Prior to becoming Head of School, Jamie was a founding member of six AltSchool campuses in California and New York, including Brooklyn Heights. Her move to New York was prompted by the opportunity to open Brooklyn Heights as the first campus outside of San Francisco.
Jamie is passionate about giving students voice and agency, no matter their age. Drawing from best practice and current education research, Jamie has worked with educators across AltSchool campuses to research and implement curricula spanning the elementary age bands. She is most fond of the Kimochis and the ways in which the curriculum works to empower children to recognize, and advocate for, the tools they need to be successful.
Before joining AltSchool, Jamie worked as a resource specialist and then acceleration coordinator for San Francisco Public Schools. Prior to that, she was in Washington, D.C., as part of the 2007 Teach for America Corps where she taught students with diverse learning and emotional needs in District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). Jamie holds a Master of Education in Special Education from George Mason University.
"Teaching at AltSchool is invigorating. As an educator I get to spend my time utilizing best practices in ways that I know will meet students where they are—all the while giving them the tools and structure to explore their curiosities."
David believes that his role as an educator is to create a diverse array of learning opportunities for all learners and to challenge himself and his students to look at every experience as an opportunity for growth. Most recently, David served as a lead educator in the lower and upper elementary classroom, where he led ELA and project-based learning instruction. Before coming to AltSchool, David served as both a classroom educator and intervention specialist. Prior to that, he participated in the Teach for America program and has taught English as a foreign language, both in the U.S. and abroad.
David has a B.A. in English literature and a master’s in elementary education. He is passionate about engaging with both fiction and nonfiction texts in the classroom and is excited to share his love of literature with his students. As a lifelong learner himself, David is committed to ongoing professional development and recently attended the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University and completed the Google for Education certification program as well a design thinking course with IDEO.
"I’m excited to engage my class in a variety of project-based learning experiences and to build upon the past year’s work. I look forward to creating a learning environment for my students where they feel free to explore what interests them and are challenged by content and experiences that build their growth as learners.”
Gillianne has been an educator for 15 years, teaching pre-K through fifth grade students as well as mentoring other educators. She’s passionate about learning, and enjoys watching her students cultivate their individual talents and develop their unique personalities. There isn’t a day that goes by where she doesn’t bring her love of music, the arts, and science into her classroom.
She has a master's in early childhood and childhood education from Bank Street School of Education as well as an extensive background in the Reggio Emilia approach. Before coming to AltSchool, she founded a nursery school program that combined a Reggio classroom with the forest school outdoor model. She is passionate about getting children exploring outdoors—gardening and investigating natural phenomena.
“I am excited to continue the work of helping children learn in a way that puts their needs first. Every child is different and that should be reflected in the way that they are taught.”
Jenny has been an educator at AltSchool for three years and has seen firsthand how much young learners can grow in strength of heart, mind, and will. She graduated from Vassar College in 2008 with honors and received her New York State childhood teaching license. Her undergraduate thesis project, which consisted of original music she wrote with and for children, was awarded distinction. She received her Master of Education in childhood special education from Hunter College in 2014 and is fully certified in both general and special education in New York state.
Jenny was the associate director of education for three years at New York City Children's Theater. She managed school partnerships, trained the staff of teaching artists in the arts-education curriculum, and taught residencies in over 20 New York City public schools. Jenny also worked for VLM Studio for three years as a travel tutor, creating an innovative and experiential curriculum aligned with NYS Learning Standards.
“Educators at AltSchool support each other in a learning community where we continuously update and renew our practice and research. Students see lifelong learning modeled in their school and can’t wait to discover more about themselves and their world. Our students’ ownership over their learning and reflecting experiences is inspiring every day.”
Liz has worked with children in a variety of settings during her six years as an educator. Before coming to AltSchool, she taught in Kansas City, Missouri, for two years as a corps member of Teach for America. Liz has also worked as an English teacher at Catholic Charities’ refugee resettlement office and at Sesame Street as a freelance education specialist working on content and curriculum on multiple international co-productions.
She received her B.S. in art therapy and social work from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She earned her master’s degree in special education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and later moved to New York City to receive a master’s degree in international education policy at NYU with the goal of making a difference in education at a level above the classroom.
“I am so excited to work with students in a setting where their individual needs are addressed and attended to, and where the culture of the school is so deliberate and positive.”
Yalda believes that every child deserves an educational setting that provides support and equal opportunity for independent thinking. Her goal as an educator is to build confidence by inspiring students to pursue their curiosity and trigger their enthusiasm for learning. In doing so, she hopes to create a learning environment that acknowledges and respects each child’s culture and background.
Originally from Tehran, Yalda moved to the U.S. to attend college. She majored in marketing at Rutgers while teaching piano to children. The latter experience triggered a desire to understand children’s learning and development.
Yalda continued her education at the University of Barcelona, where she earned a master’s degree in cognitive science (and learned Spanish). Inspired by an interdisciplinary approach to human language development and linguistics, she decided to investigate language acquisition and grammar among Persian-speaking children with autism in her master’s thesis. As a result of that research and working with autistic children at Tehran’s only non-profit autism school, Yalda decided to pursue a teaching career. After completing special education studies at Teachers College Columbia University, Yalda began teaching in New York at the Spectrum School for children with autism, where she employed evidence-based learning practices when creating student-centered lessons.
“I am excited to be part of a team of passionate educators who are teaching children to be better world citizens. For a long time I’ve wanted to work in an environment that challenges children to think differently about the world in a way that will lead them to critical, independent thinking.“
Zhanna is a maker at heart who takes imagination seriously. For her, creativity is just a way to think about challenges. She relishes the fact that even the most colorful and unexpected ideas find their way into her classroom through the unbounded imagination of her students. Just as her goal is to invite her students to learn through courageous experimentation, Zhanna is constantly in the process of learning something new, in part by taking classes at the New York City School of Visual Arts.
Zhanna has a master’s degree in education from Pace University along with certifications in dyslexia and Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). Prior to AltSchool, Zhanna taught at Caedmon School where she designed the school’s maker space and found points of connection between Montessori philosophy and the maker movement.
“AltSchool is a space that communicates genuine belief in the immense power of a child's mind. Within a carefully designed environment, it invites human love of activity and independence of character in the context of peace and personal responsibility.“
Having witnessed firsthand how students benefit from learning experiences that combine independent, group, and self-directed work, Abby believes in the importance of balancing individualistic experiences with collaborative learning. She has been in education for nine years, seven of which were in the classroom teaching early childhood education. She is excited to transition into the role of Personalization Lead at Brooklyn Heights where she can continue to have an impact across the community.
Prior to joining AltSchool, Abby served as curriculum coordinator at her previous school, where she implemented a learning framework for four- and five-year-olds. Abby has an M.S. in early education from Bank Street Graduate School and is certified in early childhood general education. She wrote her master’s thesis on peer friendships and relationships, which culminated in a children's story about a dog named Zadie who travels throughout New York City, finding friends along the way. She received a dual bachelor's degree in religious studies and gender and women’s studies from Connecticut College. Before teaching, she spent two years in an AmeriCorps program, focusing on health education in schools, which led her to realize that she loved teaching, creating classroom communities, learning about children’s minds, and nurturing children’s creativity. Originally from Northern California, Abby now calls Brooklyn home.
“I appreciate AltSchool’s focus on the individual student and how self-directed learning can be applied to working collaboratively as part of a group. All children learn differently and I’m excited to learn new ways to encourage exploration, creativity, and community in students.”
Beth previously taught music and French for 10 years in public and private schools in both urban and suburban educational settings. Her background includes every age from infants through high school students. She believes the foundation of a whole-child education starts with a student-centered, safe, and supportive learning environment where students can take risks, be creative, and learn about the world around them.
A native of Chicago, she moved to Brooklyn to be part of the founding AltSchool Brooklyn Heights team in 2015. In addition to her love of French, Beth is a theater kid to her core, loves to travel, and is known to drop music and movie references in between spontaneous dance breaks. Beth earned a bachelor's degree in music education with a minor in French from Illinois State University and a Master of Education in learning design and leadership from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is also Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certified with an endorsement in English for Young Learners.
“My daily joy is working in a school community that shares my vision for education and gives me the opportunity to share my many passions with them. I’m looking forward to another great year of adventures, exploration, creativity, and innovation with the students in Brooklyn!”
Sports, fitness, health, and wellness have always played an important role in Jenna’s life. As a former collegiate soccer player for Queens College, she knew she wanted to parlay that passion into a career that she finds deeply rewarding. Earning a master’s in exercise science was the next step toward making that dream a reality.
Jenna brings a wealth of experience to this role, having been involved in youth development programming for more than eight years. Her experience includes developing activity and fitness curriculums with Town Sports International and House of Sports for students ranging from kindergarten through college.
“Why I teach at AltSchool and what excites me about AltSchool go hand-in-hand. To see an education program so innovative and personalized to each child is amazing. AltSchool is changing the face of education—to be a part of that is truly remarkable.”
Kenny worked as a fourth grade teacher in public schools in Austin, Texas, and private schools in Manhattan. He was the head of lower school at the Brearley School, a K through 12 girls’ school in Manhattan, before turning his hobby into a dream job as a fine furniture maker and business owner at Creed Furniture. He has a Master of Science in educational leadership from Bank Street College of Education in New York City. His thesis focused on adult culture in schools, and educator morale and its impact on students’ experiences. Kenny has a B.A. in journalism from Louisiana State University.
Prior to working as an educator in schools, Kenny worked at Lotus Development Corporation in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children.
“What continues to attract me to AltSchool is the position we have taken to lead the transformation that is so desperately need in schools. From our pedagogy to the software that powers it, we are making something powerful, a true agent of change in the education space. As an educator, there is no other place I would rather be.”