The Active Learning Elementary School
Robert Groff, PRINCIPAL
137-20 FRANKLIN AVENUE, QUEENS, NY 11355Phone: 718-445-5730
School Name, Number, or Address
Robert Groff, Principal
Bob earned his masters in Public Administration before deciding to go into education as a 2002 Teach for America corps member. He is now entering his 11th year in education. He taught 5th and 1st grade in the South Bronx and Kindergarten in Harlem for 4 years. During this time he also obtained a Masters of Science in Teaching and a Masters in School Leadership at Pace University. He used these experiences to co-found TALES, become its founding literacy specialist and was the Assistant Principal before becoming the Principal. In his off time, Bob enjoys running, biking and triathlons.
Tu Harris, Assistant Principal I.A
Tu hails from Tacoma, Washington where she grew up with a view of Mount Rainier. As much as she loved the Pacific Northwest, she was always dazzled by big cities and came to New York City to attend Columbia University. She has made New York City her home since graduation and she currently resides in Brooklyn. Tu has been both a classroom teacher and a science teacher (she loves PBS and Channel 13 programs) for the past seven years. She received her Masters in Teaching and Masters in Administration & Supervision from Pace University. When not teaching, Tu enjoys reading, designing clothes, cooking, and entrepreneurship.
Teresa Dubin, Teacher 3rd Grade
Helen Chin, Paraprofessional
Helen has worked for the Department of Education for 10 years. Prior to the DOE, she worked for Dow Jones & Co. - Wall Street Journal for 13 years in Manhattan as a Senior Statistician and News Assistant. Helen graduated from Pace University with a B.S. in Marketing.
Charlene Cruse, Teacher- Kindergarten
Prior to joining TALES in 2008, Charlene taught for 3 years in Bed Sty New York. She was born and raised in Buffalo N.Y. and enjoys spending time with her 2 nieces and her nephew. She has taught Kindergarten for 2 years,3rd grade for 2 years, and Pre-K for 3 years. Charlene is a graduate from Buffalo State College with a B.S. in Early Childhood/Childhood Education. She also has a Master's Degree in Special Education from Touro College in grades 1-6. Even after completion of her masters she continues to take courses in education to help her in learning new and exciting ideas for her classroom. In her spare time, Charlene likes to travel, spend time with her friends, family, read, cook, and exercise.
Karen Darrell, Paraprofessional
Karen Darrell has been with the NYC Department of Education since 2006 working for District 75 Special Education Citywide Programs and now entering her third year at TALES. She served on the Board of Directors of her local preschool as Treasurer for seven years while helping to support their Universal Pre-K program. Karen attends Queens College and is studying Elementary Education and English Literature.
Josie Dershowitz, 1 st Grade Teacher
This is Brittany’s second year at TALES. Brittany graduated from Queens College with her a B.A. in Psychology and Dance. While substituting in District 75 Schools, Brittany went on to receive her M.S. in Childhood Education/Early Childhood Education/Special Education with a concentration in autism from Long Island University – C.W. Post. Brittany has also taught preschool for students with special needs. For the past seven years she has taught dance to students ages 2-18. Brittany wants to create an engaging learning environment that allows her to share a mutual learning experience with her students. Her personal interests include choreography, traveling, and biking.
Leslie Franco, Paraprofessional
Stephanie Graziano, Teacher-Kindergarten
Ema Hustea, Paraprofessional
Ema graduated from Baruch College in 2003 with a BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration)/ International Marketing. As she attended college, she worked at Lag CC as a tutor for students with learning disabilities. Ema recently graduated from Hunter College with a degree in Early Childhood education.
Kim Ilardi, Teacher, Language Through Music/ESL Teacher
Kim is entering her fifth year of teaching at TALES. She graduated from Muhlenberg College in 2001 with a BA in Music and French and holds an MA in French Studies from Middlebury College (2002) and an MS in Teaching TESOL from Fordham University (2011). Prior to joining the NYC Teaching Fellows program, Kim lived in France teaching English to elementary students in Paris. In New York, she worked in arts management, administration and arts education at the Metropolitan Opera Guild. Passionate about languages and the arts (especially music) she is committed to bringing her previous experience and expertise to her work with the students and families at TALES. On weekends, Kim can be found teaching family music classes as a registered Music Together teacher. She is thrilled to be teaching Music Together Preschool at TALES this year and is looking forward to making music with all of the students and families in our school community.
Christian Alberto Ledesma, Teacher-Science
Christian Alberto Ledesma was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and attended NYC Public Schools. He graduated from New York University and received his Masters of Science in Teaching from Pace University. He is currently working on a Graduate Certificate in Science Education from Montana State University. He has taught 2nd and 4th Grades, as well as serving as a Reading Specialist and a Science teacher. Christian has led TALES' efforts in being recognized as a Healthy School by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation two years in a row. This Fall he begins his eleventh year of teaching. In his spare time Christian enjoys playing outdoors, running long distances, biking, swimming, martial arts, hiking, and dancing. He currently lives with his wife, Wendy, and baby boy, Santiago, in Astoria, Queens .
Jacqueline Mark, Teacher- ESL/Literacy
Anna Oliveri, Teacher-Pre-Kindergarten
Anna is proud to be working in a school whose underlying philosophy is health, nutrition, and exploring hands-on balanced education. Prior to joining the T.A.L.E.S. team, Anna taught third grade in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and kindergarten in Elmhurst, Queens. She looks forward to continuing her educational journey in pre-k. Anna graduated from Queens College with a B.A and an M.S. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Additionally, she holds a TESOL certificate. Anna is entering her fifth year at TALES.
Jessica Pasternak, Teacher-1st Grade Prior to joining TALES, Jessica worked in Whitestone for 2 years teaching first grade and Fresh Meadows for a year teaching various grades from pre-k to fifth. Jessica graduated from SUNY Cortland with a Bachelors of Science in Education. She has her Masters from CW Post in Literacy. She loves teaching and is entering her 4th year with the TALES family. Jessica enjoys going to Broadway shows and spending time with her family and friends. She looks forward to a very successful year of learning!
Karen Sandner, Teacher-Kindergarten
Maggie Stratigakos, Teacher-ESL/Literacy
Maggie has been part of the TALES family since its opening. Prior to joining TALES, Maggie served as a first grade teacher at P.S. 197, An Early Childhood School, in the Bronx for three years. She taught 1 st Grade at TALES for 2 years and this year she will be continuing to serve as the Literacy/ ESL push- in for first and third grade, in addition to serving as the school's Reading Recovery teacher. Maggie graduated from Queens College in Flushing with a B.S. in Elementary Education and Psychology, and later earned a Master's degree in Children's Literature. She completed a TESOL program (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) so as to better serve the needs of English Language Learners. In her spare time she loves to have fun with her two children.
Patricia Taormina, Paraprofessional
Stephanie Tybinka, Teacher - 3rd Grade
Rachel Wolf, Teacher-Special Education
Rachel is excited to begin her fourth year at TALES. She attended Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and received her undergraduate degree in Human Development. After graduation, Rachel spent two years at Teachers College at Columbia University, where she received a Dual Masters in Childhood Education and Special Education . She was the Special Education teacher in an ICT classroom for a year in South Ozone Park before coming to TALES. This year, Rachel is excited to return to school to pursue a future in administration at Hunter College. She is passionate about music and theater and hopes to share that love with her students.