With a background in chemistry from CUNY Hunter College, Summer Ahmad teaches Earth science, chemistry, and forensic science at Lavelle Prep high school. Her favorite part of teaching is creating connections with the students, which allows them to take what they learn in her classroom and apply it to the real world. Ms. Ahmad is a strong believer that teaching allows her to mentor, support, and inspire our leaders of tomorrow to follow their dreams and make a difference in society.
“Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” -Rumi
Spanning more than 20 years of classroom and leadership experience at high school and higher education levels, Jazmin Andrade has devoted her education career to finding innovative and fresh ways to engage students in the learning process. Her true passion is supporting the diverse student population from urban and rural areas to overcome difficulties and building self-confidence and resilience skills. Ms. Andrade earned a Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Business Administration degrees from overseas for later continuing her academic journey by obtaining an Advanced Certificate on Leadership in Education from The City University of New York. One of Ms. Andrade’s favorite parts of working at Lavelle is the core values and support the teachers give to their students to overcome difficulties and attain their full potential.
“Teaching is more than imparting knowledge; it is inspiring change. Learning is more than absorbing facts; it is acquiring understanding.” – William Arthur Ward
Daniel Barrios is a teaching assistant at Lavelle Prep high school with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from the College of Staten Island. Mr. Barrios believes that one of the best parts of working at Lavelle is being able to learn from the students he teaches. He currently lives in New York with his wife and young son.
“In my view, a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.” – Junot Diaz
Alisa Booth is a teaching assistant at Lavelle Prep high school with a master’s degree from the College of New Rochelle. Her favorite part of teaching is the connections made with her students.
Michele Ciechalski began her career with a degree in management from St. John’s University. At the age of 40, she enrolled in Wagner College to pursue her dream job as a teacher. In the years following, Michele Ciechalski earned her MS in Elementary and Special Education as well as an MS in Educational Leadership before joining our team at Lavelle Prep High School as a teacher, alumni coordinator, and COSA. A fun fact about Ms. Ciechalski is that she loves anything yellow, especially roses or sunflowers!
“Every day is a new beginning. Take a deep breath, smile, and start again.”
Judith Cirincione studied at SUNY College Empire State University in her undergrad years before pursuing her Master’s degree at Touro College. Now a teacher at Lavelle Prep high school, Mrs. Circincione says that the staff is the best that she has worked with throughout the entirety of her educational career. She believes that, as a teacher at Lavelle, she is exposed to many professional development opportunities.
“All our dreams can come true…if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
A Staten Island native, Steven DiSalvo graduated from Wagner College with his bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in marketing and a minor in music. He worked in finance for about 7 years prior to my career as a teacher at Lavelle. He went on to complete his master’s degree in adolescent education with a dual certification in English and special education. Currently, a teacher at Lavelle, Mr. DiSalvo enjoys the freedom to infuse his passion for music and literature in both his English classes and music production classes. He is grateful to be part of such an amazing team that encourages creativity, individuality and helps every student find a path to achieve success. This empowers him to share my passion and create a genuine connection with his students. A fun fact about Mr. DiSalvo is that he is also a musician. He can sing, play guitar, bass, drums, keys, ukulele, and mandolin. He is the guitarist, singer, and manager of his own band and loves to perform live.
“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” John Lennon
Aydin Durantas is a teacher at Lavelle Prep high school with a bachelor’s degree in political science and English and a master’s degree in English education from the College of Staten Island. His favorite part of working at Lavelle is the sense of family that the faculty has towards each other. “Everyone is always willing to drop what they are doing and lend a hand,” he writes. Raised in Brooklyn, Mr. Durantas recently moved to New Jersey with his wife, two cats, and his dog. Something you might not know about Mr. Durantas is that his background in education goes beyond English- he has also attended law school and can build a computer from scratch!
“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
When she was younger, Rita Durantas, who is an animal lover, had dreams of becoming a veterinarian until she came to the realization that she liked working with teenagers more. “Now I have the best of both worlds,” she writes. “I get to teach the high school students at Lavelle and own two cats and a dog.” Mrs. Durantas graduated from the College of Staten Island Verrazano Program with a bachelor’s in English literature and a master’s in education (grades 7-12). One of her favorite parts of teaching at our school is the sense of family from her students and co-workers, including her husband, a fellow ELA teacher at Lavelle! Mrs. Durantas is a strong believer that there should be a balance between the amount of energy you put into your studies and the amount of fun you allow yourself to have outside of school. On her time off, she enjoys trying new things like exotic foods and adventurous activities.
“We accept the love we think we deserve.” – Stephen Chbosky, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
Mariem Elchoum is an English teacher at Lavelle High School with a bachelor’s degree in English Writing Education and a Master’s in Literature from the College of Staten Island. Mrs. Elchoum’s favorite part of working at Lavelle is the culture and work ethic of her fellow staff. “We always strive for the best,” she says. When Mrs. Elchoum isn’t spending time with her husband and children, you can find her reading a book!
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou
Andrew Espinal is a teacher at Lavelle Prep High School with an MA in History from St. John’s University. His favorite part of working at Lavelle is the team members I get to work with and the community. When he isn’t working, Mr. Espinal enjoys spending time with his family, including his wife and two dogs, Korra and Lil Supa Nova (Nova for short). A fun fact about Mr. Espinal is that he is an active member of his church community and the lead minister of the One Youth Ministry.
“Do. Or do not. There is no try”
Daniel Gonzalez always had a love for science and teaching. He recalls memories of helping the children his mother babysat with their homework. Being an educator was second nature to Mr. Gonzalez, influencing his decision to earn his bachelor’s in science and become a teacher’s assistant at Lavelle Prep high school later in life. Mr. Gonzalez’s favorite part of working at our school is the collaboration between teachers. “Even when we disagree, there is an opportunity to learn from each other,” he says. Raised in Manhattan, Mr. Gonzalez lives in Staten Island with his wife, two sons, and their pet dog, Ninja. In his free time, Mr. Gonzalez enjoys building 3D printed figures to cosplay suits and scenery.
“Follow your heart and your dreams, but let your mind lead the way. ” -Daniel Gonzalez
Before returning to school to study education, Jessica Hart had a career as a hairdresser. Now a teaching assistant at Lavelle Prep high school, Ms. Hart has her associate’s degree and is currently working towards her bachelor’s. Her favorite part of teaching at our school is the very friendly atmosphere from both students and staff.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Born into a military family, Brendan Ingram moved around a bit as a child but was raised in Long Island and Queens for the majority of his life. He worked as an editor at a large publishing company in the city for a number of years before deciding to switch careers and study for his teaching license. Now a teacher at Lavelle Prep high school, Mr. Ingram enjoys the challenges and rewards of teaching and is grateful each day is different than the day before. A fun fact about Mr. Ingram is that he is a plane-spotter!
“Talent borrows, genius steals.”
Angela Lauro is a teaching assistant at Lavelle Prep high school with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. One of her favorite parts of working at Lavelle is the positive atmosphere among the students and staff. Mrs. Lauro is a proud wife and mother to her three sons and enjoys being supportive at their sporting events when she isn’t working!
“One kind word can change someone’s entire day!”
Marilyn Leblanc is the Integrated Learning Coordinator at Lavelle Prep High School. Before joining our team, she earned her Masters in Secondary Education for Mathematics – Macaulay Honors College (Undergraduate) and CSI (graduate) – Special Education Extension (Touro College). When she isn’t working, Mrs. Leblanc enjoys spending time playing video games with her husband and daughter. A fun fact about their family is that they have a cat who they believe is convinced it’s a dog and a dog who they believe is convinced it’s a cat!
“Pure mathematics is, in its own way, the poetry of logical ideas.” -Albert Einstein
Kathleen Leonard-Babicke is a teaching assistant at Lavelle Prep high school with a background in education from Audrey Cohen College. The students are her favorite part of teaching at Lavelle.
A long time resident of Staten Island, Gina Luongo is a teaching assistant at Lavelle Prep high school currently enrolled in the College of Staten Island Special Education (grades 7-12) graduate program. A fun fact about Gina is that she has coached softball at both the West Shore and Snug Harbor Little League.
“The best teachers teach from the heart!”
Felice Muller is a teacher at Lavelle Prep high school with a Masters Degree in Secondary Education (CSI) and a BS in Physician Assistant Studies. One of Mrs. Muller’s favorite parts of working at Lavelle is the students. She enjoys their enthusiasm for learning, especially when doing lab work. When she isn’t working Mrs. Muller enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, as well as their pet gecko who has visited Lavelle classrooms from time to time.
“You will face many defeats in life, but never let yourself be defeated.” -Maya Angelou
Born in Ecuador, Monica Nunez moved to Staten Island before earning a BA in Psychology from St. Francis College, an MA in Human Resource Management from Long Island University. Once she discovered her passion for the field of education, Mrs. Nunez began to pursue her MA in Special Education from the College of Staten Island. Now, Mrs. Nunez is a co-teacher and special education coordinator at Lavelle Prep High School, where she values the special connection between staff and students. When she isn’t working, Mrs. Nunez can be found dancing, watching scary movies, or spending time with her husband and three sons.
“Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.”
Christian Osmundsen is a co-teacher at Lavelle Prep High School with a BS from the University of Maryland. Mr. Osmundsen is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in special education from Touro College. In his spare time, he enjoys keeping up with his favorite sports teams (Mets, Giants, Knicks), doing outdoor activities such as playing baseball and spending time with his girlfriend, family, and friends.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” -Walt Disney
Born in Morocco, Souad Outarid now lives and works in New York as a team leader and mathematics teacher at Lavelle Prep high school. Before joining our team, Mrs. Outarid earned her master’s in education from the College of Staten Island and has had a number of successes throughout the years as both a student and an educator. She believes that the best part of working at Integration Charter Schools is the work environment. “Co-workers feel like family, and coming to work, feels like home,” she writes. “I appreciate being a part of an awesome team for over eight years.” When she isn’t teaching, Mrs. Outarid dedicates her time to her passion and artistic style in cooking.
“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.” Simon Sinek.
Eloise Pillarella is a teacher at Lavelle Prep high school with a degree in Childhood Education with a concentration in Biology from SUNY New Paltz and a Masters degree in Special Education at the College of Staten Island. Her favorite part of working with our students is helping them to see how amazing and capable they are each day. Some of Ms. Pillarella’s favorite things include traveling, creating art, and pandas!
“Remember to look up at the sky and not down at your feet.” – Stephen Hawking
Denise Principe is a special education teacher at LP HS with a Master’s degree in Science & Education/Students with Disabilities from Touro College & Fordham University. Her favorite part of working at Lavelle is the bond between students and teachers. A mother of three daughters, Mrs. Principe is proud of her family and their work in the fields of speech-language pathology, social work, and advertising. A few of Mrs. Principe’s pastimes include spending time with her grandson MJ and watching horror movies!
“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”
Aldo Rrakulli is a teacher at Lavelle Prep high school with a degree in History & Adolescent Education from the College of Staten Island. Growing up, social studies was the only class he enjoyed while in middle school. It was then that he first began to think about pursuing a career as a history teacher. Nearly two decades later, Mr. Rrakulli is glad about his choice to continue down that career path and enjoys daily interactions with students and staff members alike. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with my nephews and watching sports!
Born and raised in Israel, Omri Shick moved to New York under diplomatic employment while earning his degree in science education. Shortly afterward, Mr. Shick began to pursue his career in education as a team leader at Lavelle Prep high school. Mr. Shick is the first author of the “Effect of Short Mathematics Instruction in High School Chemistry Course on Student Chemistry Achievement.” He was accepted to present a full research paper at the AERA annual meeting conference. The study explored the effect of short and focused mathematical instruction provided in chemistry on student chemistry achievement in a New York City Title 1 high school. Mr. Shick published another full research paper, “The Effect of Stimuli on Communication Barriers of a Student with Selective Mutism – Case Study,” and presented it at the SITE educational conference. The study explored the effect of Computer-Based Instruction (CBI) used as stimuli for reducing communication barriers of high school students who have an IEP. The College of Staten Island awarded Mr. Shick with the Harris Goldberg Memorial Award in 2018 and recognized Mr. Shick as a CSI Alumni Excelling in Careers and Research. Omri Shick is also part of the college’s faculty and a professor at CSI for Graduate Students.
“Find a way or make one.”
A graduate of Lindenwood University, Naby Sylla is now a teaching assistant at Lavelle Prep High School. Her favorite part of teaching at Lavelle is showing her students that there is more to learn in life than what is taught in the classroom.
“Nobody really understands me and that’s okay. I was never really like most people anyway.”