Faculty & Staff

DREAM Charter School staff promotes physical, social, emotional and moral growth in a nurturing environment with high expectations, inspiring every student to recognize their potential and realize their dreams.

 

DREAM is always looking for talented teachers to join our team.

Click here to join our DREAM team.

 

School leadership
     

Eve Colavito
Head of School

   

Marjorie Cass

Middle School Principal

 

Traci L. Douglas

Director of Operations

 

   

Brett Fazio

Dean of Students

 

Andrew Kile

Academic Dean

 

   

Mike McCarthy

Director of School Culture

 

Emily Parkey

Director of Family Engagement

   

Jamie Platzer

Academic Dean

Robin Rubenstein

Elementary School Principal

 

   

KATIE SCHMIDT
Data and Assessment Manager

 

 

     
OPERATIONS      

Janice Northia

Manager of School
Administration

   

Beverly Parsons

Operations Manager

Melanie Rodriguez

Operations Assistant
     

 

     
   

Student support

     

Aladji Barry

Discipline Coordinator

 

   

Jasmin Berrios

Social Worker

Marilyne Cartagena

Family Coordinator

 

   

Gwenn Levine

Social Worker

Angel Lopez

Discpline Coordinator

 

   

Amy Proulx
ELL Coordinator

Susie Purviance
Special Education Coordinator

 

   

Katrina Ruiz
Intervention Specialist

Leticia Sanchez
Intervention Specialist

   

Brittany Zucker
Speech Teacher

 

       

SPECIALISTS

     

Nina Fink
K-5 Science Teacher

   

Kristen Frick
3-7 Music and Theater Teacher

 

E. Cherelle Hale
K-3 Music and Theater Teacher
Chorus Director

 

   

Erica Jones
K-4 Art Teacher

 

 

Kaitlin Rodriguez
Health and Wellness Specialist

   

Christine Scott
Health and Wellness Specialist

 

Sophia Spector
5-7 Art Teacher

 

     
       
Instructional Staff      

Michela Dixon

Kindergarten Teacher

 

   

Stephanie VILLANUEVA

Kindergarten Teacher

 

Claire McQuillen

Kindergarten Teacher

 

   

Rebecca Mandel

Kindergarten Teacher

 

Charles Holiday

Kindergarten Assistant

 

     

Kelly Baxter

First Grade Teacher

 

   

Elisa Cervantes

First Grade Teacher

Sheree Williams

First Grade Teacher

 

   

Bari Pelton

First Grade Teacher

Renee Bernardo

Second Grade Teacher

 

   

Melissa L. Perez

Second Grade Teacher

 

Clare Ham

Second Grade Teacher

 

   

Cabrina Kang

Second Grade Teacher

Maryn Brosnan

Third Grade Teacher

 

   

Lauren Ettinger

Third Grade Teacher

Kara Plassmann

Third Grade Teacher

 

   

Alexandra Brown

Third Grade Teacher

Alyssa Krimsky

Fourth Grade Teacher

 

   

Yanela Hernandez

Fourth Grade Teacher

Casey Franco

Fourth Grade Teacher

 

   

Rebecca Myers

Fourth Grade Teacher

Angelina Ferrino

Fifth Grade Teacher

 

   

Melanie Feinberg

Fifth Grade Teacher

Anastazia Neely

Fifth Grade Teacher

 

   

Lodoe Sangmo

Fifth Grade Teacher

 

Carmen Issac

Sixth Grade Teacher (ELA)

 

   

Sarai Canario

Sixth Grade Teacher (Math)

 

Elizabeth Solaimanian

Middle School Teacher (Science)

 

   

Jeremy Kaller

Middle School Teacher (Social Studies)

 

Laura Chiriboga

Seventh Grade Teacher (ELA)

 

   

Chris Ignaciuk

Seventh Grade Teacher (Math)

 

Eric Abrecht

Middle School
Learning Specialist

 

   

Jacqueline Begnoche

Middle School
Learning Specialist

 

Cara McGovern

Middle School
Learning Specialist

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

School leadership

 

Eve Colavito, Head of School at DREAM Charter School since 2010, graduated from Brown University and began her teaching career in Mmabatho, South Africa. After two years, she returned to New York City and began teaching at River East Elementary School in East Harlem, where she taught third and fourth graders in a full inclusion class. At River East, Eve further developed her belief in the importance of inclusive education and immersed herself in the practice of engaging constructivist teaching. During this time, she received her Masters in Elementary and Special Education from Bank Street College of Education.

 

Following her tenure at River East, Eve became a founding teacher and director at Bronx Charter School for the Arts. Eve held a variety of roles there and eventually became the Co-Executive Director, alongside the founder of Bronx Arts. These roles allowed Eve to think strategically about the future of the school, and shape the school's curriculum, instruction and overall approach. All of these experiences have led to Eve's conviction about the possibilities for all students to succeed and their ability to achieve nothing less than excellence. Recently, Eve successfully completed the year-long Aspiring Principals Program through New Leaders, a national nonprofit that develops transformational school leaders and designs effective leadership policies and practices for school systems across the country, and was highlighted as a feature success story.

 

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Marjorie Cass, Middle School Principal, graduated from Boston University’s School of Education and moved to Philadelphia where she teamed up with a juvenile justice-centered law firm. There, she worked with local legislators on a bill that would afford students in foster care tuition waivers for state colleges and universities. Marjorie then moved to New York City to join Teach for America. She earned her Master’s Degree in Childhood and Special Education from Pace University while working in the Bronx as a Special Education Teacher and, later, a Founding Special Education Director. Following her time in the Bronx, she moved to Brooklyn where she worked as an Academic Dean and a Principal in Residence. Marjorie is honored and excited to be part of the DREAM family!

 

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Traci L. Douglas, Director of Operations, is a 1994 graduate of Howard University and a 1997 graduate of Harvard Law School. Traci began her legal career at Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem (NDS), a non-profit, community based law office in Harlem. As a Soros Justice Fellow with the Open Society Institute, she re-established NDS’s delinquency practice while providing legal-rights based workshops to young people throughout New York City. Traci also partnered with Legal Outreach, Inc. to mentor middle school students in Harlem interested in the legal profession. She completed her two-year fellowship with the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society in their Brooklyn offices. During this time, Traci taught a race relations course in NYC public schools through the New York Civil Rights Coalition.

After a two-year stint in the private sector, Traci returned to her public interest roots and joined NDS’s criminal defense team as a staff attorney. Her clients were mostly young adults disengaged from school and their families. In an effort to target students at-risk of entering the juvenile and criminal justice systems and to reduce the number of potential NDS clients, Traci became the organization’s first Director of Youth, Education and Outreach Programs in 2004 and was responsible for the programmatic expansion of NDS's youth leadership development program, Students Taking Action Towards Empowerment (S.T.A.T.E.). In that role, she solidified her desire to transition from the practice of law to full-time work in education.

In 2006, Traci moved to Philadelphia, PA to become a social and emotional learning instructor and curriculum writer with Mastery Charter Schools. Although she truly enjoyed the classroom experience, she determined that her legal and program management background also made her suitable for charter school administration. Traci has come full circle in her youth-centered public service career and returns to Harlem with over a decade of varied experiences that will prove to be a huge asset to the operations of DREAM Charter School.

 

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Brett Fazio, Dean of Students, enthusiastically joined the DREAM staff after ten years of experience both in the classroom and as an administrator. The son of an Art teacher from Oneonta, NY, Brett was inspired to become an educator after witnessing the impact his father had on his own students. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Manhattan College, Brett taught Physical Education in a residential treatment center. During this time, he implemented the district’s Project Adventure initiative and the high ropes course. Brett served as Dean of Students, allowing his leadership skills to transfer into an administrative role. In 2004, Brett conceptualized and co-founded Opportunity Charter School. Opening with only grades six and seven, he successfully developed a high school and created school protocol and behavior teams responsible for carrying out the school’s mission. Brett designed a Behavior Model and established a school culture that created a state–recognized sense of safety and fair accountability while holding students to the highest levels of academic achievement. All staff felt supported when he created the Teacher Mentoring Academy, problem solving and communicating some of the concerns of teaching staff as well as acknowledging successful classroom moments and embracing pride as a community.

Becoming a part of the “Dreamer’s” is an exciting opportunity for Brett to reconnect with the reward of working with younger people. He feels strongly about the Harlem RBI mission as baseball is close to his heart. Once a competitive scouted pitcher, Brett believes in baseball’s ability to recognize natural talent, foster personal goals and generate healthy competition and sportsmanship. His vision is to build a school culture that is organic to the DREAM mission through meaningful collaboration and interaction with staff, students and community. 

 

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Andrew Kile, Academic Dean (Grades 3-5), joins DREAM staff after two years of working for an educational consulting firm. Mr. Kile supported teaching and learning across the United States, including Benton Harbor, Michigan, and Pomona, California. This work allowed him to see different perspectives on education and encouraged him to re-join a school as a leader in order to see a lasting impact on scholars. Previous to his consulting work, Mr. Kile served as Director of Learning and Teaching at a charter school in East Harlem, where he began his teaching career with second and fourth graders.

 

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Mike McCarthy, Director of School Culture, is a graduate of Middlebury College and a graduate of The University of Vermont Counseling Graduate Program. With Master’s degrees in Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling, Mike began his career as  a Mental Health Counselor at Centerpoint Adolescent Treatment Services in South Burlington, Vermon where he worked with clients and families in an intensive outpatient setting. Mike then helped found The SEED School of Maryland, a college preparatory public boarding school in Baltimore, Maryland as the school’s Director of Student Support. As the coordinator of all medical, mental health, social work, school counseling and psychological services, Mike worked to build individualized services to meet specific student needs. In 2013, Mike moved to New York City and joined the DREAM team. Mike is eager to support the mission and vision of the school by working with scholars, families and faculty to support strong character values and high performance standards in all areas of the DREAM environment.

 

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Emily Parkey, Director of Family Engagement, is in her fifth year at DREAM Charter School. Emily graduated from the University of Denver with a Master's degree in Social Work with an emphasis on community social work with Spanish-speaking populations. She has a Bachelor's degree in Cultural Anthropology from Transylvania University in Lexington, KY. Emily has over 13 years of experience working to build strength-based partnerships with families and communities. She has spent a great deal of time traveling, working, and exploring Central and South America. Emily is fluent in Spanish.

 

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Jamie Platzer, Academic Dean (Grades 2-3), joined DREAM Charter School in 2009 after teaching fifth grade at P.S. 47 in the Bronx. Jamie has taught second and third grade at DREAM for the last 5 years as the Special Education teacher in the co-taught classroom. Jamie earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Northwestern University and her Master’s Degree in Education from Pace University as a member of the Teach for America program in New York City. Jamie is currently a member of the New Leaders Aspiring Principals program.

 

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Robin Rubenstein, Elementary School Director, brings eight years of teaching experience to DREAM Charter School. Robin received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona’s School of Education and a master’s degree (Summa Cum Laude) in Special Education with a focus in Learning Disabilities from Hunter College. While at Hunter she was a recipient of the Mary M. Solomon Award. Robin has three years experience working in a charter school environment and four years of experience specializing in the education of children with learning disabilities. She began her teaching career in Arizona where she taught at New Way Learning Academy, a private school specializing in the education of children with learning differences. She then taught along side her former fifth grade teacher at Mercury Mine Elementary. In 2004, she moved to New York with her husband and began teaching for the New York City DOE in the Bronx at IS 131. For the past three years she taught at Harlem Success Academy, where she was a founding special education teacher.

 

Robin is passionate about teaching students with special needs. She strives to give each student the best possible education by using cutting edge and proven educational practices. She is committed to her own continuing education and professional development and is consistently searching out new practices by consulting with leaders in the field of education. 

 

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Katie Schmidt, Data and Assessment Manager, manages DREAM Charter School's assessment and data analysis systems. Prior to arriving at DREAM, Katie worked at The Achievement Network in Boston as a Network Performance Analyst, where she created high quality data reports and tools that were used by school and district leadership teams to improve student performance. Katie began her career as a high school teacher in Philadelphia and is a proud Teach for America alumna. Katie holds a Master of Science in Urban Education from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies from Providence College.

 

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administration

Janice Northia, Manager of School Administration, is a proud New Yorker of Ecuadorian decent. Janice is bilingual, a Bronx native and a product of New York City public schools and the City University of New York. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice where she majored in Forensic Psychology and minored in Juvenile Delinquency with a concentration in Addiction Studies. Janice aspires to earn her Masters degree in Social Work. Janice first joined Harlem RBI as summer coach for Harlem RBI's Real Kids program in 2011. Janice has also volunteered as a sleep-away summer camp counselor where she led the Leaders-in-Training seminars for adolescent girls for five consecutive years. She currently volunteers as a mentor in the Big Brother/Big Sisters of America program and firmly believes the power to change lives happens through positive mentoring. It is her life mission to give back to the community that shaped who she is today. Janice loves to be outdoors with her puggle, CJ, and enjoys exploring the city and trying new foods. 

 

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Beverly Parsons, Operations Manager, comes to the DREAM family with a wealth of experience in compliance and operational roles in the education field. Raised in Westchester County, NY, Beverly graduated from University of Albany where she majored in public policy before graduating from UMass Dartmouth School of Law. After practicing law for three years, she decided to pursue her passion for education and helping underserved communities. Always supportive of local businesses, Beverly frequents many of the new independently-owned businesses that have been popping up in Brooklyn and Harlem. In her down time, she enjoys knitting, trying new food recipes in the kitchen and attending dance classes in her neighborhood. She currently resides in Brooklyn where she has lived for several years.

 

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Melanie Rodriguez, Operations Assistant, joined DREAM after working part-time as an Administrative Assistant at Harlem RBI. Melanie was Born and raised in East Harlem and has volunteered in many youth organizations in the area. With her experience, she knows first-hand the needs of the community and how DREAM can better serve scholars to reach their full potential. Melanie attended University at Albany for two semesters and returned to continue her studies for Business Management at CUNY School where she is currently working towards her Bachelor's degree. Before Joining Harlem RBI, Melanie worked and managed a spa which is where she gained experience in administrative work. She aspires to one day open up her own Spa to achieve tranquility and relaxation among the many busy, overworked individuals.

 

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STUDENT SUPPORT

Marilyne Cartagena, Family Engagement Coordinator, works at DREAM because it is not just a school. Rather, it is a community made up of staff, teachers and families that all have one goal: to support scholars' growth academically and emotionally. Marilyne’s role allows her the opportunity to connect with families and support them throughout the school year. Her favorite part about DREAM is the focus that the school has in letting scholars know that college is achievable as well as the emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle.

 

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Jasmin Berrios, Social Workerreceived her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the State University of New York at Oswego and her Masters of Social Work from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Prior to arriving at DREAM Charter School, Jasmin worked at Harlem RBI as the Program Coordinator for a youth leadership and peer education program called, The BASE. In the past, she worked as the Assistant Coordinator of Prevention, Education & Outreach for the Ryan-NENA Community Health Center, where along with other responsibilities Jasmin supervised their sexual health education, adolescent health and HIV counseling, testing and referral programs. Jasmin is also a member of the National Association of Social Workers. She is certified in CPR and is a Spanish speaker.

 

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Gwenn Levine, Social Worker, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Richmond in Virginia and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University. The majority of her educational and professional experience has focused on working with children and families. Throughout her career, she has worked in a variety of settings, including Family Court, where she worked with abused and neglected children; a private adoption agency, where she specialized in international adoption from Guatemala and Colombia; and The Child and Family Institute at St. Luke’s Hospital, where she provided clinical and case management services to children with severe mental illnesses and their families. Gwenn also worked for three years at a private school for children with severe autism and similar disabilities, where along with other responsibilities, she provided counseling to students and collaborated with families to help children succeed. Gwenn received her LCSW in 2012.

 

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Angel Lopez,  Discipline Coordinator, has been a part of DREAM for almost a year. He started out supporting the lunch staff and was given the opportunity to become a program assistant. At the age of 5, Angel moved to the United States of America with his family from the Dominican Republic and has lived in Spanish Harlem for most of his life. Angel played baseball with Harlem RBI as a sophomore in high school and became a coach in the REAL kids program after graduation. He was later promoted to become a youth support coach to manage youth in crisis and to act as a mentor, teacher and any other support role needed. Angel is currently studying pre-med at Lehman College in the Bronx with aspirations of becoming a physical therapist and opening up a physical therapy department for Harlem RBI.

 

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SPECIALISTS

 

Eric Abrecht, Middle School Learning Specialist, graduated from Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, MD with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Eric participated in an AmerCorps fellowship with The Choice Program where he worked with Baltimore youth, ages 12-18, on probation as a caseworker and mentor. After the fellowship, Eric served as a Service Coordinator where he oversaw youth cases. With a strong desire to broaden his impact, Eric accepted a position as a Corps Member with Teach For America. He taught third and fourth grade in the Bronx for two years and completed a Masters in Special Education at Hunter College. Eric fervently believes in working alongside families and hopes to build relationships with every scholar he teaches.

 

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Nina Fink, Elementary Science Teacher, joined DREAM after six years of working at Success Academies. As a Science Teacher and Science Leadership Resident, Nina was responsible for the development and implementation of the network's elementary science curriculum. She designed rigorous, engaging, hands-on science units that were based in inquiry design. In addition to developing and teaching Elementary Science at Success Academies, Nina managed and supervised the 30 science teachers across the network in order to ensure the curriculum was implemented at a high level. Nina earned a Bachelor of Arts as well as her Master of Education in General Science from Lehigh University. Nina received her New York State Certification in Elementary and Special Education as a member of the Teach for America program in New York City. Nina is thrilled to bring her knowledge of science curriculum and her passion for working with children in to DREAM’s developing scientific minds.

 

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Amy Proulx, ELL Coordinator, piloted DREAM’s adult ESL program. Prior to joining DREAM, Amy worked for Unlocking Potential, a non-profit organization in Boston, MA. There, she helped launch its first school, UP Academy Charter School of Boston. During UP Academy’s first year, she supported its SPED and ELL student populations. Amy also served as an intern at Excel Academy Charter School, a successful urban charter middle school in East Boston, MA, where she primarily led and managed Excel’s student recruitment and enrollment efforts and summer school program. Amy earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Skidmore College and her Master’s Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Teachers College, Columbia University.

 

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Susie Purviance, Special Education Coordinator, has been a Speech-Language Pathologist for thirteen years in both public and charter schools. For the past five years, she worked in Central Harlem. Susie has a Master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Georgia. Her past experiences include providing speech and language intervention to a range of students with mild to severe physical and/ or intellectual disabilities from kindergarten to twelfth grade. Susie believes all children are capable of educational success and enjoys supporting all types of learners. She is very excited to be a part of the DREAM family.


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Kaitlin Rodriguez, Health and Wellness Specialist, is returning to DREAM for her second year. Prior to DREAM, she taught three years of physical education as an assistant in Pocantico Hills Central School District for grades Pre-K to eighth grade. She has experience coaching softball and basketball at the modified and junior varsity level. Kaitlin earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education with a minor in Adapted Physical Education and Biology at Manhattan College. She earned her Master of Arts degree at Montclair University, where she was certified to teach Health Education. 

 

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Leticia C. Sanchez, Intervention Specialist, is a certified Pre-K through six educator with a decade of experience in the New York City school system. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Riverside where she studied Spanish and English Literature. During her time there, she provided mentorship to students in the Early Academic Outreach Program. Leticia pursued her Master of Arts degree at Teachers College, Columbia University. She earned her degree in Pedagogy and Curriculum Development. Additionally, she is the founding member of The Coalition of Latino Scholars at Teachers College. Leticia spent her summers in Yucatan, Mexico as a visiting scholar at Solexico Language School. Her teaching specializations include dual immersion pedagogy, providing intervention strategies for second language and monolingual learners, and facilitating workshops to immigrant families interested in intergenerational learning practices.

 

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Instructional Staff

 

Kelly Baxter, First Grade Teacher, is originally from New Jersey and now lives in New York City. Kelly graduated from Syracuse University with a dual certification in Elementary and Special Education. She believes that making learning hands-on and exploratory encourages every student to reach their full potential. Kelly has taught students with a variety of learning strengths in both urban and suburban inclusive environments. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling and would like to experience the people and cultures of countries around the world.

 

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Jackie Begnoche, Middle School Learning Specialist, previously spent two years teaching in an inclusion co-teaching classroom for third and fifth grades at a charter school in West Harlem. Before that, she spent time in a resource room position giving push in and pull out support in ELA. She graduated with her Masters in Special Education and Literacy in 2012 from the University at Albany. Jackie graduated from SUNY Cortland for her undergraduate degree in Childhood Education where she was a four-year starter at third base on the softball team. She's looking forward to working with a founding middle school staff and becoming a partner in education with students and families.

 

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Renee Bernardo, Second Grade Teacher, joined DREAM in 2010 after working as a Harlem RBI REAL Kids coach and program coordinator. Renee graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from Bucknell University. She will receive her Master’s Degree in Special Education this fall from Hunter College. For the past four years, Renee has taught first grade, where she developed students’ curiosity for learning, instilled positive life-long values, and executed a rigorous curriculum. Now, she will bring her experience and expertise to second grade scholars.

 

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Maryn Brosnan, Third Grade Teacher, is thrilled to be back at DREAM for the 2014-15 school year. Maryn graduated from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education. She lived in Washington D.C. for two years following graduation where she taught first, third and fourth grades. With a strong desire to continue her education, Maryn moved to Pennsylvania where she earned her Master’s Degree in Literacy with a Reading Specialist Certification from West Chester University. Last summer Maryn taught second and third grade Literacy in the REAL Kids Summer Program for Harlem RBI. Maryn believes in building the self-confidence and motivation in each student that will enable them to achieve their potential.

 

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Sarai Canario, Sixth Grade Math Teacher, graduated from Union College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and Psychology. After graduating, she worked as an after-school counselor for the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center in the Bronx. After that, she worked at New Heights Academy Charter School, where she got the opportunity to work with students of varying levels and needs. Working at New Heights Academy led her to pursue a Master’s Degree in Middle School Math Education. She is currently enrolled in a Master’s program at the City College of New York. After five years in education, Sarai is grateful for the opportunity to continue her teaching career at DREAM, and hopes to be a life-long teacher.

 

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Elisa Cervantes, First Grade Teacher, taught Kindergarten in a full inclusion class in Harlem for two years before joining DREAM Charter School. She spent a lot of time working with struggling readers during after-school hours and her goal was for each child to reach his or her full potential. Before working in Harlem, Elisa was a substitute teacher for one year in Staten Island where she worked with students in grades one through four with diverse learning abilities. Before getting her teaching degree, Elisa worked with incoming high school students as well as college freshmen conducting orientation and Microsoft Office workshops. She received a Masters in Childhood Education from Hunter College with a concentration in math and science. This is Elisa's 5th year working at DREAM Charter School. 

 

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Laura Chiriboga, 7th Grade English Teacher, is passionate about literature, grammar, essay writing and preparing young people to excel in high school and college. She earned a BA in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Masters Degree in Urban Education and Literacy from Loyola Marymount University. She comes to DREAM by way of California, where she taught 8th grade English for three years in East Oakland. In Oakland she also taught a 7th grade running apprenticeship, combining her love of fitness and her love of education. In her classroom she empowers young people to express themselves and become active citizens using the written word. Laura hopes to be a transformative teacher for the students of DREAM, helping them to dream big and achieve.

 

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Michela Dixon, Kindergarten Teacher, previously taught Kindergarten in New Jersey for six years. She graduated from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey with a B.A. in Elementary Education and Psychology. Throughout her teaching career, Michela worked with PreK-12th grade students in various capacities. She also brings several years of special education experience to DREAM. She believes that teaching students to believe in themselves and work hard, they can truly realize their full potential. 

 

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Lauren Ettinger, Third Grade Teacher, is originally from Long Island and now lives in New York City. Lauren graduated from the University of Delaware with a dual-certification in Elementary and Special Education. Lauren is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education at Hunter College. Lauren has worked with a variety of students ranging in age and strengths. She taught second grade during the DREAM Kids summer program and was a third grade leave replacement teacher at DREAM in 2013-2014. Lauren believes in providing students with the self-confidence and motivation they need to succeed.

 

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Angelina Ferrino, Third Grade Teacher, joined DREAM after teaching at the Charter School of Educational Excellence for the past three years. While teaching at the first public charter school to be approved in Westchester County, her fourth graders outperformed the local school district two years in a row with record achievement scores on New York State Assessments in English Language Arts, Math and Science. As a fourth grade teacher, Angie has worked with students with a range of strengths and learning styles. She earned a MS in Childhood Education at Mercy College and a BA in Mass Communications with a concentration in African American Studies. She believes that with the patience she possesses she is able to maximize her students’ potential in efforts to promote academic achievement.

 

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Casey Franco, Fourth Grade Teacher, graduated from Manhattanville College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Childhood Education and Spanish. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree in Literacy Education at Hunter College. Casey has taught students in Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 5th grade, and looks forward to joining the 4th grade team this year.

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Kristen Frick, Music Teacher, graduated from the Crane School of Music in Potsdam NY with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and Voice and a Master’s Degree in Music Education. She is a classically trained soprano and plays a variety of instruments, which she regularly implements in classroom lessons. Kristen has conducted several choirs and directed middle and high school productions. She most recently taught music in Cleveland, Ohio. Kristen pushes her students to achieve excellence every day, making her an excellent addition to the DREAM staff.

 

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E. Cherelle Hale, Music and Theater Teacher, a native of Oklahoma, has turned in her spurs and taken a bite out of the Big Apple. Cherelle is a music and theatre educator as well as singer and actress. She earned a Bachelors in Music Education from Oklahoma Baptist University and a Masters in Performing Arts from Oklahoma City University. Cherelle is excited about celebrating her 10th year of teaching by making her debut with DREAM Charter School. 

 

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E. Cherelle Hale, Music and Theater Teacher, a native of Oklahoma, has turned in her spurs and taken a bite out of the Big Apple. Cherelle is a music and theatre educator as well as singer and actress. She earned a Bachelors in Music Education from Oklahoma Baptist University and a Masters in Performing Arts from Oklahoma City University. Cherelle is excited about celebrating her 10th year of teaching by making her debut with DREAM Charter School. 

 

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Clare Ham, Second Grade Teacher, is thrilled to be back in a second grade classroom. Prior to DREAM, she worked as a Second Grade Teaching Assistant at PS 116 and Second Grade Teacher in a co-teaching environment in the Bronx. She also taught students in grades 5-7 as an Interventionist in Newark, NJ. Clare is a graduate of New York University with a Bachelor's Degree in Childhood Education and Special Education.

 

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Charles Holiday, Kindergarten Teaching Assistant, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Union College in Schenectady, New York where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Theater and Dance with a minor in English. For his thesis, he traveled to Jamaica where he formulated an adaptable program that taught youth to use theatrical tools as a primary means of self-expression and utilizing its capacity to foster oral traditions in the community. Upon graduating he returned to New York City where he worked in theater and film while taking acting classes. During this time, he also fulfilled his passion for education by serving as a proud teacher, co-teacher and tutor for the New York City Department of Education--mainly serving special education "at risk youth" from low-income households attending high schools that were designated as failing. Coming from a similar background, he realized the importance of being positive role model and educator for underprivileged youth within the community. Before joining DREAM, Charles served as a mentor for the Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) in Georgia and Arizona where he engaged youth in accomplishing conservation and sustainability goals set forth by the Nature Conservancy. He served as a REAL Kids after-school literacy teacher as well at Harlem RBI, where he had the privilege of teaching and reinforcing fundamental reading and writing skills to kindergarten and first grade students. He currently seeks to expand upon his work by rigorously preparing students for competitive institutions of higher learning while fostering an unbridled and genuine appreciation of life-long learning.

 

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Chris Ignaciuk, Seventh Grade Math Teacher, is very excited to join the DREAM family after teaching middle school math in Brooklyn for three years. He began his career in education as an operations manager in an elementary school in East Harlem and loves being back in the neighborhood. Chris received his Bachelor’s Degree from Boston College and is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree at the Relay Graduate School of Education. Chris is most excited about students learning to understand the “why” more than just the “how.” Chris is a native of Valley Stream, NY.

 

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Carmen Isaac, 6th Grade English teacher, is originally from College Park, Maryland. A Teach for America Alum, Carmen started her teaching career in Miami, Florida, teaching 4th and 5th grade English before moving to New York in 2012. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Elon University and is currently working on her Masters in General Childhood Education and Literacy Specialist at Bank Street Graduate School. Education and literacy have always been passions of hers and she is very excited to bring both them to the students and families of DREAM Charter School.

 

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Erica Jones, Art Specialist, joins the DREAM Team after two years as Visual Arts Teacher in Cameroon, West Africa at the American School of Yaounde working with Pre-K through 12 and AP Studio Art students. After achieving her Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from Parsons the New School of Design in 2007 and studying Fine Art at Lorenzo de Medici in Florence Italy, Erica worked as a freelance painter, getting commissioned portraits and murals. Following a large scale mural project at the Prudential Center’s New Jersey Devils Hockey Arena, Erica began an after-school mural painting program in her home town of Asbury Park, New Jersey. Her love of sharing art with young people motivated her to go to graduate school where she receive her Masters in the Arts of Teaching from Monmouth University in 2011. Erica believes that problem solving, teamwork, and perseverance are the foundation in which all expressive art related projects should be based.  She is excited to share art with DREAM Scholars and is incredibly happy to see the creative abilities they show.

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Cabrina Kang, Second Grade Teacher was born and raised on Long Island, New York and graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in English and Economics. With a deep passion for social justice through education and community development, she joined the DREAM community. She has had the wonderful opportunity to work with students in Cambodia, Boston's Chinatown and West Harlem and believes that education is in fact the means for change and growth in communities. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Childhood General and Special Education at Hunter College. She looks forward to creating meaningful relationships with her students and their families, as well as learning from the DREAM family.

 

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Jeremy Kaller, Middle School Social Studies Teacher, is excited to join the DREAM team. He grew up in New York City and obtained his B.A. at Cornell University and his graduate degree at Teachers College Columbia University. Before joining DREAM, Jeremy spent three years at a public school in Canarsie, where he taught U.S. History & Government, Global History & Geography, Economics, & Government to students in grades 9-12. He played sports all his life, and still enjoys playing different sports. Jeremy is passionate about the history and culture of different regions of the world, and is committed to teaching his students to share his passion while also helping them achieve their dreams through effort. 

 

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Alyssa Krimsky, Fourth Grade teacher, is thrilled to join the DREAM Team. Alyssa graduated SUNY College at Oneonta with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education and is currently obtaining her Master's Degree in Special Education at Hunter College. Prior to DREAM, Alyssa has spent the past year substituting, and completing two leave replacement positions in 5th grade and Kindergarten. Over the summer, she was a part of the Harlem RBI's REAL Kids Summer Program as a literacy teacher for incoming 3rd and 4th graders. Alyssa hopes to instill a love of learning, exploration and other characteristics necessary to become thoughtful, caring, intelligent and responsible members of the community. 

 

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Rebecca Mandel, Kindergarten Teacher, earned a Bachelors of Arts in Human Development from Connecticut College as well as a Master of Science in Education in dual language and bilingual childhood special education from Bank Street College of Education. Before moving to New York, Rebecca taught second and third grade for three years at Baldwin School of Puerto Rico. Rebecca frequently spends the summers working at Escuela Integrada in Antigua, Guatemala where she provides supplemental services to students with diverse learning abilities and support around curriculum, management, and differentiation to elementary classroom teachers. She is excited to start her forth year at DREAM and is committed to helping all of her students reach their potential.

 

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Cara McGovern, Middle School Learning Specialist, attended the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. There she obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Dual Special Education and Childhood Education. During her time at the College of Saint Rose, Cara worked closely with an organization who promoted the continuing education of immigrant and refugee students outside of the classroom. Cara is extremely excited to start helping DREAM scholars explore and grow in their writing throughout the school year.

 

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Rebecca Myers, Fourth Grade Teacher, is thrilled to be entering her seventh year of teaching in Harlem. She has spent the past three years teaching fourth grade at DREAM Charter School. Becky is a graduate of Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and research experience involving sleep and nap patterns in young children. She was also a member of Brown's Track and Cross Country teams. Becky received her Masters in Special Education from Lehman College in the Bronx to help her address the diverse needs of all learners. She enjoys working collaboratively with the staff and families of DREAM to create a nurturing, well-rounded, and joyful learning environment for all DREAM scholars.

 

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Anastazia Neely, 5th Grade Teacher, is ecstatic to start her first year at DREAM though she is no stranger to the Harlem RBI family. Anastazia previously worked at Harlem RBI's REAL Kids South Bronx site. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Hampton University and a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University in New York. She has worked in schools all over the country including, Harlem Children's Zone Promise Academy, and abroad in Japan over the course of her career. In her third year of teaching, Anastazia is looking forward to teaching and forming strong relationships with students and their families. 

 

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Bari Pelton, First Grade Teacher, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor’s Degree in Consumer Affairs and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood General and Special Education. Bari has experience working with children ages six months to nine years old providing targeted instruction through group and individual sessions. Bari has experience working with children who have mild, moderate and sever special needs. She believes in kinesthetic, hands-on learning, instilling a love for learning in children and helping children find their passion. She strives to help students over come obstacles. Bari believes it is important for students to learn about themselves and develop confidence in their character and integrity as well as respect for others.

 

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Melissa L. Perez, First Grade Teacher, was born and raised in the Bronx. Her experience includes ten years at P.S. 196 in the Soundview neighborhood of the Bronx. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in Education from St. Thomas Aquinas College in 2001. She is currently working on her Masters of Science in Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) leading to professional certification. During her time at P.S. 196, Melissa taught second, third and fourth grades. In addition to being a general education teacher, Melissa spent two of her ten years teaching in a fourth grade inclusion classroom. She has worked with students who have a wide range of learning disabilities, speech and language impairments as well as emotional and behavioral disorders. She has also worked with students who have limited English proficiency and watched those students succeed through her systematic approach to teaching English. Melissa has spent significant time analyzing school-wide data and trends and was able to devise interventions to help the lowest achieving students. She has also assisted in the development and implementation of a third and forth grade curriculum based on these findings. She is trained in Balanced Literacy as well as many multi-sensory models. Melissa is committed to helping her students become successful through her innovative and creative approaches to teaching and learning.

 

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Kara Plassmann, Third Grade Teacher, joins the DREAM staff after teaching fifth grade math at in South Brooklyn. Kara graduated from Long Island University - CW Post Campus with a Bachelor’s Degree in Childhood Education. She is currently attending CUNY Hunter College, pursuing her Master’s Degree in Special Education. Kara strives to help her students to realize their potential through hard work, perseverance through challenges and strong character growth. She is looking forward to working with the DREAM faculty, staff and families to create a positive learning environment for all scholars.

 

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Katrina Ruiz, Intervention Specialist, was born and raised in Miami, Florida, entrenched in Cuban and Jewish culture. She attended the University of Florida and received a B.A. in English and Spanish Literature and her Masters in Education from the School of Education at Hunter College. She started as a first and second grade bilingual education Teach For America corps member in Miami-Dade. After her two-year commitment, Katrina decided to pursue her lifelong dream of living in New York City and moved in 2008 to be a 3rd grade learning specialist at Bronx Charter School for the Arts. Katrina joined DREAM in 2012 as a 2nd grade learning specialist and is now excited to transition into her new role as an intervention specialist for grades K-2.

 

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Lodoe Sangmo, Fifth Grade Teacher, earned a Bachelors of Science in Human Biology, Health and Society from Cornell University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Childhood Special Education at Brooklyn College. Born in Darjeeling, India, Lodoe moved to New York at age 10 and has since grown to become a proud New Yorker. At Cornell, Lodoe conducted research on cultural differences in childhood social cognition and worked with elementary school students in Ithaca, NY and Tanzania. Lodoe is deeply passionate about social justice and community-based advocacy and is incredibly excited to be part of a a school that upholds such values. Lodoe looks forward to building meaningful relationships with scholars and their families and immersing herself within the DREAM community.

 

 

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Sophia Spector, Middle School Art Teacher, was born and raised in Mamaroneck, NY. She studied English Literature and Studio Art at Gettysburg College. After receiving her BA degree, Sophia moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked as a fellow for the Corcoran College of Art and Design. There, she wrote lessons centric to the Corcoran Museum's permanent collection and taught as a guest educator at local inner city schools. Sophia returned to New York in 2012 to earn her Masters of Art Education from the College of New Rochelle. She is delighted to join the DREAM community as Middle School Art Teacher. Sophia believes in the power of art to foster personal growth, self-understanding, and constructive self-expression. She is excited to share her enthusiasm with DREAM's Scholars and discover the artist in each of them! 

 

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Liz Solaimanian, Middle School Science Teacher, is a native of Queens, NY. Liz has spent the last three years teaching high school science in Boston. As lead science teacher, Liz taught both ninth and tenth graders general science and biology. She began her teaching career after joining Teach for America in Massachusetts. Liz earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from SUNY Geneseo and her Master’s Degree in Education from Boston University. After spending some time away from New York, Liz is excited to be back in her hometown. She currently resides in Long Island City and is excited join the DREAM staff!

 

 

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Stephanie Villanueva, Kindergarten Teacher, joins DREAM after teaching at a Bronx public school. Born and raised in the Bronx, Stephanie enjoyed working with her community as a bilingual special education teacher. Stephanie attended Boston College where she received a bachelor of arts degree in communications and Hispanic studies. She then went to Emerson College where she received a masters in broadcast journalism. Stephanie's interpersonal skills and desire to work closely in a community, inspired her to apply to the New York City Teaching Fellows program in 2007. Her teaching path has led her to DREAM Charter School where she is excited to be a part of a highly effective and collaborative team dedicated to the growth and knowledge of every child. In addition to speaking Spanish, Stephanie is also taking American Sign Language classes in an effort to be able to communicate with students and families at DREAM and in East Harlem.  

 

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Sheree Williams, Kindergarten Teacher, began hercareer in education over 11 years ago in the East Harlem community as an AmeriCorps member working in an after-school setting, specifically for children residing in shelters. Sheree's ability to relate to the issues and obstacles that children in disadvantaged communities face helped her to become a teacher who models hard work and dedication. She continued her work at Harlem Day Charter School for 8 years in various roles, starting as an after-school teacher to an assistant teacher, a lead teacher and lastly a kindergarten grade level leader. As grade level leader, Sheree assisted new teachers to become acclimated to the classroom and develop their own unique and effective management and teaching style. She spent the last two years teaching at East Harlem Scholars Academy, serving as the founding kindergarten general/special education teacher.  Sheree earned a Bachelors of Arts from Touro College, where she studied Psychology and Education as well as a Masters of Science in Early Childhood Education and Special Education. She is extremely excited to be a part of the DREAM team and to continue to provide students with a nurturing and supportive environment that enhances their love of learning. 

 

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Brittany Zucker, Speech and Language Teacher, is excited to join DREAM this year as a speech and language therapist. Originally from Long Island, Brittany received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communicative Disorders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Master’s Degree in Speech and Language Pathology from Hunter College. She has had experience working with many children, ranging in age and communicative disorders, and has seen how her creativity and approachable personality have successfully elicited language in both fun and motivating ways. Brittany believes working collaboratively with DREAM staff and families is essential to ensuring that each of her scholars succeed and become life-long learners.

 

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Students thrive with individualized attention. DREAM has two teachers in every classroom.

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