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Meet the Staff

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  • Dustin Mitchell

    Co-Founder & Head of School

    Mr. Mitchell is the "Top Mop" at KIPP: TECH VALLEY. Mitchell hails from northern New York along the St. Lawrence River on the Canadian border. He attended Hudson Valley Community College, The State University of New York at Albany, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has 20 years of experience in Capital Region schools, with three quarters of them being in the charter school arena. Dustin believes that if you want to be the best you have to work the hardest. He is a member of both the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the New York State Association for Computers and Technology in Education (NYSCATE). When not in school, Mitchell enjoys spending time with his bulldogs and riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle.

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    • Administrator
  • Kate Morales

    Academic Dean

    Ms. Morales works as the Academic Dean at KIPP: TECH VALLEY, supervising and directing the curriculum and instruction of the school. Prior to her position as Academic Dean, Ms. Morales taught 5th and 6th grade history at KIPP: TECH VALLEY. Ms. Morales is an Albany native with a Bachelors degree in Sociology from the University at Buffalo and a Masters of Science in Education from the College of Saint Rose. Ms. Morales is also a board certified New York State school building leader. In conjunction with the school, it is Ms. Morales’ mission to ensure that every KIPP: TECH VALLEY student climbs the mountain to and through college.

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    • Administrator
  • Scott Thompson

    Principal

    Mr. Thompson got his start in the field of education back in 1998 when he accepted an assignment as a building substitute teacher at Giffen Elementary School in the south end of Albany. From there, he worked as a teacher’s aide for two years at Giffen before finally getting a classroom of his own in 2002 at New Covenant Charter School. Mr. Thompson served as a third grade teacher for two years at New Covenant Charter School before moving on to the Troy City School District where he taught six years as a fifth grade teacher at School 12 and two additional years at School 14 where he taught fourth grade. During his time in Troy Mr. Thompson went back to school to acquire his SBL certification at The College of Saint Rose. Mr. Thompson had several opportunities to develop his administrative skills by serving as Assistant Principal during Troy’s Summer School program. Mr. Thompson started at KTV 2 years ago as Assistant Principal, working primarily with the 7th and 8th grade students and has now taken on the role of building Principal as Mr. Applyrs begins work on developing our upcoming Primary School.

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    • Administrator
  • Mark Reilly

    Finance Associate

    Mark Reilly is the Finance Associate at KIPP: Tech Valley. He was born and raised in the Capital District, graduating from Columbia High School in East Greenbush, NY. Mr. Reilly attended Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY where he earned his Associates Degree in Business Administration. Upon completion of his degree from HVCC he enrolled in the University at Albany. He has previously worked in the City of Watervliet and Troy School Districts as a Teacher’s Assistant and Substitute Teacher. Mark also brings with him experience coaching basketball as an Assistant at Hudson Valley Community College and St. Edwards University in Austin, TX. He has recently taken over the 7th & 8th Grade Boy’s Modified Basketball Program and looks forward to the challenge of raising athletic expectations to the same standards as academic excellence here at KIPP: Tech. Mark is excited to be assisting in the daily operations of running the school and maintaining strong working relationships with the staff.

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    • Staff
  • Preston Moore

    District Data Coordinator

    Mr. Moore is the DDC at KIPP: TECH VALLEY. Originally from Herkimer, NY, Preston attended the State University of New York at Cortland. Prior to joining the team at KTV, he founded a media and marketing company.

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    • Staff
  • Melinda Cruz

    Office Manager

    Melinda was born and raised in the Capital District, graduating from Linton High School in Schenectady. Ms. Cruz later attended Bryant and Stratton in Albany, New York for two years where she received her certificate in Office Administration . She has over a decade of experience working in and managing administrative offices in the Capital District. She is also the proud parent of a current Temple University student and KIPP: TECH VALLEY alumnus.

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    • Staff
  • Leah Perkins

    Parent & Community Liaison

    Prior to assuming the role of the Parent & Community Liaison, Leah Perkins was the founding 5th grade math teacher at KIPP: Tech Valley Charter School. She also taught elementary school for several years. She began her teaching career as a volunteer for Junior Achievement in the Bronx, NY. A graduate from St. Rose College with a B.S. in Elementary Education, she is also currently a Master’s Degree candidate in art education with a focus on technology from Phoenix University. Leah has developed several web quests, which were aligned and embedded to the curriculum which led to increased levels of student achievement. The Bronx, NY native believes academic excellence can be obtained by any student and that a teacher should expect more from a student than a student can believe is possible.

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    • Staff
  • Lindsi Shalhoub

    Special Education Coordinator

    Lindsi Shalhoub joined the KIPP: TECH VALLEY team in 2014. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Messiah College (Pennsylvania) in Criminal Justice where she served as the local ministry leader to detained youth offenders. It was here she fell in love with education and decided to pursue it as a career. Lindsi obtained a Masters Degree in Education: Curriculum and Instruction for Special Education from Gordon College in Massachusetts, where she specialized in the area of emotional and behavioral disorders. Lindsi’s prior experiences include high school classroom teaching, GED preparation and teaching/counseling incarcerated individuals. When not at KIPP, Lindsi can be found at home spending time with her growing family. Lindsi’s goal this year at KIPP is to continue to provide support to teacher leaders in accommodating the diverse needs of the Kippsters.

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    • Staff
  • Melissa Lee

    School Counselor

    Ms. Lee is a certified School Counselor. She graduated from the University at Albany in December 2004, receiving her Bachelor’s of Art in Psychology and a minor in Economics. During her senior year at the University at Albany, Melissa studied abroad at Nottingham University in England. While studying in England she organized a 3week educational trip to Tunisia, Africa. Upon returning to the United Stated, she continued her education and went on to earn her Master’s of Science in Education from The College of Saint Rose in the fall of 2006. For over 4 years Melissa was employed at St. Anne’s Institute as a child care recreational specialist. While employed at St. Anne’s she provided supervision and guidance for 12-18 year old girls with severe emotional and behavioral problems and in the process gained invaluable clinical experience. Melissa also has over two years of experience working as a substitute teacher and as a teaching assistant in a special education self-contained classroom. Melissa’s main goal is to advocate for her student’s at KIPP: TECH VALLEY Charter School and to empower them to find their strengths and master their skills that will ultimately lead them to college. Melissa believes it her responsibility to assist her students to reach their full academic, social and personal potential and to ultimately discover in themselves what they already are.

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    • Staff
  • Tricia Doyle

    School Counselor

    Originally from Long Island, New York, Tricia Doyle attended the University at Albany where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in Education in 2007. Immediately following graduation she began working on her Master’s degree also at SUNY Albany. In 2008 she completed her Counseling Psychology program earning both a Master of Science degree in Counseling Psychology and a Certificate of Advanced Study in School Counseling. Upon graduating Tricia decided to stay in the Capital District. She began working at KIPP: TECH VALLEY in September of 2010 as the KIPP through College Coordinator, over seeing high school placement for all 8th grade students. Tricia believes in ensuring that all students have as many high school options available to them as possible and are well informed as they make decisions that will have a big impact on their academic paths to and through college.

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    • Staff
  • Cynthia Yonkers

    Food Service Director

    Mrs. Yonkers received her AAS degree in Culinary Arts from Schenectady County Community College, and attended the University Of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she studied Hotel Administration. She is an award-winning and published chef with a background in fine dining, with an emphasis on local and regional ingredients. She has worked in food service management, specifically in the Child Nutrition Program since 1999. Mrs. Yonkers is very excited to be at KIPP: Tech Valley where she can focus on providing students delicious and nutritious meals.

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    • Staff
  • Derek Westbrook

    Director, KIPP: Through College

    Mr. Westbrook is the Director of the KIPP Through College (KTC) program at KIPP: Tech Valley. He is responsible for providing programs and services for KIPP Tech Valley alumni in high school and college that help maximize their success, completion, and transition into professional life. Prior to this position, Mr. Westbrook was an Academic Specialist and Postsecondary Education Coordinator for YouthBuild Schenectady at the SEAT Center. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University at Albany in Africana Studies, and a Master’s degree in Black (Culture) Studies from The Ohio State University. Mr. Westbrook was a doctoral candidate in Education Administration and Policy Studies at the University at Albany, and plans to return to finish his degree in the future. He was an instructor in higher education for over 20 years. He has also been a Program Director for Opportunity Programs, on college campuses in New York and New Jersey for 8 years. He believes that access to higher education must be accompanied with strong support systems to insure student success. In his spare time, Derek enjoys martial arts, reading, spoken word poetry, movies and music!

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    • Staff
  • John Grigg

    Director of Facilities & Maintenance

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    • Staff
  • Lindsey Quick

    Instructional Leader

    Ms. Quick is KIPP: Tech Valley's 8th grade English Language Arts teacher. She is originally from Scotia, New York and attended Syracuse University, where she received a Bachelors degree in Public Policy, Spanish, and Social Work. She then moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to pursue a career in teaching as a Teach For America corps member. Ms. Quick taught inclusion and general education English for four years and became certfied in Special Education: General Curriculum for grades K-12 and Secondary English. She also earned a Masters degree in Special Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Now back in her native New York, Ms. Quick continues to truly belive in the power of education and is excited to help her students work towards academic excellence.

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    • Teacher
  • Jessalyn Brodie

    Instructional Leader

    Jessalyn Brodie is a member of SHAPE America (Society of Health and Physical Educators). She is in her seventh year as the Health Education teacher leader at KIPP: TECH VALLEY. She is a three time graduate of the Sage Colleges, where she graduated with honors in 2007 with her Bachelors of Science in Physical Education. After completion of her undergraduate degree, Jessalyn pursued her Masters in Community Health Education (2009) and most recently a Masters in Organizational Management (2011). Jessalyn believes in cooperative student learning and proving a learning environment that encourages her students to keep learning, even outside of the classroom. While not at KIPP, Jessalyn enjoys camping, biking, and spending time with her son Jamison.

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    • Teacher
  • Stefanie Martino

    Instructional Leader

    Stefanie Martino is KIPP: Tech Valley’s 8th grade mathematics instructional leader. She grew up in Kinderhook, NY and was a student at Ichabod Crane Central Schools. In 2010, she graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh with her bachelor’s degree in mathematics, and her master’s degree in Adolescent Education (7-12). She was a part of the women’s basketball team, and continues to incorporate the sport into her life by instilling teamwork into her classroom. Stefanie believes education is the key to successful life experiences, and if one is willing to work hard, many doors of opportunity will open.

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    • Teacher
  • Dan Jason

    Instructional Leader

    Dan Jason is the Grade 5 Choices ELA reading teacher leader at KIPP Tech Valley Charter School. He attended Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY and received a B.A. in Religious Studies before earning his M.S.T in Childhood Education and Special Education (Summa Cum Laude). Mr. Jason is a current resident of Schenectady, NY and was the captain of the Le Moyne Dolphins basketball team during his college years. He also organized and ran various volunteer programs in Syracuse over his five plus years at Le Moyne. Mr. Jason highly values educating young minds and supporting children on a daily basis in order to help them improve in their foundational skills in ELA, helping them become critical thinkers, and in developing their character through improved choices. His ultimate goal is to inspire his students and assist them on their quest to get to and through college. Mr. Jason wants every student to become well rounded and productive citizens by the time they leave middle school at KTV. When you do not find him at KIPP, he enjoys playing basketball and participating in various roles at St. Pius X, his local church.

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    • Teacher
  • Jasmine VanBrunt

    Instructional Leader

    Jasmine has had the privilege of teaching at KIPP: TECH VALLEY for over 9 years. First as the founding 6th grade ELA teacher and currently as the Librarian and Vocabulary teacher. She graduated with honors from both Hudson Valley Community College and the University of California at Berkeley. After college, Jasmine taught in the Bronx as a 7th and 8th grade ELA teacher through Teach for America. Missing the Capital Region, she moved back upstate and designed and taught Albany Housing Authority's GED Preparation program. Jasmine is a firm believer that family plays a major role in an individual's achievements and successes and attributes many of her successes to her own family.

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  • Eric Cocco

    Physical Education

    Eric Cocco has been a physical education teacher for over a decade. He began his teaching career in the Troy City school district, and more recently taught students within the city of Albany. During this time, he has gained experience as a coach of several sports including middle school football, volleyball, soccer and track. His undergraduate work was completed at the State University of New York at Cortland where he obtained a bachelors of science in Physical Education. He is also a graduate from the College of Saint Rose with a Masters of Education in Educational Administration.

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  • Erica Wardell

    Instructional Leader

    Ms. Wardell is the art teacher at KIPP: Tech Valley for grades 5-8. She is an alumni of The College of Saint Rose where she received her BFA in Studio Art with a concentration in advanced sculpture and a minor in education. Ms. Wardell had the opportunity to study abroad in China where she studied the drawing and painting techniques specific to Beijing, Shanghai, and Suzhou. Ms. Wardell's experience in the art field enabled her to curate the 2011 Annual High School All-Stars Exhibition at Saratoga Arts Council. Teaching studio art for Ms. Wardell means guiding students to be able to think independently as well as offering opportunities for students to problem solve in a creative way.

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  • Diana Balcacer

    Instructional Leader

    Ms. Balcácer is a graduate of SUNY Oswego where she was able to pursue her passion for language in obtaining a Bachelor’s of Science in Linguistics. Growing up in New York City and working in inner city programs in upstate New York greatly influenced her decision to become an educator. She is a Master’s Degree Candidate in Curriculum and Instruction at the College of Saint Rose. She hopes to share and extend her passion for language as the Spanish teacher at Kipp: Tech Valley Charter School.

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  • Sarah Appell

    Instructional Leader

    Sarah Appell is the 5th grade math teacher at KIPP: Tech Valley. She was born and raised in the Capital District, graduating from Scotia-Glenville High School. Mrs. Appell attended The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY where she earned her Bachelors Degree in Childhood Education with a minor in mathematics and a Masters Degree in Literacy and Early Childhood Education. She has previously worked at Broadalbin Perth Central School district as an Academic Intervention Specialist and a long term substitute at Scotia Glenville Central School District. Mrs. Appell aspires to ignite the imagination and instill the love of learning for all of her students.

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    • Teacher
  • Danielle Heidcamp

    Instructional Leader

    Ms. Heidcamp works as the Respect Math 7 Teacher for KIPP: TECH VALLEY and is the teacher leader for Lima Hall. Ms. Heidcamp is from Saugerties, NY in Ulster County. She moved up to Albany, NY in 2012 to finish her degree in Mathematics and Secondary Education at The College of Saint Rose. Ms. Heidcamp was involved in an internship for an education outreach program held at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Students who were involved in this program received hands on instruction using activities involving Ohm’s Law, circuits, LED’s, and resistors. It allowed students to have a real-world application for mathematics and have fun doing it. Ms. Heidcamp is looking forward to helping KIPP’s dedicated and committed students’ better grasp the understanding of mathematics because “the only way to learn mathematics is to do mathematics”.

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    • Teacher
  • Nicole Guerra

    Instructional Leader

    Nicole Guerra is the 5th, 6th, and 7th grade writing teacher at KIPP: TECH VALLEY. Nicole attended SUNY Cortland where she received her undergraduate degree in Adolescent English Education with a concentration in Urban Education. Before her time at KIPP, Nicole worked at a small private school for children with autism in North Salem, NY. Nicole strongly believes that in order to succeed you must maintain a growth mindset, and incorporates this belief into her classroom daily.

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    • Teacher
  • Amanda Thibault

    Instructional Leader

    Ms. Thibault is a 6th grade Math Student Leader. She is from Long Island, NY where she Graduated from Molloy college in the Honors Program. She received her Bachelors Degree in Mathematics, and secondary in Spanish. Amanda received her Masters at SUNY Albany, where she was employed as a Graduate Assistant. She has worked since high school to be able to afford to study abroad, traveling to a new country almost every year. She loves fitness and spends her free time with her husband and Husky. Her love of Math was inspired through her teachers and she hopes to share that with her students.

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