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. 


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.


Anthony Conwright is the Dean of Students at City School of the Arts. He was born and raised in San Diego and attended High Tech High School. After graduating from HTHS, he returned to teach humanities and serve as the Dean of Students at HTHS Media Arts. He loves to travel, and spent a year abroad opening an international middle school in Mumbai, India. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring New York City for the best dollar slices and live jazz. 


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.


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. 

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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.


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. 


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 Master 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 NYU 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, alongside her sorority Alpha Sigma Tau.


Christina Taylor is a Founding 6th Grade Humanities Teacher and the Humanities Department Chair at City School of the Arts. She previously served as a founding teacher at Bronx Park Middle School, where she built a social studies curriculum that fused critical thinking and student-led investigations. She holds a BA from the University of Chicago, as well as an MA in Education from the City University of New York. 


Alissa Koerner is a 7th Grade Humanities Teacher at City School of the Arts. Utilizing her diverse background in education and performing arts, Alissa spent the past five years at Williamsburg Charter High School, teaching English, Beginning and Intermediate Theatre, Advanced Musical Theatre, and Playwriting and Literacy. She received her EdM with a focus on English and Educational Theatre from NYU Steinhardt and graduated from The University of Michigan with an undergraduate degree in Theatre. Alissa is currently pursuing her Masters in English from the Bread Loaf School for English and is also a Fellow of the Academy of Teachers in New York. 


Nasrin Jafari is a 7th Grade Humanities Teacher at City School of the Arts. In addition to her work at CSA, Nasrin is a conference organizer and writer who focuses on k-12 education and education policy on her website, nasrinjafari.com. Previously, she served as the President of TEDxNYU and and holds a BA in Politics and Education from New York University.


Lawrence Wong is a 6th Grade Math Teacher and the 6th Grade Dean at City School of the Arts. Before moving to New York, Lawrence was a middle school teacher for the Oakland Unified School District, where he taught twenty-four wonderful children in a self-contained, looping classroom for three years. Prior to teaching, he received his BA in Psychology from UC Berkeley and dabbled in the finance industry. More recently, he completed his Masters in Education Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University. His current interests include charter schools, social emotional learning, and inexpensive meals. He believes that a love of learning is the key to education and that you can never have too many socks.


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. 


Jill Vachhani is a 6th Grade Science Teacher at City School of the Arts. Prior to working at CSA, she taught Science to middle and elementary school students and developed curriculum and assessments. At CSA, Jill plans the 6th grade Science curriculum and focuses on project-based learning with a focus on bringing in the creative arts to help students express their learning. Jill graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and explored her love of teaching through years of working with students of all ages. She taught high school SAT/AP test preparation as well as at elementary and middle school after school programs working with students with learning disabilities. Jill went on to earn her Masters in Elementary Education and Special Education from Touro College. 


Shamie Cuthbert is the Founding ICT Instructor and the 6th Grade ICT Instructor at City School of the Arts. She has taught creative writing to all ages for more than ten years and has facilitated educational workshops both online and in person. She holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood and General Education from the Bank Street College of Education. 


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.


Andréa Wood is a Choir and Music Teacher at City School of the Arts.  She has spent the past decade working and touring as a performer and a music educator, having released two studio albums. In 2013, she served as the Chair of the Vocal Department at the True School of Music in Mumbia, India. She has taught early childhood music at Lincoln Center and the Diller-Quaile School of Music. She received her EdM in Music Education from Teachers College, Columbia University with New York State teaching certification, her MM in Jazz Vocal Performance from The Manhattan School of Music, and her BM from Michigan State University.


Zoë Galle is a Teaching Artist at City School of the Arts. She is a Brooklyn based Dance Artist and Multimedia Maker. She studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance and earned her BA in Community Studies and BFA in Fine Art with an emphasis in Printmaking from the University of California Santa Cruz. She has shown work at Dixon Place, BAX, the Martha Graham Studio, Gibney Studios, Jennifer Muller's studio, Velocity Dance Center, Motion Pacific, The 418 Project, and the Joe Goode Annex. She has performed in works by Alessio Silvestrie, Alex Ketley, Angela Mazziotta, Tristan Ching, Christian Burns and Summer Lee Rhatigan. 


Lehna Huie is a Teaching Artist at City School of the Arts. She is a multi-disciplinary fine artist, arts educator, curator, and activist exercising a belief in the power of multi-vocal art. Huie is deeply committed to the fusion of arts and social change as a path to liberation. Her work embodies cultural critique, celebration, and transformation. Huie’s studio practice makes use of various materials on canvas, paper, and wooden surfaces. Often layered with diverse materials, such as paint, plaster, sawdust, beads, and shells, her work brings forth a symphony of moods. Grounded by the global community, New York City life, and the essence of her familial homeland in Jamaica, Huie is ever inspired by the African Diaspora.


Michael A. Jones is a Theater Ensemble Teaching Artist at City School of the Arts. In addition to teaching, Michael is an actor/writer/producer of theater and film. He also volunteers for many organizations that support marginalized and/or under represented groups.


Ruaridh Pattison is a Teaching Artist 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. 


Caeli Smith is a String Ensemble Teaching Artist at City School of the Arts. She is a concert violinist and violist strongly dedicated to community engagement and education. She is a New York Philharmonic Teaching Artist, and is the Associate Director of Frisson, a nine-piece chamber ensemble based in New York City. As a journalist, her print articles have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as Strings and Teen Strings magazines. She holds both a Bachelor of Music Degree and a Master of Music Degree from The Juilliard School.