Educators


SCROLL DOWN

Educators


 

Our teachers are all senior-level and experienced educators, who constantly strive to find the best ways to teach and inspire each of our students. They’re also driven by a passion to share our best practices with other educators and schools so we can together improve education for every child. Click here to read our team's research papers .

 
 
Shira Leibowitz_853x853.jpg

Shira Leibowitz, PhD
Founding Lower School Director

A dynamic, innovative educator and author, Dr. Shira Leibowitz led independent schools in the greater New York City area for 20 years prior to joining Portfolio, serving as Department Head and Curriculum Coordinator, Lower School Principal, and Head of School.  A recognized leader in project-based learning, educational innovation, and instructional coaching, Shira has coached teachers throughout the country in implementing project-based learning in their classrooms and has led online communities of practice for educators focused on educational innovation, teaching and learning, and instructional coaching. Shira’s book The Coach Approach to School Leadership: Leading Teachers to Higher Levels of Effectiveness, was published by the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development in May, 2017.

Shira earned her  B.A, magna cum laude with distinction in all subjects, from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, including extensive study at Teachers’ College of Columbia University. Shira lives with her husband, Alfredo, and is the proud mother of two children -  Talia, who is studying early childhood education at Drexel University and works in the Philadelphia public schools, and Ronen who is in high school. Included in her family are her two dogs, a cockapoo named Oliver and a jack russell terrier named Max.

Nancy Otero_Headshot.png

Nancy Otero
Founding Director of Research and Learning Design

Nancy is a design-thinking enthusiast and a world-recognized leader in the implementation of school Fabrication Laboratories (“Fab-Labs”). The focus of her work, especially with the Transformative Learning Technology Lab at Stanford University, has been the ways in which digital fabrication impacts learning.

Nancy co-founded FAB!, a non-profit in Mexico, which serves underserved high-schoolers and teachers, and she has researched the efficacy of her programs in collaboration with Stanford. This year Stanford is supporting Fab Lab implementations at 5 public high schools in Guadalajara, and they are looking to implement 50 more next year.

As part of the Beam Center NY and Active Emergence (which she also founded) she has designed Project-Based curriculum, worked with teachers and learners to create environments that are student-centered, and promoted hands-on learning in schools around the world.

In Spain, Nancy led the implementation of the first FabLab@School in Barcelona and supported the creation of a fully integrated curriculum. The research paper about this project, “Barcino, Creation of a Cross-Disciplinary City,” which she wrote with Paulo Blikstein (Stanford Professor and Portfolio School advisor), was accepted by the prestigious Interaction Design and Children Conference in 2016.

In Brazil, Nancy led the training of teachers from different parts of the country on how to implement digital fabrication in their schools and transition their schools’ design to a student-centered classroom.

In China, Nancy was invited to Shanghai to consult with the top-ranked high schools on the implementation of Fab Labs and Project Based Learning, and to train their teachers how to integrate a Project-Based Learning approach.

Her research in Mexico and Barcelona have been accepted at several international conferences. She holds a MS from Stanford in Learning, Design and Technology, and she was a software engineer in her previous life.

 
Tracy 200px.jpg

Tracy Rudzitis
Master Educator

“Life is all about learning, and there are an amazing amount of things in this world to explore, to investigate, to discover, and to ask questions about. To be a part of the Portfolio School, a team of educators who are thinking about learning and putting ideas into practice, and a group of incredible children who are immersed in the practice of life and learning, is pretty much a dream come true!"

Tracy Rudtzitis has been teaching computer program and STEAM/science classes in the New York City public school system for the past 16 years. During that time she served both as a teacher and as founding curriculum developer for the Department of Education’s Software Engineering Program, a hands-on portfolio-based and maker-centric initiative to bring computer programming to the New York City public school system, which laid the foundation for the larger Computer Science for All ( CS4ALL) and Computer Science NYC (CSNYC) programs currently within NYC K-12 public schools.

Always innovative and creative, as makerspaces were introduced to schools, Tracy Rudtzitis took the initiative to begin a makerspace at her school and volunteered her time and expertise so her students could spend their lunchtime tinkering, exploring their passions, and working with a wide range of materials and tools. The success and popularity of the school makerspace led to the establishment of a STEAM program at the school in which students explore hands-on making and constructionist education in the context of a middle school science curriculum. Beyond her teaching, Tracy Rudtzitis is a Senior Fablearn Fellow with the Transformative Learning Technologies Laboratory at Stanford University, a group of experienced educators in formal and informal learning spaces worldwide who contribute to research about making and makerspaces in education and the development of open-source educational resources for their peers. She is a member of the educator advisory boards of Little Bits, Curiosity Machine, and Open Source Gallery, collaborating with other educators to brainstorm and create meaningful and creative projects for schools and educational programs. She is also on the faculty of Constructing Modern Knowledge Summer Institute, a minds-on institute for educators committed to creativity, collaboration and computing run by Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez, world renowned thought leaders in maker education and authors of the influential book Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. The National School Board Association named her as one of  the 2014-15 “Twenty to Watch,” a list honoring individuals finding innovative ways to use technology to increase classroom learning.

Tracy Day
Master Educator

“Joining Portfolio is like matching my passion, career and dream. A school that has the early years philosophy for all children and one willing to break the mold is something to be championed and celebrated. I'm sure September 2017 will be the beginning of something truly wonderful. I look forward to being part of the family!”

Tracy Day comes to Portfolio with 14 years of teaching and school leadership experience for all ages from Pre-K to fifth grade, most recently as the lead Nursery teacher at the British International School in New York City. Before moving to the United States Tracy served as an educator in her native London. She taught, served in faculty leadership positions, and was an Assistant Head of School, a role she redefined to include teaching in order to lead change by demonstrating good practice in her own class. Before earning her post graduate certification in early childhood education, Tracy Day graduated university with a law degree and served as a financial advisor and then as owner of her own events company. With a father who is an engineer, she grew up making, creating, and tinkering and has brought her diverse interests and talents to her teaching, earning the respect, admiration, and appreciation of supervisors, colleagues, parents, and children.

Founders


Founders


Babur_Habib_038.jpg

Babur Habib, PhD
Co-founder and CEO

Babur is a tech entrepreneur who co-founded Kno Inc, an ed-tech company which set out to reimagine how students consume content. The company was acquired by Intel Corporation where Babur spent time implementing technology solutions in classrooms globally. His previous experience includes designing Pentium microprocessors at Intel and digital consumer products at Philips. He's served as a fellow at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy, working on the role of science and technology in informing public policy. He’s currently an advisor to multiple tech startups and is passionate about building a solid tech ecosystem on the east coast. In addition, he serves as an advisor to the New York Academy of Sciences on their Global STEM Alliance project and is an expert in residence at the NY Media Center. He has a 2 year old daughter who provides him the daily motivation to build a school from scratch. Babur holds an MS from Stanford in electrical engineering and a PhD from Princeton in quantum computing.

Doug_LinkedIn_160107.jpg

Doug Schachtel
Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer

As a creative project manager, Doug has worked in media, film, children’s play systems, communications and graphic design. As a filmmaker his award-winning music videos and short films that have been shown all over the world. He has two young children and is proud to be creating a school in which he would be happy to enroll them one day. Doug holds a BA from Princeton, an MFA from Columbia and an MBA from Baruch College.

Advisors


Advisors


 

Leaders across the education landscape, our advisors are a key support to our ability to innovate. They share best practices and encourage us to push the limits and question the status quo.

 
 
Tony Wagner, PhD, EIR, Innovation Lab, Harvard University Tony currently serves as an Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s new Innovation Lab and as a Senior Research Fellow at the Learning Policy Institute, founded by Linda Darling-Hammond in 2015. Prior to these appointments, Tony was the first Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard. More...

Tony Wagner, PhD, EIR, Innovation Lab, Harvard University

Tony currently serves as an Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s new Innovation Lab and as a Senior Research Fellow at the Learning Policy Institute, founded by Linda Darling-Hammond in 2015. Prior to these appointments, Tony was the first Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard. More...

Paulo Blikstein, PhD, Director, Transformative Learning Technologies Lab, Stanford University Paulo’s research focuses on how new technologies can deeply transform the learning of science, engineering, and mathematics. He creates and researches cutting-edge educational technologies, such as computer modeling, robotics, digital fabrication, and rapid prototyping. More...

Paulo Blikstein, PhD, Director, Transformative Learning Technologies Lab, Stanford University

Paulo’s research focuses on how new technologies can deeply transform the learning of science, engineering, and mathematics. He creates and researches cutting-edge educational technologies, such as computer modeling, robotics, digital fabrication, and rapid prototyping. More...

Vivienne Ming, PhD, Co-Founder, Socos Named one of 10 Women to Watch in Tech in 2013 by Inc. Magazine, Vivienne is a theoretical neuroscientist, technologist and entrepreneur. She co-founded Socos, where machine learning and cognitive neuroscience combine to maximize students’ life outcomes. More...

Vivienne Ming, PhD, Co-Founder, Socos

Named one of 10 Women to Watch in Tech in 2013 by Inc. Magazine, Vivienne is a theoretical neuroscientist, technologist and entrepreneur. She co-founded Socos, where machine learning and cognitive neuroscience combine to maximize students’ life outcomes. More...

Nathan Holbert, Teachers College, Columbia University I explore how children engage in testing, tinkering, and sense making during play around topics or phenomena that they find personally engaging. In particular I study how children use intuitions about natural phenomena and scientific principles to interpret and assimilate central representations and tools found in play spaces More...

Nathan Holbert, Teachers College, Columbia University

I explore how children engage in testing, tinkering, and sense making during play around topics or phenomena that they find personally engaging. In particular I study how children use intuitions about natural phenomena and scientific principles to interpret and assimilate central representations and tools found in play spaces More...

 
 
Gary Stager, CEO, CMK Futures In addition to being a popular keynote speaker at some of the world’s most prestigious education conferences, Gary Stager is a journalist, teacher educator, consultant, professor, software developer, publisher, and school administrator. More...

Gary Stager, CEO, CMK Futures

In addition to being a popular keynote speaker at some of the world’s most prestigious education conferences, Gary Stager is a journalist, teacher educator, consultant, professor, software developer, publisher, and school administrator. More...

John Larmer, Editor in Chief, Buck Institute for Education - PBL Done Well John is Editor in Chief at the Buck Institute for Education, having also served as Director of Product Development and Associate Director since joining BIE in 2001. John writes and edits BIE’s PBL Blog and other website content. More...

John Larmer, Editor in Chief, Buck Institute for Education - PBL Done Well

John is Editor in Chief at the Buck Institute for Education, having also served as Director of Product Development and Associate Director since joining BIE in 2001. John writes and edits BIE’s PBL Blog and other website content. More...

Scott Swaaley, Founder, GRITLab at High Tech High Scott facilitates complex interdisciplinary STEM projects with a focus on developing GRIT in students. He started his career as a small business owner, electrical engineer, and renewable energy consultant. More...

Scott Swaaley, Founder, GRITLab at High Tech High

Scott facilitates complex interdisciplinary STEM projects with a focus on developing GRIT in students. He started his career as a small business owner, electrical engineer, and renewable energy consultant. More...

Thom Markham, Founder & CEO, PBL Global Thom is a psychologist, educator, author, speaker, and internationally-respected consultant to schools focused on project based learning, 21st century skills, innovation, and high performance cultures. More...

Thom Markham, Founder & CEO, PBL Global

Thom is a psychologist, educator, author, speaker, and internationally-respected consultant to schools focused on project based learning, 21st century skills, innovation, and high performance cultures. More...

 
Betsy McKenna, Founder, Exponential Returns Betsy firm helps professionals in the academic and nonprofit communities advance individual and team performance by deepening conversations, tapping into creative minds and talents, and fostering strategic relationships. More...

Betsy McKenna, Founder, Exponential Returns

Betsy firm helps professionals in the academic and nonprofit communities advance individual and team performance by deepening conversations, tapping into creative minds and talents, and fostering strategic relationships. More...

Andy Cavatorta, Inventor/Artist, Andy’s Studio Andy is a Brooklyn-based inventor and artist working with robotics, music, and theater. His work integrates emerging technologies with traditional crafts to discover new ways to create meaning with sound and motion. More...

Andy Cavatorta, Inventor/Artist, Andy’s Studio

Andy is a Brooklyn-based inventor and artist working with robotics, music, and theater. His work integrates emerging technologies with traditional crafts to discover new ways to create meaning with sound and motion. More...

Don Buckley, Co-founder, Tools at Schools Don has transformed learning spaces so they work for teachers and students and not just architects, has transformed textbooks so that they work for students and teachers and not just publishers, and transformed new media resources so that they work for students and teachers and not just programmers. More...

Don Buckley, Co-founder, Tools at Schools

Don has transformed learning spaces so they work for teachers and students and not just architects, has transformed textbooks so that they work for students and teachers and not just publishers, and transformed new media resources so that they work for students and teachers and not just programmers. More...

Osman Rashid, Founder and CEO, Galxyz Osman is a seasoned entrepreneur in the field of educational technology. He is currently the Founder & CEO of Galxyz, an intergalactic adventure that gets kids into science. Galxyz’s mission to ignite the fascination of science and unlock the true potential in every student. More...

Osman Rashid, Founder and CEO, Galxyz

Osman is a seasoned entrepreneur in the field of educational technology. He is currently the Founder & CEO of Galxyz, an intergalactic adventure that gets kids into science. Galxyz’s mission to ignite the fascination of science and unlock the true potential in every student. More...

 
Eileen Johnson, School Director, Sara Curry Preschool, and Author of Children’s Bill of Emotional Rights Eileen was born and educated in Ireland, and there she taught High School and Elementary School children. Working with very young children has been the most fulfilling and rewarding part of her career. More...

Eileen Johnson, School Director, Sara Curry Preschool, and Author of Children’s Bill of Emotional Rights

Eileen was born and educated in Ireland, and there she taught High School and Elementary School children. Working with very young children has been the most fulfilling and rewarding part of her career. More...

Tikvah Weiner, Co-founder/Director I.D.E.A Schools Network Tikvah has been in education for twenty years and is currently co-Founder and Director of the I.D.E.A. Schools Network, which helps Jewish and independent schools implement project-based learning. More...

Tikvah Weiner, Co-founder/Director
I.D.E.A Schools Network

Tikvah has been in education for twenty years and is currently co-Founder and Director of the I.D.E.A. Schools Network, which helps Jewish and independent schools implement project-based learning. More...

Andrew Garland, Partner, TNTP Andrew Garland is a Partner for Knowledge Management at TNTP, a national nonprofit dedicated to providing excellent teachers to the students who need them most and advancing policies and practices that ensure effective teaching in every classroom. More...

Andrew Garland, Partner, TNTP

Andrew Garland is a Partner for Knowledge Management at TNTP, a national nonprofit dedicated to providing excellent teachers to the students who need them most and advancing policies and practices that ensure effective teaching in every classroom. More...

Joni Anderson, Educational Director/Admissions, CP Kids Early Learning Center Joni has been working in the early childhood space in New York City for over 10 years. She has done it all – teaching, curriculum writing, admissions and administration. More...

Joni Anderson, Educational Director/Admissions, CP Kids Early Learning Center

Joni has been working in the early childhood space in New York City for over 10 years. She has done it all – teaching, curriculum writing, admissions and administration. More...

 
Charles Thornburgh, CEO/Founder, Civitas Learning Charles founded Civitas Learning with a vision of making the most of the world’s learning data. The company partners with forward-thinking colleges and universities, providing a cloud-based predictive analytics platform and engaging applications to measurably improve student learning, persistence and completion. More...

Charles Thornburgh, CEO/Founder, Civitas Learning

Charles founded Civitas Learning with a vision of making the most of the world’s learning data. The company partners with forward-thinking colleges and universities, providing a cloud-based predictive analytics platform and engaging applications to measurably improve student learning, persistence and completion. More...

Matt Renwick, Educator & Author Matt is a veteran public educator and author of multiple books on technology in education. He started as a 5th and 6th grade teacher in a country school outside of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. After seven years of teaching, Matt served as a dean of students at a junior high, which developed into an assistant principalship along with athletic director duties. More...

Matt Renwick, Educator & Author

Matt is a veteran public educator and author of multiple books on technology in education. He started as a 5th and 6th grade teacher in a country school outside of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. After seven years of teaching, Matt served as a dean of students at a junior high, which developed into an assistant principalship along with athletic director duties. More...

Donna Wilson PhD, Author, Psychologist, & Teacher Educator Donna has codeveloped university graduate programs in the trans-disciplinary domain of psychology, education, and emerging educational neuroscience. She provides educators with dynamic, research-based professional development that integrate concepts from her books. More...

Donna Wilson PhD, Author, Psychologist, & Teacher Educator

Donna has codeveloped university graduate programs in the trans-disciplinary domain of psychology, education, and emerging educational neuroscience. She provides educators with dynamic, research-based professional development that integrate concepts from her books. More...

Katy Kasmai, Founder of Team Exponent, Sr Engineering PM, Google  Katy is passionate about 10x thinking, moonshots, sustainability and the pursuit of change and innovation. She develops and executes strategies to solve complex problems using technology, with a focus on achieving product excellence. More...

Katy Kasmai, Founder of Team Exponent, Sr Engineering PM, Google 

Katy is passionate about 10x thinking, moonshots, sustainability and the pursuit of change and innovation. She develops and executes strategies to solve complex problems using technology, with a focus on achieving product excellence. More...

 
Paula Marra, Educator, United Nations International School; Creativity Catalyst Paula has been an educator for more than 20 years, and is currently a Junior School teacher and team leader at the United Nations International School (UNIS). She specializes in primary education, using a variety of teaching methods derived from her experience with multiple international curricula, and emphasizing project-based learning /STEAM and design thinking. More...

Paula Marra, Educator, United Nations International School; Creativity Catalyst

Paula has been an educator for more than 20 years, and is currently a Junior School teacher and team leader at the United Nations International School (UNIS). She specializes in primary education, using a variety of teaching methods derived from her experience with multiple international curricula, and emphasizing project-based learning /STEAM and design thinking. More...

Aviva Dunsiger, Kindergarten Teacher, Ancaster, Ontario; Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Aviva is just finishing her 15th year teaching for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. She’s taught every grade from Kindergarten to Grade 6 in some capacity. In 2013, she was recognized as one of the recipients of the Prime Minister’s Award For Teaching Excellence. More...

Aviva Dunsiger, Kindergarten Teacher, Ancaster, Ontario; Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board

Aviva is just finishing her 15th year teaching for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. She’s taught every grade from Kindergarten to Grade 6 in some capacity. In 2013, she was recognized as one of the recipients of the Prime Minister’s Award For Teaching Excellence. More...

Lauren Scheller, Educator, coach & catalyst Lauren has coached school and district leaders nationally for the past 6 years, helping them create the ecosystem necessary for rigorous, innovative instruction. Working at the Buck Institute for Education (BIE), she led 8 school and district reform initiatives, equipping leaders to drive systemic change in the name of deeper learning for students. More...

Lauren Scheller, Educator, coach & catalyst

Lauren has coached school and district leaders nationally for the past 6 years, helping them create the ecosystem necessary for rigorous, innovative instruction. Working at the Buck Institute for Education (BIE), she led 8 school and district reform initiatives, equipping leaders to drive systemic change in the name of deeper learning for students. More...

Noah Hichenberg, School Director, JCC Manhattan nursery school Noah is the school director at the JCC Manhattan nursery school, a school shaped by the twin influences of Jewish values and a Reggio Emilia-inspired approach. More...

Noah Hichenberg, School Director,
JCC Manhattan nursery school

Noah is the school director at the JCC Manhattan nursery school, a school shaped by the twin influences of Jewish values and a Reggio Emilia-inspired approach. More...

 
Eric Westendorf, Co-founder and CEO, LearnZillion Eric is the co-founder and CEO of LearnZillion, the next generation curriculum and professional development solution. LearnZillion provides open, digital curricula along with professional development and integration support. More...

Eric Westendorf, Co-founder and CEO, LearnZillion

Eric is the co-founder and CEO of LearnZillion, the next generation curriculum and professional development solution. LearnZillion provides open, digital curricula along with professional development and integration support. More...

 

Artists-In-Residence


Artists-In-Residence


 

A vital part of the Portfolio education, our artists-in-residence are working NYC artists who teach the students not only various artistic techniques but also help them to create work that is tied to their projects. 

 
 
Nicole Skibola www.nicoleskibola.com Nicole Skibola is Brooklyn based writer and artist. Her primary medium is ink, graphite and gouache, and occasionally linocut and woodcut printmaking. Her writing and visual art explore memoir, personal myth and storytelling, as well as modern feminism. She has written and illustrated several self-published small art books and is currently collaborating with several hospitals to bring art therapy and personal storytelling to oncology patients. She has a BA from UC Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from the University of San Francisco School of Law. 

Nicole Skibola
www.nicoleskibola.com

Nicole Skibola is Brooklyn based writer and artist. Her primary medium is ink, graphite and gouache, and occasionally linocut and woodcut printmaking. Her writing and visual art explore memoir, personal myth and storytelling, as well as modern feminism. She has written and illustrated several self-published small art books and is currently collaborating with several hospitals to bring art therapy and personal storytelling to oncology patients. She has a BA from UC Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from the University of San Francisco School of Law. 

 
Liz Evans Liz Evans' love of sewing began in elementary school where she enjoyed projects such as making MC Hammer pants and dashikis.  By the time she got to college she was working on more ambitious projects for student theater and dance groups as well as the Princeton University Theater department and NJ Opera Theater. After college she continued to work on theatrical costuming for a while, but also worked on bridal gown alterations, industrial displays and custom interiors fabrication.  She recently decided to continue at the Fashion Institute of Technology to deepen her knowledge of apparel manufacturing and computer Pattern making.  She currently works for a denim manufacturer in the garment district. Liz is very excited to share her love of sewing with the students at the Portfolio school.

Liz Evans

Liz Evans' love of sewing began in elementary school where she enjoyed projects such as making MC Hammer pants and dashikis.  By the time she got to college she was working on more ambitious projects for student theater and dance groups as well as the Princeton University Theater department and NJ Opera Theater. After college she continued to work on theatrical costuming for a while, but also worked on bridal gown alterations, industrial displays and custom interiors fabrication.  She recently decided to continue at the Fashion Institute of Technology to deepen her knowledge of apparel manufacturing and computer Pattern making.  She currently works for a denim manufacturer in the garment district. Liz is very excited to share her love of sewing with the students at the Portfolio school.


If you're an artist or art teacher in the NYC area and are interested to join our program, please tell us a bit about yourself and we will get in touch with you:

Name *
Name
http://

Open Positions


Open Positions


 

We're currently accepting applications for Elementary-age Teachers to start August 2018. If interested, please apply here.