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.
Maritza Meza, Lead Teacher – PK4
Maritza was born and raised in Colombia. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Pedagogy of the written language. She has worked with the Reggio Emilia educational approach, which is based on the idea of the child possessing a strong potential for development. In addition, Maritza is skilled in the Blending Learning Model, which provides students with the necessary tools to explore their world with meaningful learning experiences and to become 21st century learners.
She worked at a prestigious private international school in Bogota for 18 years as a preschool teacher and also in a Pre-K English immersion program. One of her pillars as an educator is to respect students’ individual learning processes and maximize their potential in a fun and caring environment. One of her great passions besides education is writing articles related to her educational experiences with children and sharing them with teachers around the world.
Yubeiry Rodriguez, Lead Teacher – K
Ms. Yubeiry is passionate about education. She was born in the Dominican Republic, and already as a child, she pretended to be a teacher.
Yubeiry believes that education is the best way to help children to be successful in their future lives. For this reason, she studied to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary and Middle School. Years later her love for children motivated her to pursue a Master Degree in Early Childhood Education. She has over 10 years of experience as Pre- K teacher. She enjoys educating both her son and her students through love, respect and understanding with the goal to help them achieve a healthy social and emotional development so that they can face the academic challenges that arise.
Maria Cintron, Assistant Teacher – PK3
Maria was born and raised in a bilingual family in Jersey City. Her parents are from Lares, Puerto Rico where she acquired her Spanish at a very young age through her daily interactions with her mother and father. Being bilingual has helped Maria understand the importance of Hispanic cultures.
Maria holds an Associate’s Degree in Elementary and Secondary Education from Hudson County Community College. She has experience working with children from the ages of three months to five years old. She is also working toward obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Literature with a minor in Latin and Caribbean Studies at the New Jersey City University. Maria has also had the experience working as a Spanish translator in New York City.
Maria loves working and spending time with children. She enjoys reading, singing, and dancing with her one-year old nephew. She also loves to cook, read, meditate, and work out. Maria is dedicated and committed in helping your child understand the importance of learning another language through meaningful and purposeful activities.
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.
Joshy Hernandez, Assistant Teacher – K
Fluent in Spanish, Joshy was born and raised in Guatemala. Since an early age, Joshy has always been interested in taking care of children, taking courses in child development when she was in high school.
When Joshy immigrated to the United States she decided to dedicate her life to working with children. Beginning as a nanny, Joshy eventually became a tutor for 4 and 5 year-olds. She then became an assistant teacher at Tessa in 2016. She is happy to be on Team Tessa!
Merced Sanchez, Assistant Teacher
Merced was born in Mexico and raised in New Jersey. Being bilingual has helped her understand the importance of cultures. She has experience working with children from 3 months to 5 years old. She is currently working toward obtaining a Child Development Associate. She loves working and spending time with children and believe all kids deserve to have a safe education in a nurturing and warm environment.
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.
Aurelia Howard, Assistant Teacher – PK3
Aurelia was born in Echirolles, France and was raised by her parents from Madagascar. She has lived in different countries such as Mayotte, French Guyana, Polynesia, Spain and England. Over the years, she developed a passion for learning languages and discovering new cultures. Her upbringing and background led her to pursue part of her 10 years career as a foreign languages instructor in the United States. She has been a teacher in different summer camps and was responsible for running evening classes in France.
Fluent in French and Spanish, she holds a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages applied to International Business (Langues Etrangeres Appliquées). Aurelia is excited to join the Tessa team this year and share her culture and love for language with children. She believes that being immersed in a different culture and learning to speak a foreign language at a young age fosters open-mindedness and the ability to adapt to new challenges and environments. When she is not teaching, she loves being creative and planning events for friends and family.
Sandrine Bedouet, Associate Teacher – PK4
Sandrine was born and raised in Angers, France. She has over 20 years of experience working with children for Education Nationale. She has worked in various cities in France in very different social and cultural environments. Sandrine has two Bachelor’s degrees: one in The Science of Education and the other in Sociology.
Sandrine considers teamwork to be key to the success of a school. She loves working with children and she considers each child to be unique with his or her own source of happiness. She believes that education is key for children to become respectful citizens. Sandrine is enthusiastic, empathetic, and engaged. She is very excited to be a part of Team Tessa.
Nathalie Bryant, Lead Teacher – Grade 1
Nathalie was born in France, the daughter of a French Mother and an American father. She became aware at a young age of the implications of speaking 2 languages fluently, hearing her family switch from one language to another at the dinner table.
She spent her childhood years between Mexico City, Boston and Paris. Back in France she went to the International High School of Sevres and got her Baccalaureate with the International Option (OIB).
She holds Bachelor degrees in Fine Arts and Psychology and has over 15 years of experience working with children of all ages. She always knew she wanted to work with children and started out at 17 as a counselor at Summer camps. A few years later thanks to her being bilingual, she was hired as an anglophone teacher at Ecole Everest, international preschool near Paris. When she moved to New York 10 years ago, she did the opposite and started working as a French teacher. She has worked at the French Institute, La Petite Ecole (French Immersion Preschool) and as a private tutor. Nathalie is also an actress and an acting teacher who has taught French Theater classes at the Lycée Francais and for EFNY (French Afterschool Program). She believes that acting is an amazing learning tool for children as it helps their self-confidence, teaches them empathy, frees their creativity and curiosity and develops their critical thinking skills! She is thrilled to be joining Team Tessa this year.
Yoa Meikle, Assistant Teacher – Grade 1
Ms. Yoa Meikle is thrilled to be at Tessa! She received her diploma from the Ecole Normale Supérieure d’Abidjan (CAPES/Lettres Modernes) and the National University of the Ivory Coast, followed by continuous studies at the University of Grenoble, as well as in Sèures, France. Ms. Yoa has written several exercise books for Kindergarten.
Aminata Traoré, Assistant Teacher
Aminata was born and raised in Senegal. She is a native French speaker and also speaks Wolof. She came to the United States in 2010 to go to college at Metropolitan community college-Penn Valley in Kansas City, Missouri, where she earned an associate degree in liberal arts. She moved to New Jersey in 2015 and got enrolled at Montclair State University where she earned a bachelor in French with a concentration in translation and a master degree in French Studies. While in college she worked as assistant teacher, a tutor and a graduate assistant. Before coming to the United States she worked at a daycare in Senegal. When she is not teaching, she loves to spend time with friends and family, do yoga, dance and draw.
Padmaja Naidu – Grade 1
Padmaja was born and raised in India in a rich multi-lingual environment. Growing up, she learned to speak, read and write in English, Telugu and Hindi. She has a Bachelors degree in Psychology from Osmania University, Hyderabad, in India. She has a Master in Elementary Education from Walden University, Minneapolis, USA.
Her teaching journey began 20 years ago as an early years teacher in Beijing, China. Since then, she has worked in international cities such as Hong Kong, New Delhi, Guangzhou as an early years and elementary school educator in diverse international settings before moving to New York City early this year. As an IB PYP educator, she is an avid believer in inquiry-based learning that fosters deep conceptual understanding based on big ideas and international-mindedness. As an educator she believes in engaging different sensory modalities in a child by providing varied learning experiences and a literate rich environment. Padmaja is our PYP coordinator, and is enthused at the idea of taking Tessa through the IB PYP authorization journey. IB PYP had been a transformative experience for her both as an educator and as a parent, and she is happy to guide our families through the IB PYP program. She is also teaching Grade 1 students in English.
Tawna Dabney, PSPE Teacher
Tawna has been teaching dance classes at Tessa over the past academic year, and will now be teaching PSPE. She has taught Dance and P.E. both in Los Angeles, California (High School level) as well as in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn, New York (Elementary level).
Tawna believes in providing children intellectually, artistically and environmentally safe spaces to learn as well as supporting academic endeavors. Her positive nature and genuine interest in the interests of the people around her aids in building trust with her students. She likes providing an educational environment that is supplemented by music, theatre and dance.
Shannon McKee, Music Teacher
Shannon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music specifying in Voice from Queen’s University, Belfast. Originally from Ireland, Shannon has insight into a range of different repertoire from classic and pop, to Irish traditional music and song. She has performed in many Irish pubs, concert halls and choirs throughout her high school and university career; one of her favorite memories is singing “He Shall Feed His Flock”, the soprano solo from Handel’s Messiah for a Queen’s University performance. Shannon has taught private singing and theory lessons, and has a wealth of experience teaching group lessons in the classroom.
Emre Yenigun, Drama & Technology Teacher
Emre comes into Tessa International School wearing many hats reflective of his diverse expertise, passion, and intellectual curiosity. A Turkish-American New Jersey native, he is a recent graduate of Rutgers University with a bachelor’s in Psychology and minors in Creative Writing and Theatre Arts. As a self-described tech geek, Emre is thrilled to introduce students to the wonderful and unique challenges of a digitally integrated world. With a penchant for education, technology, and computer science, he brings to his ISTE influenced Technology & Keyboarding class a strong commitment to raising the critical, curious, digitally literate and responsible citizens of the future.
Additionally, Emre has been a lifelong actor and dramatist, beginning his theater career at a very young age and going on to co-write and star in plays throughout high school and college. He is dedicated to free expression and encouraging the innately curious young learners of drama to develop the strong teamwork and playful sense of discovery of the dramatic arts, believing deeply in its educational importance. He is very grateful for the opportunity to teach introductory drama at Tessa.
Emre received a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from the International TEFL Academy in Chicago, IL. He is currently self-studying Japanese and hopes to one day move to Osaka, Japan.