World Class Teachers

Mrs. Cynthia Adams

1st Grade General Studies Teacher/ Elementary School Supervisor

Mrs. Adams had taught in both public and private schools in New York City for over 20 years. She has a Master of Science Degree in Education and has taught in grades Pre-K through 8. As a seasoned teacher, her primary goal is to create a classroom environment that is conducive to helping students learn and develop their skills in a variety of ways. Teaching them to be independent, respectful, and responsible are her goals for her first graders since such characteristics are stepping stones to a healthy self-esteem and a lifetime of success.​​​​​​​​​​

Mrs. Valbona Belli

1st-6th Grade Science and Art Teacher / 8th Grade Science Teacher

Ms. Belli is an expert teacher with more than 15 years of experience in early childhood and elementary education field. Ms. Belli is an expert on early literacy and reading comprehension, which is very helpful in her current field. Presently, Ms. Belli’s concentration is science. She has improved the science curriculum by enriching it with lots of hands-on activities for the kids. Every lesson culminates in a lab, which ensures long-term retention. She has worked in the schools in Florida and New York City, and all her former
employers consider her a great asset to the school because she truly cares about each child, is very organized, and communicates her expectations clearly to students and parents alike.​​

Mr. Andrew Ferrera

2nd Grade General Studies Teacher

Mr. Ferrera has a bachelors degree in early childhood education, from The College of Staten Island. He has been working with children for 8 years, and this will be his 4th year with us at SIHA. During his time here at SIHA, “Mr. F” (as the children refer to him), has been a part of the after school program, taught gym class for grades 1-8, and provided paraprofessional service to one of our Nachas students. He will be focusing his masters studies on special education. His love and interest for special education stems from his love for his son, who has Autism. He has always known he wanted to work with children, but his son’s diagnosis has tweaked his path, focusing on those with special needs. Mr. Ferrera’s teaching philosophy is emphasized by his belief that the most effective teachers have the ability to keep the students engaged, and the best way to keep them engaged is to make learning fun. He also stresses the importance of play as an important part of the learning process, especially in the elementary years. It is through play that we learn very important skills, like working together, developing self esteem, developing leadership qualities, overcoming fears, dealing with failure, dealing with success, and learning to be understanding of others. Mr. Ferrera believes that developing these essential skills in the elementary, and middle school years will help our students develop in all aspects of their lives.

Ms. Sasha German

3rd Grade General Studies Teacher

Coming from a teaching family that goes back generations, Ms. Sasha German has been working in a classroom well before obtaining her teaching degree in Childhood Education/Special Education from Touro College. For the past 15 years she has worked in both public and private setting, teaching elementary school students of all levels. Ms. German is a dedicated professional who values every child and believes in building up children’s strengths by supporting each of her students. Ms. German prides herself on her ability to develop children’s reading comprehension and writing skills. Her students have consistently scored very high on standardized tests, and their writing is solid. She believes in balance between hands on and analytical approaches when she teaches math, social studies, and science, as she wants her students to achieve global understanding. First and foremost, Ms. German strives for every student to feel comfortable and appreciated in her class because as she builds students’ self-esteem, they become more confident and eager learners. Ms. German works closely with families. She is very approachable, and makes parents partners who, with her guidance, support their children at home. For Ms. German teaching is a true calling, and she is determined to make sure that all students in her class reach their full potential.

Mrs. Patricia Giordano

7th and 8th Grade Science Teacher

Mrs. Giordano has over 8 years of teaching experience working with a diverse group of students from 6th – 12th grade and has obtained a Bachelor of Science with concentration in Biological studies from Empire State College. Mrs. Giordano’s experience sitting on the School Leadership Team (SLT) has afforded her the opportunity to identify the needs of scholars, by focusing on trends that students struggle with, that may cause an interference with their success in the classroom. As a result of her participation on the SLT, her skills and ability to identify the needs of struggling students and creating a plan of action for their success, is strength within the school community; this is evidenced by the number of special education students that have passed the Living Environment Regent, along with her overall pass rate of this exam. Mrs. Giordano believes that no two children learn the same, and as a result, her passion for differentiating instruction to ensure that all students receive the content in a manner that they understand, is the driving force behind her planning. It is her goal to create a rapport with all students, so they can build a trusting community together wherein the students will accept the challenges that are put before them. This enables the students to succeed and not be afraid to fail, so they can learn and grow from their weaknesses and turn them into strengths

Mrs. Feiga Mendell OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Mrs. Feiga Mendell is excited to join the SIHA community as the school occupational therapist. She lives in Jackson, NJ with her husband and children. Mrs. Mendell received her undergraduate degree from Excelsior College with a Bachelors in Liberal Arts. She graduated from New York Institute of Technology with a Masters in Science: Occupational Therapy. She spent two summers running SEED programs in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Richmond, VA where she was involved in community outreach while imparting a love for Judaism. Additionally, she has extensive experience working with children who have behavioral, academic and social challenges to maximize their potential in her capacity as a co-teacher in a classroom of students with learning difficulties. Mrs. Mendell hopes to increase her students’ visual perceptual, fine motor, gross motor, visual motor and sensory skills to help them succeed in the classroom setting and beyond with reading, writing, attention, behavior and organizational skills. She enjoys working with children and looks forward to watching the students succeed over the duration of the school year.

Mr. Irving Kestenbaum

5th Grade Generalist

Mr. Kestenbaum comes to SIHA with 35 years of Public School experience. He taught 4th and 5th grades, as well as Health and Physical Education. He also ran the school’s annual field days for all grades, and even was the school treasurer!  For many years, he also taught English at Borough Park Yeshivas. He continued to work at these yeshivas after retiring from the NYC Board of Education, as part of a Title I program.

Mr. Kestenbaum received his Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Science in Education from Brooklyn College, and has received post-Masters credits. He is looking forward to bringing his skills to Staten Island, where he has lived for over 40 years, and is looking forward to working with the SIHA students! 


Ms. Regina Iannizzotto

Nachas Program Director/Special Education Teacher

Ms. Iannizzotto received her dual undergraduate degree in General/Special Education from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY and a Masters degree in literacy from Touro College. Ms. Iannizzotto is a Reading Specialist with specific training in Orton Gillingham methodology and has been working at SIHA for 4 years. She prides herself in building lessons that are hands-on. Interactive learning is Ms. Iannizzotto’s main mission for her classes because it keeps the students interested and allows for them to facilitate their own education in a way that works best for them. In her class, the students are always working together to solve problems, answer questions, and lead their own learning.

Mrs. Malka Ferber

3rd Grade Judaic Studies Teacher

Mrs. Ferber is from Brooklin, New York, and is a graduate of the Bais Yaakov High School. She spent a year in Israel attending the Hadar Teacher’s Seminary. Her professional experience starts at the Yeshivah of Brooklyn, where she taught Judaic Studies. Mrs. Ferber really enjoyed teaching her students all about yiddishkeit and giving them the tools they need to grow and achieve. During the summer, Mrs. Ferber worked as a head counselor in a large day camp in Brooklin. She lives in Lakewood, New Jersey. Mrs. Ferber is passionate about Judaic Studies and helping kids reach their full potential in a fun classroom environment. 

Ms. Chavi de Freudiger

Kindergarten and 1st Grade Judaic Studies Teacher

Ms. Chavi de Freudiger is a recent graduate from Bnos Sarah Teachers Seminary where she earned her teacher certification and is currently training in the field of computer programming. Ms. de Freudiger has years of experience working with children, including heading a preschool day camp in her hometown in New Jersey and leading a successful learning program for elementary aged children.

With a strong passion for teaching and love for children, Ms. de Freudiger focuses on creating a warm, safe, and positive class learning experience. To Ms. De Freudiger, every child is a priceless gem who deserves the highest caliber of care and attention. She motivates each child to reach his full potential through hands-on learning and interactive programs geared to help them succeed. Ms. De Freudiger looks forward to, and prides herself in, the ear-to-ear smiles on all her students’ faces.

Ms. Esther Klahr

School Guidance Counselor

Esther Klahr is a proud native of Staten Island. She completed a Bachelors’ Degree in Psychology from the College of Staten Island, where she was the recipient of the Summa Cum Laude for Academic Excellence Award and the Phi Beta Kappa Associates Award. Following this experience, Esther’s interest in the field of psychology lead her to pursue a masters in school counseling from Hunter Graduate School. Esther has an enthusiasm and devotion to help children and young adults of all ages. She has counseled students on a one to one basis, as well as in groups focusing on students emotional, academic and social needs and is looking forward to using these skill sets as she joins the SIHA community.

Rabbi Kuritsky

5th and 6th Boys / 7th and 8th Girls Judaics Teacher

Rabbi Kuritsky was born in NY and raised in Baltimore, MD.
His father, now retired, practiced as a Rabbi and a child Psychologist. His mother of Blessed memory,  a loving homemaker, was born in Russia prior to WWII.
Rabbi Kuritsky was educated in Yeshiva Beth Moshe high school of Scranton, PA and continued there for four years post High School. He continued his education in Israel and then in Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, NJ.

Rabbi Kuritsky has also taken many courses in Education and Pedagogy. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Rabbinic and Talmudic Studies.

He comes with many years experience teaching both Secular and Judaic Studies. He has been a Principal for both Judaic studies and Secular Studies collectively for over two decades.

He is known for his love and caring for students and helping them reach their potential. Students and parents cherish the individual attention he gives to each student.

Mrs. Chaya Rosskamm

Jewish History Teacher / Judaic Studies Curriculum Coordinator

Mrs. Rosskamm teaches Jewish History in the 7th and 8th grade. She comes from a strong Jewish background with a real appreciation for her history and past. She was educated in a Judaic Studies Seminary and received a teaching certificate with honors qualifying her to teach Judaic subjects. She also attended the Institute for Special Education and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a masters in Education and Special Education. She also holds New York State Teachers Certification in Education and Special Education. She has taught American History and Civics on a high school level. She was also a Judiac Studies teacher for 5th and 6th grade. She lives in Eltingville, Staten Island with her family.

Mrs. Alla Shats

4th Grade General Studies Teacher

Mrs. Shats has over 13 years of teaching experience working with children from k to 6th grade and has obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in elementary education, with concentration in Math, from St. John’s University. After graduation, she continued to pursue a Master’s Degree in Childhood Education/Special Education at Touro College. Mrs. Shats believes that education is the key to success for young children. As a teacher, she hopes to motivate students, promote effective learning environment, build curiosity, and foster confidence in all of her students. She is eager to commit and encourage children’s interests in different subject areas, and is determined to challenge their abilities and inner strengths to discover and explore what truly inspires them. Mrs. Shats loves working with children and will continue to strive to be a positive influence in their lives. She hopes that her passion for teaching will create a desire for constant learning within each child.

Mrs. Rhonda Sherman


Rhonda, our Speech-language therapist, is a NY State licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and maintains certification with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Rhonda has over 25 years of experience in diagnostic speech evaluations, treatment and case management of children, adolescents and adults with a wide range of developmental and acquired disabilities.
Rhonda graduated with a Bachelor of Science from College of Staten Island in Psychology and received her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from Brooklyn College City University of New York. Rhonda completed her externship at Staten Island University Hospital with clinical practicum in the ventilator and neurology units as well as the Outpatient Clinic. Rhonda also holds a degree as Teacher of Judaic Studies from Bnot Torah Institute Jerusalem, Israel.
Rhonda’s clinical experience includes providing services to individuals from infancy to adult, evaluating and treating individuals with a variety of disorders including: Feeding and swallowing disorders, Articulation disorders, Language disorders, Voice disorders, Fluency disorders, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Vocal Cord Dysfunction, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Hearing Impairments, Cerebral Palsy, Prematurity, G tube feedings, Central Auditory Processing Disorder, Sensory issues, Aphasia, Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Down Syndrome.
Rhonda has been Director of Clinical and Homebound Services for Midwood Child Development Center and currently maintains a private practice servicing Early Intervention (EI), Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) and Committee on Special Education (CSE).
For the past 20 years, Rhonda has been providing services to private school students with a wide range of learning disabilities and has been working with Staten Island Hebrew Academy (SIHA) Nachas Program since 2018.
Rhonda’s mission at SIHA is to have each child reach their maximum potential by providing exemplary assessment and treatment of communication skills with quality speech-language therapy, all while having a positive educational experience.

Mrs. Shaindy Spiegel

2nd Grade Judaic Studies Teacher

Mrs. Spiegel is a graduate of Maimonides College and Beth Jacob Teachers Seminary of Toronto. She also studied at Midrasha Ohr Yerushalim in Israel. She has many years of teaching experience serving as preschool teacher, Sunday school teacher, afternoon school teacher and adult education instructor. Her love for Yiddishkeit can be seen in her approach to teaching. She always sees the good in every child and her Yideshe Mama really shines through. As a result, the children greatly enjoy learning about their heritage.

Ms. Jordana Syetta

Kindergarten General Studies Teacher

Ms. Syetta has a dual Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education and Science, Letters, and Society from the College of Staten Island. She also has a Masters degree in Early Childhood Special and General Education from Touro College. Ms. Syetta has extensive experience as an Early Intervention Service provider, Special Education Teacher Support Service provider and has worked for three years as a substitute teacher with the DOE and private preschools prior to joining SIHA. Ms. Syetta uses multi-sensory approach to teaching to support each students unique way of learning.

Ms. Svjetlana Tatic

5th Grade General Studies Teacher

For Ms. Tatic art and education go hand in hand. She has always been passionate about both. After receiving her degree in Art Design from the Art Institute of Phoenix, she has attended Youngstown State University and took classes in Art History, English Literature, and Fine Arts. Currently, she is working on obtaining her Early Childhood Education Master’s degree. Ms. Tatic is constantly perfecting her teaching skills. Since the beginning of 2016, she has worked as a tutor for English Language Learners from China. She has worked one on one and in small group settings. She has taken many courses to refine her classroom management and pedagogy. Ms. Tatic’s first day at SIHA was last year. She came in as a substitute teacher for first grade and instantly fell in love with the school. Her teaching philosophy perfectly matches the school’s values. Ms. Tatic believes in an individualized approach to each child, as well as taking into consideration children’s strengths and interests. She also believes that building strong relationships with families tremendously benefits students. Ms. Tatic is hoping to build strong bonds with all SIHA families to make sure that her students will have only positive learning experiences. Ms. Tatic is looking forward to being a member of the SIHA family and help her students develop a love of learning every day!

Rabbi Berelowitz

4th Grade / 7th/8th Boys Judaics Teacher

Rabbi Berelowitz is known for his warm personality and his ability to connect with every child. Born across the Verrazano Bridge in the Brooklyn neighborhood, he attended The Mirrer Yeshiva Elementary and High School. Following that, he earned his Masters in Talmudic Law in Beth Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood NJ. 

Rabbi Berelowitz is a graduate of the Aish Dos teacher training program in Lakewood N.J. where he trained from many leading teachers. 

He has an incredible passion and enthusiasm for teaching in which students enjoy the lessons and remember them years later. 

He runs a youth camp in the summer where his campers have an enjoyable wholesome summer vacation with a variety of sports and activities. 

Rabbi Berelowitz ensures that each Student reaches their potential and is excelling socially and academically.

Alex Ortiz

Grades 5-8 Math Teacher

Alex Ortiz has been a teacher at the Staten Island Hebrew Academy for six years, and is now entering her 7th year at SIHA. A math teacher’s focus is always on the students, and how to challenge them to think critically while teaching them the skills and tools they need to succeed in an academic setting, and this is the approach that Alex brings to the classroom. Alex is a Math Major with a focus in Secondary Education, and looks forward to staying and growing with SIHA in the future!

Ms. Rivka Dershowitz

5th & 6th grade girls Judaics & Co- Programming Coordinator

Ms. Dershowitz was born and raised in Lakewood, NJ. She graduated Bais Yaakov High School and continued to learn abroad in Israel at BY Seminar. Ms. Dershowitz really enjoys teaching, inspiring, and caring for her students. She is passionate about Judaism and feels privileged to be the one to connect others to their heritage. Acknowledging thought provoking questions and engaging her students to partake in classroom discussions is a hallmark feature of her teaching style. Ms. Dershowitz’s goal is to connect with each girl and give over life lessons founded on Jewish knowledge, faith and pride.