Meet Our Teachers

Cheryl Demuth, Founder, Executive Director, and Teacher

In 2001, I began working with young children in a small, group family daycare program. Prior to my work with young children, I taught all ages, including adults returning to school at the local community college. However, I quickly realized (while sitting in the dress-up area of the classroom with a tea cup in one hand and a dinosaur in the other) that early childhood education was the career I wanted to pursue.

After working a few years in the field, I returned to school for my graduate degree. Attending Bank Street College of Education in New York, I received a Masters in Early Childhood Leadership in 2008. Upon graduation, I began the process of creating Livingston Street. With the help of many friends and family, Livingston Street opened its doors to the Kingston community in November 2010. Since then, the program has grown in size and reputation. With an emphasis on emotional and social development, outdoor experiences, and community involvement, Livingston Street is a progressive and sustainable early childhood program that is inclusive of all.

I live in Kingston with my husband, Tim. We have two rabbits, Hazel and Florian. I love to read, go for boat rides on the Hudson River, hike, and make new friends!

Matthew Wetzler, Teacher

I enjoy many things (including but not limited to) cooking vegetables, climbing rocks, reading New York State history, and playing chess.  I am incessantly curious about the goings on about town but I am very good at pretending I am not curious! #nottrue But don’t let a boring biography fool you, I am a fun-loving and persnickety individual with big ideas who is able to out-question the constant questions of all the little ones at Livingston Street. #true

I am also a fact finder and a fact conveyor. So,  an odd fact about me is that I grew up in a renovated church in Kingston on Wurts street (up the hill from the Wurts St. Bridge).  Which church I hear you ask? It’s the second church on the right if you’re facing the north facing church in the opposite direction.  Some more weird facts about me  include…  I have duel citizenship with Canada.  #sorrynotsorry I have traveled to Indonesia several times and I lived in Vancouver.  I started making Kimchi this past couple years and I love it.  Though, I haven’t buried anything in the ground yet, I still need claypots.   I was also recently voted onto the Kingston Library Board as a trustee.

Subjects that have always fascinated me but I have been way too impatient to study include: the function and activity of yeasts, the life cycles of the common newt, police helmets, and Brinkley Court. Things that I do that I don’t exactly “enjoy” include; read the news, talk about the news, and recover with satire of the news.

Sally Chakwin, Teacher

I grew up in Connecticut with my family and as a child I often went off on my own, wandering the neighborhood, following dogs on their walks, exploring the woods behind my house, creating forts of our bamboo trees. One of my favorite past-times was to sit on my porch and whittle, watching the neighborhood wake up for the day or settle in for the night. As I teacher I try to remember how much I learned through these independent wanderings in the natural world and strive to provide the same freedom for my students, the same power and tools to cultivate a satisfying, self-driven curriculum.
I’ve been living in the Hudson Valley since 2012, when I transferred to Bard College to complete my undergraduate studies in medieval art history. While taking classes I began to work at Bard’s Nursery School as a student assistant and completely fell in love with the world of early education. I found I was drawing a lot of comparisons between early learning and art history – both fields are interdisciplinary by nature, are reliant on symbolic thinking, and value aesthetics and a keen analytical eye. I also began to draw comparisons between the social development playing out between my college-student peers and the children I was teaching. It reminded me that life is a constant process of just trying to find your place, your people, and your self. The more time I spent with young children, the more I began to learn about the deeply rooted ways in which we are all connected.
After graduating, I was hired to teach full-time in Bard’s early education program and began training in childhood development at Dutchess Community College, gaining certification through the nationally recognized Child Development Association. I also began participating in monthly seminar-style meetings held at Bard by The Early Childhood Institute of the Hudson River Valley, an organization that connected me with Cheryl and Livingston Street.
Working with young children has allowed me to once more live in wonder and curiosity, to embrace the unknown, to take on the roles of anthropologist, researcher, naturalist, artist, and more, as the child does when they wake up each morning. Teaching has given depth to my belief in the power of community and in the importance of investing in our youngest citizens and the natural world around us that sustains us all.

Tiffany Smith, Teacher

I am originally from the Midwest and grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. I have been nurturing a creative imagination and a love of art since childhood. My family also taught me the love of adventure during this time. In 2001, I moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college. Eventually I received my MFA from the Academy of Art University in 2011. Upon graduation I moved to NYC to pursue work as a photographer. Unfortunately the reality of the work meant I would be spending most of my time behind a computer. Knowing that it wouldn’t work for me, I started to listen to that little voice in the back of my head telling me to start teaching. In 2013, I started volunteering at The Children’s Museum of the Arts in NYC. Within a couple of months they hired me. During my time at the museum I taught various after school classes and camps in a wide range of media including printmaking, photography, bookmaking, and early foundation courses in drawing, painting, and sculpture. After five years living in the city, I moved to the lower Hudson Valley where I lived in Warwick, NY for two years. During this time I continued to teach art in a small Montessori School and Catholic School to grades Pre K – 8th, and I supplemented my income as a nanny for a family with whom I maintain a strong relationship today. In 2018 I moved to Tillson, NY and I am excited to see what adventures await me in the Upper Hudson Valley!

Outside of school, I nurture my own artistic practice and am most inspired by found objects, nature, and folk art. I also love adventures, mini golf, cooking and flea markets.