ANDREW SCHIRLING, SCIENCE + ADVISOR
Born in Ridgewood and then raised between Woodhaven and Little Neck, Andrew has lived in Queens his entire life. A product of Catholic schools, he first attended St. Thomas the Apostle followed by the St. Anastasia school (now Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy). When moving on to high school he attended Archbishop Molloy as part of the first co-ed year in the school's history. From there Andrew went on to attend Boston College, graduating in 2008 with an Advanced Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in environmental studies. After a year hiatus during which he started a 6 year career as a Kaplan tutor Andrew returned to school, completing a Master of Education in adolescent education in 2011 from St. John's University. That same year, Andrew began teaching here at Voyages, his first and highly formative public high school experience. While Andrew focuses on the sciences and considers that his foremost calling and the core of his training, between hobbies ranging from Magic: the Gathering to woodworking and the thousands of books he has read, Andrew has found everything interesting and is ready to learn anything new and different. Also, he does not know everything so stop saying that he does. Currently Andrew lives in Bayside with his wife Heather and his dog Crunchy.
ARTHUR STARR, ENL/ESL, ENGLISH + ADVISOR
Arthur was born and raised in New York before moving to Washington, DC for college. He has always loved languages and traveling, and speaks more than four languages and has visited over 50 countries. This year Arthur is excited to begin working as an academic advisor with the students at Voyages Preparatory High School.
CHRISTIAN SUAREZ, SOCIAL STUDIES + ADVISOR
Chris was born in Bucaramanga, Colombia. His family came to America when he was only 1 years old. Even though Spanish is his first language, English has become his dominant language. Chris got his bachelor's degree from Queens College and his master's degree from College of Mount Saint Vincent. He started teaching in 2002 and even taught in Abu Dhabi from 2009 - 2011. Chris loves to travel and has visited over 30 countries, and plans to visit many more.
DANNY RIVERA, INTERNSHIP COORDINATOR
Danny J. Rivera- is a Nuyorican native who has worked in youth development via multiple platforms since he was a teenager. He began his incredible career as a peer educator, teaching artist and performing educational theater in schools throughout NYC and New Jersey. Mr Rivera made his way into youth development administration as a Mentor Coordinator for DYCD’s Young men’s Initiative program and was honored with the Mentor Coordinator of the year Award in 2012. Since then he was worked as a program coordinator and director at two cornerstone programs for the non-profit organization El Puente. He has supervised hundreds of SYEP participants and Interns from organizations such as Opportunity for Better Tomorrow and High School Students throughout the five boroughs. Recently, Mr. Rivera has worked with Good Shepherds Services supporting its teen Non-secure detention/ placement houses and teen family foster care. He is excited to have started a new chapter in his career with QCH and Voyages Prep
ELINA THEODOSIOU, SOCIAL STUDIES + ADVISOR
Elina was born in New Jersey but moved to Queens when she was 7. She graduated St. John's University with a double major in History and Education and continued her education there by getting her Master's in Continuing Secondary Education in Social Studies. She has been a dedicated teacher of Voyages for 8 years basing her classes on Elective College-style History courses for her students with a focus on discussion and writing. Aside from the formal subject driven classroom, Elina has been an active advisor for the past 5 years by helping and guiding her advisees overcome and excel in personal endevors while creating close bonds through trust and respect. She looks forward to another year with the staff and students of the Voyages Community!
KATHERINE MARTINEZ, ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL
Katherine Martinez was born and raised in Queens, NY. Katherine was formerly a Social Studies Teacher, a Bilingual School Counselor and is now the Assistant Principal at Voyages Prep. She is very passionate about physical and mental health and has completed the NYC Marathon once, and will be co-hosting the high school New York Road Runners program at Voyages this year. As a college student, Katherine pursued a degree in Latin American Studies because she was tired of studying European history in high school and not learning enough about her own people's history and the rest of the world. Katherine is also an active traveler looking for adventures and also seeking to learn more about the people and the planet, having recently travelled to the Canyons in the Southwest and to the Arctic Circle. She is the happy pet parent of two turtles, Jeannie and Princess, who like to sneak out of their tanks and play hide and seek. Katherine is very proud to be serving the Voyages and Queens community as this is her home and is living a lifelong dream of guiding young people to develop into the young thriving adults this word needs.
KRISTEN MCMANUS, PURCHASING SECRETARY
Kristen was born and raised in Queens, NY, She graduated from Hunter College with a BA in English, and minor in Women's Studies. Before starting at Voyages, she worked as a Custodial Secretary in multiple schools. She enjoys baking for her favorite people, pushing herself at the gym, and reading memoirs and fiction. She loves being in nature - you can find her at the beach in the summer, or hiking mountains in the spring/fall, but she will always have an excuse to not leave the house in winter.
MAGDALENA LAVESORES, MATHEMATICS
My name is Magdalena Lavesores, born and raised in Southern Philippines,I was educated by the Jesuits since my high school to Masters Degree. I taught at my Alma Mater for 14 years before I was hired by the DOE, nyc in 2003, to teach all levels of Math. Before Voyages, I was the Math Specialist of New Vision Charter School and Harlem Children Zone, College Success Department. I had the opportunity to teach in one of the big schools in Brookly, which is Abraham Lincoln High School and I had a student who scored 100% in the ALgebra regents, and graduated at MIT. I also had one student who scored 100% in the Geometry regents who is currently in college now. My goal is not just to teach Mathematics but also to touch the lives of my students. I believe the values inside are rooted that no validation from the outside is needed. I consider Voyages my home, my second family away from home.
MICHAEL KERR, PHYS ED / SOFTBALL
Mike grew up in Floral Park, NY and recived a Master's Degree in Physical Education from Adelphi University. He was one of the original staff members when Voyages first opened in 2008. Prior to Voyages, Mike was the Phys Ed teacher at Passages Academy in Hunt's Point, Bronx. In addition to teaching, Mike had coached basketball at the collegiate level for 19 years. Although no longer coaching, he stays involved with basketball as a broadcaster and works with Nike basketball camps. He also has coached Table Tennis and Coed Softball at Voyages. Mike currently resides in Brooklyn and has two children, Alyssa and Kevin.
NICHOLAS MERCHANT-BLEIBERG, PRINCIPAL
Nicholas was born and raised in New York City, and grew up surrounded by books and art and people with diverse careers and passions. He attended both public and private schools in Manhattan and the Bronx, and learned the value of integrated curriculum and experiential learning in his k-12 years. Nicholas is a graduate of Oberlin College, where he received a B.A. in English and Black Studies; he is a graduate of Bank Street College of Education, where he first received an M.A. in Early Childhood / Special Education (2002) and later received an M.S.Ed. in Leadership for Educational Change (2008). He has taught in all kinds of settings, from private to charter to parochial, and at all classroom levels from pre-K through high school, but truly loves the opportunity to learn and work with the young adults of Voyages. Nicholas loves to read, paint, play ball, be outside, and generally be wherever his wife, son and daughter are. He has a small weakness for video games, but does not own a game console (it's for the best).
NICK VARTHOLOMEOS, SCIENCE + BRT TEAM LEADER
Nick was born in Jackson Heights. Graduated St. John's University BA, MS As the founding science teacher at Voyages, he is excited to have the opportunity to assist students in understanding the wonders of the natural world and achieve success in completing their High School science requirements. He wants to help students overcome their personal deficits and to apply their talents to become responsible and productive individuals in the future.
PRISCILLA CRESPO, MATHEMATICS, ADVISOR + YOUNG PARENTS
Priscilla has been a math teacher at Voyages for six years. She loves working at Voyages because of the relationships that come from it. She has been a part of the teen parenting group since she had her own daughter, Sofia. Our young parents are part of what makes Voyages so special. It is wonderful to her that we all get to share our experiences and advice together. Coming from a larger, traditional high school, Grover Cleveland HS, allows her to appreciate all of our students, and trust her when she says this is an awesome school!
RAUL GORDILLO, SOCIAL STUDIES + LINCT
Raúl was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia where he studied Law and Political Science. He moved to the United States in 1997 and continued his studies at Queens College. Raúl completed an undergraduate degree in Political Science with a minor in American Studies and earned a Master's Degree in Education and Social Studies. Currently, he is in the process of getting certified in Special Education. He has worked in the private and public sectors as well as non-profit organizations. In addition, he has experienced teaching in both private and public schools. Raúl loves to read, learn new things and play sports, but his real passion is traveling, He feels fortunate to have visited many countries.
RENEE DRYG, ART + ADVISOR + YOGA
Renee is originally from Iowa, and did her undergrad work at Univ. of Iowa. BFA earned after trying Architecture, Engineering, and Math majors. Sometimes the path is blurry because you need to turn around and go back to the beginning. The rest is history. Renee moved to Chicago and got her MFA degree from The Univ. of Illinois at Chicago, and exhibited her artworks for several years while teaching Art at several area junior colleges. Renee was a waitress for all of her High School and College career and was able to pay for college with minimal student loans. Renee visited NYC many times to look at art and eventually moved to Queens 20 years ago. Because of her Math minor in undergrad, Renee was able to get a job right away as a 9th grade math teacher. After a five years she was a full time art and technology teacher. Renee is surprised to realize that this is her 20th year of teaching in NYC public schools. Renee is also surprised to find herself a life long learner, now enrolled in another Masters degree program, in Mental Health Counseling at Queens College.
RICHIE DAVILA, STUDENT SUPPORT + ADVISOR
Richard Louis Davila was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and now currently resides in Babylon Long Island with his wife and 3 beautiful children Dominic, Luke and Violet. He has been at Voyages from Day 1 - first teaching Social Studies and now teaching and supporting students with IEP's. He is a graduate of Nassau Community College, Hofstra University and Queens College which were all great learning experiences, taught him a lot about his field, and helped him develop his craft. He is a funny, energetic and happy guy who likes to help others and enjoys baseball, going to the beach and spending time with his family.
SASHA AGARWAL, ENGLISH + MUSIC PRODUCTION
English Language Arts teacher. Writer. Adventure Traveler. Equestrian. Poet. Artist. Music Producer. Mindfulness Sage. Born in New York City and grew up in Princeton, NJ, Manhattan, Dyckman, Harlem, Roosevelt Island, West Village, Financial District, Staten Island, Downtown Brooklyn, and Long Island City, Queens. She has studied English and Digital Music Production at Marymount Manhattan College, and English and Yoga Meditation at University of Bristol in United Kingdom. Sasha earned a double Masters in English and Education at CUNY- Hunter College, and is near completion of an Advanced Certificate towards Linguistics in TESOL. She is a 2017 Fund for Teachers Grant Award Recipient and traveled to Indonesia to study alternative practices in working with youth amidst trauma. She has taught at-risk youth in a multitude of alternative settings including in prisons, for all gender populations, in both Detention and Limited Secure Placement facilities. Having overcome immense challenges, she is positive, fearless and dedicated to motivate and inspire youth each day, through knowing her students are capable and can harness their own inner drive to triumph.
SUKIANA SANCHEZ, MULTI SITE DIRECTOR + ADMISSIONS
Sukiana Sanchez has been with VOYAGES since inception and for those of you that don't know, that means 2008. She graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a degree in Forensic Psychology. She loves sports, traveling, karaoke, movies/tv shows and dining out but most importantly...... Yankees, Giants and Rangers all the way!!! She loves working at VOYAGES because there's never a dull moment. Our staff is diverse, our students are amazing and the work we're doing really makes a difference.
YASMINE ROJAS, GUIDANCE COUNSELOR
Yasmine was born and raised in Jamaica, Queens! She is the Guidance Counselor and is in her first year at Voyages Prep. She guides students in the exploration, planning, and preparation for their current and post secondary success! She is a true CUNY girl earning a BA at CUNY Brooklyn College in Psychology and MSED in Counseling at CUNY Queens College. She was also a Admissions Counselor at Queensborough Community College for 3 years. She has 6 years experience in academic and theraputic counseling. Besides being a guidance counselor you can find Yasmine dashing in the hallways with the latest fashions. She loves to cook, shop, travel, and binge watch her favorite TV shows. Her next trip will be Ghana in December!!