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QUIERE (Quality Universally Inclusive Early Responsive Education)
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College
Columbia University

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Meet the Scholars > 2013-2014 Scholars

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Meet the Scholars

2013-2014 Scholars

Hello, my name is Yannique Benitez and I am thrilled to be studying at Teachers College this year. I am especially enthusiastic about being selected as a 2013-2014 QUIERE scholar to prepare to help culturally diverse groups of students with varied abilities. I was raised in New York City and previously worked with children in a variety of roles including as a Literacy Corps tutor to first graders while attending Syracuse University. It will be invaluable for me to gain experience with diverse groups of young children in inclusive settings to teach in an environment as multicultural and multilingual as New York City. I have a background in journalism and one hobby I enjoy is discovering new blogs on topics ranging from social policy to interior design. I look forward to beginning the program this semester!




Hello!  My name is Bonnie Garcia and I am very excited to be given the opportunity to be a QUIERE scholar at Teachers College -- Columbia University.  My interest in working with children in diverse and inclusive settings comes from living in a community with many diverse families and being exposed to children of different economic levels, nationalities, and those with special needs.  In addition, my brother is on the Autism spectrum and I have learned how valuable his teachers have been to him and my mother.  I applied to be a QUIERE scholar because I feel that with the right training I can offer children the encouragement to discover their full potential. I graduated from Montclair State University with a B.A. in Broadcasting.  I hope to someday combine my broadcasting training with what I learn as a QUIERE scholar to better serve children in need, whether in the media, or in the classroom.  During my spare time, I enjoy taking Zumba Fitness and dance classes.  I hope to one day share this with children as a way to help them stay active and express themselves.




Hi, my name is Hazel Garcia and I am thrilled to have been selected to be a 2013-2014 QUIERE scholar. For my undergraduate studies I attended Temple University where I majored in Elementary/ Early childhood education with a minor in Spanish. During my undergraduate studies I worked for a non-profit organization called Jumpstart for three years. After graduation I worked as a preschool teacher in a classroom of three year olds. I am very interested in working with diverse children in inclusive settings due to my personal and professional experiences during my practicums and student teaching. I applied to be a QUIERE scholar because I know that I will be provided with the opportunity to work in an urban environment and I will have the opportunity to apply my experiences and everything that I have learned in order to provide my students with a diverse and inclusive learning environment. My professional goal is to become a SEIT (Special Education Itinerant Teacher). Being a SEIT would allow me to work closely with my students and their families in order to develop specific techniques and activities to provide the best learning environment for my students. An interesting hobby of mine is crossfit. I think that eating healthy and being fit are very important.




Hello, my name is Ayanna Haskell and I am proud to be a 2013-2014 QUIERE scholar. I attended UNC-Greensboro in North Carolina where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies. While at UNC-G, I worked in a laboratory setting inclusive child care program on campus. My goal as a professional is to provide high quality and equal education to all children including those with diverse backgrounds and special needs. I want to teach children based on their learning style (similar to the ideas of Gardener’s Theory of Intelligence) because we as teachers know, not all children learn the same. I want to teach as many children as I can in a way that is conducive to their learning. I applied to be a QUIERE scholar because the program will be catalyst in allowing me to collaborate with other professionals, research appropriate classroom practices and get in-classroom experience to reach my goals as a professional. An interesting hobby of mine is enhancing outside beauty with the use of makeup. I like to create different looks using bright colors and affordable products while also paying attention to actual skin care.




My name is Carmen Lee and I am honored to have been chosen as a 2013-2014 QUIERE scholar for Teachers College. I obtained my BA in Psychology from Binghamton University and have 4 years of experience working in the counseling field. My commitment to early childhood education stems from my various tutoring experiences with young students from underserved communities. Their incredible resilience and positivity against their challenges inspired my aims to become an amazing early childhood educator for kids from multicultural backgrounds. I believe in not only helping children excel academically, but that we must also instill an early understanding of community love, tolerance, and responsibility to ensure a better society in our future. In addition to my passion for teaching, I love taking mini-adventures in NYC and going through travel advice books to plan future journeys in faraway countries.




For the past three years Erin Shannon has been teaching pre-kindergarten children at Corpus Christi School in Manhattan.  From her work with these children she was inspired to continue her education at Teachers College and was very excited to be invited to join the QUIERE Program.  She is passionate about teaching diverse learners especially in urban settings.  Erin has studied Music Education and Horn Performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and has taken Early Childhood Education courses at Fordham University.  Outside of the classroom, Erin enjoys playing horn in various community orchestras in New York City and riding her bike.





Hello, my name is Brenda Soriano, a former student from City College of New York. I decided to join to the QUIERE project so I could have the opportunity to help children with special needs and work with dual language children. However, fulfilling the needs of different children educational wise is what motivates me to continue being a teacher. It has always been a passion of mine to work with all kinds of children, but knowing that the QUIERE program is offering me this opportunity is both a challenge and a pleasure. I am willing to put in my knowledge from 15 years of experience working at Bloomingdale Family Program into working with diverse children in inclusive settings. Going outside to observe nature is what I like to do in my free time. I see it as a way of learning something new while enjoying fresh air.





My name is Lauryn Taylor. I am very happy to have been chosen as a QUIERE Scholar. I completed my Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Kindergarten Education at Penn State University. Following Penn State University, I attended Sacred Heart University where I completed a Master of Arts in Teaching with a concentration in literacy.  A professional goal of mine is to teach diverse students including those with special needs. In my spare time, I enjoy watching movies and reading books. One of my favorite movies is Freedom Writers. I applied to be a QUIERE scholar because I truly believe that students and their families deserve the best education. As a scholar, I will commit my time and love to provide these children and families with the best education.




My name is Amaris J. Cordero Tejada & I am very please to have been chosen as a QUIERE scholar through Columbia University Teacher's College. I graduated from Arcadia University in Glenside, PA with a BA in Sociology & I minored in Women's Studies. I began working with children aged 4 - 8 in 2009 when I became a Summer Camp Counselor and a Volunteer through The Educational Alliance. I have since then spent the last 14 months working at The Goddard School with children aged 6 weeks - 5 years old. I applied to the QUIERE Fellowship because I am passionate about working with young children from diverse populations, where I can utilize my bi-lingual skills and abilities to work with special needs children. My favorite hobby is dancing- as I spent four years on two dance teams during my undergraduate career & even had the opportunity to perform for the 76'ers!





Hello, my name is Linda Tran and I am truly grateful to have been chosen as a QUIERE Scholar for the 2013-2014 academic year. I graduated from the University of Rochester with a double major in Linguistics and American Sign Language. I dedicated my undergraduate career to research on cognitive development and language acquisition in children as well as working in the Rochester City School District as a tutor and mentor for several programs. An interesting fact about myself is that I love to write both creatively and academically. As a first generation Vietnamese American and a Bronx native, I quickly grew passionate about embracing and sharing my diverse background as well as striving for excellence in all aspects of education. I hope to share with my students and my communities the beauty in diversity and importance of academic excellence for a better tomorrow.