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Our Consultants

Aliza Kushner, Director 

Aliza Kushner is the director of the Cooke Center Institute where she is responsible for organizing professional development and overseeing all aspects of the Institute.  Aliza is deeply committed to improving instruction and making systemic changes in schools across NYC to help ensure student achievement.  Aliza began her career in education as a New York City public school teacher, teaching 2, 3 and 4th grades.  She was a literacy consultant for The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Accelerated Literacy Learning and the Cooke Center Institute.   She was also the Academic Liaison at The School at Columbia, a private school in Manhattan.  Aliza received her M.S. Ed from Hunter College.



Judy Brodsky

Judy Brodsky is an instructional consultant who brings with her over 30 years of teaching experience as a NYC classroom teacher and literacy coach.  Judy works alongside teachers and administrators to improve literacy instruction that meets the individual needs of each school. Judy has facilitated many district-wide professional development workshops around reading and writing workshop.  She has successfully introduced several school-wide literacy initiatives, and her own enthusiasm for reading and writing instruction is very motivating and inspiring.  Judy received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Education from Queens College.


Elizabeth Carr  

Elizabeth (Beth) Carr received her MA in Reading from New York University; she is certified as a Reading Teacher and as a Special Education teacher.  She has worked in elementary and middle schools for the past 15 years.   Currently, she oversees the literacy program at the Cooke Center Schools and teaches at Brooklyn College.  Beth has worked as a literacy coach in Catholic schools for the past 10 years and has given many workshops throughout the diocese on topics such as writing, differentiating instruction, and principal leadership of literacy programs.  


Veronica Cook  

Veronica Cook has long been an integral member of the Cooke community. Prior to joining the Institute, Veronica served as Head of School for Cooke’s Lower and Middle School. Veronica also has worked as a classroom teacher in Catholic schools and has served as Principal of a Catholic elementary school in Manhattan for seven years and in the Bronx for twenty years. She was awarded New York State Catholic School Principal of the year in 1996.

Veronica received her undergraduate degree in Curriculum and Teaching with a major in English from Seton Hall University and a graduate degree in Curriculum and Teaching with a specialization in Reading from Fordham University. She continued her post graduate education in Administration and School Leadership at Fordham University.

Doreen Costanzo  

Doreen Costanzo is an instructional consultant who comes to Cooke with over 10 years of experience working for the New York City School system and Long Island School Districts. Doreen has worked in various classroom settings, including self-contained and inclusion classrooms, and has led professional development and in-service workshops.  She was a school district liaison educating parents on all aspects of curriculum content and worked for Cooke as an academic consultant in our early childhood charter school division. Doreen has a Bachelor of Arts Degree specializing in Child Psychology from C.W. Post, a Post-Baccalaureate Degree from William Paterson University in education, and a Master’s Degree from Hofstra University.

Christine Del Negro

Christine Del Negro is an experienced educator who has taught in several districts in Westchester County. She is an instructional consultant and curriculum developer and who has worked with a diverse groups of learners throughout her career. Christine is an ardent believer in the power of reading as a means of developing lifelong learners, and brings her love of books and literacy into every classroom she works in. Christine received her undergraduate degree from Smith College and holds a Masters in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.


Susan Devlin

Susan Devlin has worked at Cooke Center in the Early Childhood Program for the past 17 years. Currently, she oversees the Evaluations and Collaboration for Inclusion program at Cooke and teaches at Brooklyn College. Susan joins the Cooke Center Institute as an instructional consultant offering her expertise in areas of early intervention, differentiating instruction, and academic and behavioral interventions. Susan has a Master’s Degree in Special Education from SUNY Albany and a Professional Diploma in School Administration from Fordham University. She is certified as an Elementary and Special Educator as well as a School Administrator and Supervisor.


Sharon Grunfeld 

Sharon Grunfeld joined the Cooke Center Institute after 31 years in the New York City Department of Education. Within the DOE, she served in a variety of capacities including an Educational Administrator for Students with Disabilities, Special Education Specialist, Special Education Supervisor, Trainer and teacher. She is passionate about making a difference in literacy development in all students of all ages, with a special expertise on the elementary level. Sharon has extensive background and experience in intervention programs including implementing Response to Intervention models.  Sharon holds a BA degree in Elementary Education from New York University, MS degree in Special Education from Teacher’s College, Columbia University and a MA in Administration and Supervision from the CCNY, City University.

Sr. Jeannie Humphries, OSU 

Sr. Jeannie Humphries, OSU has worked in elementary and special education for close to 20 years. She has worked as a classroom teacher in Catholic schools in the Bronx, a reading specialist in a public school in rural New York State, and a special education consultant at a Harlem charter school. Most recently, Sr. Jeannie worked as an instructional supervisor for Cooke’s Lower School. She has taught graduate courses in literacy and special education and supervised student teachers at Fordham University. Sr. Jeannie received her undergraduate and graduate degree from the College of New Rochelle and earned her PhD in Language, Literacy and Learning from Fordham University in May 2013. Currently, she is an assistant professor of Teacher Education at Concordia College, NY.

Pamela Jacobs 

Pamela Jacobs is an instructional consultant who received her Ph.D. in school psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, where her dissertation focused on the development of an instructional program in informational text comprehension for children in the primary grades. She completed her predoctoral internship at Cooke under the supervision of Dr. Michael Termini. Pam has taught in the Reading Specialist program at Teachers College and the School Psychology program at Touro College. She has supervised graduate students in fieldwork placements at NYC Catholic schools and served as a psychology consultant in NYC charter schools. She has also worked as a member of a multidisciplinary school-age evaluation team at Albert Einstein Medical Center. Pam is a NYS licensed psychologist and a co-investigator on an ongoing Teachers College project to develop a diagnostic measure of early reading comprehension-related skills.


Marisa Kaplan 

Marisa Kaplan is an educator, an instructional consultant, a curriculum consultant, and an educational writer.   She is creator and writer of, a blog that supports both parents and teachers in maximizing learning at home and in school. Previously, she was a middle school English Language Arts teacher at The Equity Project Charter School and an elementary school teacher at Manhattan School for Children in NYC. Marisa holds a Master’s of Science in Learning Disabilities from Hunter College and a Bachelor’s Degree from NYU.


Vera Kohn

Vera Kohn began her teaching career in a school for gifted students in the South Bronx.  For the next 25 years she continued her teaching career both as a classroom teacher and as a literacy coach in NYC schools modeling lessons, planning with teachers, facilitating reading and writing workshops, and working closely with administrators to create school-wide initiatives to support literacy.  Vera is an instructional consultant for the Cooke Center Institute, continuing to improve instruction and outcomes in classrooms across New York City. Her enthusiasm and dedication is evident in all her work.  Vera has an MS degree from Hunter College and received a doctorate in Jurisprudence from Pace Law School.


Mark Lauterbach

Mark Lauterbach has a Ph.D. in educational psychology and is currently a professor of early childhood education at Brooklyn College. His current research centers around developing educational environments and assessments that meet the needs of all children. He has worked in education for almost 20 years, with experience as a classroom teacher and educational consultant. Mark continues to work with the Cooke Center in the areas of program development, evaluation within the Cooke Center Institute and developing and monitoring assessment and evaluation of programs for students with disabilities.


Lisa Levinger 

Lisa Levinger has taught in many different settings, including an independent preschool in Manhattan, a small village in Bolivia, a progressive school in Manhattan’s Upper West Side and at all instructional levels in Northern Westchester.

These assignments have placed her in many diverse classrooms including inclusion, dual language, multi-grade and resource room for Engish Language Learners.

A graduate of Union College (BA), Teachers College (MA), and Mercy College (post-master’s Administrative Credential), Lisa has been a staff developer since 2003. Lisa is passionate about addressing the needs of English Language Learners through active engagement and meaningful activities.

Irene Rosen 

Irene Rosen is a veteran educator with 30 years experience in the New York City Department of Education.  Her experiences include: fourth and fifth grade math teacher; Title I math teacher; Math Staff Developer; Mathematics Coach; and teacher mentor.  Irene worked as a mathematics consultant for the Cooke lower and middle schools.  Currently, Irene is an instructional consultant for the Cooke Center Institute providing on-site professional development in mathematics.


Helaine Schachter 

Helaine Schachter is an instructional consultant who brings with her 35 years of experience in education. Helaine was a classroom teacher in NYC and a Title 1 Coordinator. As a Teacher Center Specialist for the NYC Teacher Center, Helaine held positions as a Regional Coach, Assistant Coordinator for the Reading First Initiative and an Assistant Data Coordinator. She was a curriculum writer for the UFT English Language Arts Resource Curriculum Guide. Helaine has taught both undergraduate and graduate literacy courses at Queens College. Helaine’s career as an educator continues at Cooke where she works with teachers in planning and implementing units plans and daily lesson.

Helaine received her B.A. from Queens College and her M.A. from New York University.


Bindia Shah

Bindia Shah is an instructional consultant who has long been a member of the Cooke Center. She began her professional career as a special education teacher at Cooke Center Grammar School, and has seamlessly transitioned into her role as consultant for CCI and as a math curriculum specialist at CCGS. She is passionate about supporting student learning and making a difference in literacy and math development for all students. Bindia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the State University of New York at Binghamton and a Master’s Degree from Fordham University in general and special education.

Elaine Sonenberg

Elaine Sonenberg is an instructional consultant who taught grades 1 through 5 for over 35 years. In addition to teaching children, Elaine taught graduate courses at CW Post in assessment, led several in-service courses for her district and mentored many new teachers. Whether Elaine is teaching adults or children, she is passionate about having students engaging in their learning through a hands-on approach.   Elaine holds a BA in Elementary Education from Mills College and a MA in Elementary Education from Adelphi University. She has taken both Teachers’ College Summer Institutes in Reading and Writing as well as Stephanie Harvey’s Summer Institute in Reading.

Margaret Strauss  

Margaret Strauss is an instructional consultant who brings a vast array of experience as an educator to the Cooke Center.  Margie was a staff developer for the New York City Teacher Centers, a school librarian, a reading teacher, and an elementary school teacher in New York City public schools.  She also worked as a consultant for the National Urban Alliance and the Center for Educational Innovation in schools in Albany, Bridgeport and New York City  providing classroom demonstrations and presenting workshops. Margie has taught graduate courses in literacy and human relations at City College, Queens College and Fordham University.  She has a Master’s Degree in Education and Library Science, a certificate in special education and completed the coursework towards a doctoral degree in communications in education at New York University.


Marilyn Wrubel 

Marilyn Wrubel is as an instructional consultant for the Cooke Center working with teachers to implement best teaching practices in reading and writing.  Her prior experience includes teaching middle school language arts for 28 years and working as a New York City Teacher Center specialist where she developed and conducted workshops and seminars, mentored teachers, and provided demonstration lessons and action labs.  She also worked as a regional coach for the Reading First initiative. In addition, she was a writer and editor of the UFT English Language Arts Resource Curriculum guide, and an instructor for the New York State Teacher Certification exam.

Michelle Yuen 

Michelle Yuen is an instructional consultant who recently joined CCI after teaching in Los Angeles, CA. Her experience working in LA’s urban areas with high-risk student populations spans across a variety of instructional settings, including self-contained classrooms, resource specialist programs, inclusion models, and independent study. Additionally, she was a compliance specialist for Los Angeles charter schools working extensively with principals, teachers, related service providers, parents, parent advocates, lawyers and various district personnel. She received her Education Specialist Instruction credential in mild-moderate disabilities for K-12 education from the California State University, Los Angeles.

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