Upper School Leadership
Upper School Faculty
9th & 10th Guidance
Francoise R. Wernham has had a myriad of experiences in the education sector centering around policy, advocacy, and mental health. Most recently, Francoise has worked as a psychological counselor with middle and high school populations. A native New Yorker and life long lover of the arts, Francoise is passionate about incorporating creative expression and exploration into the counseling process. Francoise holds a B.A. in Art History and Psychology from Sarah Lawrence College, a M.A. in Developmental Psychology with a Concentration in Risk, Resiliency, and Prevention from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a M.S. in School Counseling from Hunter College. Francoise believes that games proffer students with a unique space in which to highlight their strengths, experiment with ideas, consider environmental and situational influences, and bolster their emotional intelligence. Francoise conceptualizes that together, students, families, and the school community play a critical role in achieving these goals.
Suzanne graduated from SUNY Albany in 2005 with an Undergraduate degree in Psychology. She worked as a paralegal during graduate studies at Mercy College and obtained her Masters in School Psychology in 2011. After two years at the Committee on Special Education, Suzanne began working at Quest to Learn at the start of the 17-18 school year. As a school psychologist, Suzanne consults with teachers, administrators, parents, and students regarding behavior, academic achievement, and other important issues that pertain to education. Suzanne became a school psychologist to help students understand their own areas of strength and need; she believes in encouraging students to advocate for themselves and take an active role in their education. She is dedicated to the success of Quest to Learn students and is glad to be part of such a wonderful school environment.
Pre-Calc, CUNY Math, AP Calc
Phylicia Hoyt began her career as an educator through the New York City Teaching Fellows. For the past three years, Phylicia has taught mathematics at Innovation Diploma Plus, a transfer high school on the Upper West Side. During this time, Phylicia worked tirelessly to engage and inspire her students who had typically been disenfranchised in their past educational experiences. Phylicia earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Italian Studies with a minor in History from the University of Richmond. She earned her Master of Science in Secondary Mathematics Education from St. John’s University. Phylicia holds an unwavering belief in the growth mindset and the potential within each individual to embrace challenges and persevere. She believes that game-based, situated learning experiences empower students to become self-regulating individuals and that mathematical reasoning is the gateway to critical thinking.
Algebra I, Geometry
Sophie Lampiasi earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York. After graduation, she joined the New York City Teaching Fellows as a Math fellow and earned her Master of Science in Education in Secondary Mathematics from St. John’s University. Before becoming the Algebra teacher at Quest to Learn Upper School, Sophie worked with students seeking credit recovery and Regents help at the High School for Law and Public Service and taught 7th grade math at the Bronx Academy of Letters. Sophie believes that a strong mathematical foundation is vital to student academic confidence and success in and out of the classroom. Through an engaging and rigorous curriculum, she is able to foster student excitement and understanding while building a culture of self-awareness and acceptance.
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.
Geometry, Alg 1
Paul Baron earned a Bachelor of Arts from SUNY Binghamton, double majoring in Ecomonics, and Politics, Philisophy & Law. He spent several years working as an Investigator for the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board, and then spent a year living in Israel, earning an MA in Conflict Resolution and Mediation from Tel Aviv University. After a great experience working at a tutoring center, Paul decided to become a teacher, joining the New York City Teaching Fellows as a Math fellow and earning his Master of Science in Education in Secondary Mathematics from St. John’s University. Before teaching at Quest to Learn Upper School, Paul taught Geometry and Computer Science at Urban Assembly Media HS. Paul believes that the logic and problem solving skills developed in mathematics are a vital life skill for all individuals, regardless of their interests or career path.
Jerry graduated from Harvard with a degree in Human Evolutionary Biology. He teaches Living Environment and is developing a Marine Biology class at Quest to Learn. Jerry also has a captain’s license and continues to help out with the Sail Academy after-school program by teaching students the sport of sailing and the science behind .
Economics & Participating in Government
John graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a bachelor and masters degree in Secondary Education in Social Studies. Formerly of our state’s capital, Albany, New York, John has a passion for politics, civic engagement, and economics that he has been instilling in Quest to Learn’s seniors for the last two years. John recently began working with the Manhattan Youth After School Program at Quest and previously taught 7th grade United States History in the South Bronx for two years. One idea he hopes endures with all of his students is that “The government is us; we are the government, you and I”- Teddy Roosevelt.
Dan has worked in New York City’s Department of Education since 1998 as a special education teacher, a social studies teacher, a dean, and an administrator. He is passionate about connecting history to students through their concerns and interests. Dan received his Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University in the field of social studies education, concentrating on teachers’ use of visual texts and images in order to enhance student learning of historical thinking skills. Dan, who grew up in upstate New York in Niagara Falls has also taught in Seattle, WA, Ithaca, NY, and the East African nation of Uganda.
Global II, AP US History
Christina Blazej (Post) started her teaching career here at Quest to Learn in our ninth grade Global History class two years ago, since then she has now added AP United States History and National honor advisor to her list of titles. Before moving to New York, Christina completed her student teaching and degrees in California. She received her Bachelors of Arts in History with honors in 2010. Since then she has lived in two different states, including Wisconsin and New York. While Christina completed her first year of teaching she received her Masters from California Lutheran University.
9th Grade English
Ms. Holmgren has been teaching High School ELA classes in New York City for several years. Prior to teaching she work at Pace University’s Downtown Manhattan campus, also her alma mater, as an administrator for the Student Development and Campus Activities department. She received a BA in Art History and then an additional 30 credits in English Literature before completing her Masters of Arts in Teaching while working for Pace. Ms. Holmgren’s favorite thing to teach is classic fiction novels and plays, but her guilty pleasure reading is Hard-Boiled detective stories.
10th English, AP Literature
David Micevic graduated with a BA in English and Cinema Studies from the University of Iowa and a Masters in English Education from New York University. As an ELA teacher, David cleaves tenaciously to the notion that without literature there would be no empathy in this world, an axiom all the more relevant in these trying times. At Quest Upper School he teaches both 10thGrade English Language Arts and AP Literature & Composition where he immerses students in this shared passion for literary thought. It is through this exploration of literature that students learn to negotiate the limitless horizons of the human experience in a world fraught with flawed morals and usurped ideals as they come to understand their role within that system of thought.
11th Grade English, AP Lang, SGO Advisor
Harmony teaches English Language Arts at Quest to Learn Upper School and is also the ELA Content Team Lead. Originally from Los Angeles, she received her BA in Theatre Education and her Teacher Certification in English from California State University, Fullerton. In 2012, she received her MA in Applied Drama: Theatre in Educational, Community, and Social Contexts from Goldsmiths, University of London, UK. As an educator, she sees a strong foundation in ELA as crucial to the development of self-efficacy and critical thinking enabling students to work together to positively shape their communities. As a theatre practitioner, she has a special interest in integrating Theatre Arts across the curriculum and helping other educators to utilize the power of theatre as a learning tool.
12th English, Game Design, Maker Space
Joe Salina is an educator, musician and freelance writer and editor. Aside from his years spent as an English teacher and as a member of the avant-garde video game collective and gallery space, Babycastles, he has taught everything from game design history to arcade cabinet creation to curatorial practice for public exhibitions to teens in NYC. He currently combines his experiences as the director of the Innovation Lab program at Quest to Learn.
Upper School Physical Education
Martin Gordon brings a wealth of career and life experiences to Quest to Learn. Since 1990, Martin served in the United States Navy onboard The USS Yorktown CG-38 during the First Desert Storm. Martin is an accomplished athlete, whose career included playing collegiate football for the University at Albany as starting quarterback. Martin also pitched and played outfield in the Hudson Valley Rookie League, which featured players from class A and class AA Pro baseball teams. Prior to the start of Martin’s teaching career, he worked for eight years in the Health and Fitness industry at various New York City health clubs including Reebok, Crunch, and Equinox.
In 2002 Martin decided on a career change and enrolled at Queens College where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Physical Education. Martin obtained his Masters of Science in Health Education from Lehman College. Martin taught at The Brandeis School in Nassau County, where he served as the school’s Athletic Director, Physical Education teacher, and after school sports coach. Martin also taught physical education at DREAM Charter School in East Harlem for two years for grades Kindergarten through third.
Martin has been a teacher and coach at Quest to Learn for the past four years. He is an outdoor enthusiast who likes to golf, fish and hike. He lives in the Bronx with his wife and three children.
Upper School Physical Education
Mario earned a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Springfield College in 2011. He went on to graduate school at Hofstra University to earn a Master’s degree in Health Education in 2013. Mario has been teaching Physical Education since 2011, when he started his teaching career in the Franklin Square school district on Long Island. During that time, Mario created sports tournaments in which admission was to donate books, school supplies, sports equipment and toys, which were eventually donated to local charities. Mario also enjoys coaching and playing sports like baseball, football, and basketball. He believes teaching and coaching work hand in hand and games are a tactical approach toward expanding an individual’s knowledge and interpersonal skills. Some of Mario’s hobbies include spending time with family, lifting weights, running, umpiring baseball games, watching the Mets, Jets and Islanders, reading and listening to music.
ESL Coordinator/Upper School ESL Teacher
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Rob received a BA in political science from The Ohio State University after playing college football at SUNY Buffalo. He began his career as an ESL educator in South Korea before moving on to teach in Japan, Thailand, and China. Rob joined Quest as a Community Associate before joining the NYC Teaching Fellows and earning a MA in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Rob believes in communicative approaches that emphasize writing in order to ensure that English Language Learners succeed alongside their peers.
Raymond Germosen has exponentially evolved within the Quest Community. In the 2013, Raymond joined Quest as a Community Associate. In Spring of 2014, he joined the New York City Teaching Fellows to further his career in education and enrich the school community and culture. After obtaining his Master’s at LIU Brooklyn, Raymond returns to Quest as an ESL teacher and Dean. As a student of the New York City public school system himself, he is ready to help the students face and overcome any social or academic challenges that the school year brings.
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.
Learning Strategist, Algebra I
Sine received her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Upon being selected for the New York City Teaching Fellows program eleven years ago, Sine began teaching at the Bronx High School for Visual Arts while earning her Masters Degree in Special Education from Hunter College. As a classroom teacher, Sine is very dynamic and has taught grades 9-12 in all subjects including global studies, US history, sciences, mathematics, English language arts and advisory. Valuing real-world experiences for students, Sine has coordinated community partnerships with museums and banks, internship programs with Ecko Unltd, and after-school clubs such as the Gay Straight Alliance, New York Cares, Film Club and the Manga Club. She believes that every child can learn, that all students learn differently, and that project or game-based learning provides multiple access points for learners of all levels and abilities.
Learning Strategist, English
Orlando Garcia is a native Oregonian who moved to New York to attend New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. After receiving his BFA in Drama, he attended Pace University as a New York City Teaching Fellow and acquired his MS in Teaching, specializing in Students with Special Needs. While teaching five years at the Academy of Urban Planning in Brooklyn, Orlando helped to develop the Instructional Support Department, while co-founding an extra curricular musical theater program. Following A.U.P, Orlando spent two years as a Self-Contained and Integrated Collaborating Teacher on the Lower East Side at The School for Global Leaders. As a teacher at Quest, Orlando hopes to continue his goals of bringing equal access to curriculum to all students, and working to encourage student in their untapped talents.
Learning Strategist, ELA
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.
Learning Strategist, Global II
Alex graduated with a BA from New York University and a Masters in Education of Urban Adolescents with Special Needs from Long Island University. As an Upper School Learning Strategist he enjoys planning and delivering unique and exciting curriculum with his Math and English co-teachers that allows all students to engage with one another and find success. Alex believes that Quest to Learn is a great space for students and teachers to collaborate on projects they care deeply about while learning new ways to communicate and share their interests with others.
Learning Strategist, Earth Science & Living Environment
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.
Mei graduated with a B. A in Mathematics from Brooklyn College and earned a MS degree in General Education and Special Education from Touro College. Before joining Quest, Mei worked as a paraprofessional for 10 year in NYCDOE. Mei loves to see the growth of students by providing then individual help.