Pat began his teaching career in the Baltimore City Public School System after graduating from The Ohio State University with a Master’s Degree in English.  During his first teaching job, he was introduced to Outward Bound which pushed him to examine how to better create meaningful experiences and opportunities in the classroom for students.  In 2002, he moved to New York City after having taught in Baltimore, Chile, and Washington, D.C.  Here, he taught at the Bank Street School for Children while working on his Master's Degree in Educational Leadership.  Upon completion of his degree, he became an Assistant Principal in the Bronx.  His work in a variety of educational settings  over the years has strengthened his belief that we must work to create schools that prepare students to become problem solvers with an understanding of the challenges our society will encounter in the future. 

Meet the Faculty

We have assembled a dedicated and talented staff ready to serve our community.  Our progressive educators bring a wealth of experience and knowledge and we couldn't be more excited about our work.  Take a look at our teaching staff on the “Middle School Team” and “High School Team” pages!

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Pat Finley                         Co-Principal

Our Team

FAQ

Damon began his teaching career after graduating from Kalamazoo College with a Bachelor’s Degree in English.  He taught English Literature for five years in addition to being a Dean of Students.  Driven by the desire to become a school leader who could effect change on a larger scale, Damon enrolled in the Bank Street College of Education and went on to receive his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership.  In September 2004, he became an Assistant Principal at The Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice and worked there in a variety of administrative capacities for six years.  As the first member of his family to graduate from college, Damon sees education as a vessel for social change.  As someone who is passionate about food, food systems, and environmental health, he believes strongly that sustainable systems and environmental initiatives have the potential to transform the lives of our young people by teaching them how to think critically about their actions and the systems in which they play a role.  http://livepage.apple.com/

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Damon McCord                 Co-Principal

Nyra Prescod was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. The lack of resources in her community as a child heightened her desire to be an agent of change. As early as 12 years old, she knew that her passion in life is to advocate for vulnerable children and families. Nyra received a Bachelor's in Psychology from Hofstra University and a Masters of Social Work from Long Island University. Nyra has worked with NYC Children's Services for ten years and has aided in enhancing the lives of over 100 families.  Through her professional career, she has aided in ensuring that vulnerable children and families are in safe and nurturing environments. Nyra has spear headed an adolescent mentoring group for middle school females and has always been an active participant in community outreach. She enjoys cooking, spending quality time with loved ones and traveling.

Nyra Prescod              Parent Coordinator

Jose was born and raised in the Bronx.  After graduating from high school, he attended Lehman College and Monroe College.  He began his work experience at JP Morgan Chase.  Shortly thereafter he was granted the opportunity to work for the Department of Education where he accepted a job at The Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice as a School Aide in December of 2004.  He quickly adapted to the system where his love for helping all students and staff grew.  He enjoys being with the students during their extracurricular activates and coaching baseball.  At the present, he is honored to be one of the founding members of the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School. 

   




Jose Lopez                         Administrative Assistant

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Laura began her career in education as a teacher.  During the ten years that she taught science, she also sought out many experiences outside of the classroom. Some of her extracurricular adventures included observing forest monkeys in Kenya through a research fellowship awarded from Earthwatch Institute, learning how to snowboard with students by partnering with the nonprofit organization CHILL, and doing cartwheels alongside students as she worked with a teaching artist from Midori & Friends to lead an after-school Capoeira program.  Her love of working with students to increase self-awareness and exploration led her to pursue her master’s degree in school counseling at Queens College.  She started her career as a guidance counselor at Queens Community House, where she helping develop the ongoing high school transition program called STEPs (Successful Transition and Empowerment Program).   Laura is thrilled to be a part of the MELS community as a guidance counselor and is honored to be part of such a passionate and inspiring team.

Laura Shectman                Guidance Counselor

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Andreina was born in the small town of Moca, in the Dominican Republic, and raised in Jamaica, Queens. She graduated from Jamaica High School where she was part of the softball and volleyball teams. Earning the third highest grade in her class, Andreina went to Hofstra University where she majored in Sociology and minored in Psychology. It was here that she learned more about the many social injustices that we as a society hold and continue to face.  Andreina shared her passion for working with youths by volunteering as a Big Sister for the Big Brother Big Sister program; tutoring children in her community; developing and being a part of fundraising events that benefitted organizations that serviced youths; and working as a Learning Coach for Harlem RBI.  After graduating from Hofstra, Andreina pursued a Master’s degree in Social Work from CUNY Hunter College. As a Social Work Intern, Andreina worked with the NYS Office of Children and Family Services, with Assemblyman Robert J. Rodriguez as Community Liaison, and at the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice.

Andriena Nunez                 Social Worker

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In a nutshell...

Jillian, a native New Yorker, received a Masters in English from Stony Brook University and a Masters in Library Science from Queens College. As a dually certified teacher she has taught both English and Library, grades 6-12. In 2010, she received the Lucille Thomas Outstanding Future School Librarian Award. In 2014, she was recognized as one of the American Library Association’s Emerging Leaders. She is also a member of the American Association for School Librarians’ School Library Month committee. Jillian believes that the school library program should focus on developing 21st-century skills. Aside from teaching, you may find Jillian reading fantasy and science-fiction novels. She also enjoys watching movies and traveling. She is thrilled to be a part of the creative and collaborative team at MELS!


 

Jillian Ehlers                    School Librarian

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Jasmine graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and began her career as an editor for a science publishing company.  After five years of working in publishing, she decided to pursue a career that provided more personal interaction and the opportunity for her work to positively impact the lives of others.  After shadowing a guidance counselor for a few days, Jasmine felt she had found her ideal career match and began a Master’s Degree in School Counseling at Sonoma State University.  She began her career working in a large high school in San Francisco, where she was living at the time.  Eventually, she moved back to New York to be closer to family and friends.  For the last five years, Jasmine has been working as a guidance counselor, focusing primarily on college and career counseling in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.  This work has opened her eyes to the disparity in higher education and has made her a passionate advocate for college access.  Jasmine loves working with students applying to college and developing a comprehensive college and career guidance program to serve the students and families in the community.

Jasmine Benzvi                College Counselor

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In a nutshell...

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