Our faculty is a group of dedicated, experienced educators who work together to bring a well-rounded, rigorous education to all children who attend the Boston Teachers Union School.
Erica Welch, M. Ed. Is the fifth grade teacher at BTU School. Erica is a Massachusetts native, born and raised on the north shore. Erica received her undergraduate degree in psychology at Suffolk University. She became immersed into Boston Public Schools during her volunteer hours as a tutor at a SquashBusters, an afterschool program in Roxbury, and her community relations internship with the Boston Celtics. It was after these experiences that she decided to join the BPS community. She completed the Boston Teacher Residency Program this past year. Erica obtained her Master’s Degree from UMASS Boston, while at the same time teaching third grade at the Mason Inclusion School in Roxbury. Erica loves to spend time with her family, travel, cook, read, and watch basketball. She has a passion for teaching and believes it is important for students to embark on a journey of life-long learning.
Jasmine Acevedo M.Ed, Second Grade. Jasmine received her B.A. in Psychology from Boston College, and her M. Ed in Elementary Education from the University of Massachusetts in Boston. After she graduated from Boston College, Jasmine served as a community officer with the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration in Massachusetts. While working there, she studied the learning gap that exists in Massachusetts and decided to become a teacher to make a positive change in the lives of the children in Boston. Jasmine began her teaching career with Boston Teacher Residency in 2004. Her placement school was the Mason School in Roxbury. There, she co-taught a first grade inclusion classroom. Jasmine served as a first grade teacher at the Lee Academy Pilot School in Dorchester for four years. At the Lee Academy, she served as the Math Facilitator, a member of the Instructional Leadership Team as well as the Governing Board. For two years, Jasmine taught first grade at the Boston Teachers Union Pilot School in Jamaica Plain. Last year, she taught second grade at the BTU School. There, she has served on the Literacy Leadership team, the Writing Committee, and on a number of Hiring teams. She has also led faculty trainings around Behavior Protocols and Classroom Management. Jasmine has mentored student teachers from Wheelock and Simmons College. Currently, Jasmine is pursuing a degree in Educational Leadership at Simmons College. She aspires to continue working in a Boston Public School that fosters the values of diversity, equity and justice. Jasmine was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where many members of her family reside. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and her dogs. Jasmine is committed to educating the students in her classroom and creating strong relationships that celebrate culture and identity.
Berta Rosa Berriz Ed.D. Co-Lead Teacher Lower School. Berta was born in La Habana, Cuba and entered third grade at a parochial school in Philadelphia where “becoming an American” meant surrendering ties to family remaining on the island, her language, culture – even the correct pronunciation of her name: Beh-errrr-tah – er-r-r-ray… como barril or ferrocarril… Her full name, Berta Rosa de la Caridad Berriz Miró Molina Camejo, proudly clebrates rootedness in the rich culture and history of her native Cuba. And, as a result of this childhood upheaval, Ms. Berriz is driven by an accute awareness of the significance of family and community, which has figured prominently in her subsequent life choices.
Today, Berriz is a National Board Certified (2006) bilingual teacher, a member of the national faculty at Lesley University, a published writer, dancer, and storyteller. She earned her doctorate from Harvard Graduate School of Education (2005) for her study of the cultural identity of Puerto Rican and Dominican second-generation students, and teachers’ assessments of their students’ academic performance. Berriz was also named a Massachusetts Teacher Scholar (1992). As teacher scholar she researched the folktales and storytelling of the Spanish and English speaking Caribbean cultures. In parternship the Beth Handman, Berriz was awarded a Lucretia Crocker Fellowship–TEAMSTREAM (1990) for integrating students with special needs with advance work students and curriculum using team teaching, thematic education, cooperative learning and integrated cultural arts. Handmand and Berriz seeded the work of the O’Hearn school through a year-long implementation support of the TEAMSTREAM model.
And after a long and varied career as classroom teacher, teacher coach, and lead teacher, Berriz is currently building “community” among teachers, students and parents as Co-lead Teacher for the lower-school at the Boston Teachers’ Union School, an innovative, teacher-run, K-8 pilot public school in the Forest Hills section of Jamaica Plain.
Anticipating more time to play, Berriz is looking forward to her next career moves as textile and glass artist, part-time teacher and mentor of new teachers, and full-time “Abuelita Tita,” to her grandaughters, Naja Zahara and Adena Caridad.
Danladi Bobbitt M.Ed. First Grade. He graduated from Wheelock College majoring in Human Development concentrating in Elementary Education with a minor in Special Education. After graduating from Wheelock College, he began his teaching career in Boston Public School system working with children and families from a variety of backgrounds. Two years after teaching Danladi received his Masters degree in Educational Leadership from Simmons College. Danladi has been teaching in an urban setting for over ten years. He enjoys watching children grow as learners and become authentically creative. During his leisure time Danladi loves to spend time with his wife, son, family, and friends. He enjoys reading, singing, going to the beach and working out at the gym. One of his favorite sayings is “It takes a village.”
Laura Davila-Lynch M.S. is the visual arts teacher for the lower and upper schools. She is also a technology support teacher, and online communications specialist. Laura has taught visual arts in urban schools for 17 years. She earned a Bachelors degree in secondary visual arts education from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras. She completed her graduate studies in teacher leadership at Wheelock College, Boston. Laura has developed workshops for Boston teachers and leaders in the use of technology, best classroom practices, as well as, the importance and significance of arts in schools. Laura has worked in collaboration with student teachers from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, MassArt and Lesley. She shares a passion for teaching visual arts and creating her own works. She is an avid supporter of integrating technology in the classroom and exploring technology as a new media. In her personal time, she is a painter, jewelry designer, and proud mom of Isabel (12) and Jerry (13). Her artworks have been exhibited in Puerto Rico, North Carolina, and Boston.
Jennifer De Leon is the 7th/8th grade English Language Arts teacher. She brings ten years of experience to the BTU school, and she is thrilled to be sharing her passion for reading and writing with students and families. Prior to the BTU, Jennifer taught fourth grade in California, Creative Writing at UMASS Boston, and ESL & Creative Writing at Excel High School. She also worked as a college access counselor and as a Project ALERTA teacher at the Agassiz Elementary School. Jennifer earned an undergraduate degree in International Relations from Connecticut College, a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of San Francisco, and an MFA in Fiction from UMASS Boston. She loves languages (Spanish, French, Vietnamese), travel, and yoga. She is also a published author of short stories, essays, and poetry. Jennifer was born in Jamaica Plain, grew up in Framingham, and now lives in JP with her husband Adam and their dog Nina.
Joy De Palm. A descendant of the Sea Island Peoples of South Carolina, Mrs. De Palm is the Grade Six English/Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher. This year marks her 17th year as a public school educator. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, an HBCU. She attended City College in New York City, earning a Master of Science in Childhood Education. Her love for learning has led her to enrollment at Simmons College in the Educational Leadership Program.
Mrs. De Palm’s hobbies include cooking, spending time with her family and friends, and reading quotes. Currently, one of her favorite quotes from the Southern oral tradition is: How you gon’ have wings and not fly?
Betsy Drinan M.S. is the upper school lead teacher. Betsy has worked with young people in Boston for over 30 years. She began her career in the non-profit sector working in alternative education and youth services as a teacher and program manager. She started working in the Boston Public Schools 17 years ago as a middle school English teacher and later worked training and mentoring new teachers. Ms. Drinan was a participant on the design team that planned the Lilla Frederick Pilot School and served as a Board member there for 5 years. She received her Bachelor’s degree from UMass/Amherst, and her Master’s degree from UMass/Boston. She lives in Dorchester and is active in many community endeavors.
Christina Duke, Math Interventionist and Coach for the Lower School - I am very excited to join the BTU staff this year! I will be teaching math in the lower school for grades K – 5. Originally from Ocala, Florida, I have lived in the Boston area for 5 years now. I received my Bachelor’s and Masters Degrees in Special Education from Florida State University. I began my career at a wonderful school in Tallahassee, Fl, teaching a K-2nd grade class. Our focus was on including all students in a liberal arts education and nurturing environment. With that strong foundation, I spent three years teaching a 3rd - 5th grade class in East Boston, at the McKay School. During that time, I co-taught with a 4th grade teacher for science and social studies. Since then, I have been teaching 4th grade at the Blackstone School. Currently, I live in Cambridge with my two adorable dogs, Corby and Kali. I love reading, hiking, and kayaking. Also, I am attempting to master the many Southern recipes that have been passed down to me.
Chardas Freeman, M. Ed. Grades 7/8 Science. Chardas Freeman possess a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Masters in Education, and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Administration. I have taught science for six years in the Boston Public Schools District. I participate collaboratively in content areas needed to effectively teach science at the middle-high school level provided by Boston Science Partnership. I enjoy being active and to participate in tasks relating to the school’s activities beyond individual classroom responsibilities. I make it clear that I live by a creed in the classroom: fostering a learning environment underlying the importance of kids having high expectations of themselves, so THEY can have a strong and healthy vision for themselves.
Riana Good teaches Spanish to all grades. She has used Spanish in her four years teaching in the Boston Public Schools, as an environmental educator with the Peace Corps in Paraguay, as the Asst. Director of Adult Education at RI’s largest Latino social service agency, and as a community organizer with a primarily Spanish-speaking population in Providence. She received a BS in Neuroscience from Brown University and an MA from Boston College, where she was a Donovan Urban Fellow, Teachers for a New Era Fellow, and recipient of the Annie Ryder Memorial Fellowship. As a cyclist, swimmer, Reiki practitioner, and JourneyDance instructor, Riana incorporates her love of movement into the classroom, one of a variety of approaches for all scholars to access language and culture.
Marilyn Hernandez, Administrative Associate Teacher, Lower SchoolMy name is Marilyn Hernandez and I have been married for almost 21 years to an awesome man and have been blessed with 4 beautiful children. I have been a Paraprofessional for almost 6 years now. Before that I was a secretary for the Bilingual Literacy Department. I enjoy my job very much, and love working with children, I guess it comes with the territory being a mom. I am energetic person, and love helping those around me as much as I can. I am very excited to be a part of your community/family, and thank you for the opportunity in working with you!
Linda Lamm is the Math Intervention Specialist for grades 6, 7 and 8. She is originally from Long Island, N.Y. where she became interested in working with adolescents after volunteering for the Anchor Program for the disabled. She continued her studies at N.Y. State University at Plattsburgh where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education. After moving to Boston, Linda continued her education at Northeastern University where she obtained a Master’s in Special Education. She has been a Resource Room/Inclusion Specialist within the Stoneham and Brookline Public Schools and brings with her over 20 years of teaching experience. Linda incorporates hands-on activities, creative projects and real life connections into her math classroom. She has led workshops for teachers on differentiating instruction and has developed MCAS Prep after school programs for math. Linda was also the director for the drama program at Stoneham Middle School and enjoys giving students the opportunity to develop their talents in drama, dance and set design. She has a passion for animals, outdoor sports, fitness and most importantly, teaching!
Ellen Marshall M.Ed is the Upper School Learning Center Teacher at the BTU School. A native Bostonian, Ms. Marshall received her BA and M.Ed from Northeastern University and has taken courses at Dartmouth College, Boston State College, Eastern Nazarene College, Boston College and Framingham State College which uniquely prepare her for the exciting work of teaching in the Learning Center at the BTU School. Ms. Marshall began her career in the Boston Public Schools in 1984, teaching at the McKinley Technical High School in Mattapan. She then became an Evaluation Team Leader for 11 years, returning to the classroom in 1999 to teach in a substantially separate Learning Disabilities Class at the Edward Everett Elementary School. In 2005 she moved to the Wilson Middle School in the role of Special Education Department Head/Evaluation Team Facilitator and Coordinator of the Secondary Reading Initiative. She has also worked for Primary Source as a contracted consultant teaching teachers from the Northeast about multi-sensory teaching techniques and the rise of ancient civilizations in China, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Nubia.
Alice McCabe teaches fourth grade. She is returning to the BTU Pilot School after completing the Boston Teacher Residency program in second grade at the Mason School. Before that, she taught at the Henderson Inclusion School in Dorchester and has worked in different capacities with children and families in Boston for over 20 years. She graduated from Vassar College in New York and went on to earn a Master of Social Work from Boston College. She loves to help students learn to think deeply and critically about their work, especially in reading and math. Born and raised in Boston’s South End, she is a graduate of the Boston Public Schools. A proud mom, she lives in Dorchester with her husband Chris and two boys, DeVonte and Tyler. She enjoys reading fiction, being on or near the ocean, sharing food with friends and family and walking with her two dogs.
Johnny McInnis M.Ed. is teaching music to all the students at the BTU Pilot School. He has been teaching music in Boston for sixteen years. Mr. McInnis is a native of North Carolina where he earned his B.S. from Fayetteville State University. After arriving in Boston he received his M.E. from University of Massachusetts at Boston. He is an active musician who performs in an adult marching band performing all over New England. The developmental approach he uses for scholars at the BTU School is through music and movement. Truly you can see and feel the inspiration from his scholars when they perform.
Anne V. Mondesir, Social Worker
I was born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and moved to Boston when I was in the eigth grade. When I moved to Boston, the change was drastic, but having my family and being able to continue dancing was crucial as I adjusted to a “different world.”
I attended the Curley Middle School, and graduated from Boston Technical High School (John D. O’Bryant). I received both my Bachelors and Masters from Simmons College. Over the last eleven years I have provided clinical services to young people and their families in a variety of settings. Most recently my focus has been directed to the K-8 population in providing mentoring and support services to girls as the Manager of School-Based Mentoring for Big Sister, clinical services to students at the Brooke Charter School, and fostering and managing the Winthrop Elementary School’s community partnerships.
As a graduate of Simmons College and a former student of the late Jill Taylor; knowing that she was instrumental in the development of the school gives me great confidence that the BTU school is one that not only focuses on the academic success of its students but also in the social and emotional growth that goes hand in hand with learning. The possibilities are endless and exciting and I am looking forward to being part of such committed and innovative team.
A little fun fact about me, is that I am a certified Zumba instructor
Betsy Morgan is the Lower School Learning Center Intervention Specialist for Literacy. This is her third year at the BTU School. She has been teaching fifteen years. She is dedicated to the BTU and loves working with the scholars and families! Prior to the BTU, she taught at New England Home for Little Wanderers and Revere Public Schools. Before coming to the BTU, she taught first grade in Boston. She got her Elementary Education Degree at Northeastern University and her Masters in Special Education from UMASS Boston. This past year she became a Reading Recovery Teacher and trained through Lesley University! Betsy grew up in Boston and attended Boston Public School. She lives in West Roxbury with her husband Chris, four children and Siberian Husky,Izzy. She enjoys reading, outdoor activities and loves the beach (especially in Bermuda)!
Gretchen Myers. Hello there! My name is Gretchen Myers. I am the Associate Teacher for the K1 class. I have been an Associate Teacher for 4 years. I received my Bachelors Degree in Communications from Northeastern University. Prior to working for the BTU School, I worked for 3 years as an Enrichment Associate Teacher at The Harbor Middle School. I worked with the special need population thru the inclusion at the school, as well as, any IT issues that I could assist with. I also worked as a Sped Aide at the Oak Hill Middle School in Newton. I have done one year of community work with City Year. I enjoy dancing, walking, and chasing after my 11 year old son and 3 year old daughter!
Phi Nguyen M.Ed is the Primary Transistion Classroom (PTC) Teacher. Amy was born in the Philippines and raised in Boston. She has been working with children in the Boston area specific to the Chinatown community for the past 10 years both in the school and out of school setting. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Creative Arts in Learning, both from Lesley University. Amy is an avid volleyball player and coach. She has served as both the assistant and head coach at Lesley University at the Division III level for both the Women’s and Men’s teams. She just ended her 6th year as a coach to a Chinese Women’s Club Volleyball team in the summer. This fall, she will be returning to her alma mater, Boston Latin School, to serve as the coach for the Junior Varsity team. In her spare time she enjoys taking her dogs for walks, playing the drums on Rock Band™, and cleaning.
Jerry Pisani M.Ed is the K-2 teacher. He earned his degree in Early Childhood Education and Creative Arts in Learning from Lesley University in 2006 and has been teaching for BPS ever since. He has experience with multi-aged classrooms, First Grade and K-2. Jerry’s first loves in education are learning through the arts and creative play which is a perfect fit for K-2. He employs a multi-sensory approach and thematic units to help scholars explore all academic areas. Jerry believes that academic achievement is important, but a student’s sense of accomplishment and self worth are the foundation for any Early Learning experience. His kindergarten classroom is set up to encourage both independence and teamwork. Out of the class he can be found flying kites in and around Revere where he lives with his partner Jason, or in his art studio drawing and painting in Sommerville.
Richard Schena is the 7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher. This will be his 3rd year as a Social Studies teacher with Boston Public Schools. Mr. Schena has previously taught Social Studies in the Lowell and Lawrence Public School systems. Mr. Schena earned his B.A. in History from the University of Massachusettts- Amherst and is currently pursuing his M. Ed. in from Fitchburg State University. Mr. Schena is excited to pass on his passion and enthusiasm for Social Studies to each of his students. Richard is an avid Boston sports fan and participates in a number of athletic activities.
Amanda Smallwood M.Ed. is the Literacy Coordinator. Amanda was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts. She has been working with children and their families for over 10 years. She began her teaching career in a small, rural school in Heath, Massachusetts. Amanda has been teaching in Boston for the last 5 years. She received her Bachelor’s degree in English from Vermont College and her Master’s degree in Elementary Education from UMASS/Amherst. In her spare time, Amanda enjoys spending time with her family, rock climbing, reading and gardening. Amanda lives in Milton with her husband Britt and their dogs Charlie and Josie.
Taryn Snyder is the third grade teacher. She was born and raised in Orange County, New York. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree at Simmons College in 2006 and began a career in advertising, working at some of the best known firms in New England. While her advertising career was a great creative outlet, Taryn knew that she wanted to work with children. She went back to Simmons and earned her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education in 2011. As part of her graduate program, Taryn completed a year-long internship, co-teaching first grade at the BTU School with Jasmine Acevedo. Upon the completion of her internship and Master’s program, Taryn taught third grade inclusion at Boston Renaissance Charter Public School in Hyde Park. When she’s not in the classroom, Taryn volunteers her time as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Pancreas Foundation. She loves J.P. Licks, exploring Boston, and spending time with her family, especially her niece.
Lesley Strang M.Ed. is the K1 teacher. Lesley has spent more than ten years teaching young children in and around the Boston area. She moved to Boston in 1998 to be an AmeriCorps VISTA member at Peace First (formerly Peace Games), a violence prevention education organization. After her service year, she decided that the classroom was her true passion and went to Lesley University for her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Creative Arts in Learning. She taught kindergarten through second grade at the Atrium School for many years and then taught second grade for three years at the Lee Academy Pilot School in Dorchester. Lesley loves creating hands-on thematic units. She is also very passionate about anti-bias education.
This is Jeffrey Timberlake’s third year with the Boston Teacher’s Union Pilot School. He thrives on the cooperative spirit of the school, its teacher-leaders, the scholars and their families. Mr. Timberlake is very excited about his new role as the K-8 English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor where he will be servicing English Language Learner’s (ELLs) and supporting content area teachers throughout the K-8 strand. He graduated from the University of Arizona in Tucson with a MA in ESL (2005) and later earned his MA in elementary curriculum and instruction from Boston College in 2006. Mr. Timberlake has worked with ELLs in various academic settings as well as from different linguistic backgrounds. He recently completed Boston Public School’s week long ESL institute where he was able to network with other ESL educators in the district and learn best practices. Mr. Timberlake also completed Sheltered Instruction, Observation Protocol (SIOP) training through the SIOP Institute’s online learning program. He is dedicated to accelerating the social and academic language of his K-8 scholars as well as offering support to content area teachers at the school. Jeffrey lives with his partner Victor in Boston. His favorite food is lobster which he enjoys sharing with his Mom and Dad in Maine.
David Weinstein is the sixth and seventh grade math teacher. He has been teaching in the Boston Public Schools for twenty years in a variety of schools, primarily as a teacher of special needs and mathematics. David received a B.A. in History from Columbia College and a M.Ed. from Lesley College. His goal is to allow all students to enjoy math class and achieve success through hard work. David lives with his wife and two daughters in a house full of books in Jamaica Plain. He is enthusiastic about being outdoors hiking, camping, bicycling and gardening.