Our Team


with a Vision

Our Commitment to Giving Children the Gift of Multilingualism -  It's Personal.

Our Commitment to Diversity - It's Real.


Morningside PlayCare Immersion was founded in 2015 by an Educator-Mom-Entrepreneur with a team of other Educator-Mom-Entrepreneurs committed to giving all children the best of nurturing care and exploratory play learning.  When our own children were young, we couldn't find full-time, weekday programs that would immerse them in the Mandarin language in a nurturing, play-based, diverse environment. 


Morningside PlayCare exists because our team believed there were other parents in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Westchester who would leap at the chance to give their child this gift of multilingualism.  Many parents now know that there is a neurological window of opportunity for acquiring languages during the years Zero to Five. Our instincts were correct and now Morningside PlayCare is one of the most highly respected Mandarin immersion programs in the city.  We are known as much for the quality of our staff and program, as for the diversity of our student body and staff.  Morningside PlayCare attracts many multicultural and other families who value diversity and a staff who values it,  as well. 



Panpan Cui, PhD 

Lead Mandarin Teacher

Dr. Panpan Cui (Cui Laoshi) is an mom-educator, and native Mandarin speaker with a Ph.D. in Theoretical Linguistics and International Cultural Studies from Tohoku University in Japan.  A mother of a two-year old, Cui Laoshi (Laoshi is the Chinese title for teachers) is a scholar-practitioner with several years teaching experience who is a natural with young children.  She enthusiastically combines her background as a mom, teacher, and linguistics scholar to design engaging and distinctive, play-based activities for the toddlers and pre-schoolers at Morningside PlayCare. Dr. Cui is particularly interested in identifying best practices in the teaching of Mandarin to young children that can contribute to the fields of early childhood Mandarin education and linguistics.


Rocio Arias, OCFS

Child Care Manager and Lead Spanish Teacher

Rocio Arias has over ten years experience in private group home child care, day care, and in serving as a Nanny.  She has also served as a New York City licensed Childcare Provider.  Arias Laoshi is a native Spanish speaker and New Yorker with roots in the Dominican Republic.  She has OCFS certifications in the areas of Infant and Toddler health, safety, early childhood social/emotional and cognitive development, and infant/toddler first aid. She is working toward her Bachelor's degree in early childhood bilingual education at the City University of New York. Arias Laoshi's love of young children and gentle teaching style cause her to excel at teaching both children and interns.



宋诗琴 Shiqin Song, MA   

After School Mandarin Teacher and Curriculum Developer 

Shiqin Song is an educator-mom with over ten years experience teaching young children, developing curriculum, and training teachers.  A lover of languages, she is a native Mandarin speaker from China who is also fluent in French. Song Laoshi is a progressive early childhood educator specializing in early childhood bilingual education. She has planned  and developed curriculum for New York’s China Institute and also has experience as a third grade teacher in Montreal. Song Laoshi has a Master of Arts in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of other Languages from Shandong University in China, and a BA in Technical English from Hubel University of Technology in China, 





Gail Foster, Ed.D.

Chief Education Officer

Dr, Gail Foster has a 20 year history as an educational entrepreneur developing frontier programs in her field.  A graduate of Columbia University's Teachers College, her experience includes consulting and leadership service  to school start-up  entrepreneurs, service as a high school administrator, and contributing to the field as a published research scholar.  In addition, she has served as a nonprofit administrator, organizational consultant, teacher trainer, and classroom teacher PreK to Higher Ed.  Dr. Foster has served on many distinguished boards, including the national Council on American Private Education and various private and charter school boards.  As a research scholar at the RAND Corporation, the Institute for Independent Education, the NYC Department of Education, CUNY, and the Toussaint Institute, she has published on the power of inquiry-based learning, inner city private schools, private school start-ups, small public schools, African American boys with special education labels, and community-based and women led educational enterprises, called historically black independent schools. She is the winner of numerous civic awards and a gubernatorial citation, as well as an invitation to the White House for developing programs that are responsive to parents, place children at the center, and serve as leading edge models for education practitioners and policymakers.  She is a mom with a passion for transforming American education, and views her current work as yet another opportunity to serve and contribute.  In her past incarnation, Dr. Foster founded the Association of Historically Black Independent Schools. 



Claudia L. Stedge, LMSW, M.Ed.,SAS

Government Contracts and Developmental Needs Consultant

With over 20 years experience managing organizations to address needs in early childhood development, Claudia Stedge is co-owner and primary operator of Partnership For Education.  She serves as the principle conductor of the philosophy and business practices that guide her start-up's successful and acclaimed programs. This mom-educator-entrepreneur has a Master’s Degree from Columbia University in Social Work, and a Master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education. She is a licensed Social Worker and has permanent New York State certifications in Special Education, School Social Work, School Administration/Supervision and Teaching of Nursery/Kindergarten, and first through sixth grade. 



Sheree Palmer, MA

Business Consultant and Advisory Committee Chair

Sheree Palmer is another mom-educator-entrepreneur.  After receiving her Master's degree in Gifted Education from Hunter College, she went on to found two successful independent schools: Cambria Center for the Gifted (CCGC) in 1980, and Cambria School of Excellence in 2009. CCGC, which she began in her home while raising her young children, became so popular with parents and educators for its child-centered, music-rich, and nurturing curriculum, that today her schools serve more than 300 Queens and Long Island children from nursery through eighth grade. Like Morningside PlayCare, Ms. Palmer's schools began with a Teacher/Mom who had a vision for her child. It grew in response to a greater community need. Her understanding of the importance of curriculum that adapts in response to a changing world has always kept the two Cambria Heights schools on the leading edge of the education field. 



Our Other Resources

Designing an effective immersion program that includes the best practices in early childhood education and language acquisition requires input and expertise from many sectors. We are supported by our growing team of educators, early childhood experts, foreign language immersion experts, and our teachers and caregivers who are native Mandarin speakers. Our team has a singular focus: the design of a program that can serve as a model for a diverse range of American families to prepare their children for a globalized planet — one that might look very different from the world we know today. As we develop our program, Morningside PlayCare looks to several key institutions for guidance and personnel resources, including the Chinese Early Language Learning Network  of the Asia Society, Columbia University's Teachers College,  the New York Association for the Education of Young Children, New York University's Chinese Language Learners Program, and the Chinese American Planning Council.