About2019-08-15T22:11:05+00:00

About Us

Zen Zone Sensory Gym is a mindfully designed indoor play and learning space for children of all abilities and learning styles.

Co-founders Margie Ferris (Speech-Language Pathologist) and Melissa Wassil (Teacher & Preschool Director) opened Zen Zone to fulfill a vision – a multisensory environment where children feel accepted at their own pace while given appropriate challenges to encourage growth.

Each with 25 years of professional experience, Margie and Melissa have created a safe and welcoming space where children explore and learn through self-directed play, enrichment groups, and individual therapy.

Zen Zone adds the unique component of Mindfulness which simply means being present and aware without judgment. Taking time to become mindful improves attention, communication skills, and helps relieve anxiety. Plus, it’s fun! Let Zen Zone show you how.

Margie and Melissa offer the ideal surroundings for developing core strength, coordination, and motor planning with a strong emphasis on building friendships, creativity, and confidence. Zen Zone also provides a memorable setting for birthday parties.

At Zen Zone a child can feel secure in who they are and simply be.

Play and learning go in hand-in-hand. They are not separate activities.
They are intertwined.
-Dr. Laurel Bongiorno, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

Our Tribe

Margie Ferris M.S, CCC, Speech-Language Pathologist,   Co-owner and founder of Zen Zone

Margie has been an SLP for over 25 years. Graduating with her Master’s Degree from Columbia University, she ran her own private practice on the Upper West Side of Manhattan before moving to Westchester. Margie is also a SAG-AFTRA actor who gets a thrill out of performing on camera as well as onstage. She is a Founding Member of Theatre Revolution! Mostly she is passionate about mindfully helping people communicate more effectively and is thoroughly delighted to bring that energy to Zen Zone.

Melissa Wassil, Instructor for Kinder-skills, Co-owner and founder of Zen Zone

Melissa has a degree in the field of Early Childhood Education.  She is a teacher and the director of Sunset Nursery School with 25 years of experience in the field.  Her passion is helping children reach their personal best while building self-esteem and confidence.  She strives to make her lessons fun and exciting, teaching children through interactive hands-on experiences. Melissa is a child advocate, helping parents navigate through the special education process from determining what a child’s needs are, guiding through the evaluation process, and finding the right fit with therapies.

Jess Erick, Office Manger & Instructor for Music ‘n Play and Mindful Together (Adults)

Jess is a singer/songwriter, energy healer, and performer, renowned for using her unique combination of humour, keen observation, intuition, and love to hold safe space for all her groups. With a background in multiple modalities (science, art, spirituality) she places particular importance on creating a non-judgmental atmosphere where everybody can connect, thrive, and engage with their authentic self.

Kim Koski, Office Manager

Kim is part of our Office Manager “dynamic duo”, along with Jess Erick, who helps Zen Zone run smoothly.  Kim not only takes care of us, but she goes the extra step to make sure our clients are informed and happy customers.  She is your go-to person from check-in to finding the perfect fit for enrichment groups, parties, class trips and more.

Christina Feal, Special Education Teacher and Instructor for Social Speaking’s “Teen Talk”

Christina has been a Special Educator for 13 years  and has worked with both children and adults.  She currently works as a Life Skills teacher.  The majority of her students are diagnosed with autism and related disorders.  In addition to her teaching license, she has a graduate certificate from Penn State in Applied Behavios Analysis.  It is with the teen/young adult population where she has truly found her professional calling.  She approaches teaching/learning with a focus on the whole student.  This means including functional experiences, social/emotional support, and developing skills to enhance quality of life.

Lindsay Fletcher, Instructor for Baby and Me Yoga and Toddler and Me Yoga

Lindsay Fletcher has always been passionate about health and wellness.  She discovered yoga in 2005 and quickly fell in love with the practice. She obtained her 200 hour yoga teacher certification from Yoga Effects in Manhattan in 2008 and has been teaching ever since.  

In 2011 Lindsay obtained her Master’s in Education from Hunter College.  As a teacher, Lindsay loved incorporating yoga into the classroom and loved watching the little yogis blossom as they found their balance in tree pose.  In 2018, she received her CYT from Karma Kids and fell in love with sharing yoga with children of all ages.   Lindsay loves that moment when a big smile comes across a child’s face when they master a pose they have been working towards and say “I did it!” 

Lindsay lives in Westchester with her husband and two children.  When she is not on the mat, she can be found making a mess in the kitchen with her kids baking healthy treats.

Kristin Gallagher, Physical Therapist

Kristin began her career in physical therapy in 2000, shortly after graduating from Daemen College in Amherst, NY. She soon realized her passion for early childhood development and decided to specialize in pediatrics. Working at John A. Coleman School in White Plains, and their satellite facility in Carmel, she gained extensive experience within an interdisciplinary setting, working with children living with multi-system impairments and developmental delays. As both a staff therapist and supervisor, she developed the diverse skill set that she now uses to treat and educate clients/families.
For the past 10 years, her focus has been working with children within the home, daycare, and school based settings through the Early Intervention, CPSE, and CSE programs.
Kristin enjoys building relationships with the children and families that she works with, and cherishes every milestone, great and small, that her patients achieve.

Maureen Grace, Occupational Therapist,  Instructor for Social Speaking

Maureen is a life long resident of New York’s Hudson Valley. Since graduating from Dominican College her entire career has been dedicated to pediatric Occupational Therapy. She worked in a variety of settings with children ages 6 weeks to 21 years of age. She has long been a vocal advocate of the practice of OT having witnessed the benefits first hand. She is beyond excited to be part of the Zen Zone Sensory Gym team!

Noreen Hegarty-Weber, Instructor for Mindful Together – KIDS and Socially Speaking

Noreen has been a Special Education Itinerant Teacher for 15 years serving toddlers, pre-school, elementary and middle school children and their families. She maintains a concentrated focus on each child’s social and emotional well-being, working to naturally develop comfort and ease in their environment. Foremost is developing and maintaining a connection with and respect of the child, family, and caregivers. Children naturally show us what they need to feel grounded in this world. When we watch without interfering, we can then respond and guide in a way that builds confidence, security and success. Noreen regularly converses with parents and caregivers. Being well-informed and mindfully aware of the child’s current strengths and challenges assists in the healing evolution.   She takes great pride and joy in knowing and helping heal children and families.

Casey Howe, Speech-language pathologist, Instructor for Social Speaking’s “Teen Talk”

Casey is a licensed speech-language pathologist experienced in pediatrics through geriatrics.  She currently works locally with the high school population, including students with autism and related diagnoses.  She loves approaching treatment from a functional and life skills standpoint with the goal of independence at the forefront.  She always considers the whole person when planning and leading sessions, collaborating with other professionals as needed in order to keep the motor, academic, and social-emotional needs of the student in mind.

Jalessa Lucas, Occupational Therapist 

Jaleesa received a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Mercy College and a
Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from St. John’s University. She has helped children
on the Autism spectrum, with developmental disabilities and sensory integration challenges develop and implement strategies to promote self-regulation and social skills.
Jaleesa is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and the
American Hippotherapy Association (AHA) and is a Level 1 therapist through the
AHA. Hippotherapy is a physical, occupational and speech therapy treatment strategy that
utilizes equine (horse) movement, where the horse IS the therapeutic intervention. Besides
hippotherapy, her other areas of interest are sensory integration and developmental disabilities.
In her spare time Jaleesa enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending as much time as she can with her
4 year old horse, Cobalt. Her gentle, positive, and creative personality keeps children engaged
and motivated to work on the skills they need to succeed in everyday life.

Jennifer Lupiani, Instructor for Executive Functioning Success

Jennifer earned her PhD in school psychology from Fordham University in May 2004. She has been a NYS licensed psychologist since January 2006. She has worked in the Croton-Harmon and Hendrick-Hudson school districts. She believes executive functioning is a crucial life skill and has a passion for teaching it, incorporating mindfulness as a grounding component. She has extensive experience with elementary, middle and high school students.

Valerie Tinelli, Instructor for Yoga Tots

Valerie first went to yoga with the intention of stretching some tight muscles but got so much more than that. It made her body feel alive and at ease while her mind went to a place of peace it hadn’t been since childhood.
She began studying more and expanding her knowledge, finally deciding she wanted to offer others what yoga and mindfulness offered her, a better awareness of mind and body, a true understanding of who she is and wants to be, plus an understanding and respect of those around her. Valerie completed her 200 Yoga Teacher Training hours through Fifth Element Yoga. Reiki and kids training were completed through Little Flower Yoga. Helping children thrive is her passion. She truly believes in what mindfulness and yoga can do for children. Valerie guides kids to make this practice their own by tuning in to listening to what their mind and body tell them.

Jess Gerhardt, Assistant Instructor

Jess is a junior at Penn State studying special education. She has six years of childcare experience working and teaching in settings including dance classes and after school programs, primarily with children ages 2-8 of all different abilities. Jess joined Zen Zone in May 2019 as an assistant instructor. She has a knack for helping kids feel comfortable and have fun!

Gaby Lebitsch, Assistant Instructor

Gaby is a Senior at Hendrick Hudson High School with a strong desire to work in the field of special education.  Gaby loves being involved in Hendrick Hudson’s Sailor Program and is great with children of all ages and abilities.  Gaby joined Zen Zone in May as an assistant instructor. She also assists with Enrichment Groups and Birthday Parties.

Brenna Wassil, Assistant Instructor

Brenna Wassil is a Senior at the University of New Hampshire studying Occupational Therapy.  Brenna has 6 years of experience working with children ages 2 through 6 years old in an inclusive preschool setting.  Brenna joined Zen Zone in May as an assistant instructor. She also assists with Enrichment Groups and Birthday Parties.

Kaden Koski, Volunteer

Kaden is a 5th grader in the Hendrick Hudson School District who enjoys volunteering in his spare time.  He has been volunteering at Sunset Nursery School summer camp for two years as a teacher’s helper.   At Zen Zone, Kaden helps out on the gym floor, is a terrific cleaner and can fix almost anything.  Kaden is always ready to jump in whenever we need a helper.

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