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The Harrison Central School District Welcomes
New Administrators & Teachers

District Office

Jennifer Toscano, Director of Special Education & Support Services

I am honored and excited to serve as the Director of Special Education and Support Services. Over the past eight years, I have had the privilege of working with numerous students, families, and staff throughout the school district. I take great pride in the work that we have done (and continue to do) as a special education department and as a district to ensure that all of our students have the support that they need to be successful.

This past school year, Ms. Toscano served as the Interim Director of Special Education and Support Services, and effective July 1, 2023, Ms. Jennifer Toscano was promoted to become the Director of Special Education and Support Services.  

For seven years, Ms. Toscano served as Harrison’s Supervisor of Elementary Special Education, providing expert leadership to steward the K-5 special education program.  In this leadership role, Ms. Toscano has refined the continuum of special education services provided to students and expanded summer offerings, designed and delivered professional development to support research-based best practices, and partnered with parents and service providers to ensure a comprehensive approach to supporting students’ needs.  Ms. Toscano is a dedicated advocate for students, working with teachers, principals, and parents to ensure that students benefit from highly personalized programs in the least restrictive environment possible. Under her leadership, the special education programs offered by the District are expressly designed to not only meet students’ IEP goals, but also to prepare them for the most rigorous program of study possible as participants in the International Baccalaureate program.

Before coming to Harrison in 2015, Ms. Toscano’s leadership experience included serving for seven years as the assistant principal of P.S. 20, the Anna Silver School, in lower Manhattan.  In this role, Ms. Toscano supervised the special education services for a school serving 635 students in grades pre-kindergarten through five.  Ms. Toscano was instrumental in the school’s initiative to expand the special education continuum of services so that students with special needs could be more effectively served in inclusive settings.  In partnership with classroom teachers, Ms. Toscano led the Academic Intervention Team, the Pupil Personnel Committee, the Behavioral Intervention Team, the 21st Century After School Program, and the Title III Saturday Academy, providing a comprehensive network of coordinated services for students. Ms. Toscano was also instrumental in developing a Mandarin Dual Language program at the school. Ms. Toscano was selected to participate in New York City’s Teacher Leadership Program and Assistant Principals Institute. She is also a graduate of the New York City Leadership Academy. Prior to her role as assistant principal, Ms. Toscano served as an elementary special education teacher and academic intervention services teacher in New York City.  She also has experience as a trainer at an elementary school in Brooklyn that specializes in serving students with autism. 

Ms. Toscano graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in management from Manhattanville College, an M.A. in elementary special education from Mercy College, and a second M.A. in educational leadership from the City University of New York/Baruch College.



Shannon Cipolla, Supervisor of Elementary Special Education

After serving as a special education teacher in the district for seven years, I’ve worked alongside the most dedicated, compassionate educators and supportive administrators who have shown me the way to transformational leadership. Most importantly, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with students who have truly changed my life with their smiles and joy of learning. Every student I’ve worked with holds a special place in my heart. My goal is to continue to impact the lives of our students through my dedication to the core values of our district.

This past school year, Ms. Cipolla served as the Interim Supervisor of Elementary Special Education, and effective July 1, 2023, Ms. Cipolla was promoted to become the Supervisor of Elementary Special Education.

Mrs. Cipolla began her teaching career in Harrison as a special co-education teacher at the Purchase School in 2015.  In this role she developed her capacity as an instructional expert, partnering with classroom teachers to implement instructional interventions to support special education and general education students.  Mrs. Cipolla also served as a case manager for special education students, helping them to meet their IEP goals and communicating with parents to support students’ learning at home and at school.  In 2019, Mrs. Cipolla became a resource room teacher at Purchase School, conducting initial testing for students referred for special education services, providing consultant teacher services to special education students and their classroom teachers, and collecting student achievement data to report on student progress toward meeting IEP goals.  In 2020, Mrs. Cipolla was selected by the Superintendent of Schools to enroll in the Bank Street College Future School Leaders Academy.  Through this leadership program, Mrs. Cipolla has chaired Committee on Special Education meetings, developed and implemented professional development for teachers in best practices related to special education, and served as a Response to Intervention team member to identify and evaluate instructional strategies to support struggling students.  Through these experiences, Mrs. Cipolla has demonstrated her deep knowledge of teaching and learning, a strong commitment to advocating for students and their learning needs, and her willingness to partner with parents and colleagues to support student success.  

Mrs. Cipolla earned a B.A. in counseling and human development from the University of Scranton and a M.A. in education from Mercy College.  Mrs. Cipolla has also completed a second master’s degree in educational leadership from the Bank Street College Future School Leaders Academy.  



Robert Geras, Director of Facilities & Operations

It is my privilege to join the Harrison Central School District team. Over the years, I have heard wonderful things about Harrison’s leadership, teachers and high achieving students.  I am committed to maximizing the use of facilities and capital project resources to foster the optimal learning environment for our students.  I look forward to working with and assisting everyone in the District.

Mr. Robert Geras joined the Harrison Central School District as the Director of Facilities and Operations effective August 21, 2023.  In a career spanning over 30 years of experience, Mr. Geras brings extensive prior leadership and technical expertise to this role.  He has served as the Director of Facilities in the Huntington Union Free School District and as the Director of Facilities and Business in Elmont Union Free School District.  He more recently served as the Assistant Superintendent for Business and Facilities in the Hempstead Union Free School District, as the Director of Facilities and Campus Operations at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Campus, and as the Interim Director of Facilities in the East Meadow Union Free School District.  

In addition to possessing expert knowledge in the safe and efficient operations of school facilities, Mr. Geras is an expert at managing capital projects, having led comprehensive, multi-million dollar renovations and the construction of new schools in several school districts, which required him to coordinate the work of architects, construction managers, contractors and the New York State Education Department approval process for capital projects.  He has also helped to steward a $12,000,000 energy performance contract to improve operational efficiency and a $4,000,000 smart bond to upgrade the technical infrastructure of schools where he has worked.  Mr. Geras understands how important the design and maintenance of facilities are to the teaching and learning that occurs in schools, and the District is pleased to add his expertise to our exceptional facilities team.

Mr. Geras holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a master’s degree in Energy Management from the New York Institute of Technology.  He also holds a certificate of advanced studies in Educational Administration from Long Island University and holds NYSED certification as a School District Administrator.



Harrison High School

Maria Pace, Harrison High School Assistant Principal

I am grateful for the opportunity to be working in the Harrison Central School District with its commitment to providing the highest quality education possible to all of its students. I look forward to working with, and learning from, a dedicated and talented group of educators.

Ms. Pace joined the leadership team of Harrison High School as the new Assistant Principal on August 21, 2023.  Ms. Pace brings extensive experience as a classroom teacher and educational leader to Harrison High School.  For the past eighteen years, Ms. Pace has served as a science teacher in the Yorktown Central School District, where she taught Biology, Anatomy, & Physiology, Science Research, Science Discovery, and General Chemistry.  For the past three years, Ms. Pace has also served as the Teacher Leader for the science department, which is nationally recognized for the success of its students in the science research program.  In this leadership role, Ms. Pace coordinated departmental professional development for the implementation of state and national science standards, developed professional learning communities within each science discipline to prepare for the implementation of new learning standards, and collaborated with the district supervisor of the STEM program to promote the integration of science, math and technology.  

As part of her leadership training, Ms. Pace completed a school and district internship program in Yorktown where she served on the Building and District Emergency Response Teams, the Yorktown High School Grading Committee, and the Yorktown Congress of Teachers Scholarship Committee.  Ms. Pace has extensive experience developing curriculum in science and in conjunction with other departments, including collaboration with the special education department to align science curriculum with students’ learning needs and the guidance department to promote social and emotional well being of students.  

Ms. Pace holds a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and a master’s degree in adolescent education from Pace University.  She also holds a certificate of advanced study in educational leadership from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.



Anna Abalyan, Social Studies

I am excited to join a vibrant learning community and district that values student growth.

Ms. Abalyan graduated Cum Laude from the University of Connecticut and continued her education at Teachers College, Columbia University where she earned master’s degree in Social Studies, and Hunter College where she holds a second master’s degree in Educational Leadership. She has extensive experience as a Social Studies teacher, and most recently taught U.S. History and Government, Sociology, and Economics at North Rockland High School.  Throughout her teaching career, Ms. Abalyan has taught in co-teaching classrooms and served on instructional leadership and professional learning teams.




Roger Adams, Special Education

I will implement a variety of teaching strategies and materials to meet diverse learning styles and abilities…and provide every student with an opportunity to succeed.

Mr. Adams holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from State University of New York, Albany, a MBA from Dominican College and master's degree in Adolescent Special Education from Lehman College. After starting his career in banking, Mr. Adams changed careers to become an educator.  After pursuing a second master's degree in education, Mr. Adams most recently served as a special education co-teacher at World View High School in the Bronx, where he taught English, science and social studies.




Samantha Clewell, School Psychologist

Adaptability is one of Harrison's core values that I will integrate…As a school psychologist adapting and being able to adjust to changes within the environment is essential to my work.

Ms. Clewell holds a bachelor's degree in Behavioral Science and a master's degree in School Psychology from Mercy College, where she was recognized for academic achievement with membership in the Psi Chi and Pi Gamma Mu Honor Societies. Ms. Clewell holds multiple certifications, including New York State certification as a School Psychologist.  Ms. Clewell previously worked in New City, and she served as a long-term substitute school psychologist in Harrison during the 2022-23 school year.




Samantha Cohen, English as a New Language Teacher

Harrison sustains opportunities to use differentiated learning strategies which creates room for all students to be exposed to a uniquely rigorous, creative and engaging learning environment.

Ms. Cohen graduated from Hofstra University with a bachelor's degree in Sociology/Psychology, and she earned a master's degree in TESOL Education from the University of Southern California.  Ms. Cohen is currently completing certification in K-8 general education at Pace University. She previously worked as a teaching assistant, and most recently served as an 8th grade long-term substitute ENL teacher at the Louis M. Klein Middle School.




Daniel Johnson, Social Studies

I am excited to teach at Harrison and integrate and empower the voices of all students in the classroom.

Mr. Johnson holds dual certification as a Social Studies teacher and Special Educator. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master of professional studies degree in Social Studies and Special Education from Manhattanville College. Mr. Johnson brings experience in developing skills-based projects to maximize student engagement. He served as a lead teacher in a co-taught classroom at the New Visions Advanced Math and Sciences School in the Bronx.



Louis M. Klein Middle School


Joseph Canonaco Social Studies

I am excited to join a learning community that cares about the growth and development of both students and staff.

Mr. Canonaco earned a bachelor’s degree in Adolescence Education with a concentration in Social Studies from the State University of New York, Oneonta, and master's degree in Education, Digital Age Learning and Educational Technology from Johns Hopkins University.  He currently is completing a second master’s degree in American History at Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History at Gettysburg College. Mr. Canonaco has worked as a teaching assistant at Briarcliff Middle School and most recently taught 7th grade Social Studies at Isobel Rooney Middle School in the Bronx.



Michele Getselevich, Mathematics

I will integrate access into my classroom by differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all my students so they can learn, grow, and be successful.

Ms. Getselevich will serve as a long-term substitute Mathematics teacher for the 2023-24 school year.  She at graduated Cum Laude from Fordham University with a double major in Mathematics and Anthropology.  She also earned a master’s degree from the Fordham University Graduate School of Education.  Ms. Getselevich previously worked as a teacher in the New Rochelle, White Plains and Eastchester school districts. 



Laurie Griffo, Mathematics

I embed our core values in my practice by getting to know my students and designing lessons that consider where they are in their learning so they can access the new content through multiple entry points.

Ms. Griffo returns to LMK Middle School after serving as the Assistant Principal at Harrison High School for the past 10 years. Ms. Griffo, who previously taught middle school mathematics at LMK, is excited to return to the LMK classroom and is grateful to work in a district where she has been able to follow her passions with the same encouragement and support provided to students.  As a teacher, Ms. Griffo was instrumental as a member of the middle school math department, which has achieved the distinction of making Regents Algebra accessible to all 8th grade students.




Melinda Popiel Kashin, Spanish 

I am excited about the MYP IB program and the district's commitment to academic rigor and learning.

Ms. Popiel Kashin holds a bachelor’s degree Spanish from the State University New York, Oswego and a master's degree in Spanish from Teachers College, Columbia University.  She joins the LMK faculty with extensive experience teaching Spanish in a variety of instructional environments, most recently at the Elizabeth Morrow School in Englewood, NJ and at the Whitby School in Greenwich, where she received training in the International Baccalaureate program.



Sophia Koukoulas, Music

Music is about working as a team to create a story we harmoniously weave together and I am excited to help foster that with young musicians in Harrison.

Ms. Koukoulas earned a bachelor’s in Music Education and master’s in Music Teaching and Learning from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.  She most recently served as the Band Director/General Music Teacher at New City Elementary School and Pit Orchestra Director at Clarkstown High School North. Ms. Koukoulas has a broad range of performance experience as a pianist, flutist and vocalist. 




Tessa Miranda, English as a New Language

It is my aim to integrate Harrison's core value of adaptability into my classroom by ensuring English language learners feel comfortable and encouraged to take risks.

Ms. Miranda will serve as a long-term substitute ENL teacher during the 2023-24 school year.  She earned a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Spanish and a master's degree in Second Language Education/TESOL from the State University of New York, New Paltz. She holds New York State Professional Certification in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and most recently served as an ENL Teacher in the Liberty Central School District in Liberty, NY.




Georgina Olsen, Special Education

Adaptability is important in the classroom…it is crucial to be adaptive and accommodating to our students' needs.

Ms. Olsen served as a long-term substitute special education teacher at the Louis M. Klein Middle School last year, and she returns as a probationary special education teacher this year.  She graduated from the City College of New York with a bachelor's degree in Psychology and earned a master’s degree in Education from Long Island University. She has taught in both self-contained and co-teaching classrooms, and most recently worked at Manhasset Middle School. Ms. Olsen speaks both Spanish and French fluently.




Melissa Rowan, Science

I am looking forward to being part of Harrison's inclusive learning community where all students are given access to rigorous, meaningful learning experiences.

Ms. Rowan earned a bachelor's degree in General Biology from Iona College, where she also received the Biology Department Baccalaureate Award and a four-year Heritage Scholarship.  She holds a master’s degree in Adolescent Biology Education from Hunter College and is a member of the Beta Beta Beta Biology Honor Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success. Ms. Rowan has worked as a summer school Biology teacher in Harrison and recently taught middle school Earth Science at the Park City Prep Charter School in Bridgeport, Connecticut.



Jenna Skurnick, Guidance

I am drawn to Harrison’s student-focused model... my purpose as a counselor is for no student to feel that they are a number in a crowd - they are to be valued as individuals.

Ms. Skurnick graduated from State University of New York, Cortland with a bachelor's degree in Sociology and from Mercy College with a master's degree in School Counseling. Last year she served as a leave replacement counselor at the Louis M. Klein Middle School, and her prior experience includes working as a school counselor in Liberty, NY.  Ms. Skurnick is also a member of the Pi Gamma Mu National Honor Society for Social Sciences.



Alexandra Vlahakis, Social Studies

I am excited to apply and uphold the principles of access, equity and help foster the development of well-rounded, high-achieving students.

Ms. Vlahakis earned both a bachelor’s degree in Political Science (Summa Cum Laude) and a master’s degree in Teaching Social Studies from Stony Brook University. She has taught at both the middle and high school levels, where she provided responsive instruction to students at various proficiency and skill levels while fostering a student centered learning environment. Ms. Vlahakis also is an adjunct professor in the LIU Post Economics Department.



Parsons Memorial Elementary School

Samantha Colitto, Elementary

I am excited to be a part of a community where collaboration and professional development are valued.

Ms. Colitto will serve as a long-term substitute teacher at the Parsons Memorial Elementary School this year.  She graduated on the Dean's List from Pace University with a bachelor's degree in early childhood and childhood education and a master's degree in literacy.  Ms. Colitto recently served as a permanent substitute at William B. Ward Elementary School in New Rochelle, where she also completed her student teaching as a literacy specialist and 1st and 5th grade teacher. 



Nina Glodstein, Music

Adaptability greatly influences my classroom practices and procedures - it's my job to meet each student where they are so that they can actively participate, add to their skills, and build their confidence.

Ms. Glodstein earned a bachelor’s degree Magna Cum Laude from State University of New York, Geneseo with a major in Vocal Performance and minor in Communication, and a master's degree in Music Education from Nazareth College of Rochester, where she received the Elementary General Music Award and the Graduate Excellence Award in Music Education. She has experience teaching students of all ages and has a broad range of performance experience. Ms Glodstein most recently taught in the Joseph Henry Elementary School in the Galway Central School District.



Amanda Mavaro, Elementary

I believe it is important to create a welcoming learning environment where students have the freedom to explore and express their ideas that will provide them with a love for lifelong learning.

Ms. Mavaro graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education and went on to earn a master's degree in Literacy Studies from Lehman College. She has served as a reading instructor at Lehman College and as a pre-kindergarten teacher and assistant education director in a preschool program in Astoria, Queens.  Ms. Mavaro also taught English to students in Peru and Thailand.



Raina Mehlman, Elementary

Adaptability is critical…offering students different ways to learn we ensure all students have an opportunity to succeed.

Ms. Mehlman holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications and a master’s degree in Education from New York University. She has worked as an elementary teacher to create and foster an engaging environment to support and motivate students, most recently at Seely Elementary School in Edgemont and at PS 69 in the Bronx.  She also has experience as a grade-level leader, helping to refine curriculum and lessons for elementary students.



Melissa Noble, Academic Intervention Services

Harrison is a place where students get a great education, teachers meet them where they are, and together they build confident and skillful thinkers.

Ms. Noble graduated with a bachelor's degree in Sociology Magna Cum Laude from Lehman College and a master's degree in Literacy Education from Hunter College, where she also earned an Advanced Certificate in TESOL. She also holds multiple professional certifications in early childhood and literacy education. Ms. Noble has served as a classroom teacher and academic intervention educator at the Bronx Little School.



Lindsey Velez, Elementary

I will get to know all of my students’ strengths and areas of growth to provide them with the tools they need for success.

Ms. Velez earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, and she holds certification in English as a Second Language.  She also earned a master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Delaware, where she also received the University Provost Scholarship. She is New York State Certified in Elementary Education and English as a Second Language. Ms. Velez has taught students at both the elementary and middle school levels.



Harrison Avenue Elementary School

Faith Ciavarella, Music

I admire the Harrison school community's dedication to promoting a supportive and inclusive learning environment that elevates both academic and creative success.

Ms. Ciavarella earned a bachelor's degree in Music Education from Florida State University where she was a member of the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, and she received the Garnet and Gold Society Award for excellence within and beyond the classroom. She also holds a master’s degree in Education from Johns Hopkins University. Ms. Ciavarella brings experience adapting teaching methods to student needs to create a student-centered learning environment.



Brianna Feldman, Special Education

Through personalized support, differentiated instruction, and fostering an inclusive environment, I will create a classroom where every student has the chance to succeed and reach their full potential.

Ms. Feldman earned a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from Manhattan College and a master's degree in Curriculum Instruction and Design from Southern New Hampshire University. She is experienced in adapting curriculum materials and utilizing strategies to engage and support students with diverse learning needs. Most recently, Ms. Feldman taught at PS/MS 206 in New York City.



Erin Murray, Special Education

I will strive to integrate the core value of access into my classroom practice…and be an advocate for my students to help them receive access to the supports that they require.

Ms. Murray earned a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Hood College and a master's degree in Early Childhood Education from St. Joseph’s College. She has worked with students in multiple learning environments and developed strategies to support students in reaching learning goals. Ms. Murray worked as a member of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, where she received the Congressional Bronze Medal and the Presidential Silver Medal.



Steven Veteri, Physical Education

I am excited to have the opportunity to teach in Harrison...and to start my career in a district that values their teachers.

Mr. Veteri earned his undergraduate in Physical Education from the State University of New York, Cortland. He completed his field experience as a student teacher at the Louis M. Klein Middle School, and he served as a substitute teacher in Harrison during the 2022-23 school year.  Mr. Veteri also serves a coach in lacrosse and football at the varsity, junior varsity, and club levels.



Purchase Elementary School

Paige Jockimo, Special Education

I am excited to be part of a district that emphasizes adaptability and will use this core value to create lessons and experiences that honor students' individual strengths, weaknesses, and interests to create a positive learning experience.

Ms. Jockimo graduated from Manhattanville College with a bachelor’s degree in History and master’s degree in Childhood Education, Childhood Special Education, Secondary Students with Disabilities. She has developed differentiated lessons for diverse student needs and supported students from multiple age groups and in a variety of academic environments.



Joan Kain, Elementary

Rigor is a core value that I will integrate into my classroom by meeting my students where they are and guiding them forward.

Ms. Kain joins Harrison having taught first grade in the Greenburgh Central School District, where she also served as a mentor and curriculum writer.  Ms. Kain earned a bachelor's degree in Education Studies from Catholic University of America and a master's degree in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education from College of New Rochelle.  She also taught first grade at P.S. 20 George J. Werdan III School in New York City.



Samantha Mayer, Elementary

Learning about the District's core values excited me about teaching in Harrison and challenging students  to reach their highest potential across all academic components and social interactions.

Ms. Mayer earned her bachelor's degree (Cum Laude) in Childhood Education with a concentration in Social Sciences from State University of New York, Cortland, and master’s degree in Childhood Education and Special Education from Touro College.  Ms. Mayer previously taught at the Success Academy Charter School where she also served as a team leader and mentor.



Marisa Petrosino, Elementary

I plan to integrate the core value of adaptability during planning and preparation in all content areas to help my students grow.

Ms. Petrosino holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Iona College and a master’s degree in Childhood and Special Education from Manhattanville College.  She is an experienced educator in both general education and co-teaching classrooms, most recently at the Osborn Elementary School in Rye.  She also has experience as a 4th grade teacher and special educator in the Mount Vernon City School District.