Leadership

Administration

Deanna Bocchetti
Head of School

After receiving my Master’s degree in elementary education from The City College of New York. I taught fourth and first grade for over a decade on the Upper West Side. I then entered administration as Director of Curriculum and Assistant Head of Elementary, also in New York City. I moved to Bedford–Stuyvesant in 2001 and am enjoying being “back home” after spending the past six years as the Head of Lower school at a PK-12 school in Wilmington, Delaware.

Email Deanna.

Maureen Boucher
Business Director

I’ve had many roles at the Co-op School first as a parent, then board member and treasurer. With the 2009 school expansion, my role evolved again to employee as Business Director. I have a master’s degree in public administration and enjoy being part of growing the thriving organism that the Co-op School is. I live in Brooklyn with my husband, son, and daughter.

Email Maureen.

Christie Gallagher
Preschool Division Head

I was born and raised in Queens, New York and I have been a part of The Co-op School community since 2008. During my career here, I have enjoyed teaching 2 to 5-year-old students, collaborating with families, and supporting the teaching staff. I’ve taught in the 2 to 5-year-old students 2’s, 3’s, and Pre-K classes and have been enjoying the role of Preschool Education Director. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in childhood education and a Master’s of Science in Early Childhood General and Special Education. I love the cooperative spirit, creativity, and family involvement at The Co-op School. My child started his first Co-op school year and I couldn’t be more grateful for the learning experiences the preschool staff bring to this community. In my spare time, I enjoy gardening, going to the beach (year-round!), camping, and going on coffee dates with friends and family.

Email Christie.

Lelia Mangham
Pre-School Coordinator

My name is Lelia Mangham and I have had the honor of working at The Coop School for 17 years. It has been such a pleasure watching the school grow and change. I have spent the previous 16 years here as first,  an assistant teacher and then a lead teacher. This year I will be the new Preschool Coordinator and I look forward to being able to serve this wonderful community in this new role. My goal is to be a resource for you on all things preschool and help you to all transition both into our wonderful school community and into your specific classes. I look forward to meeting all of you and having an exciting and fulfilling school year.

Mark Buswinka
Lower School Division Head

I am so excited to be a part of the vibrant, nurturing community of The Co-op School. Over three decades as an educator have taught me that schools change lives and can change the world for the better. Teaching young people to know themselves and the world, guiding families to support their children, training teachers to master their craft, and leading communities towards equity and justice are some of the many projects I have cared about. I love what people can figure out to do when they work together as a community. Bank Street, NYU, Hunter College, and the NYC DOE are my alma maters. I’m completely in love with my partner and my three kids, and enjoy going kayaking, sailing, and camping with them.

Ian Wharton
Middle School Division Head

 Growing up in Queens I have always had the goal of becoming a teacher. After studying American History at Brooklyn College, I worked as a teacher in various school settings. I have taught nearly all grades from Kindergarten to 8th grade, leaving a long-lasting impression of meeting students at their point of need. I have gained a love for teaching and investment in the growth of children. I also serve as the Director of Media Operations for various organizations with an emphasis on visual, audio recording and live streaming events. I have my Masters in Childhood Education with Bilingual Extension from NYIT and I am certified in School Building Leadership from Molloy College.I love the community here at The Co-op School and it has become a family for me. I truly believe this quote to be true: “Kids know the investment. They see the realness and they see your heart.”

Jenna Vitale
Director of Learning Supports

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!

Otis Danne
Director of Auxiliary Programs and Summer Camp

I was born and raised in Brooklyn N.Y. I enjoy working with children and being part of their growth. As a parent of a 9 year old I know the challenges we face. In my previous role I was basketball coach, soccer coach, student government advisor and operations manager.  In my free time I like to volunteer at shelters, sponsor community events.I also like to make tik-toks and attend boxing with my son. I am looking forward to bringing some of my experience and knowledge to The Co-op School to create the next leaders of tomorrow. 

Irish Yambao
Administrative Coordinator

My name is Irish. I was born in the Philippines, grew up in New Jersey, and now live in Brooklyn. After getting my bachelor’s degree in the field of nursing, I decided to work in education and non-profit organizations focused on youth.  After working for 5 years in a Brooklyn independent school, I joined a non-profit organization in Philadelphia which works in giving free eye exams and eyeglasses to all of the city’s K-12 students. When I came back to this wonderful city, I wanted to join a school that places value on community. I am delighted to join The Co-op School and am looking forward to being a reliable and supportive addition to the team. In my free time, you can usually find me at the park, bookstore, museum, the beach, or commuting everywhere on my bike.

Evelyn Espinoza
Human Resources Director

I have been with The Co-op School since August 2019. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, but while I was in high school my family and I moved to Pennsylvania, where I also earned my degree. Brooklyn has my heart, so I came back home. In my spare time, I enjoy doing CrossFit, traveling, reading, and spending time with my three dogs Nighty, Luna, and Thor.

Email Evelyn.

Maria Midões
Parent and Community Engagement Coordinator

I was born and raised in Portugal, where I got my Masters in Media Studies and Communication. I have lived in Brooklyn with my husband and our dog since 2015 and we welcomed our son Tomás in 2020. I’m passionate about education, learning and all kinds of stories. I believe in the power of learning through meaningful and fun experiences and projects. In my free time you’ll find me enjoying my family in the parks, museums and restaurants in the city. I love to cook, photograph and gather with our friends and community.

Taylor Parker
School Nurse

I grew up in Rochester, NY where I completed my nursing degree at Saint John Fisher College. As soon as I graduated I started my first job as a pediatric nurse at the University of Rochester Medical Center. I was eager to move out of my hometown, so after two years there I began my journey as a traveling nurse. I worked in hospitals in many different cities including Denver, San Diego, and San Francisco. During the pandemic I moved back home to Rochester for a few months then thought I’d try my luck in NYC. Before coming to The Co-op school, I was working in the Pediatric ICU at NYP. I’ve been lucky enough to wear many different hats as a nurse throughout my travels and I’m very excited about this transition into the role of school nurse. When I’m not at work I enjoy cooking, hiking, snowboarding, boxing, and live music! I’m eager to meet all of the students and families this year! I look forward to the opportunity to care for your children.

Robert Bivines
Maintenance Manager

I was born in Harlem and moved to Brooklyn later in life with my wife and three kids. I worked as a custodian for St. John University for five years and with an early childhood education program at Sheltering Arms Children & Family Services for ten years. I love working in environments with children. Whatever I clean becomes so clean you will see your reflection!

Board of Trustees

The Co-op School’s Board of Trustees governs the school and is responsible for long-term vision and planning. Each Board member leads a committee on which community members serve. The committees are responsible for the development, fundraising, and maintenance of the school, as well as for upholding our school values, including our renewed commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Sara Siddappa
President

Sara Siddappa is Assistant Principal for the Cypress Hills Community School, the only school-wide dual language program serving students 3K-8 in District 19. An innovative model that was started by a BIPOC contingent of parents, Sara joined the faculty in 2002 and was instrumental in growing the middle school division, which prioritizes admissions for Spanish-speaking students new to the country. As a New York City Teaching Fellow she honed her craft co-teaching grades 5-6 before moving into a shortage area, dual language math grades 7-8. She transitioned to the role of instructional coach centering the social-emotional development of young-adolescent immigrants. In her current role, Sara is responsible for strategic planning and partnerships, teacher development, program design and operations. She is the proud daughter of an immigrant, grew up in a bilingual household in eight states and four countries. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the University of Michigan, a M.S. Ed from Brooklyn College, and an Ed. M. in Education Administration from Bank Street Graduate School of Education. Sara is Co-chair of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee and sits on the Strategic Planning Committee. She and her husband Madhu live in Bed-Stuy with their child Joaquín. Their family has been part of The Co-op School since 2018.

Hilary Cramer Robinson
Vice President

Hilary Cramer Robinson has worked in the nonprofit sector for fifteen years. As the Director of Major Gifts for JCCA, one of the largest child welfare organizations in New York, Hilary oversees the agency’s individual giving program, as well as events, donor cultivation, and development. Hilary holds a BA in Educational Studies and Sociology from Trinity College and a MS in Nonprofit Management from the New School. She hopes to contribute to the Fundraising Committee and other group efforts during her first year on the Board. She lives in Bed-Stuy with her husband Mike, daughter and toddler son.

Kristina Hoge
Secretary

Kristina has 20+ years of non-profit management and fundraising experience. She has worked for over a decade at The Public Theater / New York Shakespeare Festival, one of the world’s leading arts and cultural institutions. In her current position as Senior Director of Development, she oversees all fundraising, strategic planning, board governance and operational development. Kristina hopes to use her experience and time to help secure the future of The Co-op School for years to come. On the board she is the Co-chair of the Fundraising Committee and a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. She and her husband Jake live in Bed-Stuy and are proud parents of two boys at the school (First grade, Katydid). Her family has been part of The Co-op community since 2017.

Octavia Figueroa
Treasurer

Octavia is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn. She is the product of an independent school education and graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Religious Studies. She is a Vice President at BNY Mellon and has been a product manager in financial services for the past nine years, focusing on providing cash management solutions to other financial institutions. This is her first year on the Board and she is currently an active member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, as well as the Strategic Planning Committee. She and her husband, Eric, live in Bed-Stuy and are the proud parents of Eric III (a LadyBug) who has been a part of The Co-op School for the past two years.

Steve Jean-Baptiste
Trustee

Steve was born and raised in East Flatbush Brooklyn by Haitian immigrant parents. He went to High school in Park Slope and attended Long Island University (downtown Brooklyn) where he studied Business Administration & Finance. Steve spent several years in sales & customer service before switching over to the TV/Film industry eventually becoming an Assistant Director. He lived in Clinton Hill for six years before moving to Bed-Stuy a few years ago with his wife Nyanza, his son Coltrane & dog Riley. They have been members of The Co-op School community since 2017 when Coltrane started pre-school (he is now in First grade). This is Steve’s first year on the Board and he is a member of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee and the Neighborhood Outreach Committee.

Anne Schaeffer
Board Member
Claire Stapleton
Board Member
Poppy Simpson
Board Member