Middle School Leadership
Middle School Assistant Principal
Danielle Lasher is enthusiastic about being a member of the Quest to Learn community. She attended Binghamton University’s Scholars Program and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor’s of Arts in English. She holds a Masters of Science in Education in Childhood and Special Education from CUNY Hunter College. She also holds an Advanced Certificate in Educational Leadership from Stony Brook University. Prior to becoming an assistant principal, Danielle was a special education humanities teacher within the New York City Department of Education. She believes that students are able to learn best when provided with engaging instruction designed to allow them to use their strengths to overcome any challenges that they face. She is excited to be a part of the Quest to Learn community in order to help students become the best versions of themselves.
Middle School Faculty
Middle School Guidance
Rachelle Vallon graduated from Hofstra University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Masters of Science in Education. At Hofstra, Rachelle became a member of Chi Sigma Iota, the National Counseling Honors Society and was awarded the John Dewey Van Buren Endowed Scholarship for academic achievement. Rachelle started her career in counseling at a charter high school serving as a Mandated Counselor and College Advisor. Joining Quest during its second year, Rachelle works as the Middle School Guidance Counselor and Wellness Coordinator. With an ongoing passion to support children holistically, Rachelle works with Quest’s Middle School students, parents, and staff to provide Social and Emotional intervention and support, build the Home Base Advisory program, and collaborate with Wellness staff to enhance school and community culture.
6th Grade The Way Things Work
Jenna received a B.S. in Biobehavioral Health from Pennsylvania State University in 2011. She later went on to earn a M.A. in Middle Childhood Science Education, with a specialization in Biology, from Brooklyn College in 2016. Prior to working as a 6th grade Science teacher for the NYC DOE, Jenna worked as a global health Program Assistant for the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian aid agency that serves over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities. In this role Jenna traveled to various countries in Asia, Africa, and Europe to support the implementation and evaluation of health facilities and programming. After two and a half years working in the global health sector, Jenna embarked on her career in education through the NYC Teaching Fellows Program. Throughout the school year, Jenna’s 6th grade students will partake in collaborative engineering design challenges, investigative work, explanatory evidence-based scientific writing, and Socratic Seminars. Through authentic experiential learning opportunities, Jenna hopes to pique students’ curiosity, and encourage further questioning and exploration about the way things work!
6th Grade, Being, Space & Place
I am originally from Monroe, NY, about a 50 miles north of the city. I then lived in northern California for ten years where I started college at College of the Redwoods. In 2000 I got married and moved to Kenosha, Wi where I finished my Bachelor’s of Arts in history. In 2004 I moved back to Monroe where I was a substitute teacher while I worked on my Masters in secondary education. I moved to Queens in 2008 and substituted in NYC for a few years and then taught 8th grade humanities at East Side Middle school for 6 years.
6th Grade, Codeworlds
Kate Selkirk has been teaching in the NYC Department of Education since 2005 and began her career as a New York City Teaching Fellow. Kate has taught Codeworlds at Quest to Learn to both 7th and 8th graders and is thrilled to move to the 6th grade team. Kate is inspired by travel and used a trip to Thailand with Leah to plan an amazing Thai Cooking Boss Level experience. Kate has also traveled to Ecuador & Madagascar through an Earthwatch Educator Fellowship to help scientists conduct field research regarding climate change and wildlife conservation. Kate loves to use NYC as an extension of the classroom and has organized many trips to locations like MoMA, The Highline, and Coney Island’s Luna Park. Kate was a lead teacher at the Summer Science institute at Queens College where she collaborated with organizations such as the New York Hall of Science and the Bronx Zoo to create and implement an engaging summer program for New York City Science educators. Kate holds a BA in English and American Literature from NYU and a Masters degree in Mathematics Education. Kate has presented at numerous local conferences and led professional development throughout the city. Energetic and thoughtful, Kate is excited to design innovative and intriguing ways for her students to encounter mathematical phenomena. 6th grade Codeworlds students will learn to persevere when confronted with challenging ideas and problems and find enjoyment in their path to greater math literacy.
6th Grade, Point of View
Limor Levy was born and raised in New York City, and attended DOE public schools for elementary, middle, and high school. Limor attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA as a Posse Scholar and graduated with honors. While at Dickinson, Limor majored in English and minored in Art, and began working in education with local students. After returning to New York City, Limor spent a year working in research before realizing that she missed the interaction with, education of, and support of her students. She attended St. Johns University, earning a Masters of Science in Secondary Education and graduating with honors. Limor also graduated with honors from The College of St. Rose with a Masters in Educational Administration, earning her SBL and SDL licenses. Limor taught middle school English and Social Studies at a K-8 school in Queens for four years before joining Quest to Learn in their second year of expansion as the 7th grade Being, Space and Place teacher. In 2013, Limor moved to the 6th grade and began teaching Point of View. Committed, innovative and engaging, Limor loves teaching middle school English.
6th Grade, Sports for the Mind
Chris has been an educator in a variety of cities for close to 20 years. His last twelve years have been spent as a part of the NYC Department of Education teaching technology and social studies in Brooklyn. Chris graduated from Oswego State with a BA in American History and a BS in Secondary Education. He later earned his Masters in Educational Technology from Cambridge College. Chris believes in a Socratic or constructivist approach to education and feels that the students should be allowed to explore the content being studied and be able to build their own meaning and understanding of how it relates to the world around them.
7th Grade, Sports of the Mind / Visual Arts
Originally from Michigan, Kaitlin Freewind received a BFA from Hunter College before completing an MA in Art + Education at NYU in 2015. She spent nearly four years working in the Media Lab at the Children’s Museum of the Arts before arriving at Quest. In addition to working with other non-profits and school programs, she has taught extended day courses at Avenues and worked with school groups at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Kaitlin is excited to build off of Quest to Learn’s innovative approach to curriculum design as she guides students in exploring both traditional and new media in the arts. She is also eager to integrate contemporary art into classroom discussions as a way to foster curiosity and empathy, highlight interdisciplinary approaches, emphasize collaboration, and focus on social justice.
7th Grade, Codeworlds
Alexa is excited to start her teaching career here at Quest to Learn in our Grade 7 Codeworlds classroom. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from SUNY Albany with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics. During her undergraduate career, Alexa was the recipient of the Steen Gravitt and Mayfred Lucas Dutton scholarships for female scholars pursuing a career in mathematics. Upon returning home to Long Island, Alexa studied at Teachers College, Columbia University and received a Master of Arts in Secondary Mathematics Education. During her career at Quest, Alexa hopes to inspire and encourage future mathematicians through an engaging curriculum. In her free time, Alexa enjoys going to sporting events, concerts, and spending time with family.
David Nagar Sadoff
7th Grade, The Way Things Work
David has been teaching TWTW at Quest 2 Learn since 2012. Throughout his teaching career he has worked with students from K-12 both in formal and informal teaching settings. David seeks to make science come alive for his students through authentic hands on design experiences. He holds a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Rochester and a M.S. in Adolescent Science Education from the Warner School, also a part of the University of Rochester. When not engaging the class with a science demo, David’s class is full of student-to-student discussion in order to foster a classroom community in which students challenge each other and learn to defend their reasoning to their peers
Lauren DeSilva-Hornung has been teaching Spanish since 2006. Before joining the Quest to Learn team in 2011, she taught in Long Island Schools for five years. Lauren has experience with teaching all levels, ranging from Elementary to High School. From 2009–2011, she was an adjunct professor for Graduate Education at Molloy College where she taught a FLES (Foreign Language in The Elementary School) methods course. Lauren holds a BA with a double major in Spanish and Education and a minor in Psychology from Manhattanville College and an M.S.Ed. in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from St. John’s University. An avid traveler, Lauren studied abroad in Seville, Spain for a semester and attended the Universidad de Sevilla. While obtaining her Masters degree, she studied in Santiago, Dominican Republic and attended Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra. In February 2011, Lauren studied in Costa Rica through the Dellecave Educational Institute.
Lauren is excited to help all students grow an appreciation for Foreign Languages by preparing them to enter the global economy with the knowledge, skills and tools that Foreign Language brings!
8th Grade, The Way Things Work
Lencey graduated with a BA in Childhood Education from Long Island University and earned a MA in Middle School Science Education with a concentration in Environmental Science from CUNY Brooklyn. Lencey joins Quest to Learn after teaching 6th and 7th grade Science at the UFT Charter School. During her Spring and Summer vacations, Lencey works as a teacher’s assistant at the American Museum of Natural History in the Education Department. Lencey is an energetic, outrageous and experiential individual and educator. She believes in hands on learning and creates an encouraging and challenging scientific environment where everyone matters.
8th Grade, Codeworlds
Kelvin Smith began his teaching career in 2005 as a New York City Teaching Fellow. Kelvin has since taught most branches of mathematics at alternative high schools and specializes in the development and design of asynchronous learning spaces. He has led professional development at his schools and has had the pleasure of presenting at city and state conferences. Kelvin’s personal interest in coding and automation has afforded him the opportunity to bring innovative teaching and learning methods to bear in digital spaces.
8th Grade, Being, Space & Place
Will Nicastro has been teaching social studies in New York City since 2008. He has taught courses in world, American, New York City history, as well as courses in International Law & Human Rights and AP Psychology. Will has been involved with curriculum mapping, leading inquiry teams, and designing CCLS-aligned coursework. He has a BA and MA in history, with his Master’s thesis focusing on an ethnography of underground music. Will believes that an engaging and dynamic approach to history offers students the opportunity to think critically, evaluate information, and collaborate, all essential 21st century skills.
Middle School Physical Education
Alyssa has been teaching Physical Education and Health at Manhattan schools since 2008. She has taught all ages ranging from Kindergarten to High School. In addition to her interest in Health and Physical Education, Alyssa enjoys working with students in extra-curricular activities and believes that these activities are just as important to a child’s development as the required curriculum. During her time at a Charter School, Alyssa helped to develop an internship program for students. Alyssa holds a BA in Physical Education from Syracuse University and a MA in Health Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Motivated and thoughtful, Alyssa believes that games offer students the opportunity to approach learning from a different perspective.
Middle School Physical Education
I grew up and still live in Eastchester, NY. I went to school at SUNY Brockport where I majored in Physical Education with a concentration in adapted physical education in 2014. In 2016, I completed my masters in Spring 2016 in athletic administration from the same school. This is my first teaching job and words can’t describe how excited I am. I am die hard fan of the Mets, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers. In my free time, I love playing basketball, flag football and softball.
Technologist, Community Associate and Coach
William is originally from New York City and grew up on the Lower East Side. Will attended Trinity College in Hartford, CT. While at Trinity, Will majored in American Studies with a special concentration in Education and Race Relations. William has always been active in community service. While a senior at Trinity, Will served as the Assistant Chair of FACES—the largest community service organization at the college. Will has worked as a U.S. History teacher at Salisbury School in Salisbury, CT. While at Salisbury, he was very engaged in the life of the school, working as an individual and small group tutor in different subject areas. William also served as a dorm parent and sports team coach for Salisbury’s wrestling, football and baseball teams. Will currently coaches the Q2L middle school wrestling and BREC high school wrestling teams and Q2L’s Chess in the Schools, Project Chess team. Through his work at Q2L, William continues his commitment to civic and community engagement.
Pupil Accounting Secretary
Born in San Francisco, Suzanne moved East to go to Brown University. After graduation, she came to New York to attend NYU film school and begin a 20-year career in film editing. When she had her son, Sam, she decided to become an educator and attended Bank Street College where she got her degree in Early Childhood Education. After six years teaching pre-K/K classes at Corlears School, she decided to move into administration and now works in the office at Quest to Learn. She looks forward to supporting the community of teachers, staff, family and students at this visionary school.
Devin Fitzgibbons earned his B.A. in Psychology and English from Williams College in 2004. Before joining Quest, Devin taught at the Churchill School and Center for 5 years, obtaining a Masters in ELA and Special Education instruction from Manhattanville College. At Quest, Devin coordinates the special education services for our 230 students with IEPs. Devin is excited to work on three initiatives this fall: student-teacher placements for NYU education students, fieldwork placements for NYU psychology students, and internships for NYU game design students.
8th Grade Learning Strategist
Nkomo Morris, a proud Native New Yorker, is an 8th grade Learning Strategist at Quest to Learn. She attended Stanford University, where she earned her B.A. in English, and holds a Masters of Science in Education in Teaching Urban Adolescents with Disabilities from Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus. Nkomo also has a graduate certificate in Teaching Computer Science and Blended Learning form Pace University, and has New York State teaching certifications in Special Education and in English. Currently, Nkomo is pursuing her second Master’s in School Counseling at Alfred University. Prior to joining Quest to Learn, Nkomo was a special education English and U.S. History teacher in the New York City Department of Education, where her students won the Citywide Games 4 Change Student Video Game Design Challenge. Nkomo believes that all students will learn when they feel respected, loved, heard, and understood.
6th Grade Learning Strategist
Jessica studied English and Corporate Communication at Baruch College, where she received her B.A. She is currently obtaining her Masters Degree with a dual certification in Special Education and English from St. John’s University. She previously taught English at Mosaic Prep in East Harlem. Jessica hopes to share her love of the English language and World History with her students and guide them toward their strengths–serving as their “Virgil” as they embark on their exciting journey toward academic success and self-discovery.
6th Grade Learning Strategist
Meghan Gill is a native New Yorker. She is an alumni of Manhattan College, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in English and Spanish. She then moved to Madrid, Spain for three years where she taught ESL to adults and later taught ESL in a bilingual elementary school. Upon returning she worked in a private special education school in Manhattan for three years. After securing her Master’s degree in Special Education, Meghan worked for three years in NYC public schools as a special education teacher and Math and Science specialist. Meghan is excited to implement game theory in the classroom. She is also happy to join the Quest to Learn team as a sixth grade learning specialist.
Middle School Learning Strategist
Julie Timchenko has a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Brooklyn College and is currently acquiring her MS in Special Education there as well. She has been working with DOE for 3 years and is returning to Quest to Learn this year, as a Learning strategist for the 8th grade. She strives for students to be highly engaged and she enjoys focusing on student strengths and creativity. She is outgoing, ambitious, and is helping make Quest a friendly and caring community.
Middle School Learning Strategist
Hallie graduated from the University of Massachusetts where she received her Bachelors in Social and Behavioral Sciences. Prior to teaching she worked in the fashion industry and quickly realized that the corporate world was not for her. She grew up in the world of education, with her mom being an elementary school teacher and grandmother a school secretary (both for the NYC DOE). This will be her first year at Q2L. She has previously taught 8th grade ELA in Washington Heights. She will be receiving her Masters degree with a dual certification in Special Education from Relay Graduate School of Education. Hallie is excited and committed to setting high expectations for all her students and hope they are just as excited as she is to come to school everyday!
Middle School Learning Strategist
Iseult studied Political Science at John Jay College. She is currently working towards obtaining her Master Degree in Special Education from Long Island University. She is committed to ensuring academic and personal growth for her students while forming relationships with their parents and colleagues to achieve students success.