Meet the High School Team

We have assembled a dedicated and talented teaching staff ready to serve our students in grades nine through twelve.  This group of staff members works incredibly hard to ensure that all of our students are ready for college when they graduate. 

FAQ

Matthew spent much of his life hiking, surfing, and kayaking around the world and has developed a high confidence level that he believes everyone can achieve.  He decided to pursue his Physical Education degree at Florida State University to teach children how to raise their confidence to a new level.  In 2006, he became a Physical Education Teacher and Athletic Director at M292 in the Lower East Side and created a sound physical education curriculum and after school sports programs such as basketball, table tennis, softball, flag rugby, badminton, and sailing.  With his experience, knowledge, and optimism, Mr. Satriano will commit his time during and after school hours at Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School to allow every student reach a higher level of wellness and develop into good decision makers, successful risk takers, and respectful and responsible citizens.  These goals will be reached by participating in a wide variety of sports, recreation, and cooperative activities.   

In a nutshell...

Matthew Satriano

Born and raised in Queens, Jennifer grew up with her mother, younger sister and two younger brothers.  She graduated from Queens College with a degree in Accounting and Economics.  After working at Northfork Bank from 2005-2007, she got a job selling stock at Smith Barney in midtown Manhattan for a year.  While economics will always be a strong passion of hers, she found that she needed a change and a little more excitement. It didn't take much thought that her heart was pointing her towards teaching, specifically in mathematics.  With that hope in helping children love math in the way she knew they could, she applied and got accepted to the New York City Teaching Fellows in June 2008 and had a full time job teaching Mathematics in the South Bronx in September.  During this time, she earned her Masters degree at Pace University and was privileged enough to experience teaching 6th through 10th grade, self-contained and lead a group of 12 students through their middle school journey as their academic and social advisor.  Besides teaching, Jennifer enjoys traveling, writing poetry, music and art, biking and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, through diet, exercise and a positive attitude.  Jennifer cannot wait to start her journey at MELS and unleash her creativity through lesson planning with colleagues.  She is always excited to meet new people, have new students and learn all the ins and outs of what a true EL school has to offer.

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Jennifer Avellino

Jenna-Lyn was born and raised in Westbury, NY.  She graduated from Carle Place High School where she participated in many clubs and sports such as tennis and track and field.  After high school, Miss Zaino went to Siena College where she majored in Biology.  During this time, she had an out of this world experience studying abroad in New Zealand for four months while studying biodiversity, conservation and the impact tourists have on sea lion’s behavior.  She also had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica with a tropical biology class to conduct research.  After graduating from Siena, Jenna-Lyn moved back home to Long Island and began working at Nassau BOCES Outdoor Education Department as a Naturalist.  She completed her master’s degree in education at Molloy College.  Miss Zaino has coached both cross country and track and field for the past two years at Carle Place High School.  Aside from teaching, she is extremely involved in her community.  She has been a volunteer for the American Cancer Society for the past five years and has organized two Relay for Life events and is in the process of planning her third.  She is excited to be a part of the new high school team at the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School and looks forward to working with the students to make this year an unforgettable and exciting learning experience.

In a nutshell...

Jenna-Lyn Zaino

Samantha is a native of the midwest, growing up in the western suburbs of Chicago. In high school, Samantha was an avid learner and a student ambassador to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji through an organization called People To People. As an undergraduate, she studied everything from history education to religious studies, before finally graduating with a Bachelor’s in Spanish. Upon graduation, she held numerous jobs for companies like Old Navy and AT&T. It was during this time that her brother, who has Asperger’s syndrome, inspired her to study and research autism. Eventually, Samantha decided to study special education. She moved to NYC after she got accepted into the NYC Teaching Fellows program. Through the program, she received her Master’s degree in Special Education from LIU in Brooklyn in 2013. When she isn’t in the classroom, Samantha loves to travel with her husband and family, and discover ways to grow professionally and personally.


In a nutshell...

Samantha Paniagua

Adam is a proud Queens native and is happy to return after five years of living and teaching in Manhattan. While he always loved to read, Adam fell in love (again) with books as an undergraduate at Brown University where his first- year advisor introduced him to the discipline of Ethnic Studies. While exploring Latino performance art and student-teaching at the same time, Adam decided that knowledge and thinking about one’s cultural experience was something largely left out of most classrooms and sought to rectify the situation by becoming a teacher. As a graduate student, Adam found Expeditionary Learning an exciting new way to engage learners. Since earning his master’s degree, he worked in an EL school in Manhattan for students who needed a new way to do high school.

Adam King

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(coming soon)

Elyse is a dedicated art teacher and an accomplished artist who is eager to bring visual arts to the MELS community. Raised in a suburb of Philadelphia, her passion for art began at a very early age. This passion eventually took her to the University of Michigan, where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and Painting. Elyse's work during the following year with the Frisoli Youth Center, in Cambridge, MA, was her inspiration for pursuing a career in Art Education. She attended the Maryland Institute College of Art, where she received a Master of Arts in Art Education. She began her teaching career in Fairfax County, VA. It was here that she developed an art exchange program between her students and students at the Bishop Forson School, in Ghana, West Africa. The program was a great success, so much so that she was invited to the school to teach art classes over the summer. In the time spent in Ghana, she formed close bonds with students and teachers, embracing their rich culture and sharing her love of art, while teaching students that art is a universal means of communication. Upon returning to the U.S., she moved to NYC, where she taught art to middle school students in the South Bronx. She served as the Department Chair of a dynamic program that included Film, Dance, Theater, Music, and Visual Art. Elyse is now delighted to be joining the Arts Department at MELS, and can't wait to discover and showcase the creative talents of her students.

Elyse Rosenberg

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Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, Seyi comes with a wealth of experience, both culturally and intellectually.  A nature enthusiast and explorer, he carved his niche exploring the fields of agriculture, marine sciences, and the world around him.  Seyi graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Agriculture in Nigeria where he studied Aquaculture and Fisheries Management.  He has worked with and volunteered for research institutes and organizations.  His passion for teaching prompted him to get a Master’s Degree in Science Education from Adelphi University.  Seyi also writes lyrics and poetry.  He is happy and excited about working at MELS!


Seyi Okuneye

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(coming soon)

Hillary finds her way out to New York with some Midwest roots and a recent life chapter in California. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Systems from the University of California San Diego where she was captain of the Triton track team as well as an active member of the UCSD outdoor education program. She discovered her passion for being an educator when working with young adults as a wilderness instructor and then a naturalist all throughout the mountains, deserts and coast of California. She found her way to the classroom where she taught middle school Math and Art in the San Francisco Bay Area before going back to her true passion, science, as a 7th and 8th grade science teacher in East Palo Alto.  Hillary was recently the Lead Middle School teacher and a founding Mentor teacher for the Aspire Public Schools Teacher Residency Program. She is continually in awe of middle school students and their curiosity. She feels honored and incredibly excited to be part of such a passionate staff!    

Hillary Mills    Assistant Principal

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Tarin was born and raised in a small town in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.  It was through her own experiences as a high school student that she found her love of teaching and passion for the French language and culture.  Following graduation, she pursued a Bachelor of Arts in French with secondary certifications in both French and Special Education at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY.  During her time at Nazareth, she spent a year abroad in Rennes, France studying and living with a host family.  She loved every minute of it and knew that she had to go back after graduation.  Tarin applied and was accepted by the French Embassy as an English Teaching Assistant in a high school in Marseille, France.  After spending the year there teaching and learning more about the French language and culture, she returned to the United States to pursue a Master of Arts in French and Francophone Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  While working on her degree, she worked as well as an instructor, teaching both French 110 and 120 introductory classes.  Tarin is both excited and honored to be a part of the MELS community and loves sharing her passion for teaching and learning with her students.


Tarin Baxter

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Rachel was born in New Jersey and raised in the Pocono region of Northeastern Pennsylvania, where she developed a love of nature, hiking, running, and yoga.  Though rooted in her rural upbringing, she was curious to explore the culture and arts that could only be offered by big cities. She attended college at Boston University where she majored in Art History culminating in a semester studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Upon graduating, Rachel moved to New York City where she put her degree to work. She started working in the world of high-end auctions for three years before deciding to pursue a career that would allow her to channel her love of working with children and teaching others. Rachel joined Teach for America in 2014 and spent two years teaching middle school special education in Queens while also pursuing her Master's degree from Hunter College. As an educator, she is passionate about cultivating a joy for learning and empowering students to have a voice in their communities, and is excited to continue this work as part of the MELS team. When she isn't in the classroom, Rachel enjoys traveling, cooking (and eating!), hiking, yoga, and spending time with family and friends.



Rachel Demalderis

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Claire graduated from Middlebury College with a BA in History and French before returning to her hometown of San Francisco to begin her teaching career at the Renaissance School, a Montessori day school in Oakland, CA. After falling in love with the Montessori geography and cultural studies curriculum, Claire was inspired to pursue a career in Social Studies education. She received her MA in Teaching Social Studies from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2007. From 2007-2012 she worked at Bronx Leadership Academy II High School, where she taught Global History, Humanities, and literacy support classes to 10th-12th graders. She served as 10th grade team leader for 2 years, and History department leader for 3 years, as well as advisor to the BLA II Mock Trial team. Claire brings to MELS a diversity of teaching and learning experiences in Vermont, France, Senegal, the Bay Area, and New York City, and her passion for working with kids. Claire's other passions include travel, reading historical fiction, wandering museums, sampling delicious foods from around the world, and exploring the culturally rich and beautifully diverse city of New York.

Claire Wolff

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Tom was born and raised in Lansing, MI.  He is a graduate of Alma College where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Math.  Tom then worked for the state of Michigan and in the private sector.  After eight years of living in a cubical, Tom decided it was time for a change.  He enrolled at Eastern Michigan University, earned his teaching certificate, and has never looked back.  Tom also has a passion for sports, playing soccer, basketball, and baseball in high school and baseball in college.  Tom has coached basketball for nine years and has also run three marathons.  He is an avid Detroit sports fan (especially the Tigers) and supports Arsenal FC. 





Tom Hurth

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Michael was born in Forest Hills, New York and raised on Long Island. He attended Jericho High School where he participated in wrestling, baseball and volleyball. After high school, Michael received a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from Quinnipiac University. After graduation, realizing that his dream was always to teach high school students, Michael decided to leave accounting to pursue his career in education.  Michael continued his education at Molloy College where he received a Masters in Secondary Math Education.  After completion of the Masters program, Michael began his teaching career in Brooklyn, NY where he was a primary teacher for Integrated Algebra, Geometry, Algebra I I / Trigonometry.  Here, he also conducted various SAT Math Prep courses.  Michael’s influence carried far beyond the classroom.  His involvement extended across various after school activities as the coach of Varsity basketball, Intramural flag football and club baseball.  Aside from teaching, Michael's interests are traveling, watching movies, and both participating in and watching a multitude of sports.  Michael is a passionate New York sports fan.  

Michael Stern

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A North Carolina native, Allison grew up with a love of learning instilled by her parents. She began learning Spanish in 6th grade and instantly fell in love with the language, which led to eleven more years of study in middle, high school, and college. In college, she spent a semester abroad in Barcelona studying international business and marketing while fully immersed in the beauty and culture of the city. With a degree in Business & Economics and minors in Anthropology and Spanish from Lehigh University in 2007, she went on to work in advertising. Just as she was beginning to feel the need to contribute in a more meaningful way to the world, she serendipitously stumbled upon the Teaching Fellows program in 2009 and began classes towards her master's degree in teaching while teaching Spanish at a school in the southeast Bronx. The rest is history...

Allison is a firm believer in the power of the EL model and is thrilled that her educational journey has led her to MELS. Outside of the classroom, Allison can usually be found with a book in hand, playing with her dog, or pondering theoretical physics.

Alison Maxfield

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Born and raised in Connecticut, Leslie is excited about her move to New York City to teach at MELS! As a result of Leslie’s true passion for learning, she knew at an early age she wanted to pursue a career as a teacher.  During her undergrad years at Sacred Heart University, she served as a Classroom Learning Assistant for the history department, which helped to solidify her decision to teach history and social studies.  She continued at Sacred Heart and received a Bachelors of Arts degree in History and Master of Arts degree in Secondary Education.  She has taught United States History, Civics, Global Current Issues, Modern World History, and the History of Crime and Violence to 9th-12th grade students in Milford, CT, and has taught Adult Education classes, Summer School and served as a Girl’s Lacrosse Coach for Norwalk, CT.  In her spare time, she loves to travel, horseback ride and go for long walks with her dog, Buddy.  Leslie fell in love with the Expeditionary Learning model of teaching, and could not be happier about working with the amazing and talented MELS teachers and staff. 

Leslie Pinto

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Nicole was born in Queens, raised in New Jersey and, after years of travel and moving around, has found herself settled in Queens once again.  Nicole studied Wildlife Biology in the Rocky Mountains of Montana and the grassland of Kansas. After earning her undergraduate degree in Biology, Nicole moved to California where she taught an after-school science program in San Francisco.  It was during this time when Nicole realized her passion for working with children.  She spent some time exploring Northern California and lived in a tipi for a year. After moving back to New York, Nicole was accepted into the NYC Teaching Fellows program and has had the privilege to teach NYC kids health and science ever since!  When she isn't working, Nicole spends her time raising her two boys, jogging with her dog, reading just about anything, and exploring the world.  Nicole is honored to become a member of the MELS team and is looking forward to teaching this year!

Nicole Mendelsohn

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While Elissa technically qualifies as a native New Yorker, she was raised in Washington D.C. Before going to college, Elissa served as an AmeriCorps member in California and while assistant teaching in a middle school, Elissa decided she wanted to pursue work social justice and public schools. She went to Macalester College in Minnesota, where she earned a BA in American Studies and a minor in African Studies. Elissa was lucky to study abroad in both Ghana and Holland, too! After college, Elissa returned to her birthplace and worked with New York City high school students and GED graduates pursuing college admission and awesome after school and summer opportunities. Unable to resist the teaching bug, she went back for her masters in teaching at Bard College and before coming to MELS, she taught 10th grade English in the South Bronx. When not teaching, she can be found doing yoga and running less consistently than she'd like, browsing the shelves of used bookstores, plotting upcoming travel, and reading. She is so thrilled to be a part of the MELS community!



Elissa Vinnik

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Bianca Duec is originally from Philadelphia, (a great city) but is overjoyed to call New York (the greatest city) her new home. While in high school, Ms. Duec found community and added meaning to her classes through after school activities such as the school literary magazine and the Gay Straight Alliance. Ms. Duec was a bit of a wanderer after high school, (but, of course, not all who wander are lost) living and working on a Kibbutz in Israel (in the cemetery!) and holding various odd jobs such as a barista and a catering server. She finally found her academic way when she entered Goucher College, where she graduated with a major in Literature and a minor in Latin American Studies. Ms. Duec joined the Urban Teacher Residency for the 2012-2013 program and moved to NYC, where she graduated with a degree in education from Hunter College. 

Without a true understanding, we will never be able to dig deep, understand different perspectives, and fix the things that seem broken. Question everything! When she is not lesson planning or thinking of hilarious jokes to tell her students, she likes to find different spots to read in or play with her glorious cat, Luna. 

Bianca Duec

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Melissa was born on Long Island and raised in upstate New York. She graduated from Port Jervis High School before attending Fordham University in the Bronx, where she majored in English and French Language and Literature and minored in Comparative Literature and Psychology. She studied abroad in London and Paris, and she appreciated the experiences she had traveling and learning everywhere she went. While in college, Melissa also volunteered in a South Bronx preschool with Jumpstart and discovered her passion for education as she taught children early literacy skills. Following graduation, she pursued work with the New York City Teaching Fellows and her teaching certification in English and Special Education at St. John’s University. She has since moved to Queens and looks forward to exploring as much as she can.

Melissa Bright

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Aisha is a native New Yorker who received her Master’s Degree in Special Education from the City University of New York. She began studying vocal music from a young age and graduated from Fiorello H. Laguardia H.S of Performing Arts with a grant to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education at NYU. Throughout her college career, she worked in various group and one-on-one settings with students K-12 across multiple disciplines. This experience helped mold her pedagogical philosophy and reinforced the importance of developing a well-rounded, student centered approach to teaching and learning. She celebrates multicultural experiences and encourages diverse musical expression in the classroom. During her free time, she enjoys writing and recording music and practicing dance. She is excited to be a part of the MELS creative and collaborative team and looks forward this year!

Aisha Ali

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Lucy Robins was born and raised in New York City.  A true city girl, she didn’t discover her love of the outdoors until she spent a semester in high school camping in the backcountry of Colorado and Utah.  After graduating from high school, she went to Vassar, where she studied biology, chemistry, and philosophy.  While a student, she connected with the ESL program at Poughkeepsie High School and discovered that she felt most at home working alongside students in a classroom.  She worked as a teaching assistant in Poughkeepsie throughout her college career, and has been teaching ever since.  She has taught in Chile, New Mexico, Boston, and the Bronx, and has traveled with students to Guatemala and the Grand Canyon, and as a student herself this summer in Iceland.  She is excited to continue growing and exploring as a teacher at MELS this year, and sharing her love of adventure and science with students.

Lucy Robins

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Angela Richardson grew up in Sarasota, Florida where she played piano and cello for the Venice Symphony and Florida West Coast Symphony Orchestras.  After attaining her undergraduate degree in Cello Performance from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, Angela immediately began performing in Sarasota, Florida.  Once she realized that her true calling was working with youth in the schools, she began teaching full-time in the Philadelphia School District in 2008. With a Master’s degree in Education and seven years of teaching experience, Angela is excited to join the awesome team at MELS as the High School Instrumental Music Teacher.  When she is not teaching, Angela enjoys backpacking, reading, and cooking yummy vegetarian food!


Angela Richardson

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Erin attended college at Georgetown University in Washington, DC where she studied English Literature and Art History. In college, she was always involved in programs to mentor and tutor students in Washington, DC school. After graduating college, she worked in business and marketing while using her free time to continue to work with students in DC. After earning a Masters in Literature and Culture from Georgetown, Erin decided to pursue her interest in education and moved to New York City to join the New York City Teaching Fellows. She taught high school English for four years in the Bronx and also acted as a running coach and leader for buildOn, an organization devoted to empowering students and bringing education to impoverished countries. Erin is excited to be joining the team at MELS and looks forward to a great year!

Erin Hickey

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Spending time in the outdoors has been immensely important to Christy's life. Born and raised in Northern California, she studied psychology at Cal Poly in beautiful San Luis Obispo, taking advantage of the wealth of natural spaces the Central Coast has to offer. Working with the California Conservation Corps and the Student Conservation Association, she led environmental conservation crews in the Central Coast and in the Sierras, tackling projects alongside three different crews that she misses dearly. After moving to New York City, she worked as a counselor with pregnant and parenting teens before joining the New York City Teaching Fellows and receiving her Masters in Education from Brooklyn College. An avid question asker and knowledge seeker, Christy is committed to facilitating students' discovery of their own interests through interdisciplinary learning. She is intrigued by rocks, space, public health, survival medicine, the human body, the human brain, repetition of patterns through nature, all cats, most dogs, and weird facts. Christy enjoys playing games, reading, watching movies, being outdoors, traveling, collecting mementos, swimming, and trying to keep plants alive in her Brooklyn apartment. Christy uses Google Classroom to communicate class events - send an email to obtain for more information on how to join.

Christy Dunbar

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Milreyly is a New York resident raised in the heart of Queens. In high school, she participated on the basketball, volleyball and handball team. As an undergraduate, she studied physical education at York College. During this time with the NFL’s Jay Feidler as her mentor, she developed her sport and recreational teaching knowledge. She created a summer camp curriculum tailored to improve motor skills and athletic capabilities of children with diverse needs. Although the experience was great, she realized her need to work in a school.  Milreyly decided to pursue a Masters in Exercise Science at Queens College, where she learned to implement efficient teaching strategies in her curriculum. Outside of her professional life, Milreyly enjoys donating time to organizations, goint to the theater, and traveling and appreciating the great outdoors. She is humbled to be part of the MELS community and looks forward to being part of the 9th grade team!


Milreyly Cas

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Brooke was born and raised in North Salem, New York before heading up to Maine to attend Bowdoin College.  After college, she moved to Brooklyn where she worked in the arts for several years before receiving a master’s degree in art therapy from Pratt Institute.  As a licensed creative arts therapist, Brooke began working with children and adolescents in residential treatment programs, first at Green Chimney’s and then at Andrus.  Through these experiences, she realized her passion for working with young people and the power of education to effect change on both an individual and societal scale. She is a NYC Teaching Fellow, and is thrilled to be a part of the Expeditionary Learning community as part of the amazing and inspiring team at MELS!

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Brooke Winter-DiGirolamo

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Evan comes to the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School after four years at Into the Outside, an educational nonprofit organization aimed at developing fieldwork-driven curriculum and utilizing local resources.  He has experience working with youth at the YMCA of Greater New York and especially at the Double H Ranch, one of Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall camps for children with special needs, where Evan was a counselor for seven years.  The Adirondacks of Upstate New York, where Evan grew up, are a particular passion, and he loves to travel, having spent significant time in West Africa.  Evan has a degree in American Literature from NYU with a particular interest in the intersections between literary, cultural, and popular history.  Evan loves exploring New York City as his personal classroom, and he hopes to instill that passion for urban exploration and on-site learning in his students.  He is thrilled to be a part of the MELS staff, and work with MELS students in discovering New York City’s rich, educational nooks and crannies.

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Evan O’Connell

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Charles found his love for education and for the outdoors when he himself was an Outward Bounder many years ago.  The allure of the journey and the sense of empowerment that only working together as a team can bring have inspired in Charles a teacher without borders that has traveled near and far to make learning challenging, relevant, and fun.  He received his bachelor's degree from Vassar College in sociology and has studied and taught as an afterschool program coordinator in Poughkeepsie, as an outdoor educator in Chile, and as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone.  In these places and more Charles has heard stories and seen perspectives of the world from so many kind people that make up our global community, and his teaching reflects our shared histories.  Later, after tying the shoes of many a first grader as a paraprofessional while teaching social skills to children on the autism spectrum, Charles returned to the Empire State for his master's degree in social studies education at Teachers College, and couldn’t be happier to be teaching at MELS. Charles uses Google Classroom to communicate class events - send an email to obtain for more information on how to join.

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Charles FitzGibbon

(coming soon)

Shayna grew up with a passion for playing sports, especially basketball, softball, and bowling.  This sparked her desire to become a physical education teacher and she began her career at Franklin K Lane HS in Brooklyn.  There she coordinated after-school programs, assisted with Student Government activities, performed some Athletic Director duties, and coached the girl’s varsity basketball team.  Shayna holds a Bachelor of Science degree from York College as well as a Masters of Science in Education from Brooklyn College.  She believes that if students are provided with opportunities to participate in a variety of recreational and collaborative activities, they will strive for lifelong physical and mental wellness.  Shayna looks forward to this year at MELS where she hopes to inspire and be inspired as well.

Shayna Priestley

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(coming soon)

After earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California, Ari began teaching to pursue his goal of empowering students through critical thinking. He taught high school English in Avondale, Arizona while earning his Masters in Secondary Education at Arizona State University. He then returned to Los Angeles to work in student programming at the Claremont Colleges. After moving to New York City, he joined the central office of the New York City Department of Education, training teachers and administrators in everything from analyzing data to organizing teacher teams. In 2012, he returned to the classroom to teach middle and high school English before joining MELS to teach ESL and Social Studies. Aside from his life-long passions for art, music, and cooking, Ari has recently become interested in sustainable farming practices. Ari now has the pleasure of teaching senior English and bringing his love of literature to students.

Ari uses Google Classroom and Remind to communicate class events - contact the teacher to be added to the groups.

Ari Feldman

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(coming soon)

Candice was born in England and raised in Queens where she currently resides.  Upon graduating from Fordham University, she was not entirely sure where she wanted to begin her career.  She taught Prevention education to at-risk youth in Suffolk County for over a year.  She absolutely loved it, but when her program funds were cut off, she decided that she would enter into the legal field.  While in Los Angeles, she worked in Media and used her experience in the legal field handling copyright and trademark protection for numerous high profile brands.  It was during this time that Candice decided that NYC and education were still calling her name.  After 3 years in LA, she returned to NYC with a baby in tow, and decided to apply for the NYC Teaching Fellows program.  After acceptance into the program, she was enrolled at LIU Brooklyn, and continues to take her Master’s degree courses.  Candice will be certified to teach Special Education, and is presently designing curriculum for new, exciting electives at MELS!  Besides teaching, Candice is a huge Do-It-Yourself project person, and LOVES to cook and bake.  She is adventurous and enjoys traveling to experience new and bizarre festivals around the world (La Tomatina!).

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Candice Abreu

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Sadhya grew up in North Carolina and attended Warren Wilson College where she studied Spanish and Global studies with a lens on Latin America, all while working as an electrician for the school. Towards the end of her studies she began to live part of each year in Ecuador, where she cultivated an interest in herbalism and natural medicine. It wasn’t until after living in New York City for several years that Sadhya decided to join the world of education.  As an educator, Sadhya highly values the students that she works with and finds them to be a great source of inspiration and a catalyst for her own continued learning and growth. She hopes to nurture within them the ability to be flexible, self-reflective, conscious and caring learners who ask critical questions of the world around them and of themselves. Whether she is in or outside of the classroom, Sadhya is fascinated with meditation and the ancient Indian philosophy of Vedanta.

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Sadyha Bailey

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Gabriela grew up on Long Island, and is native to El Salvador.  While learning English as a second language, she was inspired by her teachers, who supported her desire to learn. After graduating high school with honors, Gabriela received a full scholarship to Hunter College, where she decided to become an educator in the hopes of impacting other children like herself to reach higher goals, and to never settle. After majoring in history and education, Gabriela taught in Spanish Harlem for three years, while also pursuing  her Masters degree in TESOL at Hunter College, preparing to further serve immigrant families. Having recently become part of the Forest Hills community, Gabriela is thrilled at the opportunity to make an impact on the students at MELS. In her free time, Ms. Espinal loves running, visiting museums,exploring new cities, and spending time with her family. 

Gabriela Calderon

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(coming soon)

Rebecca Kleinbart just loves doing and sharing math with high school mathematicians! Originally from Philadelphia, she has a BA from Temple University and an M.S. from St. John’s in Math Education. This is her fifth year in the Math Department at MELS. In her spare time, Ms. Kleinbart visits art museums, practices Math magic tricks, watches animal videos, and dreams about traveling the world. She is excited to continue learning and growing with her MELS students this year!

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Rebecca Kleinbart

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Born and raised in Queens, Pareese is happy to have her schooling come full circle at MELS. Pareese currently attends LIU-Brooklyn where she is obtaining her Masters in Special Education. She received her Bachelors, from the University At Albany, where she studied Communications and Journalism. Pareese had a varied of jobs completing her degree, but always having children at the core. Hence, her previous job as a Sports Instructor at New Bridges Elementary School and at the most magical place on earth, Walt Disney World. She prides herself in her ability to build relationships with students as well as having a comforting persona. Student empowerment is her main priority here at MELS. She wants to embody the confidence in all students to be their best selves. When she’s not in the classroom, you can find her in the park doing yoga or playing basketball. She’s always smiling and looking forward to sharing that same energy with her students.

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Pareese Hankerson

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Mica Fidler is a native of Baltimore, MD.  She graduated from Brown University with a degree in Comparative Literature and a focus in French Literary Translation. She loves theatre, studying foreign languages, cooking, backpacking, and running. She is an avid traveler and has visited 30 countries! Before coming to MELS, Mica spent a year working on literacy development at a South African community college through a Fulbright grant. She has also spent time teaching English in China and working as a preschool Teacher's Aid in Washington DC. Mica was educated in progressive schools which prized interdisciplinary learning, student voice and leadership, authentic discovery, and joy. She brings these principles to life in her classroom and is thrilled to be a part of the unique community and exceptional staff at MELS! 

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Mica Fidler

In a nutshell...

Sandra Drozd was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico and grew up in Bridgeport, CT. She studied Psychology and Neuroscience at Amherst College, Clinical Psychology at Clark University, and Education at Long Island University. Sandra is entering her tenth year as a math teacher and is thrilled to begin her first year at MELS! She is passionate about grappling with and addressing sources of inequality in our society and hopes to inspire the same drive for social justice in her students. Sandra lives in North Richmond Hill with her husband and 3 children. When she’s not teaching, she is exploring Forest Park with her family and is active in various forest preservation projects. Sandra also enjoys gardening, carpentry, and DIY projects.

In a nutshell...

Sandra Drozd

In a nutshell...