Team

Wintanna Abai

Wintanna Abai

Wintanna graduated from Boston College and spent her years there focused on social justice.  She is committed to bringing equity to schooling. She founded a small K – 1 school in Flatbush and led the school to grow to be a K- 4 school. Her school was ranked #1 in the State, having 100% of her kids pass both the New York State ELA and Math exams. Prior to being a principal, Wintanna taught 1st and 3rd grade in Harlem and later moved on to be an assistant principal in the South Bronx.  During this time she got her Masters in General and Special Education in order to better serve her students. She is excited to bring her passion for education reform to Lavinia Group and to support students, teachers and leaders through her work with schools across the country.

Dana Adnopoz

Dana Adnopoz

Dana is thrilled to bring her mathematical teaching and instructional management expertise to Lavinia Group. Dana most recently served as a school leader at Success Academy’s high school, where she taught as well as managed instruction and teacher development on her team. Prior to serving as an assistant principal, Dana taught in the same network for several years, acting as a labsite teacher, a grade team lead, and a content lead. In her time teaching, Dana received the Teacher Excellence Award and was honored to teach a demo lesson highlighting conceptual math on Capitol Hill. She also had 100% of students passing the New York State Math Exam. Additionally, Dana worked on the math network team, spearheading teacher and leader development and writing curriculum. Dana studied psychology at Dartmouth College and holds a Master’s degree in both general and special education.

Trevor Baisden

Trevor Baisden

Trevor brings both the strategic insight of a network-level instructional manager who supported principals across dozens of schools and broad K-8 experience as an elementary and middle school teacher to Lavinia Group. After leading his 5th graders to achieve the highest ELA results in the South Bronx, Trevor founded Success Academy’s History program and oversaw system-wide implementation of a middle school humanities redesign that integrated ELA and History instruction to better develop sophisticated reading, writing, and thinking across subjects. Trevor is an experienced culturally responsive teaching and leadership facilitator, working most recently as a Teaching for Educational Equity Advisor with Teach for America.

Purnima Chopra-Vohra

Purnima Chopra-Vohra

Purnima began her career in education as a second grade teacher in NYC public schools. She joins our team after 13 years of Literacy Development consulting with The Reading and Writing Project at Teachers College. Purnima has successfully run week-long reading and writing institutes and worked with teachers and students in grades K-6 across the country. She holds a Masters of Education degree from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Jonathan Dant

Jonathan Dant

Jonathan has been working relentlessly to bring equity to education since his days as a TFA corps member in Newark, NJ in 2005. From having the model second grade classroom for the district in his first year of teaching to founding a progressive elementary school in South Brooklyn that has achieved results in the top 1% of all New York state public schools, Jonathan is excited to bring his passion for blending excellence in academic achievement and developing the whole child to the Lavinia Group. Most recently, Jonathan has worked on reimagining and streamlining policies and processes to maximize efficiency and effectiveness for the largest and highest achieving charter network in New York. Jonathan studied sociology and education policy at Columbia University.

Kelsey DePalo

Kelsey DePalo

With nearly 20 years in education, Kelsey brings a wealth of experience to Lavinia Group.  Most recently she served as principal of a public charter school in Washington Heights for six years.  Under her leadership her elementary school was ranked #1 in the State of New York for Mathematics. 100% of her students passed the NYS Math exam, with 95% earning the highest possible score.  92.5% of her students passed the ELA exam, placing her school in the top 1% of the state. Prior to becoming a school leader, Kelsey taught in Harlem, the Bronx, and Houston, Texas where she is a TFA alum.  She is certified Birth-Grade 6 and as a Literacy Specialist, ELL teacher, and Gifted and Talented teacher.  She has her master’s degree in literacy education from New York University and served as the Director of Early Literacy for one of New York City’s largest charter networks where she developed curriculum and trained teachers and leaders across 40 schools.  She has also taught college level education courses as an adjunct professor at Touro College. Kelsey was awarded the NYC Hometown Hero award by the New York Daily News and Mayor deBlasio for her work in New York City public schools.

Danielle Hauser

Danielle Hauser

Danielle is excited to bring her passion and experience in schooling to the Lavinia Group. Most recently, Danielle served as principal of Success Academy Bronx 2 Middle School, where her school ranked #1 in New York State on their standardized math exam and #4 on their English Language arts Exam [100% math pass rate, 98% advanced. 96% ELA pass rate, 65% advanced.] Additionally, 100% of her 8th grade students passed their Algebra Regents exam and a third of all students in District 9 accepted into specialized high-schools came from Bronx 2 Middle School alone. Previously, Danielle served as an assistant principal in West Harlem and a 5th, 3rd, and 1st grade teacher, during which time Danielle was awarded Success Academy’s inaugural “Teacher Excellence Award.” Danielle has a Masters degree in “Education Policy” from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and a Masters degree from Columbia’s Teachers College in “Elementary Inclusive Education.” She got her BA from Brown University in 2009, where she studied psychology.

Lauren Jonas

Lauren Jonas

Since graduating from Duke University, Lauren has worked relentlessly to close the opportunity gap and bring equity to schooling. A 2005 Teach for America Corps Member in New York, Lauren spent six years teaching in a district school before going on to become a school leader, earning a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Columbia University. Lauren joined Success Academy Charter Network in 2011, where she served as an assistant principal for two years, and a principal for six years. During her tenure as a principal, Lauren opened and scaled three different middle schools, each achieving extraordinary results in the top 3% in the state of New York State. Lauren is thrilled to bring her passion for academic excellence as well as her expertise in school leadership and teacher development to Lavinia Group. 

Kristin Jones

Kristin Jones

Kristin is elated to bring her expertise in elementary education, middle school literacy, and school leadership to the Lavinia Group. She started her career in education as a 3rd and 4th grade classroom teacher at a public charter school in Harlem.  She then taught 6th and 7th grade Literature in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, while serving as Literature Content Lead, training middle school literacy teachers across over 40 schools. Kristin has led classes to achieve 100% passing scores on both New York State ELA and Math exams. Most recently, Kristin served as the founding principal of a highly successful Middle School in Queens, NY.  Kristin studied English and Elementary Education at Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College and holds a Master’s degree in both general and special education.

Naeri Knox

Naeri Knox

Naeri has been an educator in New York City public and charter schools for over a decade. Most recently, she was an Instructional Manager of middle school literacy at Success Academy Charter Network. In this role, she created and led trainings for leaders and teachers across the network, and she wrote middle school literacy curriculum that fosters critical thinking and writing. Prior to her time at the network, Naeri taught a range of grades, spanning from kindergarten through eighth grade. As a middle school ELA teacher, Naeri led her students in achieving exceptional results—one hundred percent of her students passed the New York State ELA Exam, with 60% scoring the highest score of a 4. Additionally, a third of the students accepted into specialized high schools from District 9 came from her class. Naeri was also awarded the Teacher Excellence Award and served as a middle school labsite teacher.

Arin Lavinia

Arin Lavinia

Founder and CEO

A former public school teacher and staff developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Arin created Success Academy’s THINK Literacy program and pioneered the network’s approach to training leaders and teachers as the network scaled from 4 to 32 schools. Arin is co-author of Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School, (2012).  She founded Lavinia Group in 2015.

Ali Levy

Ali Levy

Ali is excited to bring her K-8 experience as both a classroom teacher and school leader to Lavinia Group. Starting her career with Teach For America, Ali taught 6th through 8th grade at a district middle school in the Bronx for a number of years before joining one of the largest public charter networks in NYC as a founding 5th grade teacher.  She then went on to serve as a middle school assistant principal before becoming principal of a K-4 elementary school.  As principal, her school was ranked #1 in the state for math with 100% of students passing the NYS Math Exam, and had 98% passing the NYS ELA Exam, ranking in the top 1% of all schools in the state.  After four years as principal, Ali looks forward to bringing her passion and expertise in K-8 instructional management, people management, and leadership to the schools she works with.  She holds degrees in Psychology and Management from Binghamton University, as well as a Master’s in Special Education from Hunter College. 

Jenny Obiaya

Jenny Obiaya

Jenny brings a wealth of proven leadership and demonstrated excellence in multiple facets of education. After graduating from Harvard she joined the Teach for America Corps and worked for Success Academy in many roles; first as a K-4 Science teacher achieving 100% 4s on the state exam, then as a member of the Literacy Team writing THINK Literacy curriculum under Arin Lavinia and driving instructional management across the network, and later as a founding Principal. Prior to joining Lavinia Group, Jenny most recently served as a Director of Schools and Interim Director of Literacy at a large personalized learning focused charter network in California.

Sheila Palmer

Sheila Palmer

Since graduating from Columbia University in 2013, Sheila has dedicated her career to closing the opportunity gap for students in both the district and public charter school worlds. She joined Teach for America as a 2013 corps member, serving the Las Vegas Valley region, and fell in love with teaching STEM, while teaching middle school science and engineering classes in the Clark County School District. After completing her commitment to Teach for America, she joined Success Academy as a Science teacher and was soon promoted to a school leadership position, managing 5th – 8th grade Science and Math. Sheila also gained experience as an Elementary School leader, managing K-4 in ELA, Math, and Science. During the 2018-2019 school year, her school ranked in the Top 25 in New York State for both ELA and Math performance. Most recently, Sheila was the principal of the flagship elementary school for one of the largest public charter school networks in NYC, located in central Harlem. Sheila holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Columbia University and a Masters in Education for Secondary Science, Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is passionate about social impact, culturally responsive teaching, STEM instruction, as well as literacy instruction.

Lindsey Rosenblatt

Lindsey Rosenblatt

As a former teacher, curriculum developer, and math specialist, Lindsey’s career has focused on teaching mathematics in a progressive and conceptual way. During her time as a Math Manager at a network of 40-plus top-performing charter schools, Lindsey led network-wide trainings, created curriculum, designed assessments, and coached school leaders on the implementation of the math curriculum.  Most recently, Lindsey served as Math Specialist at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, where she supported teachers to implement progressive math instruction . Lindsey started her career in education as a Teach for America corps member, teaching elementary school in Harlem.

Paloma Saez

Paloma Saez

Paloma brings extensive elementary education experience to the Lavinia Group. Having taught multiple grades within various charter schools throughout Harlem and Brooklyn, Paloma has consistently achieved extraordinary results in the classroom, with over 95% of students passing the New York State ELA Exam and 100% of students passing the New York State Math Exam. In recognition of her performance, she served as a labsite teacher at Success Academy. In this role, Paloma modeled best practices for her teachers across the network, coached teachers on the effective implementation of curriculum, and led professional development sessions. Paloma taught as an adjunct professor at Touro College, training student teachers at the graduate level. She studied Elementary Education and received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a Master’s degree in the Art of Teaching from Relay GSE.

Khari Shabazz

Khari Shabazz

Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Mr. Shabazz graduated from the City University of New York at John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a master’s in Public Administration and Urban Affairs. Prior to beginning a career in education, he was a police investigator with the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, investigating allegations of police misconduct and leading his colleagues on a movement to reform the NYPD’s often illegal stop and frisk and racial profiling tactics.

After working in law enforcement and police oversight, In 2003, Mr. Shabazz started his tenure in education in New York City schools in Brooklyn and the Bronx. In 2007, he joined Success Academy Charter Schools as the first Dean of Students for the school and network. In 2013, after two years of serving as an assistant principal, Mr. Shabazz became the principal of SA Harlem 5 Elementary School, where he led the school to rank in the top 3% in ELA and top 1% in Math for two consecutive school years. In 2015, he assumed the principalship of an underperforming, Title 1 middle school in Harlem. By the following year, he led the middle school to rank in the top of 3.9% of New York State in ELA and the top 1% in Math.  Mr. Shabazz is a mission-driven and accomplished professional with expertise in professional development and instructional and people management. He’s especially effective in capacity building, identifying and multiplying talent, program management, and developing and delivering training content. He is widely recognized for his advanced skill sets in leadership, innovation, and driving positive culture change while cultivating key relationships at all organizational levels and with a wide variety of clientele. Mr. Shabazz is active in a number of community organizations and is currently serving on the Board of Directors of Metropolitan Lighthouse Academy Charter School in the Bronx.

Sydney Solomon

Sydney Solomon

Sydney is excited to bring her experience as a classroom teacher and school leader to Lavinia Group. Most recently, Sydney served as principal of Success Academy Prospect Heights, where she managed instruction and teacher development in literacy, math, and science for grades K-4. Prior to becoming principal, Sydney served as a lead teacher in elementary classrooms across a network of top performing charter schools. During her time as a kindergarten teacher, she was awarded the inaugural Teacher Excellence Award. Sydney holds a Master of Arts degree in Special and Elementary Education.

Jackie Taslim

Jackie Taslim

Partner

A former Managing Director at Success Academy, Jackie oversaw 10 schools, managing instruction, leader and teacher development, and daily school operations. Previously Jackie was principal of the network’s flagship K-6 school, which was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School under her leadership. She also received the Blackboard Principal of the Year Award in 2012. A TFA alum, Jackie began her educational career teaching middle school English and history in the Bronx.

Britney Weinberg-Lynn

Britney Weinberg-Lynn

Britney is thrilled to join the Lavinia Group and not only share her depth of knowledge, but learn from others in the education world. Britney began her teaching career as a Teach for America teacher at P.S. 132 in the South Bronx before transitioning to teaching second through fourth grade at South Bronx Classical Charter School. From there, she joined Success Academy Charter Network. At Success, Britney had the honor to work with the same group of students for seven years, as she began teaching second grade and moved up every year, transitioning grades and roles—teacher to assistant principal to principal—until they graduated eighth grade in 2018. The eighth grade graduating class set network and citywide records with 100% passing the Algebra Regents Exam with a 4 or 5 and 80% with a 5. Britney then moved to found Success Academy Bronx 3 Middle School in 2018. Britney has a Master’s degree in Education from Pace University and a Bachelor’s degree from UCSB in French and Global Studies. Britney’s unique trajectory through the New York City school system has given her a diverse perspective and depth of understanding of students, teachers, leaders, and various school designs.

Beth Zhang

Beth Zhang

Beth is thrilled to bring her vast experience managing literacy and math instruction and curriculum to Lavinia Group. As the Director of Math for a network of 40-plus high-performing charter schools, Beth developed rigorous mathematics curriculum materials and assessments, created and led teacher and leader training, and provided direct school support to leaders while managing a network-wide shift to a progressive approach to mathematics. Her work led the network to rank in the top 1% in New York State in mathematics. In 2015, Beth was asked to demonstrate effective teacher development on Capitol Hill to showcase the network’s unique approach to teacher and leader professional development. Beth simultaneously managed a portfolio of schools, ensuring the highest levels of literacy and mathematics implementation. Prior to joining the network leadership team, Beth held various school-based leadership positions, managing instruction and teacher development in literacy, math, and science in grades K-4. Beth started her educational career as a Teach for America corps member teaching middle school special education.

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