OUR TEAM | Cresthill Academy Management Team And Staff
Christina Dorando, B.S., M.Ed. | Founder & CEO
School founder and CEO Christina Dorando holds a Master of Education degree in International Education Policy from Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. Ms. Christina holds a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Policy & Management and International Relations from Carnegie Mellon University. Ms. Christina is bilingual in English and Mandarin Chinese.
After spending years in the early education field, both as a teacher and an administrator, Ms. Christina identified a need to disrupt early childhood education beyond its current offerings.
With the founding of our inaugural program, Hillcrest Preschool in Lyndhurst in 2011 and Cresthill Academy in East Hanover in 2014, Ms. Christina's vision of an innovative and progressive early childhood program became a reality.
Cresthill Academy features a proprietary curriculum, innovative programming emphasizing healthy, organic and sustainable living, and early foreign language education and culture classes to foster a cosmopolitan worldview from a young age.
Ms. Christina is a Trustee of Preschool Advantage, a not-for-profit organization providing need-based preschool tuition for children in Northern New Jersey.
She is extremely passionate about providing Exceptional Early Education to all children and pushing the boundaries of early childhood education practices and standards. In the words of Andrew Carnegie, "My Heart is in the Work," and Ms. Christina's heart is certainly in Cresthill Academy.
Joan Josso, B.A. | Family & School Liaison Director & Lyndhurst Center Director
Joan Josso holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Rutgers University, New Brunswick campus. Prior to her foray into the early education field, Ms. Joan was previously in the legal and corporate fields where she obtained over 20 years of administrative experience.
After leaving the corporate world, Ms. Joan joined the education field where she became a Child Development Specialist. Ms. Joan has 15 years’ experience in the classroom and she was the assistant director of a large private daycare center in Secaucus, New Jersey.
Looking for a change, Ms. Joan accepted a teaching position at Cresthill Academy of Lyndhurst (formerly Hillcrest Preschool) as our head teacher, and was subsequently promoted to school director in 2016. She is responsible for guiding the teaching staff, enrollment and day-to-day operations. She is also CPR and First Aid Certified for infants and young children.
Ms. Joan’s biggest joy comes from spending time with the children. She is always seeking ways to challenge them academically as well as making them laugh. Her favorite time is the early morning when she gets to greet each child and their families with warmth, kindness and love.
Belle Liu, B.A. | Operations Manager
Belle Liu holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice with a focus on Children and Human Services and a minor in Women's and Gender Studies from Rutgers University, New Brunswick campus. Ms. Belle is bilingual in English and Mandarin Chinese, and is conversational in Spanish.
Ms. Belle started as a Teacher's Assistant at Cresthill Academy of Lyndhurst (formerly Hillcrest Preschool) in 2011 and has been with Cresthill Academy since then in various roles, including but not limited to, Teacher's Assistant, Acting Lead Teacher, Mandarin Teacher, Administrative Assistant and Operations Assistant.
Her extensive experience and knowledge from the classrooms to the management office has allowed her an unique insight to the growth of Cresthill Academy and the fulfillment of the school's founding vision: to deliver Exceptional Early Education for all children.
Although hard to choose, Ms. Belle's favorite part of her job is that she gets to travel between all Cresthill Academy locations to meet and form relationships with all Cresthill children, families and staff.
Christina Dorando, B.S., M.Ed. | Interim East Hanover Center Director
See bio above.
Bruna Morais DeWitt, B.A. | Hoboken Downtown Center Director
Bruna Morais holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish, both from the University of Michigan. Ms. Bruna is tri-lingual in English, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Ms. Bruna knew her career path needed to reflect where her heart had always been, with young children. After graduating from college, she gained professional teaching as well as administrative experience at a large early childhood center in Michigan, before moving to New Jersey and joining Cresthill Academy in 2017.
At Cresthill’s Hoboken Downtown location, Ms. Bruna has served many roles, beginning first as the Lead Teacher of the toddler classroom, moving then to a role as the school’s Program Supervisor, and subsequently becoming the school’s Director.
Ms. Bruna truly loves watching her children grow and master new skills, engaging with and learning about their families, as well as sharing with them the special and exceptional experience that Cresthill provides.
Erin Dickson B.A. | Hoboken Uptown Center Director
Erin Dickson holds a Bachelors of Arts degree from York College of Pennsylvania and holds an Elementary School Teaching Certificate (K-6) from the state of New Jersey.
From a very young age she knew she wanted to work with children. She believes that learning is an ongoing process that begins with early education. Ms. Erin enjoys watching the excitement in her students when they learn and apply new skills
Ms. Erin has many years of teaching and management experience working with children from infants through college bound students. She started her tenure here at Cresthill Academy as a PreK teacher in our East Hanover location.
Belle Liu B.A. | Interim Harrison Center Director
See bio above.
Libin Feng (Linda), B.A. | Mandarin Curriculum Specialist
Libin Feng (Linda) holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Language Education from Changchun Normal University in Changchung city, Jilin province, P.R. China.
Ms. Linda has over 10 years experience teaching Mandarin Chinese to English speakers. Her classroom experiences are primarily with preschool aged students through elementary school aged students. Her private tutoring experiences are with high school aged students in preparation for the SAT II Chinese with Listening Subject Test and the AP Chinese Language and Cultural Exam.
She is a firm believer of the amazing cognitive developmental benefits of learning Mandarin Chinese and believes in teaching the language using various mediums. Ms. Linda leads the Mandarin teaching team at Cresthill Academy using actionable word patterns, rhymes, songs, art projects and more to teach Chinese listening, speaking and writing skills and Chinese culture.
Ms. Linda is excited to join Cresthill Academy as the Mandarin Curriculum Specialist and is thrilled to introduce the Chinese language to the ever-curious young minds at Cresthill Academy!
Yvonne-Marie Vallardes, B.A., M.H.A. | HR Manager
Ms. Yvonne Marie Valladares holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from New Jersey City University and a Master's in Health Administration. Ms. Yvonne Marie started her career in health care as a nurse, and then was promoted to become an operations manager where she acquired and fine turned her employee engagement, operations efficiency and team management skills. Ms. Yvonne Marie is bilingual in English and Spanish.
Upon discovering an affinity for operations and human resources, Ms. Yvonne Marie found herself transitioning out of the medical care field and into the employee engagement and strategy field as building teams in the medical field is crucial to a medical facility's success.
Ms. Yvonne Marie is thrilled to have found a home working on employee engagement and team success in the early education setting where she helps to create effective teams, nurture teachers, and help develop managers into leaders. She is so excited to work with the teaching teams at Cresthill Academy and it is an honor to witness the impactful change a teacher can have in a young child's life.
All full-time lead teaching staff are required to be CPR and First-Aid certified in infant, children and adult.
Our carefully selected and trained staff all meet or exceed New Jersey Childcare Licensing educational and professional requirements.
Beyond just the credentials, we also seek those with a passion for teaching, dedication to the field of early childhood education and a love for children.
As an innovative and progressive early learning center, our staff has to be aligned with the vision of the center.
A unified belief in the school's mission and vision is crucial to the success and happiness of our teaching staff.
Join Our Crew!
Interested in joining Cresthill Academy's crew and sail to higher water?
We are always interested in meeting passionate and qualified candidates looking to change the world, one child at a time!
Cresthill Academy offers competitive pay, benefits and tuition reimbursement support!