Our educators 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.

 
 
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Nancy Otero

Founding Director of Research and Learning Design

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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 Day
Lead Teacher

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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.

“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.”

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Carol Fontaine

Teacher

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Carol is a passionate educator and life-long learner. She respects and treats students as individuals who deserve to think for themselves and take ownership of their learning. She seeks to kindle students’ passions and interests and encourages them to share their understanding in any of many ways. Carol’s experience as an artist is consistent with her passion for project-based learning.

Carol invites students to make their thinking visible so they can reflect upon what they know and what is important to them. She believes that when students identify personal reasons for working, they are inspired to develop their own paths of research and experiment, learn new techniques, and explore new materials. Carol encourages them to practice close observation of the world around them in order to acquire a deeper consciousness of their relationship to this world.

Carol is delighted to join Portfolio after 21 years of teaching experience in New Jersey independent schools. Her teaching career began as a Lower Elementary and art teacher at the Albrook School, a position she held for ten years. For the past eleven years, Carol has taught both fourth and fifth grades at The Willow School, a K-8 school committed to education for sustainability. Prior to teaching, Carol worked in the fields of graphic and textile design. Her educational background includes an American Montessori Society Elementary Teaching Credential from The Center for Montessori Education, NY; a BFA from Pratt Institute; and post-graduate studies in philosophy with a concentration in Aesthetics.

A practicing artist, Carol has exhibited her work in New Jersey, New York, and California. She is a previous recipient of a New York Creative Artist Public Service Fellowship.

“Our aim is not merely to make the child understand, … but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core.”
-Maria Montessori

 
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Jules Gordon

Teacher

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Jules is an energetic and curious teacher with a genuine love for helping students be their best selves. Educated in a mixed age project-based elementary school, Jules has an innate passion for student driven and inquiry based learning. Jules began their teaching career in 6th grade on a visit to a first grade classroom for career day. Since then, Jules has worked in schools around the world, including in hometown Santa Monica, California, Ghana, Malawi, and during a study abroad semester in New Zealand.Jules attended Bates College, where they braved the Maine cold to pursue a liberal arts degree with a major in Psychology and a minor in Educational Studies. Jules is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Since moving to New York City in 2016, Jules taught grade 3 and kindergarten as an Associate Teacher at The School at Columbia University. Having explored the world from the mountains of Patagonia to the arctic Tundra of Sweden and Norway, Jules is passionate about both integrating nature into the classroom and inviting students to explore the natural world around them.

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Jeannette Subero

Digital Fabrication & Computational Thinking Teacher

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Jeannette is a maker and designer with a relentless curiosity for digital fabrication and physical computing. She earned her Bachelor of Architecture in her home country, Venezuela. She moved to the United States to pursue a career in technology and received her MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design. Her passion for making found its rightful place in the emerging digital fabrication world. The skills and experience with design and fabrication she has acquired over the last eight years allow her to transition between thinking in 2D and 3D, and between physical matter and digital media with ease. Jeannette seeks to foster the curiosity and creativity of students at Portfolio School in a world where technology has become ubiquitous.

"Make, break, iterate. Rinse and repeat. Share, contribute, collaborate. When you are done, do it all over again."

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Katarina Holm Rannaleet

Science + Math Associate Teacher

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Originally from Stockholm, Sweden, Katarina recently graduated from New York University with a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Before moving to the US she worked as a substitute teacher in different schools around her hometown, an experience which introduced her to many approaches to teaching and learning. She has spent most of her summers working as a summer camp-leader, and brings with her an appreciation for the importance of shared experiences. In her free-time, you’ll find her running the streets of New York in preparation for the NYC Marathon.

“A friend once told me that it doesn’t matter what you choose to study, or to do, as long as you are a problem solver. If you can look at any problem and think creatively, and extensively, about how to solve it, you will always be able to make your way in the world.”

 
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Debbie Ashe

Director of Admissions

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Debbie has been in education since she and her younger sister Holly played school with their even younger brothers, Sherman and Dan. After receiving her BA in Comparative Literature and MA in English literature at the University of Pittsburgh, where she taught English composition and literature, she took a slight detour to practice law, receiving her JD from Cardozo School of Law. Debbie returned to the field of education when she accepted the position of Director of Admissions at her children’s school, Trevor Day School. She became the Director of the School & Child Care Search Service at Columbia University where she helped families navigate New York City’s complex educational landscape of public, charter, faith-based, special needs, and private schools. She recently returned to New York City from Asheville, NC, where she worked as the Director of Enrollment Management for Carolina Day School. Curiosity drives Debbie’s reading habit, no recipe is safe from her experimentation, and many knitting projects bear testimony to the mistakes from which she has learned.

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Adiylah Washington

Director of Extended Learning

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Adiylah has worked as Associate Director of Extended Learning for a number of schools in New York including Montclare Children’s School, Williamsburg Northside School, and Aaron School. Adiylah designs and manages After School, Summer Camp, and Vacation Camp programs with the goal of enhancing the overall educational experience. Adiylah is a certified School Business Administrator and School Principal in the State of New Jersey. She taught in New Jersey for sixteen years in specialized dual language immersion programs and the advanced placement Ivy Program in Englewood. She holds a BA in Elementary Education Mathematics Concentration and a MA in Educational Leadership. She recently completed the Bookkeeping and Accounting certificate at the New York University School of Professional Studies. Adiylah decided to become an educator after her first job as a Research Associate at Duke University in her hometown Durham, North Carolina. Adiylah resides in Northern New Jersey with her husband and their children Nina and Derrick Jr.

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Babur Habib
Co-Founder & CEO

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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 innovative solutions in classrooms globally. Working with schools within US and internationally made him realize that there is a lot of room to rethink how best to serve each child's creativity and help them learn through authentic experiences which all led to the start of Portfolio School.

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. Babur holds an MS from Stanford in electrical engineering and a PhD from Princeton in quantum computing.

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Doug Schachtel
Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer

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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.

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Katie Saveleva
Administrative Assistant

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Katie loves working with children and their families. Growing up in a small town just outside Moscow, she was always close to nature, exploring and connecting with natural environments around her. This upbringing had a big impact on her career. She received her Bachelors in Management and Marketing, her Masters in Education and was then a biology teacher. She has had extensive experience in the classroom and also on the administration side, having served at the State Darwin Museum in Moscow as an exhibition coordinator and supervisor, preparing educational tours for visitors. Katie believes that developing long-term professional relationships with young children and their parents is the key ingredient to creating a cohesive and supportive learning community. She prides herself in creating fun, friendly and safe environments for students and parents. She has taught mnemonics (the science of memory) and knows how to juggle really well!