President of Integration Charter Schools, Sean Harrell believes firmly in inspiring every scholar to dream bigger, work harder, and care more. With over a decade of experience as a school-based and district leader, Harrell has honed his nurturing approach in providing educators with the operational, curriculum, and youth development supports needed to maximize the organization’s mission and vision.
After serving as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, and on the school district level as the director of academic policy, accountability, and innovation, Harrell founded and serves as executive director of the Progressive Educators Group, which is a consortium of educators charged with rethinking education and developing culturally relevant curricula and school processes to drive student achievement. Through Progressive Educators Group, Harrell has served as a thought partner to over two dozen charter schools and youth development-based non-profits. In January 2022, Harrell founded the app EdSwipe! an innovative solution to teacher and school leader recruitment. Harrell is trained in the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Program, Reggio Emilia, Wilson Reading, and Children’s Defense Fund’s Restorative Practices.
Founder and President Emeritus
Dr. Kenneth Byalin, Founder and President Emeritus, has broad experience in organizational leadership and education, as well as in mental health as a manager in the New York State Office of Mental Health and as a psychotherapist in private practice. Dr. Byalin earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from New York University, a MS in Social Work from Columbia University, and a BA in English from Carleton College. Dr. Byalin is also a Zen teacher in the lineage of Bernie Glassman.
Chief Operating Officer
Chief Operating Officer of Integration Charter Schools, Mary Cottingham joined our team in 2010 as Events Coordinator. Throughout her decade plus of service to ICS, Cottingham has acted as project lead for pivotal tasks including opening three brand new schools, merging facilities as the organization grew, leading the charter renewal processes for two schools, and supporting the President. She has served as a key member of both the Operations & Development teams, Human Resources Recruiter, Liaison to the Board of Trustees, Coordinator of Special Projects for the organization and as Vice President of External Affairs.
Cottingham received her BS in Business from the College of Staten Island and later earned her Executive MBA from Wagner College in 2019. Before joining ICS, she was in College Recruiting for the investment firm Merrill Lynch.
Vice President of Human Resources
Vice President of Human Resources at Integration Charter Schools, Ronald Carara joined ICS as Director of Human Resources in January 2019, bringing with him 30 years of human resources and administrative experience, as well as a passion for working with people, from both the city and federal levels.
He received his BS in Business Management from St. John’s University.
Vice President of Mental Health
Vice President of Mental Health at Integration Charter Schools, Diane DiSalvo is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with over 30 years of experience working with youth and families. She first joined ICS in 2015 as the Director of Counseling after serving as the Chief of the Children and Youth Service at South Beach Psychiatric Center.
She holds a BA in Psychology from New York University and a MSW from Fordham University.
Vice President of Education
Vice President of Education, Theresa Peterford has been an educator for over 20 years and started working as a teacher at Integration Charter Schools in 2011. While teaching at ICS, she was the recipient of multiple honors including the New York State Assembly “Unsung Hero” Award, City Council Citation for Community Service, and the Senator Andrew Lanza Outstanding Teacher Award. In addition to teaching, Peterford has served in many roles while working at ICS including Assistant Principal, Principal, Director of Special Education, Vice President of Career Development and Vice President of Student Integration.
In addition to holding professional NYS certifications in school leadership, Peterford holds several professional teaching certifications in general and special education spanning elementary through high school grade levels. Her varied experience in education includes teaching college courses, founding and directing a community-based performing arts program for children and presenting at professional conferences for educators. In addition to contributing to the charter development and opening process for all ICS schools since she joined the team, she has also led many innovative and mission critical initiatives over the years such as the Special Education Program which now serves over 500 students, the ICS Teacher Pathway Program which aims to address the national teacher shortage and increase teacher diversity, the DBT Wellness Program, and the ICS Core Values. As a lifelong learner, Peterford earned her Master’s Degree in School Leadership from St. John’s University in 2010 and returned to school in 2020. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Rutgers University with a concentration in Special Education.
Co-Principal of Lavelle Preparatory Charter School – Elementary School
Co-Principal of Lavelle Preparatory Charter School elementary division, Jenna Curran has been with ICS for more than ten years, having began as a teaching assistant, and working through positions including Mathematics Teacher, 6th-Grade Team Leader and Teacher Leader participant in the Dissemination Grant.
Jenna founded Lavelle Elementary in 2017 as the Assistant Principal, taking the lead on writing the charter expansion, and became Principal in 2020. As Principal, Jenna oversaw the expansion of Lavelle Elementary school to serve grades K-2. Jenna considers watching children grow, learn and develop important foundation skills from an early age one of greatest gifts of her career.
Alongside Alison LoSavio, she manages the operations, instruction, and function of the school on a daily basis, ensuring all students are prepared for, and provided with, opportunities for academic success.
Jenna received her BA in Public Relations from Hofstra University. Curran earned her first M.S.Ed. in Education from St. John’s University and, as a recipient of a Race to the Top Grant, she received a second M.S.Ed. in School and Building Leadership from Wagner College.
Co-Principal of Lavelle Preparatory Charter School – Elementary School
Co-Principal of Lavelle Preparatory Charter School elementary division, Alison LoSavio first began with Lavelle Preparatory Charter middle school division as a teaching assistant. She has a BA in Science Letters & Society (Education) from The College of Staten Island, MS in Childhood Education/Teaching Students with Disabilities from Touro College, and both a School Building Leadership and District Leader Advanced Certificate from the College of St. Rose. LoSavio considers Lavelle Elementary to be her second home and cherishes the opportunity to interact and build relationships with students, staff, families, and the community.
Principal of Lavelle Preparatory Charter School – Middle School
Principal of Lavelle Preparatory Charter School middle school division, Jacqueline Hillary first began her career at Integration Charter Schools as a student teacher while studying at Teacher Education Honors Academy of the College of Staten Island. Through this program, she earned her BS in Mathematics, moving her into the position of a mathematics teacher at Lavelle Preparatory Charter School in 2011. During this time, she also acted as the school’s Testing Coordinator, Director of Program Evaluation and Mathematics Coach prior to moving into school leadership as Assistant Principal (2021) and Principal (2022). Hillary furthered her studies throughout the years by earning her Students with Disabilities certification (2012), graduating from Touro College with an MS Ed in Mathematics Education (2017), and becoming a member of Math for America’s Master Teacher Fellowship (2019).
Assistant Principal of Lavelle Preparatory Charter School – Middle School
Assistant principal of Lavelle Preparatory Charter School middle school division, Kristina Mazza has bee part of the ICS family since it’s inception in 2009. She began as both an English Language Arts teacher at Lavelle Preparatory Charter School while also assuming the role of the school’s Literacy Coach, supporting classroom instruction and student learning across all grades. Throughout the years, Mazza was honored as the proud recipient of Lavelle Prep’s “Outstanding Teacher of the Year” (2015) and Senator Andrew Lanza’s “Staten Island Teacher Appreciation” award (2017). She has served as Assistant Principal of Lavelle since 2018.
Mazza graduated from The College of Mount Saint Vincent with a BA in Psychology and a concentration in General and Special Childhood Education (2009) and went on to earn an MS degree in Teaching Literacy through Touro College (2014). She is certified in Childhood Education 1-6, Students with Disabilities 1-6, Literacy B-5, and Literacy 6-12.
Principal of Lavelle Preparatory Charter School – High School
Principal of Lavelle Preparatory Charter School high school division, Dhurata Rexha has been with ICS since it’s opening in 2009. After teaching middle and high school mathematics courses, she began coaching teachers in their daily instruction while also creating supportive learning environments to deepen student engagement and learning.
Rexha moved to Nicotra Early College Charter School as the Assistant Principal before becoming a principal at Lavelle, where it is her mission to provide students with an atmosphere conducive to collegiate learning that encourages high levels of performance and enables students to become active, caring global citizens.
She received her first BA in History and her second in Mathematics. Rexha earned her first M.S.Ed. in Education from CSI and, as a recipient of a Race to the Top Grant, she received a second M.S.Ed. in School and Building Leadership from Wagner College.
Assistant Principal of Lavelle Preparatory Charter School – High School
Assistant Principal of Lavelle Preparatory Charter School high school division, Souad Outarid began with Lavelle Prep more than 10 years ago as a teaching assistant and eventually became a mathematics teacher. During this time, she wore many hats, including testing coordinator, teachers mentor, team leader, and school coordinator. Now in leadership at Lavelle Prep, her vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more, and a leader that leads with heart.
Outarid graduated from the Teacher Education Honors Academy at the College of Staten Island. She received her BA in Mathematics with a concentration in Mathematics Education for students 7-12 before receiving her MS in Education from CSI. She completed her certification in special education and a post-graduate certificate from the College of Saint Rose.
Principal of Richmond Preparatory Charter School
Principal of Richmond Preparatory Charter School, Shick held several positions in ICS before assuming his current role, including chemistry and mathematics teacher, school programmer, and high school leader.
An active professor in the College of Staten Island for future teachers, Shick is the recipient of the College of Staten Island Research Award, and is the first author of the paper, “The Effect of Short Mathematics Instruction in High School Chemistry Course on Student Chemistry Achievement,” which has been accepted as a full paper at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting. Shick is also published another case study research that was presented at the SITE conference.
Assistant Principal of Nicotra Early College Charter School
Assistant Principal of Nicotra Early College Charter School, Michele Kruithoff-Greene has over ten years of experience as an English Language Arts teacher for grades 7-12 prior to becoming Director of Instruction at a charter school in the South Bronx. Afterwards, she served as a Network Training and Development Coach and joined ICS as an Assistant Principal.
Kruithoff-Greene earned her Master’s degree in Education and English from the College of Staten Island as well as her Advanced Master’s degree from Hunter College in Leadership, SBL and SDL.
Principal of New Ventures Charter School
Principal at New Ventures Charter School, Ryan Melis has been with Integration Charter Schools for over 10 years, with his first 5 years working at Lavelle Preparatory Charter School. Before becoming principal of New Ventures, Melis held several leadership positions including Teacher’s Assistant, Teacher, Athletic Director, After-School Program Director, and Grade Leader.
Assistant Principal at New Ventures Charter School, Amelia DePompo started her career in the first few years of the school’s development, beginning as the founding English Language Arts teacher of New Ventures. Throughout the years, she held several positions, including Internship Coordinator, Academic Advisor, and School Coordinator, while actively working towards creating community partnerships and post-secondary opportunities for students. As a former transfer school student herself, DePompo understands the importance and value of having our youth earn a high school diploma and is dedicated to helping them achieve their goals.
Director of Operations
Director of Operations of Integration Charter Schools, Susan Varvara first began with Integration Charter Schools in 2011 and has since grown in her levels of responsibilities throughout her career with the organization. In her current role, Varvara oversees lottery processes, student registration, and student transportation for each of our six divisions. She has continued to both ensure and maintain the operational integrity of the functions that involve both students and staff.
Director of Strategic Initiatives
Director of Strategic Initiatives of Integration Charter Schools, Erin Nicole Celletti oversees the writing, editing, content creation, media relations and various other communications responsibilities of ICS. Serving as both 6th and 7th-grade team leader throughout 5 years of leadership, she has also taught ELA, Orton Gillingham and Journalism courses for six years, since beginning at Lavelle Prep as a teaching assistant in 2011.
Celletti earned a BA in Journalism from Quinnipiac University, a MS.E.d. in Childhood and Special Education from St. John’s University, and, as a recipient of a Race to the Top Grant, she received a second MS.Ed. in School and Building Leadership from Wagner College.
Acting Director of Security
Joseph Avitto is the Acting Director of Security for Integration Charter Schools. He has been with ICS for eight years and has been an invaluable member of the organization. He has previous experience in law enforcement as a former NYPD officer. His former training and experience have been an asset to ICS in relation to the safety and security of faculty students. As a father of three, his family ties and experience have helped him to relate to the students and create strong bonds within the organization, and beyond.
Assistant Director of Counseling
Assistant Director of Counseling at Integration Charter Schools, Priscilla Chen is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 15 years of experience in the mental health field. Joining the ICS team in 2016, she first began as the 7th-grade counselor during the day and a high school counselor in New Ventures Charter School during the evening. In 2019, Chen was promoted to the Assistant Director of Counseling. She currently serves as the McKinney Vento Liaison and is the field placement and program coordinator for master level social work and psychology interns placed at ICS.
Chen received her BA in Human Services and Human Resources Management from Boston College before studying at Columbia University to earn a Master’s Degree in Social Work. As a social worker, she has worked as an outpatient therapist and supervisor at the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services on Staten Island prior to joining ICS.
Director of Special Education
Director of Special Education at Integration Charter Schools, Florence Strezebala’s work at ICS has been nothing but an inspiration. She began as a teaching assistant before becoming an English Language Arts teacher and eventually head of the special education program across our six divisions.
Strezebala graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and has obtained her master’s degree in Teaching Students with Disabilities for grades 7-12. She has a deep passion for guiding her students towards the right path to help them achieve their personal and academic goals.
Director of Program Evaluation
Director of Program Evaluation at Integration Charter Schools, Yelena Osores first began her career with ICS in 2010 as a 7th-grade science teacher in Lavelle Preparatory Charter School. Throughout the years, she grew into several leadership roles, including science coach and team leader, as well as high school science teacher. Osores joined the New Ventures Charter School team as a science teacher (2015) and became Director of Academic Guidance (2017) before assuming the role of Director of Program Evaluation (2018). In this role, she is responsible for acquiring and compiling data to be used in evaluating the various programs as well as to be used in informing academic decision making.
Director of Wellness Programs
Director of Wellness Programs at Integration Charter Schools, Crystal Rios began as an English and Wellness teacher at New Ventures Charter School in 2015 and grew into the role of Wellness Coach throughout the years before heading the Wellness Program in our six school divisions. Her work at ICS centers on monitoring diversity, and creating and developing programs that promote equity and inclusion. In addition, she supports various groups by providing Wellness and professional support in order to foster healing and productivity. Crystal believes that education can be a space where compassion, healing, and justice are ever-present.
Rios holds a Bachelors and Master’s degree in Education and English Literature from the College of Staten Island, and she is an RYT certified Yoga Instructor.
Director of Accounting Policies
Joining the ICS team in July 2022 as the Director of Accounting Policies, Metin Capani brings more than 20 years experience managing the financial health of companies in various industries. Recently, he was Director of Finance at Success Academies Charter Schools. With a focus on innovation and operational excellence, he has held financial leadership roles with various manufacturing, real estate and not-for-profit companies. Capani earned his BBA degree in Accounting from Pace University and is currently pursuing his MBA with Boston University. He is a Certified Public Accountant and a Chartered Global Management Accountant.
Assistant Director of Operations Food Services
Assistant Director of Operations Food Services at Integration Charter Schools, Diane Norato began ICS as a food server before assuming the role of Supervisor of Food Services. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brooklyn College.
Executive Director of The ICS Foundation
Executive Director of The ICS Foundation, Jodi Guagliardo joined Integration Charter Schools as the Director of External Relations in 2021. Through The ICS Foundation, she is responsible for overseeing community partnerships and is dedicated to the organization’s overall mission in serving the Staten Island community.
Guagliardo has more than 25 years of experience working with non-profit and development, including 11 years as Executive Director and Associate Director of the March of Dimes Staten Island Division and more than 15 years as Vice President of Events and Fundraising at the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation (SIEDC). She also holds a leadership role in the Staten Island Community Transformation initiative with the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation in the education stream of influence.