Instructor Profiles

Alana Philcox

Alana Philcox is an English teacher at Riverhead High School. She is a certified AP Capstone teacher and currently pursuing a certification in Special Education (Generalist 7-12). She is a winner of the 2017-2018 LILAC Mini-Grant, as well as a Long Island Youth Summit mentor and award winner. ‚Äč

Allison Jahn

For the past 14 years, Allison Jahn has worked as a Guidance Counselor in the state of New York. Her experience has been primarily at the high school level, but her early years included both elementary and middle schools. Prior to beginning her counseling career, Allison worked as a 6th grade teacher in a small private school while also teaching computer classes to 2nd through 12th graders. While working in this school, she designed and ran the school's first formal Guidance Office. Since moving to public education, she has been the BOCES liaison for her district and an active member of the East End Counselor's Association. Finally, before working in education, Allison was an employee of a major LI computer corporation as an Executive Events Coordinator. Allison holds a Baccalaureate in Sociology and a Masters degree in School Counseling.

Carmella Currao-Mcaleavey

Carmella Currao-Mcaleavey is a resident of Shirley, New York, where she has been teaching Special Education for the past 16 years. After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Dowling College in Oakdale, New York with a Masters Degree in Special Education, she started her career in 1990 at Just Kids Learning Center where she worked as an Early Intervention and Special Education Preschool Teacher. During this same time period Ms. Currao-Mcaleavey was an Adjunct Assistant Professor for Special Education at Dowling College, teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses in Special Education. Along with this, since 1999 she has been a Special Education Teacher for Suffolk County, New York, providing Home and Community Based Services in an Early Intervention Program. In addition to teaching, she is in charge of the Backpack Program for her school district. This provides a backpack filled with food for students in need to take home in order to ensure they have nutritious food when not in school. Also, together with her local community library, Ms. Currao-Mcaleavey created and developed the Community Enrichment Program for Special Needs Students. She has also been a recipient of many academic achievements and awards. Ms. Currao-Mcaleavey has been both a member and president of the Kappa Delta Pi, Honor Society of Education, a member of National College Honor Scholarship Society, Alpha Chi, and has received the William J. Cordon Kappa Delta Pi Honor in Education Award, and is a Member of the Council of Exceptional Children.

Cathy Carella-Dean

Cathy Carella-Dean has been an educator in the Middle Country School District for the past 23 years. She earned her BA from Cortland College, her MA from Stony Brook University, and her Building and District Administrative Advanced Certificates from the College of St. Rose.

Cathy spent the majority of her career as an English teacher before transitioning into an administrative role as an assistant principal at both the middle school and high school levels. Cathy has served as the 504 Building Chairperson as well as the Building Testing Coordinator at the secondary level. She has presented professional development workshops for the MCTA as well as at monthly building-level faculty meetings and study circles. She has twice served as a MCCSD Superintendent's Conference Day workshop presenter.

Cathy is currently the English Department Chairperson for Centereach High School and Dawnwood Middle School. She is a member of LILAC, NCTE, ASCD, Leadership 2.0, CAS, and Kappa Delta Pi (Honor Society of Education). Her drive to pursue her own life-long learning continues as she is actively completing her Students with Disabilities teaching certificate.

Christine Knoell

Christine Knoell has been a Biology teacher at Eastport South Manor Junior-Senior High school for the past 14 years. She currently teaches Living Environment to mostly middle school students. She earned her BA in Biology and a minor in secondary education and MS in liberal arts and sciences at Stony Brook University. She is currently a team leader for the Junior High School Blue team, where she conducts team meetings and organizes team events/activities. Prior to beginning her science teacher career, Christine worked as a Physical Therapist Assistant at Mather Hospital and St. Charles Rehab.

Colette Tarantino

Colette Tarantino earned her Bachelor's Degree from Stony Brook University with a major in Psychology and a minor in Child Care and Family Studies. She obtained her Master's Degree in Applied Behavioral Psychology from Adelphi University. She then took additional credits at St. John's University to obtain her School Psychology Certification from New York State. Colette has been working in Middle Country School District for the past 26 years as a School Psychologist. Most of her years have been spent in Dawnwood Middle School, however a few of them were in the elementary schools within the district. She is an integral part of CSE meetings and chairs the Annual Review meetings within the building in which she works, and with the incoming 5th graders. Colette has been on Curriculum Writing and Building Safety Committees. She has been the advisor for Peer Leadership and this year started The Best Buddies Club. She covered a leave placement for the Alternative Learning Center, where she worked with children in the district who have difficulty attending school during the day for different reasons. Colette has taught various in-service and graduate classes for LILIE in the past years.

Ed Storck

Ed Storck is an English teacher at Shoreham-Wading River High School where he teaches AP Capstone Seminar & Research. He's a winner of the 2017-2018 LILAC Mini-Grant and a member of the Editorial Review Board Member for NCTE's English Journal. In addition to ELA, he holds certifications in Special Education (Generalist), ENL, and Elementary.

Hal Kench

Hal Kench is a former Law Enforcement Officer with 11 years of experience, and a veteran teacher of the East Islip School District since 1998. He's dealt with Cyber-Bullying as a teacher, and seen the results of cyber-bullying as a policeman. Hal has also played the role of "Conflict Resolution Facilitator" in the middle school environment, and serves on both the district DASA (Dignity for All Students Act) Committee, and Technology Committee. He is a "voracious reader", and will read anything he can find to gain a new perspective on Internet safety and cyber-bullying. Hal holds a BS in Technology Education from SUNY Oswego (K–12), and an MS in Instructional Technology (with distinction) from NYIT. He currently teaches Introduction to Technology Education, Graphic Communications, and Computer Aided Design at both the East Islip Middle School and East Islip High School.

Jennifer De Collibus

Jennifer De Collibus earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in Philosophy from Siena College. She later completed a Master of Science degree in Adolescence Education with a Middle Childhood Extension from Dowling College. Jennifer has been an English teacher at the Middle Country School District for sixteen years. During this time she has taught writing and language arts courses at both the middle school and high school levels and been a member of an inclusion team. She has been a member of district-wide curriculum writing committees, a facilitator for professional development on reading strategies and differentiated instruction, a scoring leader for the NYS ELA Assessment, a member of the Optimums Scoring Solutions Corporation World Scoring Team, and the team leader for her building's English Department. Jennifer is a member of the NCTE and ASCD.

Jonathan Chiaramonte

Jonathan Chiaramonte has been a social studies teacher for the Sachem North school district for 13 years. He has taught a variety of classes such as, 7th and 8th grade social studies, 9th and 10th grade global studies, 11th grade US History and Government and created his own curriculum for Peer Education which is a program recognized throughout Long Island as a program that helps break down social barriers among students. He has taught for LILIE for one year and enjoys helping teachers be a better version of themselves for their students.

Kerri Coudrey

Mrs. Coudrey has been an educator for the past 17 years in the William Floyd School District. She has taught numerous history courses including advanced placement for the first 15 years of her career. She has been a mentor to students and a leader to her colleagues which fostered her to become an effective leader in her new role as an administrator for the past two years.

Her career in education has been enriched by her active participation in Professional Development, Curriculum Development, Credit Recovery, the Character Education Program, Rotary, National Honor Society, as well as working with the district's most at risk students. She earned her Associate's Degree from Briarcliffe College, Bachelor's Degree from Dowling, and her Master's Degree from Dowling. She continued her education at the College of St. Rose receiving a degree in School Building Leadership and School District Leadership.

Kysten Ellison-Martin

Kysten Ellison-Martin has been a health educator for fifteen years and has been an instructor for LILIE since the inception of the company. She obtained a BS in Community Health and Human Services, a certificate in counseling specializing in both nutrition and drug/alcohol addiction, and a MS in Special Education. Ms. Ellison-Martin is a certified health educator for grades K–12. She currently teaches health on the middle school level in the Middle Country School District and facilitates many health-related courses on the graduate level such as "Addictions and the Adolescent", "Adolescent Health issues and School Health Policies", "The Effects on the Mind-Body Connection and Learning", "Drug Education", "Peaceful Schools", "Building Self Esteem in Adolescence", "Body Image, Eating Disorders and Obesity", "The Effects of Nutrition on the Student Body", "Adolescent Brain and Behavior", "Dignity for All: Bullying Legislation and Initiatives," and "The Humanistic Approach to Education". Ms. Ellison-Martin is also a member of LIGALY and is an advocate and trainer for educators on the prevention of violence and sexual bullying in youth and a certified DASA (Dignity for All Students Act) instructor. In addition, Ms. Ellison-Martin is an Adjunct Professor at Stony Brook University in the Health and Technology Department where she teaches courses such as "Complimentary and Alternative Medicine" and "Health and the Aging Process" for health professionals such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, physician's assistants, nurses, and physicians.

Liz Scott (Catz) Pothier

Liz has been an educator and coach for over 19 years. She is certified in Family Consumer Sciences, Business, and Elementary Ed, as well as being a certified American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor. She currently teaches Middle School Family and Consumer Sciences at Selden MS (previously known as Home and Careers) and swimming lessons for the WHB School District Summer Recreation program. She earned her Associate's Degree from Katharine Gibbs, Bachelor's Degree from Dowling, and her Master's Degree from C.W. Post. She has won the LIFACS Promising New Educator East Award (2008), NY Lady Liberty "Outstanding Educator" award (2009), the MCCSD and Town of Brookhaven "SPARC" award (2010), Town of Brookhaven Person of the Year Award (2014), Middle Country Community Service Award (2015) and has been a Professional Development Workshop Facilitator for both the MCTA and Middle Country Teacher's Center since 2012. Her teaching career has been enhanced by her active participation in character education programs, curriculum development, conferences, and committees. She is currently a member of her district PDP (Professional Development) committee, ENL: Part 154 committee, CTE committee, DASA committee, MCBAB (Business Advisory Board) committee, MCTA PD Committee, and two APPR committees (MCTA and a joint MCTA/MCAA). She has been the building coordinator of the Second Step Violence prevention program, wrote a 7-8th grade character education resource guide for monthly virtues, and is the coordinator of Spirit Days and a nationwide MS Job Shadowing Day for her district. She has participated in Dr. Thomas Lickona's 3-day character education training at BOCES, multiple Bullying Prevention conferences, NEFE HS Financial Literacy training program, and attended NYSFACSE Summer Professional Development Workshops in Owego, NY. She's attended the NYSUT 2-day Stakeholder Academy workshop training on Teacher Practice Rubric, and the NYSUT TED training on New Views on Teacher Evaluation and a workshop on Data Driven Instruction. She also has presented multiple times at: her district's Supt. Conference Day opening session speaking about 21st Century Skills; monthly faculty meetings about Teacher Reflection and the NYSUT rubric priorities and ENL Best Practice. She's also presented Best Practices yearly at the LI FACS Annual Professional Development Conference Days since 2012. And, she has been invited to guest speak at a SCALA workshop to discuss incorporating literacy and the Common Core Standards into art. Last, but certainly not least, for the last 9+ years Liz has been rounding off her career (and loving it!) by facilitating a multitude of in-service and graduate level courses for LILIE.

Matteo DeVincenzo

Mr. DeVincenzo has been a school administrator for the past fourteen years. The past eleven years he has been the Director of Health, Physical Education, and Athletics in the Comsewogue School District. He has been an instructor at LILIE for over eight years. Matteo holds a Bachelors of Science Degree from SUNY Cortland and Masters Degrees from LIU Post and The College of New Rochelle (School Administration). He has a teaching license in Physical Education, as well as an SAS and SDA school administration license(s). He serves on the Section XI Modified and Policy Committees. Matteo is currently the assistant Section XI Wrestling Chairman and represents Section XI on the NYSPHSAA Life of an Athlete program. He is a member of SCADA, NYSAAA, NIAAA and NYS AHPERD (council of administrators).

Mihaela Kuhnle

Mihaela Kuhnle has been an ESL teacher for the Eastport South-Manor Schools for 13 years, and has been an educator for over 20 years. Mrs. Kuhnle is a graduate of the University of Bucharest, Romania, and received her Master's Degree in Liberal Studies from SUNY Stony Brook. She has partnered with NYSUT ELT and became an associate professor in 2010. She also joined the LILIE instructional staff in 2013. Currently, she teaches graduate, in-service, and professional development courses that focus on supporting the ELLs in mainstream classes, in addition to her high school ESL teaching position.

Paul Pedersen

Mr. Pedersen has been a physical education teacher in the Middle Country School District for the past 17 years. He is presently the head coach for Newfield Varsity Baseball, in which he has coached for 15 years. Mr. Pedersen has also coached a variety of sports including soccer, field hockey, basketball, and softball. Mr. Pedersen is a Member of AAHPERD, America Alliance for Physical Education Health Recreation and Dance, and a Member of SCBCA Suffolk County Baseball Coaches Association. Mr. Pedersen holds a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology from Towson University, and completed his master's degree at SUNY Stony Brook. He currently teaches the NYSED coaching courses "Health Science Applied to Coaching and Theory" and "Techniques of Coaching".

Valerie Capriotti

Valerie Capriotti has been a special education teacher in the Middle Country School District since 2003. During this time she has worked in the resource room, integrating co-teaching and self-contained settings at the kindergarten through middle school levels. Prior to working at Middle Country she taught a summer skills program to at risk incoming college freshmen for four years. She has received training in the Wilson Reading System, Visualizing and Verbalizing, and the University of Kansas' Strategic Instructional Model. Valerie earned a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education and Political Science and a Master of Science Degree in Special Education from Dowling College. She is a member of the National Association of Special Education Teachers.

Valerie Fiano

Valerie Fiano has been a Spanish teacher in the Middle Country School District for the past several years. She holds her teaching certification in Spanish; Kindergarten–12. She obtained her undergraduate degree from SUNY Oneonta and her Master's degree from SUNY Stony Brook. She has taught various levels from 7th grade to levels 2 and 3 at the high school. She has taught summer school in the past that ranged over several levels. She is currently the team leader for the LOTE department in her building and serves as the advisor to the newspaper and yearbook clubs.