Mentor teachers

Meet our award-winning team of mentor teachers.

Our mentor teachers, chosen for their record of moving kids academically fast, partner with teachers in districts and networks across the country to deliver teaching that transcends the ordinary.

The Mentor Teachers

Academics

2020-21 School year

Wayne Banks

Wayne began his career as a TFA corps member teaching high school chemistry and physics in the Chicago public schools, where he led more than 400 students to make four years of growth each year. After serving as assistant principal of STEM education and programming at a Chicago vocational high school, Wayne realized that his students lacked sufficient command of math to excel in the sciences. For three years, Wayne has taught mathematics to middle school students at KIPP New Jersey, where he is currently principal-in-residence. Wayne has a B.A. from Washington University, where he studied biochemistry and molecular biology, and a M.A. from Columbia University.

Erica Beal

Erica began her career teaching at Success Academy in New York City and immediately excelled: 98 percent of her third-grade students passed the state math exam and 80 percent the English Language Arts. Subsequently, at KIPP DC, Erica’s fourth- and seventh-grade students were the highest performing in the network, and she had the lowest disciplinary referrals in her school. Erica was honored with the KIPP DC Excellence in Teaching Board Award and was a finalist for the Teach for America Sue Lehmann Award for Excellence in Teaching. She is currently the senior director of program at School Leader Lab, a D.C-based organization that partners with schools and their networks to develop the next great class of leaders. Erica earned her B.A. from Georgetown University in English and African American Studies and holds an M.Ed. from Columbia University.

Roberto de Leon

As a Teach for America corps member, Roberto taught special education in a district public school in the Bronx. He then taught third grade and was a staff developer at Uncommon Schools’ Excellence Boys Charter School in Brooklyn, where his work was featured in Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion. Later, at Democracy Prep Public Schools, Roberto was a founding teacher and curriculum director. Roberto was then a consultant/teacher coach for numerous school districts, including Achievement First, where he was a Level 5 ELA teacher coach, the network’s highest distinction. After moving to California, he taught sixth grade in a rural public school, where nearly all of his students passed the state’s English Language Arts exam. He earned his B.A. in Education from Washington University in St. Louis, and an M.Ed. from the City University of New York.

Evan Emenegger

Evan began his career with Teach for America in Yazoo City, Mississippi, where he taught tenth-grade English and was named Yazoo City Teacher of the Year in 2015. Since then he has served as grade-level chair, associate academic dean, and seventh-grade literature teacher at the Achievement First Apollo Middle School in Brooklyn. In 2018, Evan’s students posted the highest growth on the New York Common Core English Language Arts exam in the network. Evan earned Achievement First’s Stage 5 Distinction, the network’s highest distinction, awarded for student achievement, student character development, quality of instruction and planning, and contribution to team achievement. Evan earned his B.A. in political science with a minor in Russian at the University of Washington and an M.A. from Relay Graduate School of Education.

Ben Esser 

Ben started his teaching career in Mississippi, where he taught for two years as part of Teach for America. Since 2011, he has taught sixth grade English Language Arts at Achievement First East New York Middle School. He was named a Stage 5 teacher in 2015, the network’s highest level of recognition. A highlight of his practice is the love of books he shares with his students; each year, his students read, on average, more than a million words each. In 2019, 82 percent of his students were found proficient on the NYS ELA exam, exceeding the performance of the Rye school district, one of the wealthiest in the country. Ben earned a B.A. from Western Washington University in English literature and a M.Ed. from Relay Graduate School of Education.

John Kaczorek

John began his career with Teach for America as an eighth-grade math teacher in a district school in the Bronx. Later, at KIPP’s Rise Academy in New Jersey, 86 percent of his fifth-grade math students were found proficient on the state exam. After moving to Minnesota, John joined Hiawatha College Prep, where he was a founding teacher, and for six years, principal. Under his leadership, Hiawatha Prep was recognized by Teach for America as a “School to Learn From" and was designated a Reward School by the Minnesota Department of Education. Longing to return to the classroom, John named his successor as principal and taught seventh-grade math, while serving as math content lead and grade level chair. He is fluent in Spanish. John earned his B.A. from St. John’s University in economics and an M.S. from Pace University.

Cheryl M. Kelley-Henderson

Cheryl began her career as a music educator, teaching in elementary schools in Miami and at Miami Dade Community College where she was an adjunct professor. While earning her PhD in educational leadership and music education in Memphis, Cheryl joined KIPP Memphis Collegiate Elementary, where she chaired the enrichment department and taught literacy and music. She is now the school’s assistant principal and ELA instructional coach. Cheryl also serves as a leadership coach for the KIPP region’s School Leadership program and as an ELA literacy curriculum coach for the KIPP Foundation Teaching and Learning Team. Cheryl earned a B.A. in choral music education and vocal performance from Philander Smith College, an M.Ed. from Florida State University, and a Ph.D. in educational leadership and music education from the University of Memphis.

Jonathan Laven

Jon taught math at Western High School in Las Vegas, before enrolling at the Yale Divinity School, where he served as program manager of the school’s leadership development program. Jon was then the founding math teacher and department chair at Hiawatha Collegiate High School in Minneapolis. Pursuing his interest in educational leadership, he led Teach For America summer institutes for high school math teachers and wrote curriculum in math and culturally responsive pedagogy. Jon is now the dean of instruction for the Hiawatha Academies. He graduated with a B.A. in math and philosophy from St. Olaf College and earned an M.Ed. from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and an M.A. from the Yale Divinity School.

Mohamad Marouf

Mohamad began his career at KIPP Houston High School, teaching math and AP statistics. After a succession of roles—dean of operations, freshman dean, data captain, testing coordinator, and assistant principal—he became principal of the Blue Ribbon school in 2016. While principal, Mohamad instituted AP For All  and adopted a social justice agenda that emphasized restorative practices. Mohamad created a community-based leadership team composed of students, parents, and other community members who formulated performance measures and advised on all aspects of school policy. Currently he is the project director at Leading Educators, where he creates equity and social emotional learning content and coaches more than twenty school- and district-based leaders. Mohamad earned his B.A. in psychology from Duke University and an M.Ed. from the University of Texas.

Jenika Mullen

As a Teach for America corps member, Jenika taught second grade at Achievement First’s Endeavor Elementary School in Brooklyn. In her eight years with the network, Jenika has also taught kindergarten and third grade, and served as an academic dean, instructional coach and curriculum developer. Her students have consistently excelled; in 2017, a remarkable 49 percent of her students were found “advanced” on the Connecticut Common Core exams. Currently, Jenika is principal of Achievement First’s Aspire Elementary School. Jenika earned her B.S. in elementary education from Pennsylvania State University and her M.Ed. from CUNY Brooklyn College.

Neela Parasnis 

Neela began her career with Teach for America as a kindergarten teacher in Lynwood, California. She went on to teach kindergarten at Uncommon Schools in Brooklyn, where her students scored in the 88th percentile on standardized tests, and at ICEP Public Schools in Los Angeles. The KIPP Foundation then tapped Neela to write and implement a leadership curriculum for grade chairs, deans, and principals. For the last eight years, Neela has taught and led at KIPP Empower Academy in Los Angeles. After leading the school for three years with outstanding academic results, Neela opted to return to the fourth-grade classroom, where she is also grade chair and EL coordinator. Neela earned her B.A. in molecular biology from the University of California, Berkeley and holds an M.A. from Loyola Marymount University and an M.A. from California State University, Northridge.

Jeremiah Pickert  

Jeremiah’s teaching career began as a sixth- through eighth-grade English Language Arts and social studies teacher with Teach for America at Dodge Renaissance Academy in Chicago. While there, he raised grant money to found the first debate and poetry slam team. Jeremiah then joined the Noble charter network, where he taught AP English and composition; the eighteen young men he mentored in advisory all went on to college. Jeremiah moved to New York and joined Uncommon Schools’ Leadership Prep Canarsie, where he is the seventh-grade level lead and writing teacher. His students have consistently earned some of the top essay scores across the Brooklyn region of Uncommon Schools. Jeremiah holds a B.S. in political science and psychology from the University of Illinois and earned his teaching certificate at Dominican University.

Bayron Rivas

After serving as a college readiness lead and teaching middle school at Citizen Schools in Newark, Bayron joined the Newark Public School as a sixth-grade math teacher and grade team leader. At Success Academies Charter School in New York City, Bayron posted exceptional results: for three years, all of his fifth- through eighth-grade math students passed the New York state math exam, and in 2019, 89 percent of his eighth-grade students passed the NewYork State Algebra Regents exam. Recently, Bayron returned to New Jersey to teach seventh-grade math at KIPP Team Academy; before the schools were closed last year, his students were on track to be the highest-performing in the network. Bayron holds a B.A. in sociology from Rutgers University and an M.Ed. from Saint Peter’s University.

Will Roble

Will joins us from Avenues: The World School, an international network of private schools, where he teaches a unique thinking skills class that strengthens conceptual reasoning, builds cognitive flexibility, and promotes empathy. Will began his teaching career with Teach for America in the Bronx and went on to teach middle school math at Rise Academy, a KIPP school in Newark and Achievement First in New York. After posting exceptional results, he rose to became the director of middle school math achievement. Will holds a B.A. in cultural anthropology and Italian studies from Trinity College and a M.S. from Pace University.

Aly Shampain

Aly began teaching first and third grade at Success Academy Charter School in New York City as an integrated co-teacher and grade team lead; she went on to become the school's special education teacher support service provider. She was soon selected to be a “labsite” teacher, an exemplar for the Success network. While teaching special education in the 2017-18 year, 93 percent of her class was found proficient or advanced on the state ELA exam and 96 percent on the math exam. Aly then became a second-grade head teacher at The Dwight School, an international network of private schools, where 91 percent of her students read at or above grade level. Aly earned her B.S. from Pennsylvania State University in elementary education and a dual M.A. from Touro College. 

Julia Steinberg

Julia began her teaching career at Achievement First East New York Middle School, where for three years she taught literature and writing to grades six through eight. Julia helped establish the school's first centralized library and developed a robust independent reading program which inspired a culture of reading schoolwide. Her students consistently outperformed their peers in the city, the district, and the Achievement First network. In 2015, Julia began teaching sixth grade English Language Arts at Brooklyn Prospect Charter School. In 2016, she helped found the network’s second middle school, Clinton Hill Middle School, where she continues to teach sixth grade and lead the ELA and Humanities Department. Julia earned a B.A. from Kenyon College in English and American studies, and a M.Ed. from Relay Graduate School of Education.

Sierra Strattner

After serving in Teach for America, Sierra joined Achievement First, where she has taught for twelve years in Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island. The network named Sierra Master Teacher in recognition of her students’ outstanding results; her students scored some 30 points above state averages on Common Core assessments. Sierra firmly believes that with strong teaching, an obsession with data, and an unwavering determination to engage all students, every child can succeed. Sierra is a National Academy for the Advancement of Teacher Excellence fellow. Sierra holds a B.A. from George Washington University in international affairs and a M.A. from Columbia Teachers College.

Kimberly Tan

Kimberly is a fifth-grade head teacher at Ethical Culture Fieldstone School, an independent progressive school in New York that provides its students the framework and knowledge to live an ethical life. She began teaching at Success Academy in Harlem, and then joined the founding team of Central Queens Academy in Queens, where she was literacy coordinator. Her success in the classroom and commitment to progressive education led her to become a mentor, presenter, trainer, and curriculum planner. Kimberly is a native speaker of Mandarin and is fluent in Spanish. Kimberly earned a B.S. from Cornell University in human development and a M.S. from the City College of New York.

Suzie Zapoticzny

Suzie began her teaching career with Success Academy Charter Schools in New York, where she taught the first, second, and fourth grades. In 2017, 100 percent of her students passed the math and ELA New York State Common Core assessments with proficient or advanced scores; her scores consistently ranked in the top ten classrooms across Success’s 30 elementary schools. Suzie was invited to join Success’s central team as senior associate of advocacy, where she planned and implemented advocacy workshops to empower staff and parents to foster relationships with decision makers in their communities. She created an advocacy website which offers tutorials to help staff maintain relationships with local officials. Suzie holds a B.A. from Rutgers University in American Studies and an M.S. from Touro College in education and special education.

Summer 2020

Silvestre (Silver) Arcos

Silver taught for five years in Texas and California before founding a dual language program at a middle school in the Bronx. Silver was a founding math teacher at KIPP Washington Heights Middle School, where he is now assistant principal. Among his many recognitions are the Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Award, the Big Apple Award for Teacher Excellence in New York City, The Butler-Cooley Excellence in Teaching Award, and the Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Culturally Responsive Teaching. Silver earned his B.S. from Cornell University in human development and family studies and his M.A. in bilingual education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Wayne Banks

Wayne began his career as a TFA corps member teaching high school chemistry and physics in the Chicago public schools, where he led more than 400 students to make four years of growth each year. After serving as assistant principal of STEM education and programming at a Chicago vocational high school, Wayne realized that his students lacked sufficient command of math to excel in the sciences. For three years, Wayne has taught mathematics to middle school students at KIPP New Jersey, where he is currently principal-in-residence. Wayne has a B.A. from Washington University, where he studied biochemistry and molecular biology, and a M.A. from Columbia University.

Ben Esser 

Ben started his teaching career in Mississippi, where he taught for two years as part of Teach for America. Since 2011, he has taught sixth grade English Language Arts at Achievement First East New York Middle School. He was named a Stage 5 teacher in 2015, the network’s highest level of recognition. A highlight of his practice is the love of books he shares with his students; each year, his students read, on average, more than a million words each. In 2019, 82 percent of his students were found proficient on the NYS ELA exam, exceeding the performance of the Rye school district, one of the wealthiest in the country. Ben earned a B.A. from Western Washington University in English literature and a M.Ed. from Relay Graduate School of Education.

Keri Hubbard

After teaching high school math in Charlotte as a TFA corps member, Keri joined Achievement First in New Haven. Teaching seventh-grade math and eighth-grade algebra at the network in Brooklyn, she led her students for two consecutive years to 100 percent proficiency on the New York State exam, with 97 percent of eighth-graders passing the Algebra Regents exam. Later, she joined KIPP in Austin, teaching sixth-grade reading, and rose to become assistant principal and director of curriculum and professional development. Currently, Keri is managing director of leadership development at Teaching Trust, an education leadership development organization. Keri holds a B.A. in economics and sociology from Duke University.

Jeff Li

Jeff is the cofounder of KIPP Beyond, the network’s first intentionally integrated school, slated to open in August 2021. Teaching is for Jeff a second career; he began as a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group. After serving in Teach for America, he taught middle school math at KIPP AMP in Brooklyn, where nearly all his students were found proficient on state assessments. Many went on to attend selective colleges, including Columbia, Cornell, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown, and Howard University. Jeff has been recognized as an American Star of Teaching by the US Department of Education. Jeff holds a B.A. from Stanford University in economics and a M.S. Ed. from Bank Street College.

Andy Malone

Andy Malone is regional superintendent at Achievement First’s Greenfield Project where he leads the network’s development of a next generation model based on personalized instruction, expeditionary learning, and social-emotional development. Andy taught fourth-grade at Success Academy in New York City, where he was tapped to design and lead Success’s high school; one hundred percent of the first graduating class went on to four-year colleges. He is a recipient of TFA-Mississippi Delta's Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teaching Award and Harvard University's Jonathan Levin Prize in Teaching and Social Justice. Andy holds a B.A. from Harvard University in history and literature, a M.A. from Columbia Teachers' College, and is pursuing an Ed.D. from University of Virginia.

Jenika Mullen

As a Teach for America corps member, Jenika taught second grade at Achievement First’s Endeavor Elementary School in Brooklyn. In her eight years with the network, Jenika has also taught kindergarten and third grade, and served as an academic dean, instructional coach and curriculum developer. Her students have consistently excelled; in 2017, a remarkable 49 percent of her students were found “advanced” on the Connecticut Common Core exams. Currently, Jenika is principal of Achievement First’s Aspire Elementary School. Jenika earned her B.S. in elementary education from Pennsylvania State University and her M.Ed. from CUNY Brooklyn College.

Joe Negron

Joe comes to us from KIPP Infinity Middle School, where he is the founding principal. For both its academics and its revolutionary approach to character development, the school was featured in Wendy Kopp’s A Chance to Make History, Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed, and Dan Coyle’s The Culture Code. He has been honored with the Harriett Ball Award for Excellence in Teaching, KIPP’s highest teaching honor, and for his advocacy and support beyond the classroom walls, KIPP’s award for service to the network. Joe graduated from Harvard University, majoring in chemistry, and earned his M.A. from Columbia Teachers College.

Danielle Perkins

As a Teach for America corps member, Danielle taught middle school in the Kansas City Public Schools. She then joined Achievement First in New York, where she has taught eighth-grade literature and writing for seven years. Danielle was named a Stage 5 teacher by the network, their highest level of recognition. Forgoing opportunities to lead, Danielle chose to remain in the classroom; the greatest work she can do for students, she believes, is to deliver excellent classroom teaching daily. She recently developed a rigorous eighth-grade curriculum in philosophy. Danielle earned her B.A. in politics, philosophy, and economics from the King’s College and M.Ed. degrees from the University of Missouri St. Louis. 

Tatiana Piskula

Tatiana began teaching at Uncommon Schools in Brooklyn and then joined Ascend Learning, where she taught third grade and earned Ascend’s Teacher of the Year award for top student performance. Tatiana developed an obsession with data-driven instruction, a habit of deep intellectual preparation, and a love of fractions. In 2017, one hundred percent of her students achieved proficiency in math and 79% percent in English Language Arts, compared to less than a quarter in the community school district. Recently, she worked at 2U and Amplify, two educational technology companies that seek to reimagine education with technology. Tatiana holds a B.A. in psychology from Yale University and a M.B.A. and a M.P.A from Columbia University.

Will Roble

Will joins us from Avenues: The World School, an international network of private schools, where he teaches a unique thinking skills class that strengthens conceptual reasoning, builds cognitive flexibility, and promotes empathy. Will began his teaching career with Teach for America in the Bronx and went on to teach middle school math at Rise Academy, a KIPP school in Newark and Achievement First in New York. After posting exceptional results, he rose to became the director of middle school math achievement. Will holds a B.A. in cultural anthropology and Italian studies from Trinity College and a M.S. from Pace University.

Candice Seagrave

Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Candice began as a first-grade assistant teacher at Success Academy Harlem. For nearly a decade, Candice taught third and fourth grade at the school; in 2018, 100 percent of her students were found proficient in math and 93 percent in ELA on the New York State Common Core Assessment. For five years, Candice served as a labsite teacher, mentoring Success teachers. In the fall of 2018, Candice left her first love, the classroom, to serve as assistant principal. Today, she is a principal in residence at KIPP: AMP in Brooklyn. Candice earned her B.A. from Hunter College in literature, language and criticism, and childhood education, and her M.S. from Touro College.

Chandell Stone

Chandell began her career teaching pre-calculus at Democracy Prep Charter High School in Harlem, where she led 100 percent of students to pass the Algebra 2 Regents. Then, as an assistant principal overseeing math and science instruction at Success Academy’s Bronx 1 and Bronx 2, she propelled both schools into the top one percent of schools in the state in math. Chandell is now the lead founder of Dunia Collegiate, a proposed charter school in Atlanta, which will focus on identity affirmation, STEM, and global awareness. Chandell holds a B.S. in mathematics from North Carolina A&T State University and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Sierra Strattner

After serving in Teach for America, Sierra joined Achievement First, where she has taught for twelve years in Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island. The network named Sierra Master Teacher in recognition of her students’ outstanding results; her students scored some 30 points above state averages on Common Core assessments. Sierra firmly believes that with strong teaching, an obsession with data, and an unwavering determination to engage all students, every child can succeed. Sierra is a National Academy for the Advancement of Teacher Excellence fellow. Sierra holds a B.A. from George Washington University in international affairs and a M.A. from Columbia Teachers College.

Kimberly Tan

Kimberly is a fifth-grade head teacher at Ethical Culture Fieldstone School, an independent progressive school in New York that provides its students the framework and knowledge to live an ethical life. She began teaching at Success Academy in Harlem, and then joined the founding team of Central Queens Academy in Queens, where she was literacy coordinator. Her success in the classroom and commitment to progressive education led her to become a mentor, presenter, trainer, and curriculum planner. Kimberly is a native speaker of Mandarin and is fluent in Spanish. Kimberly earned a B.S. from Cornell University in human development and a M.S. from the City College of New York.

Enrichment

2020-21 School year

Jasmin Benward

Now with Bend + Bloom, Jasmin has been practicing yoga for 12 years and teaching children’s yoga for three. While working as a visual arts and special education teacher in public schools, Jasmin realized her mission was to bring yoga, movement, and mindfulness to students with disabilities and underserved children and their families. Since obtaining her certification from Rainbow Yoga Kids, Jasmin became one of three U.S. ambassadors for Rainbow Kids Yoga and has collaborated with New York public and charter schools, Harlem Grown, and Citizens Schools.

Meghan Cornett Mayes 

Meghan incorporates fun, games, and mindfulness activities into her yoga classes at Bend + Bloom. She is also a school teacher, holds two certifications in children's yoga, and has taught in a variety of settings for young yogis. With a background as a classically trained musician and music teacher, Meghan immediately fell in love with the world of sound meditation. She has a passion for the therapeutic effects of sound on the body, especially in combination with meditation. Her goal is to equip children with the tools yoga provides so that they can benefit in their daily lives and as they grow older. Meghan loves watching her students grow and gain more awareness on both an emotional and physical level.

Jenn Eisenberg

Jenn has been a teaching artist with NDI since 2007. Jenn teaches in the New York City public schools and the Spruce Street School and has taught at public and private schools in the New York City area. She co-founded BOLD Arts, which offers camps and classes in the tristate region. Jenn has performed with Bianca Johnson and Dancers, Rock and Roll Debauchery, and Spark Movement Collective. Jenn is a NY State Certified Dance Educator with a B.A. in dance from Marymount Manhattan College.

Bianca Johnson

Choreographer Bianca Johnson began her dance training at the Joffrey Ballet School. In 1984, Bianca was invited by Jacques d’Amboise to join National Dance Institute. She has created original works for numerous organizations, including Youth Pride Chorus, House of the Roses, and the September Concert. Her choreography has been presented in and beyond New York, including the Apollo Theater and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Bianca currently teaches more than 600 New York City public school children each week through the NDI’s programs. In 2012, Bianca founded Bianca Johnson & Dancers, a dance company for any age, gender, culture, or body type. Bianca earned her B.F.A. in dance from New York University.

Eric Lawrence 

Eric has been teaching yoga and fitness practices for 15 years and leading classes with Bend + Bloom since 2010. He completed his yoga teacher training at the former OM Yoga Center in New York City and has continued to maintain a fresh teaching practice through the advanced study of anatomy, kinesiology, and injury prevention. Eric believes that through yoga and fitness kids can develop body awareness, strength, and a healthy range of motion—all qualities that can limit distraction and benefit children's developing minds and bodies.

Li Murphy 

As a BioBus community scientist, Li shares her passion for science with K-12 students. In Southeast Asia, Kyrgyzstan, and France, she explored beekeeping, chemical communication in native bees, and beehive fences as a deterrent to wild elephants. Li has worked at Harvard University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Death Valley National Park, and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences in Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center and Piute Mountains, Nevada. Li earned her B.A. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology with a minor in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Harvard University.

Samantha Pollack

Samantha is a virtual lab instructor at Students 2 Science (S2S), where she delivers live virtual science experiments right into the classroom. As a proponent for the introduction of hands-on STEM in the classroom, Samantha joined S2S to combine her passions for the sciences and education. Before joining S2S, she worked as a ceramics process engineer at McDanel Advanced Ceramic Technologies in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.  Deciding to move from engineering to education, she taught fifth grade math at College Achieve in Paterson, New Jersey. She also enjoys creating and sharing her artwork as a printmaker, paper-crafter, and painter. Samantha earned her B.S. in ceramics engineering and her B.F.A. from Alfred University. 

Gary J. Sarkis 

Gary is the director of operations at Students 2 Science, where he manages the Newark Technology Center. Prior to joining S2S, Gary spent nearly two decades as a technologist developing scientific instrumentation that helps researchers analyze biological material and further scientific and medical research. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale, where he studied biophysics and biochemistry. Gary earned his B.S. and M.S. in microbiology, and his Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology, all from the University of Pittsburgh.

Mollie Thurman 

Mollie is chief community scientist at BioBus, where she manages a team of community scientists specializing in environmental justice and urban ecology. Since 2014 Mollie has created hands-on programs that invite students to deeply explore the marine ecology of New York City.She has worked as a researcher with the Harvard School of Public Health and the Hudson River Foundation. Mollie received her B.A. in environmental studies from Mount Holyoke College and her M.A. from Columbia University in conservation biology.

Summer 2020

Jenn Eisenberg

Jenn has been a teaching artist with NDI since 2007. Jenn teaches in the New York City public schools and the Spruce Street School and has taught at public and private schools in the New York City area. She co-founded BOLD Arts, which offers camps and classes in the tristate region. Jenn has performed with Bianca Johnson and Dancers, Rock and Roll Debauchery, and Spark Movement Collective. Jenn is a NY State Certified Dance Educator with a B.A. in dance from Marymount Manhattan College.

Bianca Johnson

Choreographer Bianca Johnson began her dance training at the Joffrey Ballet School. In 1984, Bianca was invited by Jacques d’Amboise to join National Dance Institute. She has created original works for numerous organizations, including Youth Pride Chorus, House of the Roses, and the September Concert. Her choreography has been presented in and beyond New York, including the Apollo Theater and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Bianca currently teaches more than 600 New York City public school children each week through the NDI’s programs. In 2012, Bianca founded Bianca Johnson & Dancers, a dance company for any age, gender, culture, or body type. Bianca earned her B.F.A. in dance from New York University.

Samantha Lopez

Samantha is a certified instructor in hatha, vinyasa, and gentle flow yoga. Her studies with Ignite Yoga & Wellness Institute prepared her to teach mindfulness-based yoga practices, meditation, and breathwork. A trauma-informed teacher, she specializes in teaching children’s yoga and highly customized private sessions and group classes. Samantha is currently an Inspiring Minds Day School yoga teacher for children ages five to thirteen, an Ignite Yoga & Wellness Institute lead instructor and co-facilitator of teacher trainings, and a Yoga 4 Change recovery centers’ instructor.

Mollie Thurman 

Mollie is chief community scientist at BioBus, where she manages a team of community scientists specializing in environmental justice and urban ecology. Since 2014 Mollie has created hands-on programs that invite students to deeply explore the marine ecology of New York City.She has worked as a researcher with the Harvard School of Public Health and the Hudson River Foundation. Mollie received her B.A. in environmental studies from Mount Holyoke College and her M.A. from Columbia University in conservation biology.

Li Murphy 

As a BioBus community scientist, Li shares her passion for science with K-12 students. In Southeast Asia, Kyrgyzstan, and France, she explored beekeeping, chemical communication in native bees, and beehive fences as a deterrent to wild elephants. Li has worked at Harvard University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Death Valley National Park, and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences in Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center and Piute Mountains, Nevada. Li earned her B.A. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology with a minor in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Harvard University.

Gary J. Sarkis 

Gary is the director of operations at Students 2 Science, where he manages the Newark Technology Center. Prior to joining S2S, Gary spent nearly two decades as a technologist developing scientific instrumentation that helps researchers analyze biological material and further scientific and medical research. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale, where he studied biophysics and biochemistry. Gary earned his B.S. and M.S. in microbiology, and his Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology, all from the University of Pittsburgh.

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