Daena Berdougo, Head of School
Daena came to GFS in 2014 with a background in both teaching young children and in finance. She holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. Daena is passionate about learning through play and age-appropriate academic skill building. She is certified in the Learning Without Tears program.
After working in investment banking for several years in Manhattan, Daena made the decision to pursue a new career path in education. She attended Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education and after graduating, spent two years as a preschool teacher in New York City. Her family then moved to Philadelphia in early 2009 and Daena worked for five years as a Toddler & Pre-K teacher. She became passionate about the administrative side of education after spending time as a Head Teacher & Teacher Mentor. It was during the preschool search for her own daughter that Daena felt an inexplicable connection to Quaker schools and the Quaker approach to teaching young children. This brought her to Gwynedd Friends School and her first headship. Since beginning her tenure at GFS in June 2014, Daena has led the School to state licensure and PAIS accreditation. Daena attends workshops, peer network gatherings, and conferences throughout the year to keep current with educational trends. Daena’s daughter, Jordan, is a graduate of GFS.
Ann Manta, Assistant Head of School & Kindergarten Teacher
Ann studied at Chestnut Hill College where she earned a degree in Early Childhood Education and Montessori Certification. Ann has also completed extensive graduate work in Reading at Temple University and Arcadia University. Ann has been teaching at GFS since 1999 and became the Assistant Head of School in 2017.
Prior to having children, Ann taught first through third grades in the Philadelphia School District. She began her tenure at Gwynedd Friends School as a parent and then in 1999 she became a teacher in the preschool. The following year Ann began teaching in the newly-formed kindergarten. Ann designed the kindergarten curriculum with the idea that children learn best when actively engaged in their environment. She creates a learning community where each child’s voice is heard and valued. Her classroom reflects this active engagement. Ann has certifications in Wilson Fundations and Singapore Math. She served as the chair of the PAIS Steering Committee as the school embarked on the accreditation process in 2016-2017.
Ann was named Assistant Head of School in 2017. As Assistant Head, Ann serves as a coach to teachers in the matter of classroom management and teaching methods. She coordinates the School’s afternoon programming and summer camp and works closely with the Head of School on managing the daily operations of GFS.
Donna Lynch, Curriculum Coordinator & Pre-Kindergarten Teacher
Donna holds a Master’s Degree in Reading from Holy Family University, a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Bloomsburg University, and Elementary Certification from Holy Family University. Donna has been teaching Pre-Kindergarten at GFS since 2015. In 2017, Donna assumed the role of Curriculum Coordinator, working as a mentor to all of our teachers.
Donna’s background includes experience working as an Elementary Learning Support Teacher in both Central Bucks and Bristol Township School Districts. She believes that our young children learn best through play and creates opportunities for inquiry both in the classroom and in our outdoor spaces. Donna has a passion for helping her Pre-Kindergarteners grow intellectually, emotionally and socially. Her classroom setting is inviting, nurturing and provides a structure for kids to explore and learn. She is certified in Learning Without Tears – Readiness and Writing, Language and Literacy, and Numbers and Math.
As Curriculum Coordinator, Donna works with both individual teachers and group-level teaching teams to develop, implement and evaluate the School’s curriculum on an ongoing basis. She supports teachers and also the Head & Assistant Head of School. She has served on the PAIS Steering Committee. Donna has participated in professional development opportunities with NAIS, PAIS and Friends Council on Education. Her son, Ryan, is a graduate of GFS.
Gail Crane, Business Manager
Gail Crane has worked for over 28 years in small independent schools. Prior to GFS, she was the Assistant Head for Finance and Operations for The Quaker School at Horsham, a Quaker school for children with complex learning disabilities. Gail has a BA from Temple University and a MS from Saint Joseph’s University in Human Resource Management. Gail is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).
Gail is the Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association - a nonprofit organization that champions individuals with dyslexia and all students who struggle to learn to read. For many years she served on the PAISBOA board (Philadelphia Area Independent Schools Business Association) and was the 2018 recipient of their John Batley award for her work and dedication to the independent school community.