A Pre-Kindergarten - Grade 12 co-educational independent day school in Westchester County, New York

RCDS Welcomes New Employees to the 2023-24 School Year

RCDS is pleased to welcome new additions to the RCDS administration, faculty, and staff who will join us in 2023-24. Additionally, title changes for current employees are included below.

Stefano Bicknese
LS Associate Teacher
In 2018, Stefano Bicknese received his B.A. degree from University of New Haven with a major in Communications and minor is Sport Management and Nutrition. Previously, Mr. Bicknese worked as a sports performance coach and personal trainer across the East Coast—at Velocity Sports Performance in New York, Go Performance and Fitness in Tennessee, and Edge Fitness Clubs in Connecticut. During the pandemic he worked as a corrections officer at Westchester County Correctional Facility. Mr. Bicknese’s passion for playing football, coaching youth football, and serving as an athletics camp counselor has led him to a career in teaching. He is pursuing his M.A. in Early Childhood/Special Education at Manhattanville College. Mr. Bicknese will be the Associate Teacher in Grade 2 with Ms. Castagna.


Renae Carter
Administrative Assistant - Business Office
After a decade working in Human Resource Administration at the Bronx Bethany Community Corporation, Ms. Carter joined the Business Office as an Administrative Assistant in May of 2023. She has been supporting all aspects of the business office including Human Resources. In addition to her organizational and communication strengths she has a strong technology software background. Ms. Carter is no stranger to RCDS, as she attended the summer ACTION Program. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Managerial Economics and Business Practices from Lehman College, City University of New York.  

Ingrid Ciaccia
MS and US Dance Teacher
Ingrid Ciaccia joins the RCDS Performing Arts department as the Middle and Upper School Dance Teacher. Ms. Ciaccia previously taught at Culver Academies, where she was the Dance Instructor and Co-Director of Dancevision, Culver’s audition-based dance company. She earned her M.F.A. in Dance from Sarah Lawrence College and her B.A. in both Dance and German Cultural Studies from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. In addition to choreographing performances including Amensalism, The Nutcracker: Kingdom of Sweets, and Remembering Together, Ms. Ciaccia is also a certified pilates teacher and a registered yoga teacher. 

Heather Coffey
US Humanities Teacher
A graduate of Boston College with a degree in Secondary Education and History and a holder of two MAs, one in 5-12 Literacy from Fordham University and the other in American History from Gettysburg College-Gilder Lehrman, Heather Coffey brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the Humanities Department. Ms. Coffey comes to RCDS most recently from Sacred Heart Greenwich, with previous positions at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle, Eastchester High School in Eastchester, and Our Lady of Victory in Dobbs Ferry. Ms. Coffey has developed and taught nearly every level of Global History courses, from grade 5 to those beyond AP, as well as many in economics, world religions and literacy skills. She has also served as a Social Justice Club moderator, chaperoned student travel to Holocaust sites in Europe, and spent a month in Japan studying Japanese education as a Fulbright winner.

Chakula Corry-Miranda
LS Associate Teacher
A graduate of City College of NY with a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies and Childhood Education, Ms. Corry-Miranda is completing a master’s degree in Education at Manhattanville College. After a 15-year career as a law enforcement officer and administrator, Ms. Corry-Miranda followed her dream of becoming a teacher. She has been group leader and supervisor of counselors, junior counselors, and counselors in training at Breezemont Camp. She has substituted for Port Chester, White Plains, and Mt. Vernon School Districts and is currently a troop leader for the Girl Scouts. Ms. Corry-Miranda will be working in third grade with Ms. Hauben. 

Jeremy Fink
Assistant Director of Athletics for Community Advancement
Jeremy Fink joins RCDS after serving eight years as Assistant Athletic Director at Trevor Day School where, for the last five years, he was also the Boys' Varsity Basketball coach that finished as runner-up and semi finalist in the 2022 and 2023 New York State Private School tournaments, respectively. Prior to his work at Trevor Day School, Jeremy worked at the Hackley School as an Assistant Athletic Director and the Head Coach and Director of Boys Basketball. Jeremy has also served as Associate Head Coach for Men’s Basketball at Division II Mercy College, Assistant Coach at Division I Fairleigh Dickinson University, and Assistant Coach at Poly Prep in Brooklyn. 

Lisa Finnegan
LS Associate Teacher
Ms. Finnegan graduated with a degree in Childhood Education in 2021 from Iona College, where she is now also currently pursuing her master’s degree with a specialization in Literacy and Special Education. Passionate about working with young children, she has been a camp counselor at both Elmsford Day Camp and Larchmont Shore Club. Ms. Finnegan has also been an assistant teacher at Discover Village Childcare and Preschool in Tarrytown, as well as a team member of Kids Academy at LifeTime in Harrison. Ms. Finnegan will be the Associate Teacher in Kindergarten with Ms. Caterina.
 

Madeline Franklin
LS Music Teacher
Madeline Franklin joins RCDS as our new Lower School Music Teacher. She spent over two decades as teacher and integral member of the music departments at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in Manhattan. During that period, Ms. Franklin taught elementary and middle school music, choral music, and managed all theater and venue coordination. In addition, Ms. Franklin chaired the Lower School Music Department. Prior to working at Columbia Grammar, she taught at Freedom Hill Elementary School in Virginia. Ms. Franklin holds a bachelors of music degree in Music Education from Catholic University and M.S. Ed. with a Kodály Emphasis from Loyola College of Maryland. 

Alicia Germano
US Science Teacher
Alicia Germano joins the Upper School Science Department with over 15 years of high school teaching experience in Chemistry and Conceptual Physics, most recently serving as Chair of the Science Department at SAR High School in the Bronx, NY. Previous to SAR, Ms. Germano taught science at South Park High School in South Park, PA. At SAR, Ms. Germano was also the Grade-Level Coordination (Grade Dean) for 12th grade and represented the faculty for two 3-year terms as Co-Chair of the Faculty Liaison Committee. Ms. Germano holds a BS in Chemistry and a Master of Arts in Teaching, both from the University of Pittsburgh.

Jeff Gironda
Security
Jeff Gironda comes to the RCDS Security team with over 25 years of service with the New York City Police Department. After working in the Patrol Division at the Midtown North Precinct, Mr. Gironda was selected to become an instructor at the world-renowned New York City Police Academy. During his time at the academy, Mr. Gironda taught a number of topics to include NYS Law and Police Science & Social Science. He also was selected to become the lead instructor for the Crisis Intervention Program and Implicit Bias Recognition Training. He retired as a Detective (Specialist) in July 2020. Mr. Gironda was hired by NJB Security Company to become their in-house Security Officer Trainer specializing in De-escalation. During his time at NJB he was often asked to work to augment security staff at schools in Westchester County to include Ossining, Byram Hills, and Rye City.

Julia Harris
US Humanities Teacher
Julia Harris joins the RCDS Upper School Humanities department as an AP Psychology and Humanities teacher. She previously taught psychology at The Thacher School in Ojai, CA, where she additionally served as dorm faculty, advisor, and debate team coach. Ms. Harris earned her master’s degree in psychology from the University of Bologna and her B.A. in psychology from Georgetown University. She is additionally certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid and has interests in bookbinding and paper arts, art history, and crossword puzzles. 

Jasmine Jacob
Kindergarten Lead Teacher 
Jasmine Jacob will be joining us as a new Kindergarten Lead Teacher. She has been a teacher at Riverdale Country School and The Brearley School in New York City where she has taught pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and second grade students as an associate teacher since 2018. Passionate about holistic approaches to teaching the whole child and creative teaching approaches, Ms. Jacob has collaborated closely with colleagues to support all students and develop lessons with a focus on academic, social, and emotional development. Ms. Jacob graduated from University of Albany (SUNY) with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and has a Master of Science in Early Childhood and Childhood General Education from Bank Street College of Education from 2019. 

Daren Khairule
Director of Academic Technology
Daren Khairule joins RCDS as the new Director of Academic Technology. Mr. Khairule holds a B.A. in International Business and Economics from New York University, an MBA in Management and Leadership from City University of New York, and is in the process of completing his Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Administration from Fordham University. Mr. Khairule has worked at the Dwight School in New York City as Director of Academic Affairs and Assessments and Executive Director of The Institute for Civic Leadership, and at Avenues: The World School as Director of Academic Affairs. Since August of 2016, he served as the Coordinator of Instructional Technology and Virtual Learning at Southern Westchester BOCES supporting over 40 Westchester schools districts in their various academic technology needs. Mr. Khairule brings 20 years of experience as an innovative and reflective school leader championing and fostering creative collaboration, engaging professional learning, research-based improvement science practices and PDSA cycles, educational technology implementations, and equity-based organizational development.

Nate King
LS Associate Teacher
In 2021, Nate King received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Washington and Lee University with a minor in Education Policy. Mr. King was an assessment associate at Success Academy Charter Schools in NYC where he was responsible for collecting and analyzing student data. Passionate about outdoor education, he brings experience as a trip specialist at Backroads Active Adventure Travel in Salt Lake City, Utah. Mr. King is pursuing his graduate degree at Columbia University Teachers College and will be the Associate Teacher in Grade 1 with Ms. Lentini.

Melissa Knecht
MS Science Teacher
Melissa Knecht joins the MS Science Department this year. Ms. Knecht earned a Master of Science in Instructional Technology from the New York Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science with a focus on Natural Sciences and Biology from St. Thomas Aquinas College. Her previous experience at Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy teaching science to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders should serve her well as she teaches sixth grade Science and joins the Grade 6 advising team this year in our Middle School.

Isadora Machado
MS Visual Arts Teacher
Having taught art to Middle and Lower School students at New Canaan Country School for much of her career, Isadora Machado joins our Visual Arts Department and the Grade 6 advising team this year. Her art classes encourage exploration and creative risk-taking as her students express themselves through a variety of mediums including drawing, painting, and sculpture. Ms. Machado also worked in New Canaan Country School’s Office of Enrollment, and at previous schools, she taught middle and high school Spanish and German. Ms. Machado holds a B.A. in Business and Art from the University at Albany.

Sarah Peck ’13
MS Study Skills Coordinator
A graduate of RCDS, Sarah Peck joins her alma mater as our Middle School Study Skills Coordinator. Her previous work as a Special Education Teacher and Academic Dean at Leaders in Our Neighborhood Charter School in the Bronx, NY prepares her well for this role that connects to all our middle school students as they focus on developing their executive functioning skills. Earning her B.A. from Colby College, Ms. Peck also has Dual Certification in Teaching Students with Disabilities Childhood Education and Childhood Education from the Relay Graduate School of Education in New York City. At RCDS, Ms. Peck was an AP Scholar with Distinction and an Alumni Prize recipient. We are so excited to have her rejoining our community as the Study Skills Coordinator and an advisor in Grade 6.

Coleen Quintyne 
Pre-Kindergarten Lead Teacher 
Coleen Quintyne will be joining the Pre-Kindergarten team as a Lead Teacher. After a 12-year career as a CPA in accounting, auditing, and financial management, Ms. Quintyne pursued her passion to become an interdisciplinary play-based and language literacy teacher. Ms. Quintyne joins us from Columbia Grammar Preparatory School and Montclare Children’s School in Manhattan where she has taught two through five year olds since 2014. Coleen graduated with a B.S. from Bucknell University and received her M.S. in Early Childhood and Special Education from Touro College.

Joshua Noel Rivera '15
Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Joshua Noel Rivera ’15 rejoins RCDS from Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn, where he was the Diversity & Institutional Equity Coordinator. Prior to St. Ann's, Mr. Rivera was the Teaching Fellow in the RCDS Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from 2020 to 2022 and a middle school enrichment teacher at Georgetown Day School in Washington, DC, from 2019 to 2020. Mr. Rivera is excited to return to RCDS, bringing his deep passion for diversity, equity, inclusion, and humanities and his proven ability to engage and inspire students. In his new role at the School, Mr. Rivera will partner across divisions to develop and implement DEI programming and curricular units. He will also serve as the Financial Aid point person for parents and students. After graduating from RCDS in 2015, Mr. Rivera earned his BA in Sociology from Howard University and his MA in Sociology of Education from New York University.

Breamond Scala
MS Science Teacher
Adding to our Grades 7 & 8 advising team and teaching seventh grade science, Breamond Scala comes to RCDS after having taught seventh grade science at Sacred Heart Greenwich, eighth grade science at Intermediate School 339 in the Bronx, and sixth and seventh grade science at Intermediate School 218 in New York City. Beyond the classroom, Ms. Scala led recycling initiatives, coached First Lego League and a Middle School Robotics Team, and volunteered her time at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT. She holds a Master of Science in Science Education with a focus on Biology from Southern Connecticut State University.

Katia Schwarz
MS/US Spanish/French Teacher
Katia Schwarz joins the Middle and Upper School Modern Languages Department to teach both French and Spanish. Ms. Schwarz has taught at a number of independent schools throughout her career and comes to RCDS most recently from Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights, OH. Over the course of her career, Ms. Schwarz has also served as a director of community service and a dormitory head, as well as an educational consultant and trainer, and was once the Head of Education for Sylvan Learning Centre in London. She was also a Klingenstein Fellow and a California State Representative for The National Network for Early Language Learning. Ms. Schwarz holds a BA in French from Oxford Brookes University in the UK and an MA in Curriculum & Instruction from Chapman University in CA. 

Brittany Soto
US Math Teacher
Brittany Soto brings a diversity of experience to the Upper School Mathematics Department. After an illustrious collegiate career at Birmingham-Southern College and career in professional soccer in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL), Ms. Soto joined Knoxville Football Club in Tennessee and then NASA-Tophat Soccer Club in Georgia as a professional coach. Ms. Soto then heeded the call to pursue teaching and taught in Connecticut at the Cheshire Public Schools, Achievement First in Hartford, and then the Hopkins School in New Haven, where she taught mathematics and coached soccer, swimming, diving, and softball. Ms Soto holds a BS in Chemistry from Birmingham-Southern, an MS from The University of Tennessee and another from Georgia State University, and a Sixth Year Masters in Secondary Education from University of Bridgeport.

Craig Stolzberg
Director of Athletics
Craig Stolzberg joins RCDS from Trevor Day School in Manhattan, where he was the Director of Athletics and Physical Education. Mr. Stolzberg brings extensive independent school experience, an outstanding track record as a teacher and administrator, and a deep dedication to student-centered educational athletics. Prior to Trevor Day School, Mr. Stolzberg enhanced the Dalton School’s physical education and athletics program, first as a lower school P.E. teacher, then as Associate Director of Middle School Athletics, and finally as the Director of the Lower School P.E. Program (K-3). Mr. Stolzberg received his Bachelor of Science from SUNY Geneseo and his Master of Science in Physical Education from Hofstra University, where he was also the graduate assistant to the men’s basketball program. Read more here.

Monica Tiulescu
Visual Arts Department Chair
Monica Tiulescu joins RCDS to lead the Visual Arts department and to teach Photography, Drawing, and Painting. Ms. Tiulescu holds a Masters in Advanced Architecture Design from Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation and a Bachelor of Architecture from Cooper Union. She has taught in both higher education and various independent schools including, most recently, the Athenian School and the Milken Community School in California, where she served as Art Department Chair. A working artist, Ms. Tiulescu has an active art practice focusing on painting, digital art, and photography.

Liliana Valle
STEAM Teaching Fellow
Liliana Valle, a recent graduate of Pomona College in Claremont, CA, joins RCDS as a Teaching Fellow in STEAM. Ms. Valle earned her B.A. in Physics and History and was a Teaching Assistant in the Physics and Astronomy departments at Pomona. Her varied research experience includes work on Thermoreflectance Imaging at Hudgings Lab in California and testing detection equipment at CERN in the Miller Lab at the University of Chicago. Ms. Valle is the author of “Using Hexbugs to Model Gas Pressure and Electrical Conduction: A Pandemic-Inspired Distance Lab” in The American Journal of Physics.

Heather Wayne
US English Teacher
Dr. Heather Wayne joins the Upper School English department from Middlesex School in Concord, MA. Dr. Wayne was the valedictorian of her high school class at The Geneva School in Florida before earning her BA in English and Art from Furman University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude. Dr. Wayne returned to The Geneva School to teach English and oversee the redesign of the writing curriculum for sophomores. She then taught at University of Central Florida as she earned her MA in English, and then at University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she earned her PhD in English. Before joining Middlesex School, Dr. Wayne taught Upper School English at Kingswood Oxford School, CT.
 

New Roles and Title Changes

Madge Anderson
MS Substitute, MS and US Coach

Kim Brush
Employee Childcare and Extended Day Coordinator 

Andres Cerpa
11th Grade Dean and US English Teacher

Meredith deChabert
Assistant Head of School for Academics, Institutional Research, and Data

Jessica Flaxman
Dean of Faculty and Employees and Director of the Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning

Wendy Haft
Associate Athletic Director

Jenny Heath
US Assistant Principal and US English Teacher

Elizabeth Huggard
LS Extended Day Supervisor

Debby Katz
US English Department Chair and US English Teacher
 
Melissa Liebowitz
MS/US Music Teacher

Kyle Mitschele
MS Social Studies Chair and MS Social Studies Teacher

Ali Morgan
Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Director of Fellowship Programs    

Kristin Provencher
Executive Assistant to the Head of School and Board of Trustees

Jac-que Robinson
Director of Performing Arts Spaces and AV Technology

Facilities Team

During the summer of 2023, RCDS moved our maintenance operation from an outsourced contract to an in-house staff. The 2023-24 RCDS facilities team now includes:

Sukie Flinn
Director of Facilities

Binns Moss
Maintenance Supervisor

Lillian Coutinho
Administrative Assistant

Patton Frazier
Maintenance

Joe La Vigna
Maintenance

Matt Sheps
Maintenance
 
Joining this dedicated and skilled team are:

Christopher Morelli
Maintenance
Mr. Morelli joins our maintenance team with expertise in both grounds and electrical work. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Management from Lynchburg College where he played baseball, additionally, he studied turf management at Delaware Technical College. Mr. Morelli most recently has been working at TJN Electrical as an electrical apprentice. Prior to that he was working in landscaping and general maintenance.
 
Jonathan Olvera
Maintenance
Mr. Olivera has experience in carpentry and painting. For the past several years he has been employed by Juan Lopez Painting. After attending Iona Prep for high school Mr. Olivera attended Iona University. 

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