Our Philosophy

You’re looking for a school that provides the very best for your child. At Dillon, we provide the essential tools to build young minds. Click here to learn more about the philosophy behind our curriculum.



Modern, bright and spacious classrooms foster growth and learning for every child.



Experienced early childhood specialists help develop each child’s uniqueness.



Dillon boasts a student-to-teacher ratio that ensures individualized attention.



A full range of additional programs appeal to our students’ various skills and interests.

Our Teachers

Susan Straut Collard, Ph.D.


Susan has been a professor in the Child Study department of St. Joseph’s University since 1988. She served as the Director of the Dillon Center from 2004-2013, and now she is back as the Director. Susan earned her Ph.D. in Special Education from Columbia University. Working with children who have special needs has always been her passion. Susan has 4 children, all of whom attended the Dillon Center!

Carol Gerstmann

Assistant Director

Carol joined the Dillon Center in June 2023 as its Assistant Director after a long career as an early childhood teacher. She holds an MS from SUNY Albany in Early Childhood Education with a specialization in Literacy. Carol has always been connected to schools that value play-based and social-emotional learning, and she has mentored many new teachers along the way. Carol enjoys supporting teachers as they create meaningful and engaging curriculum.

Rachel Eager

Dillon Center Administrative Assistant

Rachel came to the Dillon Center in the summer of 2023. She has been working with children ranging in age from early childhood through grade 8 for many years, with roles such as being in the classroom as an assistant teacher to serving as an After School program coordinator across multiple DOE sites. Rachel graduated from Hunter College with a degree in Applied Psychology. She is excited to have the opportunity to once again work in a childcare setting.

Gina Guglielmo

Special Education Teacher in Classroom One — Inclusion

Gina has been the special education teacher in Classroom 1 since 2017. She completed her M.A. in literacy and cognition at St. Joseph’s University. In the classroom, Gina loves to read stories, play pretend, and do cooking activities with her students!

Kaitie Button

General Education Head Teacher in Classroom One

Kaitie is the general education head teacher in classroom one. She completed her B.S. in elementary education at the University of Vermont. Kaitie started at the Dillon Center in September of 2023, and she is excited to get to know the students and watch them learn and grow. She loves to integrate movement, art, and nature into her teaching.

Merlina Pollidore-Joseph

Special Education Assistant Teacher in Classroom One — Inclusion

Merlina is the Special Education Assistant Teacher in Classroom One. She has been working in the Inclusion classroom since 2002.  She is the mother of three children, the oldest of whom is a Dillon Center alum. She has a passion for working with young children, and helping them to grow. She loves planning big art projects such as murals, paper mache, and puppet making.

Kelly O’Donnell

Assistant Teacher in Classroom One

Kelly is an Assistant Teacher in Classroom One. She enjoys cooking, doing puzzles and reading books. She got to know and love Dillon when she was a student at St. Joseph’s University.

Eva Jefferson-Page

Head teacher in Classroom Two

Eva is the head teacher in Classroom Two. She completed her B.A. in Child Study at St. Joseph’s University, and is enrolled in a master’s program in special education at SJNY. Eva’s favorite things to do in the classroom are finger painting, making and using playdough, and matching games. She loves playing with children!

Roderick Jones

Assistant Teacher in Classroom Two

Rod is an Assistant Teacher in Classroom Two. Rod started at the Dillon Center in 2021 but has 9 years of experience working in early childhood. He loves to read books, explore nature and learn what fascinates his students. He enjoys doing messy art projects in the classroom that allow the children to express themselves.

Emily Figueroa

Head Teacher in Classroom Three

Ms. Emily loves young children and enjoys learning from them as well as teaching them. She is a graduate of St. Joseph’s College with a Master’s in Literacy and Cognition. Ms. Emily is the mother of eight grown children and a Girl Scout Leader for over 25 years.

Margaret (Peggy) Donovan

Assistant Teacher in Classroom Three

Miss Peggy has been at the Dillon Center since 1995. Even after all that time, she is still excited to play with the children every day. She especially likes to bake and cook with them.

Cara Hayden

Assistant Teacher in Classroom Three

Cara is an Assistant Teacher in Classroom Three. She started working at the Dillon Center in January of 2022, after graduating from St. Joseph’s University. She loves to play with children, and enjoys all of the various centers in the Dillon classrooms.

Emily Sabando

Head Teacher in Classroom 4

Emily has been teaching at the Dillon Center since 2016. She has an M.S.Ed. in Early Childhood Education with an extension in Special Education, from Brooklyn College. She loves to work with young children, nurture their curiosities, and plan activities and experiences based on their interests!

Candice Joseph

Assistant Teacher in Classroom Four

Candice is an Assistant Teacher in Classroom Four. She enjoys reading stories, doing arts and crafts, and music, and she is looking forward to doing these things with her students at Dillon. Candice has been involved with the Dillon Center for many years as a substitute teacher, and she also graduated from St. Joseph’s University.

Sister Patricia Dittmer CSJ

Head Teacher in Classroom Five

Sister Patricia Dittmer received her B.A. from St. Joseph’s University, her M.S. in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education, and her P.D. in Supervision and Leadership. She is the co-author of the book Look Listen and Plan — Developing Literacy in Young Children. Sister Patricia is also a Consultant at Catholic School Academy, and an Instructor of Early Childhood Education at St. Joseph’s College. She has a passion for art and creativity, music and movement, and learning.

Victoria Contreras

Assistant Teacher in Classroom Five

Victoria Contreras has been at Dillon since 2001. She enjoys singing songs, reading stories and cooking with the children. Sometimes she plans activities in Spanish because she is bilingual.

Our Programs

Classroom One — INCLUSION

Classroom One — INCLUSION

Age Group: 3s and 4s — A unique and child-driven class based on inquiry and discovery. Read more.

Class Size




Classroom Two

Classroom Two

Age Group: mixed 2s/3s — These oldest 2s and youngest 3s learn about going to school, perhaps for the first time, and expand on language and social skills. Read more.

Class Size




Classroom Three

Classroom Three

Age Group: 3s — Designed for Dillon's middle three year olds, children explore the school environment and learn how to function and thrive with other students. Read more.

Class Size




Classroom Four

Classroom Four

Age Group: 2s — In this classroom, children work on navigating the world of preschool. Read more.

Class Size




Classroom Five

Classroom Five

Age Group: Pre-K/K — In Dillon’s Pre-K classroom, we involve the children in the study of things nearby that interest them and are worth knowing more about. Read more.

Class Size






Gymstars provides a fun-filled class with exciting skills to learn, brightly colored equipment and choreographed movement routines to motivate and challenge your child, while offering a tremendous amount of fun!


Young children will have enriching and vital musical experiences that help them gain a sense of themselves and a connection to the world they live in.

Created by Kids

Created by Kids is excited to offer our ceramics class at the Dillon Center. The integration of art in a child’s development can advance creativity and imagination while refining important fine motor skills.

After School Program

Parents of children currently enrolled at the Dillon Center may opt to have their children stay until 5 p.m. in our After School Program. The program is staffed by Dillon Center teachers, and is an extension of the school day. The program is limited to 18 children on any given day, and enrollment is first-come, first-served. Parents may choose to send their child Monday-Friday, Monday/Wednesday/Friday, Monday/Wednesday, or Tuesday/Thursday.
  • “These teachers made my child feel loved and happy to go to school each day.”

    Classroom 2 Parent
  • Dillon has been such a sweet, magical experience for Zian.  It’s the first place that he has readily wanted to leave me to “go to big boy school” and just this past week, it’s the place that inspired a meltdown when he found out he was on “break.” He adores his teachers and his confidence as a learner has grown in leaps and bounds.  When we drive by it, he declares so proudly that it is “[his] school.”

    Classroom 4 Parent
  • “Classroom 4 and its teachers are phenomenal. What a loving and supportive environment it is & such a tremendous asset for St. Joe’s.”

    Classroom 4 Parent
  • I love the Dillon Center and the gentle, nurturing environment with spacious classrooms and a beautiful outdoor play area. The thing I love most about the school is the warmth and genuine love from all the teachers I have gotten to know over the years. They are all so passionate and kind, giving honest feedback on the kids and also explaining developmental stages in a non-judgmental way.

  • The children in Sister Pat’s class have bonded very well. They are like a little family. It’s a wonderful and nurturing environment. I am so happy that my son has continued on for one more year at Dillon.

  • Dillon has a beautiful outdoor play area for its pre-schoolers. The staff at Dillon ROCK!!!

  • My son absolutely loves going to school! He is learning how to be a flexible thinker, a curious investigator, a thoughtful problem-solver and a lover of life! And somehow the teachers make it all seem so effortless. Dillon is a wonderful community of educators who really care about teaching the whole child, we are thrilled to be a part of it!

    Classroom 3 Parent
  • “Our son has flourished at Dillon-first in Classroom 1 and now is having a fantastic year in Classroom 5. He is one of the younger children in the class and we have watched him grow in confidence and develop fantastic friendships attending Dillon. There are excellent facilities and it is a beautiful and secure setting for children. In short, at Dillon they really support and see the whole child.”

    Classroom 5 Parent