2017 - 2018 AFSE Faculty » 2017 - 2018 AFSE Faculty

2017 - 2018 AFSE Faculty

Shawn Raeke
Principal (I.A.)

Shawn Raeke is the principal at AFSE. He has worked exclusively in urban educational settings and is driven by a strong commitment to achieve equitable outcomes for all students. He began his career in education in Richmond, California, as a substitute teacher in grades K - 12 before assuming a full-time position as a biology teacher the following year at De Anza High School in Richmond. In addition to teaching at De Anza, Shawn also served as coach for the basketball and golf programs. After four fulfilling years at De Anza, he transitioned to Oakland Technical High School in Oakland, California, where he taught biology. Over the course of seven years as a teacher at Oakland Tech, Shawn assumed a variety of roles, including golf coach, Summer Algebra Academy director, and chair of both the Science Department and Technology Committee. The opportunity to assume leadership roles was instrumental in the transition from the classroom to administration. Shawn was assigned the role of Assistant Principal at Oakland Tech after earning an M.A. in Educational Leadership at California State University East Bay in 2011. Responsibilities as assistant principal included school-site safety, test administration, Smaller Learning Community coordination, as well as discipline and academic counseling for 9th grade students. Shawn relocated to New York City in 2013 and assumed the role of Dean of Teacher Leadership at Lighthouse Academy in the Bronx (K - 5), where he was responsible for teacher development through coaching and professional development, assessment coordination and data analysis. The following year Shawn was an Assistant Principal at P.S. 181(K- 8) in Flatbush with an emphasis on improving school culture, facilitating professional development, and supporting teachers with instruction. Shawn earned a B.A. in Biology from the University of Virginia and graduated from Plymouth North High School in Massachusetts.
Melanie Mac
Assistant Principal

Melanie Mac is an Assistant Principal at AFSE. She began her teaching career eleven years ago with the belief that the language classroom is a powerful site for intercultural exchange and communication. Stemming from this belief, she developed project-based curricula for her English and French classes that provided opportunities for students to make meaningful cultural connections through personal contact with people in France, Togo, and Haiti. She believes that high school is an important time for students to develop leadership skills and to work with and learn from peers. She facilitated an advisory mentorship program between upperclassmen and underclassmen, developed a peer tutoring program for English language learners and, in her previous role as college advisor, trained and collaborated with 12th grade peer leaders to support their classmates in applying to college. In addition to her work with students, Melanie is dedicated to her own and fellow teachers’ ongoing professional learning. She supported individual, departmental and whole staff learning in her previous role as instructional coach at The Facing History School. Her professional learning has included training in facilitative leadership through Metro Learning Communities at New York University, a Fund for Teachers grant to study literacy instruction in rural Ecuador, and a Margot Stern Strom Innovation grant to study Haiti and the Dominican Republic's history of conflict and cooperation. She founded Project Nathanael with four other teachers in 2007, a collaboration with Haitian teachers at Institution Éducative Nathanael in Port-au-Prince to improve teaching and learning at the school. She earned her B.A. in French, Sociology, and Anthropology from Middlebury College and her M.S. in Teaching English as a Second Language from the City College of New York. She earned her Master's in Educational Leadership from Brooklyn College.
Culture & Community
Julia Eagan
Social Worker

From a very young age, Julia has had a strong calling to work with children and families. Julia received an athletic scholarship to play softball at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. She majored in psychology and graduated magna cum laude in 2003. After graduating, Julia moved to New York to pursue her M.S.W. at Columbia University. During her time at Columbia, she was able to focus on the development of her therapeutic clinical skills, specifically working with adolescents and families. After receiving her M.S.W., Julia went on to work at Mount Sinai Medical Center for seven years in the capacity of Pediatric Nephrology Clinician and School Based Health Therapist. Julia received the Mount Sinai Clinical Excellence Award at Mount Sinai hospital for her work with terminally ill children as well as a school based therapy program in a high school in East Harlem. Julia also offers a private practice for adolescents and families. Julia is extremely excited to be a part of the AFSE staff and contribute to the development of academically successful students that stand out because of their strong moral character
Counseling & College Office

Suzanne Zeitlin-Mellor
School Counselor - Upper Academy

Suzanne P. Zeitlin-Mellor is entering her 16th year in the New York City Department of Education. She began her career in 2000 as a special education teacher and moved into guidance work in 2007. Her move to becoming a guidance counselor came when she realized that happy, trusting, and informed young adults proved to be more successful students in school. She wanted to assist students with linking education and personal growth. Suzanne's greatest satisfaction is having students return back to see her sharing lively stories of adventures and success. Prior to her experience in education, Suzanne worked as a graphic designer at a magazine company and is excited to be able integrate education and technology back into her life. Her own education includes a B.A. of Fine Arts from Union College in Schenectady, NY, a M.A. in Special Education from The College of St. Rose in Albany NY, an Associates of Graphic Design from Parsons in NY, NY, and tons of extra coursework to successfully become certified and licensed as a school counselor.

Erbin Nunez
School Counselor - Lower Academy

Erbin Nuñez comes to us from the boogie down Bronx where he was born and raised. He received his Bachelors in Science degree for Technology Studies from SUNY Farmingdale on Long Island. It was there where he developed his passion for counseling and helping others as he served as an Education Opportunity Program peer counselor for four consecutive summers. He continued his education at CUNY Lehman where he earned his Master’s in counseling education. Erbin has worked with youth in a multitude of facets ranging from assisting overaged and under credited students find postsecondary options, as well as tending to their socio-emotional needs to working with traditional high school students in 9th -12th grade to develop early college awareness and navigate the college process.


Sharon Jacker
Business Manager

Sharon Jacker grew up near Chicago, and after graduating summa cum laude from Smith College in 2003 with degrees in Latin American Studies and Luso-Brazilian Studies, she moved to Brooklyn in 2007. She came to work for the New York City Department of Education to help a new, small high school get off of the ground and develop sustainable systems, and has been doing just that ever since. Her interest in education started when she volunteered in Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil and Honduras with Amigos de las Americas, a youth leadership non-profit, and saw first hand that learning in community was at the root of any lasting social change. In the NYC DOE, she started at the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School as it moved from landlocked Bushwick to Governors Island, then was a member of the founding team of a feeder middle school, Urban Assembly Unison School before joining the AFSE team. Sharon has worked as a tutor, translator, and editor, but always finds her way back to organizational development. Prioritizing the administrative work that happens behind the scenes allows educators to focus on instruction, and Sharon gets excited about streamlining processes to increase efficiency. Critical and detail oriented, Sharon applies these same approaches whether planning a trip with family, volunteering to help run a religious group, or searching online for yoga classes and dessert menus.

Stephanie Ambrose

Stephanie Ambrose is in her 19 year working for the NYC Department of Education. She has worked all 19 years at Washington Irving High School. She began her career as a family paraprofessional, then became a school secretary a year later. She attended Katharine Gibbs Business School In New York City to help her obtain her secretarial license. Stephanie has always loved working with children, from teenage babysitting to running a home day care when her three children were growing up. She loves servicing the students at school and makes her office a welcoming place. She is very excited to begin the new school year with the staff and students at the AFSE.

Ashley Cameron
Parent Coordinator

From a young age, Ashley Cameron knew she wanted to work in the Education field. Ignorant to all of the professions in Education, she assumed she wanted to be a teacher. However, interning with her English teacher and College Counselor in high school opened her mind to other prospects in Education. Ashley attended Albright College for two years where she fell in love with Psychology. Not willing to relent on working with children she began on a path that would allow her to merge the fields of Education and Psychology. After graduating Cum Laude with a B.A. in Psychology from Lehman College, Ashley began working as a Parent Coordinator at AFSE in 2014. She has gained a great deal of experience and skills in order thrive as a Parent Coordinator and work towards continuing her Education in School Counseling. Above all, Ashley is a very proud mother and makes sure she works to create a welcoming work & school environment that she would want her own children to experience. She is extremely excited to beat AFSE and looks forward to all of the amazing things our students will inevitably accomplish.

Amine Nagi
Community Assistant

David Yang
Technology Specialist

David is currently entering his fifth year with NYCDOE, and second year as full time staff with Academy for Software Engineering. David began his technology career as a CUNY intern supporting the following schools: Mott Hall II, Urban Assembly for Green Careers, and Academy for Software Engineering. David has 2 Associates Degrees in Computer Network Technology, and Business Management from City University of New York, and is working on his I.T. certifications. David's started his college education in State University of New York, and Temple University prior to finishing at City University of New York. Technology is David's alternate career goal. Prior to the economic crisis of 2008, David was contracted as a consultant on numerous projects providing financial and operational analysis to various investment banks, and stock exchanges. As an analyst, David worked very closely with middle office and back office operations by reconciling, validating, trade capturing and day trading activity in timely manner. Assist in resolving trade discrepancies caused from trade failures, breaks, etc. As a technology specialist, David will continue performing complex service functions in maintaining, troubleshooting, repairing or replacing computer components in stand-alone and network environments.

Brandon Brathwaite

Brandon Brathwaite has had various experiences and view points with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE). From family member who were/are teachers, to going through the NYCDOE school system, and later starting his professional career with them in December 2013. Since then, he has held multiple positions within the New York City Department of Education which has broaden his skills in in operations, event and budget management. In May of 2014, Brandon had attained a Bachelors of Science in Accounting from the City University of New York (CUNY) Medgar Evers College. He looks forward to using his background and expertise to bring value to the culture and daily operations at the Academy for Software Engineering.
Pauline Kehm

Pauline has over 25 years of experience in the corporate arena. As a VP of marketing in financial services, she helped senior executives throughout the U.S, Europe and Asia build business development and communication strategies. She has reached thousands of clients internationally through her workshops in sales, leadership, project management, communications, and other personal and professional development skills. Pauline is a graduate of the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), and an Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner. Her professional affiliations include the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). She is a past president of the American Business Women’s Association, NYC chapter and a current board member of the National Speakers Association NYC chapter.

Computer Science

Eric Allatta

Eric Allatta's educational philosophy is largely shaped by two major experiences: his studies at St. John's College and his time as an apprentice to a master luthier. At St. John's Eric studied the classics of the Western philosophic traditional, including four years of mathematics, working through the texts of great mathematicians from Euclid to Menkowski. At St. John's Eric actively participated in guiding the classroom discussion and learned to use dialogue as a core aspect of learning. As a life-long musicians and student of ancient tuning systems, Eric sought an apprenticeship in the art and craft of fine guitar making and repair. Working at Vizcarra Guitars Eric developed a an appreciation for intentionality, the flow of fine craftsmanship, and the empowering experience of making. He joined the New Visions for Public Schools/Hunter College Urban Teacher Residency Program, and began his teaching career that fall as an Algebra II/Trigonometry teacher at the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics. Eric earned his M.A. in Urban Adolescent Mathematics Education from Hunter College. Eric was on the founding faculty of AFSE as a math teacher, and is thrilled to be continuing this year as a computer science teacher.

Sean Stern

Sean Stern is a Computer Science teacher and the Career and Techincal Education Curriclum Leader at AFSE; he also facilitates the New York City Foundation for Computer Science Education's (CSNYC) Pedagogy Meetup. In addition to AFSE, he has taught at the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Programs. Prior to teaching, he worked as a software engineer at both Microsoft and Amazon, and continues to do engineering work for companies in New York City during the summer. He is a graduate of Princeton University with a degree in Computer Science. He is passionate about helping students build foundations in computer science that will allow them to shape future technologies to benefit themselves, their communities, and the world at large. To that end, he focuses on the development of curriculum and teaching practices in computer science that are both rigorous and engaging for all students.

Scott Bunin

Scott Bunin was raised in Long Island New York. His first career was in the United States Air Force where he worked on aircraft electrical and environmental systems. He spent a year repairing household electrical appliances to pay for college. He has earned an associate’s degree in Aircraft Electrical and Environmental Systems, A bachelor’s degree in science and a master’s degree in adolescent education. He has taught Biology, Earth Science, Technology, Robotics and Computer Science. He has been club advisor for Yearbook, Photography, Robotics, Computer and MouseSquad. He is currently Professionally Certified as a Work Based Learning Coordinator, General Science Teacher, Biology Teacher and Technology Teacher. His interests are in pedagogy, programming, robotics, fantasy/science fiction, and educational video games.


Meredith Towne

Meredith Towne entered the teaching field 8 years ago after a long career as a theatrical milliner, IATSE dresser and costume technician across the United States. Ms. Towne earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts at The University of Arizona in Theatre Production and design. Upon graduation, she was accepted to Seattle Repertory Theatre’s Professional Artists Training Program where she worked along side theatre professionals honing her craft. It was at The Rep where she discovered millinery and began to apprentice with two local milliners. Eventually her professional theatre life brought her to New York City where she created hats for Broadway, opera, and film. Meredith's transition to teaching as a natural one. She studied teacher at New York University where she earned her Master of Arts in Educational Theatre and English. After graduation, her first five years were spent as a founding teacher at an alternative NYC high school in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Ms. Towne joined AFSE in 2014 continuing to share her passion for both Theatre and English with our students as well as finding ways to integrate Computer Science into the classes she teaches! Over the last 8 years, Ms. Towne has been able to teach numerous workshops for teachers that encourage the integration of the arts into content area classrooms, one of her passions. Ms. Towne is a member of National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE). Last year she was selected to be a Model Teacher by the DOE/UFT and is passionate about supporting all teachers develop professionally and this fall she began the CLASS program for administration with New Visions and Hunter College.
Matthew Weintraub

Matthew Weintraub is a newcomer to the AFSE, but he could not be more excited to join such an impressive school with such wonderful students. He attended Rutgers University in pursuit of a degree in English. Soon after, he was accepted to attend Teachers College, Columbia University, eventually earning his M.A. in English Education. He's come to be believe that English is all about exploring what it means to be human through critical reading, writing, discussion, and thinking. In his free time, Matthew plays Ultimate Frisbee semi-professionally, enjoys reading novels and philosophy, writes poetry, and loves watching movies of all genres. He believes some essential ingredients for success in and out of the classroom are hard work, honesty, fun, open-mindedness, and the courage to grow.

Christine Thelen
Teacher ESL

Christine Thelen is an ESL teacher with over 12 years of experience teaching ESL. Christine attended Gettysburg College and the University of Rhode Island for undergraduate education, majoring in English and minoring in Spanish. She taught abroad in Mexico, on Long Island for Adelphi University's ELS Language Centers, and in Brooklyn at Kingsborough Community College before joining the DOE as a TESOL Teaching Fellow in 2012. She worked in a Bronx elementary school for two years before switching to the high school level in 2014. Christine is affiliated with the National Language Service Corps and volunteers as an ESL teacher through Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. She is looking forward to her second year at AFSE.

Nelson Arroyo

Nelson Arroyo is a Bronx native who is proud of his upbringing in the NYC public school system and is proof of how valuable a public education is. He was the first college graduate in his family as he excelled at every level of CUNY graduating with an Associates degree from the Borough of Manhattan Community College in 2012, a Bachelors degree in English from John Jay College in 2015, and is currently pursuing his Masters in Teaching at Hunter College. While this is his first year as a teacher, he is a part of the Urban Teacher Residency program that pairs 1st year teachers with experienced mentors and he will be lucky enough to work alongside Valerie Wynne. His background in youth development consists of being a summer youth camp counselor and coaching baseball, but what ultimately led to him choosing teaching as a career was how rewarding it was doing home work, tutoring and completing science projects with all of his twelve nieces and nephews. His main goals as an educator apart from sharing his love for literature is to provide avenues for all of his students to succeed academically and to nurture a cosmopolitan outlook that values the diversity in our classroom, school and the world we live in.
John Bernor

John Bernor grew up on the south shore of Long Island attending the local public school, as well as the area malls and beaches. He was constantly reading, whether it was a Sports Illustrated, a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, or the back of a cereal box. His love of literature flourished at Binghamton University where he earned a B.A. in English with a minor in history. After working various jobs in Dublin, Ireland, and Long Island, he moved to New York City fourteen years ago. His first job in the city was at The Strand bookstore, just a short walk from AFSE, where he returned a fair amount of his salary by buying books. John knew he wanted to work towards a meaningful and creative career. He returned to school for his Masters in Arts in Secondary Education in English at Hunter College and began teaching full-time at Belmont Preparatory in the Bronx while still enrolled. He taught freshman and sophomore English for five years at Belmont Prep and taught sophomore English and journalism for a year at Civic Leadership Academy in Elmhurst, Queens. For the next six years, John was teaching at a diverse arts magnet school, Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, in downtown New Haven, Connecticut, where he added AP Language and Composition into his teaching repertoire and infused the arts into his classroom. He has served a variety of teaching and leadership roles including as a Lead English Teacher at Co-Op and as a Curriculum Facilitator for New Haven Public Schools. He had a triumphant return to New York last year as he joined AFSE. In the 2017-2018 he will serve as Department Lead for the English Department.


Gabrielle Gayagoy

After 12 years as a magazine writer and editor in Columbus, Los Angeles and New York, Gabrielle Gayagoy decided to pursue her passion for education and social justice by becoming a special educator with New York City Teaching Fellows and AmeriCorps. Inspired by her four years as a mentor and writing and critical thinking advisor for Minds Matter, a mentoring program for high school students, Gab (pronounced "Gabe") taught humanities courses at Coalition School for Social Change, Harvey Milk High School and Richard R. Green High School of Teaching. Now at the AFSE, she brings a zest for learning as well as the practical experience of having worked for established brands ranging from Shape to Seventeen and companies such as Conde Nast and Hearst. She also has startup experience, having helped launch the first all-digital women’s lifestyle magazine VIVmag, where she covered psychology, technology and travel. As a New York City Writing Project Teacher Consultant, she’s excited to help all learners make meaningful connections to what they read and write in ELA and Global History at AFSE. She holds a B.A. in Journalism from The Ohio State University and a M.S. in Education from Hunter College. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, riding her bike, practicing yoga and enticing her cats Baby Troll and Lonely Jim to do somersaults.

Toni Ann Martino

Toni Ann attended SUNY Stonybrook where she majored in History and graduated with a Bachelors Degree in 2009. In 2010, Toni Ann started teaching in Sachem Central School District where she was a substitute teacher for three years growing as an educator and facilatating Relay For Life. This expereince taught Toni Ann how to teach history in a fun and engaging way while relating content to current events and fostering a love of learning. It is from this experience that Toni Ann comes to AFSE for her third year teaching Global History and Government.

Tom Bradway

After graduating from high school in the Hudson Valley, Tom Bradway joined the United States Army. Tom served five years in the Army in the Military Police Corps, serving in Germany and deploying twice to Iraq. Upon returning home, Tom attended SUNY Purchase College where he earned his Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Studies with a focus in Middle Eastern Studies. He then earned his MA in Teaching for History from Bard College.
Dan Noble


Cameron Cassidy

After graduating from Franklin & Marshall College, Cameron began his teaching career in 2004 through the New York City Teaching Fellows program and received his M.S. in Teaching at Pace University. After three years of teaching at ACORN High School for Social Justice in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, he took a step back from the classroom to mentor new teachers in the Math for America fellowship as a New Teacher Advisor. In 2009, he returned to teaching at Gotham Professional Arts Academy, a small project-based school also in Bedford-Stuyvesant where he worked closely with the math department to develop hands-on and inquiry-based projects to spark his students’ curiosity in math and science. In 2012, he obtained a partnership with NYU-Poly’s Applying Mechatronics to Promote Science through the Central Brooklyn STEM Initiative, allowing him to work with a graduate student in Electrical Engineering to develop labs and demonstrations using Robotics in the classroom, as well as create a Robotics club to compete in the citywide First Tech Challenge Robotics competition. In both 2009 and in 2013, he was awarded a four-year Master Teacher fellowship with Math for America, and in 2012 he was awarded the Sloan Award for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics and Science through the Fund for the City of New York and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. When not teaching, Cameron enjoys spending time with his wife, four-year old daughter Adeline, and 1-year old son Cullen, cooking and trying out new recipes, and training for marathons.

Ashley Ferrara

Ashley Ferrara's journey to becoming a math teacher started when she was four years old asking her dad to quiz her with math problems during car rides. Long after the days of car ride quizzes had ended, Ashley graduated with her Associates in General Studies from New York University and went on to major in accounting earning her B.S. at the University of Connecticut. After college, Ashley moved from Connecticut to New York City to start her job as an accountant at one of the big four accounting firms. After obtaining her Certified Public Accountant's license, she decided to leave the world of accounting and go into recruiting for the technology division at an investment bank. After a few years in the corporate world, Ashley pursued her desire to become a teacher. Ashley enrolled in Teachers College at Columbia University and immediately knew it was the right choice for her. She had two amazing student teaching experiences where she was able to bridge the gap between the world of mathematics and her students' lives. Ashley graduated in May 2012 from Teachers College at Columbia University with a M.A. in Mathematics Education. In 2013, Ashley received a four-year Early Career fellowship from Math for America. Ashley is proud to be a founding faculty member at AFSE and has enjoyed watching the school grow each year. She is looking forward to another fantastic year and AFSE's first graduating class!

Jonathan Rothman

Jonathan Rothman teaches mathematics and maker education at AFSE. He obtained a B.A in Biology and a minor in Native American Studies from the University of Montana, and a M.A. in Secondary Mathematics Education from Hunter College through the New Vision's Urban Teacher Residency. In 2014, he became an early career fellow with Math for America. An educator by nature (and family trade), he formalized his commitement to teaching 4 years ago after working as a biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admininstration for 6 years and playing music professionally for 4 years. A life-long learner, he's been pursuing academics and the arts since elementary school. Recently, he found that the engineering fields (science, math, technology, and design) allow him to bring his experience and passions for both together in the classroom. He hopes to help his students to develop a connection to their passions and goals, and see how they're connected to their community and the world at large. He loves: cycling, making music, furniture building and all manner of exploration.

Tim Hatlee

After graduating with a MS in Meteorology from Penn State and working as a scientist/programmer at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Tim quickly realized that his passion was found not in cubicles, but in classrooms. He entered teaching through Math for America, earning his MA in Secondary Math Education from the City College of New York. Tim has found a home at AFSE, having the opportunity to carry over his programming experience in programming into the math classroom. Combined with his BS in Mechanical Engineering fom Syracuse University, Tim enjoys being able to carry that real-world experience into his lessons to engage students. Going forward, he looks forward to developing AFSE's Calculus program as the school prepares students to enter STEM fields upon graduation.

Jaime Ross

Jaime Ross discovered her passion for teaching during her senior year at the University of Florida, where she received a Bachelors of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. Straight after graduation, Jaime attended Teachers College at Columbia University where she received her Masters in Art in Secondary Mathematics Education in May 2012. Her two student teaching experiences in New York proved to her that she had made the correct decision in becoming a High School Mathematics Teacher. She began her teaching career in St. Augustine Florida at Pedro Menendez High School. After one amazing year of teaching and coaching the swim team, Jaime missed the busy city life and decided to return to New York. She continued to teach and coach at her Alma Mater, Susan Wagner High School in Staten Island for 2 years. In 2014, Jaime received a four-year Early Career fellowship from Math for America. Jaime is excited to join the AFSE staff and students for the upcoming school year!

Deanna D'Antonio

Deanna D’Antonio has always been passionate about mathematics, learning, and helping others. However, she attributes her initial desires to teach to a few very special and motivational educators that helped her realize her potential. On a quest to do the same for other students, Deanna began her teaching career as an undergraduate at the University at Albany where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics & Spanish. She later built on her foundation of mathematics attending Teachers College, Columbia University and earning a Master of Arts in Secondary Mathematics Education. As a postgraduate student last year, Deanna advanced her teaching techniques by completing a TESOL certification extension through Queens College. Looking towards the future she is eager to continue her education by applying for a Math for America fellowship as an Early Career Teacher. Deanna is excited for the opportunity to grow professionally as a new member at AFSE and to share her love of learning with the AFSE community.

Tess Dul
Urban teacher Resident

Tess holds a Dual Bachelor's Degree from Muhlenberg College where she triple majored in mathematics, theatre, and music. She is also honored to be a member of their Phi Beta Kappa chapter. She has presented her research entitled "Mathemusical Intersections" at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research and hopes to eventually publish her findings. Tess decided to leave a brief career in theatre in order to join the movement toward improving public education for ALL students. She is in the process of getting her Master's Degree through the Urban Teacher Residency program in conjunction with Hunter College and New Visions for Public Schools. She is thrilled to join the AFSE team for her residency year and honored to work with her incredible mentor Tim Hatlee!


Ariadne Prior-Grosch

Ariadne Prior-Grosch developed her passion for teaching at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an ESL tutor for recent undocumented immigrants and as a global initiatives presenter in NC public schools. At UNC, she earned her B.S. in Environmental Science and participated in the Carolina Student-Athlete Leadership Academy as a captain of the varsity fencing team. During college, she taught 7th grade mathematics and trained teachers to use computers in Namibia, Africa as a WorldTeach volunteer. After college, she led marine ecology field trips on Nantucket, taught Spanish to children, and worked for two years in Panama for a conservation NGO training rural farmers in organic agriculture techniques, teaching English and environmental education in a village school, and leading rainforest expeditions for groups of American high school students. In 2013, Ariadne earned her M.S. in Environmental Policy and M.A.T. in Biology from Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Her experiences student teaching in upstate New York and in the South Bronx solidified her desire to teach in New York City. Ariadne teaches Living Environment, Environmental Science, and Forensics courses at AFSE. Ariadne is also the Vice President of Few for Change, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships that enable indigenous students in Panama to stay in school.

Anna Bute

Anna Bute is has always loved science and found a love of the ocean during high school. As a proud Nebraskan, she didn’t get to see the ocean much so she decided to head to the coast for her post-secondary education. She started school at Clemson University where she studied Chemistry and then transferred in her Sophomore year to the University of Washington – Seattle where she earned her B.S. in Aquatics and Fisheries Science. During college, she had the opportunity to study oceanography and water quality in Kosrae, Micronesia and sail around New Zealand looking at plastic pollution. After college she moved to New York where she earned her Masters in Teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education. The past summer she was selected to be a fellow for Columbia University Summer Research Program for Teachers and she got to work in the Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Laboratory researching cartilage growth.

Erin Cunningham

Erin Cunningham graduated from New York University. After a number of years fundraising for nonprofits, she discovered her true calling working with youth as a volunteer leader for New York Cares projects. Erin was accepted to the New York City Teaching Fellows Biology Immersion program and is thrilled to combine a life-long love of science with her passion for teaching and working with youth. She is very excited to join the staff of AFSE.

Marlon Jansen

Marlon Jansen immigrated to NYC as a pre-teen and grew up in Queens. He is a proud graduate of the NYC public school system and The City University of New York (CUNY). He is the first member of his family to graduate from college and is currently pursuing his Masters in Education at Hunter College. Marlon is a former Urban Teacher Resident with a background in biomedical research. Before joining AFSE he was an Adjunct Professor in Biology at Hunter College of The City University of New York, where he researched neurodegenerative disorders of the brain. Marlon has more than 12 years of experience teaching at the college level, and he currently teaches AP Biology and Human Anatomy and Physiology to students at AFSE. An avid fan of American football, European soccer, British television, and Japanese Anime, Marlon is also an excellent cook. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology and a minor in Chemistry from Hunter College, CUNY.
Physical Education
Ryan Strub

Ryan Strub attended the College of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx, where he majored in Physical Education and participated in a competitive Division 3 athletic program as a starting pitcher for the baseball team. The experience of playing a sport from his childhood throughout his undergraduate studies was instrumental to his ability to maintain a healthy balance between academics and athletics. A quality he consistently preaches and urges his student athletes to achieve. After graduating and receiving his B.S. in Physical Education K-12, Ryan went on to teach the pre-school age child for three years at the Great South Bay YMCA. These three years helped to strengthen his knowledge of both the physical and academic abilities for students of all ages. He has also just obtained his M.A. in Health Education from Adelphi University, strengthening his knowledge of not just the physical health of his students, but their social and emotional health as well. In addition to his 4 years of teaching experience, he is also the head coach for the Irving Campus Bulldogs Handball team. Ryan not only practices, but understands the importance of living an active and healthy lifestyle which he aims to inspire his students to incorporate into their lives. He is proud to be part of the founding staff of the AFSE and is excited to begin the new school year.

John Ciotola

John Ciotola studied and completed his Physical Education degree at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. Beginning in September 2014 John began his teaching career at the Academy for Software Engineering. Beginning during his college career and continuing through his professional career, Mr. Ciotola has coached youth basketball and football in Brooklyn, NY. Through both coaching and teaching, John has gained extensive knowledge in sport/exercise psych, as well as youth management and organization.

Michael DelFino

Michael DelFino is a bassist from Brooklyn, New York who began his career as a self taught musical before pursuing a Masters in Music Education from Hunter College. His practice time often focuses on music theory, composition, performance technique and music production. His personal professional and academic experiences in the music field has refined his technical skills. Mike has also build an extensive repertoire in the jazz, classical and funk genres; performing and studying with great musicians such as Ryan Keberle, Lenny Pickett, Paul Carlon and Priscilla Owens as well as managed and toured with original bands. Michael continues to perform and compose in the rock, jazz and funk languages in a professional setting with original projects such as Circadian Clock and Deep Pockets. Michael's career goals for starting a music program at AFSE are student centered and include a practical course in music theory/production for the modern musician, as well as implementing an after school performance club in affiliation with Amp Up and Little Kids Rock.

Foreign Language - Spanish

Susan Bodok

Susan received her Bachelor's in Spanish and French from NYU, a post-graduate certificate in ESL from Hunter College, and a master's of library science in school media from LIU. After Gaining valuable experience as a bilingual teen and school librarian in public libraries, dual language and ESL public schools, she is looking forward to teaching Spanish and ESL and learning from AFSE's amazing high school students, strongly skilled in coding lnaguages, technology, and duture leaders and role models of success.
Special Education

Joseph Spiteri

The 2015-2016 school year will be Joseph Spiteri's 8th year in education. After graduating high school and deciding to bypass culinary school, where he orignally had planned to go, he decided he would become a teacher to help students who had difficulty in school, just like he did growing up. He attended Long Island Univeirsty; C.W.Post Campus, where he recieved his Bachelor of Science in Education. He continued his education by earning a masters in Special Education at Hofstra University and an administration credential at Massachussets College of Liberal Arts. Before joing AFSE in 2014, he taught on Long Island for two years followed by 4 years at a high school in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It is in Bushwick where he says his real passion for working with struggling students was solidified. On top of his teaching responsabilities, he has worked an IEP coordinator for the last 3 years. Mr.Spiteri is also a professional photographer who has a background working in music, fashion and event photography. He has had the priviledge of working with some of the biggest names in the field and is excited to create a bridge between our school and the photography industry. He brings his passion for the arts to AFSE. In 2014, he was a founder of the school photography collective and plans to expand the program tremendously. Outside of teaching and photography, he enjoys running, watching Yankees baseball, cycling, playing guitar and hanging out with his family and friends; all who live and work either on Long Island or one of the 5 boroughs and keep him busy.
Kendra Brathwaite

Kendra Brathwaite was raised in Central Brooklyn in an extended family of teachers from various disciplines who have inculcated in her the love for children, the fundamentals of hard work, a sense of achievement, and a standard for excellence. In high school at Middle College High School at Medgar Ever College, Kendra became very interested in Computer Programming and Business and decided to pursue these subjects in college as a major and minor. After graduating in 2009 from Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts with a B.A. in Management Information Systems, she worked in the business realm for four years where she learned a host of transferable skills that would benefit her in the future. During these years, she realized where her true passion lies and what her gifts were; she wanted to work with inner-city youth. Kendra decided to become a teacher because she saw a lack of empowerment in youth of color and felt strongly that as a teacher she could help provide support to students who lack the privilege of resources. After this epiphany, she applied for the New York City Teaching Fellows where she was accepted to become a Special Education Teacher. When Kendra joined the AFSE family, she was extremely thrilled that she was hired by a diverse school, which valued Computer Science and the empowerment of students as much as she did. In July 2015, Kendra completed her M.S. Ed in Teaching Urban Adolescents with Disabilities, Generalist (Grades 7-12), from Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York. Going into her third year of teaching, Kendra continues to find different ways to advocate for her students and help prepare them for College & Career. Recently, Kendra has participated in programs such as Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) and CTE Summer Scholars, which are geared to helping students become entrepreneurs, teach students coding (HTML & CSS), and help provide internship opportunities to help students become career ready. Her ultimate goal is to open a center dedicated to the empowerment and development of young men in the local community.

Stephanie Iovan

Stephanie Iovan graduated from Western Michigan University in 2012. Her experiences traveling and studying abroad greatly influenced where she is today- teaching 9th and 10th grade math at AFSE. Wanting to see the world and experience a culture other than her own, Stephanie spent time volunteering at two orphanages in Arusha, Tanzania. Teaching elementary age students while also caring for orphaned infants had a huge impact on Stephanie’s life goals. Since then, Stephanie continued actively contributing to her community as well as others in need. Having spent 8 months studying abroad in Jerusalem, Israel, during her college years, she decided to go back as a service corps fellow working in community gardens across the country. This included developing after-school programs for children of the communities, such as art projects, music sessions, educational activities, and more. This experience inspired her to apply to New York City Teaching Fellows, and once accepted, she took jumped into the opportunity with vigorous excitement. Stephanie will be starting her third year as a math and Special Education teacher at AFSE and is thrilled to be a part of AFSE's first graduating class!

Samara Pelt

Samara Pelt attended the City College of New York, where she received her Bachelors Degree in Economics and Secondary English. In June 2013, Samara was accepted into the NYCTF program, where she began developing her teaching practices. During that time she was enrolled at St. John’s University; completing her Masters in Secondary Education. During her first year of teaching, Samara worked as a bridged self- contained middle school teacher in Brooklyn. Samara joined the AFSE family in August 2014. She believes that each student is unique and learns best when teachers are passionate about content, and the materials are realistic. As students love and respect themselves, others, and their environment, they will begin to value and appreciate their education.

Emily Bell

Emily Bell has her Bachelor's of Science in Business Administration from Fordham University and is pursuing her Master's in Teaching at Hunter College. Last year, Emily was an Urban Teacher Resident at AFSE and is excited to be a full-time Special Education Teacher at AFSE this year! Emily has had a passion for working with youth since mentoring and tutoring teenagers in the Bronx at Fordham. Emily has always been interested in helping others and began her career in the non-profit realm as a Dominican Volunteer at St. Leonard's minisitries in Chicago, IL where she ran a reading group and speaker series with formerlly incarcerated adult residents. When she moved back to NYC, Emily continued to focus on helping others through a fundraising position at Goodwill Industries of NY & NJ supporting job training programs for individuals with disabilities. Throughout her non-profit career, Emily volunteered with youth in NYC via nycTIES, iMentor, and Drive Change which allowed her to see the importance and impact positive relationships can have on youth from every background. Emily pursued teaching to become more of a consistent role model for youth in NYC through providing quality education, building strong relationships and challenging youth to be their most successful selves. Emily is grateful to be able to work with the amazing and collaborative staff at AFSE to serve, teach, and learn from our students.

Charles Mendoza

Charles Mendoza is entering his fifth year teaching in the New York City public school system. After recieving a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Boston University, he moved back to his home state of Arizona where he worked for two years as a political consultant. Among the various campaigns he worked on, Charles felt especially inspired working with the local education community to secure much needed funding and taught members of the adult behavioral health community the importance of political advocacy. These experiences motivated Charles to pursue a career as an educator. He moved to New York City where he joined the NYC Teaching Fellows and obtained a Master of Science in Special Education from Hunter College. Charles not only has a passion for teaching and his students, but he is also a diehard fan of playing and watching soccer and never misses an Arizona Wildcats college basketball game.

Angela Rivera

After tutoring Chemistry to her peers in high school, Angela grew an affinity for helping others in need. During her matriculation at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas, she spent the summer of 2008 working as a Park Ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park. Responsible for designing and delivering four interpretive programs to the public, she got her first taste of what it was like to create lessons and teach them to others. She was later awarded an Interpretation Certification by the Department of Interior for effective communication of national park objectives through her programs on environmental conservation. After graduating in 2010 with her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations, she relocated to New York City and inundated herself into the world of technology as a Project Manager for a few New York City telecommunications firms. During this time, she began pursuing a Master of Arts in International Relations with a focus in security policy, solidifying her passion for understanding and ameliorating global humanitarian issues. In 2013, she was accepted into the New York City Teaching Fellows to teach special education to urban adolescents. She graduated with a Master of Science in Education in June 2015. The experience has been so rewarding that she will continue working with the NYC Teaching Fellows as a teaching coach, developing other passionate educators, harnessing their desire for helping others.

Lewis Callender
Teaching Fellow

Lewis Callender is a familiar face taking on a new role within the school community. Lewis has been a part of the AFSE family for the past 3 years as a paraprofessional. These experiences working with children living with disabilities influenced Lewis to enter the NYC Teaching Fellows program after graduating from CUNY Medgar Evers College. Lewis is currently pursuing his Masters degree in Teaching Urban adolescents with Disabilities. His goal as an educator is to help students living with disabilities develop both academically and socially.

Marco DiBenedetto
Urban Teacher Resident

A Yonkers, NY native, Marco is extremely proud of his upbringing in a multi-cultural home. He is first generation American, and comes from a household which includes Italian and Argentine heritage. Because of his mixed background, he speaks three languages fluently, including Spanish, English, and Italian. Marco has a strong passion for cultures, languages, people, and travel. He obtained his Bachelor's Degree from Iona College, where he majored in economics, and also obtained a minor in political science. He has always had a passion for teaching and education, but life had other plans. After college, he entered the corporate world, and finally realized that teaching was the right path. His love for teaching came about after a wonderful experience as a tutor and camp counselor in which he worked with immigrant children teaching them English. This experience proved invaluable, and changed his life. He is currently part of the Urban Teaching Residency Program, and is currently attending Hunter College to obtain his Master's Degree in Special Education. He is very excited to be a part of the wonderful team at AFSE, and hopes he can make positive contributions to the school.

Kelsey Thomas

Kelsey received her undergraduate degree from Wells College in Aurora, New York. During this time she had the privilege of spending a year studying in Paris under various professional artists and historians. Her well-rounded liberal-arts education helped her build her critical thinking, problem solving, and collaborative skills that she uses in the classroom today. After graduation, Kelsey moved to NYC and worked on various TV shows and Films in both the Production and Art Departments. In 2014, Kelsey shifted her career to focus on education, joining the NYC Teaching Fellows and teaching middle school in East New York, Brooklyn for two years. She received her M.S in Urban Education Teaching Students with Disabilities (grades 7-12) in May of 2016. After giving a friend feedback on their start-up; she has been entering the ‘tech’ world as a Design Consultant on a software networking application.

Aaron Mednick
Urban Teacher Resident


Mai-Len Kennedy
Program Manager

Mai-Len is a native New Yorker who has a strong passion for youth development and community service. Since joining the iMentor team in 2015 she has exclusively worked with 12th grade cohorts. She ensures that 12th graders are recieving the attention and care needed to develop a strong post secondary plan through college readiness classes once a week. She also provides guidance and resources to mentors who have been matched with the 12th graders who are also supporting them towards their post secondary goals. Mai-Len is looking forward to seeing the class of 2018 achieve high accomplishments this year! Mai-Len hold a B.A in Sociology and Spanish from Drew University.

Louise Eason
Program Manager

Louise Eason is a proud Brooklyn native who has been with the iMentor organization since 2015. As a program manager, she has taught the 9th, 11th and 12th grade curriculum. She ensures that both mentors and mentees are successful at communicating and building sustainable relationships that support student growth. Previously, Louise served as a science and reading teacher at Achievement First Apollo Elementary School in Brooklyn, NY. Additionally, Louise spent 4 years teaching middle school English at IS 286 (Renaissance Leadership Academy) in Harlem. Louise holds a B.A. in English from The City University of New York: Medgar Evers College and a M.A. in Urban Adolescent Education from Long Island University.

Aaron Cole
Program Manager