Our Team – Teachers

Our Foundation and Support!

Hover over the teachers’ pictures for a surprise!



Estefhania Cuartas, Lead Teacher – PK3

Estefhania was born and raised in a bilingual family in Rahway, New Jersey. Her parents are both from Medellin, Colombia. Spanish was her first language and from an early age she was taught the importance of being bilingual and how it would benefit her in the future.

She studied at Iona College and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Dual Childhood

Education with a concentration in Spanish. After graduating college, she took a job as an English teacher in Spain. She looks forward to working at Tessa and creating an open environment where students can engage in learning Spanish in a fun and natural way. In her classroom, she takes pride in making sure her students look forward to coming every day.

Estefhania loves to travel. She has been to twenty-two countries so far and hopes to visit many more. She loves reading books, listening to music, and spending time with her family and friends.


Ana Paez, Lead Teacher – PK4

Ana is a native of the Northern part of Mexico and a native Spanish speaker. She acquired her English after arriving in the United States and understands first-hand that learning a new language opens new ways of thinking, behaviors, and ways of approaching different cultures.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics and Spanish Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles, and received a Master’s Degree from Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY, studying second language acquisition. She then received a Master of Science in Education. Ana has years of experience in education from managing Pre-K Spanish immersion programs and preparing lessons to meet the needs of all students.

Ana enjoys spending time with her family and often finds her own children teach her how to become a better teacher. Ana is a dedicated teacher who will make your child feel safe, loved, and engaged via fun and purposeful activities. Ana has been working with Tessa since the school opened its doors, and we are very lucky to have her!


Monica Mora, Lead Teacher – K

Monica was born and raised in Peru. She studied psychology and performing arts, and has a master’s degree in education where she specialized in educating children with learning disabilities. She taught children’s theater between 2004 and 2014 in Peru, which gave her the opportunity to travel to around different countries, on tours. She then followed a training in psychotherapy at the Albert Ellis Institute of New York. She also recently completed a behavior modification in children and adolescents certification in Ecuador. Monica has worked in several international IB schools, teaching children from Preschool to High School. She has a passion for reading and traveling, learning about new cultures and traditions. And of course, she loves kids!

Gabriela Mella, Lead Teacher – G1

Gabriela was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from UNIBE University in the Dominican Republic and a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University in Chicago, Il, USA. Her teaching philosophy is based on constructivism, entitling students to their own learning and serving as a guide providing the necessary tools, support, and experiences in order for the students to construct their own learning.

Her teaching journey began 10 years ago. She has worked with multiple ages from 3 years old all the way to 12 years old. The majority of her teaching experience was in private American schools in the Dominican Republic. She has experience working with the Orton Gillingham and Handwriting Without Tears approaches. One of her teaching methods is the use of multiple intelligences in the classroom. She believes students learn in different ways and that as an educator, she has to adapt her instruction to meet the needs of all of her students. She is also teaching Grade 1 students in Spanish. Gabriela enjoys reading, exercising, writing, traveling around the world, and spending time with her family and loved ones.


Guisell Avila, Assistant Teacher – PK3

Guisell is 25 years old and comes from Peru. As she states, it may be a huge shock to many people, but she is the oldest of 9! Being surrounded by so many kids her whole life made her want to be closer to kids. She was able to see, from personal experiences, that kids have so much to give, their minds are capable of so much!
Through high school her heart was settled on going towards a career that had to do with kids.
Therefore she pursued a Psychology major and once she graduates, she will be getting her master’s in clinical psychology with a concentration in adolescents and children. Growing up, her parents pushed her to accomplish everything that she wanted. This is why she was able to do some mission work in Philadelphia for two years. She helped many families that were in need and taught homeschool to many kids that did not have the opportunity to go to school. Besides going to Philadelphia, she traveled around the world. Being able to see different cultures made her realize that she should not take for granted what she was given. She is very pleased to be working for Tessa.


Rosa Peralta-Arias, Assistant Teacher – PK4

Fluent in Spanish, Rosa was born and raised in Ecuador. Since earning Child Development Associate (CDA) and Child Development Specialist certification (CDA) she has become very proficient in managing behavioral issues. She has had the opportunity to work with a diverse group of children including children who are challenged by ADHD, autism, speech impairments, and other conditions. These experiences have helped Rosa to gain expertise in planning and implementing teaching methods that incorporate individual students’ learning. Rosa is hard-working and self-motivated. She always tries to improve herself and she never gives up. Rosa has been working with Tessa since the school opened its doors, and we are very lucky to have her!


Irley Vallejo, Assistant Teacher – Kindergarten

Irley Vallejo was born in Cuenca, Ecuador and came to the United States at the tender age of four. Her first language is Spanish and within a short time of her arrival to the states her dialect expanded to include fluent English. Growing up she continued to develop both languages as she always wanted to help those in her community struggling due to a language barrier.
Irley has two Bachelors Degrees, one in Mathematics and the other in Musical Theatre. After graduating college, she attended and graduated from The Institute for American Musical Theatre in New York City.
Her teaching career began at the age of 17 (8 years ago) as it was part of her curriculum to graduate AADA and Dance Educators of America with honors. That was the beginning of her teaching career as she went on to teach at her University, district public schools, Montessori schools, dance schools, run dance programs, and more. Her students have had a wide range, from mommy and me classes, to kids ages 2-18, and even parent/adult classes!
Irley believes that teachers have the power to influence lives. She says it is a responsibility to use this power for good, to make a better future, and to make other human beings (no matter how small) grow to believe in themselves! And for that reason, Irley is very excited to put together all her passions and teach at Tessa!



Isabelle Mcdonald, Lead Teacher – PK3

Isabelle was born and raised in New Jersey. She is dual nationality American and French, and grew up speaking French at home with her mother and siblings. She spent every summer visiting her family in Paris and La Baule, France. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Language, Literature and Culture with a concentration in French Francophone Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Isabelle studied abroad in Angers, France and continued her travels after graduating to teach English in Montpellier and Carnon for a year. She has developed a very deep connection and appreciation for the French culture and joie de vivre. Isabelle has always felt an effortless connection with children in her experiences with them through teaching, babysitting, tutoring and volunteering. Her enthusiasm, productivity and love for teaching will provide a great environment for her students, success and happiness.


Élodie Sylvestre, Lead Teacher – PK4

Élodie was born and raised in Paris by her Guadeloupean parents. She received her Associate Degree in Administration, Social Science and Economics, but wanted a career that focused more on social concerns. She therefore decided to earn a social work certificate in Quebec; since then her mission has been to improve children’s lives wherever she is.

Élodie worked as a Social worker in Montreal and realized there how vital education is for children; she learned that it brings knowledge as well as solid values in their lives.

She started her teaching career working as an educator for children with behavioral issues in a foster home and as a tutor for a community resource center in Montreal. She still volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused or neglected children in order to provide them with a safe and healthy environment in permanent homes.

Élodie is very excited to be a part of Tessa’s mission and be able to teach French in such an empowering and open-minded environment. She makes giving each child a way to express himself or herself a priority. Elodie has been working with Tessa since the school opened its doors, and we are very lucky to have her!


Derick André, Lead Teacher – K

Derick André was born and raised in the French region of Switzerland. He has American and Swiss dual nationality. He grew up combining mostly French and English in his social life. He also had to learn German due to the different languages in his country. By having to learn those different languages, he was able to see how complex it is to learn different languages but he also realized how helpful it can be in social situations or for his own personal development and understanding.

Derick received his Bachelor’s degree in Education and Arts at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. His degree combined studies and internships at the same time during 3 years to allow him to put theories into practice and  gain experience to analyze his teaching with internship leaders. His studies were focused on the development of the child, primary school pedagogy, French, English and German as a second language and physical education. Derick studied for one semester in Norway where teaching is at the highest level and continued discovering other countries with different systems of children education. Knowing how helpful it can be to speak and think with different languages, he acquired during his studies a desire to help students on other levels of interaction and understanding using the French language. He established throughout the years a good relationship with children by teaching, training swimming teams, organizing sports camps and being a camp counsellor. His devotion, energy and experience will contribute to increased skills of learning, to open access to knowledge, understanding the world and students finding themselves.


Amélie M. Tareen, Lead Teacher – G2

Born and raised in Belgium, Amélie graduated in Education, with the Haute Ecole Roi Baudouin, in June 2007.

Throughout her career, she has been able to broaden her skills in four different countries: Belgium, Congo DRC, Cambodia and now the USA.

Fast approaching the end of her 13th year as a teacher, she wishes to deepen and diversify her knowledge in an International school.

Her travels and experiences, across multiple continents with diverse environments, have enriched her with practical and beneficial skills such as the ability to adapt to cultural diversity, the means to grow rapidly in an unknown environment, and the capacity to achieve efficiency despite, sometimes, unusual working conditions.

She is very excited to be on this adventure with Tessa!


Amina Maassem, Assistant Teacher – PK3

Amina was born and raised in Algeria, fluent in French, she received her degree in French Language and Literature at the University of Languages in Algeria.

She received her Children Educator Diploma at the National Training Institute of Youth and Sports Educators.
She started her professional career as a French teacher in middle school,  then she worked as an assistant educator for children with special needs at the psycho-pedagogical center for disabled children, and educator of children at the youth center.
Amina, in her 6 years experience working with kids, met different ages and categories of children.
She came to the United States in 2017, and started working at Tessa in 2019. She is very happy to be a part of Tessa family.

Julie Bordeaux

Julie Bordeaux, Associate Teacher – Pk4

Julie was born and raised in France. She’s married and a mother of two (a four years old boy and a six years old girl).
Julie has a business background and worked in insurances for 15 years. After spending many years abroad (seven years in Switzerland, three years in Ireland and now in the United States), she decided to rethink her career; teaching appeared as an evidence. She then obtained her DAEFLE (diploma in foreign language teaching). She started by teaching French to adults and recently put her learning into practice with young children. Julie practices running and yoga. She is finding her time at Tessa very rewarding and fulfilling; and we are extremely glad that she joined the team!



Xiaohan (Summer) Zhao, Lead Teacher – PK3-4

Xiaohan(Summer) Zhao was born in China and came to the US since 9th grade. She is a native speaker of mandarin. She uses mandarin at home with her family and friends, while learning and communicating in English at school. She is very experienced in bilingualism.
She has a professional educational background in teaching Chinese. She holds a TCSOL (Teaching Chinese to Speaker of Other Language) certificate from Teachers College, Columbia University. She also holds a master’s degree in instructional technology and media in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. She studied Music and Technology as her bachelor’s degree from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. She is good at multimedia teaching which is a current and future educational trend. Her teaching style is neoteric, interesting, and well-organized. She has taught students of different ages and has rich experience in communicating and getting along with children.
She is a diverse and passionate person. She plays the piano very well and good at contemporary dance. She likes skiing and cooks very good Chinese food. She developed her professional interest in bilingualism through her child because she has always found some interesting linguistic phenomena from her child. She looks forward to teaching and spending time with your child at TESSA in our mandarin program. 欢迎你!

Eva Zheng, Assistant Teacher – PK3-4

Eva was born and raised in China. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Language Arts, which enabled her to acquire a good sense of Chinese traditional literature like poems古诗词. After graduating college, Eva was selected into the CI 国家孔子学院 and taught Mandarin in Thailand for one year. While teaching Mandarin Chinese in Thailand, Eva obtained the Certificate for HSK Administrator 汉语水平考试监考人员证书 and completed a study entitled Research on Chinese Language and Culture Education in Thailand (this study were selected in The 31st Graduate Seminar on Historical Anthropology held in the Sun Yat-Sen University中山大学). After gained cross-cultural bilingual teaching experience, Eva furthered her education at Rutgers University and taught Mandarin Chinese at CIRU罗格斯大学孔子学院. Her graduation thesis is about Oracle Bones Script甲骨文(the origin of Chinese characters汉字),  the research regarding Oracle Bones can better enlighten students about Chinese Characters learning.
Eva loves and is very good at handwirting工整书写/calligraphy书法, poems 古诗词(through singing songs) and math teaching.


Clayton Morrell – Grade 1 & 2

Clayton Morrell holds a Bachelor’s degree with a certification from the New York State and National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) in Childhood Education from St. Thomas Aquinas College. Clayton speaks English, Spanish and Japanese. Born and raised in the greater New York City region, he has previously lived on a remote outer island of Okinawa, Japan where he began his teaching career teaching English via The Japanese Ministry of Education sponsored JET program – Japan, Exchange, and Teaching. After his tenure with the JET Program, Clayton continued teaching English on the mainland of Okinawa, Japan. Continuing with his passions to teach, learn, create and inspire, Clayton worked as a volunteer on Peace Boat’s 99th Global Voyage as an English teacher. Circumnavigating the globe, teaching English, creating media, and organizing events, Clayton was inspired to continue working with Peace Boat in New York City. He worked closely in supporting Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors and the Hibakusha Appeal to work for a nuclear-weapon-free world at the United Nations during the 2019 NPT PrepCom, Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. His passion for teaching, language, and the world has led him to an array of opportunities, and he is excited to be teaching and working at Tessa International.

Tessa International School

Office: (201) 755-5585 | Location: 720 Monroe St. Hoboken, NJ 07030