Meet the New 2023 Staff of Ross and Sonderling

Meet the New 2023 Staff of Ross and Sonderling

Brentwood High School is home to 28 new staff members this school year. As a School Improvement Team (SIT) initiative, we composed a list of all recent hires so that staff and students could learn more about the new employees that have joined our Brentwood family.
Kyle Alestra – Science

Hello Brentwood! My name is Kyle Alestra and I am an earth science teacher in the Sonderling building. I have taught science for about 10 years and am technically back at Brentwood. I taught living environment at Ross for 2 years in 2017 as a leave replacement and am extremely excited to be back! I love all things science and am determined to get you interested in science too! Besides science interests, I was in an all-male A Cappella group in college and went to ICCA (like in Pitch Perfect). In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my wife and 20-month-old son, playing board games, Nintendo Switch, and getting out in nature. I can’t wait to see all the amazing things Brentwood students have to offer and am looking forward to an amazing year!

Kristopher Bustillo – Guidance

Hello, my name is Kristopher Bustillo and I am a Bilingual School counselor in the Ross building.  I graduated from York CUNY College with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a master’s degree from Mercy College in School Counseling.  For the past 8 years I have been a School Counselor for the NYC Department of Education.  This will be my first year at Brentwood High School, I have heard great things about this district, and I am looking froward to becoming a part of this community.  During my free time I enjoy spending time with my family.

Juan Calderon – Bilingual Math

Hi, my name is Juan Calderon. This school year will be my 35th year teaching mathematics. Prior to coming to Brentwood High School, I’ve taught in New York City schools and in school districts on Long Island, including Uniondale High School where I taught for 21 years. It is a privilege for me to now be helping the students at Brentwood High School reach their potential and realize their dreams. Personally, I’ve been married for 27 years and have two children who are 22 and 17 years old. I enjoy traveling with my family, watching sports, singing and dancing.

Arneil Deorag – Social Studies

Hello all, My name is Arniel Deorag. My journey with Brentwood has been an amazing one. I was born and raised here in Brentwood and graduated from Brentwood High School in 2010. I have been working in Brentwood for the past 9 years as a teacher assistant both in the Sonderling library and in the Special Education Department. During my time here, I went to Queens College to receive my teaching certification. I am so excited to start this new journey here. Since I’ve started working as a teacher, all of you have been nothing but an amazing, supportive staff to me and I am extremely grateful. I am super excited and cannot wait to see what else Brentwood has in store for me in the future.

Robert Fernandez – Science
Krystal Gagstetter – Special Education

Hello, Brentwood! I am so excited to join this wonderful school community. Although I am new to Brentwood, I have been teaching English and special education for the past 15 years in Queens. I am thrilled to begin this new chapter in Brentwood and I look forward to the chance of meeting and working with all of you! I completed my undergraduate studies at Fordham University in the Bronx, and from there pursued a Master of Arts in Special Education as a NYC Teaching Fellow at Queens College. In my free time, I enjoy the beach and spending time outdoors with my loving family. I have a two-year-old son and a six-year-old daughter who fill my heart with tremendous pride and joy! I am married to my husband, William, who shares a similar passion for education as a former teacher and current school administrator.

Cristin Gonzalez – Attendance
Pam Gustafson – Librarian

My name is Pam Gustafson. I am the new librarian at Ross. This is my first year at Brentwood High School and my sixth as a high school librarian. Before coming to Brentwood, I worked in higher education as an Academic Specialist, English Department adjunct, and administrator of an academic program. I attended LIU Post and Northeastern University- obtaining my BA in English, MA in History, CAGS in Higher Education Administration, and MLS in Library Science. I have published a number of articles and am a co-author on a book about completing research projects in applied psychology and education programs, which is under contract with Oxford University Press. In my free time, I hang out with my family, paint, write, attempt to not kill things in my garden, and take walks to the water.

John Hall – Social Studies

Greetings, fellow students, parents, and staff members! I am thrilled to introduce myself as the newest addition to the dedicated team of educators here at Brentwood High School. My name is Mr. Hall, and I am honored to be your new social studies teacher. Before joining the wonderful community here at Brentwood, I had the privilege of teaching for many years in the bustling heart of Queens, NY. I have also been teaching as an adjunct instructor of history at Farmingdale State College.

When I’m not in the classroom, I cherish every moment I get to spend with my family and friends. I love being outdoors, and on the weekend I’m often biking, at the library, or at the park.

As your social studies teacher, I am committed to making our class engaging, informative, and inspiring. I’m excited to embark on this educational journey with each and every one of you, and I look forward to a fantastic school year ahead.

Steven Horner – Business

Hey everyone, I am excited to be a part of the Brentwood community.  I am the new business teacher at the Sonderling Center.  This year I teach Investing and the Stock Market, Keyboarding, and Business Ownership and Marketing.  A bit about myself, I always like to keep busy, going to concerts, games, vacations, and spending time in the outdoors.  I look forward to getting to work with everyone this year.

Vincent Kenny-Cincotta – English

Hey, Brentwood. My name is Vincent Kenny-Cincotta and I am a new ELA teacher in Sonderling. First and foremost, I just want to say that I could not be more thrilled to be a part of your community and I want to extend a massive THANK YOU for welcoming me into your school with open arms. A little background on me: I earned my Bachelor of Arts in English from Northeastern University, my Master of Arts in Literary and Cultural Studies from the University of Memphis, and my Advanced Certificate in Secondary Education from Hofstra University. Originally, I planned on getting my PhD, but I soon came to the realization that I would far rather be an educator than a researcher. Simply put, I love being in a classroom, and although publishing is good, teaching is great. I pride myself on my ability to facilitate meaningful conversations, generate inquiry, and (dare I say it) make school as fun as possible. In my free time, I like to check out live music, try new restaurants, co-advise our Gaming Club, and spend as much time as possible near the water…But mostly I just hang out with my dog, Olivia.

Yoensy Lanfranco – HLA

Hello, my name is Yoensy Lanfranco and I am an HLA teacher in the Ross building. I graduated from Stony Brook University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish Literature and a Master’s Degree in Education. For the past 3 years, I have been a professor assistant, substitute teacher, and FLES teacher. This will be my first year at Brentwood High School. During my free time, I enjoy taking photographs and spending time with my family and friends.

Kristina Lerikos – Guidance
I’m Kristina Lerikos. I am a School Counselor at Brentwood High School’s Sondering Center. I received my undergraduate degree at SUNY Cortland in psychology and then my master’s at Hofstra University.
Prior to my new role, I was a supervisor at Northwell. Being a school counselor has always been my dream and I am so excited to be a part of the Brentwood School District and community. This year, I look forward to to fostering relationships with students, families and staff.
In my free time, I enjoy baking, going on walks/runs with my dog Lily, snowboarding in Vermont with my fiancée, and volunteering through my parish as a Lady Philoptochos.
Ana Maia – Bilingual School Psychologist

Hi, I am Dr. Ana Maia, the new bilingual school psychologist at Brentwood High School. I received my doctorate in School Psychology from Adelphi. I worked with adolescent immigrants in a residential setting for eight years and now I am very excited to work with students here at the high school and become part of the Brentwood community. As a school psychologist, part of my role will be facilitating individual and group counseling (with Ross Students), conducting psychological evaluations (with both Ross and Sonderling students), consulting with staff, and providing socio-emotional support to the students. I am looking forward to creating strong connections with staff, students and their families. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and engaging in outdoor activities. I am excited to be here and to work with all of you.

Julia Makboulian – English

Hi! I’m Miss Makboulian (Miss Mak) and I am a new English teacher in Sonderling and cheer coach at West Middle. I attended college at Stony Brook University where I received my Bachelor’s in English Education and I am currently doing my Master’s through Brockport University in TESOL. In my free time, I love going to the gym and seeing concerts. I am so excited to be a part of the Brentwood family and can’t wait to get to know you all!

Manuel Mendez – Bilingual Social Studies

Hello, my name is Manuel Mendez, and I am a bilingual social studies teacher at Ross. This is my fourth year teaching. I did my first three years at a high school in Queens. I have a Bachelor of Arts in History from SUNY Stony Brook and a Master of Arts in Education from Long Island University-Brooklyn. I’m a huge Mets and Jets fan, and I hope that they both win a championship before I retire (there are many, many years to go!). I enjoy exploring new places, trying out new restaurants, going to movies, and attending concerts. Fun fact about myself: I graduated from Brentwood twenty years ago, and not a lot has changed (Okay, I’m lying — I had a lot of hair then), so this is a homecoming for me! It’s an honor and privilege to be a teacher here. Let’s have a great year!

Jaclyn Muller – Business

I’ve been a practicing physical therapist for 12 years. I currently practice at Stony Brook Medicine. I’ve worked at Western Suffolk BOCES as a PT for students with physical disabilities. I became a Business Teacher after receiving my MBA from Stony Brook University. I have experience teaching at the Middle School level but I happy to be here at Brentwood High School. I look forward to working with my students in my business of music, exploring teaching II, and business ownership and marketing courses.

Kaleigh Narracci – Special Education

I have been teaching history and special education for ten years.  I recently moved back from Florida, where I taught for the last seven years.  I have a master’s in history and attended St. John’s University and Molloy College, back when it was still a “college.”  I decided to study and teach history because as a child, my father would take me to and participate in civil war reenactments, so I fell in love with history.  I also have a son, who’s two, who keeps me very busy.

Heidi Newmeyer – Special Education

Hi everyone! My name is Heidi Newmeyer. This is my fourth year teaching in Brentwood. I am one of the newest members of the Special Education Team at the Sonderling Center. Becoming a teacher was my ultimate career goal and was always one of my life passions. I truly believe that being a teacher is one of the most rewarding professions. Having the platform to guide, support, and influence youthful minds is invaluable. It is an absolute privilege and honor to officially be a life skills teacher, where I get to not only teach, but also witness my students maximize their potential and strive to reach their goals.

I started my college experience at CUNY Queens College, earning my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. From there, I attended Hofstra University, to earn my first Master’s Degree in Education. Currently, I am finishing up my second master’s degree at Hofstra, in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Another career goal of mine is to become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and provide behavioral intervention services to individuals with autism and other intellectual disabilities. What truly inspired me to pursue a second Master’s Degree in ABA was two reasons; one, my dedication for helping and educating individuals with disabilities and second, a CBS 60 Minutes news segment that featured the Health Wagon. Hearing and reading about its mission and all the goodness that the Health Wagon provides has motivated me to give back (into the realm of the healthcare field of behavioral intervention therapy) the Health Wagon way.

My hobbies include spending time with my family, attending concerts and plays, traveling, and interior design. My plans for this school year are to continue to be the best teacher and advisor that I can be for my students as well as become actively involved in the school community. I look forward to getting to know everyone and collaborating with my colleagues. Wishing you all a wonderful school year!

Dana Passin – Bilingual Math

Hi, my name is Dana Passin, and I am excited to continue my teaching career here at Brentwood High School! I am a math and ENL certified teacher and earned my undergraduate degree at The College of New Jersey and my graduate degree at Adelphi University. This year, I am teaching bilingual mathematics courses in the Sonderling building. When I am not teaching math, I am teaching dance classes to young dancers outside of school hours. I have been dancing since I was 2.5 years old and continued dancing throughout college. I have a 1.5-year-old golden retriever and a one-year-old kitten at home and they are just the sweetest pets ever! I am so excited to be here, and I look forward to a wonderful school year!

Maria Perez-Llona – Bilingual Social Worker

Hello, my name is Maria Perez-Llona, and I am a Bilingual School Social Worker at Ross High School and West Middle School.  I graduated from York CUNY College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Stony Brook University.  This is my first year at Brentwood School District and I am so grateful for the warm welcome and support that each person has given me. Growing up, I always wanted to be a social worker and I learned at a young age the importance of being kind and helping others thanks to my wonderful family.  When I have free time, I enjoy spending quality time with my family, going to the beach, karaoke, and Zumba!

Carleny Popa – Guidance
Amanda Rizzuto – ENL

Hello! My name is Amanda Rizzuto and I am a new ENL teacher in the Ross Building. I may be new to teaching but my history with Brentwood and the community is deeply rooted. I graduated from Ross in 2010. In 2011, I was hired as the attendance clerical at the BHS-Freshman Campus, transitioned to the guidance secretary and worked there until September 2022. While working full time, I attended Stony Brook University in the evening where I received my Master’s in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESL) coupled with my initial teaching certification. I left my home of many years in Brentwood to pursue my teaching career at West Babylon High School for the 22-23 school year. Now, here we are, September 2023, and there is truly no other district I would rather teach in. I am excited to have been given the opportunity to come back home and create the relationships with my students that I once had with my teachers here in the Ross Center. I hope everyone has a wonderful school year!!

Mauricio Romero – World Language
Betsy Rubio – Bilingual Social Studies

Hello there, Brentwood!  My name is Betsy Rubio, and I am very excited to be a part of the Brentwood community as a social studies bilingual teacher! Ten years ago, I walked these very same hallways as a Ross student and took courses in both Ross and Sonderling High Schools. Therefore, it is an exciting experience for me to walk these hallways again but no longer as a student but as your educator, fellow colleague, your source of guidance and/ or support when needed. After I graduated from Brentwood in 2013, I dabbled in different career choices and colleges. However, around 2016 is when I realized I wanted a career in education as I fell in love with being in a classroom, motivating young minds to become great individuals. Around this time, I worked as a teacher assistant for four years at the Brentwood School District at West Middle School and Laurel Park Elementary. Afterwards, I worked as a TA and permanent substitute in other diverse communities such as the Bronx, Queens, Wyandanch, Westbury, Huntington, and Herricks School District. Thus, delving into a diverse community was never a challenge for me but rather always an exciting opportunity for me to learn and grow. While I worked in these districts, I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in history at Queens College in 2018 and then my Master’s in Teaching Social Studies, grades 7-12, at Stony Brook University in 2021.  When I am not in my classroom, you can find me at a beach, park, or in my hammock in my backyard relaxing and reading a good book. If I am not reading, I am listening to an array of music and spending time with family and friends. In all, it is great to be back at my alma mater and I look forward to meeting each one of you.  

Chanel Taylor – English

My name is Ms. Taylor and I am a new English teacher here at Ross High School. I graduated from Central Islip High School and went straight to Suffolk Community College after that. I received my undergraduate degree at UAlbany and got my master’s degree at Cortland University. My hobbies include writing, cooking, and working out. I’m very excited to be a part of the Brentwood School District!

Naun Umanzor – Special Education

Hello, Brentwood High School! My name is Naun Umanzor and it is surreal to return to my old high school, this time as a resource room teacher. I graduated from Brentwood way back in 2014 and went upstate to SUNY Brockport for journalism and history before deciding to go into teaching. I started my career as a history teacher in the city, but my dream was always to return home. That dream has been fulfilled! From the time I wake up until bedtime, music is playing in the background. I am a huge Taylor Swift fan, so shout out to my fellow Swifties. When I’m not at the gym or taking naps, I enjoy spending time with my friends and traveling. Feel free to say “hi” if you see me around the building or in the community.

Madison Vario – Social Studies

Hello, I am Madison Vario. I am teaching U.S. history and participation in government at Ross High School! I received my undergraduate degree at SUNY Oswego and then my master’s at Hofstra University. In my free time, you can find me at the beach, on a hike or in New York City. I love trying new foods, traveling and spending time with family and friends. I hope to plan a trip to Europe for next summer! So far at Brentwood, I have made new friendships with the amazing teachers I am surrounded by. I can’t wait to continue to learn from the people around me and get involved in the community and help our students succeed and grow! 😊

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