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Our Instructors

All Creative Teacher Education Institute teachers highly qualified licensed educators working in classrooms everyday read more

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Creative Teacher Education Institute provides online teacher professional development courses, educators trust nationwide for academic advancement.  

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Our Instructors


Our Instructors at The Creative Teacher Education Institute are highly qualified  NYS Certified Teachers working in the classroom everyday. Their course content is based upon NYS standards best practices, research, philosophies  and resources for practical classroom use. Our instructors use their own classroom models as the key to student success. Please review our instructor bios highlighting our extensive educational credentials.  We look forward to forming a close educational relationship with you through our online learning management system called Moodle for the best quality of teacher professional development for your learning needs.  


Instructor Bios 


Jason Stevenson  
I received my Bachelor’s of Science degree in biochemistry from the State University College at Oneonta, and my Master’s Degree in Secondary Science Education from the State University College at Albany.  In the past, I have worked in the Catskill Mountains and while there I taught Regents Chemistry and Regents Physics, and Coached Science Olympiad and Tennis.  I also advised a Boys-on-Track team, a STEM program, and tutored students in both Science and Math.  Currently, I am tenured at Rhinebeck High School in the Hudson Valley Region of New York, where I teach Regents Chemistry, Advanced Placement Chemistry, and advise a Science Club.  I, myself, have utilized the Creative Teacher Education Institute to continue to grow in the fields of science, math, and childhood development.  I have also attended many science conferences including STANYS and the College Board’s Annual AP Conference for Experienced Teachers.  I am married, and have two beautiful children.  I truly love what I do and I receive fulfillment and satisfaction out of helping guide my students and watching them succeed.  I look forward to working with each of you and sharing many resources and strategies to add to our bag-of-tricks while making our classrooms even more exciting and increasing our students’ chances at succeeding. 

Sandy Catapano

Hi and welcome! My name is Sandy Catapano and I am a second grade teacher. I have been teaching for 15 years and have taught kindergarten, third grade and fourth grade as well. I am married to a wonderful husband and have two beautiful boys who are both in elementary school.  I enjoy reading, exercising and traveling. One of my favorite books is the “Orphan Train”…if you get a chance read it! I am looking forward to sharing the journey of learning with you and my hope is that you will walk away with something that will be meaningful and inspirational to you.

Laurie Thode
Hello! My name is Laurie Thode. I am currently a special education teacher at the Mount Sinai School District located on Long Island. I received my Bachelor Degree in Special Education with a concentration on Psychology from St. Joseph's College and a Master Degree from Stony Brook University. I have two New York State permanent teaching certifications. The certifications are Special Education, birth-21years of age and also Elementary Education, K-6th grade. I have been teaching children of special needs for the past 13 years. I have worked in many different teaching settings. I have experience in the self- contained setting, resource room setting, inclusive setting, and I have also worked in residential settings. I love teaching professional development courses and am constantly researching to further myself and my students. On a more personal level you might find that I have a dual life. By duel life I mean by day I am a special education teacher working with multiple disabilities and by night I am a wife and mother of two beautiful little girls. In the summers keep busy with teaching courses, educational research, spending time with my family, tinkering with the latest technology, crafts, gardening, cooking, and traveling.

Angela D’Amico
Angela is a Reading Specialist at Patchogue Medford High School.  She has a BA in English from St. Joseph’s College and an MS in Reading from Dowling College. She has been awarded numerous grants for literacy based projects and has presented workshops for several affiliations including The New York State English Council and most recently for NYSUT at SUNY Farmingdale at the conference titled, Collaborating for the Success of English Language Learners. She also appeared in the feature article in the October 2009 edition of New York Teacher magazine for her use of successful reading strategies in the ELL classroom.

Jennifer Crispo
Jennifer Crispo has been teaching for 15 years. She is dual certified in Elementary Education and Special Education for grades K-12. She started her career teaching grades 3-5 in a general education setting, eventually she moved to an inclusion 3rd grade classroom, and presently she is teaching Resource Room for grades K-5 for the Bayport-Blue Point Schools. When she is not teaching she enjoying spending quality time with her husband, daughter, and son.

Brigit Di Primo
Brigit DiPrimo has been an educator for over 17 years. She has taught a variety of grade levels and subjects.  Ms. DiPrimo is currently the principal of the Amagansett School District and was formerly the assistant principal of the Arrowhead Elementary in Three Village School District. She received her MA degree as well as her administrative degree from Stony brook University. She is currently the Assistant to the Principal at W.S. Mount Elementary School in Three Village School district.  Ms. DiPrimo has taught a variety of courses for educators both online and onsite. 

Christine Sacco
Christine earned her BFA from Pratt Institute in 1994 and pursued a career as a lighting designer and interior designer. She began teaching art in 1999 and received a Masters in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College in 2003. She is certified in K-12 Art, and has been an elementary art teacher in the Three Village School District since 2000.  “I love the interdisciplinary nature of art and how it can enrich every curriculum area.” Christine lives in Westhampton Beach with her husband and three children.   

Katie Griffin-Strahm
Katie has been teaching in Bay Shore Union Free School District since 2004.  She teaches first and second grade accelerated students.  She graduated from Colgate University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Childhood Education and received her Master’s Degree from Dowling College in 2007 in Literacy Education.  "Teaching is a very rewarding experience and each day brings something new."  She is a huge advocate of technology in the classroom. "I feel that it enhances the curriculum, the way teachers teach, and the way in which students learn."

Melissa Grucci
Melissa has been working as a certified school psychologist for the past 6 years.  She began her schooling at Stony Brook University where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology.  She then continued on to St. John’s University to work on her Master’s of Science in School Psychology.  She has worked in various programs across all grade levels and is currently carrying out her tenure at Islip High School.  

Valerie Hanley
Valerie has been working in the field of education since 1995. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and her Master’s degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis on Technology at the University of San Francisco. Her teaching experiences have been in both California and New York and have ranged from pre-K to middle school, inner-city to suburban schools.  In addition, Valerie has taught adult ESL classes for several years and has worked as both a reporter and copy editor for a local newspaper. She currently is a busy stay-at-home mom who works part-time as a tutor, a teacher, and as a proofreader for several local authors. When she isn’t working, Valerie can be found gardening or exploring with her two young children in Water Mill, New York.

Katie Kleinpeter
Katie has been teaching Visual Art, grades Kindergarten through 12 on Long Island since 2005 for the Comsewogue School District.  She has a Master’s of Science in Education with a concentration in Art Education from Hofstra University.

Tracy Kozloff 
Tracy has been teaching elementary Art for 13 years.  She works in the Island Trees School District in Levittown.  She has an Art History and Studio background.  Tracy earned a BS in Art History with a Minor in Studio Art from Radford University, Radford, Virginia. She has her Master’s in Education from Dowling College, plus 60 credits above her Master’s Degree. Within the past few years she has run several Art Supervisor Association workshops for Art Teachers. “The Internet is an incredible tool for art resources and I look forward to sharing them with other colleagues.”

Vincenzo La Ruina 
Vincenzo is currently a fifth grade teacher in the Bay Shore School District with ten years of experience. Before becoming a teacher, he studies Psychology and Elementary Education at SUNY Geneseo and photography at FIT. After graduating college, he worked at an advertising agency in NYC for two years creating print, radio and TV advertising for Advil. He then became a Math and Science Teacher in Queens as part of the NYC Teaching Fellows Program. After a year he was hired at Gardiner Manor School in Bay Shore where he happily resides. While at Gardiner Manor, he traveled to Japan to visit schools in Tokyo and Hiroshima. He also visited polar bears in Canada and received over a dozen of grants from small and large organizations for projects ranging from an Italian Club to clay animation projects and extra field trips.  

Stacey Robert Lazarus
Stacey Robert Lazarus has been in education for more than 23 years, with 20 of them in the area of instructional integration of technology into the classroom. He is certified to teach Health, Math, Sciences, and is also certified as an Educational Technology Specialist. After obtaining his Masters in Math Education at CCNY, he has continued to increase his knowledge of the ever changing field of technology by taking five to eight courses a year, so he is far beyond the 90+ scale of educational courses taken. In addition to teaching and running the computer labs in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District at NFA-North Campus, he teaches at Sullivan and Ulster BOCES synchronous online seminars and face to face courses. He has been on the Mid Hudson NYSCATE planning board since they started and is an active teacher for Intel, in their programs:Thinking with Technology, Essentials, and Leadership Forums. Stacey is a firm believer that using technology in the classroom will make a good teacher even better, and that students today expect to see teachers using computers to help them learn. When not glued to his two continuously running computers, he can be found on the ski slopes pursuing his passion for skiing.  

Janice McLachlan
Janice received a Bachelor of Science in Art Education, 1987 from Long Island University, Southampton, New York where she graduated Magna cum Laude. She continued to work for her Master of Liberal Studies in Art Education, August 1991 at the State University at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York.  She is a New York State Certified Permanent Art Teacher N-12.  She is currently a tenured Art Teacher at the East Quogue Elementary School. Her thesis emphasis was on the benefits of Interdisciplinary Studies and Integration of Art Education into the Classroom Curriculum. Janice has continued to further her education beyond her Masters degree in the area of curriculum development and behavior management.  She has spent the last  providing professional development opportunities to enhance creativity in the classroom.


Theresa DiMichele
Theresa DiMichele joined the Comsewogue School District in 2002. She was a 9th grade (self contained) Special Education Teacher for five years.  Theresa spearheaded the American Sign Language class and was the sign language club leader.  She received her administrative degree from Stony Brook University in 2007 and currently serves at the Assistant Principal at Comsewogue High School.

Randi Miller 
MA, MS.EDL NYS Certified School Psychologist~ I am a NYS certified school psychologist with 18 years professional working experience at various Nassau BOCES special education programs. At present I work in a school-age program that educates students with moderate to severe developmental disabilities including Autism. Additionally, I have completed the coursework necessary to qualify for Certification as a School building leader and most recently I earned a MS degree from Nova University- Shepard Broad Law School with a concentration/specialty in Education Law. In my role as school psychologist, I have prepared and facilitated countless staff development trainings, workshops and parent groups.   For several years I have been working as an instructor providing both face to face and online professional development and inservice classes.

Michelle Rosenoff
Michelle Rosenoff has been teaching health education at Syosset High school for the past 17 years.  She earned her Bachelors’ degree from SUNY Oneonta and her Masters of Science in Health Education from Adelphi University.  Michelle teaches an esteemed Peer Leadership program at Syosset and a community service class that meets the k12 NYS mandate for health education. Additionally, Michelle has been teaching graduate and in-service courses to teachers for the past 13 years.

Richard Faber
Richard Faber has been teaching at Syosset High School for the past 21 years.  He obtained his BS in Physical Education and Health Certification from Ithaca College.  His Masters and School District Administration Certificate is from Stony Brook University.  Richard is also a certified Driver Education Instructor and has been the Coordinator of Driver and Traffic Safety at Syosset School District since 1999 as well as Peer Leadership and wellness classes.  He has trained numerous teachers in Peer Mediation, Conflict Resolution and Student Engagement, to name a few across Long Island. Richard is no stranger to teacher education; he has been teaching in-service and graduate classes for the past 15 years.  He looks forward to continue education teachers with the variety of courses he offers.

Melissa Stone
Melissa Stone has been teaching for 15 years for the East Quogue School District and is currently co-teaching a fifth grade inclusion classroom.  Melissa has had various teaching experiences including regular education as well as special education in grades K through 6, inclusive.  She attended York College of Pennsylvania and received her BA in Elementary Education with Special Education concentration, graduating Magna Cum Laude.  She then attended Stony Brook University and received her Master’s in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Education.  She holds certifications in Pre K, K and Grades 1-6 as well as Students with Disabilities Grades 1-6 and has 60 credits beyond her masters in areas such as technology integration, reading and writing.  Melissa lives in the Hamptons with her family and enjoys reading at the beach and walking her Yorkie.  “I believe that every child has something special to offer and it is my job to find that and showcase it so that every child can shine.” 

Claire Nyman
Claire Nyman has been teaching Secondary English in the Islip Middle School for 13 years.  She received her Bachelors of English & Secondary Education from St. Joseph's College, Patchogue.  She received her Master’s Degree of Liberal Studies with a concentration in Literature and Education from Stony Brook University.  Claire was recognized for her work on a team creating a curriculum for differentiating instruction in the middle school English classroom.  She and her team presented the curriculum at the LIASCD.  "I believe in using literature to help students grow academically as well as socially as literature is not only a useful tool for the academic arena, it can also provide character education for our students."  Training:  Power point, Creating Websites, Promethean Board, Smart Board, Blackboard (web-based classroom). 

Caterina Palimieri
Caterina started her career at Bay Shore UFSD by teaching the accelerated language arts program for first and second graders. She also taught the second grade accelerated mathematics program.  Currently, she teaches first grade regular education. She holds a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education Dowling College, Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at SUNY Westbury, Permanent Certification in Elementary Education Pre K-6.  

Catherine Piccirillo
Catherine has been teaching visual arts in the Sachem School District since 1986.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in 1985 from Long Island University, Visual & Performing Arts at the C.W. Post Campus.  She received her Master of Science in Education from Dowling College in 1994.  Catherine holds three New York State certifications for teaching; K-12 Art;   K-12 Reading;   Nursery, Kindergarten & Grades 1-6.  Catherine’s approach to art education is defined as problem solving.  She encourages her students to be creative and industrial thinkers.  Catherine lives in Islip with her husband and two college age children (and her beagle).

Lauren Porter 
I currently serve as the Coordinator of Special Education and chair both the Committees on Preschool Education and Special Education. I am currently the school psychologist at the East Quogue Union Free School District and I also have been a school psychologist for more than 20 years!  I am an avid reader and love to attend workshops to increase my own understanding of the field I have grown to love! I am an adjunct in the Secondary Education Department at St. Joseph’s College where I teach the courses: Educational Psychology and Adolescents with Exceptionalities.  I truly enjoy this experience as I see eager students preparing to enter the teaching world!  I am married and have two children: age 16 and age 6!  I look forward to getting to know something about the students in my online class and am excited to use this forum as a learning tool.

Alissa Rosenberg
Alissa has been a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist since 1997, and has been in the field since 1994.  Currently, she works in the Harborfields School District with middle school and high school students. However, over the course of her career, she has worked with children ages 2-21 years old. Recently, her focus has been on the remediation of students with high functioning autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. During February, 2009, Alissa had the privilege of mentoring with Michele Garcia Winner at her Social Thinking clinic in California. 

Laura Ruotolo
Hello! My name is Laura Ruotolo and I have been teaching orchestra at Plainedge High School for the past ten years. I earned my Bachelor of Music degree from Ithaca College and completed my Master of Science in Education at Queens College.  My primary instrument is violin and my secondary instruments are viola, cello, bass, and piano.  I am married with two children named Christopher and Samantha.  Christopher is four years old and Samantha is a year and a half.  Both children fall asleep to music every night.  I love being a mom!  Teaching music to students in grades nine through twelve is very satisfying.  I really enjoy working with advanced young musicians.  I started teaching at Plainedge schools when the orchestra only had forty students.  Currently, my class consists of ninety seven students!  It is an absolute pleasure teaching at Plainedge High School.  I truly enjoy my job.  I look forward to working with you!  

Laura Riekert

Laura graduated with a BFA from Syracuse University and a Masters in Art Education from Hofstra, "my school loans will be paid off after my mortgage".  She taught for one year at the Lorge School, a charter school for the New York City Board of Education.  It was a K-12 school for children with special needs and she was their Computer Teacher.  Then she was hired at Harborfields Central School District, “a little closer to home," and she has been there since 1999, teaching over 700 students Art in grades 3-5 a week.  She has shown her work on Long Island and in NYC. "I also painted a huge mural in Chelsea! It is in between two buildings so that the Large School kids did not have to stare at a brick wall." 

Jenni Slater
Jenni has been teaching Spanish for nine years at the middle and high school levels. She received her Spanish 7-12 certification at SUNY New Paltz. She is also currently studying to become certified as a TESOL educator. She now teaches for the Newburgh Enlarged City School District at both high schools.  In the past she was an ESL and GED instructor for adults through BOCES. She enjoys sharing her love of culture with people of all ages. She also loves traveling to new places with her family.

Lauren Squires
Lauren graduated from Concordia College with a degree in Early Childhood Education. Soon after, she earned her Master’s Degree in Reading from LIU Southampton. While working for her Masters she was already getting experience in the field as a TA in a self-contained classroom in the Southampton Public School system. After completing her Masters she was hired as a 2nd grade teacher at the East Quogue Elementary School where she currently works. In her 12 years of teaching at EQ she has had experience teaching second, first and six grade classes. Many of her experiences over the years have included being a teacher in an inclusion classroom and team teaching with special education teachers. "I love what I do and hope my courses with help to make what you love  do, more fulfilling."

Meredith Starr
Meredith Starr is a certified Art Teacher k-12. She earned her BS from NYU in Studio Art, her MS in Art Ed from Dowling College and her MFA from LIU Post. Meredith has taught in the k-12 art classroom for nearly 6 years, and at the college level for the last five She has also enjoyed teaching online classes for more than 4 years! She is very enthusiastic about teaching, making and exhibiting art and her spending time with her family. ​

Shannon Mersand
Shannon Mersand is a School Media Specialist at Yorktown High School. She holds a Bachelors in Information Science and Policy with minors in English and Education Studies, as well as a Masters of Library Science and a Masters in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology, all from the University at Albany, State University of New York. Shannon holds professional certification as a K-12 Library Media Specialist, as well as in English Language Arts 7-12. She has taught in a number of capacities in multiple districts, and in her role as School Media Specialist, has worked with teachers from all disciplines to integrate Information Literacy and Technology into the curriculum. Her passion for Instructional Technology led her to develop an obsession with Online Learning and most recently, Mobile Learning. Shannon has presented at District, Local and State Conferences on the integration of technology in the curriculum. In 2011, she was named the Lee Bryant Outstanding Teacher of the Year by New York State Association for Computers and Technology in Education. She is an Authorized Google Education Trainer.