each child unique. Sue firmly believes in the idea that even very young children are capable of so many things when given the right opportunity and environment.
Karen Prince, Co-Lead Teacher
Karen grew up on a farm in Northern England, not cut out to be a farmer, after college and a business degree, she moved to London to work at the BBC. As exciting as life in London was, Karen had the travel bug and headed to the US for the first time to work on a summer camp, travel and see the Grand Canyon. Fast forward a few years and she decided maybe she should heed the advice people had been giving her for years ‘you should be a teacher’ and went back to school to do just that. After teaching in a mixed grade class in the UK (K,1 & 2) Karen moved to the US permanently and taught pre-school in Brookline until the birth of her daughter Maya. Maya, Jeff and Karen spent three very happy years at LNS. After Maya moved on to the Lincoln School Karen began her career at LNS. First working in the Purple Class at the Old Stone Church, before assisting in the pilot class at deCordova and then moving to Extended Day where she worked with Kjerstin for the past several years. Karen will be teaching Extended Day in Studio Purple this year.
Mariana Stefanini, Co-Lead Teacher
It was back in Brazil, many years ago, that Mariana first heard about the Reggio approach to education. She vividly remembers it because she was fascinated by it. The more she learned about it, the more she knew that was how she wanted to approach children’s everyday experiences. She finds it is a privilege to spend her days alongside children and to be given the opportunity to wonder, find meaning, experience joy, and most of all, learn from and with them. Mariana first graduated as a psychologist at the University of Sao Paulo, in Brazil, but working with children in inclusive classrooms led her into changing paths and becoming a teacher.
Back to grad school, she completed another bachelor’s in education. To continue to further her education, she is pursuing a master’s degree in “Innovative Early Childhood Education” by CU Denver and the Boulder Journey School, and loving every bit of it. Throughout nearly sixteen years working as a teacher, she has taught a wide age range of children, from infants to 5th graders, and in the past two, Mariana has worked for a cooperative school alongside curious, inquisitive toddlers! There she has grown passionate about nurturing a strong relationship between school, families, and the community. She feels very fortunate to be joining Lincoln Nursery School, both as a teacher and a parent, and be able to share these values with this incredible community and her own family. It has been eight years since she moved to the US. She lives in Woburn MA, with her husband Rogerio and their two daughters: Giovanna and Rebecca. Mariana is looking forward to working collaboratively with Karen and other like-minded, progressive early childhood educators while sharing this wonderful experience with her daughter Rebecca.
Lauri Bounty, Co-Lead Teacher
Lauri has been in the field of early childhood education for over twenty years. Over the course of her experience, she has also raised two girls and taught tennis to young children. Lauri always knew that she wanted to teach. Listening to children inspires her, and Lauri’s love of the visual languages enables her understanding of their importance in children’s communication. She feels privileged to be a part of a growing and vibrant learning community where everyone works to better themselves and their practices. Her experience has taught her that when a class comes together around a common cause or idea, it can bring together an entire community while meeting everyone at different levels.
Paula Hinchliffe, Co-Lead Teacher
In 2012, Paula graduated from Salem State University and started teaching in a preschool/pre-k mixed age classroom. There, she was introduced to the Reggio approach and fell in love with learning alongside the children, together as researchers. Paula has had the opportunity to visit the schools in Reggio Emilia and was truly inspired by the studies that were taking place along with the Remida -the community recycle center. After making the move to teaching Kindergarten in Boston, she was challenged to discuss important social justice issues with young children. Listening to children’s ideas and questions about issues happening in our world has become extremely important to her in her teaching practices. Paula lives in Chelmsford, MA with her husband and two sons - Oliver and Quinn. She is so excited to join the LNS community as a Studio Red teacher!
Cindy Heaney, Co-Lead Teacher
Cindy has been in the early childhood field for more than thirty years and doesn't remember a time when the very act of learning didn't pique her curiosity and leave her wondering. Her extensive work with infants and toddlers taught her the significance of trust and how it must be reciprocal in a vibrant learning environment across all ages. Her work with preschoolers and young school-agers layered on the values of joy, humor, respect and understanding in a classroom community.
Ever curious, Cindy went on to graduate school to continue exploring the theories that had been bubbling up in her work, reinforcing the vital importance of active, hands-on learning that is child-driven, where children are the active agents and the teacher’s role is to set the stage, observe, document, facilitate when necessary and enter the child’s learning cycle on the child’s terms, avoiding unnecessary adult interruption – a delicate dance always. A firm believer in life-long learning, she is looking forward to sharing daily adventures with the Extended Day community and seeing how this new experience will shape her work and theirs. She is eager to weave her love of children’s literature and storytelling into the afternoon curriculum, along with cooking, nature and good old-fashioned puddlejumping!
Lindsay Clemens, Co-Lead Teacher
Lindsay, a nurturing, creative and enthusiastic teacher, is excited to be joining Cindy in the Extended Day program this year. She has served as an instructional assistant for a K-4 program, providing classroom and tutorial assistance and support to children and staff in a public school setting. She co-created a private kindergarten pod during the pandemic, providing instruction for a group of six-year-olds. Previously, she was on the board of the Magic Garden Nursery School. Every day she looks forward to joining in partnership with children, colleagues and family members, rediscovering the world as she gains new perspectives on learning and life.
DJ Mitchell, providing educational support
DJ began her career in education in 1999 upon graduating from Boston College with a masters in elementary education. She then hopped around the country teaching 3rd and 4th grade in a variety of school settings, until finally arriving home in Lincoln to grow her own family. DJ’s experience at Lincoln Nursery School began with her daughters’ enrollment at LNS, totaling six years. During those years DJ participated as a family-helper, held board positions, and led the school as president of the board for two years. DJ’s passion for nature and her willingness to slow down and connect with young children and families made her feel right at home at LNS. So it seemed only natural that after her girls aged out, DJ returned to LNS on her own as a co-teacher, providing educational support in multiple Studios. She feels incredibly lucky to call this warm, thoughtful community her home away from home!