Meet our Caring Professionals

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Cheryl Demuth, Founder, Executive Director, and Teacher

My first experience in group care was at 4 years old. I went to nursery school three half-days per week to socialize and get ready for Kindergarten. To say I loved it is an understatement. It was the first time I got to be with my peers outside my home. Not only was I with other young people, I wasn’t being cared for by my parents. The expectations were different, the relationships were new, and the environment was made just for me.

I don’t remember my teachers/caregivers. Some of the friends I made went to elementary school with me, but most of the children I also don’t remember. What I do remember is the way the sunlight streamed into the classroom; I remember standing at the easel and painting bold colors across a giant piece of white paper; I remember playing with my friend on a rug as my mother walked into the classroom to pick me up early because I had chicken pox… and I remember how disappointed I felt to leave early even though I was really sick. I remember I felt safe, accepted, seen, and understood at nursery school. I did not feel that way in my home, nor did I feel that way in elementary school or junior/senior high school. But for 10 months, 3 days per week, 3 hours per day when I was 4 years old I was allowed to relax and be who I really was with people who were just like me.

I have degrees in art, psychology, and early childhood administration and policy. And while education is important in the early childhood field, it’s not why I decided to make this my career and open two early childhood programs. I personally understand the value of quality early childhood care, and I want to give other young children the space and time to be themselves in a setting that encourages and supports their own development with the respect and thoughtfulness they deserve.

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Matthew Wetzler, Teacher

I didn’t have much background in early childhood care before I started working at Livingston Street. So on my first day I remember feeling nervous, anxious, and unsure what to do with my feet, hands, and brain.  I quietly entered the classroom and casually wandered around as if looking for loose change.  I was very excited to see the kids, but all the noise and enthusiasm stopped me from interrupting the play underway.  One of the children was voraciously playing on their own in the dress-up / kitchen section.  He would rapidly pull objects out of the sink, shove them into the cupboard, shove them back into the sink, place new objects on what appeared to be a kitchen table, and then jerkily shove everything back into the sink again.  Back and forth and back and forth and then there was a pause.  Then it would begin again.  I decided to duck down and pull up a chair to the chaos that was being organized.  I quietly asked the kid if it was okay that I sat down at the table.  Myles said “Uh. What?” I asked, “Is it okay if I played in the kitchen too?”  He exclaimed, “Sure!” I asked him if he was making dinner – to which he responded, “No. I’m playing restaurant”.  I pulled out a piece of paper and pretended to read a menu.  I asked if he was making spaghetti, steak, or some other food item I knew and he would laugh and squeak, then return to the rapid arrangement of opening cupboards and replacing objects.  I asked some other restaurant related questions as he placed food on a plate in front of me.  He may have laughed or squeaked again — I am unsure —  either way he did not respond with “words”.  Instead he would take the cutlery, or bowl, or some other object away and again place them back into the sink and/or cupboard.  After a little while of this I realized I had become one of the objects in the game and I sat in silence.  It was the most enjoyable silence I had ever felt in a workplace.  I served a function and I could just sit quietly and absorb all the interactions around me.  I observed as children were negotiating turns on the ladder, listened as pretend witches looked for their next victim, and watched the unique body language of the teachers with the children.  Immediately I realized that all of us were learning from all of us all the time — in rapid succession — organizing what we see and do and hear without even needing to speak a sound.  This of course felt to me simultaneously simple and profound.  It wouldn’t be until later that I realized that Myles was finally waving to get my attention — he needed to know how the soup was.  I responded, “The bowl is chipped, the soup is cold, and I am giving this restaurant 2 banana peels!” Just kidding — I have no idea what I said, but I am sure it was very positive and appropriate.

I grew up in renovated old church up the hill from the magnificent Wurts Street Bridge. My partner is Caitlin, we have a baby named Fiona, and we live in Ponckhockie.  I lived for a couple years as a teenager in Toronto and Vancouver as a college student; however, it was too cold and well-meaning so I moved back.  I graduated from Empire State College and I spend a tiny bit of free time rock climbing and reading Das Capital. I love fermented foods and I go on really long story telling rants.  It’s an issue — I won’t stop unless you’re direct with me.  Don’t worry – I won’t be offended.

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Sally Chakwin, Teacher

I first began working at Livingston Street in 2017. I came to cover as a long-term substitute for the summer and when I had to leave in the fall, I was heartbroken. Livingston Street had introduced me to an entirely different way to care for young children and families that felt so natural, so joyful, and so fulfilling, I never wanted to leave. In fact, that fall I spent most of my afternoons after work visiting Livingston Street because I just couldn’t get enough. I relished being in a community of caregivers who loved each other, spending time outside, and witnessing children play and exist in a truly child-centered way. As you can imagine, as soon as the school year ended, I was back at Livingston Street. Lucky for me, I’ve been here since.

One of my favorite things to do is to look closely at something – an object, a moment, an idea – and delve into the meaning behind it. When I was a child, I would sit in my mother’s garden and pluck flowers, dissecting them gingerly with my fingers to reveal hair-like veins or seeds as small as grains of sand, taking it all apart like a jigsaw puzzle until nothing was left. As a young adult, this desire to analyze turned into a love of Art History, and in particular, the study of old cathedrals, where every single nook and cranny promised a world of meaning, if looked at closely enough. These days, I’ve turned my critical lens towards early childhood and human development, sinking deeply into thinking about what it means to raise children, to be a caregiver and educator, and to be in community with others.

I grew up in Connecticut and now live in Rosendale with my partner Rich and our family of pets. I love to hike and scour the ground for fossils and herkimer diamonds; I love to make art, write, and tell stories; and I love to engage in conversation and thought around the nature of being.