Theresa McCaffrey founded Little Leaf in 2015 when it dawned on her what was missing in early childhood education: nature! She is the current director of Little Leaf and loves her work with teachers, families and children. Theresa earned a Masters of Teaching in Special Education from Pace University and a Masters of Fine Arts from Harvard University. She is a dedicated teacher both at the pre-school and elementary school level with over 10 years of experience in inclusive classrooms. She is a Teach for America alum and has been a teacher at The River School in New York City, P.S. 86 in the Bronx and at KIPP Infinity Charter School in Harlem. She has studied many early childhood pedagogies including the Reggio Emilia approach, and Waldorf and Montessori models. She has also trained in the Coyote Mentoring way with the Wilderness Awareness School. Theresa was selected to be a part of the Early Childhood Hall of Heroes through the Childcare Council and is a participant in the Leadership Westchester Fellowship Program. Theresa is passionate about the nature preschool movement, building community, and play! She can often be found with her three children on forest walks or reading great books.
Monica Della Croce
Monica is a head teacher in the Sassafras class at Little Leaf School.
Monica earned her B.A. in Peace & Justice Studies from Wellesley College, her M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from UC Irvine, and her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College. She taught, led and learned in many Reggio Emilia inspired schools and spent a year in the early childhood centers in Pistoia, Italy, where she experienced how a shared commitment to creating a city worthy of our children can radically transform everything, from early childhood education to a city's design and economy. She is passionate about homesteading, permaculture, herbalism and books! Monica teaches with great devotion, sensing her ultimate role is to bring children into community and hold a loving space where they may blossom. She believes in the magic of developing connections in nature and is so grateful to lead children in outdoor learning every day.
When not teaching Monica spends her time with her two spirited daughters, with whom she loves to wander in the woods and dream simple, giant dreams.
Sugar Maple Class
Allison Griffin has lived at the intersection of peace, nature, and early childhood development her entire life. In a career spanning over 20 years, she has developed each avenue of interest, sometimes separately, but finally culminating in her current position as head teacher at Little Leaf School. She spends her days sowing seeds of peace in her wonderful children, and sometimes literally sowing seeds. Ali has always naturally connected to early childhood and had a deep understanding and love of the developmental period. She worked with children ages 2 through 7 over the years in various capacities. From teaching, to play therapy, from SEIT to parenting support, Ali gained a wealth of varied experience. She has developed and run classes and programs and facilitated professional development workshops for preschool teachers.
Ali credits New York City, where she grew up, for giving her the foundational exposure and love of human difference, as well as understanding the peaceful calm the natural world provides. She believes that a strong foundation in self-awareness, self-regulation, emotional understanding, compassion, and empathy is the seed of peace. She is is a certified yoga instructor and a brown belt in Kyokushin. Her yoga classes blend these two disciplines in a unique balance. Ali studied Psychology, Child Development, and Early Childhood Education and has almost completed her second Masters degree. She is currently a teacher at Little Leaf School. She has two children and 2 step-children.