Every year at this time we prepare to say goodbye to a few members of the Manhattan Country School community and welcome some new members in the fall.
- Flannery Denny, Upper School math coordinator, is moving to Louisiana.
- Kerry Devine, 7-8s head teacher, is starting a new teaching position at Corlears School.
- Lynn Haroldson, textiles teacher, is retiring after 35 years at MCS.
- Chloe Morin, assistant to the Lower and Upper School directors, is moving to California.
- Joe Paine, assistant cook, is moving back to Maine to study to become a teacher.
- Katie Patterson, school nurse, is moving to the Boston area with her family.
- Gregory Rubin, 5-6s assistant, will be teaching in public school.
- Karen Zaidberg, sixth-grade teacher, is moving to Seattle and will be teaching at Overlake School.
- Amabel Japitana, 6-7s assistant, and Ambreen Satia, 7-8s assistant, are leaving MCS, but have not yet finalized their future plans.
The following staff members will be taking on new roles in the fall:
- Gregory Bednarsh ’07, farm-based education intern and MCS alumnus, is joining the MCS Kitchen staff as the kitchen assistant.
- Romina Dedvukaj, kitchen assistant, is stepping into the role of assistant cook.
- Max Fletcher, 6-7s assistant, is moving into a 7-8s co-head teacher role.
- Donna McDaniel, cooking teacher, is moving into the position of textiles teacher at the Farm
- Dawn Newman ’98, Lower School resource teacher, will be back in a part-time position.
We are excited to welcome the following people to the MCS staff this fall:
Stephanie Bloom, School Nurse
Stephanie has nursing degrees from Boston College and the University of Pennsylvania. She has been a nurse for more than 20 years and a nurse practitioner since 2005. For much of her nursing career, she has focused on intensive care and neurology. Most recently she worked as a school nurse at Trinity School, where she fell in love with school nursing.
Gillian Christian, Lower School Assistant
Gillian is an elementary educator, certified literacy specialist, and a Spanish-language and TESOL educator. During her undergraduate studies at Wheaton College, she worked as a teacher aide and English tutor for low-income children in Seville, Spain, in addition to working as a summer camp counselor in New Jersey. She completed her undergraduate student teaching in a bilingual second-grade class at a Title I school in Illinois, where she designed and taught lessons in both Spanish and English before graduating in May 2016 with a dual degree in childhood education and Spanish-language education. Straight from college, Gillian relocated to New York City to enroll at Teachers College, Columbia University, from which she just graduated with a master of arts, literacy specialist degree. During her time in graduate school, she worked as an associate teacher in first- and third-grade classrooms at The School at Columbia University.
Jessica Contreras, 8-9s Head Teacher
Jessica is an elementary educator with 12 years of experience teaching in New York City classrooms. After graduating from SUNY New Paltz with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish in 2005, Jessica honed her skills in numerous schools and summer camps. At the International School of Brooklyn, she created and implemented a summer arts-based Spanish-immersion curriculum for children ages 4-to-10 years old. In 2010, she began working as an assistant teacher at Friends Seminary, in both kindergarten and first grade classrooms. In 2013 Jessica graduated from CUNY Hunter College with a master’s degree in childhood education, and soon after began teaching at Williamsburg Northside Schools (WNS), launching the first third-grade classroom as the school expanded. As the first third-grade head teacher, she developed and shaped the student-centered curriculum inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. Additionally, while at WNS she served as the school’s service learning coordinator and also as a founding member of the Inclusivity Task Force.
Rosalinda Glennon, 7-8s Co-Head Teacher
Rosalinda is an elementary and visual-arts educator with more than five years of experience teaching in both public and independent schools. Rosalinda graduated from The City College of New York with a bachelor’s degree in Art Education in 2012, and subsequently worked as a surface design instructor for a summer arts program and as assistant art teacher in a K-5 New York City public school. For two years she taught at The Dalton School as an kindergarten associate teacher, where she integrated art concepts into everyday lessons with hands-on activities. For the past two years, she has taught in fourth- and second-grade classrooms as an associate teacher at the Bank Street School for Children, where she also served as a facilitator for the Kids of Color affinity group and taught a racial justice and advocacy unit. She is currently finishing up her graduate studies at Bank Street College of Education, from which she will graduate with a dual master’s degree in childhood general and special education.
Maryam Gonzalez, Lower School Assistant
Maryam is an early childhood educator and certified child life specialist. She earned her bachelor’s degree in human development and family sciences from The University of Texas at Austin, and her master’s degree in family and child studies from Texas State University. She worked as a child life specialist from 2007 to 2013, first at a children’s medical center in Austin, Texas, and later at Mount Sinai’s Children’s Hospital. She recently graduated from CUNY Brooklyn College with a master’s degree in early childhood education, and completed her student teaching and fieldwork at both public and independent New York City schools. From 2016 to 2017 she was a kindergarten teaching assistant at P.S. 321 in Brooklyn, and since the fall of 2017 has been teaching at MCS as a student teacher in the 6-7s and a part-time resource teacher in the Lower School.
Kevin Hershey, Lower School Resource Teacher
Kevin is an early childhood educator with more than four years of experience working with children in schools and community organizations. After Kevin graduated from the University of Portland with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish in 2012, he worked as a food justice advocate at a community center in Minneapolis. There he designed and implemented a food justice curriculum for low-income teenagers and co-facilitated a culinary arts program for unemployed adults and teens. From there Kevin moved to New York City and worked at a community meditation center in Brooklyn, facilitating more than 30 arts-based anti-violence workshops in public school classrooms and community centers for students ages 7 to 21 years old. Soon after, he began his graduate studies at Bank Street College of Education, where he also worked as a math club facilitator for small groups of kindergarteners in three public schools as part of a city-wide research project. For the past two years, Kevin has taught as an associate teacher in a second-grade classroom at Ethical Culture Fieldston School.
Tiffani Lynch, Sixth-Grade Teacher
Tiffani is an elementary and middle school educator with several years of experience in public and independent schools in Arizona and New York City. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in special education and elementary education from Arizona State University. Most recently, Tiffani was a learning specialist at Riverdale Country School, where she also was a co-advisor for the middle school dance team. Prior to Riverdale she was a special education teacher at Coyote Ridge Elementary School in Glendale, Arizona.
Ava Tattelman Parnes, Sixth-, Seventh- and Eighth-Grade Math Teacher
Ava is a middle school educator with more 10 years of classroom experience. She has a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Yale University and a master’s degree middle school mathematics and science from Lesley University. Ava completed her formal teacher training at Shady Hill School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In addition, she has worked as a science apprentice at Watertown Middle School in Watertown, Massachusetts and has spent 12 years working at Camp Killooleet, a progressive summer camp in Hancock, Vermont run by Pete Seeger’s family. Ava has spent the last five years working at Rodeph Sholom School as a middle school math and science teacher.
This article was updated at 3:53 p.m. on June 2, 2018 to include Donna McDaniel's transition to a new position.
Manhattan Country School Director Michèle Solá is among the 150-plus heads of independent schools in New York City and across New York State who have signed an open letter to the president and the country’s lawmakers against gun violence. The letter, which appeared in the February 25, 2018 issue of The New York Times calls for “thoughtful and forceful legislation” to make schools safer.
The text of The New York Times letter:
Heads of School Speak Out Against Gun Violence
An Open Letter to the President and Our Nation's Legislative Leaders
As Heads of Independent Schools in the New York City metropolitan area and across New York State, responsible for the education and physical safety of tens of thousands of children, we are heartbroken over the recent massacre in Parkland, Florida. We stand in support of the Parkland survivors and their efforts to effect change.
It was five years ago last month we wrote following the massacre at Newtown, Connecticut. Sadly, we have seen too many school shootings since cut short too many innocent lives with little to no change in gun laws. But the horrific dimensions of the Parkland tragedy are so profound that we are compelled to rise up again and say, "Enough!" As the recent events in Parkland and the scenes of other mass shootings teach us, the easy and virtually unrestricted availability of highly lethal, semiautomatic assault weapons and ammunition places our schools in jeopardy, most especially our children.
We implore you, Mr. President and our national legislative leaders, to do everything necessary to stem this tide of senseless gun violence. Address, and ultimately deny, unrestricted access to weapons and ammunition that have no legitimate sporting or recreational purpose. Recognize that the proliferation of military-grade guns and assault-style ammunition leads to more gun violence and more gun deaths. The statistics are compelling and cannot be ignored.
The United States leads the world in the number of guns per capita; it leads in homicides, suicides and accidental deaths involving guns; and it leads the world in the number of children killed by guns, every year. In these grim statistical categories, no nation comes close to our level of violence and gun-related death. The United States of America can and must do better.
Now is the time to take action. As educators, we believe in the United States Constitution. We also believe our country need not choose between the protection of responsible gun ownership and the prevention of gun violence and that both can be achieved through thoughtful and forceful legislation.
Never before have so many Independent School leaders in our region spoken with one voice on behalf of a single issue. We are moved to do so out of a duty to our students and all of our nation's children and we find inspiration in the voices and actions of the students who are refusing to go about business as usual. We stand ready to help in this effort, and encourage our colleagues leading schools across the country to join us. Above all, we demand that reason and compassion prevail.
We are Heads of schools serving children from nursery through high school. We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We are parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. We are responsible for the education, safety and welfare of children each and every day, and we know the time for action is now.
Heads of Schools (Listed Alphabetically)
John Allman, Trinity School
Concepcion Alvar, Marymount School of New York
Jessica Bagby, Ethical Culture Fieldston School
John Baldi, Vincent Smith School
Bart Baldwin, St. Luke’s School
Audrius Barzdukas, Poly Prep Country Day School
Mimi Basso, West Side Montessori School
Alan Bernstein, Lawrence Woodmere Academy
John Botti, Browning School
Micaela Bracamonti, The Lang School
Susan Braun, Waldorf School of Garden City
Bodie Brizendine, The Spence School
John Buck, Long Island Lutheran
Paul Burke, Nightingale-Bamford School
Frank J. Carnabuci III, Birch Wathen Lenox School
Brian Carty, De La Salle Academy
Drew Casertano, Millbrook School
Maria Castelluccio, Léman Manhattan Preparatory School
Carrie Catapano, West End Day School
Ken Catrone, Soundview Preparatory School
Benedict Chant, Poughkeepsie Day School
Joseph J. Ciancaglini, Convent of the Sacred Heart
David S. Ciancimino, Canisius High School
Chad Cianfrani, Oakwood Friends School
John Cissel, Harbor Country Day School
Pam Clarke, Doane Stuart School
Bill Clough, Nichols School
Donna Cohen, International Preschools
Virginia Connor, St. Hilda’s and St. Hugh’s School
Angela Coombs, Academy of St. Joseph
Bob Cunningham, Robert Louis Stevenson School
Melissa Dan, School of the Holy Child
Laura Danforth, The Masters School
Eileen Davidson, The Ursuline School
George P. Davison, Grace Church School
James Dawson, Professional Children’s School
William DeHaven, Winston Preparatory School
Andre Del Valle, George Jackson Academy
Bruce L. Dennis, Packer Collegiate Institute
Christopher Devron, Fordham Preparatory School
William Donohue, Columbia Grammar and Prep
Jesse Dougherty, The Green Vale School
Dianne Drew, Dwight School
Ariela Dubler, Abraham Joshua Heschel School
Jim Dunaway, Manilus Pebble Hill School
David Egolf, Corlears School
Caroline Erisman, Cornelia Connelly Center
Gina Farrar, Blue School
Charles Fasano, Bay Ridge Preparatory School
Anthony G. Featherston IV, The Town School
Dean S. Foster, Hoosac School
Jane Fried, Brearley School
Michael Frosch, Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School
Scott Gaynor, Stephen Gaynor School
Patricia Geyer, Long Island School for the Gifted
Ward Ghory, The Harley School
Nancy Glauberman, Barrow Street Nursery School
Evan Glazer, Avenues New York
Felicia Gordon, The Brownstone School
Laura Graceffa, Robert C. Parker School
Laura Graham, Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church Day School
Martha Haakmat, Brooklyn Heights Montessori School
Tully Harcsztark, SAR High School
Patricia T. Hayot, The Chapin School
Matthew Heard, Dutchess Day School
George Higgins, The Beekman School
David Hochschartner, North Country School
Simon Holzapfel, Darrow School
Adrian Hood, Woodstock Day School
Stuart Johnson, St. Bernard’s School
Jean-Marc Juhel, Buckley Country Day School
Susan Kambrich, Woodland Hill Montessori School
Danny Karpf, Rodeph Sholom School
Phil Kassen, LREI Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School
Michael Kay, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester
Andrea Kelly, Friends Academy
Thomas M. Kelly, Horace Mann School
Donna Kennedy, Gillen Brewer School
Eve Kleger, Village Community School
Tara Christie Kinsey, The Hewitt School
William Knauer, Harvey School
Binyamin Krauss, SAR Academy
Daniel K. Lahart, Regis High School
Jonathan Lamb, Storm King School
Robert “Bo” Lauder, Friends Seminary
Christopher Lauricella, The Park School of Buffalo
Lee Levison, Collegiate School
Avi Levitt, Magen David Yeshivah High School
Sharon Lickerman, Resurrection Episcopal Day School
Jed Lippard, Bank Street School for Children
Sean Lynch, Lycée Français de New York
Colm MacMahon, Rippowam Cisqua School
Carla Jantos MacMullen, The Kew-Forest School
Timothy P. Madigan, Churchill School and Center
Helen L. Marlette, Buffalo Seminary
TreeAnne McEnery, Green Meadow Waldorf School
Albina Miller and Leslie Thorne, Parkside School
Brenda Mizel, Metropolitan Montessori School
Scott Moran, City and Country School
Kim Morcate, Rockland Country Day School
Ronnie Moskowitz, The Washington Market School
Nicole Nash, Hannah Senesh Community Day School
Eve Nealy, Westbury Friends School
Marsha K. Nelson, The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine
Scott Nelson, Rye Country Day School
Douglas North, Albany Academies
Virginia O’Brien, Notre Dame School of Manhattan
Michael O’Donoghue, Holy Child Academy
Eavan O’Driscoll, St. Ignatius School
P. David O’Halloran, Saint David’s School
Greg J. O’Melia, Buckley School
Tony Oroszlany, Loyola School
Simon Owen-Williams, Portledge School
Maria Palandra, La Scuola D’Italia Guglielmo Marconi
Susan Paynter, High Meadow School
Joel Peinado, French-American School of New York
Kevin Pendergast, Kildonan School
Margaret Poggi, LearningSpring School
Dominic A. A. Randolph, Riverdale Country School
Jenny Rao, Emma Willard School
Jack Raslowsky, Xavier High School
Amani Reed, School at Columbia University
Jim Regan, Martin Luther School
Scott Reisinger, Trevor Day School
Jean Rosenberg, Chelsea Day School
Janet C. Rotter, The Studio School
John Russell, The Windward School
Carolyn Salzman, The Gateway School
Joe Santos, International School of Brooklyn
Diana Schlesinger, Greene Hill School
Susan Sheahan, Episcopal School
Karen Smith, Smith School
Michele Sola, Manhattan Country School
Steven Solnick, The Calhoun School
Jeffrey Spade, Rudolf Steiner School
Stephen Spahn, Dwight School
Lydia Spinelli, Brick Church School
Todd Stansbery, Tuxedo Park School
Ellen Stein, The Dalton School
Matthew Stuart, The Caedmon School
William W. Taylor, Trinity-Pawling School
Michael Termini, The Cooke School and Institute
Kristen Tillona-Baker, The Knox School
Barbara Tischler, The Speyer Legacy School
Vincent Tompkins, Saint Ann’s School
David R. Trower, Allen-Stevenson School
Salvador Uy, United Nations International School
Jennifer Vest, All Souls School
Patti Vitale, Brown School
Bob Vitalo, Berkeley Carroll School
Daniel Vitow, North Shore Hebrew Academy High School
Larry Weiss, Brooklyn Friends School
Michael Wirtz, Hackley School
Janet Wolfe, IDEAL School
Debbie Zlotowitz, Mary McDowell Friends School
Manhattan Country School is happy to announce three additions to its staff.
Emily Perry joins MCS in the new position of campaign coordinator. She comes from The Brearley School, where she worked in the Office of Equity and Community Engagement. Prior to joining the administrative team at Brearley, Emily was a head teacher at Peartree Preschool and Needham Children’s Center and an assistant teacher at Hunnewell Elementary School. Emily earned a master's degree in teaching from Smith College, where she was a classmate of Alaina Daniels, our Upper School science teacher.
Romina Dedvukaj is MCS' new kitchen assistant. She will be helping with lunch preparation, distribution, dishwashing and cleaning. Romina moved to the United States from Koplik, Romania, a small town where most of her family still lives, two years ago when she and her husband were married. Her father, who was a chef, taught her to cook. MCS is already benefiting from her strong work ethic, attention to detail and good-natured personality.
Ashley Ross, MCS' baker-in-training, comes from Hot Bread Kitchen's Bakers-in-Training Program. Ashley grew up in Queens and now lives in Harlem with her husband and daughter. She will be working part-time, assisting with the Afterschool program (especially the wildly popular baking class) and helping prepare the baked goods for Friday snack.
Please join us in welcoming Emily, Romina and Ashley to the MCS community!
Manhattan Country School’s Fifth Grade Teacher Shani Brignolle has been selected by The Academy for Teachers to attend a master class lead by MacArthur “genius” Kartik Chandran. Master classes offer a rare opportunity for public and private school teachers to learn from a leading expert and work together.
Shani is one of 18 educators chosen to attend “Making the Most of Wastewater,” offered in partnership with Columbia University. The October 30 class will focus on re-engineering global elemental cycles (including carbon and nitrogen) as a necessary step toward waste-fueled biorefineries and explore various pathways to sustainable clean water and sanitation and the production of renewable energy, chemicals and nutrients.
As a master class participant, Shani will become a fellow of The Academy for Teachers, joining a growing cohort of New York City’s strongest educators.
This week, Manhattan Country School Director Michèle Solá joined 23 other leaders from public schools, charter schools, foundations and nonprofit organizations in Aspen, Colorado to take on the challenging task of reimagining America’s public schools. This was the first of four gatherings of the Fall 2017 cohort of the highly selective Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship.
The Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship is a two-year, cohort-based program that identifies exceptional leaders in the educational excellence and equity movement, facilitates their dynamic growth and strengthens their collective efforts to dramatically improve public schools, especially those serving low-income children and communities. The Fellowship provides these leaders with the unusual opportunity to step back from their demanding daily work to reflect with peers on their collective and individual impact as leaders and change agents. Fellows challenge each other to think beyond traditional silos and sector boundaries to develop strategies that enhance their effectiveness as leaders, address leadership challenges in public education and accelerate the improvements needed to provide high-quality learning opportunities for all of our nation’s children.
“Meeting the educational leaders from across the country who make up a Pahara-Aspen cohort, it is inspiring to hear what creative things they are already doing as district superintendents, as founders of organizations, as researchers in foundations, and as principals and heads of school,” says Michèle of her time in Aspen this week. “Through the facilitators' persistent Socratic dialogue, or the informal conversations that continue over meals and breaks (that are anything but that), there is constant comparing of experiences. Our conversations reveal something special about each of our educational models, and what's missing. This is a place where it seems possible to focus on finding a common purpose, and raises the ultimate question of what greater good in education for all children could be accomplished if we worked together creatively. For me, and for Manhattan Country School, to be at the table is a real honor and privilege.”
The Fellowship is a partnership between the Pahara and Aspen Institutes. The Aspen Institute has created a leadership development model through its renowned Henry Crown Fellowship program, which focuses on inspiring Fellows to make a lasting difference in their spheres of influence through the application of effective and enlightened leadership. Pahara-Aspen Fellows become part of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, which currently includes more than 2,500 Fellows from more than 50 countries who are collectively making tremendous positive change in the world.
Eight Manhattan Country School educators are participating in this week’s PEN 2017 National Conference. This three-day, bi-annual event offers a host of workshops, place-based experiences and keynote presentations. The theme of this year’s conference is Continuous Lines: Amplify students’ voices, agency, conscience and intellect to create a more equitable, just and sustainable world.
Three MCS educators are presenters at this year’s conference. On Friday, Nassim Zerriffi, seventh and eighth grade history teacher and activism coordinator, led a workshop titled “Combating Islamophobia: The Impact of Islam on Western Civ. and America from the Renaissance to the Blues.” Saturday Upper School Math Coordinator Flannery Denny is presenting a workshop titled “Middle School Math Is an Important Tool for Democracy and Social Justice,” while Upper School Director Maiya Jackson is conducting a session called “Progressive Leadership: Building Schools That Educate for Democracy.”
Also attending the conference are Paulo Arango, 4-5s teacher; Bonnie Greenwald, learning specialist; Jay Fung, librarian; Farm Director John McDaniel and Annie Pevear, nature teacher. The PEN Conference is just one example of the professional development opportunities that MCS makes available to teachers and staff each year.
As the 2017-2018 school year began, there were nine new faces among Manhattan Country School faculty and staff. We are happy to welcome the following people to the MCS community:
Callie Angrisani – Assistant Teacher, 4-5s Oeste
Callie is an early childhood educator and 2008 graduate of Manhattan Country School. Throughout her high school years, Callie worked as an afterschool assistant at MCS and also as a Farm Camp counselor during the summer of 2013. Over the fall of 2014, she studied abroad at the University of Capetown in South Africa, where she worked with children from low-income communities in an afterschool program. Callie graduated from SUNY New Paltz in 2016 with a degree in early childhood education and a concentration in English.
Anne Elliott – Afterschool Assistant
Anne Elliott is an educator and administrator. She graduated from Miami University in Ohio and majored in marketing management. After years in various businesses, Anne moved to New York City and began a teaching career at the Rudolf Steiner School. She taught handwork and crafts in grades one through eight. She also held key administrative and leadership roles. Anne took a four-year hiatus from school life to help create costumes for Broadway shows and ballets. The call of a school brought Anne back to education. She has been teaching crafts and serving administrative roles at the New Amsterdam School, a new Waldorf school on the Lower East Side.
Jamie Evans – Facilities Manager
Jamie Evans has more than two decades of experience supervising building projects, including renovations and restorations of high-end townhouses, apartments and lofts. He has also worked as a finish carpenter and a technician for companies including General Electric and Ratheon Semiconductor. While Jamie is new to the MCS staff, he has been a member of the school community for many years as a parent (Ian '15), as a designer and photographer for the MCS Yearbook and as a volunteer carpenter. Jamie holds a B.A. in drama from San Jose State University and has worked as an actor, director and stand-up comic.
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 B.A. from the University of Massachusetts and her M.S. in special education from Bank Street College of Education. For eight years, she worked for the New York City Department of Education 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. She went on to work as a learning specialist at Cathedral School and an academic liaison at The School at Columbia University.
Cosima Higham – 8-9s Teacher
Cosima Higham is an educator with many years of experience working with children. After earning her B.A. 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 M.S.Ed. 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 and worked 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.
Amabel Japitana – Assistant Teacher, 6-7s Oeste
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 M.S.Ed. degree. Prior to joining MCS, she worked as a 4-5s assistant teacher at the Bank Street School for Children.
Gregory Rubin – Assistant Teacher, 5-6s Sur
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, afterschool 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. Prior to joining MCS, Greg was a kindergarten teaching assistant at PS 321 in Brooklyn, working with two different kindergarten classes on a rotating basis. Greg received a B.A. in English from Yale University and is currently working on his M.S.Ed. degree at Brooklyn College.
Ambreen Satia – Assistant Teacher, 7-8s Oeste
Ambreen is an early childhood educator and speech/language therapist with more than a decade of experience teaching children. After graduating from New York University with a bachelor’s degree in communicative sciences and disorders, she worked at summer camps, schools and hospitals in various places around the world, including Brooklyn, Maine, Ecuador and England. Once Ambreen returned to New York City, she worked as an assistant teacher at public and independent schools while earning her master’s in early childhood education from Hunter College.
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 B.F.A. 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. Before coming to MCS, she was the K-5 art teacher at Global Community Charter School in Harlem, where she introduced students to culturally diverse art traditions and led the production of costumes and props for the school’s spring musical.
Learn more about those who work at Manhattan Country School by viewing our Faculty/Staff Directory.
Manhattan Country School is known for its innovative, progressive curriculum and leadership in diversity and social justice. This year, many MCS teachers and staff members have given presentations or led workshops based on the work they are doing at variety of conferences.
In January, Nassim Zerriffi, seventh and eighth grade history teacher and activism coordinator, presented “Impact of Islam on Western Civ and America from the Renaissance to the Blues” at the NYSAIS Diversity Education and Justice in Curriculum conference. This workshop showed how the Golden Age of Islam transformed mathematics, science, medicine, music, art, cuisine and fashion in Europe and contributed significantly to the Renaissance.
This month, Nassim continued his discussion of Islam at the NYSAIS Diversity Conference with a workshop titled “Islamophia 101.” With this presentation, Nassim sought to provide teachers and youth workers with tools and knowledge to address Islamophobia and affirm Islam within a positive framework of religious diversity and equality.
Upper School Director Maiya Jackson and Flannery Denny, MCS’ Upper School math teacher, also presented at the NYSAIS Diversity Conference. Their workshop, titled “Beyond Service Learning: Student Activism Realized,” explored ways to engage youth in activism and advocacy and offered strategies for integrating activism into curriculum and building a stand-alone activism program.
Flannery, who is also MCS’ sustainability curriculum project coordinator, participated in “Sustainability: Connecting, Learning, Acting,” a Parents Community Service Network event in March as well. She was one of three panelists who discussed how to grow as an environmental advocate.
Also in March, Cathy Cammer gave a presentation at the Roxbury Library about the MCS Farm. She shared a slideshow that featured MCS seventh-graders’ reflections on their experiences at the Farm and explained the many components of the Farm, including the farmhouse, textile studio, nature lab, greenhouse, barn and chicken houses.
At the National Art Education Association National Convention in March, Fifth Grade Teacher Shani Brignolle and Upper School Resource Teacher Lo Kartzman led a hands-on stop-motion animation workshop that advocated for the use of arts-integrated, project-based curricula as a means to engage, support and assess a class of students with different learning styles. Shani also partnered with Sixth-Grade Teacher Karen Zaidberg to present “Investigating Equity and Justice in Peter Brown's The Wild Robot" at the NYSAIS Diversity Education and Justice in Curriculum conference. Shani and Karen discussed how our fifth- and sixth-graders read the book together and investigated themes of nature and change as part of their study of systems. In the course of their collaboration, the students discovered that the story is a tale about equity and justice in a diverse society.
Music is a central part of an MCS education. On Friday, Lower School Music Teacher Susan Harris joined Bank Street teacher Betsy Blachly in presenting “The Power of Sing in Kindergarten” at the Teaching Social Justice and Civil Rights through Singing and Movement workshop. In this interactive session, participants explored how to engage young children in important issues around social justice and civil rights in age-appropriate ways using songs, books and movement activities.
And on Monday, Maria Tere Tapias-Avery, Lower School Spanish teacher, and Carolina Drake, Upper School Spanish teacher, will lead a workshop titled “¡Sí, se puede! Progressive Approaches to Curriculum and Lesson Planning.” Attendees will join Maria Tere and Carolina in discussing the role of world language programs in progressive education, how to develop programs that help students connect with and develop an appreciation for people from different cultures, and other issues.
Teachers aren't the only ones sharing details about transformative work that's taking place at MCS. Nancy Hsu, parent fundraising and special events coordinator, led a breakout session at the NYSAIS Institutional Advancement Conference titled “Introducing New Parents to Your Fundraising Culture.” Presenting with a representative from Friends Seminary, Nancy shared how MCS successfully engages new families in philanthropic efforts.
Manhattan Country School is happy to welcome Garibaldy (Gary) Rodriguez to the MCS Kitchen staff. He will be helping with food preparation, lunch distribution, dishes and more.
Gary is a native New Yorker, raised in Washington Heights. He comes to MCS with several years of experience in the restaurant industry.
Please join us in giving Gary a warm MCS community welcome.
As a young boy attending Catholic school in Pasto, Colombia, Paulo Cesar Arango, now a 4-5s teacher at Manhattan Country School, loved to learn. He enjoyed studying the languages and cultures of different countries and developed a particular fondness for the United States.
“I found out that America has such a big impact on the world...and that trickles down to the culture and the music and all the things that everyone does on a regular basis,” says Paulo. “I felt a deep connection to this land…. I wanted to be a part of the American living.”
When Paulo was presented with the opportunity to participate in a U.S.-based YMCA program for students from Colombia’s marginalized regions, he jumped at the chance. In 2005, he began working at Camp Sloane, a summer camp nestled in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains in Lakeville, Connecticut. From the moment he left Colombia, Paulo knew he wanted to make the United States his permanent home.
But it would be several years before he would be able to make that dream a reality. After a couple of years at Camp Sloane, Paulo moved to New Orleans to work as a Spanish teacher in the undergraduate labs of Tulane and Dillard universities, a position that allowed him to draw on his multilingual abilities. The next year he enrolled in graduate school at Sarah Lawrence College. It was during this time that Paulo was introduced to MCS. He began working at the school, first as an intern for 6-7s teacher Laura Swindler and 8-9s teacher Debbie Weiss. The following year he became Laura’s assistant and then he worked with Aimee Ostensen in the 7-8s.
“During that time, I started to see Paulo’s potential as a classroom teacher,” says Cynthia Rogers, MCS’ director of high school placement, who has years of experience as a classroom teacher herself. “I began to mentor him regarding what would be a good age range for him to work with…. When an opening came for an assistant in the 4-5s, I thought this would be an ideal spot for Paulo.”
The 4-5s were indeed a good fit and this year, after three years of working as an assistant with Sarah, Paulo began his first year as a head teacher, leading one of MCS’ two 4-5s classes.
Shortly after arriving at MCS Paulo decided to pursue the steps necessary to become a U.S. citizen. First he needed to secure an H1B visa. MCS Director Michèle Solá served as his sponsor. She enlisted Cynthia to help coordinate the paperwork needed for the temporary work visa. After three years, Paulo was eligible to apply for a green card. Michèle signed on as a sponsor of this effort and again called on Cynthia to help.
“Paulo came highly recommended from Sara Wilford at Sarah Lawrence,” says Michèle. “...His interest in art and gifts for working with very young children on building a pluralistic community were evident from the beginning…. The decision to support his pathway to United States citizenship became an investment in the school’s future, knowing that MCS was on a path to double the classes in the Lower School.”
Paulo describes the green card process as challenging and complicated, but one that was well worth the effort. On October 21, 2016, he received an email from his lawyer, Dominic Kong, informing him that he had received his green card.
“It was an emotional moment for me,” Paulo explains, proudly showing the email he still has on his cell phone. “I want to thank all my mentors from the bottom of my heart—Laura, Aimee, Debbie, Sarah, Mary, Michèle, Cynthia—and the [MCS] community that has been so supportive.”
With one milestone reached, Paulo is already looking forward to applying for citizenship, a process he will be eligible to start in four years. Until then, he plans to continue in his position as a 4-5s head teacher at MCS. It’s a role he sees as so much more than introducing children to school and teaching them how to be a student. “My job is also introducing new families to the MCS culture and the philosophy,” he says. “We’re giving them the foundation to go through all their years at MCS.”