Our Staff

Program Founder and Director, Julia Niego

As the founder and Director of Neuleaph Early Learning, Julia brings a deep commitment to early childhood education and understanding of learning in the child brain. After receiving a BA in Neuroscience she became fascinated with child development and in designing high quality learning environments based on cutting edge research on the young brain. She went on to earn an MS in Neuroscience and Education from Columbia University Teachers College and has over 10 years of developing and teaching Montessori and Reggio inspired preschool curricula. She currently works as an early childhood organizational tutor, neuroeducational therapist and consultant. She is also a mom to her 20 month old son, Juniper. As a member of the Crown Heights community she is thrilled to bring high quality early learning to the neighborhood.

Playgroup Lead Teacher, Lisa Bruno

Lisa is a Brooklyn native with over 10 years of experience working with children. Prior to working in Early Childhood Education, Lisa received her undergraduate degree in Studio Art from Hunter College. While working at a preschool in Brooklyn Lisa was advised to read E.M. Standings biography of Maria Montessori. Inspired by Montessori’s life and work Lisa began reading Montessori’s books including The Secret of Childhood and The Absorbent Mind, finding the philosophy of observation and child led learning to meld with her own ideas of respectful and progressive education. Lisa received her AMI primary training from Montessori Northwest and her Master of Education degree from Loyola University. She has been joyfully guiding children in beautifully prepared Montessori environments since 2012. Her rich background includes teaching positions at several Montessori schools as well as the Red Hook Playgroup, The Coop School, and Brooklyn Friends.

Spanish Playgroup Leader,
Melina Gills

Melina was born in Argentina and raised in the U.S. She grew up bilingual and has a natural love of working with children. She studied language and media, receiving degrees from Brown University, the University of Buenos Aires and Rutgers University. She teaches Spanish literature and writes on film and the arts. Melina believes in guiding children through natural and multi-sensory experiences that are connected to immersive language.

Early Learning Consultant, Samantha Fair


Samantha brings to Neuleaph nearly a decade of experience as an early childhood educator, administrator and consultant in New York City. Eager to learn as much as possible about how young children think and develop, Samantha earned her Masters degree in Early Childhood Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Since then, she has worked in a wide variety of early childhood settings, crafting progressive educational approaches and practices. She is currently the assistant director of a Cobble Hill Montessori School. Samantha whole-heartedly believes in the significant impact of a solid education during the first years of life and loves working with families to help children develop a love of learning.



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