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Meet Our Team
Our staff is passionate about ensuring that all of our scholars are college-bound and prepared. They possess a deep sense of respect and responsibility for each individual child, and create the caring and nurturing environment that allows our students to thrive. Meet the individuals driving East Harlem Scholars Academy’s dynamic learning community.
EAST HARLEM SCHOLARS ACADEMY STAFF
Cheyenne E. Batista São
Founding Principal , East Harlem Scholars Academy
Managing Director, East Harlem Scholars Academies
Mrs. Batista São Roque joins East Harlem Scholars Academy as Founding Principal after 10 years of education leadership work in New York City and beyond. She attended New York City public schools from K-12, graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies, then completed a Master’s degree in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She also completed extensive graduate coursework in Elementary Education at Pace University. Previously, Mrs. Batista São Roque was a Teach For America corps member and Program Director working in Harlem and the Bronx. She later joined the Grow Network/McGraw-Hill as a Program Manager and taught at the American School of Campinas in Brazil. Mrs. Batista São Roque is driven by her immense love for children and the community. She is married to Fernando São Roque, a professional musician and music teacher.
Founding Principal, East Harlem Scholars Academy II
Mr. Corbett began his career as a teacher in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where he was a Lead Instructional Teacher, Department Chair, and a New Teacher Mentor. In 2009, he moved to New Orleans to support educational reform efforts, joining the leadership team of Lusher Charter School where he served as Dean of Students. Mr. Corbett also spent three years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of New Orleans, working in the graduate school of education to support teacher candidates. Mr. Corbett is a Doctoral Candidate at Northeastern University studying Curricular Leadership, and holds an MS in School Leadership, an MA in Social Studies, and a BA in Political Science. He resides in East Harlem with his wife Erin and sons Gavin and Eli.
Founding Assistant Principal/Director of School Culture
Mr. Hendricks joins East Harlem Scholars Academy as Founding Assistant Principal/Director of School Culture after demonstrating extraordinary results as a teacher at the nationally acclaimed Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., and completing the Public School Building Leadership Masters Program at Columbia University’s Teachers College. He also worked at Rock Creek International, teaching elementary and middle school students in a dual language Spanish immersion program, and worked with the United States Department of Justice, Office of Consumer Litigation. Mr. Hendricks received his Master's of Arts in Teaching from American University and graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University, where he received his Bachelors degree in Government and Spanish.
Founding Director of Operations
Ms. Hostetler began her career in education in 2005 at Harlem Day Charter School. She was a Teach for America corps member, teaching and coordinating services for special education. After serving in this role for two years, she moved to the role of School-wide Support Coordinator in addition to remaining the special education coordinator. She maintained this role for two years before becoming Director of Operations at East Harlem Scholars Academy. Ms. Hostetler graduated with a BA in Psychology from Anderson University in 1999 and received her Master’s in Special Education from Pace University in 2007.
Founding Social Worker
Ms. Alvarez joins East Harlem Scholars Academy after working in early childhood education for many years as both a teacher and administrator. Ms. Alvarez has worked as a school social worker in an elementary school in Boston and then at Harlem Children's Zone in West Harlem before joining the Scholars Academy Team. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Journalism and Legal Studies and received her Master's of Social Work at Wheelock College in Boston.
Founding Classroom Teacher
Ms. Adler-Bell is from Canton, Connecticut. She holds a bachelor’s degree in women and gender studies (with a minor in education) from Bates College. While in college, Ms. Adler-Bell taught English at the Adult Learning Center. She also worked with Somali immigrants at the United Somali Women of Maine. After college, Ms. Adler-Bell worked as an assistant literacy specialist and reading intervention teacher at Harlem Day Charter School. She is currently working towards a dual Master’s degree in childhood education and literacy at Bank Street College of Education.
Founding Classroom Teacher
Ms. Bellissimo is originally from Long Island, New York. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Loyola College in Maryland, and a Master’s degree in early childhood education from Long Island University. She also spent five years working as a special education paraprofessional in the Half Hollow Hills School District on Long Island. Ms. Bellissimo believes in creating a stimulating learning environment that involves building a community of mutual respect among teachers and students.
Mrs. Burgos-Castillo grew up in the Bronx, where she was the first of her siblings to graduate from college. She graduated from the honors program at the City University of New York, City College, and also continued her graduate education there, studying Spanish Literature. She was a private tutor at Kaplan for almost eight years, tutoring grades K-12 in math, reading, and SAT prep. Currently, Mrs. Burgos-Castillo attends Relay Graduate School of Education. She is passionate about serving as a positive role model for her students.
Mr. Columbia grew up on the Connecticut shoreline near the city of New Haven. He briefly attended art school before finding his true passion in Anthropology at Southern Connecticut State University. He hopes to impart his love of the humanities and sciences to his students, along with their reading, writing and mathematics. Mr. Columbia now attends the Hunter Graduate School for Education in Manhattan where he is studying special education.
Axzyr De Leon
Mr. De Leon was
born in Puerto Rico, and moved to New York with his parents at the age of 3,
where he grew up and attended elementary and middle school in the South Bronx.
After graduating from Regis High School in Manhattan, he went on to study
Psychology and Economics at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. He
is not only committed to becoming an educator, but also to serving historically
disenfranchised communities. Mr. De Leon had taught at Sacred Heart School in
Highbridge, as well as Our Lady Queen of Angels in East Harlem. He is
currently pursuing his MST in Elementary Education at Iona College.
Founding Reading Specialist
Ms. Desai grew up in Fyzabad on the island of Trinidad. After graduating from high school, she conducted post-secondary studies in literature, economics, and Caribbean history. She migrated to the United States at age 19 to seek further educational opportunities. The first in her family to attend college, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Bernard M. Baruch College in New York, where she majored in psychology and minored in sociology. During and after her studies, she worked at the academic consulting center training peer tutors, mentoring college-bound students and preparing adult learners to earn their GED. Ms. Desai then attended Teachers College at Columbia University, where she earned a Master’s degree in literacy.
Ms. Graham began her educational career at Saint Joseph’s University, where she studied elementary and special education for four years. She then continued her studies for an additional year at Saint Joseph’s University and obtained her Master’s degree as a Reading Specialist. Ms. Graham has taught and worked with children from kindergarten to fifth grade for over five years. She joined East Harlem Scholars Academy because of the warm and welcoming spirit the educational community has. She feels that the dedication and collaboration that the Scholars Academy staff, families, and scholars have is what truly makes this one of the most successful and special school environments she knows. Ms. Graham is a resident of East Harlem and thoroughly enjoys finding new and exciting parts of the community each day on her walk to and from work!
Founding Classroom Teacher
Ms. Hamilton grew up in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. She attended Seattle University, where she studied the theoretical and philosophical background of education and earned a bachelor’s degree in Humanities for Teaching. In Seattle, she worked in several local public schools, and helped coordinate the Children's Literacy Project, an organization based at Seattle University, which connects volunteers to work with public schools in underserved communities. After college, Ms. Hamilton taught 2nd grade in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as a Teach for America corps member. She also earned a Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Louisiana State University.
Ms. Johnson is from White Plains, New York. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Virginia State University in Interdisciplinary Studies. She also holds a Master’s degree from Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York in General Education and Special Education grades 1-6. Ms. Johnson has taught in her hometown of White Plains, the Bronx, and Alexandria, Virginia.
Ms. Kempton was born and raised in Island Heights, New Jersey. She taught for a year at the Environment Community Opportunity Charter School (ECO) in Camden, New Jersey. In addition to having a passion for academic teaching, Ms. Kempton is also dedicated to teaching children to sail. She holds degrees from Boston College and Brown University.
Leigh Anne Keichline
Ms. Keichline grew up in Connecticut and obtained her undergraduate degree at Oberlin College in Ohio. She has worked in bookstores, as a children’s librarian, and in a variety of other professions, including farming. Since high school, she has worked with children from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Baltimore, and since 2004 she has taught English as a Second Language to adults. Ms. Keichline holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from Brooklyn College, and is near completion of her dual certification Master’s in Elementary Education and Literacy Specialization from Bank Street College of Education. She loves being part of a thoughtful educational community in East Harlem, encouraging children to be healthy, creative, and curious about their world.
Ms. Locks grew up in the small township of Montclair, New Jersey, 12 miles outside of NYC. She attended both Hampton University and Montclair State University during her undergraduate years and completed her Master’s degree at Grand Canyon University, obtaining her Master’s in Elementary Education. She taught for one year in East Orange, NJ, before crossing the Hudson River to begin her teaching career in New York. Ms. Locks taught for two years at a charter school in Brooklyn before finding her home here at East Harlem Scholars Academy.
Student Support Services Coordinator
Ms. Militello joins our team after completing her Master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) for grades K through 12 at Teachers College, Columbia University. Additionally, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature from Haverford College. As part of her undergraduate work, she took a variety of education courses and volunteered in several schools. She also studied abroad for a full year in Mendoza, Argentina, where she was able to develop her language skills further. Ms. Militello is proud to help serve the special needs population and is excited to help provide the best educational experience and opportunities for all of the students. She feels very lucky to be part of the East Harlem Scholars Academy community, and she looks forward to working to find the best ways to support our scholars.
Ms. Song holds both a bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in literacy from New York University. She has student-taught in various NYC schools, and has taught pre-school in Westchester, kindergarten in the South Bronx, and 3rd grade at Harlem Day Charter School. At East Harlem Scholars Academy, Ms. Song employs reading, writing, singing, and dancing to open students’ eyes to their world, their neighborhood, and their dreams.
Founding Office Manager
Mrs. Valle grew up in Panama City, Panama. After graduating with a Bachelor in Business Administration with specialization in Bilingual Accounting, she enrolled in the Economics Program at the University of Panama. Mrs. Valle migrated to the United States and furthered her education by attending the Art Institute of New York City and graduating with a Restaurant Management and Culinary Arts Degree. Mrs. Valle worked as a Director of Religious Education in the Archdiocese of New York and has over 15 years of experience working with children and young adults. Mrs. Valle welcomed the opportunity to work at East Harlem Scholars Academy and combine her management skills with her love for children and education.
Founding ELL Specialist
Ms. Walters joins East Harlem Scholars Academy as Founding English Language Learner (ELL) Specialist. She grew up in New Hampshire. She attended Washington University in St. Louis, majoring in Educational Studies and Spanish, and studied abroad at Oxford University in the UK. Ms. Walters earned a Master's degree in Second Languages and Cultures Education at the University of Minnesota and taught for the following six years in Bloomington, Minnesota -- a transient immigrant community. Ms. Walters has taught students who speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Mandarin, Chinese, Ghanian, Amharic, Arabic, Somali, Russian and Tagalog. She loves riding her bike to explore the city.
Ms. Weinman holds a degree from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, CUNY. She has taught general music, voice lessons, and piano lessons in both a classroom setting and privately. She is a Mezzo-Soprano with performance experiences including solo, choral, and chamber. Ms. Weinman is a judge for the New York State School Music Association solo festival. She is also a member of the NYC Orff Association, Kodaly New York, and the National Association for Music Education.
Ms. Williams began her career in education as an AmeriCorps member working in an after-school setting serving children living in shelters. She received a Master’s degree in Special Education and General Education from Touro College where she also earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in education. Before joining Scholars Academy, Ms. Williams worked as a lead teacher and grade level leader at Harlem Day Charter School. There, she shaped young minds to be the best that they can be, and helped teachers develop effective classroom management and positive relationships with students. Ms. Williams is from Brooklyn, N.Y and currently resides in the Bronx.
Physical Education Teacher
Mr. Wolff joins East Harlem Scholars Academy as Physical Education Teacher. He received his Bachelor's from SUNY Brockport in Physical Education and Athletic Training, and has had previous teaching experience in the Hudson Valley. Mr. Wolff is excited to bring his ideas and lessons to East Harlem Scholars Academy to help educate students on the importance of health and physical activity!