Faculty and Staff

Those who make up our faculty and administration are the backbone of our school. Their diverse backgrounds, passions, and approach to working within our community contribute to making The Co-op School a truly compassionate, unique learning environment. Below you can learn more about each of them. Read some of our parents’ thank yous, posted on Padlet, in celebration of Teachers Appreciation.

Professional Development
The Co-op School supports ongoing professional development for staff and faculty by providing access to professional learning and dedicated time for structured collaboration.

Preschool Teachers

Gena Camoosa

My nearly twenty year journey began at Teachers College, Columbia University where I completed a master’s degree in early childhood special education, and has led me to serve as a lead teacher, early intervention provider, inclusion support teacher and service coordinator. I have supported young children and families in schools, family homes, Head Start and child care centers. I recently relocated from Tampa, FL, and now reside in Bedford Stuyvesant with my two terrific children Olivia and Miles, and I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be in this community. I am a certified children’s yoga and mindfulness teacher and integrate these practices in the classroom daily. I am passionate about providing access to equitable, inclusive early childhood education that celebrates the unique whole child and family. I am grateful to be a part of The Co-Op School community and share in the process of joyful learning through play and inquiry!

Brittany Chandler

I’ve been at the Co-op School since 2016. I was born and raised in Chelsea, Manhattan. I have my Bachelor’s degree in social work and will be going back next spring to receive my Master’s degree in early childhood education. I enjoy reading and writing, and most of all I love spending time with my wonderful daughter.

Sarah Dolcin

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. I have a passion and joy for working with children.In the past years,I have worked with students that were in pre-k and kindergarten. In these experiences, I have gained an appreciation for the various ways that children learn and their unique ways of expressing their knowledge. In my spare time, I enjoy trying new restaurants, reading, and spending time with family.

Sarah Fomi-Howell

I hail from Sacramento and the East Bay, and while I will always call California home, I have been a proud resident of Queens since 2020. After years of child-centered community event organizing and nannying in my hometown, I decided to formally study child development. I completed my undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Disability Studies from the City College of New York in 2023 and am excited beyond measure to be where I feel I most belong, amongst the little people and their passionately dedicated grown-up guides. When I am not directly immersed in the world of ECE, I love relishing in the privilege of living in this extraordinary city by going to museums, off-Broadway plays, films, restaurants, and parks.

Eddie Laguna

I was born in Queens and currently live in Bedford-Stuyvesant with my wife, my two sons, Oliver and Finn, and three cats named Lily, Loki, and Mogwai. I have been teaching at The Co-op School since 2010. I studied secondary education/English at City University of New York–Queens College, and in 2019 I received my Master’s of Education. I love to skateboard, run in Prospect Park, take long road trips, eat outside, do woodwork, and spend time with my family. I play several instruments, including guitar, which I play regularly in the classroom!

Catherine Espinosa de Rozas

I moved to New York twenty three years ago from Northern California after finishing a Bachelors in Dramatic Art- Dance from the University of California, Berkeley. I spent eight years pursuing a career in modern dance performing and touring. After retiring from performing I loved working as a teaching artist in public elementary schools and enjoyed teaching Music and Movement to preschoolers in my neighborhood of Sunnyside, Queens. While raising my three children, I earned my Masters from Hunters College in Early Childhood Education. I have eight years of experience teaching in independent schools on Long Island including teaching outdoors and directing an early childhood camp on Long Island’s North Fork. I am passionate about supporting, nurturing and appreciating children as they learn, develop and grow.I am deeply committed to progressive education and hands-on, project-based learning. I am excited to join the Coop School and am thrilled to be teaching in Brooklyn!

Sayyid Adam Mohammed

I was born and raised in Queens, New York. I have been with The Co-op School for over five years, where I’ve taught in the classroom and at the summer camp. I recently graduated from Queens College with a Bachelor’s degree in English. I plan to start my Master’s degree in early childhood education at Brooklyn College next year. I am passionate about decolonizing education and making school a liberatory experience for students by centering BIPOC voices and celebrating each and every student’s unique self, family, and history.

Josette Marc

Hi, my name is Josette. I am the oldest of thirteen children and was born in Brooklyn, East New York. My favorite color is pink, and I absolutely love seafood. Spending quality time with my family, traveling, and trying out new restaurants are some of my favorite activities. Working with children reminds me of how amazing and exciting the world can be. You get to be a part of the incredible learning process, celebrate the little things every single day, and witness so many smiles. It’s a beautiful example of love in its truest form.

Laura Scatena-Romero

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico before moving to Philadelphia at the age of 12. I received a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Film from The New School. After graduating, I became a nanny and that led me to discover the joy of teaching! I have been teaching at The Co-op School for more than seven years. Every year, I hope to bring joy and laughter to the kids and lots of dance parties!

Freddie Southwick

I have three years of experience working with children at Shire Village Camp, a sleep-away camp in the Berkshires. When I am not at school, you can find me playing piano, mandolin, or accordion, or exploring Brooklyn on my longboard!

Holly Van Duyne

Being an assistant teacher is what I feel strongly I am meant to do! Each year, I look forward to getting to know my students; helping them learn and grow in a new environment, gain independence and confidence, build friendships, develop in a new social environment, and learn new things! I have a 10-year-old daughter, Olivia, and have lived in Brooklyn for 12 years. I love museums, art, reading, music, movies, theater, and karaoke!

Eliot Adams

My name is Eliot Adams. I come from a diverse family background, born and raised in Brooklyn. I recently just moved to Crown Heights. I attended Dean college where I received my bachelor’s degree. During my free time I love coaching and playing sports. I also enjoy hanging out with my dog and letting her run wild at the park. Look forward to an exciting school year!

Tenashia Taylor

I grew up in Brooklyn with my four sisters and one brother, who I enjoy hanging out with. As a teacher, I value my responsibility to help promote joy in learning with the children in my classroom and very much enjoy collaborating with other teachers, who share that vision. I enjoy challenging myself to do new things in my spare time—whether it is trying new foods or a new place.

Erika Soler

I was born and raised in the vibrant neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As a proud mother of three, I have found immense joy and fulfillment in nurturing and guiding my children, Mathew (30) and twins Layla and Kayla (19).

From a young age, I knew that my true calling was to become a teacher. With over a decade of experience working with children, I have honed my skills and developed a deep understanding of their unique needs and abilities. Previously serving as the Director of Afterschool for Williamsburg Northside, I have had the privilege of working with students ranging from Pre-K to 8th grade.

In the summer of 2023, I had the incredible opportunity to work at the CO-OP school, an experience that brought me immense joy and fulfillment. It was a truly rewarding experience, and I am excited to continue creating joyful and enriching learning experiences for both you and your children.

I am passionate about fostering a love for learning and creating a nurturing environment where children can thrive. I believe in the power of education to shape young minds and empower them to reach their full potential. With each new day, I eagerly look forward to embarking on this journey of growth and learning alongside you and your children.

Blake Soule

I was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, where I grew up wanting to be an art teacher someday. I now find myself holding my BFA in Photography, living in Flatbush with my partner and our two cats, and indeed having worked as an art teacher before joining The Co-op School! While I continue to practice photography and printmaking in my free time, I’ve loved stepping into the role of educator these past few years – first as a teaching artist in K-8 afterschool and summer programs, and now as a support teacher here at the Co-op. I hope to continue passing along my enthusiasm for reading, practicing self-care, and of course artmaking to the students I get to see every day!

Nelsy Sainthilaire

My name is Nelsy Sainthilaire, and I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I have over 10 years of experience working with children. Through my experience, I have learned that children teach us the importance of staying present in the moment and never forgetting our inner child. I am deeply passionate about creating a safe, nurturing, and welcoming environment for both children and their families.

Outside of the school environment, I advocate for women as a Full Circle Traditional Doula, assist individuals on their healing journeys as a Reiki Practitioner, and guide people through their spiritual journeys as an Intuitive Card Reader. I also cherish spending quality time with my beautiful daughter and family. I am thrilled to be a part of the Co-op school and look forward to embarking on this journey with the Co-op team.

Ayanna Wright

I graduated from Brooklyn College with a Bachelor’s degree in child and youth studies and a minor in sociology. I have been working with children in various environments for over seven years. A few fun facts about me are that I love to hang out with my family, friends, and my dog Skylar; I play the steel pan during my free time; and I love doing science experiments.

Julia Lehman

I grew up in New Jersey, right outside of Philadelphia, and recently moved to Bedford-Stuyvesant to begin this exciting new role at the Co-Op School. I have an undergraduate degree in art, and a Masters in the Art of Teaching. Since graduating with my Master’s degree I have been working in early childhood education, particularly in the nature-based education framework. When I’m not teaching, I love to make mixed-media art with a focus on fiber arts. My pedagogical philosophy centers social-emotional development, joyful learning, and curiosity. I’m very grateful for this opportunity to work at a school that aligns so well with my values, and I’m excited to learn and grow alongside the children!

Wei Ling

Lower School Teachers

Jacob Cohen
Fourth Grade Teacher

As a young adult, I aspired to be an artist. Needing to pay the bills, I had the opportunity to work with children as a preschool assistant teacher. To my surprise, I discovered a greater joy and creativity in education than I did in the hours spent toiling alone in a dusty studio. Fast forward, a decade later, I received my Master’s degree in childhood education from Bank Street College and moved on up to working with the big kids in elementary school. I love to foster a love of learning and a positive sense of self with the children that I work with. Outside of the classroom, I enjoy riding my bike, playing sports, exploring nature, and hanging out in Prospect Park. I may even bring out the watercolors every now and then.

Tess Cohen
Second Grade Teacher

I grew up in New Jersey, attended Columbia University, and moved to Brooklyn in 2009 after graduation—and I’m never leaving! I received my Master’s degree in early childhood and childhood general education from Bank Street College in 2019. I worked as an Associate Teacher at City and Country, first with four-year-olds, and then two years in first grade. I believe that learning should be fun, immersive, meaningful, and should help students understand their own identities, as well as those of others, to help them navigate the world in the future. I spend most of my free time cooking, trying to learn the ukulele, singing nonsense songs to my three cats, and binge-watching good TV with my husband.

Shelby Savidge
Third Grade Teacher

I grew up on the West Coast, however, I have made my home here in Brooklyn. It is with devotion to progressive pedagogy and experience working in New York City independent schools that I’ve come to teach at The Co-op School. Through the years, I’ve worked with children in grades two to six as a classroom teacher and math/science specialist. I believe new knowledge is built on prior experience, meaningful learning occurs when working with authentic problems, quality work requires high standards, and diversity among learners must be celebrated. I have a Master’s degree in education from Bank Street College, alongside a Bachelor’s degree in environmental science and mathematics from the University of California, Santa Barbara. The outdoors, basketball, jokes, games, and the people in my life bring me great joy.

Kyle Madder
Lower School

I grew up in Oregon and studied visual arts before deciding to become a teacher.  I still love to draw and paint, but after volunteering at local public schools and tutoring in afterschool programs, I recognized my passion for teaching and working with kids. I received a master’s degree from Oregon State University in teaching with a focus in Elementary Education and ESOL. I have since held various teaching positions; I was a Math/Reading Specialist in Portland, Oregon, and more recently, I taught ESL in Queens, and 3rd Grade in Stone Ridge, NY. I spend much of my summers exploring trails and campgrounds, and recording music at home or with friends.

Seth Levy
First Grade Teacher

I am from White Plains, New York. I like to read, watch television, and hang out in Central Park. I have an undergraduate degree in political science and a Master’s degree in elementary education from the Bank Street College of Education. In summers, I spend a bunch of time outside hiking, reading, and relaxing.

Stephen Thompson
Fifth Grade Teacher

I was born and raised in beautiful downtown Brooklyn.  I am both a product of New York City public education as well as a Brooklyn Friends School alum.   I have a Bachelor’s degree in Science & Technology from Eugene Lang College at the New School.  I also hold a Masters of Fine Arts In Music from Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema at Brooklyn College.  I have worked as an educator-teaching and supporting young learners for over a decade all across New York City. I am thrilled to be part of the CO-op Community-a place where young people flourish through joyful exploration and play, critical thought and gumption.

Alicia Kaufman

I am a native New Yorker, originally from Westchester but now living in Bed-Stuy with my husband, our two cats and our turtle. Although I call New York my home, I started my teaching career in San Diego, CA. I began as an assistant infant teacher and realized how much I loved teaching early childhood education. My educational pedagogy focuses on social emotional learning, neuro diverse teaching practices,  teaching green practices to help conserve our earth and all of its living creatures  and of course, cultivating joy of learning! I am so grateful to be part of The Co-op School community and look forward to continuing teaching and learning everyday!

Cheryl Ford
Lower School

 I was raised in Brooklyn,  N.Y. , born in Guyana, South America. My passion is teaching and working with children, helping them to reach their highest potentials, no matter their challenges.  I have spent my life advocating for parents and community rights. I advocate for community control of schools.  I believe in accountable teachers, accountable parents and accountable students.. I conduct activities to increase parent and community awareness about our  schools.   I hold a BA with a concentration in  Psychology from The College of New Rochelle.  I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy  at Northcentral University.

Adina Ornstein-Luks

I was born and raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and moved to New York state to study at Vassar College. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Education in May 2022. I have since taught Pre-K and am ecstatic about making the jump to Kindergarten and joining the Co-Op School community. My background in project-based learning and Quaker philosophy influence my practice as an educator. In my spare time, I enjoy arts and crafts projects, seeing theater, taking care of my plants, and spending time in any Brooklyn park!

Middle School Teachers

Manuel Fergus
Spanish Teacher

I am the youngest of three children and was born in a military hospital in the wonderful country of Panama. At the age of two, I moved with my family to the United States where I lived for the next three years until my family was reassigned to a new post in Berlin, Germany. In all, I have enjoyed living in seven states and four countries, which has made me appreciate cultural diversity. This appreciation has shaped my approach toward working with young people in the classroom.

I graduated from Beloit College in May 2006 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in education youth studies with a teacher certification in Spanish from the state of Wisconsin. The following year, I began pursuing a Master’s of Arts in Educational, Leadership, Policy and Politics from Teachers College, Columbia University. Since then, I have worked with families and their children as a classroom teacher, researcher, and private tutor for almost a decade.

When I’m away from the classroom, I enjoy reading, cooking, watching horror movies, playing chess, hiking, and playing Ultimate!

Ashley Odlum
Math and Science Teacher

I was born and raised in a very rural part of Connecticut. I went to both college and graduate school in Connecticut, where I developed a love of chemistry and teaching. In 2005, I moved to New York City and currently reside in Brooklyn with my partner and two cats. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, taking long walks, and eating ice cream.

Ian Wharton
Humanities Teacher & Advisor

After studying American history at Brooklyn College, I worked as a teacher in various school settings. I have experience teaching nearly all grades—from kindergarten to eighth grade. I  love of teaching, and I am invested in the growth of all students. I love the community here at The Co-op School. It has truly become a family to me.

Specials Teachers

Pamela Laws
Music Teacher

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Sacramento. I graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor’s in English literature. While in college, I began a career as a professional musician. I enjoyed a busy time in the music business writing, recording, and performing on tour around the US and Europe. I moved to New York City and began working as a session singer. I became a mentor for tween and teen girls in the Lower East Side. I loved the work and especially the collaboration with the public schools in Alphabet City. I decided to formalize my work with children and entered NYU Steinhardt. I graduated with a dual master’s in special education and general education for grades 1-6.

Benjamin Rojas
Art Teacher

I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area to parents who had immigrated to California from El Salvador. I attended San Francisco State University, where I earned a Bachelor of Arts. in arts education, then moved to Brooklyn in 2004. After almost eight years of teaching high school art and design, I entered New York University Steinhardt School and earned a Master of Arts in arts education. I have exhibited my artwork and painted murals nationally and internationally and I continue to practice my art in Brooklyn, where I live with my wife, Adia, and our two beautiful children (currently at The Co-op School!)

Pião Silveira
Physical Education Teacher
I grew up surfing and playing soccer and Capoeira in my home city of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. In my late teens and early twenties I toured internationally as a dance and Capoeira performer with DanceBrazil. In 2011 I moved to NYC and I’ve lived here ever since. I’ve been teaching Capoeira and Fitness classes for adults and children for nearly 2 decades. For 7 years I was the PE and Capoeira Teacher at an Elementary School in Brooklyn, before joining my wife and 3 daughters here at the Co-op School. I always say – Motion is Lotion. I believe Movement is essential for our health and happiness, and I am so excited to share my love of sports and dance with the children of the Co-op School.
Noémie Grenier
Science Teacher

I was born in Québec and lived in Montreal for many years, where I received my Bachelor’s of Arts in translation before moving to New York City 16 years ago. I then worked as a french translator and a cultural consultant until my volunteering work inspired me to become a teacher in French immersion schools four years ago. I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in childhood education at Hunter College and am thrilled to guide our first graders through their joyful investigations and explorations. In my free time, I enjoy cooking and baking (mostly because eating is my favorite activity!), reading, going on hikes with my family, practicing tae kwon do and teaching my children French.

Student Support Specialists

Vanessa Drake-Johnson
Literacy Specialist

I’m originally from Minneapolis but spent much of my childhood in Vancouver, British Columbia. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in history at Duke University and worked in book publishing before then earning a Master’s degree in childhood education at Bank Street College of Education. I have taught First and Second Grades in Manhattan and New Jersey, and most recently worked in Literacy Intervention at the Brooklyn New School. I live in Clinton Hill with my husband, two daughters, and our Havanese dog. I love that my role as Literacy Specialist at The Co-op School combines the joys of working with children and teachers with my lifelong love of reading!

Jenna Vitale
Learning Specialist

I am a New York native and grew up on Long Island. I have a Bachelor’s degree in childhood education from Oneonta State College and a Master’s degree in special education from Hofstra University. My journey at The Co-op School began in 2013, when I started working with preschool students as a SEIT. My love for the community was instant—so much so that I moved to Brooklyn from Long Beach. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, exploring local neighborhoods, and trying new restaurants. I am so proud to be part of the Co-op community!

Adrianne Wallace-Bearak
Math Specialist

I am a Bank Street graduate coming from P.S. 235, where I worked as a classroom teacher, math teacher, math staff developer and coach, and, finally, as an assistant principal for the last 30 years!

Bryan Carey
Learning Specialist 5-8

I’ve lived in Brooklyn for the last 16 years but I was born in California, lived in Connecticut and Singapore, and went to college in upstate New York at Hobart and William Smith Colleges where I earned a BA in English. Before becoming a teacher I worked in photography and television for shows like Iron Chef and Martha Stewart, but after volunteering with BuildOn- a non-profit organization that helps to build schools around the world- I switched careers, got my Masters degree from Fordham University, and never looked back. Now I’ve been teaching for over a decade and feel like The Co-op School has become my second home. My most important role though is that of father- I have a beautiful daughter starting kindergarten this year!

Emie Castor
School Counselor and Wellness Program Coordinator

I am a native New Yorker from Queens who always had a passion for education. Prior to joining The Co-op School, I worked in various realms of Education and found my niche as a counselor . In 2018 I earned my Masters degree at New York University for School Counseling. When I’m not Counseling , I enjoy reading/writing, kick-boxing, cooking and traveling . This year I look forward to optimizing the experience of education for all students, as well as helping create great citizens of our community.