Mellenia Blake, Teacher

Ms. Blake has experience teaching students from kindergarten to second grade in remote settings as well as in person. She attended Monroe College – Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education. Ms. Blake believes that, as a teacher, she is to be able to influence her students to be the best version of themselves. She wants her students to feel heard and understood and be given equal opportunities to succeed regardless of their learning needs.

Pamela Bridgeforth, Teaching Assistant

Ms. Bridgeforth has been a teacher assistant for five years and is a founding member of CMCCS. She also has experience as a case manager for youth services and has educated and mentored various age groups. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Services and is a certified teacher’s assistant. She believes that working in the education field and teaching children is a very rewarding experience because you have the ability to shape young minds and watch them grow academically and emotionally. All children are unique and special in their own way and it is up to us educators to foster and embrace their individuality.

Samantha Calkins, Teacher

Ms. Calkins had the opportunity to student teach in a 3rd grade classroom. Since then, she has been observing in a wide range of school districts and grade levels. Last year, she was a teacher’s assistant at CMCCS and completed her student teaching toward her Master’s degree. As well as being a teacher, she has been coaching basketball for the past 4 years for students K-6th grade. Ms. Calkins attended Manhattanville College – Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Childhood & Special Education Grades 1-6. She is a member of Kappa Delta Pi- Education Honors Society. Ms. Calkins believes that her goal is to create a positive, safe environment for my students to grow and prosper. She wants her students to be engaged and active during hands-on lessons and collaboration. It is important that her students become well rounded, respectful individuals in and outside of the classroom.

Carol Callender, Teacher

Ms. Callender has been teaching for over 30 years, mainly in early childhood education. She also has tutored elementary school students and worked in various after school programs. She earned an Associate’s Degree with honors in Early Childhood Education from CUNY/BMCC, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology/Sociology from CUNY-Queens College and a Master of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education/Childhood Education from LIU CW Post. She is also a member of Phi Delta Kappa, the National Science Teachers Association and the Nassau County Reading Association. She believes that the best way to learn is by doing. All children are capable of learning, they just need the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Jeffery Chanin, Reading Specialist

Mr. Chanin started off his career in education teaching 5th grade. He has been a reading specialist for the past 10 years. He received his B.S. degree in Elementary Education from The State College of New York at Oneonta and his M.S. degree in Teaching Literacy (B-12) from Mercy College. He is a longtime member of the International Literacy Association. Mr. Chanin believes that all children can achieve grade level standards given the proper support from a dedicated teacher. A teacher’s job is to establish a personal relationship with each student and guide him/her to their highest potential.

Jocelyn Collazo, Teaching Assistant

Ms. Collazo has volunteered at various schools prior to working at Cardinal McCloskey Community Charter School. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Language Pathology with a minor in Education and is currently working on her Master’s degree in Education to become a teacher. She was a member of the dean’s list during her studies, attaining summa cum laude upon graduation. Ms. Collazo believes that students learn best when they feel welcomed, comfortable and safe.

Colleen Corrigan, Teacher

Ms. Corrigan has been a teacher for fourteen years, teaching in a preschool for 12 years and at Cardinal McCloskey for the past 2 years. She attended Mount Saint Mary College – Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary for Education and Masters of Science in Education. Ms. Corrigan believes that all students need to feel safe and respected within their classroom and that the student has the freedom to express themselves in an appropriate manner.

Carlos Diaz, Parent & Community Coordinator

Mr. Diaz has been a music teacher for almost 10 years and recently stepped up to serve as the Parent and Community Coordinator at CMCCS. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Music – City University of New York and Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership – Concordia University Nebraska. He graduated summa cum laude from Concordia University. Mr. Diaz believes that all students are able to learn and succeed if teachers and families work together with that goal in mind.


Rosely Espinoza, Teacher

Ms. Espinoza has taught students ages 3-7 years old, teaching Pre-K for 10 years and currently in her 2nd year as a first grade teacher. Ms. Espinoza attended Mercy College – Bachelors in Psychology and Masters in Early Childhood Education. She currently holds Initial Certification in Early Childhood Education / Professional in Early Childhood Education. Ms. Espinoza believes in creating a cultural, safe, healthy and educational environment where students can learn and grow in their own way at their own pace. She also believes in giving students educational experiences that are developmentally appropriate while making sure to nourish the “whole child” including their social and emotional needs.

Zully Fernandez, Teacher

Ms. Fernandez has experience working with children ages 3-10 years old. Her experience in education began as an educator at the New York Botanical Garden for ages 3-10 for six years, followed by being the Director of NYBG camps for the past 3 years. She has 3 years of experience in pre-kindergarten, and is now entering her second year as a second grade teacher. She attended Mercy College – Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and holds professional certification in Early Childhood Education. Ms. Fernandez believes that each stage and age in a child’s life impacts the next. It takes a village to raise a child. Students hold many interactions with people who hold different roles. Each experience a child has with a parent, teacher, friend, neighbor and community worker will impact their tomorrow. We all play an important and needed role in the success of our children.

Satara Grimes, Music

Ms. Grimes teaches music at CMCCS. Her experiences in education have been rewarding and informative. She’s been able to impact students through the arts and help them generate a love for performing. She earned a BFA in Musical Theatre and is a member of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA). Ms. Grimes believes in creating an atmosphere that students feel safe and free in, free to create and make mistakes. She wants to ensure students become confident performers.

Caryn Horan, Teacher

Ms. Horan has been working in schools in and around New York for the past 10 years. She’s taught preschool and kindergarten but the majority of her experience is in first grade. This is her fourth year teaching first grade and her second year at CMCCS. She attended Teachers College, Columbia University – B.A., Early Childhood Education, Students with Disabilities and Fordham University – M.A. Sociology, Education. Ms. Horan believes that everyday is a fresh start and a chance to grow and make a change. She knows that she can learn as much from her students and their families as she can teach their children. Every year she looks forward to supporting all students in their academic and social-emotional growth.

Rita Massey, Teacher

Ms. Massey started her educational work at a daycare evaluating babies and toddlers and helping them reach milestones. She later worked as a substitute teacher where she grew as an educator and developed various techniques and skills to teach a wide range of students. These roles lead her to make the decision to become an early childhood educator. She attended The College of New Rochelle – Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts with a minor in Psychology and is currently attending Mercy College in pursuit of a Master’s in Early Childhood Education. She received two awards of honor for maintaining a GPA over 3.7 for consecutive semesters and graduated with cum laude honors. She also received The Who’s Who Scholarship of $10,000 towards a Master’s degree. Ms. Massey believes in being a teacher that promotes creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration of academic growth to a diverse range of students by establishing a positive learning environment.

Jasmine McCaskill, Teacher

Ms. McCaskill has been working in education for over eight years. She graduated ASA College as an AOS Pharmacy Technician and earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Monroe College. She believes that everyone wears both the teaching and student hat.

Na’te Pendergrass, Teacher

Ms. Pendergrass has been working with children since she was in high school. Her mother is also a teacher and, when she was younger, she would help her in her classroom. Her first year of teaching was at a preschool learning center. She also worked as an assistant director at the learning center. She was a substitute teacher for a year where she taught all grade levels. She then taught at a charter school for three years as a kindergarten teacher and now teaches at CMCCS as a first grade teacher. Ms. Pendergrass graduated summa cum laude from Monroe College earning a degree in Early Childhood Education. She is a proud member of Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success. Ms. Pendergrass believes that when students come to school she wants them to feel loved and safe. She wants them to have a positive attitude towards school. She makes learning fun for students!


Lynette Pizarro-Collazo, Teacher

Ms. Collazo has been teaching at CMCCS for 3 years. She has a B.A in Sociology, an M.A in Liberal Arts and graduated with summa cum laude honors. Ms. Collazo believes every child has the potential to exceed in all they want and do.

Leah Reid, Teaching Assistant

Ms. Reid has been working with young children and adolescents for seven years and enjoys learning something new in education every day. This will be her third year at CMCCS. She attended CUNY Lehman College – Bachelor’s in Social Work with a Minor in Early Childhood Education and holds New York State Teacher Assistant Certification. She graduated with a 3.8 GPA, earning magna cum laude honors. Ms. Reid believes in ensuring that she spends time helping each student achieve their highest potential. She further believes that all children are unique and have specific learning needs and styles. They are also capable of having a successful educational journey with the support and learning tools from their teachers. She will do her best to assist her students in helping them express themselves and accept themselves for who they are.

Shari Rose, Teacher

Ms. Rose has been teaching for 12 years and this is her third year teaching first grade at Cardinal McCloskey Community Charter School. Ms. Rose attended BOCES for Cosmetology, Rockland Community College earning an Associates Degree in Business Administration, St. Thomas Aquinas College – Bachelor of Science, Natural Science and Pace University – Master of Science and Teaching, grades 1-6. She is a member of Pi Gamma Mu and the Honors Society at St. Thomas Aquinas College. Ms. Rose believes that a classroom should be a safe, caring community where children are free to speak their mind and blossom and grow. Teaching is a process of learning from your students, colleagues, parents, and the community. This is a lifelong process where you learn new strategies, new ideas, and new philosophies.

Thomas Smith, Teaching Assistant

Mr. Smith previously taught 3rd and 4th grade. Mr. Smith attended Plaza College – Bachelor’s in Business Management and is currently studying to receive a Master’s Degree at Grand Canyon University. He has a teaching assistant certification. He believes students should have fun while learning.

Shakira Stockhausen-Smith, Teacher

Ms. Stockhausen has been teaching for over ten years and has taught every grade in elementary education, minus third grade. Ms. Rose attended Bronx Community College – Liberal Arts/Paralegal Studies, The College of New Rochelle – Bachelor’s in Sociology and The College of New Rochelle – Master’s in Dual Education (1 – 6). She believes that every child can learn given the necessary tools. Children gain success in their own time and in their own way. Learning is a lifetime experience.

Mary Velasquez, Teaching Assistant

Ms. Velsquez has 10 years of experience working with children from preschool up to early childhood education. Her first job was working as a tutor and she knew then that education was the field she wanted to be a part of. She attended CUNY Hostos Community College – AAS in Early Childhood Education, Mercy College – BA in Behavioral Science and is currently attending Metropolitan College of New York: MS in Dual Childhood Education/Special Education Grades 1-6, expecting to graduate in December 2021. Ms. Velasquez believes that achieving starts with believing, you need to believe in yourself. Every student is looking up to you as a role model and as teachers we should give them the knowledge they need to go above and beyond. Students are the leaders of tomorrow.

Sophronia Williams, Teaching Assistant

Mx. Williams has worked as a science teacher for after school programs and most recently as a wildlife educator across the Greater New York area bringing Biology and environmental lessons, as well as interactive animal lessons, to young learners. They have a degree in Biology and Environmental Science and is a certified teaching assistant. They believe in mindful education and enthusiasm for learning!


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