ANTHONY SANTAGATO, SOCIAL STUDIES + UFT CHAPTER CHAIR
Anthony Santagato is a HS Social Studies teacher who has been teaching in the NYC school system since 2004 specializing in global studies & music history. Anthony graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2004 after returning to his academic studies as an adult. In 2007 he received his Masters of Science in Education. Prior to returning to school to earn his teacher certification Anthony worked in the hospitality industry. He has always strived to reach out and bring international musicians into his student's cultural experiences. In 2011 Anthony was able to bring the world renowned Afro-Colombian band EnYe to perform at his Lower East Side HS. In 2016 he was able to bring the Jazz-Reggae fusion band called The Brown Rice Family into his current Queens school location. He has also worked closely with accomplished musician and author Bill Jacobs of the African Poetry Theater to organize African history & drum workshops including a full drum and dance show that was performed for his students in 2012. Anthony is currently teaching Civics, Global Health, Global Studies, & a History through Music class which involves a study of the roots and development of Jazz music. Anthony currently resides in Sunnyside New York but spends much of his summers in the Adirondack and Catskill region fishing, hiking, and enjoying the great outdoors.
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.
DIANDRA ALVAREZ, YOUTH DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST + ADVISOR
Diandra was born and raised in Queens, NY. She is an alumni of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and is currently receiving her Masters Degree in Social Work at Adelphi University. Diandra enjoys music, arts, traveling and most of all, helping people. Her passion is to be a positive influence to young adults in her community by providing resources in every way. Although some days may be challenging, she lives by the quote "Dreams don't work unless you do" because anything worth having takes effort and work. By working at Voyages, she plans to push her students to their fullest potential and she looks forward to doing so.
DAMARIS CASTRO, YOUTH DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST + ADVISOR
Damaris Castro was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. At the tender age of one, her family moved to Queens, New York. In 2013, she received an Associates of Arts in Liberal Arts from Borough of Manhattan Community College. She continues her studies at Queens College where she will receive her Bachelor of Arts in English this upcoming spring 2019. Damaris plans to further pursue her education by obtaining a Master of Arts in Teaching.
Damaris has been involved in the nonprofit sector since 2008. She began her journey as a volunteer for Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, where she developed a passion for giving back to those in need. In 2015, she served as a counselor for St. Nick’s Alliance working in classrooms with underprivileged students. This experience fueled her desire to become a teacher. Most recently, she served as an Administrative Associate for Ballet Hispánico School of Dance, where she learned how to engage and adapt to youth and adolescents of diverse backgrounds. Her hobbies include arts and crafts, movies, snowboarding, and lastly reading.
As she embarks on a new journey at QCH, she is overwhelmed with joy and excitement.
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!
JESSICA CIFUENTES, COUNSELOR + ADVISOR + ADMISSIONS
Jessica was born and raised in Queens, NY. She is the Program Assistant for QCH at Voyages Prep and an Adviory teacher. She loves her job and loves being able to work with the youth in her community to help them strive and accomplish their dreams. Before Voyages, Jessica was a soldier in the U.S Army Active Duty Component Signal Corpse as a Multichannel transmission systems operator maintainer. Jessica resides in Queens with her son, Jordan. He is adorable. She is passionate about poetry and helping others.
JOEL BERRIOS, INTERNSHIP COORDINATOR + ADVISOR
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.
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.
MIGUEL RODRIGUEZ, DIRECTOR OF COUNSELING
Miguel Rodriguez, MSW, (S.B.I.R.T) is a 25 year-old Puerto Rican Filipino Bronx native who studied Social Work at Lehman college where he obtained his Masters of Social Work (MSW) and SBIRT certification. Miguel proceeded to work for Queens Community House Learning To Work program as the Director of Counseling.
NANCY LEWANDOWSKI, ENGLISH + ESL/ENL
Nancy grew up on the end of Long Island and attended Gordon College, where she received her B.A. in Psychology, with a minor in English. She received her initial TESOL training through the School for International Training's site in Barcelona, Spain. After teaching in both Spain and the Czech Republic, she entered a Master's program at Long Island University, to obtain an M.Ed. with a focus on TESOL. Nancy then went on to become a founding teacher at the first high school for older immigrant youth in New York. She has also taught in several capacities in the Pittsburgh region, including working with new refugees, college students from a variety of countries and as curriculum writer. She is also the proud mother of one 18 year old son, a dog named Patrick and two charming cats.
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 + 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!
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.
ROSSELYN MEJIA, COUNSELOR + ADVISOR
Rosselyn was born in Dominican Republic and came to United States when she was 13 years old. She continued her education and went to Manhattanville College, where she majored in Spanish Literature and Communications. Rosselyn loves working for Queens Community house at Voyages Prep because, as a Youth Development Specialist, she fulfills her passion of assisting students with their academic achievement and helping them become the well-adjusted adults of tomorrow.
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, PROGRAM DIRECTOR + ADMISSIONS
Sukiana Sanchez, Program Director, 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 a long long time ago. 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!!