OLIVIA SMITH | Founder + Director
Ms. Olivia had not planned on becoming a teacher. Her first job out of college was supposed to be as an assistant teacher with a HeadStart program which she planned to do for 1 year while she figured out what to do with herself not that she finished college. On the first day of teacher orientation with the Hartford HeadStart program they were short one lead teacher and she was asked to take the job because she had some experience with teaching and a bachelor’s degree. During the first three months on the job Olivia fell in love with teaching and fell hard. She fell in love with supporting learning through play, building relationships with her students and in particular working with students who have special needs. Prior to founding Bridges she taught in both general education inclusion classrooms and special education classrooms. She has a Master of Arts degree in Social Work from Columbia University, and a Master of Arts in Education from Bank Street College of Education. Ms. Olivia loves working at Bridges because of the dedication and intelligence of the school’s teachers and staff, and because of the diversity of the students and families that the school serves.
Ms. Olivia is the proud mother of two Bridges’ alumni and loves cooking and watching movies.
Email Olivia: firstname.lastname@example.org
KAY ELASTER | Principal
Email Kay: email@example.com
GEORGIA VERGOS | Chief Operating Officer
Email Georgia: firstname.lastname@example.org
JUDITH DORVIL | Director of Student Support Services
Ms. Dorvil is originally from Queens, NY and but grew up in Miami, FL. She has been working in education since 1999. Ms. Dorvil holds a B.A. in Psychology, and an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Howard University. After 5 years as a School Counselor, she fell in love with the special education field and returned to Howard to obtain her school psychology certification focusing on supporting at-risk and special needs students for 10 years.
Ms. Dorvil loves working at Bridges because of the passion of its staff to provide all students with an equitable education to achieve their highest potential and the strong sense of community.
When she's not working, Ms. Dorvil enjoys cycling, dancing, hiking, traveling to different countries and taking long walks with her dog around the city.
Email Judith: email@example.com
DANETTE DICKS | Assistant Principal
Ms. Dicks, AKA Ms. D believes that it is her life’s mission to ensure that all students get a very strong educational foundation that will transform them into life-long learners. She strongly believes that the quality of the teacher determines the future of the student and views her teaching and leadership as a responsibility and privilege of enormous magnitude. This responsibility to students and educators is what gets her motivated to come to the safe haven called school everyday.
Ms. Dicks is an island girl hailing from the beautiful country of Jamaica. The field of Education has been her only career for over seventeen years. She has earned two Bachelors’ degrees; one in Early Childhood Education at Shortwood Teachers College in Jamaica and one in Middle Grade Studies with a minor in Special Education at Western Carolina University. She has also earned a Masters in Elementary Reading and Literacy from Walden University. She has completed Leadership endorsement training at Harvard University Graduate School of Education and with Leading Educators, DC.
Ms. D’s passion in education is teacher coaching; ensuring that the best individual is in front of students each day to provide the exemplary education for all students that she sincerely believes in at Bridges. Ms. D is very humbled to be a part of an organization where educators truly believe in and support students; provide learning opportunities that allow students to explore on their own, develop empathy for each other, respect diversity in peers, where staff know students names and greet them each morning as they enter the building.
When Ms. D is not at Bridges she spends her time with her family, watching movies, reminiscing on her not so recent track career as a “want to be track star” and being thankful for every moment she spends with her daughter.
Email Danette: firstname.lastname@example.org
JOSEPH EGAN | ELL Coordinator
Mr. Joseph comes to us from the Midwest, where he studied linguistics at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio ("Woo!! Go Vikings!") He got his masters in TESOL at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA. Before joining the Bridges team, Joseph taught both adult and elementary ESL.
Mr. Joseph loves to learn about his students and where they come from. He enjoys studying other languages. He takes his love of languages back home with him, where he speaks both English and Spanish at home with his wife and kids. What Joseph loves most about working with children who are learning English is see how fast they learn. He
Outside of Bridges, Mr. Joseph loves spending time reading and making a mess of the house with his two daughters.
Email Joseph: Jegan@bridgespcs.org
NATHANIEL HO | Assistant Director of Student Support
Mr. Nate was born and raised in born in Richmond, VA, and has been working in education since 2003, where he began his career as an Applied Behavior Analysis therapist. He has worked with students with both high and low incidence disabilities and served as a special education leader for the past 5 years. Mr. Nate believes that children really appreciate a person who genuinely invests in them by listening and by being fair and consistent.
Outside of his professional life, Mr. Nate enjoys running, biking, hiking, crossfit, watching movies, and cooking with his wife.
Email Nate: email@example.com
KRISTEL GUZMAN | Operations Manager
Email Kristel: firstname.lastname@example.org
BINTA GARRETT | Literacy Coordinator
Ms. Garrett is a teacher who is living her dream! She made a career change in 2004 from working for many years as a computer programmer. She wanted to help the children that needed the most help, especially in reading. Ms. Garrett believes in keeping a positive attitude about life and anyone who knows her can testify to that; she has a perpetual smile on her face.
Ms. Garrett went to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania for her undergraduate education and studied business administration. Many years later, she went back to school and earned a master's degree in special education at George Washington University. A few years later, she went back to GW to earn a reading and literacy certificate to better equip her in her work helping struggling readers.
“What I like best about Bridges is the pleasant working environment. There's a camaraderie among my colleagues that continues to grow each year. I also like the feeling that my efforts are valued and appreciated at Bridges. And, I love the kids, of course. For most of my teaching career, I have worked with older students, so it's a joy to work with younger children who still have a curiosity and thirst to learn.”
Email Binta: email@example.com
SHALA KATONGO | Special Education Instructional Coach
Email Shala: firstname.lastname@example.org
ERIKA MAGANA | Early Childhood Curriculum Coordinator
Ms. Erika is from the DC area. She went to the University of Maryland for undergraduate studies in Early Childhood Education and the University of Pennsylvania for her Master’s in Education, Culture, and Society. Before joining the Bridges team, Erika did research on the impact of play and young children’s early development and the impact of teacher’s perspectives on student learning and taught pre-k and 1st grade in Philadelphia.
Before becoming the ECE Coordinator, she was a Pre-k teacher at Bridges in the Terps and Bunnies classroom. She always strives to make learning extend beyond the classroom to build on children’s natural curiosity, to enable them to interact, question, connect, problem-solve and reflect on their learning. She hopes to impart young children’s awareness of self and others and a love of learning.
Her favorite part of the day is going into the classroom to talk children and see what they are learning, how they are feeling and what they are curious about at the moment. Erika loves working at Bridges because of its collaborative and caring teachers that truly want the best for all students.
Outside of Bridges, Erika loves traveling, going to NBA games, watching movies with her husband, and being a tourist in her hometown.
Email Erika: email@example.com
KRISTIN NAGY | Arts Integration Coordinator + Art Teacher
Ms. Kristin is originally from the great state of Michigan and has been working in education since 2004. She began her career in teaching through The New Teacher Project and has taught both general and special education in urban schools in Washington, DC and Minneapolis, MN. Ms. Kristin holds a B.A. in Political Science from Michigan State University, an M.A. in Special Education from Trinity University, an Ed.M. in Arts in Education from Harvard University, and a graduate certificate in Curriculum & Instruction from American University. She is passionate about arts education and research and was a contributing author to the book Arts Integration and Special Education: An Inclusive Theory of Action for Student Engagement (Anderson, 2014).
Ms. Kristin loves working at Bridges because of the dynamic and creative staff and students. Her favorite part of teaching is seeing her students bring their ideas to life through their art work.
When she's not working, Ms. Kristin enjoys building things, being outdoors, road trips, and rock & roll music. She recently adopted a pup named Charley and she loves to spend time exploring the city with her.
Email Kristin: firstname.lastname@example.org
RYAN NORRIS | Behavioral Intervention Lead
Email Ryan: email@example.com
LAUREN STEINMETZ | Lead Related Service Provider + Speech-Language Pathologist
Lauren loves being a speech-language pathologist (SLP) and has a passion for helping all kids learn, especially kids with a variety of special needs. Lauren grew up in the Midwest and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Speech and Hearing Sciences at Indiana University. She then went to the University of Iowa and earned her Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology. After graduating, Lauren worked in Iowa City Public Schools for three years before moving to the big city of New York with her family. She worked at KIPP NYC and in a private ABA school before relocating to DC and finding Bridges.
Lauren believes Bridges is a wonderful place to work because the teaching team and administration are always looking for ways to grow and help every student learn! The Related Services Department at Bridges is one of a kind, creating a collaborative therapeutic program for children with special needs.
When not working, you can find Lauren spending time with her family relaxing at the pool, hiking through parks, going to the zoo, and exploring DC.
Email Lauren: firstname.lastname@example.org
COLLEEN SULLIVAN | Curriculum Coordinator
Colleen is from the mighty Midwest. She grew up outside Chicago and then went to Hope College in Holland, Michigan, The Tulip Capital of the United States. She majored in Elementary Education and Language Arts. From there, she packed up all her belongings in her tiny Scion XA and moved to DC.
Colleen learned about how wonderful Bridges was through a Bridges family. She was a teacher at Bridges for three years before transitioning into the role of Curriculum Coordinator. Colleen loves Bridges because of the collaboration and growth mindset of all the teachers and staff. She loves seeing the students' progress over the years and thinking about how hard they've worked to get there!
Colleen is part of a bowling league and is teaching herself how to play the ukulele through youtube videos. Colleen lives in Annapolis, and on the weekends, she likes eating crabs and taking her dog Willa to the dog beach.
Email Colleen: email@example.com