Cresthaven Academy Charter School
Principal / School Leader
Monica Villafuerte is the Founding Principal of Cresthaven Academy Charter School. She has over 19 years of urban public school experience across a variety of disciplines including dance, mathematics and world language education in New York City and New Jersey. She has taught elementary and middle school grades, working with at-risk students, students with disabilities, and English language learners. Ms. Villafuerte has extensive administrative experience having served as dean of students, school programmer, staff developer, and adult high school coordinator. Most recently she served as Assistant School Leader at People’s Prep, a charter high school in Newark, New Jersey. During Monica’s tenure, People’s Prep grew from 7 teachers to a staff of 70, and from 95 to 380 students. In June 2015, People’s Prep graduated their first class with 90% of students accepted to 2 or 4 year colleges. Monica completed her undergraduate work in Dance Education at New York University. She received her M.Ed. from Cambridge College in Education and her Ed.M. in Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University. Monica is eager to bring her passion, enthusiasm, and commitment to effective school leadership and serve the children and families of Plainfield.
School Business Administrator
Meghan Pipchick is the Founding School Business Administrator/Board Secretary at Cresthaven Academy. Prior to working at Cresthaven Academy, she worked for a financial services company as a project manager and business analyst implementing various financial systems projects. Meghan holds a BS in Business Administration from Fordham University and an MBA from New York University. She is grateful to be part of the Cresthaven family and to make a difference for scholars in Plainfield.
Janet Adekola is the School Nurse at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. She is a graduate from Rutgers University's Bachelor of Nursing program, and has completed the New Jersey City University’s School Nursing Certification Program. When not working, Janet leads children and youth in her church’s Vessels of Praise Junior Dance Ministry. She also volunteers in other children and youth ministries at her church. Her hobbies are dancing, spending time with family and friends, and listening to music. Janet is very happy and excited to begin working with the scholars, families, and staff at Cresthaven Academy Charter School!
Lauren Agresta is an art teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. Previously, she worked for the Bayonne Board of Education in a variety of positions, including Permanent Substitute Art Teacher. Lauren graduated William Paterson University with a Bachelors of Fine Arts, having a concentration in Drawing and Painting, and is also working toward finishing her Masters Degree. Lauren is excited to bring her passion and talent to the scholars of Cresthaven Academy. Aside from teaching and continuing her education, Lauren enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
School Psychologist/Student Support Coordinator
Stephanie Avallone is the School Psychologist and Student Support Coordinator at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. Prior to joining Cresthaven Academy, Stephanie worked at A Starting Place, which is a preschool that services students with disabilities, and at People's Preparatory Charter School, a high school in Newark, New Jersey. During her time at these positions, Stephanie conducted a variety of evaluations, provided individual and group counseling with at-risk students, and worked closely with administration to ensure all of the students received the support they needed to be successful. In addition to working within a school setting, Stephanie has worked for a Neuropsychologist, conducting private neurological evaluations for children and adults. Stephanie is nationally certified, holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University at Buffalo, and holds a M.A. in School Psychology from Iona College. Stephanie is committed to supporting all of our students in reaching their fullest potential.
1st Grade Teacher
Chelsea Bovery is a first grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. Previously, she taught both 4th and 1st grades in Newark, NJ. Chelsea graduated from Muhlenberg College in 2013 with a BA in Sociology and currently holds a certification in Elementary Education Grade K-6 . She comes from a family of teachers and has always had a passion for helping others. Chelsea is dedicated to supporting each and every child on their path to success. She is eager to begin working with and sharing her love of learning with the scholars and families in Plainfield. In her spare time, Chelsea enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family.
Danielle Casciano is a Founding Kindergarten Teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. She has two years of experience in charter schools working with at-risk students and students with disabilities. During these years, she has worked on developing and executing rigorous data driven lesson plans. Danielle completed her undergraduate work at Rowan University where she earned endorsements in Early Childhood Education and as a Teacher of Students with Disabilities. Danielle looks forward to using her knowledge, passion, and dedication to help serve the children of Plainfield.
Diana Churchill is the ESL Coordinator at Cresthaven Academy. Diana has over 8 years of experience teaching English Language Learners. She started her teaching career as an English as a Second Language Instructor for elementary-aged children in the Camden City Public Schools. Following that, she worked as an adult ESL Skills Specialist in West New York. Always passionate for working with children, she moved on to teach K-8th grade ESL in the Springfield Public Schools. Diana received her BA degree in General Arts and Sciences, with a Business Minor, from Penn State University. She earned her MA degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from New York University. She later acquired a supervisory certificate from Kean University. Diana volunteers as a Girl Scout troop leader and is on the Board of the Friends of the Watchung Library. Diana is thrilled to share her experience and skills with the Cresthaven Academy community.
1st Grade Teacher
Andreali Dharampaul-Bajnath is a 1st grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy. She has 9 years of teaching experience in urban communities. She began as a Universal Pre-K teacher in Brooklyn New York where she was born and raised. She then branched off into a charter school where she was teaching first grade for the last four years. This is her second year as a teacher and resident in New Jersey. Most recently, in the 2015-2016 school year, Andreali held the 4th place position in a network of 20 schools where her scholars showed significant growth in mathematics. She received both her Bachelors and Masters in Education at Brooklyn College located at Brooklyn, New York. She hopes to spread her love and passion for education to her scholars and families in Plainfield.
Ana Maria Diaz
1st Grade Teacher
Ana Maria Diaz is a founding 1st grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Kean University. Previously, Ana Maria served as a third grade teacher in Newark, NJ with Uncommon Schools. During her time as an educator in Newark, Ana Maria taught a variety of subjects to a wide array of learners. She was born into a family of educators who instilled in her the love of learning. Her dream is to continue to share her passion for learning, and her enthusiasm and dedication as an educator to the scholars and families of Plainfield. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
1st Grade Teacher
Kaitlin Donahue is a 1st grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. She previously taught fourth grade for three years in Edison Township. She received her BS in Psychology and Special Education from the College of New Jersey in 2013, and her Master of Arts in Teaching from the College of New Jersey in 2014. Kaitlin is excited to bring her passion for education and meeting the needs of all learners to Cresthaven Academy.
Michelle Ehrenkranz is an Instructional Aide at Cresthaven Academy. She is a recent graduate of William Paterson University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in both Early Childhood Education and Integrated Math and Science with a concentration in Environmental Science. Michelle is a proud sister of Delta Phi Epsilon International Sorority and most recently worked with children ages 6 weeks to 5 years at a childcare center. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys cooking, baking, yoga, and spending time with family and friends. Ever since she was young, Michelle knew she wanted to become an educator. When she was in elementary school, she struggled academically. But through the support of family and teachers, she was able to succeed academically and build confidence in herself. Michelle is excited about bringing that same support to the scholars of Cresthaven Academy.
1st Grade Teacher
Samantha Fiorino is a 1st grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. She has three years of experience working rural and urban areas in North Carolina and New Jersey. Samantha completed her undergraduate work at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA where she earned a BA in Early Childhood Education and also in Special Education. With great enthusiasm, she is looking forward to sharing her knowledge and dedication to help serve the scholars and families of Plainfield. When she is not teaching, Samantha enjoys reading, cooking and spending time with family and friends.
Jazmin Gooding is a founding kindergarten teacher at Cresthaven Academy. A New Jersey native, she has 4 years of urban charter school experience in the southern and northern New Jersey area. Her passion for teaching is grounded in the belief that all children deserve access to high quality education and she has committed her life's work to working with elementary school aged children. She began her educational career as a 2013 Teach for America New Jersey Corps Member. Jazmin has served as a direct instructional coach, founding first grade teacher, and kindergarten lead teacher in Newark, NJ with Uncommon Schools. Jazmin received her B.A in Psychology from the University of Richmond in Richmond, VA. She also received her MAT from Relay Graduate School of Education. When Jazmin is not teaching, she serves as an All Star Cheerleading Coach with Fabuloucity AllStars Gym. She is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Jazmin is excited to continue her impact and bring her passion, love, and unwavering commitment to the scholars and families of Plainfield.
Pooja Hiremath is a kindergarten teacher at Cresthaven Academy. Ms. Hiremath graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelors in Psychology and Certificate in Creative Writing. After several years of teaching pre-school, tutoring, and working as a camp counselor at the YMCA, she pursued certification in Elementary K-6. Ms. Hiremath is eager to ignite curiosity and passion for learning in young inquisitive minds and to balance the usage of textbooks with the promotion of fun in applying lessons. Her ultimate goal is to help children be confident inside and outside of the classroom. In her spare time, Ms. Hiremath enjoys writing and spending time with family.
Wanda Rodriguez is the Office Manager for Cresthaven Academy Charter School. She has over 17 years of experience in corporate and office administration, holding positions such as Loan Closer and Operations & Contract Coordinator. Additionally, Wanda has worked in youth ministry for over 20 years and, alongside her husband, David Rodriguez, pastors a local church in Plainfield.
Wanda is also a mother to Silas, and counts being a stay-at-home-mom during his first few years of life as one of her greatest accomplishments. The Rodriguez family has lived in Plainfield for over 5 years, and Wanda is privileged to serve the community she calls home. She looks forward to knowing our children personally and serving the school’s administrators, educators and parents for decades to come.
Jessica Saunders is a kindergarten teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. Previously, Jessica has taught Pre-K for one of North Plainfield Public School District’s contracted agency schools and has also taught in Westfield. Jessica holds a BA in Early Childhood Education and a MA in Special Education from Kean University. She enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends, and scrapbooking. Jessica is looking forward to being an inspiration to each scholar at Cresthaven Academy Charter School.
1st Grade Teacher
Bianca Sehgal is a 1st grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School and a recent graduate of Seton Hall University. She has worked with students of all abilities throughout her undergraduate career, including students with disabilities. Bianca first aspired to become a teacher because of her cousin, who is living with Cornelia de Lange syndrome, a multiple disabilities disorder. Aside from teaching, Bianca enjoys the company of her large extended family, cooking, and outdoor activities. She also enjoys traveling and collecting books from around the world. In addition to receiving her B.S. in Education, Ms. Sehgal also holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies.
Enrique Silva serves as Campus Aide at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. He was born in Newark, New Jersey and graduated Barringer High School. After a tour as a Marine during Desert Storm/Shield and, through a combination of life events, Enrique joined Newark Public Schools as a security officer. He later worked at People's Preparatory Charter School in Newark overseeing the food service program and facility maintenance. Enrique also attended Bloomfield College where he studied Education, and plans to one day complete his undergraduate degree in Physical Education.
Bianca Simeone is a kindergarten teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. She graduated from Ramapo College of New Jersey with a Bachelors of Science and currently holds a certification in Elementary Education Grade P-3. She has worked with children in a pre-school setting and has a strong passion to help and nurture others. Bianca aspired to become a teacher due to her love for children and learning. Ms. Simeone is continuing her education and completing her masters in Early Childhood Education at William Paterson University. When she is not teaching, she enjoys to cook, spend time with her family, and travel. Bianca is full of excitement and joy to help inspire and grow the minds of each scholar at Cresthaven Academy Charter School.
Celine A. Tirado is a kindergarten teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. She has been a preschool teacher in Plainfield for over six years, and graduated from Kean University in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Celine holds standard certifications for preschool to third grade teacher and for elementary school teacher in grades K-5. The city of Plainfield holds a special place in Celine’s heart because she was raised and went to the schools in this community. She is overjoyed and enthusiastic about serving her home town and is honored to be giving back to the very community that served her.
Health & Physical Education Teacher
Jen Vroman is a physical education teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. Previously, she worked for Cigna as a Health and Wellness Manager. Jen graduated from Charleston Southern University with a Bachelors of Science. Jen is excited to bring her passion for physical activity and healthy lifestyles to the scholars of Cresthaven Academy. Aside from teaching and continuing her education, Jen enjoys spending time with her family and friends and coaching soccer!
School Social Worker
Katie Worden is a School Social Worker at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. Katie earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at Keene State College and her Masters in Social Work at Rutgers University. Katie is passionate about helping children learn to cope with their emotions while using their words to express themselves. In her free time, Katie enjoys running, rock climbing, and exploring new places.
Cresthaven Academy Foundation
Before joining Cresthaven Academy, Daniel served as Director of Community Development for the Borough of Carteret, and as a School Board member of the same district. During his time in those roles, Daniel planned and oversaw numerous academic enrichment programs for students, including a free homework help program at the local library and the expansion of the local Boys & Girls Club. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Kean University and has spent over 11 years working in both youth and children's ministries. Daniel’s work is rooted in the belief that each person has greatness within them and, with access to a high-quality education, can use that greatness to transform the world around them. He enjoys iced coffee, running, and spending time with friends.
Dean of Programming & Enrichment
Savannah Mellon-Butler joins the Cresthaven family with ten years experience in the private business sector as a Sales Account Manager and Product Development / Design Director. Balancing rigorous corporate demands with her lifelong passion for youth, children, and social justice, Savannah has dedicated her free-time to volunteering and ministry locally and abroad. She has taught and mentored children of all ages and organized youth outreaches throughout communities in New Jersey and in Guadalajara, Mexico where she has led multiple missions trips. Savannah first began to dream of some day championing an after-school youth program while pursuing her undergraduate education in Sociology and Race & Social Justice at the University of Michigan. What was once a dream deferred is now a dream come true, and Savannah is thrilled to finally pursue her passions full-time as Program Supervisor with Cresthaven Academy Foundation. Entrenched in the belief that every child deserves unrestricted access to quality education and the resources to support it, it is Savannah's deepest desire to see every Cresthaven Scholar inspired to excellence in character, identity, and academics through the extended-day enrichment program.
Before joining Cresthaven Academy, Shianna worked and volunteered with two schools, where she led small groups for their after-school programs, and was a head leader for Metuchen Christian Academy's summer camp. Shianna has nine years of experience working with children, ages two years old to 12th grade, as Assistant Teacher at a preschool enrichment program, Sunday School instructor, and youth group leader. She is currently studying Education at Middlesex County College and plans to further her education in Early Childhood Education at Liberty University. Aside from working, studying and spending time with her family, Shianna enjoys traveling on mission’s trips around the world, baking, and shopping.
After-School Dismissal Coordinator
Ana Vasconez is the After-School Dismissal Coordinator at Cresthaven Academy Foundation. Before coming to the United States, Ana previously worked as an educator in Ecuador for 5 years, teaching English to children, teenagers, and adults. In addition to her part-time role with the Foundation, Ana works full-time at Roche Molecular Systems as a Technical Operator. Ana's future plans include studying Early Childhood Education and returning to the classroom full-time. When she's not working, Ana enjoys spending time with her family and friends and listening to music.