Director of Education
Dr. Zhou received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Rutgers University. Before joining Northern, he taught computer science at the University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers University. He was also an undergraduate advisor and served on the Chair Search Committee at the Department of Computer & Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania.
Ronald C. Fortunato
Director of Special Projects and Partnerships
Mr. Fortunato is a pioneer and innovator in the development and implementation of educational technology. He is one of the original five Christa McAuliffe Educators in the USA selected by the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education, and a NASA Space Ambassador for the United States. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction; Social Studies Teacher
Maureen Zebian brings to Northern Academy almost 20 years of classroom teaching experience. She has taught social studies and English, as well as elective classes including health and criminal justice. At Northern she teaches world history and eastern hemisphere history. As a curriculum specialist, she is skilled at improving learning opportunities for students and educators alike. She works closely with teachers and administrators to implement a rigorous curriculum and assess the quality of instruction.
Ms. Zebian holds a B.A in political science from the University of Arizona. She has three grown children: Ryan 28, Natalie 26, and Rita 24.
Jill Neziri, Ph.D. brings to Northern Academy a broad range of teaching experience. Having taught middle and high school in the New York City Department of Education for two years, she also spent seven years teaching literature and writing in various New York City institutes of higher education including Fordham and Yeshiva Universities. Jill Neziri holds a Ph.D. in English and an M.A. in English with a Creative Writing Concentration from Fordham University. She is also completing an Advanced Certificate in Secondary Education from Hofstra University. When she isn’t teaching, she enjoys powerlifting, boating and spending time with her husband and three children.
Amanda earned her Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Hunter College in New York City, and went on to study education, also at Hunter College. Before receiving a BA in English, Amanda studied Acting at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and she utilizes her acting background in classroom performance tasks. As an English teacher in Los Angeles for over two years, Amanda dedicated herself to helping students critically interact with texts, develop and hone their unique writing styles, and engage in meaningful, relevant discussions and activities. Amanda is thrilled to continue her teaching career at Northern Academy!
Matthew Carl began working for Northern Academy in 2018. Previously, he worked for four years in the Enlarged City School District of Middletown, NY. Following his graduation from the State University of New York College at New Paltz in 1997, he worked as a retail manager for over a decade before returning to the academic world in 2012 to pursue a Master’s Degree in Literacy at Mount Saint Mary College, which he completed in 2016. He has worked with young people in a variety of arenas including summer camps, residential facilities, and classrooms.
Social Studies and Writing Teacher
Sophia Schuster is eager to continue her teaching career at Northern Academy after earning her B.A. in Education and Political Science at Swarthmore College. She found her passion for working with students through completing fieldwork at schools throughout the Philadelphia area. These placements brought Ms. Schuster to classrooms in private, public, and charter settings that served diverse populations, including emergent bilingual students and students with learning disabilities.
Her experiences as a newspaper editor and varsity tennis athlete for her alma mater have also taught her skills for building a supportive community of learners in a vigorous classroom environment.
Ms. Sophia enjoys spending time with her parents and sister Madeline, and will be pursuing her masters degree in Education.
Social Studies Teacher
Mr. Grodnick received his Bachelor’s Degree from SUNY Albany with a major in history and minor in philosophy. He earned a Master’s Degree in political science from the University of Virginia and a Master’s Degree in education from Lehman College where he is currently enrolled in a graduate program in history. Mr. Grodnick has taught students at the University of Virginia, SUNY New Paltz, TAPCo High School, and currently teaches at Orange County Community College. He published an article on the political thought of Jurgen Habermas in the academic journal Constellations.
Social Studies Teacher
Alex Greene received his B.S. in Anthropology and Sociology from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester Vermont and his M.S. in Mid Level Education from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. While at Saint Michael’s, Alex along with faculty from the Journalism department and Anthropology department created an education program aimed to teach youth in the Buddhist Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan about media literacy. After spending months creating the program, Alex traveled to Bhutan to teach the course along with faculty and students. While at Duquesne, Alex focused his studies on growth mindset, where he worked with middle school students, helping them to build their self-efficacy to advance their academic achievements. During this time Alex taught middle school English Language Arts as well as Social Studies in the Pittsburgh public school district.
Alex enjoys sharing all aspect of history with his students, but primarily enjoys the stories of unique individuals throughout history. Through learning about real life people and their past, Alex believes students can place themselves throughout history. Outside of school Alex enjoys playing guitar and hiking with his fiancé and two dogs.
Physics and Math Teacher
Valeria joined Northern in 2018 after working for one year in NYC public schools and late for five years in the Minisink Valley and Warwick Valley School Districts. Prior to that, she taught math and physics at a Russian public school.
At Northern, Valeria teaches Algebra 2, Calculus, and Physics. She has a Baccalaureate in Physics and a Master of Science in Radio Physics and Electronics from Lobachevsky State University, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, and a Master of Arts in Education from Marist College, Poughkeepsie NY.
Valeria loves sharing the beauty of math and physics with all of her students. She loves classical music and enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and four children.
Science and Biology Teacher
Mrs. Patel has joined our team at Northern Academy of the Arts well into her 9th year of teaching. She is highly motivated and passionate about teaching science at both the middle and high school levels. She attended Temple University and earned her Bachelor of Science in Education with a focus in Biology in 2008, a Master’s of Science in Special Education from Gwynedd-Mercy in 2013, and English as a Second Language (ESL) Certification from Penn State in 2014.
Primarily having worked in an inner city Title 1 setting, Mrs. Patel has geared her educational approach to making students lifelong learners. Therefore, they will be able to successfully defy stereotypes, challenge their mindset, and create a road to their success.
Tim Sun holds a B.Sc. in Information and Control Systems from Shanghai Jiaotong University in China and an M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California.
Prior to joining Northern as a math teacher, Tim spent 22 years in industrial settings applying mathematical models to automotive engineering and marketing systems. Tim has a passion for teaching math, as well as other academic subjects.
Tim has designed and conducted professional development programs on Chinese culture and arts for public school teachers and administrators in New York City and New Jersey. He has also provided numerous seminars and presentations on such topics to corporations, schools, libraries, and clubs. Tim is a member of Rotary International.
Math and Science Teacher
Mr. Luan graduated from Texas A&M University, College Station, with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. He received his Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from East China University of Science and Technology. Mr. Luan's specialization was 3D modeling and structural design. He received numerous prizes and scholarships for his academic achievements.
Before joining Northern Academy of the Arts, Mr. Luan taught mathematics preparation for GRE and GMAT at New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. At Northern Academy, Mr. Luan teaches Geometry, Math Olympiad, AP Physics 1, and Robotics Engineering.
A World Bridge® Instructor
Before joining Northern Academy of the Arts, Mr. Zhao had 21 years of experience working in different multi-national corporations. Anson specialized in e-commerce, computer programming, project management, and business management areas. He then developed a passion for teaching and has used his professional experiences to help students build outstanding work habits. Mr. Zhao was trained to be an instructor for the World Bridge® program at Northern Academy - an international award-winning project-based learning system. He also teaches Web Programming and Marketing courses.
Anson Zhao received a Bachelor of Engineering in Automation at Shanghai University, China, in 1995, and an MBA at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia, in 2005.