Staff Members

Susan Straut Collard, Ph.D.

Director

Susan Straut Collard, Ph.D.

About

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!

About

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 Gerstmann

About

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.

About

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 Eager

About

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.

About

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 Guglielmo

About

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!

About

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 Button

About

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.

About

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 Pollidore-Joseph

About

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.

About

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 O’Donnell

About

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.

About

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 Jefferson-Page

About

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!

About

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

Roderick Jones

About

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.

About

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

Emily Figueroa

About

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.

About

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

Margaret (Peggy) Donovan

About

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.

About

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 Hayden

About

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.

About

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 Sabando

About

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!

About

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 Joseph

About

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.

About

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 CSJ

About

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.

About

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

About

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.

About

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.