JANELLE BARTH – director of operations
Janelle discovered her love for working with kids when she was 3 years old and led her preschool classmates in a rebellion against watching Sesame Street in favor of Adam West Batman reruns. Ever since this successful campaign she has been working with children in jobs including after school tutor, swim instructor and camp counselor. Now that her hope of fulfilling her lifelong dream of becoming an astronaut is no longer a career option she is happy to have apple seeds to fall back on since it helps support her J.Crew habit. In her spare time she loves to bake, is a fiercely competitive scrabble player and loves outdoor sports. Janelle has a B.S. in Statistics from Carnegie Mellon University, is very good at math and loves working at apple seeds because working with kids makes her smile and reminds her to enjoy the simple things in life. She is still a proud member of team West.
RYAN DEJAK – general manager (chelsea)
Ryan was born and raised on Long Island, but as many Long Islanders do, always LONGed for the Big Apple. Ryan is a proud graduate of Stonehill College in North Easton, MA. He graduated with Bachelors Degree in both Psychology and Fine Arts. While in college, Ryan strengthened his love of working with children and the performing arts. His passion for Musical Theatre led him to NYC, where he attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. The life of an actor in NYC is both exciting and draining. Ryan got energy boosts and a lot of joy from his work with children and their families while employed for various organizations throughout the city. Ryan feels that he was destined to be the Birthday and Event Manager at apple seeds based on an experience with a Ouija board his Freshman year of college. He asked the Ouija board where his career would take him in the future. The board spelled “APPLE”. Ryan always thought it meant that he would work in "the Big Apple", but it is now clear to him that it was not only the Big Apple that he was destined for, but apple seeds!
JENNIFER STRAUSSER – general manager (upper west side)
Jen applied for a job at apple seeds because she truly loves every child she meets (and she could walk to work). In fact, she threatens to take a few home with her every day. (Don't worry her background check came back clean.) In the past four years she has gone from creating and launching our extremely popular apple seedlings gentle separation program to overseeing all apple seeds classes, teachers and curriculum to general manager of our 25th Street location. We call Jen the baby whisperer around these parts. Put a child (or parent for that matter) in her arms and watch the tears turn to laughter in 3.2 seconds flat. Jen is mother to Cole, an amazing 10 year old boy who is obsessed with Ultimate Fighting and his mom.
JAIME KOBIN – business manager
After a childhood in the suburbs of Long Island, Jaime graduated summa cum laude from Boston University with a BA in Communication. During college, she completed internships in Sydney, Australia and London, England as well as in the Smithsonian Office of Public Affairs in Washington, DC. After school, Jaime spent 2 ½ years at Nielsen, where she coordinated conferences in the marketing, media and entertainment sectors, before she was stolen away by apple seeds to combine her event planning interest with her passion for children (as a teenager, she was a high-demand babysitter and spent several summers working at day camp). In her free time, Jaime enjoys biking, tennis, travel, ice cream and photography.
TOM DELPIZZO – facilities/classroom manager and multimedia coordinator
Tom, a native of Bucks County, PA, feels like he was born for his role at apple seeds. As a trained actor (He is amazing at pretending to LOVE your kids! We're kidding…He truly does love them all.), he has traveled the world. and has performed many illustrious roles on stage such as: the tiger, the donkey, and of course…the other donkey. He juggles, tumbles, sings and dances. He raps, he flaps, he does magic tricks. As apple seeds’ facilities/classroom coordinator, Tom is often seen running around apple seeds (coffee in hand) painting, fixing, or juggling plastic fruit from the playground deli. As our Multimedia Coordinator, Tom is responsible for designing apple seeds ads, banners, signs and newsletters. A few years ago he made the mistake of showing us his incredible photography and has since been crowned apple seeds in-house photographer. If that is not enough, Tom is currently working on perfecting the art of spinning plates.
CASSIE ORZANO – birthday manager
Cassie joined the apple seeds’ team in November 2010. She has done everything from coordinating marketing efforts, to creating and hanging the signs that you see around the space, to assisting at the front desk or in classes. She enjoys working with kids and seeing the smiles on their faces when they come to apple seeds. She also loves when the kids remember her name and say hi to her even when they’ve only seen her in class two or three times! Cassie recently found out she has a bunch of parties to plan…newly engaged, she is planning her wedding, and as apple seeds’ new birthday manager, she will be planning your child’s ridiculously fun birthday bash. Cassie received her bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Binghamton University in 2007 and graduated with a master’s degree in Public Relations and Advertising from DePaul University in 2010. She had a great experience living in Chicago for two years, but she now feels at home in the Big Apple. Outside of apple seeds, Cassie enjoys cheering on her favorite sports teams (Go Giants!), cooking and spending time with friends and family. She loves animals and has a mischievous, spoiled cat named Milo.
DAN GRIFFITH – music coordinator
When Dan Griffith was growing up, his only wish was to one day become a horse. He didn’t quite get there, but at least at songs for seeds he can pretend to be a different animal every day of the week. He takes particular pride in his monkey impersonation (but we think his elephant is Oscar worthy). After graduating with a BA in English from Connecticut College in 2005, Dan toured the east coast for two years, playing in various bands, and well over 200 shows. He joined the apple seeds team in 2008 and found his calling working with children. He loves performing more than anything except helping kids smile and dance. Luckily he gets to do both every day in his songs for seeds classes. Dan would never brag about himself so we will...he can often be found performing for children in various hospitals. Check out his debut CD, "The Spaces In Between".
TERRY STREET – facilities/classroom coordinator
Terry’s love of working with children started as early as he can remember. His mother has run a day care (in the home he grew up in) for over 30 years. During his high school and college years he spent every summer as a camp counselor or doing odd jobs and landscaping for his grandfather. After graduating from SUNY Brockport with a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Psychology he spent time teaching English in France and working with troubled teenagers in San Diego (and a few other places in between) before making the move to the big city. The first job he got at apple seeds was as a playground lifeguard and he has never looked back. Terry is now the Facilities/Classroom Coordinator at our Chelsea location, as well a lead teacher for apple seedlings, apple CORE training, build it! break it! fix it! and many other classes. If you ever can’t find Terry it means he is practicing his (unbelievably awesome) break dancing moves in the songs for seeds room.
WILL ROSE – front desk manager (chelsea and oval kids locations)
Will started at apple seeds right after arriving in the Big Apple from Madison, Wisconsin – almost 5 years ago. He has truly done every job at apple seeds…he has been a teacher, a playground supervisor, apple seeds’ summer camp coordinator and is now front desk manager for our Chelsea and Oval Kids locations. Will started working with children in 1999, as a Counselor-In-Training at Camp Shalom in the Dairy State. He graduated with a B.S. in political science from the University of Minnesota, and he recently completed his Master’s in Urban Policy at the New School. He plans to utilize his degree by advocating for the expansion of subsidized child care for low-income residents of New York City. He resides in lovely Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, but you can spot him all over the five boroughs (well, at least three of them) in the city’s finest rap-friendly music venues, roaming the parks with a frisbee, honing his karaoke, trivia, and pool skills, or posted up at various purveyors of tacos, pizza, labneh, curry, pho, arepas, pernil, falafel, and gabagoo. Delicious!
OTIS WASHINGTON – front desk manager (upper west wide)
Otis was born and raised in the heart of cheese town (Wisconsin). Ever since Otis was old enough to have a job, he has worked with children. For the past 5 years Otis has worked at the YMCA – giving himself the esteemed title of "Mr. YMCA". It was during his time at the youth department at the Y that Otis realized working with kids is his passion. We are now proud to say that Otis has given himself a new self-appointed title (which we think has a much nicer ring to it)... "Mr. apple seeds". Otis is currently enrolled in a master's degree program at NYU. Otis says he LOVES apple seeds because of the wonderful family environment and the fact that it reminds him of his own childhood (he also knows we are editing this blurb and that last line will make him sound even sweeter than he already is).
SAM LUDDY – Oval Kids supervisor
Sam joined the apple seeds team as a teacher in September, 2012. He came to The Big Apple from Beantown, a fresh graduate of Berklee College of Music with a concentration in upright bass and a degree in Music Education. While music is his passion, he loves all subjects. In addition to songs for seeds, he has taught apple CORE training, world sippy cup soccer, OOOHHH...AAAHHH...IIICCCKKK... (science), COOKing monsters, my Chelsea art opening, and build it! break it! fix it! When he’s not at apple seeds, he’s either teaching in-home music lessons, listening to jazz, reading Batman comics, or (and this is his favorite) enjoying life in Brooklyn with his fiancée Anna, dog Ellie, and cat, Mo.