Our Staff

Leadership Team

Heads of school

Emily Carson, Head of School for Academics

Emily is the point person for academics and the leader who ensures instruction is joyful and rigorous. She oversees how curriculum is being implemented, what is happening in classroom, and supports the staff’s professional development. Emily works closely to support and coach the academic deans, the SPED Coordinator, the social workers, and the third-grade team. 

Emily is the middle child of seven kids and grew up on the Gulf Coast. She’s a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education. Prior to joining the team at Harlem Hebrew, Emily worked at a district school in the Bronx, a charter school in Brooklyn, and she spent two summers teaching English in Israel. She’s passionate about historical education, creating diverse spaces, and helping teachers be their best selves for kids and families. She’s also currently in Beginner Bet in Hebrew Classes, and she’s committing to learning and growing alongside the kids. 

Contact Emily: ecarson@harlemhebrewcharter.org

Jason Epting, Head of School for Community and Operations

Jason’s role is to oversee operations and community engagement for Harlem Hebrew. He ensures that the systems and communication to families is clear and concise. He also supports the day to day operations of the building so that teachers and students can concentrate on their learning. Jason is focusing on building community partnerships to increase the value and experience to those at Harlem Hebrew. He works closely to support school culture, Pre-K and Kindergarten programming.

Jason is a husband and a father of eight children. He resides in the South Bronx. He grew up in Nebraska where he graduated from the University of Nebraska in the field of elementary education. He has been in education for the past 22 years. Jason is passionate about developing teachers and building school cultures that feel like a family.

Contact Jason: jepting@harlemhebrewcharter.org

 Deans of Culture 

Taharah Smalls

Taharah is an essential part of the leadership team and is responsible for working closely with students, teachers, and families to help shape and sustain a positive school culture that promotes academic and character growth.

Taharah has an extensive and diverse background in the social service field. Prior to taking on her role in our school, Taharah worked several years as Lead Behavior Specialist in a residential school for children and young adults with various disabilities. Additionally, Taharah has provided school-based and in-home counseling to support students having difficulties that interfere with learning. Utilizing a family-centered approach to designing and implementing the student’s program, Taharah worked with students individually as well as within small groups to promote social and emotional development.  Taharah is a graduate of The College of New Rochelle with a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, but more importantly, Taharah is committed to the flexibility and time students need in order to build a strong relationship based on empathy and trust. 

Taharah looks forward with great enthusiasm to another year of partnership with the Harlem Hebrew family!

Contact Taharah: tsmalls@harlemhebrewcharter.org

Jose Silva

The Dean of Culture is a key member of the school’s leadership team who actively supports students, families, and staff members on how to build and maintain a positive school culture in support of rigorous academic and artistic inquiry. Jose supports student discipline systems and works to nurture families as partners in their child’s education. Jose helps craft and manage systems to reinforce explicit and high behavioral expectations for students, families, and staff by ensuring fidelity to the Harlem Hebrew Handbook, Family Handbook, and Staff Handbook through clear and frequent communication. This will be his third year at Harlem Hebrew and it is his esteem honor to support all the students, educators, and families at the school.

Jose is a United States Navy Veteran. He started at Harlem Hebrew as a paraprofessional, and then supported one of our Kindergarten classrooms as a Teachers Assistant. His passion for working with children continues to take shape as he spends his weekends working with children with developmental disabilities at a Camp for Children with special needs. He looks forward to building a future together here at Harlem Hebrew.

Contact Jose: Jsilva@HarlemHebrewCharter.org

Academic Dean of Hebrew

Alona Mor

Alona works with the Hebrew and the specials teams (music, art, dance and PE) to support the areas of language instruction and the arts at school. She works alongside these wonderful professionals to ensure that our students’ days are filled with joy and play-based learning. In Hebrew, we are focused on creating the best conditions to support students’ acquisition of Hebrew. In Specials, we are creating spaces where students can experience themselves as artists, musicians, athletes and dancers and where they learn about different cultures, perspectives and artists around the world.

Alona is the middle child of five and grew up in Jerusalem, where she spent most of her time playing outside barefoot. She graduated from Hunter College with a Master’s Degree in education. Alona is a member of the founding leadership team at Harlem Hebrew – a privilege she is forever thankful for. Alona is passionate about the Hebrew language, about play-based learning, and about growing alongside the amazing people she is fortunate to call colleagues. 

Contact Alona: amor@harlemhebrewcharter.org

SPED Coordinator

Rikki Cohen

Rikki is the point person for special education and intervention. She collaborates with teachers, staff and families to ensure the needs of our students are being met. She is deeply committed to working as a team to ensure a successful year!

Rikki is an only child who has always been passionate about education.  She received a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Rhode Island. She then went on to receive two Master Degrees from Hofstra University in general education and in special education.  Before becoming the SPED coordinator at Harlem Hebrew, she was a second-grade teacher in our school. Prior to joining Harlem Hebrew, she has had experience in different general education and special education classroom settings. She is excited to continue her career in a new role!

Contact Rikki: rcohen@harlemhebrewcharter.org

Director of Operations

Ursula Vercain

Ursula is the Director of Operations. She oversees the function of the school building and systems to support our teachers, students and families. Ursula oversees the Operations department that communicates with the Hebrew Public network and with our families. She is passionate about clear systems that make Harlem Hebrew the best place for all those in our community of learners.

Contact Ursula: uvercain@harlemhebrewcharter.org

Social Workers

Coco Faiella (pre-K - 3rd grade)

Coco is part of the Student Success and Mental Health Teams. She runs individual and group counseling sessions. Coco collaborates with teachers, staff, and families to ensure the best support for our students.

Coco graduated from UCLA with a major in Psychology and a minor in Applied Developmental Psychology, where she completed field work at UCLA’s Infant Development Centers. Coco earned her Master’s of Social Work from Columbia University where she focused her studies on family, youth, and children, with a special concentration in play therapy techniques. Coco enjoyed being an intern at Harlem Hebrew during the first year of her Master’s program and is thrilled to be back as a Student Success team member! Coco is deeply committed to the emotional, social, and physical well-being of all children and looks forward to connecting with children, caregivers, staff, and all involved in ensuring positive development and growth.

Contact Coco: cfaiella@harlemhebrewcharter.org

Mimi Ogawa-Spigland (4th - 7th grade)

As a licensed Clinical Social Worker, Mimi is dedicated to enhancing students’ emotional well-being and to improving their academic performance. Mimi oversees our Mental Health Team and is the point person for students in grades 4 to 7. Mimi provides mental health assessments of the students and offers individual and group counseling. Mimi is honored and thrilled to take part in building an inspiring, supportive and high-achieving school community with all that are involved in our students’ lives.

Mimi is a first-generation immigrant from Japan. She was raised in Tokyo and came on her own to New York City. Before Mimi got her degree in Social Work from Fordham Graduate School of Social Service, she worked in the entertainment field. As a Social Worker, Mimi has worked for nearly 8 years with children ages 0 to 18 and their families throughout the five boroughs. Mimi has received numerous trainings and practiced therapy models such as Trauma Therapy and Mindfulness-based Psychotherapy. Mimi is passionate about inspiring students to realize their full potential and giving them opportunities to learn skills that will help them become global citizens and compassionate individuals who have a positive influence on their communities. With Mimi’s personal connection to Israel (her in-laws are originally from Israel), she is excited to promote Harlem Hebrew’s mission of teaching Modern Hebrew to a diverse population of children.  

Contact Mimi: MOSpigland@harlemhebrewcharter.org

Preschool

Amirim

Nydia Perez

Tracey Cohen - Assistant

Kindergarten

Yerushalayim K-11

Alliyah Trimm

Zoe Piascik

Tyshawn Dinkins

Haifa K-12

Carly Koress

Asia Beacrucis

Tel Aviv K-13

Jared Waters

Jeneva Anderson

First Grade

Beer Sheva 1-101

Dana Nassau

Eilat 1-102

Rebecca Corrigan

Karen Keller

Second Grade

Herziliya 2-201

Ashanti Bennett

Tara McHugh

Tveriyah 2-202

Donna Capasso

Third Grade

Yafo 3-311

Melissa Zhu - General Education

Jaisha Tavares - Special Education

Tsfat 3-304

Taryn Wrotney - General Education

Molly Dickman - Special Education

Nahariyah 3-303

Julie Lamberti - General Education

Fourth Grade

Rehovot 4-400

Stephanie Vedral - General Education

Nicole Angrisani - Special Education

Binyamina 4-401

Carla Aviles- General Education

Amara Ndudikwa - Special Education

Akko 4-404

Amber Danner- General Education

Fifth Grade

Ra’anana 5-500

Elizabeth Sanchez - General Education

Caitlyn Gobel

Ashdod 5-501

Brielle Lipstein - General Education

Emily Shelton - Special Education

Sixth Grade

Givatayim 6-503

Dina Duval - General Education

Audrey Vogel- Special Education

Holon 6-504

Terrell Travis - General Education

Seventh Grade

Tiffany Collier - General Education

Vicky Patlias - Math & Science Teacher

Gabe Davidson- Special Education

Hebrew Teachers

Elana Weinberg

Rivka Kisling

Abev Asamain

Adi Azouzout

Hirut Yosef

Yakov Gross

Seth Abramson

David Wocker

Yris Billia

Specialists

Art

Marissa Kaplan

Physical Education

Ron Rowland

Music

Sean Mcluskey

Dance

Kenya Gibson

ELL

Jenny Vincent

Morgan Benson

Deans of Culture

Jose Silva

Taharah Smalls

Reading Interventionist

Sofie Feinstein

Jen Lake

Operations

Office Manager

Janice Smith

Finance Associate

Charita Whitaker

Operations Associates

Meral Kathwari

Nzingha Ewadi

Marcelina Rodriguez