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Teachers Network Leadership Institute: Affiliates:
New York, NY MetLife Fellows: Biographies

Julie Cavanagh has been a teacher at P.S. 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn since 2001; prior to that she was a teacher in Bloomington, Indiana where she also attended Indiana University. Julie received her master’s degree from Fordham University in 2005, with an emphasis on helping struggling readers as an Ennis Cosby Scholar .She recently received her administration and supervision advanced certificate degree with Departmental Honors from Brooklyn College in May of 2008. Julie spearheads many initiatives at P.S. 15 including supervising the school's student leadership group, The Student Roundtable, as well as serving as the grant coordinator and recycling coordinator. She has worked in various ways to increase student service and parent engagement and has partnered with several community based organizations to create student and parent groups that empower and work to create meaningful change.

Julie believes that education is the vehicle for changing the world .She feels it is every educator’s moral imperative to create ‘compassionate citizens of the world’ .Service learning and parent involvement are advocacy goals Julie believes will assist in accomplishing this aim .Julie teaches fifth grade self-contained special education, and has been a model classroom in the New York City Public School System .Julie lives by Gandhi’s words: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Keith Christiansen is an English Language Arts and Culinary Arts Teacher at the Eagle Academy for Young Men at Ocean Hill, Brooklyn, New York, an all-boys school with an International Baccalaureate curriculum. He creates content-driven units and lessons for his students, focusing on media literacy and global awareness. Keith is in his fourth year of teaching in Brooklyn, after several years as a web content developer and professional chef. Currently, he is working to move the entire school from paper-based systems to digital forms using Google Forms.

Lyntonia Coston teaches Global History at Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School (BCAM). As one of the founding staff members of the school, she is excited that BCAM will be entering its third year of existence this September. Lyntonia received her B.A. in International Relations from Wellesley College in 2003 and went on to join the NYC Teaching Fellows, receiving her master’s degree in Secondary Education from Lehman College. She believes that teaching history tasks her with the job of constantly relating the past to the present and then to the future; that her students understand history best when “we all can find some relevance to our lives.” At BCAM she is the History Department Chair as well as the Hiring Chair and a member of BCAM’s Cabinet Team. She leads a College Now course in Government and Policy and is the liaison for their Student Council group. Outside of school, Lyntonia is still involved with the NYCTF; participating as a Selector who hires program candidates and a Fellow Visitor who observes and provides feedback for newly hired NYC teachers. In her spare time she enjoys listening to Stevie Wonder and cleaning her new home in Brooklyn.

Aliké Cummings is a Mathematics teacher at Philippa Schuyler Middle School for the Gifted and Talented in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. There she has taught fifth and sixth graders, coordinated the St. Jude Math-a-thon, been a member of the school’s Inquiry Team, worked as a School Based Mentor, and served as the faculty advisor to the school’s National Junior Honor Society chapter.

Aliké earned her undergraduate dual degree in Psychology and Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and master’s degree in Math Education at St. John’s University as a New York City Teaching Fellow. She is currently pursuing a degree in School Leadership and Technology at New York Institute of Technology.

Aside from school work, Aliké has continued her involvement with NYC Teaching Fellows working as a Fellow Ambassador and Selector to actively participate in the recruitment and selection process of future Fellows. She is also involved with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Brooklyn Alumnae Chapter, volunteering with several projects throughout the Brooklyn area.

Cristen Curley-Edwards has been teaching English language arts in New York City public schools for the past four years. After working in the non-profit sector for several years, Cristen joined the New York City Teaching Fellows in 2005. She began her teaching career in Washington Heights, and for the past two years, she has been teaching at the East Flatbush Community Research School (EFCRS) in Brooklyn. At EFCRS Cristen teaches eighth grade English language arts in a CTT setting. She also serves as the leader of the school’s Pupil Personnel Team, which seeks to empower students through community service, is the Data Manager for the English language arts team and runs the schools’ cooking club. Cristen received her B.A. from Hunter College and her M.S.T. from Fordham University.

Samantha Dong has been teaching for the past four years at Sunset Park Prep, M.S. 821 in Brooklyn. This year she is teaching eighth grade Regents living environment, eighth grade general science, and sixth grade health to her excitable, animated, and often witty students. Samantha is the lead science teacher at the school, setting ambitious goals for the department, and the co-coach of the Lego Robotics team, hoping to foster creativity within technology. She promotes the use of technology, hands-on, and inquiry-based learning in her classroom, striving to make science fun for all her students.

Samantha earned her B.S. in Human Development at Cornell University in 2006. During her time at Cornell, she served as a tutor for the Big Red Little Red Program, and as a Teaching Assistant for two courses- Nutrition, Health and Society, and Anatomy and Physiology. After graduating, she completed the NYC Teaching Fellows program in which she received a M.S. in Science Education from City College in 2008.

Overall, she is interested in how family, culture, and the environment play a role in teacher involvement and student achievement. More specifically, Samantha would like to investigate how these factors influence science teaching practices, and which of these would work best in an urban setting. She looks forward to her year as a TNLI MetLife Fellow.

James Walter Doyle is thrilled to be a fellow with the TNLI MetLife program. A native Floridian, Walter moved to New York three years ago after being placed in the classroom as a Teach for America corps member. After his two-year commitment, Walter stayed in the classroom and continued teaching 12th grade English at Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change. In the past three years, he has implemented heath education programs, a cultural awareness student alliance, and the first Advanced Placement English class at his school. In his free time, a commodity for teachers, Walter enjoys playing dodge ball, watching Jeopardy, and finding new and inexpensive restaurants in the city. He looks forward to working with this fellowship and is anxious to be surrounded with some of the greatest minds in the education field.

Tadashi Dozono is entering his seventh year teaching at New Design High School in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He serves as department facilitator for the social studies department, and teaches one ninth grade global, one tenth grade Latin American Studies, and co-teaches one CTT eleventh grade US history. As a department facilitator, Tadashi runs professional development days for the department once every three weeks, as well as coaching department members. He also facilitates the Design Your Own (DYO) assessment system for the department, where all social studies teachers work to develop school-wide assessments to track student progress, and collect student writing samples to improve instruction.

Tadashi received his B.A. from Wesleyan University in American Studies, and completed an M.A. at Columbia Teachers College in Secondary Social Studies Education in the summer of 2003. His research interests include reforming world history education, democracy in schools, the need for higher-ordered thinking texts for low literacy readers, and LGBTQ student needs.

Nathalie Elivert is an educator entering her third year of teaching in New York City public schools. In 2007, she joined the teaching profession as a member of Cohort 14 of the New York City Teaching Fellows Program. She looks forward to returning to the classroom this fall as a teacher of English language arts at East Side Community High School; a small sixth – twelfth grade school in the East Village with a strong culture of literacy and consistent literacy achievement.

Prior to working towards her teacher certification and an M.S.T. in adolescent education at Pace University, Nathalie earned her B.A. from Amherst College. There, she double majored in English and Law, Jurisprudence & Social Thought. She then went on to earn her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School where she was a recipient of the Samuel Witte Prize in Literature and the Law. Highlights in her career include her service to New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall as special assistant and as a scheduler to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on her campaign for U.S. Senate in 2000. Such experiences in politics and government fueled her passion for issues in education policy and community reform. She is eager to develop her understanding of policy-making as a TNLI MetLife Fellow.

Judi Fenton been working in NYC public schools since 1986. She taught Prekindergarten at PS 127 in East Elmhurst for 14 years, and then worked as a site facilitator with the New Educator Support Team, a new teacher mentor in Region 9, and she is currently an Instructional Specialist on an Empowerment Network Team .

She has two children who both attend NYC public schools in NYC. Judi has worked with Teachers Network on many different projects since 1995, she is a Founding Fellow in TNLI, teaches on-line courses, and is a NYC web mentor. 

Renny Fong is currently the Technology Teacher at Public School 130 Manhattan, where he has taught for the past twelve years. He has taught kindergarten, fourth, and fifth grade. Renny received his B.A. from Columbia College in 1993 and his master’s degree in Elementary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1994.  His honors include:  Teachnet Grant Recipient (2009), Turning Technologies K-12 Grant Award Recipient (2008), Hewlett Packard Technology for Teaching Grant Initiative Recipient (2006), and Toshiba America Foundation Grantee (2006). His wife and his three-year-old son are his joy and inspiration.

Matthew Frizzell is entering his second year at The International Leadership Charter School in the Bronx as a sophomore English Language Arts teacher, where he also played an instrumental role in the creation and direction of a Model United Nations club. Originally from a small town in Vermont, Mr. Frizzell earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature at West Virginia Wesleyan College and a master’s degree in English Education at New York University. He is interested in the correlation between the fairly rapid decline in traditional reading and the increased access to the mass media reading style cultivated by the Internet.

Elizabeth Gil is the Academic Intervention Services Coordinator at Mosaic Preparatory Academy in East Harlem. Prior to joining Mosaic's faculty, Elizabeth taught in the Bronx for nine-and-a-half years. She participated in the Fulbright Memorial Fund Program for educators traveling to Japan to visit different educational institutions and has participated in National Endowment of Humanities (NEH) summer workshops and the African Burial Ground National Monument Teacher Institute.

Elizabeth earned her BA from New York University. She has earned master’s degrees in Curriculum and Teaching from Michigan State University and in Administration from the College of Saint Rose. Among her interests within the field of education are professional development, community building, and the way services for special populations are rendered.

Elizabeth Healy has taught high school English for five years in New York City schools. A graduate of Williams College and Teachers College, she began her career Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., High School for Law, Advocacy, and Community Justice. There she taught, ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade and acted as Coordinator of Student Affairs and planned the schools’ first prom and graduation. She also served as the College Summit program advisor for one year before transferring to LaGuardia HS of Music & Art and Performing Arts. At LaGuardia she teaches ninth and tenth grade and has served on the school’s Inquiry Team. She has received numerous classroom grants, has participated in multiple National Endowment for the Humanities summer seminars and was a Cullman Center Teacher Fellow at the New York Public Library. Her research interests include literacy, instruction incorporating the arts, and teacher education. Ultimately, she hopes to imbue her students with a sense of the importance of literature and art and help them use it to develop academically and personally.

Abby Hludzik is entering her fifth year as a literacy teacher at MS 399 in the Bronx. Previously responsible for the delivery of the Scholastic Read 180 instructional program to long-term ELL students, she will focus this year on delivery of literacy instruction to eighth graders. Last year Abby's Read 180 classroom was also used as a lab site for the school's Inquiry Team study, of which she was a member. In addition to her classroom responsibilities, Abby has been a member of MS 399's curriculum planning team for the last three years, helping to align the curriculum not only to literacy standards but across content areas to give students an interdisciplinary education.

Alex Jacoby is starting his fifth year teaching math and computer science at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School in Harlem. He runs the math club and is involved in teacher training for interactive whiteboards and other classroom technology. Alex's current teaching and research interests are differentiated instruction and teacher collaboration.

Kimberly Johnson recently joined Teachers Network as a Program Associate, administering the Teachers Network Leadership Institute.  She earned a B.A. and M.A. in American Studies from Georgetown University and New York University respectively.

As a graduate teaching assistant at NYU, Kimberly helped to organize a union of her colleagues, eventually leaving graduate school to work as a full-time organizer for the UAW, primarily working with teaching assistants and adjunct professors.  Kimberly is now a member of the AFT at New Jersey City University, where she teaches Women’s and Gender Studies.

David E. Kirkland is an Assistant Professor of English Education at New York University. His research focuses on urban youth popular culture; language and literacy; teacher research; and urban teacher education. For five years, Dr. Kirkland taught secondary reading and English language arts in Detroit and Lansing, Michigan. Currently, he is writing two books: A Search Past Silence: Literacy in the Life of DeShawn Stevens and The Promise in their Eyes: Using Youth Culture to Teach Secondary English.  His most recent book, Narratives of Social Justice Teaching: Negotiating Preservice and Inservice Spaces (With Others), is currently in print.

Anne Kornfeld is a media diva and wearer of many colored hats. She works with immigrant youth at Newcomers High School, where she has written and implemented numerous grants for teaching media arts. She also teaches the Web 2.0 class for Teachers Network.

Anne Looser is in her fifth year teaching ninth grade Special Education at Lehman High School in the East Bronx. After studying political science and economics, she became a teacher in 2005 as a New York City Teaching Fellow. She received her master's in Urban Education from Mercy College in 2007. Anne’s research interests include literacy instruction for secondary students and teacher empowerment. She enjoys traveling, cooking, and the outdoors.

Victoria Lowe is a Lead Teacher at Michelangelo M.S. 144 in the Bronx. Prior to becoming a Lead Teacher she was a Literacy Coach, ELA teacher, and a fifth grade elementary school teacher. She began her career in 2000 through the NYC Teaching Fellows Program. She has served on the schools Inquiry Team for two years examining best literacy strategies to improve students’ performance across content areas.

Victoria graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1997 with a M.S. degree in Forensic Psychology. She earned a M.A degree in Elementary Education in 2002 from Lehman College, CUNY. She is a member of the National School Reform Foundation and is a certified Critical Friends Group Coach. She also served as a Teachnet Institute member, which examined best practices for technology use in the classroom.

Jeanette Luna is entering her third year at P.S. 32 in the Belmont section of the Bronx, otherwise known as “the real Little Italy.” She teaches an energetic, diverse, and talented group of bilingual third graders. Jeanette has just completed the New York City Teaching Fellows Program where she received an M.A. in Urban Education from Mercy College. She is thrilled to begin her TNLI Fellowship because it gives her the opportunity to keep learning and exercise active citizenship,something she learned to value while at Tufts University where she received a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Latin American Studies.
This year Jeanette hopes to built a stronger sense of community within her school, and then to reach out to the Belmont community and its leaders. She is a strong believer that it takes “a village to raise a child” and therefore schools should work closely with the greater community and take advantage of its rich resources. Further, Jeanette plans to continue her work with her school’s Inquiry Team and to cultivate her students’ many talents. She enjoys teaching her third graders how to express themselves through music, dance, writing, and theater. When she is not teaching, she loves to travel, write, dance, and to learn and explore new things. In the fall, she is taking her first ever sewing class!

Daniel J. Mak earned an M.S. in childhood education from Brooklyn College and an MBA in Finance from Saint John’s University in New York City, NY. He is a member of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in education and currently enrolled in New York Institute of Technology’s School Leadership and Technology program with future additional coursework leading to district leadership certification and a doctoral degree. Daniel is entering his sixth year as a New York City Teaching Fellow (NYCTF) teacher in a New York City public school, with the last five years at P.S. 214K in Brooklyn. He is starting his third year as the data/resource cluster teacher at P.S. 214K where he is also the school data specialist, data inquiry team member, technology liaison, and head of the school grant committee.

Teaching is a second career for Daniel. Prior to becoming a New York City public school teacher, he spent eight years teaching economics and finance at Saint John’s University in Queens, NY; five years as an economic consultant for the U.S. Postal Service in Washington, DC; and three years as an investment banker in NY, NY. Daniel became a New York City public school teacher through Cohort 8 of the New York City Teaching Fellows program in 2004.

Daniel is interested in increasing student achievement for all students. His master’s thesis is a qualitative action research study about effectively integrating multimedia technology with research-based instructional strategies to engage students in learning, differentiate instruction, and increase student achievement.  Daniel is enthusiastic about the opportunity to provide input into educational policy through the Teachers Network Leadership Institute as a MetLife Fellow.

Reema Marji is currently a journalism/literacy enrichment teacher at PS 49 in the Bronx. She has taught at PS 49 for eight years as a first and second grade teacher. Reema also serves as a UFT chapter delegate and was the 2nd grade leader for five years. She has served as the school's yearbook editor, treasurer of the school leadership team, and is the chairperson of the school’s social committee.

Reema earned her Master's of Science in Education from Fordham University's Graduate School of Education (2005). At Fordham, she also received a certificate for 'Young Reader's at Risk' as a Cosby Scholar. Reema is a graduate of Ella Cline Shear School of Education at Geneseo (1999). During her years at Geneseo, she was a tutor with Center for Exceptional Children, OATKA Residential Facility and Xerox Center for Multicultural Education. Before graduating from Geneseo, she volunteered with AmeriCorps at the Oneida Indian Nation where she worked on many educational projects.

Selva Mason is a fourth grade teacher at P.S. 126 in the Bronx. Selva recently received a master’s of science degree in Childhood Education from Lehman College. Prior to attending Lehman College, Selva received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Latin American Studies from William Smith College. While working at P.S 126, Selva participates in a series of professional organizations. She is a member of The Curriculum Team, The Barack Obama Speech Committee, and The African American History Committee.

Selva believes that a teacher is a student who never feels that an assignment is completed simply because the deadline is at hand or the paper was submitted. Selva explains that: “Even after the assignment has been evaluated and graded, a good teacher like a good student knows that hard work does not cease because a positive outcome has been acquired.” Selva insists that as learners, teachers have to build on positive outcomes. Teachers are leaders who should continuously strive to acquire greatness.

Jeneca Parker is entering her third year in the classroom at P369K in Brooklyn. She teaches fourth and fifth grade in a 12:1:1 self-contained setting. She graduated from Furman University in 2007 with a B.A. in international development studies. Recently, she completed her master’s in Childhood Education with a specialization in children with disabilities from Pace University. At Pace, she conducted action research examining elementary students’ perceptions of themselves as literate persons. Because it is understood that constructs are influenced by one’s environment, this study worked to reshape a reader’s identity in the classroom. Jeneca is interested in further examining students’ perceptions of success and the impacts of celebratory assessments on learning. Other research interests include school culture, special education policy, and curriculum development, with input of both teachers and students.

Two years ago, Jeneca joined New York City Teaching Fellows because she wanted to make an impact and contribute to closing the achievement gap. As a teacher, she discovered that some of the biggest obstacles to providing a quality education for all are some of the policies intended to benefit the most disadvantaged students. She is interested in education policy because she believes that all students deserve the best access to learning resources and opportunities. To better serve our students, she believes teachers need to be active participants of the policy examination process. She is excited to tackle issues, grow from dialogues with her peers, and continue to work towards closing the achievement gap through her action research.

Jonathan Pincus teaches Visual Art and Digital Video Production at Midwood High School at Brooklyn College. A Brooklyn resident and native New Yorker, Jonathan is both a product of and employee of the New York City Department of Education. He has been a recipient of a number of awards including: Donors Choose and Teachnet grants, an NEA Learning and Leadership grant, a NAEA Ruth Halvorsen award and the Power of Art- Rauschenburg Award from The Lab School in Washington D.C.

Jonathan is a member of the school chapter of Chancellor Klein’s Children’s First Intensive Data Inquiry Team. In addition, he has served in the capacity of staff developer turnkeying new technology initiatives. A sample of Jonathan’s inter-disciplinary, project-based approach to learning can be found at http://teachersnetwork.org/CD_NotTeachingToTheTest/

Increasingly involved in curriculum development, Jonathan recently served on the Film Sub Committee for the New Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Moving Image.  He created the wraparound lessons as well. Jonathan is pleased to have this opportunity to provide teacher insight in the new accountability paradigm.

Abbas Qureshi began teaching in New York as a NYC Teaching Fellows. He is currently teaching Earth Science Regents for the last sixth – eighth grade honors students at Dyker Heights Intermediate in Brooklyn, NY. He is also a UFT Delegate for his school. In addition, Abbas is in charge of NYC Junior Fellows Medical program in association with New York Academy of Medicine and Maimonides Hospital – a program which gets students involved in pursuing a career in medicine by conduct research and publish their findings. Abbas is a science coach for his school’s Science Olympiad team – a  regular at the State Level competitions.

Abbas earned a B.A. in Anthropology from Brandeis University  as a POSSE 1 Scholar. He earned an M.S. in Education from Brooklyn College, followed by a SBL Certificate from College of St. Rose. Abbas is currently pursuing Ph.D. in Educational Technology from Walden University. He hopes to work with legislation to integrate technology at all levels across the education curriculum.

Tara Redican is currently teaching Chemistry at Manhattan Village Academy, a small public high school.  She has been at MVA for six years and has taught Math A and General Science courses; in addition, she has acted as Team Leader and PM School Coordinator, participated in the School Leadership Team, coordinated school-wide assemblies and events, and is the faculty sponsor for the Delta Club and the school newspaper.  She also is a member of Earthwatch, and she brings this aspect of her life into the classroom, educating students about environmental issues.

Prior to teaching at MVA, she was an early childhood educator for six years and earned her Masters from Bank Street College.  She received her undergraduate degree is in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware. Tara is interested in how small schools can offer individualized instruction while creating a family-style learning community.  She is also interested in how gender plays a role in the science classroom.

Michael Richman teaches ninth grade English and Latin American literature at New Design High School on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He also co-teaches an introductory education class in the M.A. program at NYU. He has been teaching (full or part time) since 1996 B.I. (before iPods) with a brief stint at Microsoft. While his first teaching job was in a Montessori middle school, he has been happily teaching high school for all but one of those years and thinks one day he might just be crazy enough to open a school of his own.

Michael wrote a thesis paper on homework and gender for his M.A. at UC Berkeley and has been fascinated with the subject ever since. His interests have broadened to homework in general, especially since it’s frequently a challenge for most of his students. Thus, he spends a lot of time helping students establish structures in their academic lives which can help them be the most successful students possible. You’d be amazed at just how helpful organizing a 3-ring binder after school can be. He’s thinking this “helping-kids-get-organized-and-make-a-plan” thing might be a possible candidate for his action research. We’ll see.

Jennifer Rygalski began her teaching career in 2001 as a New York City Teaching Fellow. She taught social studies and humanities for two years at I.S. 218 in Washington Heights. She then spent the next five years teaching at Mott Hall II middle school where she taught eighth grade English and served as the Academic Coordinator. Last school year, she taught at the newly opened NYC iSchool, one of the schools opened under the Chancellor’s 21st Century Initiative. This year, Jennifer will serve as an Assistant Principal at the Academy of Innovative Technology in Brooklyn.

Jennifer received her B.A. in History from Lewis and Clark College and her M.A. in teaching from City College. She also recently completed her M.Ed. in Educational Leadership at the Principal’s Institute at Bank Street College. In addition to working as a teacher, Jennifer has worked extensively with the NYC Teaching Fellows as an adjunct instructor for Mercy College and as a Fellow Advisor Coordinator for the Fellow’s intensive summer Pre-Service Training Program. Jennifer’s interests include using technology to enhance instruction, using differentiation to meet the needs of all students, and teacher preparation programs and professional development.

Brent Sackris holds a master’s of social sciences degree in psychology from The University of Chicago and a master’s of science degree in Special Education from Long Island University. He has collaborated in the past with the following museums to create education outreach opportunities The Museum of Science and Industry, Scitech Hands On Museum, American Museum of Natural History and The Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art. He is a recipient of the following grants which helped to fund innovative learning experiences: Motorola Innovation Generation Grant, UFT MiniGrant, and Donor's Choose.

Sandy Scragg is an educational technologist in New York. She has been an award-winning English teacher, a regional technology specialist at the New York City Department of Education, and is currently the Co-Director of Technology Programs at Teachers Network. Sandy is a skilled workshop designer and facilitator, and recently became a Google Certified Teacher. She has authored online courses, for both teachers and students, which have been administered across the nation and has been a featured speaker at several education conferences.

Sandy’s interest in technology began when she was a New York City high school student in the 80s, continued through the 90s when she was a pioneer user of the worldwide web, and today, she publishes her own website and blog which can be found at sandyscragg.com. Sandy received both her B.A. and M.A. from NYU. Sandy now lives in northern NJ and is married to Brian Brodeur. They have a son, Alex, who was born in 2005.

Kasey Stofflet has been teaching visual arts and drama for the past sixteen years. She started her teaching career in Cleveland, OH, next ventured to Reading, PA, and finally landed in Astoria, NY. Kasey received her B.S. of Education from Millersville University in Millersville, PA and is one class away from her master’s of education in Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment from Walden University.

Kasey currently teaches visual arts and drama at the Albert Shanker Visual and Performing Arts Intermediate School in Long Island City, Queens. Kasey produces many theatrical and visual arts productions throughout the year as well as co-chairs her school’s Positive Behavior Intervention and Support Team. She is also a member of the TELL Grant cohort which instructs teachers how to integrates technology into the core-subjects and talent curriculums.  She is looking forward to incorporating Montessori learning principles and technology into her art curriculum in the coming school year. She is also adding the French language into her lessons to prepare her students for an international field trip to Paris, France next summer.

Susannah Tamarkin received her master's degree in Library and Information Science from Pratt Institute, and a Post-Master's Advanced Certificate for Leadership in Education from the College of Staten Island. She is the first teacher in the New York City Department of Education to receive Library Media National Board Certification. Susannah's curricular projects are widely presented at such venues as the American Library Association Annual Conference, Computers in Libraries/Internet@Schools East Conference, and the NYCDOE Office of Library Services Fall Conference. She is a consultant on instruction and library development for the New York Public Research Libraries' Education Outreach Program, NYCDOE Office of Library Services, and the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen. She also serves as a mentor for the St. Johns University Partnership for Underserved Urban Children scholarship program in the library science department. Susannah's work in education was acknowledged with both an Astor Center for School Libraries and a Center for School success award from New Visions for Public Schools. Her projects received funding from the Toshiba America Foundation, the UFT Teacher's Center, J.P. Morgan Champions of Active Learning, and Chase Active Learning Foundation.

Susannah began her career in education as a teacher's assistant in the early childhood after school program and summer school at the renowned University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. For the NYCDOE, Susannah has worn many hats: as a Library Teacher, Interim Acting Assistant Principal, Project ARTS Liaison, School Leadership Team member, and technology staff developer on the middle and high school levels. She currently teaches library and information technology at the Frank Sinatra Performing Arts High School.

As a middle school computer teacher and professional developer at Berta Dreyfus IS 49 in Stapleton, Staten Island, Matthew Valia’s passion is to expose students, teachers, and administrators to technology skills that make teaching and learning captivating and efficient. As a staff developer, Matthew helps educators learn how to use 21st century tools, digital white boards, student‐response systems, netbooks, differentiated instruction, Read 180, games, and simulations to enhance the engagement and effectiveness of their lesson plans. Matthew’s drive as a computer teacher is to break down cognitively difficult design programs to teach middle school students how to create advertising campaigns, websites, podcasts, and digital video productions.

Matthew’s work as a staff developer, teacher, and coordinator earned him IS 49’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2008. His MOUSE Squad student computer‐repair team won first place nationally out of 300 teams last year. He and his students are currently working with researchers from New York University on Microsoft’s Games for Learning Institute—a $3 million dollar study that explores how the engagement of video games can be paired with educational content. Matthew earned a B.A. in English and journalism from Rutgers University; a M.S. in English Education from CUNY‐CSI; and will complete a M.A. in Educational Communication and Technology from NYU in 2009.

Jason Wagner is entering his sixth year of teaching high school English in the Bronx. He began his career at Adlai E. Stevenson High School through the NYC Teaching Fellows program and has spent the last two years teaching at Millennium Art Academy, on the Stevenson Campus. He currently serves as Lead Teacher for Humanities, a role which allows him to work with other teachers to improve instruction and climate across the school while also serving as the eleventh grade English teacher. He is also serving as the UFT chapter leader for the school for the third year.

A native of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Jason graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in English in 2000. He earned his Master of Science in Teaching from Fordham University in 2004. An adjunct instructor at Hostos Community College, Jason developed and taught “Mythology Matters” a College Now Foundations Course.

Cari D. Wallace is entering her fifth year as a public school teacher where she has experience in cluster, collaborative team teaching, and self-contained environments. She is devoted to serving high poverty communities and is interested in playing an active role in closing the technological divide. Prior to joining the New York City Teaching Fellows program in 2004, Cari was employed by The Children’s Aid Society as a field technician. In this role, she provided technical support to Community Schools in under-served areas of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.

In 2008, Cari received her M.S.Ed. from The City College Of New York. She also holds a B.S.W. and a B.S. in Information Systems Technologies from Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. 

Justin Wedes is an educator and empowerer of youth in Brooklyn, New York. He believes in curiosity and persistence, and values patience and willpower as much as tech savvy in his students and colleagues. A graduate of the University of Michigan in physics and linguistics with High Honors, he also runs a music studio in Tribeca and enjoys building web sites, biking, and learning about absolutely anything. Justin is a science & technology teacher at South Brooklyn Community HS.

Dafina Westbrooks is a second year New York City Teaching Fellow. She currently teaches in a fifth grade Combined Team Teaching (CTT) class at The Dr. Betty Shabazz Elementary and Preparatory School for the Performing Arts (PS/IS 298) in Brownsville, Brooklyn. She is completing her M.A. in Special Education at Brooklyn College. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Neuroscience at Williams College.

Dafina entered teaching after working in the New York City Early Intervention Program. After seeing the amazing benefits early intervention provided, she wanted to continue to help the children after they entered the public school system. Her current focus is on finding the most effective and engaging way of differentiating instruction in order to reach all learners at all levels of ability in an inclusion classroom. She looks forward to working with the TNLI to produce research that enables policymakers to make sure that all children truly receive a "free and appropriate education."

Jill Williams first became affiliated with Teachers Network as a grant recipient and joined the staff after working in the New York City public schools first, as a teacher of dance and then as a technology specialist. Jill is the Co-director of Teachnet, a professional development program focusing on web-based curriculum development and instruction. She helped to create the Teachnet Institute, an influential group of New York educators who collaborate on technology projects, solutions, and communications; write and publish technology curricula; and advocate for the use of technology in education. Many of the original members of this group are now participating in TNLI's 21st Century Learning Initiative. Jill believes that combining technology with creativity is a powerful way to reach students. She has a B.A. from the University of Connecticut, a M.A. from Columbia Teachers College, and a Certificate in Educational Technology from NYIT.


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