"We prepare students to engage in the world that is and to help bring about a world that ought to be."

New Year, New Faces!

1. Nisa Bryant is excited to join Friends from Collegiate School in New York, where she has worked in Admissions since 2010, serving as Associate Director and Senior Associate Director before being appointed Interim Director of Admissions in 2021, and then Director of Admissions beginning in 2022. Nisa has previously worked at Suffield Academy in Suffield, CT. She began her career as a track and field coach and history teacher, then transitioned to Assistant Director of Admissions in 2000, departing in 2010 as Senior Associate Director. She holds a BA in History and Sociology from Bucknell University and an MS Ed. in School Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.

2. Patrick Cahill is looking forward to teaching Mathematics in the Upper School. He earned a BS in Mathematics and Adolescent Education from SUNY College at Oneonta and a PhD from the University at Albany. Prior to joining Friends Patrick taught Upper School Mathematics at Rye Country Day School.

3. Cory Chung looks forward to teaching Creative Computing in the Middle School. He holds a BS in Teaching Mathematics 7-12 from NYU, an MA in Gifted Education from Columbia University, and an MSEd in School Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. He comes to Friends from the Speyer School where he was an Assistant Curriculum Coordinator and taught Middle School Mathematics and Grade 7 Writing.

4. Jamie DiVito joins us as our new cross-divisional Spanish teacher for Grades 3 through 6. She earned a BA in Linguistics from Rutgers University and a M.Ed from Widener University. Next summer she will complete her MA in Spanish from Middlebury College, with a specialization in pedagogy. Prior to graduate school, Jamie lived in Madrid, Spain and Daejeon, South Korea. She comes to us after working at Westtown School and Academia Antonia Alonso, a bilingual elementary school.

5. Kevin Donnelly is thrilled to be teaching Spanish at Friends Seminary. He is returning to New York City after living in Mexico for five years, where he worked in a technology startup and directed an experiential learning non-profit organization. Kevin received his BS in languages from Georgetown University, an MA in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and a Ph.D. in Spanish American Colonial Studies from the Spanish Department at New York University. Prior to Friends, Kevin taught locally at the Nightingale-Bamford School and Convent of the Sacred Heart.

6. Rebecca (Becca) Feder joins us as a Grade 1 Associate Teacher. She attended undergrad at Ithaca College where she graduated with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Education. Becca will be graduating from Bank Street Graduate School this spring with a dual Master's in Childhood Special and General Education. She comes to Friends from Bank Street School for Children where she taught Grades 1 and 2 as an Associate Teacher.

7. Jared Fortunato joins us as our new Visual Arts, Digital, and New Media Teacher for the Middle and Upper School. Jared earned a BS in Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University, an MA in International Relations from American University, and his MFA from The Academy of Art in San Francisco. Before joining Friends, Jared worked as an art teacher in New York City after several years of teaching in independent schools in California.

8. Devan Ganeshananthan will be serving as Associate Head of School. Most recently, Devan was the High School Principal at The American School in London, and he previously served as Principal of Edgemont Junior/Senior High School in Scarsdale, New York. Devan received an AB in Economics and Honors in Music from Brown University and a M.Ed. from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

9. Ava Heller joins us as our new Specialist in Diversity, Equity and Belonging. She holds an MA in K-12 Dance Education from New York University and a BA from Bennington College. She comes to Friends from SAR Academy, where she taught Early Childhood Movement, and The Ethical Culture Fieldston School, where she taught Middle and Upper School Dance for 11 years. At Fieldston, Ava facilitated the Jewish Affinity group, was a member of the White Anti-Rascist Educators group, and collaborated with the DEI Department. When not performing or teaching, Ava is a custom quilt maker and proud mom of two.

10. Sasha High joined us last fall as the Executive Assistant to the Director of Institutional Advancement and Donor Relations Assistant in the Advancement Office. She holds a BA in Global Studies from LIU Global (a Quaker school!), and an MA in Development Studies from SOAS, University of London. Before joining Friends, Sasha conducted multiple years of research in Asia before working as a Professor of Economics at John Jay College for Criminal Justice and Law.

11. Janine Leslie is excited to join us as a Grade 1 Associate Teacher in the Lower School. She graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Dramatic Writing where she focused on writing for children's TV. She is currently pursuing her MA in Arts Administration at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

12. Emmy Leviss is excited to be an Associate Teacher in Kindergarten working with Mirtha Martinez. She earned a BA in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora studies from Tufts University. Prior to Friends, Emmy was an Americorps member at Reading Partners where she worked at Jean Parker Elementary in San Francisco managing literacy intervention.

13. Marcus Nazario is our new Assistant Director of Facilities. With nearly 20 years of experience in facilities, he joins us from The Center for Justice Innovation where he served as a Facilities Manager for multiple locations in Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island.

14. Trupti Patel is thrilled to join the Friends community. She will be the Dean of Faculty and looks forward to collaborating with her new colleagues. She will also be teaching one section of Grade 6 English. She has 29 years of experience in international, public and independent schools as an upper elementary classroom teacher, Lower School library teacher and as a K-5 instructional coach. She earned a BS in Psychology and Elementary Education and received an MS in Special Education. Most recently, she taught Grade 3 at Greenwich Country Day School and served as the divisional DEI coordinator.

15. Krist Pnishi joins us as our new Building Staff member. He as many years of experience working on construction (inside renovation). He is currently completing the Apex Technical School's program for plumbing and pipefitting.

16. Kelly Rachlin joins us as a new Associate Teacher in the Lower School. She looks forward to the joy and learning to come while working as a part of the Kindergarten team this upcoming school year. Kelly holds a BS in Inclusive Elementary and Special Education from Syracuse University, and an MA in Literacy Specialist from Teachers College. Prior to joining Friends, she worked as an Associate Teacher for two years at St. Luke's School, in the West Village.

17. Alexis Scavo is thrilled to join our school as the new Grade 8 English Teacher, after completing a Grade 7 History Teacher sabbatical coverage last year. Previously a member of the Department of Education, Alexis taught both English Language Arts and History, holding a National Geographic Certified Educator title. Alexis holds a BA in Visual Art from the State University of New Paltz and an ME from Hunter College. Alexis is excited to continue her journey with the incredible class of 2028, fostering a love for learning and growth throughout the year.

18. Alycia Thompson is looking forward to teaching the Visual Arts in the Middle and Upper School. She earned her BFA in Art at the University of Louisville, MFA from the New York Academy of Art and her MA INIT in Art and Art Education at TC Columbia University. She comes to Friends from Hunter College High School where she taught art and art history.

19. Hassan Wilson Returning to Friends as the Dean of Studies feels like a homecoming for Hassan. With a dedicated 18-year tenure, Hassan wore several hats—from a teacher to Science Department Chair, and most recently, the Assistant Head of Upper School. A brief hiatus led Hassan to the role of Executive Director at the Constellation Learning Institute, enriching his experience in online and blended learning while supporting various schools across the country. Hassan is thrilled to be back, not just in an administrative capacity, but also teaching in the Upper School and being a step-parent to an incoming ninth grader. Hassan looks forward to another chapter of personal and professional growth at Friends.
Friends Seminary actively promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in all its programs and operations, including admissions, financial aid, hiring, and all facets of the educational experience. To form a community which strives to reflect the world’s diversity, we do not discriminate on the basis of race or color, religion, nationality, ethnicity, economic background, physical ability, sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. Friends Seminary is an equal opportunity employer.

222 East 16th Street
New York, NY 10003
P: 212-979-5030
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Friends Seminary — the oldest continuously operated, coeducational school in NYC — serves college-bound day students in Kindergarten-Grade 12.