Facilitator Bios - Early Childhood Track
Sonia Blanco-Florentino has served in NYC public schools for 30 years. Her roles included supporting schools and CPSE as an educational evaluator, teacher trainer, and bilingual special education teacher. In addition to her Cooke consulting work, Sonia mentors, supervises, and teaches teachers at City College who are in the process of obtaining their Master’s degree and State certification.
Virginia Blum is a school psychologist and licensed behavior analyst who has over 25 years experience working with children who have autism spectrum disorder, developmental delays and behavioral challenges. She provides ongoing behavioral consultation to teachers, parents and other school professionals to ensure appropriate implementation of behavioral methods to improve language/communication, social, behavioral and adaptive skills. She specializes in comprehensive developmental and behavioral evaluations, functional behavioral assessments and behavior intervention plan development and implementation.
Liz Box and Janiva Jones
Liz Box- I am a New York State Verified Trainer listed below. I have 20 years experience in the field of early childhood which includes working as a Director in a Nassau County program and as a trainer for 15 years. My areas of verification from NYS are Verified Trainer in the topic areas of Health and Safety for Family and Group Family Child Care, Day Care Centers and SACC Programs and Director Training for DCC and SACC Programs. In Addition I am verified in the areas of Children Social and Emotional Development and Nurturing the Brain. I have been working in the filed assisting with licensing process through NYS OCFS, NAEYC accreditation, Child Development Associate Credential trainer, advisor and ECC reviewer, NAFCC Observer and CPR and First Aid trainer.
Laurie DuBos, Ph. D.
Laurie DuBos is an Associate Professor at Concordia College-NY. She currently teaches early childhood education and early childhood special education courses with an emphasis on inclusion of young students with developmental delays. She has 15 years of classroom teaching experience, ranging from preschool through middle school and has been an administrator/principal in both private and public school settings.
Lauren Rankel is the STEM and Digital Literacy teacher at St. Peter's Nursery School in Huntington, NY She has been blessed for 15 years to be on staff at such a loving school. She holds a B.S from CW Post in Elementary Ed. with a Math concentration and an M.S from StonyBrook University in Educational Technology.
Nicole Roccaro has a passion for learning in nature, open ended play, loose parts, process art and the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood. Nicole makes it a priority to use materials that support these ideals at home with her two little boys and documents their journey on Instagram. With years of professional development experience she also provides consulting and teacher training. Nicole holds a Masters in Early Childhood from NYU and has worked in the field for twenty years.
Lauren Tobing-Puente, PhD & Jaime Marrus, PhD
Dr. Lauren Tobing-Puente is a NYS licensed psychologist who earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology, with a specialization in child and family therapy, from Fordham University. She worked for many years in infant-toddler, preschool, and Head Start programs in addition to school, home and hospital settings for children with special needs. For more than a decade in private practice, Dr. Tobing-Puente has provided evaluations and treatment for individuals from toddlerhood to young adulthood and works closely together with their families and school programs. Her developmental and relationship-based approach guides her work with families and professionals.
Dr. Jaime Marrus is a NYS licensed psychologist who earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology, with a specialization in childhood/adolescence, from St. John’s University. She currently provides evaluations to children of all ages and provides psychotherapy and parent consultation to young children and their families in private practice with Dr. Tobing-Puente. She also currently serves as a psychologist in the Therapeutic Nursery at the Child Development Center (at JBFCS). There, she provides play therapy and assessments for preschool-aged children presenting with developmental delays, communication problems, social/emotional/behavioral difficulties, or attention and learning deficits, as well as consultation for multidisciplinary teams, and supervision and didactic training for psychology graduate students.
Dawn Yablonsky, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Licensed School Social Worker who has been in the field of Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education for over 20 years. Dawn is a school social worker and oversees the Ongoing Service Coordinators at Variety Child Learning Center.
She provides family training, support groups and counseling to families of children with developmental delays.
She has an expertise is providing behavioral and emotional support to children and families throughout early intervention and preschool. She facilitates support groups and provides parent training and counseling to families of children with developmental delays.
Andie Zukerman, MS, MA
Variety Child Learning Center
Mrs. Zukerman has served as Coordinator of VCLC's Evaluation Center for more than 25 years. She conducts assessments of young children, meets with families and serves school districts throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties as well as Queens County. She supervises evaluators in the fields of Psychology, Speech/Language, Education, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy. She is also a seminar leader for VCLC, conducting training workshops for the professional community. She has taught social skills for several years and has taught nursery and kindergarten classes for 11 years at VCLC.