Francis Mechner, PhD, (Director) received his doctorate from Columbia University in 1957 and remained a member of the psychology department’s teaching faculty until 1960. He developed learning programs for elementary school, high school, medical education, and supervisory training, and created individualized instruction systems for numerous industrial and government agencies; developed and installed innovative statewide early childhood programs for several states; and was part of Sesame Street‘s original design team. As an educational consultant to UNESCO, he led projects for the modernization of science teaching in South America and Asia. In 1969 he founded the Paideia School, a K-12 independent school in Armonk, NY, which first implemented the approach to personalized instruction that is now employed at Queens Paideia. He testified before the Senate Finance Committee on behalf of the Comprehensive Child Development Act of 1971, which was passed. Dr. Mechner has published influential technical papers and articles and has lectured and taught courses at universities worldwide. He is president of the Mechner Foundation, which operates Queens Paideia School and conducts research in the field of learning, He is also a trustee of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.
Karyn Slutsky (Assistant Director) is a graduate of Brandeis University and worked at publishing houses and as an editorial and production consultant (nonfiction/academic books and Web sites) for more than 20 years. She co-founded QPS in 2009 and oversees its staff, outreach, and communications as well as develops and teaches QPS’s Belief Systems curriculum, which examines beliefs across different aspects of living—religion, food, birth/death, the media, psychology—and how they are formed. Outside of QPS, she is on the board of Newtown Literary Alliance, is a longtime volunteer at the Bethany Church Food Pantry, and is a member of the Forest Hills Choir, in addition to her keen interests in classical music and ballet, plant science, and midlist fiction.
Vic Fiallo (Learning Manager) has a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College. He has served in managerial, administrative, and leadership roles in New Jersey and New York schools for more than 12 years, including as Department Chairman for Math and Science Education. An alternative education professional and advocate, he is also a highly regarded math educator and has many years’ experience teaching sciences. Mr. Fiallo is committed to creating learning cultures that promote consciousness regarding health, nutrition, and fitness, as well as social, environmental, and economic awareness. His background and philosophy fit in well with QPS’s emphasis on self-motivation, independence, and contribution.
Brandon Glasgow (Learning Manager) has taught biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as all levels of mathematics through pre-calculus, while working as an instructional tutor at Lydian Academy in Menlo Park, California. He has coached students in test-taking skills and time management, taught ISEE/SSAT and intensive SAT prep courses, and wrote ISEE/SSAT course prep material. Mr. Glasgow, a graduate of University of Boulder-Colorado in Engineering and Applied Science, is also a musician and audio engineer.
Sara Boyle (Learning Manager) has a master’s degree from the Bank Graduate School of Education, and a BA in International Relations from Boston University. Her teaching experiences in classrooms and museum settings, and with diverse groups of students (preschool to grade 12) using progressive methodology, bring a fresh perspective to QPS’s social studies program. She has previously held positions at the American Folk Art Museum, Bank Street School of Education, Ethical Culture Fieldstone School, Bright Horizons preschool, and Harlem RBI & REAL Kids.
Jonathan Acampora (Learning Manager) has a master’s degree in English education from Teachers College, Columbia University. He graduated cum laude from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford where he double-majored in English literature and Oboe Performance. He student-taught 10th-grade English at Bronx High School of Science and 8th-grade Humanities at Special Music School, as well as lead-taught writing, music-theory, and science to a wide age range of young learners at the Gifted Child Society in Allendale, NJ. Mr. Acampora’s interests in theater direction, music, physics, and many other areas often find their way into his classroom practice.
Jaime Andrés Cubillos-Ballesteros (Spanish) has taught Spanish for more than 10 years, while also working as an interpreter for New York businesses and institutions. In addition to his work at QPS and language classes, he is a private instructor and language consultant to prominent business figures and politicians. He received his degree in Literature Studies from Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, his native country. Cubillos-Ballesteros’s awareness of the growing importance of Spanish in the United States led him to form his own company, Gatold.com Language Solutions.
Donna Levinstone (Art) is a graduate of Stony Brook University and Pratt University who has taught students as young as 3 and as old as 95. She has taught at School of Visual Arts, QPS, NCJW, and the 92 St Y and also conducts private sessions, including portfolio development for students entering high school and college. Through her company, Get2Create, she leads small-group art workshops throughout the city. Donna work can be found in many private and public collections, including The Library of Congress, New York Historical Society, Museum of the City of New York, Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital, the Art in Embassies Program, Pfizer, and Montefiore Hospital (forthcoming). Most recently, her work was included in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum (through Jan. 2018).
Mary Lauren (Drama) holds a BFA in theater, with a musical theater concentration. A professional actor, singer, dancer, and director/choreographer, she has directed and choreographed more than 30 shows, worked all over New York, including off-Broadway, and regionally in California and New Mexico, and is a member of the illustrious Workshop Theatre Company. She has taught children ages 2- 18 for 14 years, including as part of Long Island City’s Secret Theatre, through whom Mary is aligned with Queens Paideia. Through song, dance, and storytelling, her students have a joyful time and learn and practice important social skills.
Elyssa Berg (Movement Education) is a professional dancer, choreographer, and fitness instructor who graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Over the past 10 years, she has trained worldwide in numerous dance styles, somatic practices, and pedagogy. She has performed and presented work all along the East Coast with Dante Brown Warehouse Dance, Monkeyhouse Dance Company, and under her own name. Since 2017, she has taught fitness classes at Barre3 (MA) and is a founding instructor for Barre3 in Long Island City. Her passion for wellness is evident in her mission to help others find a love for movement and creativity that they can carry into many parts of their lives.
Laurilyn Jones (Business Manager), BA Yale, oversees the administrative functions for Queens Paideia, including the development of several innovative educational products. As Managing Director of the Mechner Foundation, she supervises and administers the Foundation’s projects and activities, while also conducting long-running basic and applied research programs in the field of learning, analyzing and presenting data, and publishing articles in scientific journals in the field of behavior analysis and learning. She is completing her doctoral work at Oslo & Akershus University College
Rebecca Mannis, PhD, (Advisory) is the founder of Ivy Prep Learning Center, a New York City-based center for children and adults with learning disabilities. She holds a master’s degree in reading, language, and learning disabilities from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a doctorate in developmental psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is uniquely qualified in assessing individual learning styles and identifying resources and customizing instruction to address them.