Zuleika is the Executive Director and Founder of Beyond Basic Learning: The International School, the first nursery school in Hoboken, New Jersey to be awarded the Torch of Excellence by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Her vision for this state-of-the-art nursery school is rooted in supporting each child’s growth and development through inquiry, exploration and hands-on learning. The success of the program is further enriched through the high involvement of parents, grandparents and extended family members who collectively represent over 20 different countries.
The inspiration for Zuleika’s vision was nurtured through her own early childhood as a daughter of missionary parents who traveled extensively, not only exposing her to people from diverse cultural backgrounds, but to life skills attained beyond the walls of the traditional classroom. As a youth, she learned to play musical instruments such as the clarinet and piano, and participated in theatrical programs. This was the impetus for imparting her appreciation for creative expression through the integration of music, art, and puppets into the nursery classroom experience.
Zuleika earned her Certification in Accounting and Masters of Business Administration in Finance from Hofstra University, and while enrolled, she also participated in overseas study programs which extended beyond the requirements of her degree. For example, in Mexico she was exposed to the growing debate surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Treaty and in France, she closely studied the implications of the introduction of the Euro currency just six months prior to its launch. Prior to founding Beyond Basic Learning: The International School, Zuleika was an accomplished financial practitioner, having worked for IBM in Business Development and Corporate Finance. She was also employed at American Express where she was selected to participate in the company’s Management Development Program for future leaders.
Although successful in her financial career goals, it was her heartfelt passion for learning outside of the ordinary that prompted her to return to graduate school at Bank Street College of Education to pursue her Masters in Educational Leadership. Aware and concerned about the infusion of marketing dollars allocated for manufacturing children’s foods that still contained either low or negligible nutritional value, Zuleika focused her thesis on equipping young children with awareness about dietary value and food exploration through cooking, taste testing and visiting supermarkets to highlight the value of nutritional whole foods. Upon completion of her Master’s degree at Bank Street College, she was certified as a supervisor qualifying her to serve as a Kindergarten through 12th grade principal.
A favorite and sought after educational public speaker, Zuleika provided a professional development presentation to over 30 directors of the early childhood community participating in Quality New York at Bank Street College. She has also facilitated various workshops focusing on creating developmentally appropriate classrooms for young children at the Urban League of Hudson County 6th Annual Early Childhood Professional Retreat. She is an adjunct lecturer at The City University of New York Graduate School where she teaches Observation and Recording of Children: Birth Through Five, and Financial Planning for Early Childhood Directors. She has been featured in the Hoboken Reporter advocating for green space, and has recently attended the Hog Island Educators Program focused on building environmental sensitivity into a young child’s curriculum.
A strong proponent of community involvement, through Zuleika's leadership, Beyond Basic Learning supports various organizations such as the Hoboken Museum, the Hoboken School of Music and the Hudson Cradle, as well as other early childhood initiatives in Northern New Jersey. Zuleika also serves as a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Downtown Early Childhood Association, and was a founding member of the Hudson County Alliance of Independent Schools. She is certified at the Instructor level by Professional Impact NJ.