WORLD CLASS TEACHERS
Mrs. Cynthia Adams - 1st Grade General Studies Teacher/ Elementary School Supervisor
Mrs. Adams had taught in both public and private schools in New York City for over 20 years. She has a Master of Science Degree in Education and has taught in grades Pre-K through 8. As a seasoned teacher, her primary goal is to create a classroom environment that is conducive to helping students learn and develop their skills in a variety of ways. Teaching them to be independent, respectful, and responsible are her goals for her first graders since such characteristics are stepping stones to a healthy self-esteem and a lifetime of success.
Mrs. Valbona Belli - 1st-6th Grade Science and Art Teacher
Ms. Belli is an expert teacher with more than 15 years of experience in early childhood and elementary education field. Ms. Belli is an expert on early literacy and reading comprehension, which is very helpful in her current field. Presently, Ms. Belli’s concentration is science. She has improved the science curriculum by enriching it with lots of hands-on activities for the kids. Every lesson culminates in a lab, which ensures long-term retention. She has worked in the schools in Florida and New York City, and all her former
employers consider her a great asset to the school because she truly cares about each child, is very organized, and communicates her expectations clearly to students and parents alike.
Mr. Andrew Ferrera- Gym Teacher/Paraprofessional for Nachas
Mr. Ferrera has a bachelors degree in early childhood education, from The College of Staten Island. He has been working with children for 8 years, and this will be his 4th year with us at SIHA. During his time here at SIHA, “Mr. F” (as the children refer to him), has been a part of the after school program, taught gym class for grades 1-8, and provided paraprofessional service to one of our Nachas students. He will be focusing his masters studies on special education. His love and interest for special education stems from his love for his son, who has Autism. He has always known he wanted to work with children, but his son’s diagnosis has tweaked his path, focusing on those with special needs. Mr. Ferrera’s teaching philosophy is emphasized by his belief that the most effective teachers have the ability to keep the students engaged, and the best way to keep them engaged is to make learning fun. He also stresses the importance of play as an important part of the learning process, especially in the elementary years. It is through play that we learn very important skills, like working together, developing self esteem, developing leadership qualities, overcoming fears, dealing with failure, dealing with success, and learning to be understanding of others. Mr. Ferrera believes that developing these essential skills in the elementary, and middle school years will help our students develop in all aspects of their lives.
Ms. Sasha German- 3rd Grade General Studies Teacher
Coming from a teaching family that goes back generations, Ms. Sasha German has been working in a classroom well before obtaining her teaching degree in Childhood Education/Special Education from Touro College. For the past 15 years she has worked in both public and private setting, teaching elementary school students of all levels. Ms. German is a dedicated professional who values every child and believes in building up children's strengths by supporting each of her students. Ms. German prides herself on her ability to develop children's reading comprehension and writing skills. Her students have consistently scored very high on standardized tests, and their writing is solid. She believes in balance between hands on and analytical approaches when she teaches math, social studies, and science, as she wants her students to achieve global understanding. First and foremost, Ms. German strives for every student to feel comfortable and appreciated in her class because as she builds students' self-esteem, they become more confident and eager learners. Ms. German works closely with families. She is very approachable, and makes parents partners who, with her guidance, support their children at home. For Ms. German teaching is a true calling, and she is determined to make sure that all students in her class reach their full potential.
Mrs. Patricia Giordano - 7th and 8th Grade Science Teacher
Mrs. Giordano has over 8 years of teaching experience working with a diverse group of students from 6th - 12th grade and has obtained a Bachelor of Science with concentration in Biological studies from Empire State College. Mrs. Giordano’s experience sitting on the School Leadership Team (SLT) has afforded her the opportunity to identify the needs of scholars, by focusing on trends that students struggle with, that may cause an interference with their success in the classroom. As a result of her participation on the SLT, her skills and ability to identify the needs of struggling students and creating a plan of action for their success, is strength within the school community; this is evidenced by the number of special education students that have passed the Living Environment Regent, along with her overall pass rate of this exam. Mrs. Giordano believes that no two children learn the same, and as a result, her passion for differentiating instruction to ensure that all students receive the content in a manner that they understand, is the driving force behind her planning. It is her goal to create a rapport with all students, so they can build a trusting community together wherein the students will accept the challenges that are put before them. This enables the students to succeed and not be afraid to fail, so they can learn and grow from their weaknesses and turn them into strengths
Mrs. Feiga Mendell OTR/L- Occupational Therapist
Mrs. Feiga Mendell is excited to join the SIHA community as the school occupational therapist. She lives in Jackson, NJ with her husband and children. Mrs. Mendell received her undergraduate degree from Excelsior College with a Bachelors in Liberal Arts. She graduated from New York Institute of Technology with a Masters in Science: Occupational Therapy. She spent two summers running SEED programs in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Richmond, VA where she was involved in community outreach while imparting a love for Judaism. Additionally, she has extensive experience working with children who have behavioral, academic and social challenges to maximize their potential in her capacity as a co-teacher in a classroom of students with learning difficulties. Mrs. Mendell hopes to increase her students’ visual perceptual, fine motor, gross motor, visual motor and sensory skills to help them succeed in the classroom setting and beyond with reading, writing, attention, behavior and organizational skills. She enjoys working with children and looks forward to watching the students succeed over the duration of the school year.
Mrs. Suncica Hazen - 6th-8th grade Grade English language Arts
Mrs. Hazen joined SIHA as Ms. Tatic in 2016, and from the first day was impressed by both the level of care and attention shown by all the staff in regards to the students, and by the brightness and inventiveness of her students.
She is a graduate of Youngstown State University and hold a B.A. in Professional Writing and Editing, as well as a B.S. in Integrated Language Arts Education.
Her degree, certification, and previous experience were all with high school students. Making the change to elementary school has been exciting and truly enjoyable. Mrs. Hazen sincerely looks forward to seeing her students shine in learning every day!
Ms. Regina Iannizzotto - Nachas Program Director/Special Education Teacher
Ms. Iannizzotto received her dual undergraduate degree in General/Special Education from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY and a Masters degree in literacy from Touro College. Ms. Iannizzotto is a Reading Specialist with specific training in Orton Gillingham methodology and has been working at SIHA for 4 years. She prides herself in building lessons that are hands-on. Interactive learning is Ms. Iannizzotto's main mission for her classes because it keeps the students interested and allows for them to facilitate their own education in a way that works best for them. In her class, the students are always working together to solve problems, answer questions, and lead their own learning.
Mrs. Sterna Ivry - 3rd Grade Judaic Studies Teacher
Mrs. Ivry born in Paris, France graduated with honors from the Beth Rivka Teachers Seminary of Higher Education in Yerres France. She taught and directed at various Talmud Torah Hebrew Schools and Jewish Day Schools in Paris. She was also the acclaimed teacher of the Pre-school and 1stgrade classes and director of Judaic studies at the newly opened Jewish Day School in Dijon, France. In 2001, she moved with her husband Rabbi Yochanan Ivry to Staten Island, NY to begin their outreach efforts in the South and East Shore Areas at Congregation Toras Emes. She has opened a Hebrew Sunday School for children ages 5 to 12 and taught many children from family with little to no Jewish educational background. Many of her students have graduated and celebrated their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. These students maintain a connection to their Jewish roots and participate in Judaic projects. Some are now teaching themselves at the Hebrew school. In the fall of 2003, Mrs. Ivry founded a group family daycare. Mrs. Ivry has connected with many children and families who are unaffiliated and who are happy to give their children a Jewish education in a warm and caring environment! Mrs. Ivry also opened a Jewish Day Camp four years ago that is opened to Jewish children from very different backgrounds. Children all learn from each other and enjoy their summer in a Jewish environment. Many children come from public school and go home singing Hebrew songs and report the many different aspects of Judaism they picked up through games, songs and discussions throughout the summer. It is Mrs. Ivry's most rewarding prize to see Jewish children connect with their heritage with pride and joy.
Ms. Ekaterina Kalmanson - Russian Teacher Grades k-8
Ekaterina Kalmanson, born in Moscow. Completed her Bachelors in Teaching Russian Language and Literature. Ekaterina taught for 25 years from secondary and high school level as well as Russian as a foreign language to international students; in addition to being a special Russian Language educator for the U.S. Diplomatic Corps in Moscow. Teaching successfully to such a wide range of students has cultivated a broad spectrum of education tools. Ekaterina is comfortable engaging everyone from pre-k children to teenagers. Having honed her ability to engage and motivate her students to excel beyond expectations. She is a strong advocate for the Communicative Method of Teaching Languages.
Ms. Ahuva Kaplan- Kindergarten and 1st Grade Judaic Studies Teacher
Ms. Ahuva Kaplan, is a recent graduate from Bnos Sarah Teaching Seminary in Jerusalem. Ms. Kaplan has extensive experience working with children, including most recently as the Head Counselor in day camp in New Jersey, with over four hundred campers (Nursery-7). Her easy smile, enthusiasm, and love for children makes her a warm, energetic and happy presence in the classroom. Her focus on emotional, social, and academic development, helps each child blossom and achieve their full potential. Ms. Kaplan is majoring in psychology at Touro College, and is a participant in their Honors Program and the Touro Flatbush Society of Fellows.
Ms. Esther Klahr- School Guidance Counselor
Esther Klahr is a proud native of Staten Island. She completed a Bachelors’ Degree in Psychology from the College of Staten Island, where she was the recipient of the Summa Cum Laude for Academic Excellence Award and the Phi Beta Kappa Associates Award. Following this experience, Esther’s interest in the field of psychology lead her to pursue a masters in school counseling from Hunter Graduate School. Esther has an enthusiasm and devotion to help children and young adults of all ages. She has counseled students on a one to one basis, as well as in groups focusing on students emotional, academic and social needs and is looking forward to using these skill sets as she joins the SIHA community.
Mrs. Rika Manison - Ivrit Language Teacher Grades K - 8
Mrs. Rika Manison joined SIHA in 2013. She was born in Chernovtsy, Ukraine where she was an only child to Holocaust survivors. Although she immigrated to Israel in 1962, she always maintained her Russian language through family members and continued education. Mrs. Manison graduated Jerusalem University with a major in Russian language. Her specific interest and focus was in Russian poetry which she hopes to pass on to our SIHA students.
Mr. Carl Martin - 6th, 7th and 8th Mathematics teacher, Music Teacher K-5
Mr. Martin graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics with a minor in statistics in addition to having over 4 years of experience educating students. For 5 years, Mr. Martin worked at ETS (Educational Testing Services), the organization that makes the GRE and Toefl exams and at some point also was in charge of the SAT. He currently works at Yeshiva Gedola and Mesivta of Carteret, teaching mathematics to 9th,10th, and 11th grades. Mr. Martin' s approach to mathematics and problem solving is heavily reliant on intuition, creativity, hard work and logic, as opposed to only repetition and memorization of formulas and short cuts. He believes quality over quantity and in constantly challenging his students with that kind of thinking.
Mrs. Chaya Rosskamm- Jewish History Teacher Grades 7th and 8th/ 8th Grade Supervisor
Mrs. Rosskamm teaches Jewish History in the 7th and 8th grade. She comes from a strong Jewish background with a real appreciation for her history and past. She was educated in a Judaic Studies Seminary and received a teaching certificate with honors qualifying her to teach Judaic subjects. She also attended the Institute for Special Education and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a masters in Education and Special Education. She also holds New York State Teachers Certification in Education and Special Education. She has taught American History and Civics on a high school level. She was also a Judiac Studies teacher for 5th and 6th grade. She lives in Eltingville, Staten Island with her family.
Mr. Benyomin Schofield - Music Teacher
Benyomin Schofield is a graduate of the College of Staten Island with a BA in Music. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa and raised in Passaic, New Jersey, Benyomin developed a love for music at age 11, cultivating a special affinity for the Harp. By the time he was 17, Benyomin was giving private lessons and running a musical camp in his own backyard. These early experiences strengthened his love for teaching and for the arts. Benyomin began his path towards higher education as a pre-med student, eventually switching to music; following his true passion for performing, composing and teaching. Benyomin has worked in a variety of educational and youth art/camping organizations. He also worked as IlluminArt Production’s Music Director and Teaching Artist where he taught Write-A-Play, and ventured into acting in Peace Up, What Goes Around, Table Service, and Truth in Excess. He is currently Mazel Day School’s music teacher and music club director. His repertoire includes teaching Harp, Guitar, Bass, Piano, Percussion, Music Theory, Music History, Music Appreciation, and Creative Expression. Now a husband and father, Benyomin believes one of his main purposes in life is to “inspire creativity and spread a love of music.”
Mrs. Alla Shats - 4th Grade General Studies Teacher
Mrs. Shats has over 13 years of teaching experience working with children from k to 6th grade and has obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in elementary education, with concentration in Math, from St. John's University. After graduation, she continued to pursue a Master’s Degree in Childhood Education/Special Education at Touro College. Mrs. Shats believes that education is the key to success for young children. As a teacher, she hopes to motivate students, promote effective learning environment, build curiosity, and foster confidence in all of her students. She is eager to commit and encourage children's interests in different subject areas, and is determined to challenge their abilities and inner strengths to discover and explore what truly inspires them. Mrs. Shats loves working with children and will continue to strive to be a positive influence in their lives. She hopes that her passion for teaching will create a desire for constant learning within each child.
Mrs. Rhonda Sherman, M.S., CCC/SLP
Rhonda, our Speech-language therapist, is a NY State licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and maintains certification with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Rhonda has over 25 years of experience in diagnostic speech evaluations, treatment and case management of children, adolescents and adults with a wide range of developmental and acquired disabilities.
Rhonda graduated with a Bachelor of Science from College of Staten Island in Psychology and received her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from Brooklyn College City University of New York. Rhonda completed her externship at Staten Island University Hospital with clinical practicum in the ventilator and neurology units as well as the Outpatient Clinic. Rhonda also holds a degree as Teacher of Judaic Studies from Bnot Torah Institute Jerusalem, Israel.
Rhonda’s clinical experience includes providing services to individuals from infancy to adult, evaluating and treating individuals with a variety of disorders including: Feeding and swallowing disorders, Articulation disorders, Language disorders, Voice disorders, Fluency disorders, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Vocal Cord Dysfunction, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Hearing Impairments, Cerebral Palsy, Prematurity, G tube feedings, Central Auditory Processing Disorder, Sensory issues, Aphasia, Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Down Syndrome.
Rhonda has been Director of Clinical and Homebound Services for Midwood Child Development Center and currently maintains a private practice servicing Early Intervention (EI), Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) and Committee on Special Education (CSE).
For the past 20 years, Rhonda has been providing services to private school students with a wide range of learning disabilities and has been working with Staten Island Hebrew Academy (SIHA) Nachas Program since 2018.
Rhonda’s mission at SIHA is to have each child reach their maximum potential by providing exemplary assessment and treatment of communication skills with quality speech-language therapy, all while having a positive educational experience.
Mrs. Shaindy Spiegel - 2nd Grade Judaic Studies Teacher
Mrs. Spiegel is a graduate of Maimonides College and Beth Jacob Teachers Seminary of Toronto. She also studied at Midrasha Ohr Yerushalim in Israel. She has many years of teaching experience serving as preschool teacher, Sunday school teacher, afternoon school teacher and adult education instructor. Her love for Yiddishkeit can be seen in her approach to teaching. She always sees the good in every child and her Yideshe Mama really shines through. As a result, the children greatly enjoy learning about their heritage.
Ms. Jordana Syetta - Kindergarten General Studies Teacher
Ms. Syetta has a dual Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education and Science, Letters, and Society from the College of Staten Island. She also has a Masters degree in Early Childhood Special and General Education from Touro College. Ms. Syetta has extensive experience as an Early Intervention Service provider, Special Education Teacher Support Service provider and has worked for three years as a substitute teacher with the DOE and private preschools prior to joining SIHA. Ms. Syetta uses multi-sensory approach to teaching to support each students unique way of learning.
Ms. Svjetlana Tatic - 5th Grade General Studies Teacher
For Ms. Tatic art and education go hand in hand. She has always been passionate about both. After receiving her degree in Art Design from the Art Institute of Phoenix, she has attended Youngstown State University and took classes in Art History, English Literature, and Fine Arts. Currently, she is working on obtaining her Early Childhood Education Master's degree. Ms. Tatic is constantly perfecting her teaching skills. Since the beginning of 2016, she has worked as a tutor for English Language Learners from China. She has worked one on one and in small group settings. She has taken many courses to refine her classroom management and pedagogy. Ms. Tatic’s first day at SIHA was last year. She came in as a substitute teacher for first grade and instantly fell in love with the school. Her teaching philosophy perfectly matches the school’s values. Ms. Tatic believes in an individualized approach to each child, as well as taking into consideration children’s strengths and interests. She also believes that building strong relationships with families tremendously benefits students. Ms. Tatic is hoping to build strong bonds with all SIHA families to make sure that her students will have only positive learning experiences. Ms. Tatic is looking forward to being a member of the SIHA family and help her students develop a love of learning every day!
Miss Toba Safran - 7th and 8th Grade Judaics Teacher
Miss Toba Safran is an experienced and proud elementary school teacher. She is a diligent member of Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen's online education class, where she derives the mindsets and tools that are necessary to educate children in a productive way. She grew up and currently lives in a religious home in Lakewood, NJ. She holds the position of Judaic studies teacher for seventh and eight grade girls. Her love for children and focus on bringing out each one's best, combined with her passion for Judaism, allow for her lessons reach each child's heart. She's committed to helping her students soar. Before coming to SIHA, Miss Safran taught at Politz Hebrew Academy in Philadelphia.
Miss Gabrielle Bronstein - 2nd Grade General Studies Teacher
Ms. Bronstein is a graduate of the College of Staten Island. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology. She was a participant of the Prepared to Teach Residency Program which provided her with extensive clinical experience in teaching while she was obtaining her Master of Science in Education. Her experiences have taught her how to be an efficient and compassionate teacher. Ms. Bronstein holds a New York State Teachers Certification in Childhood Education. She can’t wait to meet her students and help them reach their full academic potential!
Rabbi Ari Levy - 5th/6th grade Judaics teacher, Administrative Assistant
Rabbi Ari Levy was raised in Passaic NJ by parents that have a mixed Syrian/Russian Jewish heritage. Growing up in a home with an open-door policy, Rabbi Levy was exposed to the full gamut of the Jewish experience; Religious or less so, Ashkenazi, Sephardi. everyone was welcome. Following his marriage, Rabbi Levy spent close to five years in Israel, studying in Yeshivas Bais Yisroel in Jerusalem, as well as learning one on one with post high school graduates. During that time, Rabbi Levy was involved in the
Ner Leelef outreach program, where he also attended classes in teaching methodology given by highly acclaimed educators.
Since returning to the states, Rabbi Levy has been involved in various educational programs, and is committed to bringing his excitement and love for learning to each and every student at SIHA.
Mr. Steven Kaufman- 6th-8th grade Social Studies
A graduate of the City University of New York system, Mr. Kaufman holds an MA in History and brings a total of 14 years of experience in the field of education to SIHA. Mr. Kaufman believes that learning should be enjoyable for students and always works to incorporate exciting and varied strategies to his classes in order to garner maximum interest and input from those in his charge.
Mr. Kaufman looks forward to working with students every day to further their knowledge of the world around them, as well as those of their predecessors, and is never happier than when he sees the light of understanding in his students’ eyes.