Our Team – Teachers

Our Foundation and Support!

At Tessa International School, our educators are composed of highly credentialed professionals who are dedicated to providing an exceptional learning environment. Each member of our staff is a native speaker and brings a wealth of expertise and experience in their respective fields and cultures, ensuring that our students receive the highest quality education. Our teachers possess a strong educational background, with most holding advanced degrees and specialized training in their subject areas. They are passionate about their craft and are committed to fostering a love for learning in our students. With their diverse backgrounds and international perspectives, our staff members bring a rich tapestry of knowledge and cultural understanding to the classroom. Together, they create a collaborative and supportive community that inspires and challenges our students to reach their full potential.

Spanish Team

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 has grown very passionate about Early Childhood. Barbara earned a Postgraduate Certification in Early Years Foundational 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 at PreK.
Barbara has 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.

Carmen Ventura – Co-Lead Teacher

Carmen was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. She moved to the United States about 9 years ago and got her associate degree in early childhood education. Afterward, She got a BA in foreign language – Spanish in NYC.

She first joined Tessa as a summer camp assistant teacher, and has been passionate about teaching since she was a kid.
Carmen started working with special Ed young children in 2020. She says that being empathetic, kind, energetic and always positive has been her way of showing her students that learning is fun and important, that they matter regardless of anything and that kindness will open many doors.
A few of her hobbies include listening to music, reading Spanish books and eating out with her family.

Rosa Peralta-Arias – Co-Lead 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!

Joseline Hernandez – Lead 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.

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!

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.

Zulema Loza – Assistant Teacher

Zulema was born and raised in Ecuador. She embarked on her journey to the United States of America at the age of 21. Zulema pursued her higher education at Fairleigh Dickinson University through a program known as “Puerta al Futuro” or “Gateway to the Future.” It was within this program that she achieved her associate degree in Liberal Arts, leveraging the opportunity to not only enhance her English language skills but also to engage deeply with her major.

With a strong academic foundation, Zulema boasts two years of valuable experience as an Assistant Teacher, catering to children across the spectrum from infant room to PK4. In the year 2019, she underwent comprehensive training in fundamental knowledge areas, earning certificates of attendance for accomplishments such as “Traditional vs. Appropriate Circle Time” and “Developing Language and Cognitive Skills Through Music and Movement,” at the esteemed Bergen County Office for Children in Hackensack, New Jersey (07601).

Zulema’s heart resonates with her work involving children – a passion that ignites her spirit. She perceives children as a captivating realm brimming with opportunities for exploration and enlightenment. Beyond her professional endeavors, she finds solace and joy in spending quality moments with her cherished family.

Dayanna Burgos – Assistant Teacher

Raised in a bilingual family, Dayanna is dedicated to caring for others, finding her calling in nurturing both children and the elderly. From Elmhurst, New York, she brings natural compassion and a genuine love for people to her work. With a focus on child care since 2013, Dayanna excels in creating safe, nurturing environments and building strong connections with young minds and families. In 2019, she expanded her care to the elderly, offering companionship and comfort, particularly to her grandmother battling dementia.

Currently pursuing a child psychology degree at Kean University, Dayanna seeks to deepen her understanding of child development and make a lasting positive impact on young lives. Her unwavering dedication, compassion, and commitment to growth make her an inspirational caregiver in both child and elderly care settings.

Susan Avelar – Assistant Teacher

Susan was born in New Jersey and raised in a bilingual household by her Mexican parents. She is majoring in Child Psychology and wants to dedicate her time and expertise to support and nurture young minds within the educational setting. Susan has been working at Tessa as an aftercare teacher and sub, and then all summer long as a Summer Camp assistant teacher before joining the team full time. When she’s not busy with work or academics, Susan enjoys unwinding at home with her cat Olive, indulging in shared hobbies such as watching movies, crocheting, and exploring new interests.

Vanessa Baez – Assistant Teacher

Vanessa Baez brings her exceptional dedication and experience to Tessa International School, where she has been an invaluable member of our community for over a year. With a genuine passion for collaboration and a deep sense of belonging, Vanessa thrives as she works alongside colleagues and students alike, seamlessly integrating into the Tessa family. Her extensive background in nurturing and educating children spans a considerable duration, making her a cherished and adept presence within our school.

Miriam Steinberg – Assistant Teacher

Miriam was born and raised in Mexico. She holds an MA in Health Education and Promotion and has worked several years in the mental health field providing guidance to schools and community organizations on the area of depression and connecting them to help.

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.

Miriam is the first one in her extended family to obtain a higher degree which has reinforced her connection to education and her commitment to give her best to Tessa’ students.

She joined Tessa in early 2022 and believes that each child is a human being that deserves respect and to be listened by adults. She hopes to preserve the children’s natural smiles and looks forward to to raising the love for language, culture and academics in our students.  

Jenny Blasco – Assistant Teacher

Jenny’s life has been shaped by her love for cooking and her dedication to nurturing children. She graduated from culinary school in Portoviejo, Ecuador, and has always enjoyed sharing her cooking knowledge. Her three children make her proud; two are teachers like her, and one works in the tech industry.

Jenny sees teaching and cooking as closely connected. Whether she’s in the kitchen or classroom, she aims to inspire and educate young people. As a native Spanish speaker, she knows the importance of language in building connections. Learning English has been a passion for her to connect with more people and share her knowledge across cultures.

In Ecuador, Jenny taught children how to cook, reinforcing her belief in the power of education and cooking. Now, with her two grandchildren, she enjoys passing on their family’s cooking traditions and teaching them both Spanish and English. With her nurturing spirit, cooking skills, and love for teaching, she aims to make a positive impact on children’s lives, embracing bilingualism every step of the way.

Isabella Guevarra – Assistant Teacher

Isabella was born and raised in New Jersey, in a bilingual household, enriching her life with a deep appreciation for language and cultural diversity. Hailing from El Salvador descent, she brings a unique perspective and a rich cultural heritage to her interactions with the students. She started her journey at Tessa as a substitute teacher and diligently cared for the children during aftercare. 

With her extensive experience, genuine love for children, and multicultural background, Isabella is delighted to embrace a new chapter at Tessa as a full-time assistant. 

Beyond her work with children, Isabella finds joy in exploring the great outdoors. Additionally, she embraces a healthy lifestyle, dedicating time to the gym and staying physically active.

She is excited to contribute her skills and enthusiasm to foster a nurturing and enriching learning environment for all the young minds at Tessa.

French Team

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 eight years ago at Science Language and Arts International School in Brooklyn and is currently leading 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 two masters: one in Project Management from the University of Quebec in Outaouais and another in Integrated Teaching Through the Arts from Lesley University. 

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!

Amina Maassem – Lead 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.

Thibault Saddier – Lead Teacher

Thibault was born and raised in the French Alps. Before becoming a teacher, he used to study anthropology, worked in manufactory, volunteered for a homeless children association and worked with children 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.

Mireille Matta – Assistant Teacher

Mireille was born and raised in Lebanon. She brings over a decade of experience in the field of education. Previously, she served as the assistant principal for the preschool section at De La Salle College in Beirut. Since relocating to NJ, she has worked as an assistant teacher at Apple Montessori in Tenafly/the Spring School. Since 2022, Mireille has been a valuable member of the Tessa International team, providing support to your children.

Angélique Reynaert-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. 

Noura Yassa – Assistant Teacher

Born and raised in Algeria, Noura’s journey has been rooted in her cultural heritage. She pursued studies in English and Literature, and her commitment led her to a teaching diploma for French. Noura’s passion for education found its purpose as she became an assistant teacher, focusing on young children aged 4 to 7. Guiding these budding minds through their formative years became a source of fulfillment, reflecting her dedication to nurturing young learners.

Outside of her educational endeavors, Noura embraces the joy of dance and the art of cooking.

Delphine Noiré – Assistant Teacher

Delphine originates from the picturesque city of Metz, nestled in the East of France. Her voyage to the United States, alongside her husband and two sons, carried her abiding interest in wellness from her past pursuits to the present day. Driven by a deep-seated passion for nurturing young minds, she embarked on a new life chapter by immersing herself in the realm of education. Delighting in creating a secure and caring haven for the children at TESSA International School, she serves wholeheartedly as a teacher assistant. Outside of her role, Delphine finds solace and joy in pursuits like running, ballet barre, and yoga, seamlessly weaving them into the fabric of her life. Additionally, her heart finds resonance in the world of concerts, museums, and dance shows, where she draws inspiration aplenty.

Mandarin Team

Liangrui Yan – Lead Teacher

Liangrui is a native Mandarin speaker and completed her bachelor’s degree in English Literature at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. Her academic journey continued at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she earned her master degree and excelled in the Bilingual/Bicultural Education program, achieving a straight A grade record.

Commencing her educational path in 2015, Liangrui has amassed a wealth of bilingual teaching experiences across various age groups and cultures, spanning China, Cambodia, and the USA. As a bilingual educational practitioner, Liangrui places a paramount emphasis on students’ emotional well-being and health. She values the significance of cross-cultural communication in language acquisition and actively employs culturally responsive pedagogy to honor students’ home cultures. She also has a great passion in exploring interdisciplinary education and leveraging dynamic teaching tools to effectively engage students of diverse ages and meet their unique needs. Throughout her study at Teachers College, Liangrui proactively absorbed insights from gifted/special education and art education, seamlessly integrating these into her teaching practice. She firmly believes in utilizing art as a potent pedagogical tool, enriching students’ language acquisition and nurturing their creativity.

Susan Yang – Lead Teacher

Susan Yang was born in a little town called Ningde, in China. After graduating from Beijing Normal University with a Bachelor’s degree in Education, she taught Early Childhood Education at a teacher’s college for five years. She then moved to Cambridge, England with her husband. She obtained an MA in education at the Cambridge Institute of Education. After several years of enjoying English tea and customs, she decided to move to the USA, in 1992, and has been here ever since. She has worked in a private school for over 20 years, and has a passion for childhood education. She loves exploring, discovering and challenging herself as a teacher, trainer, and program director. She uses her previous educational experiences to bring out the best in each student! She loves being a teacher because she can touch each child’s life every school day, and she loves all the people that she has encountered. Because we are woven into the same universe that we live in, there’s always a purpose for all of us to meet! In her free time, she enjoys traveling to different parts of the world, taking long walks in nature, meeting different people and reading books of many different genres. She is excited to be a part of Tessa!

Jing Wang – Lead Teacher

Wang Jing’s formative years in China have profoundly shaped her understanding of traditional Chinese culture. She earned her undergraduate degree in education from Zhejiang Normal University and pursued a master’s degree in education at the world’s top education institute at University College London.

She has engaged in educational work in China, Indonesia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. Wang Jing dedicated six years to Chinese education in the United Kingdom, where she excelled and was promoted to the position of principal. She has become a highly praised Chinese teacher with a strong cross-cultural awareness. As an enthusiastic educator, she not only possesses a deep understanding of Chinese traditional culture but also has extensive knowledge in classical, modern, and contemporary literature, enriching her teaching with additional depth.

Wang Jing conducted research in child psychology, is well-versed in theories of child development, and has accumulated rich practical experience over the years. She firmly believes that children’s language acquisition is closely tied to their environment, games, social interactions, and integration with other disciplines. Advocating for immersive Chinese learning that is both enjoyable and incorporates a multidisciplinary approach, she aims to provide children with a happy, comprehensive and efficient language acquisition experience.

Yiying (Luna) Zhang – Lead Teacher

Yiying, also known as Luna, was born in Shanghai, China. Her deep passion for language education led her to pursue a degree in Bilingual/Bicultural Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to her studies in the United States, Luna spent two years in Australia, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. Throughout her undergraduate and graduate studies, Luna’s enthusiasm for Mandarin teaching and multilingual education has been a driving force in her academic and professional pursuits. She is inspired by the principles of inclusive and culturally-responsive teaching, always striving to help students develop confidence in their identities and cultures, while fostering a sense of diversity and multiculturalism.

Luna’s linguistic abilities extend beyond Mandarin and English, as she is also proficient in Japanese and Shanghainese dialect. Motivated by a genuine curiosity for languages and cultures, Luna eagerly embraces opportunities to learn new languages and connect with people from around the world. In her free time, she indulges in her hobbies of reading, writing, and playing the piano. Luna’s diverse skill set, coupled with her passion for education and cultural exchange, make her a valued member of the Tessa International School community.

Ziyi Zhang – Lead Teacher

Ziyi Zhang, originally from China, is a dedicated and experienced education professional with a strong academic background and a passion for innovative teaching methodologies. She holds a Master of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from The Pennsylvania State University. Ziyi has developed a rich skillset, including official TESOL certifications for children. She has extensive experience in Mandarin immersion teaching and has served as a teaching assistant in Manhattan, New York.

While at Johns Hopkins, Ziyi also worked as a researcher for the Educational Pedagogies Research Group. During her undergraduate years, one of her notable achievements was co-authoring the bilingual children’s book, “Precious Misunderstanding.” This book features bilingual dialogues in Mandarin and English, accompanied by vivid visualizations, aiming to teach children about love, courage, cultural acceptance, and diversity. It quickly gained popularity among kindergarten-aged children.

With her diverse educational background and teaching experience, Ziyi looks forward to contributing to Tessa’s international community. Her passion for education and cross-cultural understanding will undoubtedly make a positive impact.

Ting Liu – Lead Teacher

Ting was born and raised in China. She holds a master’s degree in Chinese Linguistics from Hong Kong Polytechnic University and a bachelor’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature from Hunan Normal University in China.  Ting has rich teaching experience in transdisciplinary curriculum in elementary school in Hong Kong. She has taught both native and non-native speaking students aged 5-12 in international schools and private schools in Hong Kong and Macau for over 9 years.  Ting is an open-minded and knowledgeable enthusiast, who has traveled to over 40 countries. She has excellent skills in playing Chinese traditional instrument er’hu. 

Hersalyn Grossy – Assistant Teacher

Hersalyn brings a decade of child care expertise to her role, with a special focus on nurturing young minds. Recently, she served as an Assistant Teacher in the Mandarin class at TESSA’s 2023 summer camp, a testament to her linguistic versatility in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. Witnessing children revel in the joy of learning while having fun is Hersalyn’s ultimate source of happiness. Hailing from New Jersey, she immersed herself in Chinese education from childhood to tertiary levels, culminating in her graduation from Chiang Kai Shek College. Notably, she contributed her teaching talents to TESSA’s summer camp. Beyond her educational pursuits, Hersalyn finds delight in reading, running, indulging in board games, and capturing moments through photography. The upcoming school year holds great anticipation for Hersalyn as she eagerly anticipates forming connections with all the young learners, guiding them toward their developmental milestones. With infectious enthusiasm, Hersalyn eagerly awaits the chance to welcome and engage with the new TESSA students, ready to embark on an enriching journey together.

English & Specials

Kathryn Braisted – Lead Teacher

Kathryn was born in Morristown, NJ and grew up in nearby Northeast, PA. Her journey as an educator began in Washington, DC, where she has lived and worked for the last 13 years. Kathryn has taught extensively in DC’s language-immersion elementary schools, starting as a School Garden Teacher in a Spanish-immersion setting. For the last six years, she worked as a lead English teacher at Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School, a top-rated IB PYP and Chinese-immersion school. During her tenure as a kindergarten and second grade teacher at Yu Ying, Kathryn served as a Team Lead, piloted a Forest School program, and was honored with three nominations for DC Teacher of the Year. Since relocating to NYC, many of her former students have traveled here to visit her, which she considers an even greater honor. As an educator, Kathryn cherishes students’ wonder and curiosity, and her responsibility to hold space for them as they explore, discover, and grow. She creates a classroom environment where all students feel safe, valued, and appropriately challenged. Her high expectations allow students to feel confident in themselves, and capable of anything. In her spare time, Kathryn enjoys long distance running, cooking and baking, and watercolor painting. She’s currently marathon training and completing her MS.Ed in Childhood Education. Kathryn is absolutely delighted to be joining Tessa’s esteemed faculty, and can’t wait to get to know the wider Tessa community.  

Tawna Dabney – Assistant Teacher

Tawna’s instructional journey spans across diverse locations. She has shared her expertise in education, Dance and P.E., contributing to the educational landscape in both Los Angeles, California, at the High School level, and in Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn, New York, at the Elementary level. She also worked at Tessa as a PE teacher in 2020!

Tawna’s belief in the indomitable spirit of humanity is unwavering. She is committed to creating secure intellectual, artistic, and environmental spaces that foster learning and support academic endeavors. Her innate positivity, combined with a genuine curiosity for the lives and passions of those around her, lays the foundation for the trust she cultivates with her students. Fuelled by her personal enthusiasm for learning through performance, Tawna brings a unique dimension to education, enriching the classroom experience with the infusion of music, theater, and dance.

Jessica Palma – Librarian

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 over five years in the educational field. Last year, she was one of our Spanish teachers. 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 obtained 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!

Daria Wolicka – Music Teacher

Daria Wolicka is a musician and musicologist by profession and a dancer by passion. Daria comes from Poland, where she graduated from the Primary and Secondary State Music School Complex in the transverse flute and piano class, studying classical music. She continued her education at the University of Warsaw, gaining a BA and MA in Musicology Studies with a pedagogical specialization. During MA, she received the rector’s award for the highest academic results. She played in orchestral projects and took part in recording albums in the field of jazz, ethnic and improvised music. She has been passionate about dancing for 10 years. In 2017-2018 she studied contemporary and jazz dance in Barcelona, Spain, and in 2020 she obtained a sports instructor license in the discipline of dance. For several years she has been teaching music and dance in international schools. So far, she has worked in schools in Warsaw, Poland and Bangkok, Thailand. During her music classes, she combines professionalism with a lot of patience and a smile. As a dancer, she introduces many dance and movement elements even to her music classes. Privately, she loves to sing, cook vegan food and listen to psychological podcasts.

Marielle Lewis – Math/STEM Teacher

Marielle is from Long Island, New York.  Her desire to be a teacher started when she was in preschool, when she would “teach” her younger sister and her stuffed animals on her bedroom floor.  Marielle attended the University of Maryland for a degree in Elementary Education, and then Bank Street College of Education to obtain her masters in Childhood Special Education.  Marielle had the opportunity to study abroad for a semester in Rome and then traveled throughout Europe.  She fell in love with different cultures and especially food!  Marielle has 10 years of experience as a special education teacher, and is excited to bring her enthusiasm, creativity, and energy to Tessa!  Marielle is a new mom to a 1 year old daughter.  You might see them on the swings in parks all around Hoboken!

Luis Lucero – PE Teacher

Luis Lucero is of Mexican heritage! He loves spicy food and tacos without a single doubt! He studied at Kean University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Science in Physical Education and minor in Health, with a background in Athletic Training. He has taught kids of all ages to swim and improve on their abilities. He has also helped people 1 on 1 to improve their daily lives by becoming more flexible and to help relieve pain.  Luis has two younger brothers who are 20 and 13, they love spending time and traveling together. Their favorite travel destination was Brazil due to the amazing food! They also love to watch soccer and basketball together. Luis enjoys playing basketball with his friends and enjoys working-out to keep in shape. During his free time, he likes to play guitar along with a little ukulele and practice some songs that just put him in a great mood. Luis is looking forward to joining the Tessa family especially because he will be working alongside his fiancée Guisell!

Tulay Aydin – Primary Assistant Floater

Tulay, a native of Istanbul, Turkey, embraced a diverse educational journey, double majoring in Tourism Business and French Teaching. While successfully managing her own business in Istanbul, her true passion lies in teaching.

From a young age, Tulay dedicated herself to tutoring in subjects like Math, Science, and English. Her teaching experience expanded to a private French middle school in Istanbul and a daycare in New Jersey.

Outside the classroom, Tulay enjoys singing, dancing, cooking, and exploring new places. Currently, at Tessa, she works in the primary school, teaching Math and French. She also serves as an aftercare teacher.

Committed to personal and professional growth, Tulay holds certifications in NLP Coaching. These skills enhance her ability to teach, communicate effectively, and achieve goals efficiently. Tulay’s life is a blend of business expertise, educational passion, and diverse interests, creating a vibrant and inspiring story.

Miao Nie – Floater

Miao Nie is an experienced educator with a Master of Arts in TESOL from New York  University, and she has a Bachelor of Arts in Russian from Beijing International Studies  University. Miao has developed a strong foundation in intercultural communication and  language education. Miao’s teaching experience ranges from serving as an ESL Teaching  Assistant in the United States, where she supported Spanish-speaking students, to  independent consulting in Beijing, providing English tutorials with a notable 100% pass  rate for PET and FCE exams. Throughout her career as an English teacher and assistant  teacher, Miao has made curriculum plans to meet individual student needs and engage  students in the learning process. Miao is fluent in three languages: Chinese, English, and  Russian. Miao is passionate about language education and is dedicated to fostering a  supportive and dynamic learning environment for her students.

Join us at Tessa International School

Discover why our bilingual curriculum is one of the best! Explore how we combine learning with fun, making new friends, and encouraging a global mindset.

Tessa International School

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