Sixth Grade Teachers
Michelle Bellamy, email@example.com
After studying dramatic arts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I worked as a costumer in a number of costume shops on the East Coast. Wanting to delve deeper into the world of theatre, while also fostering my love of education, I went on to New York University to attain my Master’s in Educational Theatre with English certification. I taught reading and writing in charter schools for a few years before coming to The Co-op School. I am excited to bring my love of literature and theatre to our new middle school community. When I’m not teaching, I enjoy sewing, reading, cycling, and testing out new recipes.
Lisa Dupas, firstname.lastname@example.org
For the last 10 years, I have taught middle school math and science, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to help build the middle school experience at The Co-op School. Although New Orleans is my hometown, I have lived all over the United States and picked up favorite foods and traditions in every port of call. I am a new resident of Brooklyn but have been visiting and admiring this city (and its bagels and Thai food) for a long time — in fact, I ran the NYC Marathon in 2014, and I’m glad to know every day is not that cold! I am so excited to finally call myself a Brooklynite and a teacher at The Co-op School. I love its philosophy of joyful learning, diversity, and inclusion. When I’m not teaching, I enjoy running, discovering music, and spending my summers abroad. I like to think of myself as a global citizen. My favorite adventure thus far has been the summer I spent in Turkey!
Fifth Grade Teachers
Alexis Gordon, email@example.com
Originally from Lansdale, Pennsylvania, I moved to New York to attend Sarah Lawrence College and ended up staying there to complete my Master’s in the Art of Teaching Program. Since then, I have been teaching in a variety of New York City and New Jersey independent schools. Prior to teaching at the Co-op School, I taught third and fourth Grade at Stevens Cooperative School in Hoboken, NJ. I currently live in Brooklyn with my girlfriend Samantha and our two black cats, Basil and Zelda. In addition to reading a tremendous number of middle-grade chapter books, I also enjoy running in Prospect Park, going to concerts, knitting, and birdwatching.
Josh Max, firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a New Jersey native who went to the hills of Bennington, Vermont for a BA in Liberal Arts and then came to New York City and received a Master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education. I have been teaching in a variety of independent schools over the past eight years and am so excited to be a part of The Co-op School this year! I currently live in Brooklyn and love reading, watching movies, performing comedy and playing with my kitten and bunny.
Fourth Grade Teachers
Akia Goudy, email@example.com
I am a native New Yorker from Queens and love helping students explore their ideas and questions through projects and experiments that lead to new discoveries. I have a Bachelor degree in Teaching from CUNY City College, a Master’s degree in Curriculum Design from Teachers College, Columbia University, and am currently working toward a Master’s degree in Elementary Mathematics. When I’m not studying, I enjoy cooking, painting, dancing, and spending time with family and friends.
John Kuckens, firstname.lastname@example.org
After studying history at Wheaton College, Massachusetts, I went on to pursue my teaching credentials at Bank Street College but not before teaching math in Hartford, CT, and later working with students on the Autism spectrum in Manhattan. After student teaching at Brooklyn New School and two years as an assistant teacher in the fourth grade at Brooklyn Friends School, I’ve amassed quite a range of experiences to draw from this year. I love teaching 4th graders and couldn’t be happier to join the team at Co-op! I like to play guitar, see live music, swim, run, write, complete the crossword, and spend time with family and friends.
Third Grade Teachers
Elizabeth Alfandre, email@example.com
I am so happy to be a part of the Co-op School community as a new third grade teacher! After receiving a Master’s degree in Childhood Education from Fordham University, I spent a wonderful year teaching English in a small French village. When I returned to New York City, I joined a start-up school in Williamsburg and began to study progressive education and apply my findings to my classroom. As I embark on my sixth year of teaching, I am excited to share my love of learning with my new third graders. When I am not in my classroom, you can find me cooking, reading, or traveling the world.
Tiffany Melville, firstname.lastname@example.org
I am thrilled to be a part of The Co-op School community. More importantly, I am thrilled to be one of the third grade teachers! I was born and raised in Brooklyn. Since I was six years old, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I have a passion for learning, and I love kids! I went to college in Long Island at SUNY Old Westbury and received my degree in teaching. I have a son named Aiden who attends the Co-op School. I’ve taught preschool, kindergarten, and fifth grade. In my leisure time, I like to spend hours playing at the park with Aiden, listening to music, and watching funny movies. I am a fan of books about baking and cooking. I love to read about different desserts, especially cupcakes.
Second Grade Teachers
Dahna Bozarth, email@example.com
I am a New Yorker. I grew up here in the city, migrated upstate to a small town called Port Jervis, and eventually made my way all the way back to Clinton Hill. I studied East Asian Studies and Asian History at the University at Albany and began teaching while living abroad in South Korea. I received my Masters in Childhood Education at the City College of New York and worked in several schools in Manhattan, including Columbia University, where I was Director of Sports Camps. I’ve always loved dance, sports, and yoga, which is good because I love noodles, dumplings, and pretty much all things spicy. Food = Yum.
B Dyson, firstname.lastname@example.org
I am an educator, activist, and dancer. Originally from the Baltimore area, I pursued an undergraduate degree in Dance and Psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. After dancing professionally for a few years and teaching dance for over a decade, I moved to New York and earned a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College. I’ve taught pre-K, kindergarten, and second grade. My goal as an educator is to embolden every child to explore the world around and within them with curiosity, a critical mind, and a kind heart. I am excited to be at The Co-op School!
First Grade Teachers
Seth Levy, email@example.com
I am from White Plains, New York. I like to read, watch television, and go on afternoon runs. This summer I was once again at summer camp playing sports and going swimming. I’m looking forward to having as much fun as I did last year.
William Lazarus Wacker, firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been teaching in the United States and abroad for the last fifteen years. I have a Master of Education degree in Elementary Education, and hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in English, and BFA degrees in Painting and Photography. I am currently writing fiction under the tutelage of Tom Spanbauer and writing literary reviews for Drunken Boat. I really like 8 oz. French Press coffees with a shot of espresso added—the small size of the 8 oz. cups; they make me feel dignified. I still complete a lot of painting and photo projects and try to show regularly. I am happy to be a part of The Co-op School team.
Angelica Martinez, email@example.com
I have worked at The Co-op School since 2010, teaching pre-K for seven years before becoming a kindergarten teacher. I graduated from Brooklyn College with a Master’s degree in Childhood Education-Mathematics. I am originally from Brooklyn but currently live in the Bronx with my husband, daughter, and cat. When I’m not looking for a new book or game to teach little ones, I am spending time with my family, traveling, cooking, and exploring fun weekend activities.
Emily Silver, firstname.lastname@example.org
I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I feel so lucky to be working with children during their most formative ages. I have degrees in Dance and Interdisciplinary Arts for Children, and I am currently pursuing my M’asters in Early Childhood Education. Within the past few years, I have traveled to Ghana, Mexico, and Israel, exploring new cultures, dance styles, and different languages.
Kali Barnett (Preschool and Elementary Music Teacher), email@example.com
I am so excited to be creating music with all our Co-op School musicians! Originally from Kansas (yes, there’s no place like home), I pursued a Music Education degree from Friends University and a Master’s degree in Elementary Music Education from Wichita State. I also completed all three levels of Kodaly music methodology training while in Kansas and actively participate in many Kodaly organizations. This is my eleventh year teaching Pre-K through fifth grade music in schools, and I can’t believe it! Time flies! When I’m not teaching, I love to play my ukulele and sing, dance, hang out with my dog and fiancee (that order), and I’m currently publishing my first children’s book. Life is good!
Katie Halfin (Preschool and Elementary Music Teacher), firstname.lastname@example.org
I am an interdisciplinary visual artist and educator. I was born in Crimea and lived in Israel for 16 years before coming to New York in 2013 to pursue my MFA at the School of Visual Arts. I have taught for thirteen years in different institutions: I worked as an assistant professor at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Israel, where I taught Fabric Art and Design. For the past two years, I’ve taught STEAM inspired art classes with Bronx Arts Ensemble and LEAP organizations in the Bronx. I also worked as an educator in the BRAC art organization in the Bronx and led a museum tours program for teens. I love making objects and soft sculpture, performing, working with wood, reading, and traveling.
Thomas Stokes (Preschool and Elementary Movement Teacher), email@example.com
I am a Brooklynite born and bred, straight from the heart of Bed-Stuy! I have been in education for 17 years and have taught pre-K, kindergarten, first grade, and high school. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Emory University in Atlanta. I taught there for two years after I graduated, then I returned to New York to earn my Master’s in Childhood Education from Hunter College. I have also coached a number of sports, including soccer, basketball, and track. I love fitness and movement and am looking forward to spreading this love throughout the Co-op community!
Chloe Houston (Elementary & Middle School Science & Technology Teacher), firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally from Pittsburgh, PA (go Steelers), I moved to Long Island to attend Hofstra University, where I earned a BFA in Theater Performance. After graduation, I moved into the city, where I was a member of a theater company for a few years. Then I relocated to Washington, D.C. to participate in the New Teachers Project and subsequently taught with DCPS for two years. I moved back to New York this summer and now live in Brooklyn with my husband Dan and our two cats Penelope and Persephone. I am currently finishing up my Master’s in Education at Johns Hopkins University. In my spare time, I love traveling, cooking and working out.
Carla Rodea (Elementary Spanish Teacher), email@example.com
¡Hola! This is my third year teaching Spanish at The Co-op School. I come from Mexico City where I studied music at the National Center for the Arts. While in Mexico, I taught music and English to elementary school students and to adults as well. I have been living in New York City for the past 13 years. I came here to continue my studies in music as well as photography and anthropology. I’m currently an MFA student at the DIAP program in the City College of New York. I love teaching, performing, photographing, traveling, cooking, reading, walking in Prospect Park, visiting museums and galleries, and attending as many concerts as I can.
Fabiola Yauri Leon (4s, Dragonflies), firstname.lastname@example.org
I was born in Ecuador but raised here in Brooklyn. I am a recent graduate who’s already working towards a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education with a Bilingual extension at Brooklyn College. In my spare time, I enjoy exploring the city and hanging out with my loved ones.
Angelica Rivera (4s, Dragonflies), email@example.com
In 2014, I shared my first of three summers with The Co-op School. The brightness that came with every day of work made it clear that not only am I interested in teaching, but where else would I do it but here? I am super excited for my first full year with the Dragonflies. I recently earned my Bachelor’s in English at Union College. I love to read, learn and grow. I also have a passion for social justice and community action and served as VP of Multicultural Affairs as an undergrad. Some other important facts about me: I love coffee, escape rooms, and freestyling. I am very happy to be part of the Co-op team.
Lelia Mangham (4s, Crickets), firstname.lastname@example.org
I have worked at The Co-op School since 2017 as a summer camp and after-school teacher. I graduated in May from St. Francis College with a Bachelor’s in Childhood Education and plan to pursue my Master’s next fall. In the classroom, I love to practice my Spanish, create art, play pretend and read fun books. When I’m not in the classroom, I love spending time with my family, exploring the city, and enjoying the company of my four cats.
Fabiola Mejia (4s, Crickets), email@example.com
I was born and raised right here in Brooklyn along with my two younger brothers. I’ve been with The Co-op School for over 10 years. It has been a pleasure being a part of this community, and I’m looking forward to this new academic year.
Stephen Canino (4s, Crickets), firstname.lastname@example.org
I was born and raised in Highland, NY, and attended Purchase College to study painting. My creative path led me to further study painting at Hunter College to obtain an MFA. I continue to explore visual art possibilities while composing and producing my own music. Things changed for me when I took a job as an assistant teacher at Dorothy Day Early Childhood Center in 2007. I quickly discovered a passion for working with young children and soon took a position as head teacher and enrolled in the graduate program in Early Childhood Education at City College.
Sara Johnson (3s, Caterpillars), email@example.com
I am so delighted to be a member of The Co-op School community! I grew up in a tiny town in Pennsylvania, then moved to NYC to attend Manhattan School of Music. I have a Bachelors of Music in Classical Vocal Performance from Manhattan School of Music and a Professional Studies degree from the William Esper Studio. My love for the arts ultimately led me to pursue a Master of Science in Early Childhood/Arts General and Special Education at Brooklyn College. I love to share my passion for the arts and play with my students! I live in Crown Heights with my husband and daughter (Roly Poly!). My favorite things to do include going to see live performances, exploring Brooklyn by bike, sneaking in a little yoga, reading for pleasure, and most of all, spending quality time with my family.
Sammi Priti (3s, Caterpillars), firstname.lastname@example.org
Born in Bangladesh, I came to the United States with my family when I was very young and have lived in Brooklyn ever since. I attended Brooklyn College for my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Early Childhood Special Education. I am super psyched to be working at The Co-op School this year as a Caterpillar teacher. When I am not at work, I love being outside, surrounded by greenery.
Freddie Southwick (3s, Caterpillars), email@example.com
This will be my first year teaching at The Co-op School. I have three years of experience working with children at Shire Village Camp, a sleepaway 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! I am so excited to meet everyone and to begin a new chapter of my life here at The Co-op School.
Holly Squashic (3s, Inchworms), firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a mom, reading and art enthusiast, music lover, terrible speller, and Brooklyn dweller! I absolutely love the Edwardian, Victorian, and Romantic eras and any movies, books, and art that reflect these periods. I also love museums, going to see bands, and Broadway shows. And I love eating and sleeping way more than any person should. I had the pleasure of being a stay-at-home parent for four years and have since worked in various fields. I’m most excited about being a teacher’s assistant at The Co-op school!
Sheldon Brown (3s, Fireflies, email@example.com
I am currently pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education at Kingsborough Community College and have worked with students from Pre-K through third grade as a student teacher in a variety of classrooms. When not working, I enjoy spending time with my two-year-old daughter, Harper, and my wife, Katie, as well as watching movies and going to concerts.
Marina Reggiani Smith (3s, Fireflies), firstname.lastname@example.org
I grew up in California and came to New York City to attend Barnard College. I fell in love with the city and ended up staying on this coast! I’ve worked at a variety of elementary and early education schools and love reading, learning, and playing with the little ones. When not teaching, I enjoy hanging out in Brooklyn and relaxing at home with my partner, new baby, and two cats. I’m so excited to be a part of the Firefly classroom!
Kat Stevens (3s, Fireflies), email@example.com
I’ve lived in New York City for eight years. I am currently pursuing a Master’s in Early Childhood Education. I am excited to be back in the Firefly class! In my free time you can find me eating tapas or watching New York Rangers highlights.
Eddie Laguna (2s, Ladybugs), firstname.lastname@example.org
I was raised in New York and live in Crown Heights with my wife and three cats. I studied Secondary Education/English at City University of New York–Queens College and am continuing graduate classes there as well. I love to skateboard, ride my bicycle, take long road trips, read Brownstoner, pretend to eat my students’ lunches and drink a ton of coffee. I eat a lot of tacos. I play several instruments including guitar, bass, drums, piano, trumpet and am excited to play for my students.
Amanda Clarke (2s, Roly Polies), email@example.com
I fell in love with early childhood education while studying at Teachers College at Columbia University for my Master’s in General and Special Education. In the past, I have taught children from three months to six years old. I was born and raised in a suburb of Cleveland and have been living in New York since I was an undergrad at Fordham University, where I studied communications and psychology. Currently, I live in Fort Greene and adore the borough of Brooklyn. I recently earned my children’s yoga certification and cannot wait to share yoga with the RoPos! I’m also learning to play some songs on the ukulele, so stay tuned… and I love photography, so look out for lots of school day photos. I am very excited to meet and get to know all of you, as our hope is to have family involvement in many forms throughout the year!
Brittany Chandler (2s, Roly Polies), firstname.lastname@example.org
I was born and raised in Chelsea, and I love working with children of all ages. This past May, I graduated from the State University at Buffalo with my BA in Social Work. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, reading, and trying different foods. I am so happy to be joining The Co-op School for my first year as an assistant teacher.
Heather DeGrandis (2s, Roly Polies), email@example.com
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I am the oldest sibling of three. During my spare time, I like activities such as indoor rock climbing, hiking, kickboxing, swimming, yoga, dancing, and running. This will be my third year at The Co-op School with the Roly Polies. It is such a joy to have a part in the lives of these beautiful Ropos, especially at this young age. There isn’t a better feeling than the bond and growth developed throughout the school year. Hopefully they like my singing because I have a bad habit of singing along to music. In fact, Roly Polies in the past have demanded that I “stop singing” and “stop hurting their ears!” With that being said, I am sure it will be a wonderful, adventurous year filled with lots of hugs.
Jennifer Rodriguez (2s, Half-Day), firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m currently working toward my degree in Early Childhood Education and have a growing baby boy. I’m super energetic and love to sing, dance, and let my sillies out whenever I can.
Jessica Diaz (2s, Half-Day), email@example.com
I come from Southern California where I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Art. Ever since I moved to New York City I have worked as an assistant teacher at The Co-op School while developing my artwork in my spare time. I enjoy teaching and sharing my passion for drawing, painting, and crafting with my students.
Jose Rios (2s, Half-Day), firstname.lastname@example.org
I was born and raised in the Lower East Side. I went to college in New Hampshire and upstate New York, where I majored in graphic design and photography. In 2011, I started working at The Co-op School. The part of my job that I enjoy the most is witnessing a child’s growth—for example, when the shyest one in the class becomes the one who constantly tells me about their favorite movie.
Laura Scatena-Romero (3s, Half-Day), email@example.com
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico before moving to Philadelphia at the age of twelve. I received my Bachelor of Art degree in Dance and Film from The New School. After graduating, I became a babysitter, and that lead me to discover the joy of teaching! I am so happy to be a part of The Co-op School!
Kyla Johnson (3s, Half-Day), firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a native New Yorker from Queens and am excited for all that is in store for my first year as an assistant teacher of the Inchworm class. My favorite thing to do in the summer when I’m not working is relaxing and enjoying New York’s beautiful parks.
Meredith Gray (Executive Director), email@example.com
I have been at The Co-op School as Executive Director since it was founded in 2004 with only 10 families in the garden apartment of a brownstone. I grew up down south and moved up to Brooklyn at the age of 18. I attended Pratt for as an undergraduate and received a Master of Public Administration degree from Baruch. Prior to working at The Co-op School, I taught in Mexico, East New York, and Harlem.
Maureen Boucher (Business Director), firstname.lastname@example.org
I grew up outside of Philadelphia and a circuitous path from a University of Delaware Bachelor’s in Art History, 10 years’ experience in ad agency art departments, an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design, and the experience of running my own freelance design business led to my first position with The Co-op School as Genevieve’s mom and Board Treasurer in 2005. Overseeing the school’s financial operation, planning, and the move in 2009 to Irving Place honed my skills. The new scale of the organization required full-time focus on the finance side of The Co-op School and I became the Business Director. I am finishing my MPA in Nonprofit Administration at Baruch College in December 2017 and am ready for the school’s launch into its next exciting phase.
Mandy Vadnai (Elementary School Education Director), email@example.com
I have worked at The Co-op School since 2012. Prior to this, I worked at P.S. 261 in Boerum Hill where I taught kindergarten, third grade, and was a Special Education Support Teacher (SETTS) for seven years. I also taught at The Churchill School in Manhattan, working with special education students from across the spectrum. I hold a Master’s degree in both Elementary and Special Education from Bank Street. I live near the school with my husband and two girls, Charlie and Willa (both graduates of The Co-op School). When not working, I like to spend time with friends and family, read, watch movies, travel, listen to music, cook (well, more importantly, eat) and, occasionally, watercolor if there is a free minute.
Christie Gallagher (Preschool Education Director), firstname.lastname@example.org
I was born, raised, and currently live in Queens, New York. I’m one of four children, and I love spending time with my family, traditionally on Sunday for my mother’s delicious dinner. I really like doing anything outdoors! I enjoy going for long walks, watching the sunset, going to the beach, and camping in the Poconos with my husband. Most of all, I am truly passionate about teaching young children, especially while being part of The Co-op School.
Kerry Roeder (Middle School Director), email@example.com
For over a decade, I have served as a teacher-leader in NYC independent schools and am passionate about working with, advocating for, and enjoying middle schoolers. Having taught students in nursery school through 12th grade, I have supported a wide range of curriculum, collaborated with teachers in all subject areas, and gained experience in my understanding of both where students are coming from and where they are heading to. I hold degrees from St. Joseph’s College and Queens College and am currently part of the Progressive Leaders for Educational Change Cohort at Bank Street College of Education. Originally from Queens and Long Island, I currently live in Brooklyn with my husband, who is a math and computer science teacher. I love reading, bouldering, following soccer, and volunteering.
Hannah Sherman (Social Worker), firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a Brooklyn-based clinical social worker who is passionate about supporting others in healing and growth through integrative psychotherapy and mind-body work. Through both my educational and professional experience, I’ve developed a well-rounded understanding of child development and family systems, working with children and families from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds. As a children’s yoga and mindfulness teacher, I work to help young people use their bodies and minds as tools to navigate their own experience of the world with curiosity and compassion.
Adrianne Wallace-Bearak (Math Specialist), email@example.com
I am a Bank Street graduate, coming from P.S. 235, where I had been working as a classroom teacher, math teacher, math staff developer and coach, and, finally, as an assistant principal for the last 30 years!
Akia Goudy, (Assistant Math Coach) firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a native New Yorker from Queens and love helping students explore their ideas and questions through projects and experiments that lead to new discoveries. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Teaching from CUNY City College, a Master’s degree in Curriculum Design from Teachers College, Columbia University, and am currently working toward a Master’s degree in Elementary Mathematics. When I’m not studying, I enjoy cooking, painting, dancing, and spending time with family and friends.
Vanessa Drake-Johnson (Literacy Specialist), email@example.com
I earned a Bachelor of Arts in History at Duke University, worked in book publishing before earning a Master’s degree in Childhood Education at Bank Street College of Education, 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 (ages 13 and 16), and a Havanese dog, and 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!
B Dyson (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Coordinator) firstname.lastname@example.org
I am an educator, activist, and dancer. Originally from the Baltimore area, I pursued an undergraduate degree in dance and psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. After dancing professionally for a few years and teaching dance for over a decade, I moved to New York and earned a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College. I’ve taught pre-K, kindergarten, and second grade. My goal as an educator is to embolden every child to explore the world around and within them with curiosity, a critical mind, and a kind heart. I am excited to be at The Co-op School!