Key Educational Staff

Howard Milbert

Executive Director

Executive Director of the Ossining Children’s Center (OCC) since 1985, Howard is known throughout New York State as a leading voice for high quality child care and early childhood education.

Howard is co-chair of the New York State Association of Directors of Not-for-Profit Child Day Care Centers, co-president of the Westchester Early Childhood Directors Association, and a former Board member of the New York State Early Care and Learning Council. An expert on public policy affecting children and families, he is often called upon to testify at New York State legislative and administrative hearings on child care and/or early childhood education. He is a recipient of the Westchester Child Care Council’s “Joey Award” for his public advocacy work.

Before coming to OCC in 1985, Howard was a teacher at United Cerebral Palsy of New York City.  Howard earned an Advanced Certificate in Administration and Supervision from City College of New York, an M.S. in Special Education from Hunter College and a B.A. in History from New York University. As part of his undergraduate work, he supervised the excavation of Revolutionary War Fort #6 in the Bronx.

Claudia Tillis Berk

Assistant Executive Director

Claudia’s entire professional career of 35 years has been in the field of child care and early childhood education. Her specialty is in child development and in infant, toddler and preschool curriculum. She supervises all of the educational staff at the Center, manages a strong staff development program, and runs the day to day operation of the Center.

Claudia joined the teaching staff of OCC in 1990 and became a staff supervisor three years later. She is a strong proponent of developmentally appropriate, child-centered teaching. She holds a B.S. in Education from Wheelock College in Boston.

Juan Pomales-Vazquez

School-Age Enrichment Program and Summer Camp Director

A lifelong Ossining resident, Juan joined the Ossining Children’s Center team in September of 2010 as an Assistant Teacher in the Universal Prekindergarten Program. He moved to the School-Age Program shortly after and became its Director in 2019. Juan attended Purchase College where he studied Sociology with a concentration in Education and Society.

In addition to overseeing the day-to-day operation of the program, Juan works closely with his team to develop a diverse curriculum that is both exciting and enriching. He believes strongly in the importance of afterschool programs and the role that they can play in a child’s social, emotional, academic, and physical development.

Above all, Juan has a vision of a home away from home. He is committed to maintaining a safe healthy environment with positive guidance where each individual child is comfortable and where they can be their best self.

Gerri DeSilva

Head Teacher and Coordinator of Volunteers

Gerri has been a teacher of three-year-olds at OCC for 26 years. After receiving her B.A. from Lehman College, she taught at Bronxville Preschool and Pelham Day Care before coming to OCC. She also served as Director of the Bronxville Junior Day Camp for many years. Many of Gerri’s OCC students return to visit her as teenagers.  Gerri also serves as coordinator of volunteers at OCC, and recruits many of those former students to volunteer at the Center.

Terry Becker, LMSW

Social Worker and Director of Children’s Services

Terry has a Master’s degree from Columbia University School of Social Work.  Before coming to OCC some 28 years ago, she served as a social worker for children and adolescents at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City. Here at OCC she works with our teachers to help them individualize their approach with each child. She is also available as a resource for parents.

Lillian Shkolnik

Pre-K Program Coordinator

Lillian came to OCC nine years ago after many years’ experience as both a preschool teacher and as a public school kindergarten teacher. Lillian enjoys teaching pre-K at OCC because OCC’s home-like setting provides a great supportive environment for four-year-olds’ first formal school experience. Lillian holds Masters’ degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education from Mercy College.