Cresthaven Academy Charter School
Principal / School Leader
Monica Villafuerte is the Founding Principal of Cresthaven Academy Charter School. She has over 20 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.
Director of Operations
Shannon Wright is the new Director of Operations of Cresthaven Academy Charter School. Prior to joining Cresthaven Academy, Shannon led the Technology Department and coordinated operations at a charter school in Newark, NJ for several years. She has a myriad of skills and passion for technology and education combined. Presently, Shannon attends NJIT pursuing an MBA, with an emphasis on Management of Information Systems. She is delighted to join the Cresthaven family to make a profound impact on the scholars and families of 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 excited to continue working with the scholars, families, and staff at Cresthaven Academy Charter School!
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.
3rd Grade Teacher
Katelyn Basile is a 3rd grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy. In 2016 Katelyn received her Undergraduate Degree from Monmouth University in Elementary Education and History with an endorsement as a Teacher of Students with Disabilities. When Katelyn is not teaching she enjoys reading, going to the beach and spending time with family and friends.
Physical Education Teacher
Daniel Bento is the Physical Education teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. Daniel graduated from Montclair State University with a BS in Health & Physical Education. He is passionate about teaching students how to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Daniel has eight years of experience working with elementary and middle school students in Newark charter schools. Prior to teaching, Daniel also served in the United States Army as a paratrooper for 5 years. When he is not teaching, Daniel enjoys going to the gym, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
2nd Grade Teacher
Samantha Brida is a 2nd 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.
2nd Grade Teacher
Kaye Campanile is a 2nd grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. She has six years of experience working in rural and urban areas in Pennsylvania and New Jersey teaching everything from Pre-K to 3rd grade. Kaye completed her undergraduate work at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, PA where she earned a B.S. in Elementary Education with a minor in Early Childhood Education. Right after she graduated, Kaye joined Teach for America and spent a summer teaching in both Kentucky and Mississippi; she fell in love with the kids but not the heat! With so much excitement she is ready to start on her educational journey at Cresthaven and work with the families and scholars in Plainfield. When she is not teaching, Kaye enjoys baking, kickboxing, and spending time with her husband and cats.
3rd Grade Teacher
Danielle Casciano is a founding 3rd grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. She has four 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 is honored to use her knowledge, passion, and dedication to help serve the children of Plainfield.
2nd Grade Teacher
Leanna Caswell is a recent graduate of Seton Hall University. She has a Bachelor's of Science in Elementary/Special Education, with a focus in Social and Behavioral Sciences and a minor in Social Work. Leanna has worked closely with students with a wide range of abilities and has had a deep passion for the Special Education community since high school. When she is not teaching, Leanna enjoys trying new foods, running errands, spending time with friends and family, walking her Great Dane, and being with her kitten! Leanna is eager to share her love of learning with Cresthaven scholars and families, and to have the opportunity to evolve and grow as a 2nd grade teacher with the support of the Cresthaven community.
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.
Ana Maria Cubero
1st Grade Teacher / Grade Team Lead
Ana Maria Cubero 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.
Amanda DeBrito is a Kindergarten teacher at Cresthaven Academy. She holds an Undergraduate Degree in Elementary Education from Kean University and is very passionate about creating life-long learning for her scholars. Amanda is looking forward to guiding the scholars of Cresthaven Academy and helping each one reach success in her classroom. When Amanda is not teaching, she enjoys the beach and spending time with family and friends.
Larissa De Carvalho
3rd Grade Teacher
Larissa De Carvalho is a 3rd grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy. She recently graduated from Kean University with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Larissa’s childhood dream of becoming a teacher has come true and she could not be more excited to launch her career here at Cresthaven. During her spare time, Larissa loves watching movies, going to the beach, and spending time with her family and friends. Larissa is looking forward to serving the scholars and families of Cresthaven Academy.
Michelle Ehrenkranz is a kindergarten teacher 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 honored to bring that same support to the scholars of Cresthaven Academy.
Operations Support Assistant
Michelle Feliciano serves as Operations Support Assistant at Cresthaven Academy. She was born in Newark, New Jersey and raised in Puerto Rico by her grandparents. It is there that she developed a passion to serve others. Motivated by her desire to serve the community, Michelle obtained her medical assistant certification and spent over three years working with a medical practice in Puerto Rico. Michelle currently serves the community of Plainfield through her work at Cresthaven, as well as being active in community outreach, where she is a dedicated leader in youth, children, and worship ministries. Michelle aspires to continue her education in counseling to help others overcome obstacles and fulfill their personal journeys in meaningful ways. Michelle enjoys laughing, making new friends, and spending quality time building memories with family and friends.
Director of Curriculum & Instruction
Megan Gerity is currently the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. She received her B.S. and M.A.T. in Urban Early Childhood Education/ESL from The College of New Jersey as well as her endorsement for supervisor certification from Rutgers University. Megan has served as the kindergarten grade team lead here at Cresthaven. Prior to Cresthaven, Megan taught first grade and pre-kindergarten in Newark,NJ where she was also a grade team lead and instructional coach. Megan was a teacher trainer for the National Institute for Early Education Research, where she worked with K-3 teachers across the state on utilizing developmentally appropriate practices in their classrooms. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, cooking, reading, and spending time with family and friends. Megan is eager to support teachers in creating a rigorous and positive school experience for the scholars of Plainfield!
3rd Grade Teacher / Grade Team Lead
Chelsea Goldstein is a 3rd grade teacher and grade team lead 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 continue 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.
2nd Grade Teacher / Grade Team Lead
Jazmin Gooding is a founding 2nd grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy. Her journey as an educator began 5 years ago as a Teach for America New Jersey Corps member, where she developed a passion for working in urban education. Jazmin has served as a direct instructional coach and lead teacher in grades K-1 with Uncommon Schools in Newark,NJ. She received her B.A in Psychology from the University of Richmond in Richmond, VA and her M.A.T from Relay Graduate School of Education. At Cresthaven she most recently served as the founding Kindergarten Grade Team Lead for 2 years. Outside of the classroom, Jazmin is 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 expand her impact while working in 2nd grade and looks forward to bringing her love, commitment, and dedication to the scholars and families of Plainfield.
1st Grade Teacher
Victoria Hayes is a 1st grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. In 2015, she graduated from Kean University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Teacher of Students with Disabilities. She has three years of experience in teaching elementary education and previously taught 3rd and 5th grade. Victoria loves working with children and is very excited to be working at Cresthaven Academy. In her spare time, she enjoys going to the beach, and spending time with her family and friends.
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. She is currently completing her 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, spending time with family, and loves to cuddle with her cat Indigo.
3rd Grade Teacher
Naomi Joseph is a 3rd grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University and her M.Ed. from Emmanuel College in Massachusetts. Previously, Naomi was a preschool teacher in Fanwood before teaching 3rd grade for two years in the Boston Public School District. Naomi is excited to be back in her home state and serving the Plainfield community at Cresthaven. Passionate about student growth, Ms. Joseph is determined and dedicated to help all of her scholars grow their love of learning! When out of the classroom, you can find Naomi working out, cooking new recipes, trying new foods or traveling to new places.
1st Grade Teacher
Thao Le is a First Grade Teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. She attended Montclair State University and graduated with a B.A in Family and Child Studies in 2012. In 2018, she obtained her M.A.T. at Relay Graduate School of Education. Prior to teaching, Thao worked at the Division of Child Protection and Permanency. She started her path in teaching in 2016 at Newark Uncommon Schools as a First Grade Teacher. Passionate about closing the achievement gap, Thao is delighted to bring her excitement and joy for teaching to Cresthaven Academy. When she is not teaching, you can find her catching up with her past scholars, spending time with family and friends, as well as her Boston Terrier, Frank Castle.
Danielle Malysa is the School Social Worker at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. Prior to working at Cresthaven Academy, Danielle worked on a crisis unit at Saint Clare’s hospital. She has worked with a variety of populations, including at-risk children needing assistance during a crisis. Danielle holds a School Social Work Certificate and a License in Social Work from the state of New Jersey. She graduated from Rutgers University with a Masters in School Work, and received a Bachelors in Psychology from the University of Delaware. Danielle is excited to join the Cresthaven team and provide support for the children and families in Plainfield.
Special Education Teacher
Farhanah Mohamad is a Special Education Teacher at Cresthaven Academy. Farhanah graduated from Seton Hall University and majored in Social Behavioral Sciences with an intense emphasis in Elementary and Special Education. Previously, Farhanah served two years as a resource room teacher in Newark Uncommon Schools. She taught a variety of students and worked closely with the Child Study Team to improve each student's learning experience. Farhanah is also an advocate for children and people with disabilities and continues to raise awareness in every way she can. When Farhanah is not teaching, she is spending time with family and friends, walking her Siberian Husky, Luca, or traveling the world.
Special Education Teacher
Christina Munoz is a Special Education Teacher at Cresthaven Academy. She graduated from Brooklyn College with a B.A. in Early Childhood and Special Education. She also holds a Masters Degree from Concordia University in Curriculum and Instruction with an extension in Special Education. Her passion has always been to teach the next generation the necessary social and academic skills to pursue their dreams. Christina believes that teaching is not just a job - it is a special interaction with a scholar who has a great purpose and talents that must be nurtured. She is eager to engage the Cresthaven scholars inside the classroom by introducing them to new concepts backed by critical thinking.
In her free time, Christina enjoys spending time with her family and friends, attending church services and spontaneously venturing out for a weekend getaway.
Brianna Norcross is a Kindergarten teacher at Cresthaven Academy. Brianna is a recent graduate from Rowan University where she earned her B.A. in Elementary Education and American Studies with an endorsement of Teacher of Students with Disabilities. After spending the 2018-19 school year supporting a Kindergarten classroom in Camden, New Jersey, Brianna is excited to bring her educational and professional experience to the scholars and families of Cresthaven. Driven by a desire to instill and encourage student diversity and individual needs, Brianna is passionate about ensuring that every scholar has the foundation for success and growth in and out of the classroom. When she is not teaching, Brianna enjoys cooking, working out, and spending time with her family and friends.
2nd Grade Teacher
Lynh Nguyen is a 2nd grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy. Lynh recently graduated with a B.S. in Education from Seton Hall University, where she also majored in Social and Behavioral Sciences with a minor in Social Work. Lynh holds a passionate belief that building an authentic connection with each scholar is the key to fostering an environment for academic growth and success. She loves to work with children of all ages and is very eager to begin making a positive impact on the scholars at Cresthaven Academy! In her spare time, Lynh loves to make memories with her friends and family, relax at the beach, and travel to new places.
Lucy Parker is an elementary teacher at Cresthaven Academy. She is passionate about empowering all students and celebrating every success. Lucy is a recent graduate of Gordon College in Massachusetts with a degree in Education and English. Her certifications include Elementary Education Grades 1 to 6 and Special Education Grades Pre-K to 8. Lucy is eager to begin her teaching career working with the scholars and staff at Cresthaven Academy. When Lucy is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, as well as running, reading, and cooking.
1st Grade Teacher
Courtney Richard is a 1st grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy Charter School. In 2016, Courtney received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Kean University. After graduation, Courtney served as a fourth grade teacher in a charter school in Newark, New Jersey. In her spare time, Courtney enjoys crafting, painting, and taking her dog on walks. Courtney is honored to use her knowledge, passion, and dedication to help serve the scholars and families in Plainfield.
Shianna Rodas joined the Cresthaven Team in 2017 as an After School coordinator. She now serves as a Paraprofessional. With 8 years experience within the school setting and classroom, her passion for children continues to grow. Shianna is currently studying to receive her Bachelors degree in Human Services, and will subsequently pursue her Masters in Social work. Shianna agrees strongly with Cresthaven Academy 's motto, which is to educate the "Whole Child" to promote a "Whole Future." She is excited to continue to pursue excellence with the Cresthaven Academy Foundation, as they grow and develop their After School program. When she is not spreading joy throughout the halls, Shianna enjoys spending time with her family and serving at her church.
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 8 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.
3rd Grade Teacher
Ali Rumble is a 3rd grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy. Growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina Ali attended a charter school for most of her elementary through middle school career. In 2016, Ali graduated from Appalachian State University with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. With three years of teaching experience in both North Carolina and Florida, Ali recently relocated to New Jersey and is eager to make a difference in the lives of the scholars and families of Cresthaven and the Plainfield community at large.
Kindergarten Teacher / Grade Team Lead
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 honored to be an inspiration to each scholar at Cresthaven Academy Charter School.
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.
1st Grade Teacher / Special Education Teacher
Vanessa Smith is a 1st Grade Teacher / Special Education Teacher at Cresthaven Academy. She graduated from Seton Hall University with her B.S. in Elementary and Special Education and a certification in Middle School Science. Vanessa is eager to create a positive and supportive learning environment to lead scholars of all abilities toward a path to success. With great enthusiasm, she is looking forward to sharing her passion for learning with Cresthaven scholars and their families. When not teaching, Vanessa loves to be outdoors hiking, exploring new places, or finding a new recipe to enjoy with family and friends.
1st Grade Teacher
Alexandra Stinsman is a 1st grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from The College of New Jersey and her M.S.Ed. in Elementary Education from the University of Pennsylvania. She has eight years of experience teaching in urban areas, including as a kindergarten teacher in Philadelphia and as a 1st grade teacher in Massachusetts. Alexandra is excited to continue her career at Cresthaven Academy and to help all scholars succeed. In her free time, Alli loves traveling, baking, and running.
2nd Grade Teacher
Johnny Vega is a 2nd Grade teacher at Cresthaven Academy. He grew up in Brooklyn New York and moved to Kearny, New Jersey where he attended Kearny High School and was a student athlete who graduated with honors. Awarded an athletic scholarship for Division II Men's Cross Country, Johnny continued his education at Bloomfield College, where he graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in mathematics. Johnny joins the Cresthaven team with 2 years of experience teaching 1st and 2nd grades, and is thrilled to continue his career with the Cresthaven Family as a 1st grade teacher. Johnny’s passion is to educate, motivate, and impact scholars by empowering them to reach for their goals! Johnny truly believes that there is no such thing a dream too big, and he desires that each of his scholars will dream big and work for his or her successes! When he is not teaching, Johnny enjoys running, rain or shine, and hanging out with friends and family.
Cresthaven Academy Foundation
Steven A. Colson
Steven A. Colson is a businessman, philanthropist, Lead Founder of Cresthaven Academy Charter School, and currently serves as Executive Director and Board Chairman of Cresthaven Academy Foundation. Steve has dedicated his life to empowering less fortunate individuals and families. His past work has included providing shelter for international and political refugees, teaching English to local Central American immigrants, deep involvement with the Rutgers University Future Scholars Program, and personally sponsoring athletic scholarships for NJ inner city youth. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Clemson University, served as president of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, co-owns several major companies with his brother, and was the recipient of the Rutgers University Human Dignity Award in 2010. Steve’s lifestyle of service to others has established him as a friend, mentor, brother, and father to countless individuals and families within Plainfield and beyond.
Dean of Enrichment & Programming
Andreali Dharampaul-Bajnath is the Dean of Enrichment & Programming for the Cresthaven Academy Foundation. Her journey as an educator began 10 years ago in Brooklyn, New York where she was born and raised. Andreali started as a Universal Pre-K teacher for four years. She then branched off into a charter school where she taught 1st grade for another four years. Andreali was a founding Kindergarten and 1st Grade teacher for Cresthaven Academy Charter School and will now transition into her new role as the Dean of Enrichment & Programming for Cresthaven Academy Foundation. She will continue to build relationships with our scholars and families and is eager to be part of a team that continues to provide an After School Enrichment Program where scholars can show grit, courage, and self-control.
After School Program Director & Director of Special Projects
Savannah Nesmith joined the Cresthaven family as a founding member in 2016. With ten years experience in the private business sector as an Account Manager and Product Development / Design Director, she combined her project management expertise with her lifelong passion for youth, children, and social justice to develop and launch the Cresthaven Academy Foundation After-School Enrichment Program. Serving as the Dean of Enrichment & Programming was the fulfillment of a dream for Savannah that was first born in 2002 while pursuing her undergraduate education in Sociology and Race & Social Justice at the University of Michigan. Entrenched in the belief that every child deserves unrestricted access to quality education and the resources to support it, Savannah is excited to leverage her experience and utilize her skill sets to step into the role of Director of Special Projects for Cresthaven Academy.