Faculty & Staff

Liberal Arts

Alex Bentvena, English

Alexandra Bentvena is a general education English Language Arts and AP Language and Composition educator at Talent Unlimited High school. Alexandra graduated Magna Cum Laude from Marist College in 2014, with a Bachelor's Degree in writing and minor in Studio Art. She is in the process of completing her masters degree in English Education at Queen's College this Fall Semester . When Alexandra is not grading student papers, she can usually be found attending concerts, perusing Trader Joe's frozen desserts aisle, or reading Google Maps location reviews (because much like Walt Whitman, Ms. Bentvena "contains multitudes").

Sarah Bickens, English

Sarah Bickens is an experienced English teacher who is approaching her second decade working in NYC public schools. Her educational passions including teaching writing, both creative and analytical, and supporting students in leading their own student-driven discussions. Her literary passions include the works of Zora Neale Hurston, William Shakespeare, Toni Morrison, and Julia Alvarez. As TU's "peer collaborative teacher," Ms. Bickens facilitates teacher professional learning and mentoring. She also helps coordinate the Advanced Placement for All program at the school. Ms. Bickens holds an undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature from Brown University, a graduate degree in English education from Hunter College, and a certificate in School Building Leadership from the College of Saint Rose.

Danielle Bonnici, English

Danielle Bonnici is an English Language Arts and Writing teacher. She has worked in public schools in NYC for fifteen years, and also spent time teaching abroad. She has studied World Literature, American Literature, Caribbean Literature, and Shakespeare, with a focus on feminist theory. She started her career as an editor for the Feminist Press and Facts in File, where she edited books meant to be in the classroom. It was this work that sparked her interest in teaching. She has degrees from The University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Fordham University; next Spring she will be working towards her MFA in Creative Writing at Fairleigh Dickinson.

Kevin Castro, Science

Mr. Kevin Castro is a geologist by education turned science teacher. Born and raised in the Bronx, Mr. Castro is familiar with the difficulty in engaging students with the unfamiliar - nature. By leveraging his experience growing up in New York City, as well as field experiences in New York State, Iceland and British Columbia, Mr. Castro looks to bring the outside world into the classroom.

Yen Chin, Mathematics

Ms. Chin started her career as an accountant but switched careers to teaching. She now has been in the DOE for nine years and has been teaching for four years at Talent Unlimited High School as a math teacher. She spent her first five years of teaching at an alternative transfer high school in Midtown. Ms. Chin can speak four languages and likes to spend time with her family, friends, and travel during her breaks. Ms. Chin holds degrees from SUNY Albany, Hunter College and CITE.

Michael Coughlan, Science & Mathematics

Mr Coughlan has been teaching in the New York City public school system for over fifteen years. He holds dual listening in both physics and earth science, and has taught both regents and AP physics in the past. He has partnered with the AMAT physics group to create a unique curriculum that emphasizes the power of mathematical modeling through project based work. Prior to teaching, Mr Coughlan was a software engineer and an independent consultant working for the financial industry in lower Manhattan. He holds a degree in electrical engineering from Swarthmore College and is a graduate of the New York City Teaching Fellows program.

Victoria Franco, Special Education

Victoria Franco is an opera singer and Special Education teacher who has performed on Broadway, at Carnegie Hall, Papermill Playhouse and in operas in Italy. Ms. Franco has been teaching in the DOE for 4 years as a Special Education Math Specialist. She has two Master degrees in Childhood General Education and Special Education with a concentration in Behavioral Disorders; and Adolescent Special Education Generalist with a concentration in Math. Ms. Franco is dedicated to creating an inclusive classroom where Math is accessible and enjoyable to all.

Lisa-Erika James, History

Lisa-Erika James, holds an MFA from Columbia University in Theater Directing- she was the first African-American woman to earn this degree. Additionally, Ms. James holds MA from New York University in Educational Theater.James is a veteran teacher and has taught with the Department of Education for nearly two decades and has directed and produced over 50 productions. James was also the Associate Director of Education at Lincoln Center Theater. Ms. James is fluent in Spanish and is an avid reader and writer.

Tanja Koltovska, English

Ms. Koltovska is a 9th grade English teacher at Talent Unlimited High School. She has been a teacher at TU since 2013 and has spent those years teaching students to read with purpose, to question everything they read and to collaborate with one another. Her goal is to make reading and writing fun and not feel so scary. Her favorite class activities are "Arts Infusion Projects" where students get to combine their passion for the performing arts with their analysis of the stories they are reading in class. Ms. Koltovska proudly holds degrees from Hunter College.

Darius Koti, Mathematics

Mr. Koti is in his second year at Talent Unlimited High School and serves as our Algebra II teacher. He prioritizes student engagement in the world of mathematics and will never turn down an opportunity to play a game of chess!

Jodee Levine, History

Ms. Levine has been an integral part of the history department for many years. Her ability to engage students in real world and relevant conversations about government and economics provide them with important tools they can use to be successful in the next chapter of their lives.

Elizabeth Moncayo, History

Mrs. Moncayo is a AP world history teacher who loves learning new things especially about her students. Mrs. Moncayo has taught history for the last 17 years and has taught in three different schools, all in NYC. She graduated from Hunter College as an undergrad and completed her Masters at Hofstra University. She loves working at Talent Unlimited because her students bring passion, creativity and curiosity to her classroom and that inspires her daily. Outside of school she is a wife and a mother of two. She loves the Office, Parks and Recreation and all things Marvel.

Danielle Moreau, Mathematics

Danielle Moreau is a teacher and performer who has worked in theatre, film, and television. She has been teaching math for 15 years in both NY and CT. She completed her undergrad at Manhattan College and completed her Masters in Education at Sacred Heart University. She grew up in competitive dance, broke into theatre in high school, and progressed to performing in original off-Broadway shows post-college (while teaching math during the day!). She now spends her breaks doing background work for shows such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Succession, Almost Family, and Law and Order: SVU, among others. One of her favorite things to do is teach students to like math class and show them the ropes of Background Acting!

James Riedel, Physical Education & Health

James Riedel is a Physical Education and Health Educationt teacher who has been teaching in the NYCDOE for the last 14 years. Prior to moving to New York City, he resided in his hometown of Williamsville, New York where he taught for 7 years and coached Mens Volleyball, Women's Soccer, Men's Ice Hockey and Men's Lacrosse. Mr. Riedel holds degrees from SUNY Cortland & SUNY Buffalo State. During his time as an undergrad student at SUNY Cortland he was a member of the Men's ice Hockey and Men's Lacrosse team. Mr. Riedel is dedicated to creating an inclusive classroom that promote wellness, positive health behaviors in young adults and developing positive social relationships through sport.

Michael Santo, Special Education

Mr. Santo was born and raised in New York City and graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. As a New York City Teaching Fellow, he graduated from Long Island University with a Master’s degree in Education. Along the way he has lived and studied abroad and traveled extensively. He is conversant in French and enjoys skiing, swimming biking, and running, as well as Film, Theater, Art, Design, History, Finance, and the music of the 1970s and Baroque periods. Mr. Santo is a Special Education teacher who ensures access and advocates for all students mostly in Social Studies and English classrooms.

Keith Schatt, Special Education

Keith Schatt is a former actor, and a member of SAG-AFTRA for the last 15 years. Mr. Schatt has earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from the University of Maryland College Park, and a Master’s Degree in Education from the City College of New York. Mr. Schatt has also completed additional graduate coursework at Touro College's School of Education in Manhattan. Mr. Schatt studied Acting at The American University in Washington, D.C. Mr. Schatt has earned numerous roles in Television, Feature Films and National Commercials.

Allen Sermonia, Special Education

Allen Sermonia is a Special Education and English Language Arts teacher for the 9th and 10th grade. In his previous lives, he has been an actor, a theatre director and chef. As an actor he has been seen on the off-broadway stage with Pan Asian Repertory Company, travelled across the United States as a member of North Carolina Shakespeare Company, and spent his formative years as a Chicago actor where he was seen at Northlight Theatre , Chicago Dramatists, Victory Gardens, and Teatro Luna. He was nominated for both Joseph Jefferson and After Dark awards while there. As an arts administrator and director, he helped form and create the arts organizations A-squared Theatre Workshop and the dueEast Theatre company. He is a proud member of the Screen Actors Guild. He holds degrees from Va. Tech and St. John's University.

Emily Seung, History

Emily Seung has been a social studies teacher in NYC since 2005. Seung received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Trinity College, Hartford, CT and a masters degree in teaching social studies from Boston University. Before teaching in NYC, Seung had also taught social studies in Massachusetts.

Ivana Slifstein, Physical Education & Health

Ms. Slifstein is a Health and Physical Education teacher at TU. She received her Master's Degree in PE from Hofstra University. As a coach in the JREC Athletics program she is always available to connect and work with students through sports and physical activity. Ms. Slifstein has been working with high school students in recreation and competitive sports since 2012. She views physical education and health as life skill classes that will help students grow into their best selves!

Patrick Smith, History

Originally from New Jersey, Mr. Smith studied political science and history at Fordham University, with a focus on being just ridiculously good at history. Mr. Smith has been teaching social studies with the NYC Department of Education since 2007, and loves bringing historical subjects alive for his students. He currently teaches AP Modern World History at TU.

Samuel Struckhoff, Special Education

Mr. Struckhoff has an all-encompassing love of learning, language, and science. He was born in Missouri, educated in Florida and transplanted to NYC. He started tutoring while an undergrad at the University of Central Florida, an experience that changed the trajectory of his career ambitions toward education. After relocating to NYC, he was accepted by the NYC Teaching Fellows, and earned his Masters at Brooklyn College. He has spent the last decade teaching and co-teaching at Talent Unlimited High School, in addition to filling various roles such as Yearbook Advisor, Game Master, and Sports Night Emcee.

Ana Villamarin, Foreign Language

Mr. Villamarin was born and raised in Cali - Colombia. In 2010 she moved to the United States. She has been a Spanish teacher in the US since 2019 and currently teaches Spanish to 9-12th grade. Every year she learn something new, and is so excited to teach and share her love of language and culture with her students. Cada año aprendo algo nuevo y me encanta enseñar y compartir mi pasión por el lenguaje y la cultura contigo. Gracias por dejarme ser parte de esta aventura de ser maestra.

Joshua Wickline, Science

Josh Wickline earned his B.A. in Biological Basis of Behavior at the University of Pennsylvania and his M.A. in Secondary Science Education from City College at the City University of New York. He also earned his School Building Leadership Certification and School District Leadership Certification from The College of Saint Rose. Mr. Wickline started teaching at Talent Unlimited High School in 2005 as a New York City Teaching Fellow, where he began his journey of bringing chemistry, physics, and biology education to students in New York City. He was awarded an Astor International Travel Fellowship in Shanghai/Beijing, China in 2014 and was a Grant Recipient through Exploring the Arts in New York, NY from 2014–2015. Mr. Wickline has served as an NYU Astor International Fellow and as a Master Teacher with Math for America. He feels strongly about S.T.E.A.M. education as a powerful tool for empowering students, and received a grant from Exploring the Arts to support his video production units in his science classroom. At his school, Mr. Wickline has served on the data team, been testing and Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) coordinator and department lead. After many years of teaching, Mr. Wickline has a new goal of engaging all of his students in science, and he believes that democratic teaching practices will be an essential push to get his classroom there.

Lena Yoon, Science

Ms.Yoon has been teaching chemistry at Talent Unlimited High School for the past several years. Before coming to TU, she taught in a middle school as a general science teacher and also taught English in South Korea. She loves to travel around the world during breaks with her family and her dog named Yolo. In her spare time, she loves to watch Korean TV shows, watch movies, and hang out with her friends. She graduated from SUNY Binghamton University with a degree in Chemistry and went to Teachers College at Columbia University for her masters degree in education.

Performing Arts

Brooke Berry-Wolf, Musical Theater

Brooke Berry-Wolf earned her BA in Musical Theatre with an Emphasis in Voice in Colorado and then traveled the country and the world performing for the better part of 10 years. Favorite roles include The Baker's Wife in Into the Woods, Mona in Chicago and Sarah in Sarah, Plain and Tall. Brooke helped to start Cake Productions, a female-founded off-off Broadway theatre company and went on to produce, direct and perform in numerous productions, including an annual presentation of It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. Brooke earned her masters in teaching in NYC and found her home at Talent Unlimited HIgh School in 2015. Brooke is a mother of two and a secondary mother of 100+.

Jessica Danser, Dance

Jessica Danser, a native New Yorker, graduated salutatorian from Talent Unlimited High School in 2001, while also studying on scholarship at the world-renowned Ailey School. She earned a B.F.A. in Dance Composition from SUNY Purchase and went on to found JD/dansfolk, a Bronx-based dance company which focused on socially conscious choreography and bringing arts programming to under-served communities. She was a member of Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre, a modern dance company performing locally and nationally, and co-founded the AATT Academy as Mr. Aviles' education director. Ms. Danser was on faculty at numerous dance organizations throughout NYC and the tri-state area, including the Ailey School and PPAS. She received many grants and awards for her choreography and community organizing from the Bronx Council on the Arts and other private foundations. Ms. Danser joyfully returned to her alma mater as a full-time faculty member in 2015 and now holds a professional license in modern dance from the state of New York.

Megan Delatour, Instrumental Music

Megan Delatour began playing the viola at the age of eight. As a violist, she has had the opportunity to study with musicians. Ms. Delatour's experience includes a teaching artist position for the InterSchool Orchestras of America. As part of Interschool Orchestra’s summer administrative staff, Ms. Delatour created scholarships to increase students’ access to quality music education by auditioning for 15 slots on viola and cello for students of el Sistema programs to participate in ISO on a full ride. Ms. Delatour is also part of the strings teaching faculty of Harmony Program. She maintains a private viola studio and has sent several students to participate in All State as well as students who pursued summer study at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Ms. Delatour holds a bachelor’s in music education from Queens College. Outside of teaching she regularly performs as a violist in her string quartet and was the 2017 MPower Grant Recipient of the Sphinx Organization. She is currently the orchestra director of TU, and Artistic Planner for Interschool Orchestras of New York.

Danielle Harris, Dance

Danielle Harris graduated valedictorian from the Arnhold Dance Education Masters Program at Hunter College and was also a Professional Division Ailey School student. She has served as a background dancer for various Soca recording artists, has performed in an array of dance companies and was a performer for Disney Cruise Line. As a first generation American, Ms. Harris loves to incorporate her Bajan heritage into her curriculum here at Talent Unlimited.

Peter Holsberg, Instrumental Music

Dr. Peter Holsberg is a performer and teacher whose work has taken him around the world. Dr. Holsberg has played for Broadway shows in New York and on tour including Cats, Carousel, Crazy for You, and A Chorus Line. He has also performed with the Motown Legends The Temptations and a host of Salsa Bands. A highlight of his career was playing for two years on cruise ships sailing the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska, and South America. As an educator Dr. Holsberg has been nominated for the music education Grammy four times and was a semifinalist in 2016. His groups have won first place and gold medals in the US and abroad and last year his jazz ensemble placed fourth at the nation’s largest jazz competition at Berklee School of Music. In addition, he is a lead clinician for Performing Arts Consultants, is an assistant conductor for the All City Jazz Ensemble, and leads the Jazz Philharmonic for Jazz at Lincoln Center. Dr. Holsberg holds degrees from Duquesne University, Stony Brook University, and Columbia University.

Noah Hougland, Technical Theatre

A New Yorker by choice and a Texan by birth, Mr. Hougland is an artist and educator who has spent his life doing what he loves – creating. After attending a nationally recognized performing arts high school in Dallas and earning an undergraduate degree in theatre from SMU, he spent a decade pursuing a career in the NYC entertainment industry, working on short films, off-Broadway plays, and independent features. His directing work ranges from contemporary musicals to classical plays, and he has designed, installed, and built the lighting and scenery for dozens of high school productions.

Phil Murphy, Instrumental Music

Philip Murphy is a New York City based educator and woodwind artist, and this year is celebrating ten years as a music teacher. He has been a band director in the NYCDOE and the Bronx Preparatory Charter School, a drumline instructor for the award winning Fort Lee High School (NJ) Marching Bridgemen, and Associate Conductor of the Columbia University Wind Ensemble. Philip is also an accomplished woodwind performer, playing regularly on bassoon, saxophones, clarinets, and flute in a variety of settings, including on Broadway in Wicked and Bandstand, in the orchestra of the Radio City Spectacular, as Principal Bassoonist in the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra and Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, and as a 2015 selection for the Aspen Festival Orchestra. Philip holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Syracuse University and a Master’s Degree from Columbia University, both in education.

Ted Nusbaum, Drama

Ted Nusbaum is a playwright, screenwriter, director and actor who has enjoyed teaching Drama at Talent Unlimited for over a decade. Mr. Nusbaum sold, optioned and published several original works including “Pischer” (Samuel French), “Bank Street” (John Wells Productions), “Quick Sticks” (Teddy Zee) and “Stronger Than Oak” (The Inhabitants) and rewrote projects for Wessler Entertainment and Experience Media Studios. Mr. Nusbaum played several supporting roles in Off-Off Broadway productions in the early 2000’s, studied Long Form Improvisation at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, and trained in the Meisner Technique with Larry Silverberg. Mr. Nusbaum spent two weeks at La Porte Peinte Centre pour les Arts, in Noyers, France in 2019 as an Artist in Residence working on what would become his latest play, “The Institute.” He holds degrees from The Actors Studio Drama School, Columbia University and The Colorado College.

Christina Peacock, Drama

Christina Peacock is an actor, director and theater educator who got her start in the world of education after her theater company, Breathe and Rhythms, was hired to work in the NYC public school system. Mrs. Peacock has worked as an actor at The Public Theater, The Ohio Theater, The Kitchen, New York Theater Workshop, PS 122, St James Church, Aaron Davis Hall, and The Playground Theater. In addition, she directed shows at The Nuyorican Poets Café and John Jay College, developed curriculum with Barnard College under Dr. Leann Bell, and worked at The Painted Bride Performing Arts Center in Philadelphia. In 2016, she returned to Theater for The New City where she previously performed The Life of Violet, to perform in the world premiere of The Sorcerers, a play about xenophobia, interracial marriage, and witchcraft. She is grateful to have worked with artists Dennis Davis, Jake Ann Jones, Dr. Rosemarie Roberts, Carl Handcock Rux and Greg Tate. Mrs. Peacock holds a BFA in Theater from CCNY and an MS in Multicultural Education from The College of Mt. St. Vincent.

Jayne Skoog, Vocal Music

Jayne Skoog, educator, director, and lyric soprano is currently a vocal instructor at Talent Unlimited High School. Her choral director achievements include Gold with Distinction – Level VI in the New York State School Music Association – NYSSMA, and an invitation to perform with the National Philharmonic in Washington, DC under the baton of Dr. Will Kessling where she prepared her students in John Rutter’s Mass of the Children and Dvorak’s Te Deum. TU Concert Choir performed at Carnegie Hall marking their debut with Jazz at Lincoln Center performing the Sacred Works of Duke Ellington. Ms. Skoog has also directed choirs at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Concert Hall and Alice Tully Hall. As a singer, Jayne remains active, performing throughout the region. She is currently singing with gospel recording artist J. David Bratton – God’s Blueprint for Life Ministries, as well as singing with Le Chateau Singers – Founder/Director Damien L. Sneed, with a performance of Wynton Marsalis’ Abyssinian Mass at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Ms. Skoog received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Denver, Lamont School of Music, a Masters in Science of Education from Queens College, New York, and a Masters in Administrative Leadership from The College of St. Rose. Postgraduate work includes studies at the Juilliard School and New York University.

Christian Smythe, Vocal Music

Christian Smythe is a teaching artist who has been on the Talent Unlimited faculty since 2001. His multifaceted performance background includes experience and training as classical singer, pianist, and oboist, being a self-taught flutist, and acting in both musicals and straight plays. As singer, he is in the professional choir at St. Bartholomew's church, and has recently appeared in productions of "The Drowsy Chaperone," "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," and "Urinetown." In his earlier years at Talent Unlimited, his choirs performed to raves at local choral festivals, and he was nominated for "Who's Who Among America's Teachers" on multiple occasions. Currently, he straddles both the Vocal and Musical Theatre departments, teaching Musicianship, Piano, and Solo Repertoire classes. A sample of productions at TUHS include "The Wiz," "Chicago: High School Edition," "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "Hairspray," and "Nine." His undergraduate degree is in Music Education (with a voice concentration) from NYU, and his Master's is in Vocal Performance from Hunter College.

Jessica Son, Dance

Jessica Son holds a B.F.A. in Dance and Psychology from the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. Program and an M.A. in Dance Education from Hunter College. She has studied with world-renowned teachers in diverse dance styles, with her strengths demonstrated in ballet, Horton, and Graham techniques. Ms. Son has performed works by Alvin Ailey, Jamar Roberts, Stefanie Batten Bland, Christopher Huggins, Jae Man Joo, and Monica Bill Barnes to name a few. Professionally, she has performed with Mook Dance Company and Monica Bill Barnes & Company at venues across New York City, including at New York City Center in the Fall for Dance festival. Ms. Son recently joined the TU family, and she looks forward to meeting you!

Administration

William Gagstetter, Principal

William Gagstetter began his career as a music educator in Queens in 2006. Since then, his career in education has taken him across three boroughs, as teacher, assistant principal, and principal, in performing arts High Schools and programs. During his career, "Mr. G" has seen countless students go on to careers in the arts, including as touring musicians, record producers, and starting up music lesson studios. Mr. Gagstetter is a proud graduate of SUNY Fredonia, Queens College, and the College of St. Rose. Aside from supporting the Talent Unlimited High School community and playing saxophone and guitar, Mr. Gagstetter enjoys spending his free time with his wife Krystal, and two children Madeline and Jack.

Jason Rann, Assistant Principal

Mr. Rann has been part of the TU community since 2010. In his 6 years as a teacher, he focused on project based learning through the engineering and robotics programs he founded. He completed original research at NYU Polytechnic as part of the SMART program, presented at the Learning Forward Conference regarding his Growth Mindset Action Research within the physics classroom and spent 4 years as a Math For America Teaching Fellow and Master Fellow. Since becoming Assistant Principal, he has worked to grow the restorative practices program at TU, increase rigorous course offerings and continues to remain in the classroom, teaching AP Computer Science Principles. He has a B.S. in Physics from George Washington University and a M.S. in School Building Leadership from Mercy College.

Bridget Salemme, Assistant Principal

A proud product of public education, Ms. Salemme experienced many of the elements of our system designed to develop students into critical thinkers as well as the great disparity that keeps many of our young people from achieving that same goal. After teaching in both Chicago and New York City, she believes public education can disrupt inequity. Ms. Salemme brings her diverse educational experiences to TU: the University of Chicago, Brooklyn College, the College of St. Rose, New York City Teaching Fellows, and the Leaders in Education Apprenticeship Program (LEAP). Her educational philosophy is best described by Plutarch: "The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled."

Support

Marie Celius, Paraprofessional

Ms. Celius is a paraprofessional who is dedicated to helping students find success within the classroom. She is caring, patient, and works diligently to help children grow.

Alyssa Crawford, Guidance Counselor

Ms. Crawford is a school counselor, musician, and lover of the arts. Ms. Crawford has played saxophone, bass guitar, trombone, and piano. She has worked in education for the past 5 years. Ms. Crawford holds degrees from SUNY Albany and Alfred University.

Matthew Golden, Technology Specialist

Mr. Golden ensures our entire community has access to technology. He manages our devices, supports the day to day logistics of the school and works tirelessly to provide our school with the technological resources needed to be successful.

Adel George, Paraprofessional

Mr. George is a paraprofessional who was been working in the field for over 15 years! He got his bachelor degree in business oversees in Assuit University, Egypt. Before he became a paraprofessional he was a project manager and a supply manager for a flour mill plant for ten years. He’s worked in many high schools all throughout NYC including Art, Imagination, and Inquiry HS, Coalition HS, Leadership HS, and many others where he has impacted the lives of many children working closely with them and forming lasting relationships. Mr.George has been to many countries including Egypt, Rome, Dubai, Qua-tar, and England! He’s lived in Queens since he came to the United States.

Esther Grant-Walker, Community Coordinator

Esther Grant-Walker has worked in the Human Services and performing arts for over 35 years, combining her passion for African Dance and Youth Development to model the African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child. She has developed her unique approach to intergenerational community dance programming, in-school artist residencies, and managing out-of-school time programming. Ms. Grant-Walker has performed in major venues such as Brooklyn Academy of Music, Radio Center Music Hall, the Apollo Theatre, Symphony Space, and Newark Symphony Hall, to name a few. She has been contracted to teach African Dance technique workshops across the five boroughs and colleges and national universities. Esther has served at Artistic Director for Opus Dance Theatre & Community Services and Rehearsal Director for Batoto Yetu Dance Company. Her Youth Development accomplishments earned her a 2013 Pasesetter Award by the Partnership for After School Education and named NYC Afterschool Ambassador by the Afterschool Alliance (Washington, DC). She continues her work in Youth Development as an Advisor for candidates seeking the NYS Afterschool Directors Credential. Ms. Grant-Walker combines these skill sets in her current position as Community Coordinator at Talent Unlimited High School.

Tru Hill, Guidance Counselor

Mr. Hill has been a guidance counselor at TU for four years and has dedicated his life to supporting young adults. He is an accomplished martial artist and his impact on students extends far beyond the school walls.

Robinetta Murray, Secretary

Robinetta Murray has been working for Department of Education since 1989 as a Secretary in various departments such Business Offices performing accounting and payroll functions, Superintendent’s Office and local community schools. Robinetta has vast knowledge of Department of Education systems and standard operating procedures. At present, Robinetta is working at Talent Unlimited High School as a School Secretary working closely with the Principal and Administrators providing administrative assistance in the areas of payroll, purchasing and other responsibilities. Outside of being a Secretary, Robinetta is an entrepreneur and holds degrees from Nyack College in Organizational Management, Alliance Theological Seminary in Divinity and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Transformational Leadership at Bakke University.

Lauren Napchan, Related Service Provider

Lauren Napchan is one of the Speech Pathologists at Talent Unlimited. Lauren received her Bachelor Degree from the University of Massachusetts- Amherst with a major in Communication Disorders and minors in psychology and education. She recently received my Master Degree from LIU-Post in Speech Language Pathology. Prior to being a Speech Pathologist, Lauren worked with both students and adults in various settings.

Léonor Sánchez, Secretary

Léonor Sánchez is student-centered and thorough. She supports all students at TU in various ways and she serves many roles to ensure a smooth school day, including student transportation liaison, overseeing the distribution and collection of mandatory student paperwork. During her time at TU, she directly served thousands of students and families, giving each one detailed attention. Ms. Sánchez has earned the nickname of Sunshine because she can light up any room. She is the proud mother of two young men and recently became a grandmother to her sweet Elite Legend.

Tina Sedita, Related Service Provider

Tina Seidita is one of Talent Unlimited's Speech and Language providers. She grew up on Long Island and currently resides in Manhattan. Tina received her Bachelor Degree from SUNY Cortland in 2013 with a major in Communication Disorders and Sciences and a minor in Psychology of the Exceptional Student. Tina went on to receive her Masters of Art in Speech and Language Pathology from Hofstra University in 2015. While enrolled in her full-time Masters program, she completed internships at United Cerebral Palsy of Nassau County servicing students with global disabilities and Transitions of Long Island servicing adults with traumatic brain injury.

Sean Smith, School Aide

Sean recently joined our community as a school aide and supports the many different facets of running a school on a daily basis. He is excited to get to know our wonderful community!

Ileana Santos, SAPIS Counselor

Ileana Santos is TU's Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Specialist (SAPIS Counselor) and has been a SAPIS counselor in the DOE for the past 5 years. She has been in the substance abuse field for over 17 years and has worked in many treatment modalities such as methadone program, residential and outpatient treatment programs. She enjoys working with the teenage population as they are the ones who need all the support, nurturing and love they can receive.

Jennifer Somin, Guidance Counselor

Jennifer Somin has been a member of the TU community for six years, transitioning from Special Education teacher to School Counselor of the Dance and Drama Departments. Ms. Somin is also a licensed mental health counselor and earned her clinical hours providing psychotherapy in non-school settings. She is passionate about general wellness and supporting students in making healthy choices and developing necessary life skills. In her spare time, she loves to travel, be near the water as much as possible, exercise and eat candy!

Most Yeasmin, Paraprofessional

Ms. Most Yeasmin is a paraprofessional who works closely with teachers to help ensure the students under her care are taken care of by their needs. She has many experiences working with kids including working as a substitute teacher for four years and as a paraprofessional in three other schools in the Department of Education.