Alex Ragone transforms schools by empowering students, teachers, and parents to solve authentic problems in their community and beyond. Alex is the founding head of school at AltSchool Union Square where he led the founding team of educators in building a learner-centric environment, empowering students to “know who they are and uphold the highest standards of academics and character." He brings 20 years of experience leading and teaching in independent schools in New York City. Prior to AltSchool, he worked at City and Country School as their director of middle and upper school.
Alex has presented at national and regional conferences about student-centered learning and personalization. He served on the NAIS Innovation Task Force where he worked on principles of good practice around technology use and online learning. He chaired various NYSAIS conference planning committees and worked on a number of school accreditation teams. Alex holds a master’s degree in instructional design and media from Teachers College and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from George Washington University.
“I'm passionate about the idea of bringing student-centered, project-based learning to a wider audience with AltSchool. AltSchool Union Square is a school where adolescents are empowered to become lifelong learners, critical questioners, and solution-finders.”
Jaqi joined the AltSchool team in 2014. She taught as an Upper Elementary educator and is currently the humanities lead at AltSchool Union Square. Jaqi creates caring school communities through teaching social-emotional learning specializing in mindfulness, restorative practices, conflict resolution, and social thinking. She also works across the network to develop best practices and curricula around diversity and cultural competency. Jaqi created partnerships with educator teams to cultivate and maintain healthy class cultures based in SEL curricula, strategies, and mindful language.
Prior to AltSchool, Jaqi taught as a full inclusion educator at Brightworks and the Little School. She has also worked with Sensory Social Playgroups to foster self awareness, regulation strategies and pro-social skills in children. Jaqi received her B.A. in sociology from San Francisco State University. She recently attended professional development workshops at Harvard’s Principal Center for New and Aspiring School Leaders and the Writing Institute at Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project.
Jordan grew up in Sydney, Australia, with parents who were both educators, inspiring an early interest in teaching. Jordan has a B.A. and an M.A. in education and has experience teaching in both rural and urban environments. As a student, Jordan studied abroad in Sweden before spending two years in London as an educator in a range of school settings, including behavioral schools.
Jordan is fluent in Swedish, has been playing classical violin for nearly 20 years, and is an avid cyclist. Now based in New York City, Jordan rides for InTandem, a nonprofit biking organization that uses tandem bikes to help the visually impaired stay active.
“I am excited about the opportunity to be part of the driving force behind educational change. I look forward to working with many diverse colleagues to unlock student potential, creativity, and agency.”
A native New Yorker, Lazaro has taught a wide range of learners and subjects through various positions in the past half decade. These subjects have ranged from English language arts and humanities to fine arts and animation at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels. Most recently, he spent two years as an eighth grade reading teacher in Canarsie, Brooklyn.
As a lifelong learner and an advocate for educational equality, Lazaro honed his teaching abilities through his two years of service with Teach for America, working with underserved youth in Brooklyn. Lazaro felt the need to give back to his own community, having grown up part of New York’s underserved and underrepresented youth.
Lazaro holds a BFA in Illustration from Syracuse University and will be receiving his M.A in general education with an ELA track from Relay Graduate School of Education in fall 2018. Lazaro is also an associate board member of his alma mater George Jackson Academy, an all-boys school created to engage underserved, academically capable boys at a time when young men are particularly vulnerable to disengaging from school.
“Students must be able to empower themselves through their knowledge to gain a firm understanding of the world around them. It is my absolute belief that students can achieve this through an inclusive and individualized learning experience where every child feels like they have a stake in molding the future.”
Melody has been working as an educator for nearly a decade in various capacities as an experiential STEM teacher. Throughout her career, she has worked in museums, zoos, classrooms, and even in the backcountry, creating meaningful educational experiences for students. Through her career, Melody has led various STEM educational initiatives and teamed up with other New York City institutions to enrich the student experience.
A former New York City Teaching Fellow, Melody previously worked for four years as a math and science educator in a Spanish and English dual-language middle school. She holds an M.S. in education and a certificate in bilingual education. Prior to joining AltSchool, she was a program leader for a Bogota-based outdoor education company and also worked as an after-school program educator, a bicycle instructor, and a trail crew leader leading conservation projects on the Appalachian Trail.
“I am excited to be part of a large-scale effort to transform the educational experience. I look forward to creating many ‘ah-ha!’ moments throughout the year.”
Nafisa joins the Union Square team from AltSchool Brooklyn Heights where she was the Personalization Lead. Prior to this role, Nafisa spent several years as a key member of AltSchool’s admissions team, working closely with parents and students at our New York schools and enrolling many of our East Village, Union Square, and founding Brooklyn Heights families.
Nafisa brings nearly two decades of experience in education to the team, having worked in a variety of different school settings throughout New York City. She started her career as an educator at a Montessori school, which shaped the foundation for her approach as an educator. It was there that she first developed a love for working with students in mixed-age groups and a passion for allowing students to explore and actualize their learning. Those two practices drew her to AltSchool because of their powerful impact on learning.
“I’m passionate about AltSchool’s whole-child, personalized approach to learning. It’s so exciting to work closely with each of our students and follow their growth throughout the school year!”
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.”