Our Team – Teachers

Our Foundation and Support!

Spanish 

Barbara Ferdinandi – Lead Teacher

Barbara was born and raised in Cordoba, Argentina. She graduated from Cliffside Park High School and has a B.A. in English Learner Studies. In 2011 she moved with her family to Hong Kong S.A.R, where she has been a multilingual teacher for over 11 years and is very passionate about Early Childhood. Barbara is completing the last two modules of a Postgraduate Certification in Early Years Foundation Stage from the University of Sunderland, UK. She thrives on studying and researching Child Psychology and the many teaching methods that are most effective around the world.

In Hong Kong, Barbara taught in great local and international schools where she focused on early literacy skills and helping families through the adaptation stage in PreK. She cherished the opportunity to lead a landmark cultural organization for 3 years  for Spanish-speaking expats in Hong Kong, working alongside consulates and non-profit organizations.

Barbara has just relocated back to New Jersey and is the happiest around a multicultural community. She loves to prepare healthy meals and spend time in the great outdoors with her loved ones.

Guisell Avila – Lead Teacher

Guisell comes from Peru. As she says, it may be shocking to many people, but she is the oldest of 9! Being surrounded by so many kids her whole life made her want to be involved in education. 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  settled on teaching.

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 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.

Angela Maria Reyes – Lead Teacher

Angela was born in Colombia. She is a dedicated, organized, responsible and sweet teacher. She is active, creative and entrepreneurial. She studied early childhood education at La Sabana University and has over three years of experience as a preschool teacher. She has worked with kids ranging from 0 to 8-years-old and has loved every minute of it. She enjoys incorporating various tools and methods of teaching to better engage students in every class she teaches. She is also passionate about Conscious Discipline and Inclusive Education.

Fernanda Hernández – Lead Teacher

Fernanda was born and raised in Viña del Mar, Chile, and has just relocated to the United States. She worked for almost 5 years as an English preschool teacher at a school in Concón, Chile, gaining experience working with bilingual curriculums. She is fond of costumes, laughs and “eureka” moments in the classroom. She enjoys challenging kids and motivating them to push their boundaries a little further every day, and believes that a fun, caring environment is the best context to explore, discover, express and learn with confidence.

After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, she spent a semester in Oxford (UK) perfecting her English.She then completed a Diploma program in Language didactics in initial education, and is certified in the Spanish adaptation of Daniel H. Pallante’s program of literacy, “CLIP”. In addition to her current degrees, she will begin her master’s studies as a scholarship recipient from the Chilean Government at Teachers College. Fernanda also volunteered in a Literacy teaching organization during the pandemic.

She enjoys practicing yoga, spending time in nature, baking and painting with watercolors. She is also fond of traveling and exploring different cultures, the reason why she is super excited to have started this journey at Tessa!

Raquel Peralta – Lead Teacher

Raquel was born in the Dominican Republic. After finishing her bachelor degree in Early Childhood Education, she moved to Spain where she earned a Master degree in Psychology of Education.

She has a huge passion for teaching. She welcomes challenges and takes them as growth opportunities. Professionally, she is creative, innovative, and keen to learn.

She has been teaching for about ten years in the Southeast of Spain. She has vast experience in language immersion programs.

On a personal level, she is very energetic, open-minded, and friendly. She likes traveling and music.

Miranda Cruz – Lead Teacher

Miranda was born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She moved to New Jersey in June 2022 to start a new life. She has a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education and has been working with children  from P-second grade for more than 6 years. Mrs. Miranda loves dancing salsa and making accessories in her free time. She is energetic, artistic and a wonderful addition to our school community. Miranda loves children, and has the ability to see each child’s strengths and provide a challenging but fun program.

Carlos Hualpa- Lead Teacher

Carlos is a native Spanish speaker from Ecuador. He was born in Manta, Ecuador. When he finished high school he went to an English Institute to learn English, and 2 years later he was hired by the Institute to become an ESL-Teacher.

He is also an Industrial Engineer, and will soon obtain his master’s degree in “Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language.” His passion to teach keeps him on track. As soon as he moved to the United States, he decided to go back to teaching.

He has over 15 years of experience as a teacher, 12 years in Ecuador teaching different subjects such as English, Math, Chemistry, Science, Social Studies, and more; and 3 years teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language in a Montessori School in Jersey City, before joining Tessa in 2021. 

Mr. Carlos is always happy and very enthusiastic. He understands that every student is different, and they have their own unique way to learn. He makes learning Spanish FUN!

Catty Garcia – Assistant Teacher

Catty was born and raised in Peru, where she studied hospitality Management. She moved to the United States over 10 years ago. Her love for children made her realize she wanted to teach. She joined Tessa in 2020, and has a certificate in Early Childhood Education.

In her free time, Catty loves spending time with her family, cooking and watching movies together.

Jessica Palma – Assistant Teacher

Jessica was born in Manta, Ecuador, and immigrated to the USA with her family as a preschooler. She has called Jersey City her home ever since and has grown up in a multicultural environment. 

She is the first generation of her family to have attended college and currently has her associate degree in early childhood education. She worked for five years in the educational field. She finds joy in witnessing a child learn something new. She feels the impact she makes in their lives makes for an even bigger and completely gratifying impact in her own life.Being a mother of young children, she understands the importance of a great partnership between parent and teacher.  

She is currently obtaining a bachelor’s degree in primary education and plans on obtaining a masters in special education and behavioral analysis. 

In her spare time she loves to volunteer in the community.  In the last few years she developed a passion for gardening!

Carmen Ventura – Assistant Teacher

Born and raised in La Habana, Cuba, Amanda is a native Spanish speaker. In parallel to being a teacher, she is currently completing the third year of her Visual Arts Bachelor’s Degree.

Amanda has a lot of experience working with children. She worked two years with 3 to 8 years olds at Summer Art Workshops at ISA Universidad de las Artes and completed a 6 month internship at Alanus Art University at the Institute of Oncology and Radiology. There she worked with children diagnosed with cancer and other art therapy teachers. She also joined Tessa Summer Camp as a teacher in 2021.

Amanda spends most of her time painting, drawing, and enjoys designing art activities for children.

Rosa Peralta-Arias – Assistant Teacher

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!

Miriam Steinberg – Assistant Teacher

Miriam was born and raised in Mexico. She has experience providing academic programs and tutoring in multiple settings. Her first experience as instructor was in a rural community providing elementary education and basic literacy to parents. She joined Tessa in early 2022, and we are very happy to have her! She hopes to raise the love for language and culture to our students.

Joseline Hernandez – Assistant Teacher

Joshy was born and raised in Guatemala where she learnt her mother tongue, Spanish, and is the oldest of 5 siblings. From a very young age, she liked children and felt a passion for education. At 14 years old, she started teaching and taking care of young children at her local church. 

Joshy obtained an Associate of Technical Drawing and Architectural Design at the Canadian College of Guatemala.She then volunteered for 2 years in community service activities in Guatemala City. The program, called “Peronia Adolescentes”,  consisted in giving drawing classes to children from 7 to 12 years old. At the same time, she worked part time as an art teacher in a preschool “Cedros del Libano”.

She later moved to the United States where she started working at Tessa International School as a Prek-3 assistant teacher for 2 years, and in prek-4 and Kindergarten for two more years. In 2020 she obtained her International Baccalaureate (IB) PYP certification. Since then,  she also dedicated herself to giving private Spanish classes to children from 3 to 10 years old and as Head teacher in Spanish summer camps.

In parallel to being a teacher at Tessa, she is studying to obtain a Bachelor’s in International Business with a specialization in the Spanish language at Keiser University, online campus.

Joshy is very invested in the IB PYP curriculum and truly believes that investigation and inquiry are the best learning process a child can experience. She believes ensuring  her students become lifelong learners is the key for a promising generation and for the sustainability of this society and of the planet.

French 

Elodie Passelaigue – Lead Teacher

Elodie was born in Salon de Provence, a tiny medieval town in the South of France. As the eldest of four girls, she was practiced in tutoring and childcare early on. She expatriated herself when she was twenty years old to complete her studies in International Trade. 

Her earlier career took her across Canada, the United states, Europe, the Caribbean, North Africa and even as far as New Zealand. 

Elodie started teaching pre-K six years ago at Science Language and Arts International School in Brooklyn and is currently assisting in the 2s French Class at Tessa. She is passionate about teaching Visuals Arts according to the language of Arts method by Ann Pelo, well versed in conversational teaching, scaffolding language, responsive classroom management, hand-on math, yoga for little ones, first steps anti-biais discussions, beginner critical thinking when reading and the Reggio Emilia method. Fluent in French, Spanish and English – with extensive knowledge of Italian, Provincial and ASL, Elodie has always made a point to keep learning languages. Besides her passion for languages and Arts, Elodie loves to create little adventures for her Bulldog-Pitbull mix Max and two daughters to engage in.

Elodie holds a double bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Quebec in Outaouais and Sup de Co Marseille and a Masters in Project Management from the UQO. She is currently working on earning a masters in Integrated Teaching through the Arts from Lesley. 

Eloïse Tromme – Lead Teacher

Eloïse was born and raised in Liege, a city in the French speaking part of Belgium. Coming from a family of teachers, teaching has always been a part of her life but it was really the experience of a few months of volunteering in a kindergarten in Venezuela that finally convinced her to choose this career.          

During her studies at Helmo Sainte Croix de Liège, she was able to complete her knowledge in pedagogy at the Blasco Ibáñez University in Valencia, Spain, thanks to an Erasmus program. 

She graduated as a kindergarten and primary school teacher in 2011 (Two separated careers in Belgium), and then  took the opportunity to teach on different continents (Congo DRC, Vietnam, Chile).  

Back in Belgium after five years of experience abroad with young children, she challenged herself and spent six years with students from 12 to 20 years old with learning disabilities and academic difficulties. 

In her classroom as in her life, she loves projects and challenges because they are the driving force that pushes us to surpass ourselves and give purpose and meaning to our learning. As a teacher, she seeks to promote inclusion, autonomy and self-esteem by allowing children to evolve in a reassuring, encouraging and benevolent environment. 

Élodie Sylvestre – Lead Teacher

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 has been working with Tessa since the school opened its doors, and loves 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!

Laura Terriere – Lead Teacher

Laura was born and raised in a small town in the South West of France. She fell in love with the English language as soon as she started learning it at school. In 2011, she moved to Bordeaux to study the English language, culture and literature for three years. After she graduated, she decided she wanted to become a teacher.  She obtained her Master’s in Education and started her teaching career.

She traveled to several English-speaking countries that she loved such as Scotland, Ireland, England and in 2019 she took a road trip across the USA. After this enriching experience, she decided she wanted to move here in order to improve her knowledge of this amazing country and discover new ways of teaching. She can’t wait to spread French culture to her new students and learn from theirs.  

Some of her priorities are to teach her students to be kind to others, understanding and open-minded. She will do her best to help her students develop their knowledge as well as their self-esteem. School must be a happy place to come to, and a safe haven to improve oneself. 

She is thrilled to be part of the Tessa adventure!

Thibault Saddier – Lead Teacher

Thibault was born and raised in the French Alps. Before coming to teaching, he used to study anthropology, worked in manufactory, volunteered for a homeless children association and was an animator for several years. 

Thibault holds a Master’s degree in youth literature, a Master in anthropology, and a certificate in Education. When he completed the French National Exam for teachers, he practiced for the public sector in the marvelous city of Marseille before moving to Casablanca, where he taught in a bilingual Arabic-French school.

Thibault is very passionate about learning foreign languages, 20th century literature, choir singing, football association fandom and having long strolls. In his work, he is dedicated to enrolling students in cooperative pedagogy and creative projects with an interdisciplinary approach.

Daria Pillot – Assistant Teacher

Daria is a very enthusiastic teacher who likes working with children and adults. She was educated in different countries and has a Master’s degree in international communication and teaching French as a foreign language. She lived in four different countries and speaks French, English, Italian, Russian. She is also learning Chinese, Japanese and Spanish. She loves discovering different cultures, dances and drawing. 

Angélique Robin – Assistant Teacher

Angelique was born and raised in France in a little village near Poitiers. She obtained an Associate Degree in Administration Social science and Economics at Poitiers university. For 13 years, she worked as a developer in IT. She later moved to the UK and then the US, where she started volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. Angelique focused on raising her daughter. In 2021, she started working at Tessa as a floater and substitute. Angelique really enjoys being with kids, seeing them grow with confidence and an open mind is amazing. During her free time, Angelique loves traveling, DIY activities, knitting and rugby. 

Amina Maassem – Assistant Teacher

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 also obtained a Children’s Educator Diploma at the National Training Institute of Youth and Sports Educators.
She started her professional career as a middle school French teacher,  then 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 8 years experience working with kids, has taught a variety of different ages and categories of children.
She moved to the United States in 2017 and started working at Tessa in 2019. She is very happy to be a part of the Tessa family.

Mandarin

Ruoran Huang – Lead Teacher

Ruoran was born and raised in Yichang, a small city in southwest China. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chinese language and literature at Shaanxi Normal University in China and received her Master’s degree from Rutgers University in 2018. Ruoran was appointed as a Chinese Language Lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages and Literature at Fordham University starting in Fall 2018. In the U.S., She has taught Chinese language classes at different levels at Fordham University, Hunter College, China Institute of America, and International Leadership High School. Ruoran Huang’s research interests include Chinese Literature, Film Studies, and Foreign Language Teaching. In April 2018, she attended and presented her research paper as a panelist in the Department of East Asian Studies at Michigan University. She was certificated with the 2019 STARTALK Teacher Professional development Program Certificate in August 2019. Ruoran has 4-years experience in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language at different levels for all ages. Her teaching utilizes cultural texts as materials as well as classic poems, films, and calligraphy to make connections between the language and culture for students.

Lijin Chen – Lead teacher

Lijin was born and raised in China. She holds a Bachelor of Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language from Sichuan International Studies University, and a Master of Curriculum and Instruction from Florida State University. From China to Poland to the United States, and for more than 10 years, she has taught Chinese as well as English as a second language to children of all ages. Lijin is experienced in curriculum development, and always ensures to create a safe and enriching classroom experience that supports children’s healthy development in language, social-emotional and physical needs. 

Lijin loves food and traveling around the world. She thinks it is a great opportunity to enjoy and embrace the cultural differences. She also enjoys practicing yoga during her free time.

Xiaohan (Summer) Zhao – Lead Teacher

Xiaohan(Summer) Zhao was born in China and came to the US in 9th grade. She is a native speaker of Mandarin. She has firsthand experience in bilingualism, using Mandarin at home with her family and friends, while communicating in English with her colleagues at school. She developed her professional interest in bilingualism through her child as she observed him learning new languages. 

Summer holds a TCSOL (Teaching Chinese to Speaker of Other Language) certificate and a master’s degree in Instructional Technology and Media in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. As an undergraduate she studied Music and Technology at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. She specializes in multimedia teaching and her teaching style is neoteric, interesting, and well-organized. Summer has experience teaching students of a wide range of ages. 

Summer is a skilled pianist and contemporary dancer. She also enjoys skiing and cooking delicious Chinese food. 

She looks forward to teaching and spending time with your child at Tessa in our Mandarin program. 欢迎你!

Fei Xu – Assistant Teacher

Fei was born and raised in China. She moved to the United States last year, as she obtained a bachelor degree in education. She has been working with kids for over a year, and looks forward to meeting your children. Fei loves traveling and cooking. 

Fei Xu was born and raised in China. After majoring in Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at Beijing Normal University in China, she came to the United States and gained her Master degree in Education Policy at Columbia University. She has a teacher certification in China and used to be a math teacher in a high school in Suzhou, China. Additionally, Fei  had many experiences of teaching and tutoring students of different ages during my undergraduate study. She loves diverse and inclusive cultures and loves to embrace and learn new things, and has lots of hobbies like traveling, singing, drawing, cooking, and making ceramics.

Jieni Yang – Assistant Teacher

Jieni was born and raised in China. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a Masters Degree in Education. She majored in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). Jieni joined Tessa during the Summer Camp 2022. She likes traveling, playing the piano, and delicious food. She is also a big fan of the Golden State Warriors. She is thrilled to be part of the Tessa team!

Baitong Barney Shen – Assistant Teacher

Barney was born and raised in China. He holds a Master’s degree in Asian studies. Barney has experience teaching children from K to 12, and joined Tessa as a Summer Camp teacher. Barney is fond of photography, gemology and history. He loves sharing Chinese culture with his students and is thrilled to be part of the Tessa team. 

English

Emily Johnson – Lead Teacher

Emily was born in California, USA and grew up all over the States before her family settled in Florida.  In 2006 she graduated with a BA in Elementary Education and English as a Second Language and started teaching in Florida. Upon completing her MS in Reading Curriculum in 2012, she transitioned to teaching internationally and moved to London, England. While in London, she worked as a primary teacher and also a Literacy Coordinator for an international IB PYP school.  

After five years in London, she moved to Germany to work as a PYP teacher and worked at both an international and bilingual school. After eight years in Europe, she moved to Asia and spent two years teaching primary students at an international school in Shanghai, China.  

As an educator, she values diverse, multilingual environments and is passionate about combining intercultural awareness with social emotional learning to support the development of all students. After ten years abroad, Emily is excited to be back in her home country again and is thrilled to be joining the team at Tessa!

Milagros Neu – Library and English Reinforcement

Born and raised in the Big Apple, Millie now resides in New Jersey where she enjoys frequent trips to the local library and outdoor activities. Millie has been an educator for over 30 years, and has loved every minute of it! During her tenure, Millie studied Child Development and Education, earning a B.S in Child Development with Human Family Services from Thomas Edison State College and an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Degree. Millie also has a Montessori International Diploma, completed during her several years as a Montessori Educator.

Millie’s first position as an educator was at the Hospital for Joint Diseases where she worked with physically handicap children. She later also served as an English Curriculum Educator. Languages are a passion for Millie; she is currently bilingual in English and Spanish and is improving her conversational French.

Millie is thrilled to join the Tessa International School’s team of experienced and accomplished teachers and supervisors. She knows that the incredible educational environment established by Tessa will be a valuable asset to every student who walks through those doors. Millie is thrilled to contribute to the Tessa community of teachers, parents, and students!

Anna Canning – Assessment Coordinator and Floater

Anna hails from Westchester, NY and holds a bachelor’s degree in History from Cornell University and a certificate in English as a Foreign Language from the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya in Barcelona.

Growing up, Anna was always an eager student, and she long imagined a career in teaching. She turned her sights from history to foreign languages after spending a semester abroad in Seville, Spain, in 2017, an experience which deepened her love of the Spanish language and inspired a lasting curiosity about other cultures.

Upon graduating Cornell in 2018, Anna spent two years working as an English Language Assistant at a primary school in Madrid, Spain. She shared lots of laughs, games, and smiles with her students, ages 6-11. In her free time, she began studying French, and two years later she participated as a Language Assistant at a secondary school in Saint-Étienne, France. In between, she has taught EFL and Spanish in the US to a diverse group of learners from teens to older adults.

Anna is excited to join Tessa’s multicultural  community of teachers, staff, and students, and to help build a more open, inquisitive, and interconnected world for our students.

In her free time, Anna enjoys baking, running, doing yoga, reading, dancing salsa, listening to podcasts and spending time with loved ones. She speaks English, Spanish, and French, and is learning Brazilian Portuguese.

Alex Shelbourne – Music Teacher

Alex Shelbourne is our music teacher; he is also offering after school guitar and piano private lessons to our students. Alex is a songwriter, playwright, and conductor born in California. He received a Bachelor of Music in Music Theory & Composition from the prestigious NYU Steinhardt and graduated from the Advanced Playwriting program at the National Theater Institute.

As a songwriter, Alex’s music has been selected for showcases throughout the city, such as the 2019 New York Musical Festival, Gallatin Theater Cabaret, The First Stages Showcase, and Lamplighters’ New Works Festival. Alex has also conducted and/or music directed over ten NYU productions. He has experience as a music instructor at the Renaissance Youth Center for children of all ages.  He is very excited to join the Tessa team. 

Tessa International School

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