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Middle School Team

We have assembled an incredible teaching staff in our Middle School.  Our educators bring a wealth of experience and knowledge and serve students coming from over twenty-five different elementary schools throughout District 28.  We couldn't be more more proud of their hard work!

Our Team

FAQ

Thea is a native New Yorker who was born in Brooklyn, and raised in Queens.  Having had a variety of experiences in the public school system, Thea knew that she wanted to work in a field that allowed her to positively impact students. She attended Hampton University for her undergraduate degree where she studied psychology with an emphasis on children.  After graduating, she took on a full time position teaching three to five year olds in a Headstart program. Thea then went on to receive her Masters in Social Work at SUNY Stony Brook, during which time she worked with runaway and homeless youth and families dealing with domestic violence.  Realizing her true passion still remained in the classroom, Thea joined the New York City Teaching Fellow Program and attended Hunter College and earned a Masters in education. 

   

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Thea Taylor

Having spent the past year in Wyoming studying environmental and sustainable education, Kimberly is excited to be returning to New York City to teach at MELS. Kimberly graduated Teachers College in 2009 and has taught in schools in Boston and New York City. In addition to teaching in the classroom, she has instructed outdoor courses for middle school and high school students in Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone, and in upstate New York. She is eager to integrate her passion for nature and the outdoors with her interest and knowledge of Social Studies education. Kimberly is looking forward to meeting the students who will be attending MELS and knows that it will be an exciting and energizing school year.

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Kim Scher

Eric has founded music programs in Detroit prisons, led citywide orchestras in St. Louis, directed outdoor leadership programs on the shores of Lake Michigan, and taught English to college students in Wuhan, China. When he isn’t teaching, he is either making music or getting lost outside in the wilderness. He has played with jazz combos, folk singers, one heavy metal band, a legendary sitar master, and currently plays violin with the String Orchestra of Brooklyn. He most recently got lost in the mountains of BANFF National Park and enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. Eric is also an insanely proud graduate of the University of Michigan (GO BLUE!) and is currently completing his doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia University. But most importantly, he is a founding teacher at MELS and has been telling every middle school student to “PRACTICE YOUR INSTRUMENT!!!” since 2010.



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Eric Shieh

Robin graduated from Rutgers College with a BA in English and Art History. Her first teaching position was in a small school in Benin, West Africa. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, she taught middle school English for two years and developed a Girls Education Initiative designed to promote girls’ scholarship and mitigate the impact of gender inequality. After her service, Robin knew that she wanted to grow as an educator. She returned to New York City where she became a New York City Teaching Fellow, earning a Master’s degree in Adolescent Education while teaching English Language Arts at the School for International Studies in Brooklyn.  Still passionate about the link between education, social justice and  equality, Robin once again headed back to Africa, this time making her home in Namibia.  As a consultant, she worked closely with non-governmental/non-profit organizations working with orphans and vulnerable children, women’s and girls’ rights, and HIV. She focused on developing curriculum, designing learning experiences, facilitating workshops, and training trainers. Her clients included UNICEF Namibia, Children in the Wilderness, Hole in the Wall, and Sister Namibia and her work took her to Vietnam, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.

Robin communicate via remind and emails the 8th grade on a bi-weekly basis.

Students can sign up for remind by texting @mels80__ to 81010.

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Robin Baumgarten

Kimron was lucky enough to live his first eighteen years in Portland, OR, where he spent his time cycling and hiking the Columbia River valley and selling local, organic produce. It was these experiences that seeded his passion for agriculture and the watersheds that support it. After earning his B.A. in International Political Economy at the University of Puget Sound he moved east, to New York City, where he completed his M.S.T at Pace University and began his teaching career. In the time since, he has taught high school world history, coached varsity basketball, and traveled throughout Asia to study agricultural and industrial development along that region’s mother rivers. Kimron uses Remind to communicate class events - send an email to obtain for more information on how to join.

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Kimron Thomas

Ashley received her master’s degree in Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Previously, she worked as a teaching artist in New York City cultural institutions such as the 92 Street Y, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Museum of Art and Design and the Guggenheim. Ashley received her bachelor’s degree from the School of Visual Arts in Illustration, and continues to create her own work.  Aside from making art, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling and reading. She is so excited to start her first year at MELS, where she hopes to introduce visual arts to middle school students as another way of building knowledge about the world based on authentic experiences and interaction with materials.

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Ashley Bartlett

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After receiving a degree in Art History from Rutgers University, Katie moved abroad to explore a career in education through teaching English in Chile and South Korea. Wanting to translate that experience to an impact on the education system in her home state of New York, she moved back and completed a Master's program in Education Leadership, Policy, and Politics at Teachers College. Katie worked for the New York City Department of Education, where she learned a lot about how our school system functions. She missed working with students and applied to New York City Teaching Fellows, which led her to teach at a middle school in South Brooklyn for two years. Katie comes to MELS with experience from a variety of different schools and excitement to be working in the expeditionary learning model. Outside of education, Katie enjoys cooking, baking, playing board games, and reading science fiction. 

Katie Blouse

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Dawoun is excited to teach 6th grade at MELS. As a Teach for America corps member, Dawoun taught middle school math in the Bronx and led teacher teams as a House Leader. Through the stories of her students and her own experience of growing up in an immigrant family, Dawoun developed a passion for providing quality education for all children. Wanting to close the achievement gap at a more systematic level, Dawoun studied public policy and worked at the central office of the NYC Department of Education where she learned how policy decisions impact what happens in the classroom. Dawoun’s passion for educational equity also took her to the international field (Peru, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia) where she worked with children from disadvantaged backgrounds and various NGOs. Dawoun is excited to return to the classroom where her passion first began and to bring the policy perspective she has gained over the years. Dawoun received a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Wellesley College, Masters in Adolescent Education from Pace University, and Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University. 

Dawoun Jyung

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Simone, the youngest of three, was born in NYC and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Simone grew up in a West Indian household where education and arts enrichment were regarded as important aspects of a person’s life. So in addition to studying, Simone spent much of her time writing poetry and participating in dance classes practicing ballet, tap, and jazz. Before becoming a teacher, Simone studied Journalism and Media Studies at Hunter College. Her writing was rooted in advocating for social, economic, and political justice. Her drive for education equality led her to become part of Teach for America as a classroom teacher where she felt she could make a positive impact on students. Currently, Simone is finishing up her MA in Special Education at Brooklyn College. She is excited to be back at MELS for a second year to teach ELA and instill a love for reading and writing in her students. In her free time, Simone enjoys traveling, visiting museums, trying new foods, and being outdoors.

Simone Sylvester

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Christine earned her Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education from Queens College, where she was the President of her Major's Club.  She was recognized as one of the top P.E. Majors in all of New York State for her academic excellence and community service.  Christine had the unique opportunity to earn her "mouse ears" upon graduating from the Walt Disney World College Program in her sophomore year of college.  It was then that she developed a strong interest and passion for teaching students the importance of physical activity and wellness, subsequently taking on challenges as a camp counselor, softball coach, and after-school program mentor.  Christine enjoys exploring NYC and its restaurants, traveling to new places, sailing, skiing, and playing kickball.  She is a thrill seeker when it comes to riding roller coasters and is a huge Yankees fan. Christine has committed herself to motivating students to take risks, strive for excellence, and to be proud of who they are.  

Christine DiLapi

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Kristen earned her Masters in English and Theatre Education from Steinhardt at New York University. Previously, she has taught English and theatre in Brooklyn, and is thrilled to be teaching here at MELS! Since growing up with two younger brothers, Kristen has basically always wanted people to just laugh at her jokes. This led to a love of writing performance poetry, and later, acting and directing. Kristen has been a member of multiple collegiate slam poetry teams with SUNY Oneonta. She got her start teaching writing and poetry slam workshops at elementary, middle, and high schools across New York State. She also harbors a passion for directing and acting through multiple New York City-based productions as the Managing Director of a nonprofit theatre company. She continues to direct, write, and perform, and strongly believes in the power of theatre and writing through the expeditionary learning model for education.  

Kristen Tomanocy

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Ilana was born and raised in Long Island, NY.  In High School, Ilana was captain of the varsity cheerleading team (rah rah!) played volleyball and basketball, and co-coordinated a fashion show to raise money for A.I.D.S research.  She started working with children when she was 14 years old at the local JCC.  It was while volunteering that she realized she had a passion for working with children.  She has worked with children ranging from three years old to 15 years old, and spent many summers as a camp counselor.  Ilana graduated from Long Island University in 2009 and recently earned a Master’s degree in Special Education from Queens College.   She immediately began her teaching career within the Queens community.  In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, listening to music, attempting to try new foods, wandering around NYC, and watching movies and sports.  

Ilana Gutman

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Abbie was born and raised in a small town in Western Maine. She grew up in a household where fresh grown vegetables were canned for the winter months and electricity came from solar panels and a windmill.   She attended Wheaton College in Massachusetts, where she studied Physics.  After studying in Nepal and Tibet she became concerned about the effects of globalization on small towns’ sustainability.  She is impassioned about education as a means of empowering youth about the effects of their decisions and the global consequences of personal and governmental actions.  She has taught Earth Science, Living Environment and Chemistry in high schools in The Bronx and Brooklyn and is excited to be part of the educational community at MELS. 

Abigail Sewall  Instructional Guide

asewall@metropolitanels.com     |   

Hannah is excited to join the MELS team after beginning her teaching career teaching American history, economics, and government at another Expeditionary Learning school in Chelsea. Originally from Atlanta, GA, Hannah moved to New York to attend Barnard College where she majored in History and Education. Hannah has worked with students ages eighteen months to twenty-one years in a variety of settings including school, after-school programs, tutoring, camp and many more.  Though Hannah always knew she wanted to become a teacher, spending her summers at the camp in Georgia where she grew up solidified this drive. Hannah enjoys incorporating the energy of camp into her classroom at MELS.

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Hannah Brenman

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Dan is a native New Yorker who grew up on the north shore of Suffolk County in a town called Kings Park. After high school, he ventured down to Virginia and attended James Madison University where he studied Middle School Education and realized his love for teaching math. He spent time working with the JMU Orientation Department and enjoyed working with students to make the transition period into their new school easier and more inviting. He hopes to continue in this line of work in his professional career. Upon recently graduating with his master’s degree from JMU, he made his way back to Long Island and ended up at MELS for his first year of teaching. Outside of teaching his passions involve the world of sports where he is a die-hard New York Mets, New York Giants, and New York Rangers fan.

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Daniel Cassagne

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Paco learned how powerful educators can be in kids lives as a high school student, blessed with some amazing ones who sharpened and focussed his obsessive intellectual curiosity.  He was lucky also to have access to an amazing youth poetry community and mentors who pushed him to develop his own voice and sense of stewardship.   He is a firm believer in the idea that the right combination words can tear down any barrier.  As a college undergrad (University of Michigan), he coached Academic Games teams at four different middle and high schools and taught poetry workshops all around the midwest.  He earned a BS in Actuarial Mathematics, but decided he wanted to inspire students in the way his teachers had inspired him, so entered graduate school at Bard College (through a Math for America Fellowship), earned a Masters in Teaching and has been teaching in NYC ever since.  He has a long history in spoken word, competing at national slams (sometimes winning them) and touring with well-respected poet colleagues.  Always a passionate lover of hip-hop music, he has recently turned his creativity towards hip-hop lyricism, performing and recording original music for the past six years.

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Adam Paco Hanlon

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Ajulia was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and has always had a passion for teaching others. The variety of experiences she has had working in classrooms has confirmed her passion for working with students. She looks forward to working at MELS and working to motivate, inspire and challenge students as they grow up to be responsible individuals. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Long Island University while pursuing a degree in Urban Adolescence Education and was named the Symbolic Recipient for the undergraduate class. Currently, Ajulia is continuing her education at Long Island University for her Master’s Degree.  She looks forward to inspiring ALL students no matter their individual style of learning and help those to overcome the possible challenges they may have.

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Ajulia Bryan

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Shatera Weaver was born in the Bronx, New York and raised in the very diverse neighboring city of White Plains. She spent her undergraduate years at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. Her time student teaching the inner city youth of Metro-Atlanta, volunteering with those affected by HIV and mentoring young women with broken pasts catapulted her already deep dedication to bridging the education gap and building community. Earning a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Child Development, Shatera received a substantial amount of genuine interest and experience in both the study of the mind and educating those very minds. Post-graduation, Shatera moved back home to New York and began her career intertwining the worlds of Psychology and Education as a Behavior Specialist working with students on the Autism spectrum K-12. She completed her dual Master’s degree in Education and Special Education at Manhattanville College. She is very excited about joining the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning team! Shatera plans on cultivating lifelong learners as together they reach the ultimate goal of education: turning mirrors into windows.






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Shatera Weaver

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sweaver@metropolitanels.com     |    

Lauren grew up in Aiea, Hawaii where she spent most of her time barefoot and outside. At eighteen, she discovered fall, winter, and spring when she moved to Seattle to study History and sustainability in business. After Seattle, Lauren moved to China and taught at schools for the children of migrant workers and a preparatory high school. Last year she made the move to NYC and became a Teaching Fellow. Lauren is excited to be a part of the MELS community and to be teaching Social Studies and ESL. She is passionate about bringing history to life for her students, enabling them to make valuable connections between the past and their lives today. When she isn’t doing that, Lauren is riding her bike, reading, practicing Mandarin, or chatting about feminism.

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Lauren Kosasa

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Melissa is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Queens.  After graduating from St. John’s University with a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Studies she went on to become an environmental educator.  Melissa has spent time working for the Department of Environmental Conservation in Delmar, New York and was an NYC Urban Park Ranger for 3 years.  As a Ranger, Melisa taught a variety of informational and recreational programs such as canoeing, hiking, fishing, camping, and seining.  After realizing that she wanted to make deeper connections with the students she was teaching, Melissa joined the New York City Teaching Fellows and is earning her degree in Secondary Science Education.  In her spare time she enjoys hiking, birding, fishing, kayaking and traveling.  Melissa is thrilled to have started her teaching career here at MELS and to be working with the MELS community!


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Melissa Lotti

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Jonathan grew up just outside of New York City in nearby Connecticut. Before discovering his passion for youth development and education, Jon’s favorite activity included taste testing his abuelita’s delicious Peruvian dishes (on a nightly basis). A son of Latino parents, Jon has always encouraged young people to become global citizens, whether he was engaging with them in the classroom or out in the community. He became a City Year Miami Corp member in 2011, and an Americorps VISTA fellow in 2012. In 2013, Jonathan joined BuildOn, a youth service organization which allowed him to combine two of his passions, youth engagement and international service efforts. It was through these experiences abroad that his developing interest in education through service was solidified. Jon is excited to continue engaging with his students in creative and far-reaching ways at MELS. He graduated from the University of Connecticut (Go Huskies!) and is currently an NYC Teaching Fellow, pursuing degree in Special Education at Brooklyn College.

Jonathan Rosado

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Erica was born and raised in a small town on Long Island and often frequented the Queens area growing up. Always knowing she wanted to be a teacher, she attended Fairfield University for her B.A. in English/Language Arts and Education. She then went on to Sacred Heart University for her M.A.T. with a concentration in Reading. While living in Connecticut, Erica discovered her passion for hiking and the outdoors. She also realized the need for teachers who have a deep understanding of struggling students and began her hunt for a school where she could make a difference. Upon returning to New York, she worked for a private school in Manhattan for students with special needs. Erica is always trying to learn more about different cultures, religions, and helping all students become lifelong learners. In her free time, she enjoys going to Forest Park, gardening, cooking, trying new foods, and reading. She is excited to be back at MELS for another great year!

Erica Herzog

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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.

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Sandra Drozd

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