2018 – 2019 Staff


Jamie Davidson is the Founding Principal at City School of the Arts. She previously served as an instructional coach at Bronx Prep Charter School, where she oversaw literacy curriculum and instruction, managed culture and discipline, and coordinated family engagement for the 5th and 6th grade teams. Under her leadership, both grade levels made substantial gains in ELA and Math. She earned her BA in Comparative Literature from Barnard College with New York State certification in Secondary ELA, and completed a Master's Degree in Language and Literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Prior to Harvard, Jamie was a reading teacher at Brownsville Collegiate, a middle school in the Uncommon Schools network.


Sara Sheffer Corona is the Assistant Principal at City School of the Arts. She previously served as the Founding Dean of Students and Founding Director of Student Support at CSA. She holds a Master's Degree in Special Education, and has served in both public schools and charter schools in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and New York City for over ten years. She brings a passion for serving students with special needs and supporting whole child development. 

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Elisa Murphy is the Director of Teaching and Learning at City School of the Arts. She earned a BA in English and History from Amherst College, as well as an MD from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. She previously served as the Head of the Science Department of The Spence School, and was responsible for mentoring, conducting teacher evaluations, curriculum development, and creating extensive professional development opportunities for department members. She has also taught Math, Science, and Computer Science. She has received multiple teaching awards, including the Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Teaching Award and the Margaret Duckett Award for Outstanding Teaching.


Melissa Andrews is the Director of Operations at City School of the Arts. She previously served as a project manager at Edison Schools and brings years of experience from a varied business career serving public and private sectors, as well as educational institutions.  In consultancy and project management roles, Melissa has worked for clients such as: the New York City Department of Education, Newark School District, the North Bergen School District, the Essex County Schools, College of Staten Island, the Ford Foundation, the Prudential Foundation, and the Salvation Army. Melissa is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps; and attended New York University, Columbia University, and Union County College.


Dr. Geoffrey Kiorpes is the Founding Artistic Director and Piano Teacher at City School of the Arts. He runs the Instrumental Music & Voice Program at CSA. He previously served as the artistic director and piano teacher at Bronx Prep Charter School, where he managed a team of ten full-time arts educators and oversaw a budget for a program that served over 700 middle and high school students. He was also active in the school’s annual Broadway musical production, overseeing a department that included orchestra, jazz band, visual art, choir, dance, speech, and digital media. He holds a DMA in Piano Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. 


Kate Quarfordt is the Founding Director of Arts Integration & Culture at City School of the Arts. She previously served as the director of the musical theater program at Bronx Prep Charter School, where she helped young people engage with the arts as a pathway to transformational learning experiences in all disciplines. Her students have gone on to win speech championships, gold medals for acting performances, and numerous college scholarships. She earned a BS in Visual Art and Theater from Northeastern University, and an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Columbia Teacher’s College. 


Willow Joffee is the Director of High School Placement and School Partnerships at City School of the Arts. Willow began at CSA as the Founding Parent Coordinator, facilitating the formation of the CSA Family Association (CSAFA). More recently, she built a comprehensive and engaging high school placement process which promotes the collaboration of families, students, and teachers beginning in the 7th Grade. She develops strong partnerships with organizations, such as Manhattan Youth for after school programming and Battery Conservancy for urban farming, that promote the academic, social and emotional growth and wellbeing of students. Prior to joining CSA, she managed a mentorship program with young creatives at Urban Arts Partnership; she also worked with incarcerated young women at Riker's Island, teenagers in foster care, and high school students and their parents in a variety of settings. Deeply committed to social justice, racial equity and cultural responsive pedagogy, Willow looks forward to spearheading the Inclusion and Diversity initiatives at CSA. She earned her MSW from Hunter College.


Becca Parkhurst is a Social Worker at City School of the Arts. She graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies and a Masters of Social Work degree with a concentration in Group Work. Previously a Social Worker in the Carrera Program through the Children's Aid Society at Brox Prep Charter School, she provided counseling services to a cohort of students, following her caseload for 4 years while students travelled from 6th to 9th grade.


Kristen O’Donnell is the Founding Social Worker at City School of the Arts. She graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in Sociology and holds her Masters of Social Work degree from City University of New York, Hunter College with a concentration in Clinical Practice with Individuals and Families. Kristen is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who, in the past, has worked as a School Social Worker for Uncommon Schools and as a Youth Development Counselor and Adolescent Case Worker for Good Shepherd Services.  


Molly Waterman is the Special Assistant to the Head of School at City School of the Arts. She graduated from New York University with a BFA in Studio Art and a minor in Global and Urban Education. As a native New Yorker, she has longstanding relationships with the Children's Aid Society and Greenwich House; she grew from student to teacher, and passed on the art education she received as an Art Teacher, Camp Counselor, and Counselor in Training Coordinator. She spent a few years living in the United Arab Emirates, and found her global experience to be insightful into a greater context of both art and education. She dedicates her time to volunteering for The Andrew McDonough Be Positive Foundation, to benefit children with pediatric cancer.


Rebecca Peters is the Financial Associate at City School of the Arts. She graduated from Fordham University twice with a BS in Public Accountancy and an MS in Accounting. After interning at Ernst and Young she obtained a full time position at EY in their audit practice serving financial services clients. After two years in public accounting, she worked as a Project Accountant for a real estate development company based in Brooklyn and mainly worked on the Empire Outlets project in Staten Island. For the past two year she has supported charter schools with their day-to-day finances and looks forward to continuing that work. In addition to working with charter schools, she also works with small businesses and entrepreneurs in NYC and helps them with their bookkeeping. She loves to travel, has a thirst for knowledge and loves to talk about investing.


Claron Harvey is the Operations Assistant at City School of the Arts. He attended the Art Institute of New York City for Digital Filmmaking. He previously worked as a Real Estate Salesman for four years, as well as ran his own kitchen for three years.


Marcus Nowell is the Food and Meal Services Manager at City School of the Arts. He attended Julia Richman High School and Sullivan Community College. He has worked at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Riverdale Country School, Boys Harbor Arts and Science Charter School, and East Harlem Scholar Academy. He also supervised in eight major hospital facilities and two decorative nursing homes. His passion is to feed students or adults with love, and great food for the soul.


Jarod Wunneburger is an 8th Grade Math Teacher at City School of the Arts. He previously served as the program director of the South Bronx Early College Academy, where he supported efforts to create school culture and discipline systems, spearheaded yearbook, and trained new staff. He also taught math and science at Booker T. Washington Middle School, where he piloted a 1:1 program in the special education department. He earned a BS in Sociology from the University of Southern California, and an MA in Special Education from St. John's University. 

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Christian Morehouse is the 8th Grade Science Teacher at City School of the Arts. He previously held the same position at Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School and was the Science Department Head at Fusion Academy Park Avenue. He earned his Bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies and Dance at Wesleyan University and is currently pursuing his Master's in Science Education from Columbia University's Teachers College. Besides teaching, he also enjoys the performing arts, fishing, the outdoors, motorcycles, and herptiles. 


Thalia Baez is the 8th Grade ICT Teacher at City School of the Arts. She graduated with a Bachelors from City College of New York, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Mental Health Counseling. She previously taught as a 7th Grade Science Teacher, 6th Grade Math Teacher, and 6th Grade ELA Teacher in South Bronx and Upper West Side charter schools.


Laura Neenan is an Intervention Specialist at City School of the Arts. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a BA degree in Speech-Language-Hearing.  She also holds an MA in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Kansas Medical Center with a concentration in multicultural communication and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). She has worked in a variety of clinical settings including an interdisciplinary developmental pediatric clinic, outpatient rehabilitation hospital, and early intervention services. She looks forward to supporting the language, literacy, and neurodiversity of the students in the CSA community. Laura believes in holistic health and wellness, creative learning environments, and experiencing something new every day. 


Erin Long is the Artistic Associate at City School of the Arts. She is an actor, singer, dancer, and lover of all creative endeavors. After receiving her BFA in Musical Theatre from Shenandoah Conservatory, she moved to New York City. She has worked in professional theatres in New York, New Jersey, and across the country. She is very passionate about creating new musical theatre and has experience collaborating with composers in the developmental stages of writing original material. She has also worked with the USO over the last 4 years, traveling and performing for the military and their families.


Samantha Thornhill is the Creative Writing Teacher at City School of the Arts. She is a Trinidadian-born poet, children's author, and educator. She received her BA in English from Florida State University. After graduating with her MFA in Poetry from the University of Virginia, she relocated to New York City, where she spent a decade teaching poetry at the Juilliard School, and performing her works in the US, Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. She served as Writer in Residence at the Bronx Academy of Letters, and taught senior citizen writing workshops for Poets & Writers INc. She has received starred reviews in Booklist, Publisher's Weekly, and Kirkus, and has been published in over two-dozen literary journals. She is the founding curator of Poets in Unexpected Places, which was profiled in the New York Times.


Rebecca Bliss is the Dance Teacher at City School of the Arts.  In addition to joining CSA, she is currently adjunct professor of Afro-Cuban Dance at Barnard College and a faculty member of Ballet Hispanico’s pre-professional division. She will also continue almost two decades of work in youth education with the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Dance Africa residency program. She received her initial training in ballet and modern dance at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center followed by ongoing study in Cuba and New York. She completed an individualized Masters Degree at New York University focused on her work in Cuban dance pedagogy and performance.


Albany Andaluz is the Digital Art Teacher at City School of the Arts. She is a Bronx-based multidisciplinary artist and educator. Her work has been exhibited at the Queens Museum, Bronx Museum of the Arts, the National Dominican Student Conference, as well as ArtForum. Her current project, Psyche, Drugs, and the Remnants of My Ancestors, explores the historical context of racial and cultural disparities in mental health care, and its contemporary effects. When she isn't leading artivism workshops, she can be found harvesting tomatillo at her local community garden, or reading to further her knowledge in all aspects of art and life.


Ruaridh Pattison is the Music Technology Teacher at City School of the Arts. He is a jazz musician and multi-instrumentalist born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, who performs and teaches the world over. An enthusiastic educator, he counts community engagement as a vital part of the life of an artist in the 21st century. As a specialist in improvisation, he encourages freedom of expression and creativity in today’s young people. He is a graduate of the Juilliard School and London’s Guildhall School, a former member of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, and the 2011 winner of the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year competition. 


Simon Brown is the Strings Teacher at City School of the Arts. He has been involved in the USA El Sistema movement since 2011, when he helped start Kids 4 Harmony in Western Massachusetts. He serves as Assistant Director at Orchestrating Dreams. For him, writing and teaching music are similar in that he can't imagine life without either one. His compositions encompass concert music, electronic music, sound installations, movie music, and a new style, Realism. He studied composition with Tania León, Morton Subotnick, Douglas Geers, Andy Bonacci, and Steve Murray. He plays cello and guitar, and holds degrees from Berkshire Community College (AA), Westfield State University (BA), and Brooklyn College (MM).


Michael Jones is a Theater Teacher at City School of the Arts. He holds a Theatre Arts degree as well as a Masters of Arts in Education. He studies at Gotham Writers' Workshop, New York Film Academy, Frederick Douglas Creative Arts Center, and Lincoln Center Director's Lab. He is the author of several produced plays, including Josh: The Black Babe Ruth, It Takes a Village to Raise... Hell, Family Matters, and Angela's Justice. His play, The Skin I'm In, is touring the NYC Public Schools and he has written several screenplays. As an actor and singer, he has preformed across the US. He has also taught conflict resolution, using theater arts and drama therapy techniques throughout NYC for over ten years.


Miranda Small is the Visual Art Teacher at City School of the Arts. She has enjoyed the privilege of educating and nurturing New York City's young artists over the years. Her BFA from School of Visual Arts and MFA from City College of New York have inspired her journey to help young people empower themselves through the arts. She encourages them to recognize their own potential, and guides them to achieving through instruction in the processes of visual art. Her heart is most joyful when her former students from BP and SVA visit and share their own stories, adding yet another element to the museum of life.


Noelle Tannen is the Vocal Music Teacher at City School of the Arts. She started singing in church choirs throughout the New York area at a young age. Coming from a family of string players, she began playing classical cello at the age of six. Noelle holds a degree in Composition from the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music, where she studied under Pulitzer Prize Winner, Du Yun, and Joel Those. She has toured nationally as a solo artist. Noelle has been teaching music for the past seven years at various community outreach programs, as well as schools in New York City and New Orleans.