2019-2020 WESS Team Bios
Jessica Jenkins – Founding Principal
Jessica grew up in Sag Harbor, a small town located on the eastern end of Long Island. It was there that she became a lover of swimming, boating, kayaking, and cross-country running. She went on to study at the College of Charleston and Stony Brook University, earning a BA in social psychology and political science. Throughout college, she devoted her free time to working as a volunteer intake coordinator for a local homeless shelter, tutor for college athletes, and as a weekly reading buddy for struggling students. From the moment she stepped foot into her first classroom teaching assignment, she knew that her true passion was working directly with children. Over the past 18 years, Jessica has served as a classroom teacher, instructional & principal coach, superintendent, and principal. After two masters degrees in education and educational leadership, she went on to become the founding principal of Marsh Avenue Expeditionary Learning School in Staten Island, a highly regarded middle school. Jessica felt honored to have been given the opportunity to open and lead a second school, and is incredibly proud of West End Secondary School’s success. She looks forward to welcoming her fifth incoming class to the WESS family and to her founding class of students becoming sophomores in high school! During her time at WESS, Jessica and Chris welcomed identical twin boys into the world. Cameron and Chase are almost two years old and are eager to race through the halls of WESS in September.
Lynne Galyas – Assistant Principal, Organization
Lynne was born and raised in NYC and is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she earned a BA in advertising and marketing. This was followed by an eight-year career in ESPN’s Advertising & Sales department where she worked closely with the Programming and Legal departments as a liaison to ensure advertisers received their contractual airtime. During this time she started her family with husband, Greg. This is where she found her true calling working directly with children. As a founding teacher at Marsh Avenue Expeditionary Learning School, Lynne worked alongside Jessica and the founding team to create a model school in the network of EL schools. In addition to teaching across subjects, Lynne worked collaboratively with her colleagues to create rigorous learning expeditions that engaged students in learning beyond the four walls of the classroom. After spending her life in New York City, Lynne recently relocated to northern New Jersey, where she and her husband are raising two teenage girls, both competitive athletes. This year, she will continue the college search for her oldest daughter who will be graduating high school in 2020! She is thrilled to continue working alongside Jessica, Joe, and the entire team to build upon the incredible learning environment we’ve created for all students!
Joe Rodriguez – Assistant Principal (IA), Instruction
Joe was born and raised in NYC and earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees at SUNY-Stony Brook. He started his social studies teaching career at a high school in East New York, Brooklyn, for five years. Working at The School for Public Safety and Law was both a humbling and rewarding experience. It was the sort of community that attracted Joe to teaching as he wanted to serve as an exemplary model and be able to lift students through education. In 2008, he moved on to become one of the founding teachers at Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School, where he served as a social studies teacher, programmer, and data specialist. McCown helped Joe grow as a teacher; Expeditionary Learning pushed him to make instructional connections beyond the classroom. Joe was able to use the community as a resource in his curriculum to bring a deeper and more meaningful experience to learning. For the past two years, Joe served as an academic policy officer supporting secondary schools across NYC. In this capacity, he was responsible for supporting 34 Consortium and Outward Bound schools across NYC with aligning to both state and city policies, DOE systems, accountability data, and assessments. On a personal note, Joe is a father of two lovely pre-teen boys, a husband, and an avid road cyclist – always searching for adventure!
Karyn Gooden – Parent Coordinator
After being a founding parent and long-time volunteer in multiple schools, Karyn is excited to begin her second year as our official parent coordinator. Karyn grew up in Minneapolis, MN and earned a BS in Special Education from Baylor University. She taught and was the Special Education Department Chair at a public high school in Minneapolis while earning her MA in Developmental Disabilities from St. Mary’s University. After relocating to New York with her husband, she worked as a Middle School Learning Specialist before staying home with her three children. She is most happy in a school setting surrounded by students, fellow staff members, and an incredible parent body. Karyn is continuously inspired by the work of the entire team and parent body at WESS and is thrilled to play an instrumental role in building such an incredible learning community.
Andrea Conway – Pupil Accountant, Principal Secretary, and General Office Manager
Andrea grew up in Barbados and later migrated to New York, where she has lived for over 27 years. Andrea’s aim is to develop skills as a professional business leader and serve as an advocate for students at WESS. She received her MS in Business Administration/Healthcare Management and an MA in Public Administration from Columbia Southern University. Her professional experience includes extensive educational and business consulting management. Andrea has worked in several areas in education including Student Support Services in Brooklyn and working alongside the District 31 Superintendent in Staten Island in support of more than 60 schools. Andrea is thrilled to begin her 5th year at WESS, working alongside the entire WESS team, students, and parent body.
Mary Kane – Payroll and Purchasing Secretary
Mary was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She attended the University of California, Irvine (UCI) as a biology and dance major graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance. After graduating from UCI, Mary was accepted to the University of Southern California in the Master’s Program in Physical Education and was awarded a graduate teaching position in dance. After receiving her Master’s Degree, Mary earned her Equity Card as a Muppet touring the United States in “Sesame Street Live.” Following the tour, Mary returned to USC to chair the dance department for two years before moving to New York City where Mary continued to perform and choreograph. Mary has danced and choreographed professionally throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia in productions of “ Sophisticated Ladies,” “42 Street,” and at Radio City Music Hall as a Rockette. After retiring from dance, Mary joined the New York City Department of Education in 2010 as the Administrative Assistant for the District 3 Community Education Council before becoming a proud founding staff member at WESS in the fall of 2014.
Candice Thomas – General Office Manager and Secretary
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Candice joined the WESS team in 2016. Candice attended the University of Hartford under a music scholarship, but decided to study communications instead. She obtained a BA in communications with a concentration in Public Relations. She then went on to obtain a Masters Degree in Human Resources. Candice has a crazy love of sports and a passion for baseball (Yankees all the way :). Her interests include reading, playing and listening to music, Anime, model building and all things nerdy. She is looking forward to her third year at WESS and to continue building strong relationships with both families and students.
John Carullo – School Counselor
John comes to WESS after six years at the Marsh Avenue Expeditionary Learning School in Staten Island, where he first served as a teacher assistant prior to transitioning to his role as English and special education teacher across grades. Over the past six years, John played a vital role in the development and execution of grade and school-wide expeditions. In addition, John participated in many of expeditionary learning’s core practices, such as Crew. It was during John’s first Crew camping trip to Sharpe Reservation in 2011 that he saw first-hand the impact of the Outward Bound experience on his students. Witnessing the teamwork and positivity his students displayed throughout those three days is what John cites as one of the most rewarding experiences of his young educational career. John, a life-long resident of New York City, is very excited to be a part of the foundation of WESS. He hopes he can combine his two passions in life – sports and education – to help guide his students to become the best version of themselves, both inside and outside of the classroom, and on and off the playing field.
Tammy Calvo – School Counselor
Tammy was born in New York City and raised in Orlando, Florida. She graduated from the University of Central Florida and earned a BA in Psychology. As a young child, Tammy enjoyed swimming competitively and playing water polo. During her teen years and throughout college, Tammy taught swimming lessons and ran summer camps at the Central Florida YMCA. Tammy has always been passionate about educating, inspiring, and mentoring youth. Tammy relocated to New York City 12 years ago to attend graduate school at Manhattan College and earned her Masters in School Counseling. While in New York City, Tammy continued to teach swimming lessons and work as a case manager for a family homeless shelter. She began working in the South Bronx as a 10th and 11th-grade high school guidance counselor, then as a Kindergarten-8th-grade school guidance counselor in Manhattan. Tammy is excited to start her second year at WESS and begin her 7th year in counseling. She is thankful for the opportunity to work with the WESS community. In her personal time, Tammy loves to travel, work out, run, hike, and spend time with mother nature.
Molly Porcher – College Counselor
Molly is incredibly excited to join the WESS team as a college counselor! She brings to WESS a wealth of experience both in schools and in the college access field. A certified 7-12 social studies educator, Molly began her career as a teacher at an Expeditionary Learning school in Boston, where she first developed a passion for the EL model. Since then, she has focused her career on supporting students in navigating the college admissions landscape. This includes working as a college admissions officer at a liberal arts college, supporting students as a private college admissions consultant, and — most recently — serving as a college counselor at Columbia Secondary School in Harlem. A firm believer in the importance of “fit” in the college process, Molly is passionate about helping students comprehend the range of higher education and career options. She truly loves learning more about colleges, even weaving campus tours into her vacations — much to the chagrin of her family. Molly received her undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College, and her EdM in School Counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University. In her free time, Molly enjoys running (she is currently training for the New York City Marathon), cooking elaborate meals (because of marathon training), and watching baseball (a Massachusetts native, she is an unapologetic Red Sox fan).
Kerry-Kay Melbourne – School Psychologist
Kerry-Kay has been employed with the Department of Education (DOE) for 6 years as a school psychologist. She currently works across multiple schools with differing populations. Prior to her work with the DOE, she was employed by the Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and the Office of Mental Health (OMH). Her experience and education is varied and extensive as she has attained multiple advanced degrees and completed substantial post graduate work. Throughout her career, she has provided services to toddlers, children, adolescents, young adults, and adults. She discovered that her passion is children thus she has elected to specialize in students K-12. Ms. Melbourne is excited to begin her third year at West End Secondary School as she has come to treasure her colleagues, the young scholars, and their parents. She is looking forward to continuing to develop and foster those relationships in this upcoming school year.
Jodi Wolinsky – Speech & Language
Jodi grew up in East Setauket, a small town on Eastern Long Island. Seeking the quintessential college experience, she attended the University of Maryland, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Hearing and Speech Sciences. There, she had an active role in a language development laboratory, helping to conduct studies in order to better understand the way in which infants and toddlers acquire different aspects of language. Fascinated by all things language, Jodi also minored in Spanish at Maryland, and spent a summer taking classes in Spain and exploring the country. This experience instilled in her a love of travel and experiencing different cultures – especially trying new foods! After college, Jodi moved to New York City to pursue a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology at Queens College. Professionally, Jodi has worked as a speech-language pathologist in a variety of settings and with kids and adults of all ages.. She is thrilled to have found her home at WESS, helping each of her students to achieve his or her potential. She is excited for another year as part of the positive, supportive, and warm WESS school community. In her spare time, Jodi can be found doing something active (probably yoga, boxing, or cycling), reading novels, spending time with family, planning her next travel adventure, or exploring NYC with her husband and rescue mix, Billie.
(Alphabetical by FIRST name)