(Alphabetical by FIRST name)
Marianna Telerman – Physical Education & Assistant Athletic Director
Marianna is excited to start her 5th year teaching Physical Education at WESS. After growing up in Brooklyn and Staten Island, she graduated from Long Island University with a BS in Health and Physical Education. She then went on to graduate with an MS in Early Childhood. She is extremely passionate about sports, physical activities, and just about everything outdoors! Marianna spends her summers as the Director of a reputable teen tour company, which provides her the opportunity to travel the world while simultaneously teaching leadership skills to teenagers. She is a firm believer in the importance of modeling healthy living for teens and helping her students become confident leaders and decision-makers. Her ultimate goal is to instill a love of fitness and a life-long commitment to health for all students at WESS.
Marie Milach – 6th Grade Mathematics
Marie is originally from Long Island, NY. As a student she participated in cross country and track, and was selected for the All-State band for playing the clarinet. After high school she earned her degree in political science at George Washington University. After a brief move to Rhode Island and having spent time in Americorps on student mentoring programs, she found herself drawn back to NY and interested in continuing the work with kids she had done in Americorps. Marie started working as an assistant teacher at a small independent school in NYC, and absolutely enjoyed working with the students. She then pursued her Masters in Math Education at SUNY Stony Brook. Upon graduation she started teaching high school math in the Bronx, where she taught for seven years. While there Marie developed a joy for creating and using problems that show students the beauty of math and learned that math is so much more than arriving at the correct answer. She loves seeing patterns in math and applying math to solve real-world problems. She is excited to share this passion for math with her students at WESS and learn what they are passionate about. In her spare time Marie enjoys exercising, cooking and spending time with family. She enjoys telling stories about the funny things her 4-year-old daughter Alyssa says and the cute things her 1-year-old son Frankie does. She is excited to be a part of the WESS community and looks forward to meeting all the new students and families!
Marina Podokshik – 7th Grade English Language Arts
Marina was born in Belarus and moved to New York City with her family at five years old. She grew up in the Bronx and is a true New Yorker at heart. She received a BA in English and Public Relations from Syracuse University and a Masters degree in Secondary English Education from Fordham University. Marina has spent the last ten years teaching English to sixth and seventh-grade students in both Brooklyn and the Bronx. She has also served as an instructional leader, helping other teachers improve their practice. She loves the classroom and is happiest when she sees her kids grow in ways they didn’t think they originally could. Marina devotes every school break to traveling the world and loves getting lost in a new country. She also enjoys ballroom dancing, singing, and spending time with her family and friends. She is beyond excited to join the WESS community!
Marion Pachman – 7th & 8th Grade Integrative Co-Teacher Social Studies & Science
Marion was born in New York City and raised in Long Island. Throughout her teenage years, she always worked with children. Her jobs in Middle and High School ranged from babysitting, a counselor at Day Camps, and volunteering with children at the Viscardi Center in Albertson, N.Y. Prior to going to college, she made a choice to choose between two of her passions. Thinking that she could express herself through art whenever she pleased she chose to study education at both the bachelors and graduate levels. She found herself interested in teaching students at various ages in typical settings, teaching within transdisciplinary teams of educators, and teaching reading and writing skills. After receiving her B.S. in a dual certification program in special and general education from the University of Hartford, she went on to receive her M.S. in Reading and special education from Adelphi University. In addition to her teaching certifications in both CT and NY, Marion attained an Administrative Certificate from the state of CT where she taught for most of her professional career. For over thirty years Marion has continued to partner with educational staff, parents, and their children to facilitate their emotional and cognitive growth on their journey through the educational process. She has taught students ranging in age from early childhood through high school. Teaching has been a rewarding experience for Marion. It has brought her joy to work with children as she inspires and guides students through their own educational transformations. Marion lived in CT for thirty yrs., and relocated to Manhattan 5 yrs. ago. She is a proud and devoted mother of three young adult children, and two very young grandchildren. In her free time whenever possible she reads about and practices: yoga, gardening, hiking, skiing, cooking, painting, traveling as well as spending time with family and friends.
Matt Halfond – Algebra I
Matt was born and raised on Long Island, before moving to upstate New York and eventually earning his bachelor’s degree at SUNY-Geneseo. Matt’s various experiences as a counselor, tutor, assistant teacher, and learning specialist led him to become passionate about math education, and Matt went on to earn his Master’s Degree in Adolescent Special Education from SUNY-Binghamton. After living and teaching at an Expeditionary Learning school in Columbus, Ohio for three years Matt moved back home to teach in New York in the community that he loves so much. Matt is a firm believer that all students can be successful with the appropriate challenges and supports, and he is excited to continue to help students grow through the lens of math while at WESS. Matt is an animal lover, and is a passionate sports fan, specifically of his Knicks, Jets, and Yankees. Matt is looking forward to another great year this year at WESS!
Michele Balsam – 7th Grade Social Studies
Michele has roots deep in New York City education; born and raised in lower Manhattan, she grew up with a passion for the city and its history, nurtured by her experiences in both progressive and traditional education. Michele received her Bachelor’s degree from The George Washington University in both History and Political science, and a Master’s degree from Hunter College in Adolescent Social Studies Education. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Educational Leadership at Teachers College at Columbia University. Throughout her educational career, Michele has studied abroad in Madrid and London, as well as traveled the world with her choir from the cape of South Africa to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Michele loves bringing the exhilaration of world travel to the classroom through inquiry and authentic experiences. She also brings a longstanding love of theater to her work, both in the classroom and in her capacity as a director of student theater. As a native Manhattanite, she knows what an engaging and deep learning environment the city is, from museums to historical sites, and loves to make history come alive with her students!
Nicole Zernone – Visual Arts
Nicole, a lifelong New Yorker, received her BA in Photography from Antioch College in Ohio, where she traveled the globe photographing women in developing nations. During and after she has exhibited her artwork in several states. She moved back to New York City after graduation and started her career in public schools teaching photography, visual arts and architecture. She received an MS in Urban Education from The College of Mount Saint Vincent and an MA in School Leadership from Bank Street College of Education. During her long tenure in New York City schools, Nicole has served as arts coordinator, and arts liaison and has helped develop robust art education programming. Additionally, Nicole has served as a staff developer for art teachers in the Bronx and Manhattan. In addition to her passion for art education, she is an avid gardener and co-owns a farm to table restaurant in Inwood, New York. When not in Manhattan she spends her time with her 10-year-old daughter Clementine, husband Jason and sheepadoodle Perry in a bungalow community in the Catskill Mountains. Nicole is thrilled at the prospect of helping every student at WESS develop their individual artistic vision and voice. Nicole feels honored to be part of the WESS community.
Providence Ryan – AP Biology
Providence was born and raised in Schenectady, a small city in the Capital Region of upstate New York. She received Bachelors’ degrees in Biology and Philosophy from Colgate University in 2016. After college, Providence moved to New York City, where she began teaching in The Bronx while earning her Master’s Degree in Secondary Science Education at Lehman College. Providence is a self-identified science nerd and an experienced researcher, who has done research on climate change and tropical ecosystems in the rainforests of Costa Rica. Providence believes that inquiry-driven discovery and research are the keys to understanding the world around us. She actively engages students in authentic scientific research and discourse practices as often as possible, so that all students feel empowered to become true practitioners of science. Outside of the classroom, Providence enjoys tending to a garden plot in her neighborhood’s community garden, learning about new science and math teaching practices through her Math for America fellowship, and attending art and activism events with friends around New York City.
Robert Dice – AP Human Geography
Robert grew up in the suburbs of Long Island, New York. He earned both his B.A. in History and Secondary Education and an M.A. in History from SUNY-Cortland. For ten years, he worked in upstate New York as an adjunct lecturer, tutor, and coach before returning to the New York City area. Upon returning, he taught Global Studies and Constitutional Law in the Bronx as well as coached Cross Country and mentored new teachers. Robert loves teaching social studies because it helps students understand our world and empowers them with the skills necessary to be active citizens. He loves when students become passionate about issues and engage in healthy, open-minded debate. Outside of school, Robert loves to spend time with his ten-year-old daughter Halia, especially when they have adventures, play video games, and debate Harry Potter. He also enjoys sci-fi, playing board games, running, trying new recipes from YouTube, and rooting for the Yankees. Robert is looking forward to his adventures at WESS!