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A Time to Say Good Luck and Welcome

Friday, June 2, 2017

News about changes in staffing will be shared with students on Monday, June 5. We ask that families wait until Monday afternoon to discuss these changes with their children so that Monday's morning meeting remains a common experience for all the students in a class.

Every year, a few Manhattan Country School faculty members are ready to move on. Some have completed their training at MCS; others have personal and professional reasons. Our community has been made richer by their presence, making it hard to say goodbye. We wish the following colleagues well in their new endeavors:

  • Yannique Benitez, assistant teacher 5-6s Sur, will work as a teacher in New Jersey.
  • Olivia Kurz, Lower School science teacher, is moving to California.
  • Nicole Kummer, 8-9s teacher, will teach 3-4s at Merricats Castle Preschool.
  • Christy Riess, Afterschool assistant, plans to continue her education.
  • Aimee Ostensen, farm curriculum and outreach coordinator, is pursuing new opportunities.

In addition:

  • Debbie Roth, 8-9s teacher, will be back in a part-time position.
  • Dawn Newman, Lower School resource teacher, will be on leave for the fall and will return to MCS in the Spring.

A couple of the new faculty members will be assigned to additional classes planned for MCS’ growth. Others replace the faculty who are moving on. You’ll get to know them in September. In the meantime, here are brief descriptions of their backgrounds.

Gregory Rubin – Assistant Teacher, Lower School

Gregory Rubin is an educator, tutor and musician with many years of experience working with children. Greg’s journey into the education world began at Brooklyn’s ConstructionKids, where he worked as a senior educator leading field trips, after-school activities and summer programs. Following his time at ConstructionKids, he worked at Studio Creative Play as a teacher/facilitator for children ages 3 to 7 and as a private tutor. He is currently a kindergarten teaching assistant at PS 321 in Brooklyn, working with two different kindergarten classes on a rotating basis. Greg received a BA in English from Yale University and is currently working on his MSEd degree at Brooklyn College.

Amabel Japitana - Assistant Teacher, Lower School

Amabel Japitana is an educator with more than a decade of experience. After graduating from Ateneo de Manila University with a bachelor’s degree in communications, Amabel began her career in education working as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language first in the Philippines and then in Bahrain. After returning to the Philippines, she worked both as an assistant teacher and then as a head teacher at a progressive, Bank Street-inspired preschool in Manila. Subsequently, she enrolled at Bank Street Graduate School of Education and completed her MSEd degree. She is currently a 4-5s assistant teacher at the Bank Street School for Children.

Qing Zhuang - Resource Teacher, Lower School

Qing Zhuang is an educator, visual artist and children’s book illustrator with a wide range of experience. After earning her BFA in illustration from Maryland Institute College of Art, Qing worked in media publishing and distribution. Her love for children’s literature, storytelling and illustration led her to enroll in the School of Visual Arts, where she earned a Master of Arts in teaching. A lover of all forms of storytelling, Qing often draws from her experiences as a young immigrant from China to enrich her work, both in the classroom and the studio. She is currently the K-5 art teacher at Global Community Charter School in Harlem, where she introduces students to culturally diverse art traditions, and leads the production of costumes and props for the school’s spring musical.

Cosima Higham – 8-9s Teacher

Cosima Higham is an educator with many years of experience working with children. After earning her BA in art history from Bucknell University, Cosima worked in IT and graphic design. During her time working as a freelance graphic designer, Cosima enrolled in the Bank Street College of Education, where she completed her MSEd degree in childhood general education. While working on her master’s degree, Cosima completed her student teaching in both public and independent New York City schools in addition to working as a teaching assistant at Bank Street College. For the past two years, she has been teaching at Brooklyn Friends School as both an assistant and head teacher for third and fourth grades. She is currently the fourth grade head teacher at Brooklyn Friends School.

Ian Weill – Lower School Science Teacher

Ian Weill is an educator and agriculturalist who has been MCS’ Upper School resource teacher since 2014. Ian earned a BA in elementary dducation from Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. During his undergraduate years, Ian worked in a variety of roles around the Boston area, including swim teacher/lifeguard, summer camp aide, garden coordinator and campus ministry service trip leader to the Dominican Republic. After graduating, Ian worked as a paraprofessional in a fifth grade classroom at Cambridgeport School in Massachusetts. Ian’s love for travel then led him to China, where he taught English, and then to Thailand, where he worked as a farm intern at an elephant camp and organic farm. After returning to the U.S., Ian joined MCS as Upper School resource teacher. In addition, he taught electives, coordinated after-school sports and Upper School gardening, and led farm trips. He is currently working on his M.Ed degree in environmental education and sustainability at Antioch University New England.

One new position has been created: a Learning Specialist, who will work with Lower and Upper School directors as well as other members of the support team.

Bonnie Greenwald – Learning Specialist

Bonnie Greenwald is a special education teacher, tutor and learning specialist with more than two decades of experience. Bonnie’s career in education began after she earned her BA from the University of Massachusetts and her MS in special education from Bank Street College of Education. For eight years, she worked for the NYC DOE as both a special education teacher and an inclusion teacher at public schools around the city. Toward the end of her time working for the DOE, Bonnie enrolled at Bank Street College once again to earn her Ed.M degree and subsequently went on to work as a learning specialist at Cathedral School. She has been the academic liaison at The School at Columbia University since 2005.