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. Since 2002, she has been 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 has been a Cooke Center Literacy Consultant for 5 years. In this role, she works along side teachers and administrators to improve literacy instruction and provides on-site professional development to meet the individual needs of each school. Judy models in the classroom, facilitates meetings and leads hands-on workshops for teachers and principals. She has successfully introduced several school-wide literacy initiatives and her own enthusiasm for reading and writing instruction is very motivating.
Before coming to Cooke Center Judy worked as a Literacy Coach in New York City schools as well as a classroom teacher since 1975. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Education from Queens College.
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.
Doreen Costanzo is a special education consultant who comes to Cooke with over 10 years experience working for the New York City School system, and Long Island School Districts. She was a school district liaison educating parents on all aspects of curriculum content in the educational system and worked for Cooke as an academic consultant for Cooke in our early childhood charter school division. She was an educator in collaborative classrooms, self-contained classrooms and inclusion settings and has conducted many professional development and in-service workshops in many multifaceted aspects of education. 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.
Sharon Grunfeld joined the Cooke Center Institute in October 2011 after 31 years in the New York City Department of Education. Within the DOE, she served in a variety of capacities including as 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. In her free time, Sharon enjoys traveling, going to concerts, spending time with friends and shopping.
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 of Cooke Center. She teaches graduate courses in literacy and special education at Concordia College and Fordham University. Sr. Jeannie received her undergraduate and graduate degree from the College of New Rochelle. She will be earning her PhD in Language, Literacy and Learning from Fordham University in May 2013.
Marisa Kaplan is an educator, a curriculum consultant, and an educational writer. This past year Marisa joined the Cooked Center as a literacy and special education consultant. She is creator and writer of EdGeeks.com, 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 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 has worked as a literacy consultant for the Cooke Center Institute for the past six years, 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 Jurist Prudence from Pace Law School.
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 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. From 2009-2011, Irene worked as a mathematics consultant for the Cooke lower and middle schools. Currently, Irene is a math consultant for the Cooke Center Institute providing on-site professional development in mathematics.
Nadine Rothman is an Educational Consultant specializing in supporting schools in their work to meet the needs of their at- risk and special needs student populations. She served as the Division Head of The Cooke Center Middle School, an inclusive program for special needs students within a private general education school setting. Nadine spent 12 years as a lower and middle school lead teacher in a self -contained classroom at St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf. While there, she also served as a curriculum developer and teacher mentor. She held the position of student teaching supervisor and instructor at Teachers College, Columbia University. Nadine received her Masters Degree from Teachers College, Columbia University and her BA from Stony Brook University.
Helaine Schachter has worked as a Literacy consultant for Cooke Center for 3 years. In that role, she has worked with teachers in planning, developing and implementing class units and lessons by modeling and co-teaching.
In her 35-year teaching career at the NYC Department of Education, she was a classroom teacher 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 received her B.A. from Queens College and her M.A. from New York University.
Roberta Simon Hollander
Since retiring from the New York City School system in 2004, Roberta Simon Hollander has been a Literacy consultant for the Cooke Center Institute. Her work includes modeling lessons; planning with teachers at weekly debriefing sessions; team teaching and providing feedback to informal observations; conducting school-wide and district-wide workshops. She also works with the school administration to create school-wide initiatives to support literacy instruction. Roberta has seen her schools move from teacher-centered classrooms to child-centered classrooms. Her motto is: 'Remember, we are teaching students, not the material'.
Roberta received her undergraduate degree from C. W. Post College, and her Master’s degree from Hunter College.
Margaret Strauss has worked as a literacy consultant for the Cooke Center for the past four years. Her prior experience includes working as 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 has 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. During this time she has worked closely with classroom teachers providing classroom demonstrations and presenting workshops. Ms. Strauss has taught graduate courses in literacy and human relations at City College, Queens College and Fordham University. She has a masters degree in education and library science, a certificate in special education and has completed the coursework towards a doctoral degree in communications in eduction at New York University.
Marilyn Wrubel has worked as a literacy consultant for the Cooke Center for the past three years supporting classrooms 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.