Listen to Lemberg parents

"I am very pleased with the job the Lemberg staff has done. They have encouraged my daughter to be an inquisitive and thoughtful child. They are doing a great job of imparting good values and a strong sense of independence on her. Over the last year, the staff has been very professional from the director, Howie Baker down to all the TAs."

— L.T., Weston

Listen to Lemberg parents

"Lemberg teachers and staff celebrate the many cultures and languages represented in their classrooms, sparking a child's natural curiosity and appreciation for diversity.

"My 4-year-old loves to listen to foreign languages, practice Lemberg's counting from 1 to 10 lessons in various languages, hear about foreign countries and meet people from countries outside the United States.

"Combined with the lessons we teach at home, Lemberg has provided such a great basis for valuing multiculturalism."

— I.F., Boston

Listen to Lemberg parents

"I like Scott's songs. I love it when I whisper at home and my son says, 'No secrets at Lemberg!'"

— M.M., Waltham

Meet the Staff

Executive Director


Howie BakerHowie has been the executive director of the Lemberg Children’s Center since 1979. He is a member of the Brandeis University faculty and leads the early childhood teacher preparation program. Certified as a teacher in Massachusetts for preschool, elementary, middle and high schools in English, social science, communication skills and theater, he also provides in-service development for educators at all levels.

Howie has served as vice chair of the Advisory Council on Early Care and the Education of Young Children to the Massachusetts Board of Education. At Brandeis, he has been a research associate at the Starr Center for Mental Retardation and at the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy and served as an advisory board member of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life.

He has received awards from the Massachusetts Association of Day Care Agencies and the Boston Association for the Education of Young Children, and a training fellowship from the National Institutes of Health for the study of public policy and support for people with special needs.

Howie holds degrees from Emerson College, Boston College, Brandeis University and the Family Institute of Cambridge. The father of four children, he has relied on providers in his home, at family daycare, at group daycare and at extended day school-age programs.


Head Teachers

Explorer Morning Head TeacherJessica Albert

Jess has a B.S in Early Childhood Education from the University of Connecticut and a Master’s Degree in Child Development with a focus on Early Intervention from Tufts University. Jess worked at Lemberg as the Explorer’s Teaching Fellow before pursuing her Master’s Degree at Tufts. She has also worked at the University of Connecticut Child Labs as well as the Eliot Pearson Children’s School at Tufts University. Jess believes that by creating a sensory sensitive environment, every child can thrive. She also believes that family involvement and communication is important. Jess is excited to be part of the Lemberg Community once again!


Explorer Afternoon Head Teacher
Katharine Braun-Levine

Katharine has been part of the Lemberg community in various roles since 2000 and has been head teacher for the Explorers since 2007. 

Prior to that, she spent a year teaching at the Tufts Educational Day Care Center (TEDCC) with a particular emphasis on the inclusion of children with special needs.

Also trained as an ACT facilitator, Katharine looks forward to joining parents in discussions about Raising Safe Kids; about Galinsky's book Mind in the Making; and just about any other topic related to families and young children.

Katharine especially enjoys working with toddlers, preschoolers, and college students in a safe and secure classroom and helps them to feel open to new experiences and learning. Social skills, emotional development, and warm relationships are at the heart of her whole play-based curriculum, from free play to nap time, from the block  area to the sensory table, from cooking projects to yoga.

She earned a B.A. from Brandeis University in theater and early childhood education and a master's degree in child development from Tufts University.

Thunderbird Morning Head Teacher
Associate Director for Child Care

Karen Eichenlaub

Karen came to Lemberg in 1983, has been a Head Teacher in both classrooms, and is now with the Thunderbirds. As an Associate Director for Child Care, she also works to monitor and address classroom safety and maintenance issues as well as coordinate and assist with program assessments and evaluations. Karen also took a principle role in managing our successful 2010 NAEYC accreditation. She graduated with honors from Brown University and has a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Wheelock College.

Having worked with all ages at Lemberg, Karen’s skills span many areas. She enjoys working with parents and helping families with the transitions between home and school. Her classroom curriculum is full of music and movement, art, books, dramatic play and science/nature/sensory explorations, with a strong emphasis on social emotional development. Some of her art work with children has been featured in the annual Brandeis Festival of the Arts. Mentoring Brandeis students and supervising student teachers is another important aspect of Karen’s work at Lemberg.

Karen’s own children attended Lemberg and have returned to work as teaching assistants. One of her outside interests involves working with the elderly, especially those with dementia, and helping support family caregivers. 

Thunderbird Head Teacher
Associate Director of Music Education

Scott KepnesScott has been a head teacher for the Thunderbirds at Lemberg since October 1993. He loves all aspects of teaching preschoolers, including science experiments, gardening, outdoor games, book making, storytelling, and all creative art and writing activities. He is especially interested in music and movement activities. Scott leads Aloha Friday, Lemberg’s weekly, center-wide sing/dance along. He also enjoys working with our Center's families as well as mentoring Brandeis students.

Outside of Lemberg, Scott is a writer and performer of songs for children and families. For more than 25 years, he has been entertaining audiences with his upbeat funky folk, rock tunes and stories at libraries, childcare centers, elementary schools, hospitals and town events. Scott is also a music specialist. He leads small music and movement groups for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, and offers workshops for teachers and parents to help them incorporate music into their classrooms and homes.

Scott is a member of the Children's Music Network (CMN), a national organization that celebrates the positive power of music in the lives of children by sharing songs, exchanging ideas and creating community.

Scott has a B.S. in early childhood education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is EEC certified. He has two children, and absolutely loves being a dad. For more information about Scott, visit his website.

2013-14 Teaching Fellows

Explorer Teacher

Rachel Downs

Rachel graduated from Brandeis University in December 2012 with a degree in Education Studies, as well as minors in Early Childhood Education teaching and certification, and Creative Writing.  Rachel started at Lemberg as a Teaching Assistant in 2009, and has since worked in both classrooms in various capacities, including Student Teaching with the Explorers in the spring of 2012.

Rachel loves being part of the Lemberg community, and is thankful for the opportunity to continue to grow as a Teacher.  Some particular interests  include working with children with special needs, literacy and language learning, and art-integrated activities and exploration.

Thunderbird Teaching Fellow

Lauren ReillyLauren has been working with children in various settings since she was a teenager. This turned into a passion for early childhood education once she began her college education at the University of Connecticut. During her summer breaks, Lauren remained involved in multiple programs for young children.

Her senior year, Lauren worked in the University of Connecticut Child Development Laboratories’ Preschool Two and Infant Blue Room. She also completed fieldwork in the Toddler Room in fall 2011 and was a student teacher in a Preschool One in spring 2012. She graduated in May 2012 from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Development and Education.

Lauren is excited to be joining the Lemberg family and is looking forward to being part of the Thunderbird classroom!


Administrative Staff 

Associate Director for Staff Development

Sylvia PenaSylvia's research interests include how to bring awareness, understanding and respect for multicultural diversity into the classroom experiences of children, and into the teacher training experiences of her student workers. She monitors new early education trends and theories, and works with the Lemberg staff to implement new teaching practices, or update old ones.

Outside of the Lemberg classrooms, Sylvia works with educators and parents. She is a trained ACT Raising Safe Kids facilitator.  She leads workshops for educators and parents interested in raising safe kids.

Sylvia holds a degree in early childhood from the University of California.


Anna GravesAnna is new to the Brandeis community. She completed a women's studies program at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand before getting a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, MA.

Anna has worked in day programs and summer camps for individuals with intellectual disabilities. She focused her work on children; specializing with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She also worked as a Martial Arts instructor for adults and children. Anna worked as an operations manager and store department manager for several years before coming to Lemberg.


Additional Staff

Associate Director of ACTRaising Safe Program
Karen Ciesluk-Gutterman

Karen devotes much of her time to helping toddlers and three year olds develop social sensitivity skills. In addition to helping the children learn to express themselves verbally, Karen teaches basic American Sign Language as a form of communication. Her room is filled with sensory activities, books, art projects and smiling faces.

Karen is also an ACT Raising Safe Kids facilitator. She leads workshops for educators and parents interested in raising safe kids.

Prior to joining the Lemberg staff, Karen worked for four years at the highly acclaimed University of Connecticut Child Development Center with infants and toddlers.

Karen holds a bachelor's degree in early childhood education from the University of Connecticut, Storrs, and a master's degree in early intervention from Wheelock College.

Summer Morning Lead Teacher of the Ladybugs and 

Director of Constructive Connections Camp
Kristina Irizarry

Kristina is a first grade teacher in Somerville during the academic year.

She enjoys languages and uses a child's home language as a way to build connections with them. This year she is able to incorporate both Spanish and Haitian Creole expressions and phrases in her classroom, and is eager to learn more about how to support English Language Learners. 

She earned her bachelor's degree from Brandeis in 2007 and her master of arts in teaching and child development from Tufts University in 2008.

Lemberg Summer Program Director
Research Associate, Center for Early Childhood Teacher Development

Bruce first taught at Lemberg from 1985 to 1989 when he was head teacher in the Explorers classroom.  In 1989 he moved on, spending the next 10 years in the Massachusetts early childhood community as a consultant in the area of educational reform, early childhood curriculum and teacher professional development and as an educational administrator in schools and programs for young children.  

In 1999 Bruce was recruited to help create an undergraduate teacher education program at Bogazici University in Istanbul Turkey.  While continuing to teach overseas, since 2004 he has returned to Lemberg each summer to serve as the Lemberg Summer Program director.  In addition, Bruce holds the position of research associate at the Lemberg-based Center for Early Childhood Teacher Development.

He holds an M.Ed. and Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Substitute Lead Teacher, Drama Specialist and 

Director of Constructive Connections Camp

Chandra PieragostiniChandra brings an extensive and diverse background in theater to her role as Lemberg’s drama specialist. She has studied theater arts at the Royal Shakespeare Company, The National Theatre and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

As a theater educator, she has worked in classrooms with children from elementary to high school for many years. Along with her part-time Lemberg responsibilities, she is the associate director for education for Boston’s City Stage Co. and, during the summers, is the Young Artists at Play director for the Merrimack Repertory Theatre.

Chandra’s acting credits include Clara in "The Nutcracker Players" (Boston Area), Alice/Kristy in "Fitkids" (New England and Indiana), The Wife in "The History and Adventures of Tom Thumb" and various roles in Shear Madness. She has also worked on numerous commercials, industrial videos, independent films and voice-over spots. She is a member of all three acting unions, AEA, AFTRA and SAG.

Chandra earned her B.A. in theater arts from Brandeis.


Speech and Language Pathologist

Julie SellaJulie is Lemberg’s speech language pathologist. She has worked in a variety of therapeutic settings including schools, clinics and early intervention programs, and in private practice. Julie has also worked extensively with children who are on the autism spectrum, use Augmentative Alternative Communication, and have sensory and motor-based feeding difficulties. She has worked with children and adults who have language/communication delays, motor speech and articulation concerns, and hearing loss.

Julie’s clinical interests include social pragmatic methods and approaches such as relationship development intervention (RDI), executive functioning skills, and the work of Michelle Garcia-Winner, Jed Baker and Sara Ward.

She values the relationship between sensory integration and communication and has developed clinical expertise in this area. She enjoys working with families to help build developing skills in settings that are meaningful for each client. She is excited to be part of the Lemberg team!

She received her master’s degree from the MGH Institute of Health Professions and a Certificate of Early Intervention Specialty (CEIS) through her work with the Cambridge-Somerville Early Intervention.