Melissa Menake, Principal
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Ms. Menake attended public schools her entire life. She graduated from Binghamton University and has earned two Masters Degrees in English Education from Teachers College at Columbia University. She is proud to say that she is serving her thirteenth year as a New York City educator. Over the course of the last thirteen years, she has taught English Language Arts to students in Middle, High, and Transfer Schools in Districts 2, 4, and 13. She has also taught freshman composition to returning adult students at The College of New Rochelle. Currently, the founding principal of Cambria Heights Academy, she is excited to embark upon her second year as a school leader in District 29, Hollis, Queens.
Saby Malary, Assistant Principal
Saby Malary comes to us with more than 14 years of experience in New York City public schools, and wears many hats at CHA. With a background in both classroom teaching and guidance, as well as an administrative license, Ms. Malary will teach Living Environment and run the guidance office at Cambria Heights Academy. She will also assist Ms. Menake with administrative duties.
Nicole Alamu, Assistant Principal/Mathematics
Nicole Alamu, formerly a member of the CHA math department, is the Assistant Principal for discipline. Ms. Alamu has taught mathematics and technology at the Middle School level for four years. She is a pioneer on the technology front in that she has used technology to individualize and differentiate mathematics instruction before it was cutting edge. She has received the first level of SMARTboard certification and has also used online math curriculum software to help students prepare and review for the Regents. Ms. Alamu is an active member of the Long Island Chapter of the National Hampton Alumni Association and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Ms. Alamu was the first graduate of the 5-year MBA program, receiving both her BS in Business Administration and her MBA from Hampton University, and her MS in Teaching from Pace University. She is also a recent graduate of the LEAP Program, where she received her administration license from Baruch College.
Bhan Bhatia, Technology Specialist
Stephanie Burley, English
Ms. Burley is an educator at heart. Her commitment to teach stems from her love for supporting youth through their clamor for emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual growth; which was made real by her upbringing in a single-parent home in Hollis, Queens. Her mother instilled in her the importance of an education and helping others. This led her to receive an undergraduate degree in Humanities and Justice Studies from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY. It was there that she was reminded of her love of teaching and decided to help young people before they reached the justice system. Thus, she pursued a Masters of Arts degree in English Education (grades 7-12) at Teachers College of Columbia University. But her educational career did not end there. Ms. Burley later went onto earn a Masters of Divinity in Religious Education from Union Theological Seminary in New York, New York. In that time she was privileged to work as a youth minister at her church and volunteer with the Children’s Defense Fund, a non-profit organization committed to ensuring that every child has a healthy, fair, safe, and moral start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. Over the past three years she has taught English Language Arts (ELA) to middle school students at Catherine and Count Basie Middle School; as well as, work diligently as a member of the Basie Curriculum Team, Learning Partners Program and Teacher Leadership Program. It is these experiences and more that helped Ms. Burley become the well-rounded educator she is today.
Denise Carlton, ISS
My name is Denise Carlton. I am from Brooklyn, New York. I attended PS 40 , JHS 35, and Brooklyn Tech and Hempstead HS. I received my Bachelor's Degree at College of New Rochelle in Teacher Education with a minor in Psychology and Social Work. I received my Masters of Science in Education with a Concentration in Education from Long Island University. I have worked in the NYC Dept of Education for 20+ years, but have just returned home to New York last year after my parents death. I am happy to be teaching and learning at Cambria Heights Academy.
Ethan Chaisson, Social Studies
Born and raised in New Jersey. He graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor’s in History and a Master’s in Social Studies education. He has over 5 years of school experience both in and out of the classroom. He has written curriculum for many social studies classes such as World History, Psychology, and Gender Studies. He has taught at rural, suburban, and urban districts in a variety of styles and environments. He loves the challenge of adapting to new styles and incorporating them into his classroom. Through those years he has started and coached a cross country program and was an assistant track and field coach. He has also enjoyed leading various improv clubs in the past. He looks forward to working at Cambria Heights Academy.
Kara Crompton, Social Studies
Ellie Cui, Mathematics
Jocelyn Espinoza, Social Studies
Gregory Fisher, Physical Education
Rachel Florman, Art/Technology
Rachel Florman has been teaching digital art and software engineering at CHA since the school opened in 2010. Before joining the CHA staff, she worked at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, planning and teaching new media art classes for teens, adults and families. She has a bachelors degree in Visual Art from Brown University, and a masters in Art and Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Cheyenne Gaynor, Guidance Counselor
Ms. Gaynor was born in Jamaica, West Indies and raised in Laurelton, Queens. She attended public school throughout her childhood and teenage years. She graduated from Brooklyn College with a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Children and Youth Studies and minored in Sociology. Shortly after completing her Bachelor’s Degree, she enrolled in Manhattan College Graduate program in School Counseling. She completed the graduate program within a year and earned a Master’s Degree in School Counseling. While she was in college she was working as a Guidance Counselor Assistant at the high school level. She is now joining us part-time as a Guidance Counselor at CHA.
Mohammad Hamza, Social Studies
Myron was born and raised in southeast Queens. He attended elementary, middle, and high school in the community. He is no stranger to working with children from all walks of life, having been a residential counselor for the last 10+ years. His experience includes developing educational and vocational goals and assisting with personal and social-emotional problems. His experience has also equipped him with a wealth of resources and connections to community based organizations. Myron is known for his ability to relate to children. When it comes to the students, he has the perfect balance of being firm, yet friendly. Having two children of his own provides insight to the concerns of parents and allows him to be a liaison for the home-school partnership. Myron plans to continue his education at York College and become a Special Education Teacher.
Ngozi Hodder, ISS
Elizabeth Holmes, ISS
Daniel Huttner, English
Linda Jakobs, Spanish
Linda was raised and educated in public schools in Queens. She has two Master’s; one in Spanish and Secondary Education and the other in Guidance and School Counseling. Linda spent one year studying in Spain which fueled her passion for the Spanish language and helped her develop native-like fluency. She taught Spanish for almost seven years at the former Andrew Jackson HS in Cambria Heights. She has also taught Reading, English and ESL under ancillary licenses and worked in a children’s home in Jamaica West Indies. Linda served several terms as President of the Special Education PTA and was a long-time parent member on the CPSE and CSE committees in the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District. She also served on the board of the Long Island Branch of the International Dyslexia Society, Linda is creative and enjoys reading and writing. She believes that all children can learn and is excited to be at CHA, back in the classroom doing what she loves best.
Ji-Young Jang, Dean
Ketlynne Joseph, Science
Ms. J was raised in Queens, New York and found her passion for working with children early on. She volunteered regularly as a P.S. 4 volunteer tutor and peer tutor throughout her time at St. Francis Preparatory School. She went on to attend Spelman College where she pursued a Bachelor's of Science in Biology. In 2006 she was accepted into the NYC Teaching Fellows as a secondary science teacher and pursued her Master's in Education. Ms. Joseph's teaching career began at the middle school level teaching seventh and eighth grade science. There she also served as Dance Coordinator which has allowed her to incorporate her passion into her career. Over the past six years she has taught science to grades 7, 8, and 9, served as step coach at Christ the King, and assistant dance teacher at K.E.Y.A. Dance Studio. She has been blessed to have the opportunity to continually renew herself and grow as an educator.
Crystal Lauren, Mathematics
Crystal Lauren was born and raised in the streets of many of NYC's finest boroughs. She will always be a girl from Lower East Side, but she also spent a great deal of her life in the Bronx. She has been teaching for 5 years at I.S. 93, her former school, and just graduated her final class of 8th graders. Prior to teaching, she worked in an animal hospital and spent a few years working at Columbia University as a security guard. Ms. Lauren went to school upstate at Clarkson University, but received a double Bachelors degree from Hunter College in Economics and Sociology. She is a NYC Teaching Fellow and graduated from Pace University with a Masters in Education. She is currently attending Queens College for Exercise, Nutrition, and Dietetics. Along with teaching, she is pursuing a bodybuilding/modeling career and is an avid boxer. She hopes to eventually train young female boxers in the city. Ms. Lauren has played all kinds of sports since she can remember and is pretty much an open book when asked respectfully.
Daniel Lindner, Science
Mr. Lindner was raised in Long Island, NY. He received his Bachelors of Arts at Hofstra University, majoring in Biology. After earning his Bachelors, Mr. Lindner was the field research assistant for Dr. Myla Aronson of Hofstra University. Mr. Lindner worked with high school students throughout Long Island by mentoring them on how to conduct a proper experiment. Mr. Lindner continued his education by attending SUNY Old Westbury, earning his Masters in Biology Secondary Education. Mr. Lindner is looking forward to teaching Living Environment at Cambria Heights Academy, and is committed to preparing students for their academic and professional careers.
Dilcia Medina, Parent Coordinator
Dilcia Medina was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic and lived there until she was eleven. Her family relocated to New York City and she has been living here for 21 years. She attended public schools throughout her school years. Right after high school, she attended City College and later transfered to the School of New Resources, College of New Rochelle, where she graduated with a bachelors degree in Psychology. Ms. Medina has been serving families for ten years in the Department of Education. She started in a small school in East Harlem called The Heritage School as a school aide, and later was hired as a parent coordinator. She is fluent in English and Spanish, and is very honored to join the Cambria Heights Academy for New Literacies.
Rebecca Merz, English
E. Miller Jr., Physical Education
Mr. E. Miller Jr. has been a teacher for 8 years. Mr. Miller was born and raised in Queens, New York. He has taught for the New York State Board of Education and Florida State Department of Education. Mr. Miller has taught Elementary, Middle, and High School level children. He holds a Bachelors degree from Michigan State University in Physical Education and Exercise Science, and a Master’s Degree from Alfred University in Literacy. Mr. Miller also teaches Martial Arts and has been a Black Belt since 1985. Mr. Miller has also coached basketball at the high school level, and participated as a skills coach for various other levels. Mr. Miller has become a part of CHA because of his desire to help the children from his hometown succeed. He also enjoys the opportunity to grow with a school and develop opportunities for the students that can last for decades.
Kristen O'Brien, Art/Technology
Ms. O'Briend possess a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and an MAT in Visual Arts from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. After spending some years living out-of-state and obtaining her degrees, she traveled and worked in different educational settings before she returned to her native Long Island and began working in a charter school environment, where she remained for the past four years. Now entering into her seventh year of teaching, she is thrilled to get back to her passion for working digitally and engaging CHA’s students in the world of communicating through images. When not studying or working, she enjoys spend time outdoors and travelling with her family.
Josh Schulman, ELA
Josh Schulman has been teaching ELA and Literacy for nine years. He received his undergraduate degree in English and Secondary Education from SUNY Geneseo, and his Masters degree in Fiction Writing from Queens College. An amateur writer, filmmaker, and musician, Mr. Schulman brings his love of all forms of literacy into the classroom. He is a strong advocate for the use of technology in education, believing that technological literacy is an essential ingredient of success in a 21st Century world.
Christopher Toffolo, Art/Technology
Born and raised on the south shore of Long Island, Mr. Toffolo has experienced a public education for most of his life. Mr. Toffolo earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Hofstra University where he worked intensively with cutting edge technology in the fields of film, television, and radio. After working in the field for the Apple computer company, Mr. Toffolo decided to dedicate his life to teaching his real passion: reading and writing. He went back to Hofstra University to complete graduate work and obtained a Master's of Science degree in Secondary Eduction in English. Mr. Toffolo is now certified to teach grades 7-12 in English throughout New York State. Mr. Toffolo comes to Cambria Heights Academy after spending time at Newtown High School in Elmhurst, Queens. Here, Mr. Toffolo taught English courses to 9th and 10th graders from various backgrounds and learning styles. During this time, he successfully integrated technology and various types of writing into daily lessons. Technology and writing are two important areas that Mr. Toffolo uses in his daily lessons. Along with a strong passion for reading, writing, and technology, Mr. Toffolo loves to bike, snowboard, and surf the sweet waves on the south shore of Long Island.
Helen Vidal, Secretary
Teana White, Mathematics
Ms. White has lived in four of the five boroughs of New York City, working with students in a number of capacities to help develop their academic, social, and personal interests. An advocate for student achievement both inside and outside of the classroom, Ms. White enjoys using the arts to encourage students to think creatively and strategically about their goals. A proud graduate of Amherst College, where she double majored in English and Theater/Dance, she is currently pursuing her Master's Degree in Education at St. John's University. Ms. White is looking forward to joining the CHA team where she will be teaching Integrated Algebra and Dance.
Hannah Xie, ISS
Ms. Xie graduated from China with a BA degree in English and American Literature. With a full scholarship from Ohio University, she received her MA degree in International Affairs. Recently
she also received her MS degree from Touro College in TESOL program. As an ESL teacher, she is dedicated to serving her students with all kinds of need to improve their academic levels.