Episode 1 -Dr. Scott Conti
Dr. Scott Conti is the founding principal of New Design High School (NDHS). The school, located in the Lower East Side of New York City, uses the concept of design to assist in meeting the holistic needs of adolescents, including the academic, intellectual, social, emotional and artistic sides of students. He was born in the East Bay of Northern California. A graduate of St. Mary's College of California, Conti decided to pursue a career in teaching high school social studies teaching at Mount Diablo High School in Concord, California. He left the classroom to enter the Curriculum and Teaching doctoral program at Teachers College Columbia University. Upon graduation, Conti was approached by the New York City Department of Education to develop a small public school in the Seward Park Campus in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Scott is currently in his 13 year as principal of New Design High School. He is also an educational consultant supporting new public and charter schools. He is also training and mentoring beginning and experienced principals.
Episode 2 - Kate Quarford
This week's guest Kate Quarfordt is a co-founder of City School of the Arts, a new arts-based charter middle school opening in this fall in Lower Manhattan. She previously served as founding director of the musical theater program at Bronx Preparatory Charter School, where she encouraged young people to engage with the arts as a direct pathway to transformational learning experiences in all disciplines. Over the past decade, Kate has mentored a community of young people who have gone on to speech championships, gold-medal winning acting performances, college scholarships and successful careers in education, technology, medicine and the arts. During this candid interview, she shares how her grandmother, 9/11, and feeling like an outsider, helped shaped her to become the extraordinary teacher she is today.
Episode 3 - Chris Barley
Chris Barley began his teaching career through the NYC Teaching Fellowship in October 2005. Originally from a farm in Lancaster, PA, Chris never planned on becoming a teacher; he had his sights set on becoming a doctor. However,Chris quickly fell in love with languages and studied Spanish and Linguistics as an undergraduate at Georgetown University. Upon moving to NYC in October of 2004, Chris worked for a short time in the Field Human Resources Department at Doctors Without Borders. He embarked upon his teaching career at University Neighborhood High School in the Lower East Side of Manhattan where he taught Spanish from 2005-2010 and where he acted as Dean of Students from 2010-2011. In 2011 Chris transferred to Essex Street Academy, another small school in the LES, where he currently teaches Spanish and Portuguese. When he's not teaching, Chris enjoys learning new languages, practicing yoga, and traveling. He currently is pursuing a Master's in Educational Leadership at NYU.
Episode 4 - Rosa Pietanza
Rosa Pietanza has 24 years of experience in New York City Public Schools as a teacher of Italian and French, and an assistant principal of Foreign Languages and ESL, as well as founding principal of University Neighborhood HS, an NYU partnership school. Throughout her career, she has served as a mentor to many new principals, administrators, and teachers. Pietanza is the coordinator of partnership schools for Steinhardt's teacher education programs, where her responsibilities include strengthening relationships with partner schools, exploring opportunities for collaboration, and connecting students' coursework with their field experience. In addition, she works with faculty and staff throughout NYU to promote initiatives in NYC public schools. Pietanza earned master's degrees in French and Italian from Hunter College and an advanced certificate in educational administration and supervision from Brooklyn College.
Episode 5 - Dr. Marc Meyer
Dr. Marc A. Meyer received his B.A. in history from Arizona State University, B.A. in Old/Middle English Language and Literature and M. Phil. in medieval history from University College Dublin, National University of Ireland, and Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior to his arrival in the New York City area in the late 1990s, Dr. Meyer was professor and department chair of history as well as the founding Director of the College Honors Program at Berry College, Georgia. (He was granted a full professorship with tenure in 1995.) Having taught well over 50 different courses in a variety of liberal arts and social sciences fields and in education, Marc has held appointments at the Dalton School, New York University, University of Hawaii at Hilo, Westminster College of Salt Lake City, University of Rochester, and Colgate-Rochester Divinity School. He was also an Adjunct Professor in Columbia University’s School of General Studies from 2000 through 2006, and continues to consult with Columbia’s Earth Institute to help transform New York City public schools through the development and implementation of integrated ecology science curriculum.
Dr. Meyer has been active in K-12 education since 1997. He has served as Director of Academics and Head of the Ross School in East Hampton, NY and Head of the Brown School in Schenectady, NY. In 2002, with former Dalton School Headmaster and Columbia University Assistant Provost Gardner Dunnan, Marc led a team of educators in the “soup to nuts” planning for an innovative K-8 school funded by Columbia University. He subsequently served as The School at Columbia University’s first Director of Curriculum and Research. He was the creator/developer of The School’s integrated curriculum architecture and many of its institutional structures. More recently, Marc worked with actress and philanthropist Goldie Hawn to develop and disseminate MindUP, The Hawn Foundation’s social emotional learning program that was subsequently published by Scholastic, Inc. Marc taught the program to his own middle school students for a number of years at the Brown School before joining The Hawn Foundation as its first full-time Director of Education and Strategic Partnerships. As Director, he conducted scores of professional development workshops on four continents and gave many public lectures on SEL and the neuroscience of learning. In January 2013, Marc joined Success Academy Charter School Network to design its first high school and then served as founding principal. He has also worked as an educational consultant to many schools in New York, Texas, California, Colorado, and Vermont.
Episode 6 - Nicole Smith
Nicole Lavonne Smith resides in Brooklyn with her son and fiancé. Currently the Restorative Justice Coordinator at Science Skills Center High School in downtown Brooklyn, Nicole is an educator and writer who advocates for racial and social justice, and culturally relevant education for students of color in underserved communities. Nicole believes that the purpose of an educator is to aid students in finding their voices and realizing their value both as individuals and global citizens. Nicole holds a Master in Urban Planning with a focus on International Development from New York University, and a Bachelor in Psychology from Howard University. Nicole has a passion for travel, discount fashion, succulent food, and writing creative nonfiction and essays. Check her out at www.nicolelavonnesmith.com and www.closetnoggin.com.
Episode 7 - Jesse Pais
Jesse Pais has been the Dean of Students at New Design High School, located in the Lower East Side of NYC, for the last thirteen years. Jesse, who was born in Brooklyn, has established his identity in NYC by mentoring members of his community. In high school, Jesse began his humble journey by working as a recreation counselor in an after school program called the Greenwich Village Youth Council (GVYC). This aided his transition into a larger role with the program where he advised the youth in drug prevention and utilized sports to keep kids out of trouble. Aside from the logistical aspects of his work, Jesse has curated a number of events that reflect his urban background such as “Rooftop Legends” -- a fundraiser that features numerous graffiti and street artists’ work on the rooftop of New Design. As a youth, Jesse was involved with graffiti which sparked his need to preserve the art form and provide a safe and legal outlet for the community to express itself. Rooftop Legends, established in 2007, started with predominantly NYC artists but has grown into an international affair that takes place annually with the help of long time friend, DJ Enuff, from Hot 97. Jesse’s strong roots in New York City culture help fuel his passion for youth development.