A group of education leaders founded Great Minds in 2007 to define and encourage content-rich, comprehensive education for all schoolchildren. In pursuit of that mission, Great Minds brings together teachers and scholars to create instructional materials that bring joyful rigor to learning, spark and reward curiosity, and impart knowledge of math, science, English and more. The Great Minds motto is, Every child is capable of greatness. Great Minds video materials are helping students achieve their greatness.
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We are pleased to partner with local school districts and arts organizations to ensure the continuation of learning, music, and art. WCNY’s TV Classroom Network provides educational broadcasts on Global Connect to help students across the region continue to learn at home, especially those without internet access.
As per the WCNY mission, we have a wealth of resources available for our community to stay connected, informed, and up-to-date about the ongoing Coronavirus situation.
I am a Health & Fitness instructor at H.W. Smith working with students through the Peaceful Schools program. I grew up in Syracuse and am a proud graduate of Nottingham High School. I have studied communications at Monroe and Tompkins Cortland Community College. In my life path, I see myself as a future owner/CEO of OMC Clothing Brand.
I have been an educator since August of 2002 and I wouldn’t want to do anything else! I absolutely love teaching and learning and all that it encompasses. I have held several roles throughout my time as an educator. I have been a kindergarten teacher, self-contained Pre-K teacher, resource teacher for K-6th grade, self-contained behavior classroom teacher for 6th-8th, a TAP Master Teacher, a TAP Executive Master Teacher at the state level, an educational consultant at the state level, a district ELA curriculum consultant, and a principal. I have taught in Texas, Louisiana, and now here. I am so very grateful to be able to serve students, parents, staff, and community members at STEAM at Dr. King Elementary School.
Heather Ayling is the librarian at Dr. Weeks Elementary. She has worked in libraries for 10 years; 6 years as a children’s and teen librarian at Manlius Public Library and then at Dr. Weeks Elementary School for the past 4 years. She loves to read, crochet, sew, bake, and hang out with her kids. She has two beautiful daughters, a husband who loves video games, a dog who loves to sleep and in February 2020, a little boy was born! If you love picture books, check out her Facebook Live story time every day at 3pm!
Thomas H. Bull is a teaching professor at the Syracuse University School of Education where he teaches classes at both undergraduate and graduate levels in the department of Teaching and Leadership. In addition, he is the Director of Field Relations for the School of Education, overseeing the Bridge to the City/New York City Student Teaching program and acting as the liaison to the High School for Leadership and Public Service/School of Education partnership. Tom’s work has focused on creating effective, inclusive K-12 school communities and he has presented at numerous conferences and professional development workshops throughout the United States and Canada. Prior to Syracuse University, Tom spent 20 years as an inclusive elementary school teacher in the Liverpool Central School District.
I am a Special Education Long-Term Teacher at Van Duyn Elementary School. I was a former teacher for The Redhouse and The Good News Club. Serving, leading, and educating the next generation is my pride and joy.
I am a Senior at Syracuse University majoring in Health and Physical Education with a double minor in Biology and Health and Wellness. I am from New York City. At SU, I have the pleasure of working as a Peer Educator Encouraging Healthy Relationships and Sexuality, a member of the Chancellor’s Task Force for Sexual and Relationship Violence and the President of the Dominican Student Association. I currently serve as the President-Elect for the Future Professional’s Section of NYS AHPERD and I am a proud Hermana of Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority, Incorporated. This “Fitness from a Distance Challenge” is important for students to complete because it gives them a break to be physically active and get their minds off everything that is going on in the world. It will give them a variety of workouts they can do while being at home and tips on how to make the exercise more or less challenging. We need to remind our students that there are ways they can be active at home and they have people who support them and want to see them healthy. Health is wealth!!
Jessica Cannizzaro started her college career at Onondaga Community College. She participated in basketball and soccer during her two years. She then transferred to Le Moyne College and graduated with a BS in Psychology and a certification in Education. Jessica has been in the Syracuse City School District for five years and currently works at Clary Middle School as a Multi-Classroom Leader.
My name is Melanie Cifonelli and I am the Director of Mathematics for the Syracuse City School District. I am proud to be finishing my 32nd year as an educator in the Syracuse City School District. It has been my pleasure to serve the school community as a teaching assistant/substitute, as an elementary teacher, as a mathematics teacher and as an instructional coach before became the Director of Mathematics. My favorite part of this job is when I am interacting with students in the classroom, listening to their thinking and watching the excitement when students are explaining something new that they learned! I hope all of our students learn to love the subject of mathematics and appreciate all of the mathematics that surrounds us every day.
Marianne Clark is the Middle Years Program Coordinator at Clary Middle School in the Syracuse City School District. She has been a teacher at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as an instructional coach and an adjunct professor. She holds a BS and MS in Literacy from the State University of New York at Oneonta and a CAS in Educational Leadership from Syracuse University. Outside of school she enjoys running with her dog, Chelsea, reading, and spending time with family and friends by the ocean.
Hello! My name is Mrs. Conese, I teach kindergarten at Allen Road in North Syracuse. This is my 26th year of teaching and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to work with so many wonderful students. I am so proud of all of the great work my joyful little ones are sharing with me and miss their laughter, hugs and adorable faces very much!
Hello! My name is Kathleen Conese. I am a kindergarten teacher at Roxboro Road Elementary. This is my fifth year teaching kindergarten in North Syracuse, and I have loved every minute of it! In our classroom, we work to build relationships and our kindergarten family throughout the year. We focus on treating everyone with kindness and encourage and support the members of our community. I love to make memories and learn alongside my students, and miss seeing those big smiles every day!
Meg is the American Heart Association’s Youth Market Director for Greater Central New York, serving K-12 students in as many as 16 counties. A busy mom of four, runner, and health advocate, for the past 12 years she has been a wellness partner with the Syracuse City School District and an active board member of the NYS Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Central North Zone.
Dr. Dana Corcoran is currently the Supervisor of Science and Technology in the Syracuse City School District. She oversees science and technology curricular programming in 33 schools, and supports hundreds of science and technology teachers at the K-12 level. She holds her MST from Le Moyne College, and her Ph.D. in Science Education from Syracuse University.
Erica Daniels is an English as a New Language instructional coach with the Syracuse City School District. This is her third year as an instructional coach, and she previously taught ENL in two Syracuse City School District elementary schools. Her interest in bilingual educational practices and sustaining heritage language, stems from her work in dual language schools. Erica is currently acquiring her Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Leadership at Syracuse University.
I am currently a senior undergraduate student at Syracuse University studying English Education and English Textual Studies. My plan is to attend Syracuse University for my masters in the Inclusive Special Education program. My goal is to begin working in a public-school setting from grades 9-12. I have a passion for teaching English and love to learn about creating a more inclusive classroom for students with diverse strengths and needs.
Kevin Dorsey is an Elementary Classroom Specialist at Seymour Dual Language Academy in the Syracuse City School District. He was a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammys) for 20 years, and a member of the National Association for Music Education. He earned a Masters in Studio Jazz Writing from the University of Miami, and a Bachelors in Music Education with a Performers Certificate from the SUNY Potsdam Crane School of Music. Kevin has recorded 7 CDs and won 2 Syracuse Area Music Awards (SAMMYS).
Maureen Edmonds is excited to be working with children for the first time as an SCSD ENL teacher. Maureen also teachers academic writing as adjunct language instructor at Syracuse University. Maureen earned an MS in TESOL from the University of Pennsylvania. Before coming to Syracuse, Maureen was a Business English instructor and program developer for the Samsung Corporation in South Korea, then joined the staff of Tompkins Cortland Community College, where she was involved in educational sales, program development and curriculum quality control for the college’s Central and South American partner universities.
Erin Emanuele is an 8th grade math teacher at Roberts PreK-8 in the Syracuse City School District. Erin is originally from Long Island, New York. She moved to Syracuse in 2015 for graduate studies at Syracuse University. Prior to becoming a teacher, she worked as a public health researcher. However, having always loved math, she went into the classroom in hopes of inspiring and supporting her students’ thinking. When she’s not in the classroom, she’s either walking her two dogs (Rudy and Charlotte), rock climbing, or binge watching her favorite TV shows.
Caitlyn Ferber is the 6th grade consultant teacher at Brighton Academy. This is her sixth year working as a Special Education teacher in the Syracuse City School District. She is a Buffalo, NY native who earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Syracuse University’s School of Education. Her favorite part of working at Brighton Academy is the wonderful community who always support one another. When not teaching, Caitlyn can be found adventuring with friends and family.
Heidi Feyl-Crane graduated with BA in Biology from SUNY Empire State College, MAT in Teaching from SUNY Empire State College, CAS in School Administration from Syracuse University. She has worked at Syracuse City School District for 10 years and is the District Science Instructional Coach.
Kate has been an elementary teacher, instructional coach, literacy administrator, curriculum author, graduate professor, and education consultant. Before returning to her roots in CNY, Kate lived in Washington, D.C., where she was Director of Literacy at the acclaimed E.L. Haynes Public Charter School. Today, as a literacy-focused consultant, Kate is proud to work with schools and education organizations across the country to support best practices in K-8 literacy instruction. She and her husband are raising two delightful bookworms in Cazenovia, NY. Kate holds a BA from Davidson College and a Masters of Arts in Teaching from American University.
My name is Audree Gilchrest and I have been teaching science and social studies in the North Syracuse Central School District this past year. I graduated from SUNY Cortland and during my time there was able to travel abroad and really find my passion for history and teaching! One of my favorite parts of teaching is when we are able to work with the material hands-on and really explore the content with lab activities, virtual field trips, or project based activities. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, baking, and taking my dog Jack on walks!
Joshua Hammond is a physical education teacher at Dr. Weeks Elementary School for the last two years. In his spare time he enjoys hiking with his 8-month- old daughter, playing soccer, and traveling.
Megan Herbst is a 7th grade science teacher at Brighton Academy. She went to SUNY ESF for her undergraduate program in Environmental Resources Engineering and did her masters in education at NYU. She has found my passion in teaching, her favorite thing is when a student is so excited to answer a question that they are jumping out of their chair trying to get her to call on them.
Brandon Herwick is a Physical Education Teacher in the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District and an OPEN National Trainer. He loves to dance, cook, and get out in nature. Brandon is also a Zumba Instructor and CrossFit L1 and Kids Coach.
Gala Hughley is originally from Cleveland, Ohio and loves teaching mathematics! She is a graduate of Xavier University, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is scheduled to graduate with her Master’s Degree from Syracuse University this coming May! Gala has taught for 3 years at Brighton Academy in the Syracuse City School district, teaching math for grades 6, 7 and 8. She is currently a teacher leader at Brighton Academy serving as the Mathematics Multi-Classroom Leader and a valued member of Brighton’s Instructional Leadership Team.
Kelli Johnson is the Reading Coach Director at The Reading League. She began her career as an elementary school teacher and, after nine years, began teaching (under)graduate courses and supervising student teachers at Syracuse University. Kelli also served as an Elementary Literacy Specialist for a federally-funded research project and as an independent consultant for public and private schools in Central and Northern New York. Kelli received her degree in Elementary Education from SUNY-Geneseo and graduated from Syracuse University with an M.S. in Learning Disabilities, where she studied under Dr. Benita Blachman.
Rebekah King is an ENL teacher at Dr. Weeks Elementary. This is her fourth year teaching English as a New Language. Rebekah recently graduated from SUNY Oneonta with a Master’s Degree in Literacy Education. Her professional interests include teaching English and Reading at the Elementary level. Rebekah’s interests outside of the classroom include running, reading and spending time with family and friends.
Whitney Lash-Marshall serves as the Executive Director of Baltimore Woods Nature Center in Marcellus, NY, where she works to steward a 182-acre preserve and help connect the Central New York community to nature. A firm believer in the “hands-on, minds-on” model of science education and exploration, she oversees a team that provides year-round experiences for people of all ages to engage in environmental education, recreation, research, and outdoor play. An early explorer of all things outdoors, she holds a Ph.D. in Environmental and Natural Resource Policy from SUNY-ESF where she spent several years teaching in the fields of biology and environmental science.
Ellie Leach is the Social Studies Coach for the Syracuse City School District. She writes curriculum and advises teachers in grades K-6. She has a BA in International Relations and Russian and a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Syracuse University.
Hello! My name is Sarah Lindovski. I am the sixth grade AIS teacher at Lincoln Middle School. This is my second year working at Lincoln. In my classroom, we work hard first to get what we need done, then have some fun! I love teaching and creating relationships with my students to feel comfortable in the classroom.I cannot wait to be back at school and see my awesome students!
I was born and raised in Syracuse, NY, and I’m a proud graduate of the Syracuse City School District (Corcoran H.S / Class of 2000). I have received degrees from Syracuse University and SUNY Cortland. I’ve been married to Mindy Lochner for 9 years and have two sons, Elliott (7) and Griffin (5). In my free time I love to golf, coach my son’s baseball team, and watch SU athletics. My favorite thing about working in schools is building positive relationships with our students. I try to help create an environment that makes school feel fun and worthwhile.
Elyse is a Physical Education Teacher at A.W. Becker Elementary School and an OPEN National Trainer. Elyse is a passionate and energetic teacher that cares deeply about her profession. Elyse coaches The Ravena- Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District Girls Varsity Swim Team and is a Ski Instructor.
Srdan Lukic was born in Bosnia with a congenital heart defect. After two surgeries early in his life, Srdan traveled to Syracuse NY for his 3rd and final open heart surgery at age 12. Throughout his life, Srdan struggled with inactivity and obesity, eventually finding fitness which changed his life. He started a non-profit organization Fight For Heart, whose mission is to use fitness to battle the preventable risk factors for heart disease in the youth population (sedentary lifestyle, inactivity, obesity), as well as to empower, educate and promote leadership in children.
Patrick McCormick works for the New York State Migrant Education Program, a program dedicated to ensuring that migrant children and their families are supported as they work towards completing their education. Patrick is a proud graduate of SUNY Geneseo ’15 and has lived and worked abroad in both Nicaragua and Brazil.
I am a Building Men Instructor in the Peaceful Schools organization working with students at H.W. Smith. A Syracuse native, I attended Nothingham High School (go Bulldogs!) before attending Canisius College where I graduated with a B.S. in Physical Education with a minor in Sports Psychology. I plan to attend SUNY Albany to start my master’s program in Africana Studies and after that – I will one day soon be a professor!
Joanna Masingila is Dean of the School of Education at Syracuse University and a professor of mathematics and mathematics education. She has been at Syracuse University since finishing her Ph.D. in mathematics education at Indiana University-Bloomington in 1992. Prior to her doctoral work, she taught students mathematics at the secondary level for six years in Indiana. Joanna has worked with many mathematics teachers in the Syracuse City School District and her two children are graduates of SCSD. Joanna lives in Syracuse with her husband, Adamson, and two cats. Joanna and Adamson enjoy spending time with their 19-month-old twin granddaughters and traveling to Kenya to visit Adamson’s family.
My name is Sandra McKenney and I teach at Seymour Dual Language Academy. I have moved many times in my life and I have had a chance to teach in different schools in New York State and at a International School in Zurich, Switzerland. When I am not working, I love to travel with my family. We have visited 5 different continents around the world, 40 different countries, and 100+ cities. We think of traveling as a way of learning about other people, we get to taste delicious food, and we get to admire buildings and landscapes far away.
Hello! My name is Miss Michael. I teach second grade dual language at Seymour Dual Language Academy. This is my 3rd year at this school and it has been a joy! In our classroom, we build a community full of respect, problem-solving, and collaboration. I’m learning new things every day from our special students and cannot wait to be back in the classroom!
Brenda is a physical education teacher at Webster Elementary in the Syracuse City School District. An energetic life-long learner, she infuses her passion for living life to its fullest into everything she does. Her 20+ years of educating, coaching and facilitating have lead her to become a founding member of Positive Energy Programming, a team building organization that utilizes an experiential education model to help establish effective communication, relationship building, character development for businesses, communities and not-for-profits. “My greatest joy is seeing people grow right in front of me.”
Dr. Michael Leslie Norris
Dr. Norris is an Assistant Professor, Health and Physical Education Program Coordinator at Syracuse University. He is a member of SHAPE America and NYS Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. Dr. Norris is a member of the committee designing updated learning standards for physical education for the NYS Education Department. An active supporter and advocate for schools in Central New York, he is dedicated to ensuring that all families and children have equitable access to physical activity. He is a husband, father, and proud graduate of (The) Ohio State University.
James Nieves Bermúdez grew up in Hatillo, Puerto Rico. To pursue his teaching career, James attended the University of Puerto Rico majoring in Spanish; there he became part of the Cordova Internship which took him to Washington DC to cover congressional hearings related to education. After completing his degree in Puerto Rico, James came to teach at George W. Fowler High School in Syracuse. Since then, he has earned his Master’s Degree and his CAS, served as Vice Principal of Westside Academy at Blodgett and is currently the Principal of Seymour Dual Language Academy. James has been part of the Syracuse Westside community for the past 17 years.
Fred Oltz has been teaching physical education here in Syracuse for fifteen years. Fred graduated from Canisius College in Buffalo, NY with a B.S. in Physical Education and a M.S. in Sports Administration. Currently he is teaching at Porter Elementary. Fred enjoys spending time with his wife (Mandi) and his children (VIola and John). Fred is also an avid sports fan, most notably NASCAR, hockey and football.
My name is Valentina Ospina, I have a Masters in Secondary Education. I am the 8th grade science and Living Environment teacher at Clary Middle School. I love educating young minds, seeing them prosper throughout their learning, watching as they challenge themselves and accomplish their goals.
I am from Syracuse, New York. I went to SUNY Brockport for undergrad and SUNY Albany for my masters. I currently live in Camillus, New York and I am a teacher at Dr. Weeks Elementary.
Miss Pat is a children’s librarian working in KidSpace at the Central Library in downtown Syracuse. Her favorite part of being a children’s librarian is sharing storytimes, which she does at the library and at the Cab Horse, Upstate and Salina Infant daycare centers. Her second favorite is making things with stuff from the recycling bin, and testing them out. Before KidSpace she was a children’s bookseller at Barnes and Noble in DeWitt and in Albany, where she also led storytimes. Miss Pat likes to read picture books and chapter books, especially biographies, mysteries and history. But she LOVES ice cream!
I am from the Onondaga Nation. I am a junior in the Health and Physical Education Major. The Tabata challenge is important for students to complete because physical activity positively influences social, emotional and physical well-being. Stay active!
Julie Piato has been a school psychologist in SCSD for 29 years. Ms. Piato has her white belt in NIA and has been practicing mindful movement and yoga for several years. She has a passion for bringing mindfulness practices and knowledge to students. Ms. Piato has implemented the Mind Up and Growth Mindset curriculums in classrooms. She helped facilitate daily yoga classes for students at the McKinley-Brighton 2019 summer school program. She is trained in Yoga 4 Classrooms and is a certified Childlight Yoga and Mindfulness instructor. Ms. Piato teaches yoga and mindfulness in the YMCA afterschool program at McKinley-Brighton School.
Michael Ranlet – “Mr. Mic”
I am a Math/Science/Technology skills instructor at Syracuse STEM @Blodgett 6-8th grade. I majored in business management and marketing at the University of South Florida, am a former SAE Certified auto mechanic and have more than 15 years of experience working and consulting for motorsports teams and parts manufacturers. I believe that you can do anything – all you need to achieve your dreams is a few tools, a little instruction and a vision in your mind. Education is your passport to the future, and tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.
Hello! My name is Alinna Rey. I am the Second Grade teacher of the Dual Language program at Seymour Dual Language Academy. This is my third year working at Seymour. In my classroom we practice kindness and give our best effort. I love to teach different cultures and I want each student to feel comfortable and loved. I cannot wait to be back at school and see my beautiful students.
A leading member of the Peaceful Schools team since 2001, and now Vice President, Dani’s unique background experiences in performance education and theatre arts have helped shape the Peaceful Schools multi-sensory approach to engaging students as active participants in their social-emotional development. A 1998 graduate of the Communications and Theatre departments of SUNY Oswego, Dani began her career as a children’s theatre educator. Through this work, she began to develop an interest in the idea of working with children to improve social skills and build social competence. Peaceful Schools provided Dani the outlet she was looking for to develop and deliver social emotional programming for youth. In her tenure at Peaceful Schools, Dani has presented over 4000 sessions of the Peaceful People social skills program in Pre-K-8 settings and has managed multiple teams providing direct SEL service in schools. Dani is also an experienced Mediator and is a member of the Training and Development team for Peaceful Schools.
Ms. Salibrici is an Academic Intervention Specialist (AIS) in the area of Literacy at J.T. Roberts K-8 School. She has been teaching in the Syracuse City School District since 2010; and prior to that she taught for 3 years at P.S. One in Brooklyn, NY. In 2019, Ms. Salibrici completed her coursework at Syracuse University’s CAS program (Certificate of Advanced Study), which will allow her to fulfill her dream of becoming a school leader in our district. Ms. Salibrici is a Syracuse City School Alumni, she resides in the city of Syracuse where her four children attend SCSD schools
Tina Schwartzmeyer is a 6th grade English as a New Language teacher in her fourth year teaching at Brighton Academy in the Syracuse City School District. She is originally from Buffalo, NY and is a Buffalo Bills superfan. She attended SUNY Fredonia for college, graduating with a degree in Psychology before finding her true passion in teaching. She loves getting scholars excited and involved in their learning and their community!
I have been an elementary teacher for the Syracuse City School District since 1998. Over the years I have taught in almost all the grade levels except for kindergarten and first. I grew up bilingual and bi-cultured as I would like to call it. I was born in Lakewood, New Jersey but grew up in Queens, New York and Bogota, Colombia. My mom wanted to make sure that I not only learned the Spanish language but that I learned about the Colombian culture and my family heritage. I actually did 1st grade and part of 4th grade in Colombia. In addition, every summer my mom would send me to live with my aunts and grandmother during July and August. I have so many wonderful memories of growing up in Colombia. I feel fortunate working at Seymour Dual Language Academy. I feel like I’m able to be a role model for the students who are not only bilingual but bicultural. I feel like they can identify with me because I can speak Spanish. My kids like knowing I can speak both languages with them. Students think its “cool” that I can switch languages very easily and that I feel comfortable speaking in either language. I want them to feel proud of their cultural roots because it makes us unique and special. Our culture and heritage is a strong factor in making us who we are.
Katie Sojewicz is a Reading Coach with the Reading League. She works with Hannibal Central School District as part of the Oswego County Literacy Initiative. Katie is an adjunct professor at SUNY-Oswego, where she teaches courses in the Childhood Education Grad Program. Katie taught for 16 years in the Syracuse City School District in Grades K-3. She was also a Reading Specialist and Staff Development Facilitator. Katie received her undergraduate degree from SUNY-Geneseo and graduated from SUNY-Cortland with an M.S. in Literacy. She has been a member of the Syracuse City School District Board of Education for 5 years and currently serves as President.
Nick Stamoulacatos is the Supervisor of Pre-K-12 Social Studies in the Syracuse City School District located in Syracuse, NY. Prior to becoming Supervisor of Social Studies; Nick served as a social studies teacher for 12 years at West Genesee, Fowler and Nottingham High Schools. Nick also has a passion for local history, folklore and cultural preservation in transnational communities. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family, friends and his dachshund Marlow.
Derek Stoll is a 6th grade teacher from the Expeditionary Learning Middle School (ELMS) which is a middle school in the Syracuse City School District. I have worked at ELMS, inspired from EL Education, as a math teacher for 5 years. I have also worked in EL schools for a total 10 years as a teacher, teaching assistant and 1:1 aide. I am inspired by my students passion and drive to complete project based curriculum with a high emphasis on high quality work and service to our Syracuse Community.
My name is Andrew Strack and I’m a 5th grade teacher at STEAM @ Dr. King. This is my fifth year teaching. I grew up in Syracuse attending city schools and graduating from Corcoran High School. I completed my undergrad and masters through Oswego State. I wanted to give back to the community that I grew up in and fulfill my passion for helping our next generation succeed while sharing life lessons. Some day I’d like to get back into coaching sports in our district when my kids are a little older. I also enjoyed that aspect of my job and fulfilled my passion for sports.
George Theoharis, Ph.D
George Theoharis, Ph.D., is of Professor of Teaching and Leadership at Syracuse University. He has experience as a principal and teacher; at SU he served as Department Chair, Associate Dean for Urban Partnerships, and Director of Field Relations. His work preparing leaders and teacher as well as partnering with schools focuses on issues of equity, justice, diversity, inclusion, and school reform. George’s work bridges the worlds of K-12 schools and higher education. He writes for public audiences in: The School Administrator, The Washington Post, The Root, and The Syracuse Post-Standard as well in many books and other articles.
My names is Katia S. Thurn. I’m 36 years old and I was born in Puerto Rico. I moved to Central New York 7 years ago and currently live in Phoenix NY with my husband and my dog Trooper. I’ve been teaching around 10 years in the Early Childhood Education field and currently work in the Syracuse City School District’s Dual Language Program as a Pre-k teacher at Seymour Dual Language Academy. In my free time, I like to cook, listen to music and read inspirational books from my favorite author Max Lucado. Teaching is my passion.
Benjamin Trowbridge is a Senior Education Coordinator at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. In this role I serve to provide educational programming, animal care, and manage our ZooGuide program. Being from Baldwinsville NY and a SUNY ESF graduate I am grateful to pursue my career so close to home. Coming to the zoo as a child has always been a fond memory and I never would have imagined someday that I would be working here.
My name is Twan Gyder. I was born and raised in Syracuse NY. I have been an educator for the SCSD for the past 18 years. I have taught in many classroom settings starting from K- 5th grade. I have worked as a Reach Associate for the past 3 years at STEAM @Dr King and I am the coordinator for the 1st ever Jr. Cadet Fire program here in CNY. I am the founder of C.O.Y which is a acronym for Cultivate Our Youth and I am the CEO of Motivational Guidance Limited liability Company. My vision is servicing youth and adults by promoting positive mindsets that unearth who they are and what is attainable for their life. Pursing my career in education helped me to realize that my leadership skills would grant me access to motivate, influence and inspire others to a higher level of education and self awareness. My Motto is: “while I educate I motivate and while I motivate I educate “.
Ashlea Vilello is a fourth grade teacher at Porter Elementary School. I grew up in Syracuse, NY and attended Bishop Grimes High School. I then attended Allegheny College and graduated with a degree in Psychology in 2007. The next phase of my life took me to Denali Park Alaska where I worked for 3 summers at an environmental education nonprofit agency. I then took a job as an Education Coordinator at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse where I was able to marry my love of teaching and animals in a fun exciting teaching adventure. I now work full time as a proud SCSD teacher. I’ve always been interested in science and the outdoors. When I’m not working I can usually be found outside hiking in the woods with my dog Luna or kayaking the lakes of CNY.
My name is Heather Vincent and I am a fifth-grade teacher at Steam @ Dr. King in the Syracuse City School District. This is my third-year teaching fifth-grade and I love it! Though I enjoy teaching all subjects, math is definitely my favorite. In my free time, I enjoy going on walks with my husband, traveling and spending time with my family.
Nancy L. Volk
Nancy Volk completed her B.S. and M.Ed. from SUNY Oswego and is currently completing her CAS from Syracuse University. She is a 3rd generation teacher in her family. Her hometown is in Central New York where she grew up. She taught math and science for fifteen years to middle and high school students including almost four years in central Nigeria. She worked for the Museum of Science and Technology for Five years serving as a curriculum writer and later the Education Director. For the past Five years, she has been working with the Syracuse City School District as the Facilitator for the Enrichment programs in seven schools that implement STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) based lessons throughout the day. She is married to a scientist, which makes discussions at the home interesting – filled with questions and wonder. She is mom to two grown Sons who also live in the Syracuse area.
Susima Weerakoon is the Prevention Program Coordinator at Contact Community Services working to build and improve protective systems in schools that will directly impact their resilience and academic achievement.
Rhonda Zajac is the Director of English Language Arts for the Syracuse City School District. This is her 26th year working for the district. She started her career as a sixth-grade teacher at Hughes Magnet School where she worked for ten years. She served the SCSD as a teacher, instructional coach, and school administrator before coming into her current position. She says the best thing about her job is being able to work with all students and teachers from across the district. She is also the proud mom of two teenage boys, Ryan and Sean.
Thank you to our partners, the Syracuse City School District and the City of Syracuse!
Mayor Ben Walsh, City of Syracuse, supports the TV Classroom network.
Remarks from Superintendent Alicea and Mayor Ben Walsh.
The TV Classroom Network is made possible by the generous support of the Community Foundation of Central New York, the Allyn Foundation, United Way, the Literacy Coalition, National Grid, Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists, Geddes Federal Savings, and Prevention Network.
Dr. Shiu-Kai Chin and Dr. Linda Milosky
Lynne and Carl Ahnert
Mary Joy Carlson
Dorian Friedman and Family
Rev Janet Fechner
George and Diane Quint
Learn more about WCNY TV Classroom Booster Club!