Director, 92nd Street Y Nursery School
Ellen Birnbaum is a 30-year veteran of 92nd Street Y’s Nursery School, where she began as an assistant teacher in 1981. She served as assistant and then associate director from 1996-2011, and assumed her new post as director in June 2011. Ellen is a member of 92Y’s Wonderplay Leadership Team, the organization’s “brain trust” of early childhood educators; she also ran 92Y’s Camp K’Ton Ton, a summer program for children aged three to five, from 1993-2003.
As director, Ellen oversees the day-to-day operation of the pre-school as well as curriculum planning, parent education, staff supervision and admissions. She serves as a liaison with teachers, parents, and children; leads the Nursery School’s innovative parent- and caregiver-education programs; and works closely with classroom teachers to monitor and evaluate each child’s emotional, social and physical development. Ellen has been instrumental in incorporating the wealth of resources at 92Y into the nursery school’s curriculum and enrichment programs; she developed an intergenerational program with 92Y’s seniors, programs in gymnastics and science, all-school music and dance days and attendance at concerts offered through 92Y’s Educational Outreach program.
She is co-author, with Nancy Schulman, of Practical Wisdom for Parents: Raising Self-Confident Children in the Preschool Years (Knopf, 2007). She has spoken about the important role of caregivers in early childhood at meetings of the Association of Teachers at Independent Schools (ATIS), and presented “The Other Parent: Including Caregivers in the School Community,” at the 2009 NYSAIS (NYS Association of Independent School) Early Childhood and Lower School Heads Conference. In May 2006, Ellen attended the Reggio Emilia Study Tour in Italy, which teaches educators from around the world about the internationally renowned infant, toddler and early-childhood programs in this Northern-Italian town.
Ellen received her B.A. from New York University, where she completed a major in Art History and a minor in Education and an M.A. in Fine Arts from the school’s Institute of Fine Arts. She has also taken many courses in early childhood education at the Bank Street College of Education in New York.
She is the mother of two grown children and grandmother of two young children and lives in New York City with her husband.