Alumni Advisors

Our Alumni Advisors


Bill Bassell

A 2010 Fellow, Bill Bassell is the principal of Academy of American Studies in Queen. Now in his 25th year as a high school principal and his 39th year in education, he has always followed the credo that students will do whatever they are convinced that they can do, thus fostering a culture where students achieve much more than they ever expected they could. His vision for his school, staff, students, and parents is built upon that idea. A believer in collaborative support and planning, Bill has always involved all members of his school's constituencies in planning, casting, and sustaining a vision for success. As well, Bill's strong passion for aesthetic education in the arts greatly influences his students and his school. He was the recipient of the 2004 Special Arts Education Recognition Award from Americans for the Arts, and a member of the 2010 Cohort of the Cahn Fellows. He was actively involved in the Wallace Foundation's Principal Pipeline Initiative as a participant in the Principals' Learning Community. He has also been a critical friends group mentor to first year principals, a LEAP mentor, and is now in his fourth year as an instructor in the Assistant Principal Leadership Institute. He supports his Superintendent by serving on the Superintendent’s Advisory Council, and is thrilled to mentor members of this year’s cohort of Cahn Fellows.

Anna Cano Amato, a 2015 Fellow, has been principal of P.S.110 in Brooklyn since 2006. Her school community embodies its vision of Growing Hearts and Minds through the many unique initiatives that address the academic, social and emotional growth of its students. She has earned advanced degrees from Queens College and St. John’s University as well as an administrative degree from the College of St. Rose. P.S. 110 was the first New York City public school to be recognized for fulfilling its vision and received the “Educating the Whole Child in the 21st Century” award from the New York ASCD for creating a healthy, safe, engaging, supportive, and challenging school environment.

Mathew Ditto, a 2013 Fellow, is the former Chief Innovation Officer of the Chicago Public Schools and former principal of Andrew Jackson Language Academy. Prio to his principalship, Ditto was the Associate Director of the Center for Urban Education at DePaul University. He attributes his commitment to education to his experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in East Africa. He is a member of the Education Leadership Program at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and a graduate of DePaul University's School of Education with a master's degree in teaching and learning.

Sheila Durant

A 2014 Fellow, Sheila Durant entered the CUNY system following her NYC public education and earned a Master’s degree in special education from Hunter College and an Administrative Diploma in School Administration from the City College of New York. When Sheila became Assistant Principal in 2003, P.S. 69 had been designated a School in Need of Improvement by the State of New York and was in jeopardy of being taken over as a result of failing grades. She was fortunate to support an outstanding principal who became her mentor and collaborative partner. When this principal retired, Sheila took over the helm and continued the excellent work they began together. The cornerstone of P.S. 69’s dramatic progress is a strong working school community, which has created an environment for improved teaching and learning. Since 2003, P.S. 69 has been recognized by Advocates for Children as both a school of choice and one of the “top 100 schools” in New York City.

Lisa Epstein, a 2017 Fellow, is Principal of Lee Elementary in Chicago. Lisa began her tenure as principal five years ago, in which time she has moved her school from a level 2 to a level 1+ (the highest CPS rating). She has been a proud and enthusiastic leader of the Chicago Public Schools for 25 years - serving in culturally and intellectually diverse neighborhoods. At the district level, Lisa is honored to serve as an Independent School Principal, serving on district level committees and as a Mentor to aspiring Resident Principals. Lisa attended the University of Miami, graduating with a degree in both Psychology and Education. She completed her Master’s degree in Reading at the University of Illinois, and later completed an additional Master's program in Curriculum and Instruction at Lewis University.

Reggie Higgins

2016 Fellow, Reggie Higgins has served as principal of P.S. 125, the Ralph Bunche School in Manhattan since 2011. The school’s philosophy is children learn best when their intellectual, creative, emotional, social and physical growth is nurtured and challenged, and through school grants, Reggie has introduced enrichment programs for hydroponic and aquaponics labs to support students’ inquiry on farming. A graduate of the NYC Leadership Academy, Higgins received a BA in Psychology from Morehouse College, a Masters of Science in Teaching from Pace University and he received a Masters in Education Administration from Baruch College.

Josh Long, a 2016 Fellow, is the principal of Southside Occupational Academy (SOA), a transition center for students with disabilities.  Serving students who are 16-21 years old, Joshua has guided the creation of several vocational learning labs, a school-wide functional curriculum, a differentiated student assessment system, and community-based classrooms across the City of Chicago.  Students enrolled at SOA participate in classes focused on vocational, independent functioning, social and emotional, and applied academic skills. Joshua has worked with all of the staff members to provide individualized instruction to each student allowing the students to become as independent as possible within their communities upon graduation.

Joshua began his career with the Chicago Public Schools as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in 2000 after earning a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Speech and Hearing Sciences from Indiana University and a Master’s degree from the University of North Dakota in Communication Disorders.  Working across many neighborhoods in Chicago, he was confronted with the reality that some students needed more than a traditional education program in order to reach their full potential upon graduation. In 2009, after obtaining a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Governors State University, Joshua became a manager for over 100 SLPs within 200 schools.  It was during this role that he realized the power of influence a school principal had on student learning and the school environment. Joshua decided that he wanted to effect change at a higher level and become a school principal for students with disabilities.

Joshua firmly believes that all students are entitled to a coordinated, well-executed, tiered educational program.  He also believes that schools have the responsibility to meet all of the students’ needs and serve as a resource for their families.  As a 2016 Fellow, Joshua focused on the expanding needs of his students and worked with the school community to open a branch location focused on integrated community education.  The best part of Joshua’s day is standing outside and greeting the students in the morning. He has the best students in Chicago and they are always happy to come to school!

A 2009 Fellow, Kathy Moloney recently retired as the principal of P.S. 100, the Coney Island School. Previously, Moloney served as an Assistant Principal at Cavallaro Intermediate School and Instructor for the Cluster 6 Teacher Leadership program developing Professional Learning Communities within schools. Kathy has been a part of the District 21 Leadership Team and worked as Adjunct Professor for the College of Mt. St. Vincent, conducting Graduate Courses in curriculum and child development.

Ailene Altman Mitchell, a 2012 Fellow, has been principal of The Park Slope Education Complex at Middle School 88 in NYC since 2005. Ailene’s core belief is that students learn best in an intimate setting with personalized, blended learning attuned to their needs and strengths. Her passion for educating all students transformed M.S. 88 from one of the most challenged New York City Public Schools into one of the most prominent middle schools in the United States. As a foundational member of Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s signature instructional initiative, Learning Partners Program, Ailene’s school was spotlighted as an innovator host model school. M.S. 88’s innovative practices have attracted prominent visitors such as Bill Gates, Hadi Partovi, Fred Wilson, and education ministers from countries as far as Denmark and Turkey. In recognition of her work Ailene was named Master Principal from 2015 to 2017, serving as a mentor to NYC public school principals. As a definitive voice on personalized learning to raise student achievement, she has presented at Discovery Education’s Future Now Conference, ASCD conference, International Conference on Education, Discovery Education Leadership Summit, ISTE Conference on Blended Learning, and the NYC DOE Chancellor’s Conferences. Ailene has been serving as an alumni advisor to the Cahn Fellows Program for Distinguished Principals since 2017. She previously served on the advisory board of Columbia University’s Center for Environmental Research and Conservation Graduate Program from 2008-2015, and is a member of the Leaders on Innovation’s Digital Promise League of Schools. Ailene attributes M.S. 88’s success to her investment in professional learning, both personally and professionally. Her participation in the Institute for Learning at University of Pittsburg has been an integral part of her learning journey. 

Moses Ojeda, a 2017 Fellow, is Principal of Thomas A. Edison Career & Technical Education (CTE) High School, has dedicated nearly 25 years at Thomas Edison as a student, teacher, Assistant Principal and Principal. Currently, the school offers 12 CTE programs, the latest Medical Assisting program as the only one of its kind in NYC. Under his leadership, Thomas Edison will be serving as a Learning Partner host school for CTE in 2017-18. Moses currently serves as a CSA Executive Board member, the educational representative of the Jamaica Now Initiative and is part of the NYSED School Principal Preparation Project Study. He is a graduate of NYC College of Technology (B.S in CTE) and Adelphi University (M.S in Educational Leadership and Technology).

A 2008 Fellow, Margaret Russo has been the principal of P.S.160 in Brooklyn for fourteen years. She was assistant principal of I.S. 259 and taught at P.S. 127 and Nativity-St. Peter Claver.  Under her leadership, P.S. 160 has initiated extensive arts programs, Socratic Seminars, a national award-winning chess program, coding program, a Peer Assisted Learning Program (PALS) and multiple programs for parents, including a GED program. Although she has received many awards, including the Monsignor Francis X. Downing Award from the NYC DOE Catholic Teachers Association, Outstanding Educator of the Year from Education Update, Principal Collaboration Award from District 20 UFT, Elementary School Principal of the Year from Association of Orthodox Jewish Teachers of the NYC Public Schools, Principal of the Year from the NYC DOE Emerald Society and the Hopefest Award from the Francesco Loccisano Memorial Foundation, her favorite awards are the letters and cards hanging in her office from students thanking her for being the “best, fun principal”.  She had the privilege of participating in the Cahn FellowsProgram for Distinguished New York City Principals as both an Ally and a Fellow. She is presently Elementary School Principals Executive Board Delegate to the NYC Council of School Administrators. Margaret is active in her community and enjoys reading, music, and baseball. Her favorite thing to do when not spending time with her students and teachers is spending time with her husband Anthony, their five children and seven grandchildren.

Evita Sanabria, a 2014 Cahn Fellow, has been the Principal of P.S. /I.S. 127 since August 2008. Sanabria received her Master’s Degree from New York University in Guidance and Counseling and her Professional Diploma in Administration and Supervision from Queens College. She has been working for the New York City Department of Education for past 28 years where she began her career a paraprofessional. “Women In Education” recently awarded her for the development and progress of the community through education Latin American Intercultural Alliance.

Tara Shelton, a 2012 Fellow, has served as the principal of South Loop Elementary School in Chicago for the past eleven years. Principal Shelton attributes her school’s outstanding success to its dedicated, hard-working teachers and staff members. Tara graduated with a B.A. in Elementary Education from Southern University A& M College, and acquired her Master’s Degree in Administration from Chicago State University. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Urban Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

A 2005 Fellow, Nancy Sing-Bock just recently retired as principal of PS 51 in District 2, Manhattan. Nancy grew up on the Lower East Side with five brothers and sisters and is a product of the NYC Public Schools. She and her husband Norman have three wonderful children, a son who is finishing his earth science degree at Brooklyn College and twin daughters who graduated in May, 2013. One daughter has a degree in political science and history. The other daughter has a degree in sociology and Spanish. Nancy has a love for music and still sings in the Brooklyn Philharmonic Chorus and shares her love of travel, photography, cooking and film, theatre and books with her husband. Nancy has Master of Arts degrees in Environmental Education, Special Education and Supervisor and Administration. Her Bachelor's Degree was in Elementary Education. She is extremely proud of well-rounded education that she and her school has provided for the students at P.S.51 that includes a rich arts education, inquiry based project based learning, and academic rigor. In 2004, P.S.51 was named as a No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. In 2008-09, Time Warner Cable awarded her the National Champion Principal Finalist Award. She was named “Outstanding Educator” by Education Week in 2010. For the past 7 years, she has mentored assistant principals in the Advanced Leadership Program for Assistant Principals for the Council of Supervisors and Administrators.

Femi Skanes, a 2016 Fellow, is Principal of Al Raby School for Community & Environment in Chicago since 2012.  As an educator who has taught at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary level, Femi firmly believes in fostering educational excellence for urban students in underserved communities.  To achieve this success, she believes in a model that supports collaboration and teacher leadership development. Dr. Skanes holds several degrees including an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from National Louis University.

A 2016 Fellow, Stacy Stewart is Principal of Belmont-Cragin School, located on Chicago’s Northwest side. As a former CPS student and 25-year employee of the Chicago Public Schools, she has served as a middle school teacher, Induction Coach for the New Teacher Center, and a principal.  Since becoming principal of Belmont-Cragin in 2010, she has worked diligently to improve the quality of teaching and learning, by utilizing a personalized approach with dual language education, SEL and personalized learning.  She advanced the school’s designation from a Level 3 rating, in 2010, to a Level 1+ in 2017. In addition, Belmont-Cragin is currently recognized nationally as an “Ashoka Change Maker” school with a Gold Circle NAEYC Accredited Early Childhood Center. Notably, her school was awarded, in 2016, an “Exemplary Award” for Social and Emotional Learning from the Chicago Public Schools. In 2016, Principal Stewart was selected for the Cahn Fellows Program for distinguished principals. She has been awarded the leading educator scholarship for innovative principals, from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, which hosted 500 of the nation’s most successful superintendents and school leaders. Recently, she was awarded the Stanley Golder Leadership Award from the Golden Apple Foundation forexemplary performance in school leadership and a multi-million dollar capital project for a new innovative school from the city of Chicago.

Christina Tettonis
Christina Tettonis, a 2007 Fellow, is honored to be Principal of the Hellenic Classical Charter School (HCCS) since 2007.  The Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education has designated her school as a Reward School for four consecutive years in recognition of her students’ high academic achievement.  In February of this year, the State Department recognized HCCS as one of the top 155 schools in all of New York State.  HCCS was recently featured in the book, New York City's Best Public Pre-K and Elementary Schools, A Parents' Guide by Clara Hemphill.    
 
Christina is an advisory member of the Cahn Fellows Program for Distinguished New York City Principals at Teachers College, Columbia University. She was also a member of the New York City Deputy Chancellor’s Principal Advisory Group. She serves as a Board of Trustee for the Brooklyn Public Library, The Literacy Trust, The Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College, and The Bay Ridge Federal Union. 
 
Christina was Principal of Public School 170 for the NYC Department of Education from 2002- 2007 and Director of The Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program for Community School District 20 from 1997-2002.  She began her public school career as a teacher at Public School 186 and Public School 105 in Brooklyn, New York. Her first teaching position was at Holy Cross Parochial School.    
 
Christina was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is the eldest daughter of Greek-American immigrants who ingrained in her a deep sense of pride for her Hellenic heritage. She is honored to share this heritage with her students each and every day. Christina is married and has twin sons who graduated college this past spring.

Lily Din Woo was one of the 16 principals in the first cohort of the Cahn Fellows Program for Distinguished Principals 2003. She served as the principal of PS 130 Manhattan, District 2, for 25 years before retiring in August of 2014. She subsequently went on to serve as the program director of the Cahn Fellows Program from 2014 until her retirement in 2018.

Lily was instrumental in transforming P.S. 130 Manhattan from a struggling school into a consistently high performing school that has been recognized by New York City, New York State and US Department of Education as a Title I Distinguished School and as a demonstration site for its ability to incorporate the arts into the education of every child in the school.

In her 44 years in education, Lily has also served as a classroom teacher, an ESL teacher, an ESL staff developer, and as a director for a demonstration project for the Division of High Schools with the NYC Department of Education. Within that time span, she had also served six years with the New York State Education Department as an Associate with the Division of Bilingual Education.

She is a product of the NYC public school system. She received her B.A. from Queens College, CUNY, where she majored in Elementary Education and her M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from New York University.

In 2004, Lily was chosen by the Summer World Olympics Committee as one of 120 “everyday heroes” to represent New York City in the 2014 Summer Olympics Torch Relay. In 2010, she received a “Principal of the Year” Blackboard Award from the New York City media for her exemplary work at her school, and in 2016, received recognition as an Outstanding CUNY Asian-American Woman of the Year for Leadership in Education by the City University of New York’s Asian American/Asian Research Institute.

Lily has had the honor of serving on many advisory committees and task forces for several chancellors of the NYC Department of Education, and was a mentor principal for both the NYC Leadership Academy and for the Department of Education. She was a member of the adjunct faculty at Baruch College for seven years and at Bank Street College for 10 years. She now serves as an alumni advisor for principals through the Cahn Fellows Program and works as an independent educational consultant.

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