Meet Kristina: Tinkergarten Leader and Behavior Analyst

by Meghan Fitzgerald

Kristina has been leading Tinkergarten classes in Mountainside, New Jersey since 2015. We've known and loved her for seasons, but now we love her even more after learning how she uses her powers for good as a behavioral analyst, a Tinkergarten Leader and a mom.

Why did you choose your profession as a behavioral analyst?
I love teaching and I have a fondness for a good graph, so behavior analysis is the perfect match for me. I have always enjoyed working with children, and particularly like working with learners who require more individualized supports to acquire skills that allow for them to be included in their home, school, and community environments. 

When I was in grad school working in a preschool setting, I observed one child begin to cry uncontrollably and attempt to hurt himself and others because a birthday party was added to the day’s schedule. Most children would have been so excited, but it was so hard for him to handle that change. I knew right at that moment I wanted to learn more about behavior and strategies that could support this child and other children like him. After I finished my schooling, I had the honor of teaching that child. It’s definitely one of my most rewarding experiences as an educator.


What do you feel most proud of in life?

I am proud that my child is learning to develop compassion for others. I know he is quite young, but he has a sweet soul and is truly caring toward others. As a woman and professional, I am also proud that I make goals and work hard to achieve them. I have a very strong work ethic that drives what I do.

What is your favorite Tinkergarten activity and why?  

I fall in love with new activities season after season. However, my all time favorite activity is mud making. I remember training to be a leader, and seeing this activity I had not participated in since my own childhood. It was just so freeing; being an adult welcomed to dive into this ooey gooey mud and get dirty. Where else can you do that?! I absolutely love when children (and adults) embrace the freedom of play that mud making brings. 

How has Tinkergarten impacted your life? 

My secret confession is that I don’t consider myself a “naturally outdoorsy person,” or at least I wasn't—but I'm getting there. I had a fear of snakes and being outside in the woods was the last place I wanted to be. However, once I had my son, I knew I wanted him to have an appreciation for nature. Tinkergarten has really been therapeutic for me. I'm still not fond of snakes, but luckily I've only encountered one, and when I did, I put on a brave face. Now my son likes to chant, "snakes, snakes." I'm sure he'll show up at the back door with a snake one day, and I'll be prepared to put on that brave face and calmly ask him to put it outside...thanks to Tinkergarten.   

Hear what parents say about Kristina’s class:

The class was a lot of fun. I was skeptical in the beginning. I thought, how will this be different than playing in the park? But I saw the growth in my son socially. The lessons were age appropriate and encouraged critical thinking in such a fun way. I'm a teacher, and I am not big on forcing kids into structured settings very early, so this class was quite lovely. Small, engaging, and free-flowing. My son adored it.
- Jennifer G

My 28-month-old LOVED Tinkergarten! It was a great class to find new ways to get out and explore during the cold. Kristina is a wonderful teacher. She brought so much fun and excitement that really engaged the kids. We'll be back soon...with baby #2!
- Lauren K 

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