Meet Our Student Ambassadors!

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Rachel Awkward

Program: Childhood Special and General Education Dual Degree with Columbia University School of Social Work
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland
Email: rawkward@bankstreet.edu
Undergraduate Institution: Bryn Mawr College
Current Position: Third Grade Assistant Teacher at the Children’s Storefront

I aspired to improve the experiences of children in low-income communities because there are social factors and characteristics that impact one's success in life, despite the fact that education is referred to as "the great equalizer." I worked as a Fellow with the Choice Program in Maryland, where I provided casework and advocacy services for children on probation. Through this work I saw the many ways one could work with at-risk youth: as teachers/school administrators, probation officers, lawyers, and social workers/therapists. I was ultimately drawn to the fields of social work and education as a proactive, preventative manner to address the challenges that many youth from low-income communities face. I discovered that Bank Street and Columbia had a dual degree program in Education and Social Work, and was overjoyed by the possibilities that both degrees could bring and how well they could potentially complement each other. I was inspired by the School of Social Work’s mission in developing agents of social change and Bank Street’s child centered approach to education. I plan to use the insight and expertise that I gain in school to support my work with the whole child—both academically and socio-emotionally.

Yue Fang

Program: Leadership in Community-Based Learning
Hometown: China
Email: yfang@bankstreet.edu
Undergraduate Institution: China Agricultural University
Current Position: Intern at HBO

I selected my particular program because I love learning to happen not only in the classroom. I hope everyone can be an educator to others and learn from others. I love people in the leadership department!

Bank Street offers so much freedom and flexibility for students to explore their own interests and it respects students' different needs and interests! It is in NYC, where learning happens all the time. Bank Street is a close community!

Shavon Patrice Frazier

Program: Early Childhood Special Education
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Email: Shavonfrazier87@yahoo.com
Undergraduate Institution: SUNY Oneonta (Early Childhood General Education (B-2)
Current Position: Head Preschool Teacher with FirstStep NYC in Brownsville, Brooklyn

I was first introduced to Bank Street by an alumni of SUNY Oneonta during a phone conversation. I then began to look into Bank Street through their website and I attended an Open House as well as a Career Changers panel discussion. I also completed the Admissions Informational Interview and had a tour of the building. I fell in love! I loved the positive energy of all of the staff, as well as the fact that the building houses two major children's programs as well as the graduate school. I also liked that the classes were nightly as opposed to weekends. The major thing that really caught my attention was the conference groups during fieldwork. It allowed me and my colleagues to meet on a regular basis with people on similar career paths and be observed by and meet with my advisor regularly.

Gail Goldspiel

Gail GoldspielProgram: Museum Education—Childhood
Email: ggail87@gmail.com
Undergraduate Institution: Brandeis University
Current Position: Youth and Family Programs Coordinator at the Rubin Museum of Art

I earned my Masters in Museum and Childhood Education from the Bank Street College of Education in May 2012. I currently work as the Coordinator of Youth & Family Programs at the Rubin Museum of Art. Prior to this, I worked as the Teen Programs Assistant at the Museum of Modern Art and as an educator for the New York Public Library. For my Masters Thesis, I created an original picture book for children, "Beatrice the Butterfly Visits the New York Public Library" which is now available in the Bank Street Library. In addition, I student taught in NYC public and private schools where I worked with first and fourth graders. I infuse my teaching, be it in the classroom or museum, with creativity and art and seek to inspire students to express themselves, look closely, imagine, wonder, and become curious life-long learners. I am active with the New York City Museum Educators Roundtable (NYCMER) and am eager to help and advise any and all prospective Bank Street students!

Shoshana Koslowe Ainsberg

Program: Childhood Special & General Education
Hometown: East Brunswick, N.J.
Email: Skoslowe@bankstreet.edu
Undergraduate Institution & Major: SUNY Binghamton, Psychology
Current Position: 3rd Grade Assistant Teacher at SAR Academy

I chose Bank Street for multiple reasons and I know that it was a wonderful decision. The faculty at Bank Street are so attentive and supportive of my academic goals as well as my professional development. In particular, my advisor has been a constant confidant and individual to whom I can bring any questions or inquiries. Additionally, the hands-on approach to learning has been such an informative way of educating future teachers. I have been pushed to consider lessons for a diverse population of learners with an array of academic and social-emotional needs. It is just one of the many ways in which the course work and class conversations educated me on how to become a more conscientious and thoughtful teacher.

Julie Lee

Program: Early Childhood Special Education
Email: julie.lee108@gmail.com
Undergraduate Institution: Binghamton University
Current Position: K-2 Special Education Teacher in a self-contained class at a public school in Harlem

After receiving my Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Binghamton University in 2001, and a Masters in Elementary Education from Dowling College in 2003, I worked as a substitute teacher in a public school in Eastern Long Island. Shortly after moving to NYC, I directed marketing programs for a nonprofit organization for 4 years and designed custom stationery before choosing teaching for my long-term career. I really missed the classroom! At the nonprofit, I learned many skills that teachers need: to think on my feet, be resourceful and to have a passion for serving the underprivileged.

Sara Nowak

Program: Museum Education & Early Childhood General Education
Hometown: Plainville, Connecticut
Email: snowak@bankstreet.edu
Undergraduate Institution: Marymount College of Fordham University

Prior to this chapter of my life, I attained my B.A. in English at Marymount College of Fordham University (in Tarrytown, New York) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism Studies at the University of Strathclyde (in Glasgow, Scotland). Originally, I am from a small town in central Connecticut, named Plainville. Yes, Plainville. Are you surprised that I moved to the Big Apple?

Jessica (Jess) Parise

Jessica (Jess) PariseProgram: Child Life
Hometown: Port Washington, NY
Email: jessicapageparise@gmail.com
Undergraduate Institution: Syracuse University
Current position: Certified Child Life Specialist

I chose Bank Street because the Child Life program was highly recommended by many Certified Child Life Specialists who have had years of experience in the field. While at Bank Street, what stood out to me was the level of support that all students received from their professors. The amount and quality of the support provided was just outstanding, and something that I will never forget. The professors at Bank Street are wonderful professionals who are dedicated to your learning and growth as you become an expert in the field. At Bank Street, there is also a strong focus on bridging theory to practice, and the coursework and field placement timeline that is established for students truly reflects the importance of this connection.

Pricelis Perreaux

Pricelis PerreauxProgram: Leadership in Community Based Learning
Hometown: Washington Heights, New York
Email: pperreaux@bankstreet.edu
Undergraduate Institution: CUNY City College of New York
Current Position: Family & Education Advocate at Broadway Housing Communities

I chose Bank Street for many reasons and still feel I made the best decision by coming here. I really liked that an interview was part of the admissions process; it made me feel that Bank Street is a school that doesn't just care about test scores and what Ivy League school you came from, but more about your history, your personality, and how it coincides with the values and goals of Bank Street. I was also drawn to Bank Street because it had study abroad programs, and I'm very interested in international education. Finally, I chose Bankstreet because it had the program I wanted and didn't find it in any other Graduate school in New York City. Bank Street is my home, has been for the past year, and will continue to be. I will be pursuing a PhD once I leave Bank Street next year, but I constantly tell my advisor, who is awesome (Mayra Blomo =] ), how I wish Bank Street had PhD programs. This place is home, and it makes me excited about the future of education in this country.

Tova Rich

Tova RichProgram: Teaching Literacy and Childhood General Education Dual Certification
Hometown: Passaic, NJ
Email: Tovacrich89@gmail.com
Undergraduate Institution: Yeshiva University
Current Position: Assistant Teacher at Yeshiva Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch

When researching graduate schools, Bank Street always stood out for me as a place where the purpose was to better understand how to educate children, not just get a degree and get out. After coming to Bank Street I can say that this is absolutely true! The professors are all very knowledgeable about all current topics in education. My favorite part about my education at Bank Street is the discussions I get to have with my peers during every class. We all share our ideas and information we know and walk out more knowledgeable than when we came in. The professors at Bank Street are very supportive and work with you to help guide your interests to help further your profession. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Bank Street and all that it does!

Katie Shea

Program: Infant and Family Development Early Intervention /Early Childhood Special and General Education Dual Certification
Email: kshea@bankstreet.edu
Undergraduate Institution: University of Hartford
Current Position: Classroom Teacher & Music Teacher at Brotherhood Synagogue Nursery School

I am currently a second year student in the infant and family development early intervention special and general education program. (The title is crazy long) I completed my first year and student teaching in a toddler room and now teach both in the classroom and music at Brotherhood Synagogue Nursery School. Bank Street is a wonderful place to learn in grow. They truly exemplify the way that we should treat children and teach children in the way that they teach and treat us.

Debbie Tasioudis

Debbie TasioudisProgram: Leadership for Educational Change: Special Education
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Email: dtasioudis@bankstreet.edu
Undergraduate Institution: Georgia State University (History/African American Studies)
Other Graduate Institution: Pace University (Middle Childhood Special Education)
Current Position: Special Education Achievement Coach, Network 533, NYCDOE

I am originally from Atlanta, Georgia, and I moved to NYC to build my craft as a classroom teacher. Before coming to Bank Street, I was fortunate to be a NYC Teaching Fellow, teaching middle school in Ft. Greene and elementary school in Coney Island. I spent a lot of time looking for a leadership program that set meeting the needs of students with disabilities as a priority and found just that here at Bank Street. I also found an opportunity to be a part of an amazing, diverse cohort of learners who share a similar commitment to best practices and inclusiveness. I completed my program at Bank Street in December of 2012, and my School District Leader coursework in 2013.

Bank Street’s focus on adult development in leadership has helped me to redefine my commitment to teaching and learning and helped me to form new ideas about differentiated professional learning. The advisory component of the program also provides a unique opportunity to get very personalized attention and allows you to have a hand in shaping the curriculum- that is something I've never experienced before in larger universities. The transition to leadership is exciting and challenging; advisory helps you find your way.

Jana Trenk

Program: Childhood Special & General Education
Email: Janatrenk@gmail.com
Undergraduate Institution: Fordham University
Current Position: Second Grade ICT Teacher at P.S. 58 The Carroll School

I chose Bank Street because of it's small school feel and individualized programs. After coming from a high school and college with larger class sizes, I wanted to be at a place where I could work in partnerships and groups. What I love most about Bank Street is the one on one attention that professors and advisors give. I learned so much about supporting varying student needs and teaching effectively to all kinds of learners.

In addition, I cannot say enough positive things about the Career Services workshops and resources. After graduating from Bank Street, I felt informed and confident going into my search for a head teaching position. Even phone interviews and demo lessons didn't scare me.

I am always willing to speak to prospective and new Bank Street students! Please feel free to contact me with any questions that you have.

Rita Truong

Program: Early Childhood Special Education (2012)
Hometown: Arcadia, California
Email: truongrita@gmail.com
Undergraduate Institution: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (1999)
Graduate Institution: Teachers College, Columbia University (MA in Early Childhood Education) (2004)
Current Position: Nursery Head Teacher at Avenues: The World School

I chose Bank Street because for its astounding reputation for educating educators. The school is small enough to receive individual attention from faculty and get to know fellow students. What stood out to me about my program was the fact that students are able to tailor their course of study according to their particular interests. I also appreciated that faculty was attentive and supportive of my professional and academic goals. Not only did I made life-long friends during my time at Bank Street, the school also made me a more conscientious and dedicated teacher of young children.

Melissa Blough

Program: Early Childhood General Education
Hometown: Oak Ridge, North Carolina
Email: mblough@bankstreet.edu
Undergraduate Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Current Position: Head Kindergarten Teacher, the Spence School

I chose Bank Street because everyone I spoke to about the program said it was a transformative experience. I researched several programs, but Bank Street graduates always spoke about how meaningful the program is. It's not about getting a piece of paper, it's about thinking deeply about your practice and becoming a better teacher. 

Tiffany C. Bolling

Program: Leadership in Community-Based Learning
Email: tbolling@bankstreet.edu
Undergraduate Institution: Monroe College

Jennifer Borque

Program: Early Childhood and Childhood General Education
Hometown: Greenwich, CT
Email: jbourque@bankstreet.edu
Undergraduate Institution & Major: Bard College (Psychology, Film and Electronic Arts)
Current Position: Associate Teacher, LREI

I had heard stories about Bank Street from friends and professors long before I began to research and pursue my path to becoming an educator. As I met with Bank Street faculty during the course of the interview process and attending open houses I was overcome with a feeling that Bank Street is a place that truly supports growth for all different types of learners. I chose Bank Street because I wanted to continue my education in an environment that welcomes the exchange between learners and facilitators, adults and children, theory and practice. Bank Street's programs emphasize reflection and have presented me with a space where I can share my growing understanding and my experiences in the classroom with my colleagues while being challenged to think deeply about the current issues in education and the ways that progressive pedagogy and the developmental interaction approach can continue to inform my work as an educator.

Monica Brandwein

Program: Museum Education: Childhood
Email: mjbrandwein@gmail.com
Undergraduate Institution: Fashion Institute of Technology

Sassy Kohlmeyer

Program: Leadership in Community-Based Learning
Email: samorrall@aol.com
Undergraduate Institution: Vassar College

Hilary Woodward

Program: Child Life
Hometown: Voorhees, NJ
Email: hawoodward@gmail.com
Undergraduate Institution: Loyola University Maryland
Current position: Certified Child Life Specialist in the Pediatric Emergency Department at New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital (New York, New York)

Marie Elaina Zuccaro

Program: Early Childhood General and Special Education Dual Certification
Email: marieelaina.zuccaro@gmail.com
Undergraduate Institution: Fordham University
Current Position: Co-teaching Kindergarten at Bronx Community Charter School