Hello, my name is: Larisa Bankovsky

I am the: Founder, Principal, Director, Math Teacher

The Founder and Director of Star Academy, Larisa Bankovsky, is a proven math teacher of over 33 years. She has experience teaching students of all school levels in both former Soviet Union and in the United States. Larisa holds two Master's Degrees - Master's in Mathematics and Teaching Mathematics from Dnepropetrovsk State University (Ukraine) and Master of Arts in Education from City College of City University of New York. She has been developing mathematical curriculum as well as specialized programs for advanced mathematical development of students for over twenty years.

Larisa is a passionate and extremely engaging teacher, who easily passes on her love for mathematics and her dedication to this discipline to her students. Her teaching approaches are both masterful and simple. Larisa is a results-driven teacher, who cleverly finds ways to deliver the essence of mathematical knowledge to her students in the most effective and approachable manner possible.

Over her extensive career, Larisa has successfully advanced her students' mathematical abilities and knowledge and helped them achieve their educational goals - be it winning a Math Olympiad competition, entering a prestigious and highly competitive middle or high school program, getting into the university of their choice, or simply becoming the best they can be at mathematics.

When living in New York (before moving to Boston in 2005) parallel to teaching in school, Larisa was an owner of Bankovsky School of Mathematics - an after-school mathematical program. Many of Larisa Bankovsky's students went on to enter some of the most competitive and prestigious middle school and high school programs in NYC, such as Stuyvesant High School, Mark Twain School, Brooklyn Tech, etc.

In 2018, Larisa has realized her life-long dream and has opened the Star Academy for the Gifted and Talented. She is looking forward to applying her experience, expertise, creativity, and passion to create one of the best learning establishments for K-5 students in the Boston area.

Hello, my name is: Margarita Druker

I am the: Founder, Co- Director of Star Academy

Born in Moldova, Margarita achieved the true American dream that she had been promised as a child. Margarita began her career very young, graduating high school at sixteen years old and Babson College at nineteen (one of the youngest ever to graduate from their program). Margarita received an advanced degree in Entrepreneurship & Marketing. For the last twenty years, Margarita has used this degree to its fullest, owning her own businesses, and consistently finding success in the business world. Her concept of boutique, luxury hotel shops landed her in the pages of the Boston Business Journal as one of the Business Innovators of 2008.

With the birth of her first child, Margarita’s life changed to partnering with her daughter’s education. Connecting with Larisa Bankovsky was kismet. The two took the ideals of Larisa’s Baby Academy in Newton, Larisa’s decades of teaching, Margarita’s decades of entrepreneurship and business savvy, and turned that focus to launching Star Academy. This new private school focuses on providing the right education for each child. Small class sizes, involved parents, dedicated teachers, and a dynamic curriculum have allowed Star Academy to flourish. This adventure also allows her to continue her involvement in her child’s education firsthand.

Hello, my name is: Dustin Todd Rennells

I am the: Assistant Director of Star Academy

I teach: English (Department Head)

This is my education background: B.A., Lesley University (Education and Fine Arts) What I do outside Star Academy: Mr. Rennells is the Managing Director of Boston’s “Urban Nutcracker.” He directs and does costume design for theatre at The Footlight Club and Riverside Theatre Works. Mr. Rennells has former students who are now studying at Harvard, University of Michigan, MIT, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University, and many of his former students have attended Boston Latin School on their way to these prestigious learning institutes.

Teaching mantra: Mr. Rennells specializes in tutoring for all levels of learning due to his exceptional ability to make curriculum and coursework accessible to each student. He believes it's crucial to find the link between a child's coursework and how they perceive it as an independent thinker. "No two children learn in the same manner, and it's only through continuous planning and critical thinking that two different children may understand the same piece of knowledge."

Mr. Rennells will supervise the teaching staff in his role as Assistant Director and coordinate the curriculum for the entire Star Academy experience.

Hello, my name is: Isabel Atkinson

I teach: English, Science

This is my education background: Kingston University, Chelsea College of Art & Design. Further education: Postgraduate Degree in Education.

What I do outside Star Academy: Miss Atkinson is the Director at “Buck’s Rock Visual and Performing Arts Camp.” She has also taught drawing, painting, and theatre arts. Isabel is currently illustrating a children’s book. Isabel is a lover of books, reading and storytelling.

Teaching mantra: One of her favorite times of day in class is story time.

Hello, my name is: Evelina Brozgul-Krone

I teach: Art

This is my education background: Studied privately under Vasily Sitnikov, part of the Unofficial Artists’ Movement in the USSR, Mikhail Verbov, the last living apprentice of Ilya Repin. BFA from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York, L’Istituto per l’Arte e il Restauro in Florence, Italy, with a degree in restoration of paintings on canvas and wood, MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts in Boston, won the Joan Mitchell National Grant. Fluent in Russian and Italian, proficient in French.

What I do outside Star Academy: Worked as a paintings conservator in NYC and in Boston restoring John Singer Sargent, Luca Giordano, Palma Vecchio, Mola, Jose Ribera, Zurbaran as well as other old master paintings working intensely for years with art dealers and private collectors in New York. Exhibiting my own work in NYC, and MA. Showing locally in Boston’s South End, Marblehead and Charlestown as well as in Maine, Florida and other areas of the USA. Teaching for many years in NYC High Schools and at the School of The Museum of Fine Arts in conjunction with Tufts University. Teaching at the The Cambridge Center for Adult Education, The South Shore Art Center in Cohasset, and at The New Art Center in Newton. Presently I am the owner of Evelina Brozgul Studio in Sharon, where I spend a large portion of my week teaching drawing and painting to kids and adults. There I give semi-private lessons to 50 students a week.

Teaching mantra: The teacher is only able to inspire and teach the student technique. The content of the work is up to each individual as they grow and gain wisdom from education and life experience. The talent manifests itself only then.

Hello, my name is: Patty Chag

I teach: Spanish

This is my education background: Early Childhood Development, Mississippi University for Women.

What I do outside Star Academy: She enjoys teaching Spanish and Literature throughout the United States at levels ranging from elementary school to middle school. She is from Lima, Peru.

Hello, my name is: Sasha Hersey

I teach: English, Social Studies and Science

This is my education background: Master of Arts in Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland

What I do outside Star Academy: After many years of directing Shakespeare at a children’s Shakespeare summer program, Miss Hersey has worked at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, for the University of Edinburgh teaching English, and as the President of the Edinburgh University Women in Business Society.

In Collaboration with US Sailing, I have developed classes and programs for a non-profit youth sailing organization that includes marine & environmental science, buoyancy, meteorology and renewable energies.

In her free time, Miss Hersey volunteers as the Facilitation Area Head for the 79th World Science Fiction Convention, helping to plan and to organize the event which takes place August 2021.

Hello, my name is: Ari Herzog

I teach: English, Social Studies, and Computer Science

This is my education background: Master's in Public Administration from Suffolk University and B.S. in Sociology from Worcester State College.

What I do outside Star Academy: I enjoy being outdoors including hiking, kayaking, and walking in the woods. I love roaming around libraries and bookstores. I've been an early adopter of computers and the internet since the early 1980s, and I've written a blog for over a decade.

Teaching Mantra: I'm a hands-on and participative teacher. I enjoy leading group projects to inspire students to learn issues and solve problems. I use the Socratic method which involves answering a student's question with my own question, which in turn encourages the student to be a critical thinker.

Hello, my name is: Angela Hickey

I teach: Computer Science & Robotics

This is my education background: I have a Bachelor of Science in Business Education from Salem State University.

Professional Development includes courses in Manufacturing & Design, Robotics, & Certification in 3D Design & Printing.

In Collaboration with US Sailing, I have developed classes and programs for a non-profit youth sailing organization that includes marine & environmental science, buoyancy, meteorology and renewable energies.

What I do outside Star Academy: When I am not teaching at Star Academy, I am busy as a mom. I also love to sail, ski, hike and read!

Teaching Mantra: My goal as an Educator is to create excitement and enthusiasm for 21st-Century Learning by challenging my students to think creatively, work collaboratively & embrace challenges.

#digital literacy; #innovation; #next generation workforce; #industry 4.0

Hello, my name is: Nadezda (Nadya) Kosintseva

I teach: Chess

This is my education background: Nadya is an International Grandmaster who represented the Russian National Chess Team for more than 20 years. She won two Chess Olympiads in 2010 and 2012. Nadya is former #3 in the Women’s World Rankings of Chess, and is one of the few female chess players that holds two Grandmaster titles. Bachelor’s Degree in Law, Northern (Arctic) Federal University in Russia. Master’s Degree in Finance, University of Texas, Dallas.

Teaching mantra: Curriculum will be based on a skill level of the students.

Hello, my name is: Jennifer Kozlik

I teach: Science, Math

This is my education background: B.S., New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), selected for Albert Dorman Honors College. Further education at Master’s Degree in Math for Teaching, Harvard University.

What I do outside Star Academy: I love softball, basketball, yoga, and raising my two daughters!

Teaching Mantra: She wants to create an environment that truly cares about providing stellar educational opportunities for children while caring for their emotional and physical needs.

Hello, my name is: Valeriya Kozlovskaya

I teach: Russian

This is my education background: MA in Teaching and Foreign Languages, HerzenState Pedagogical University, St. Petersburg, Russia; PhD, Bryn Mawr College, PA

What I do outside Star Academy: I hold an appointment as a lecturer in Russian at the Department of German, Russian, and Asian Languages and Literature at Brandeis University and run Studio Bilingua in Brookline for heritage speakers of Russian.

Teaching Mantra: It is not just about the language.

Hello, my name is: Natasha Lutsker

I teach: English, Social Studies

This is my education background: Bachelor’s Degree in Humanities, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

What I do outside Star Academy: Ms. Lutsker has worked for Camp Polliwog and Camp Chickami as Camp/ Program Director.

My teaching mantra: Ms. Lutsker values making connections with each child in order to ensure they are receiving the utmost attention during their learning experience. Through her experiences with creative play, structured activities, and hands-on learning, Natasha is excited to teach in tandem with her other program teachers.

Hello, my name is: Frank Manzelli

I am the: Karate

This is my education background: I am a 5 degree black belt, a personal trainer, and a CrossFit instructor. I have owned and operated Tokyo Joe's studios of Self Defense since October 1, 1992.

What I do outside Star Academy: As a competitor I have competed in the 80 90 and 2000. During those years I was fortunate to win many titles in the highest levels of Sport Karate competition. I was a three-time Kempo World Champion in Forms and Fighting for the World Kempo Federation. I was a three-time National Black Belt League (NBL) Champion in Forms and Fighting. I was also the North America Sport Karate Association (NASKA)'s Men's Advanced National Champion in Forms and Fighting and the International Kempo Council of Grandmasters (IKCG) three-time Forms Grand Champion. This is my son in the photo with me.

Teaching Mantra: It has been and continues to be a pleasure to teach thousands of individuals the martial arts, health, and fitness training.

Hello, my name is: Olga Nesmeyanova

I teach: Home Economics

This is my education background: Master’s Degree in Child Psychology and Teaching English, Stavropol State University.

What I do outside Star Academy: Olga has been a school counselor, preschool teacher and Russian tutor. Olga is a licensed early childhood educator.

Teaching Mantra: Olga is most known for putting her heart and soul into every child she works with and she is constantly learning progressive educational methods and techniques. Miss Olga loves to develop fine motor skills and to help bring up students’ creative sides. Olga likes to add play-based curriculum to her daily schedule to allow students to learn while feeling excited. These thought-provoking experiences help build the foundation and love of learning through exploration. Olga is a nurturing teacher, who focuses on teaching each student at their own level.

Hello, my name is: Afanasy Prokhorov

I am the: Dance, Voice

This is my education background: Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee in Musical Theater (singer, actor and dancer) and holds a minor in Creative Entrepreneurship. Afanasy runs a professional studio where he does music production and recording.

What I do outside Star Academy: Afanasy is a freelance performer since the age of 11. He appeared in various classical, Broadway, classical jazz, and pop renditions, including various productions at an award-winning opera company Commonwealth Lyric Theater, renown Boston based Jewish Musical Theater "Firelech" and many others. For years, Afanasy was the main soloist of "Lucky Ten" – a Boston-based Young Talent vocal/dance studio that has won international acclaim and recognition. He was a Grand Prix winner of American Fine Arts Festival at Carnegie Hall, New York and other numerous U.S.A. and International competitions.

Afanasy appeared as a solo performer at numerous shows and Festivals including International Festival “Istoki” in Moscow, Vyacheslav Zaitsev project, Newton Festival of the Arts, “Our Talented Children“ festival in New York and many others.

He is a technical director of the Musical Window, international music project for children, and livestream interactive show.

Teaching Mantra: Create a brave space for kids to learn and adapt to different styles, be it for a song or a dance. I am here to guide them to explore and develop creative skills that are crucial at an early age. Website: www.afanasypro.com

Hello, my name is: Alexander Prokhorov

I teach: Vocal Music, Russian Music

This is my education background: Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory Musical College with a degree in piano performance. I have a Master's Degree in Opera performance from Longy School of Music and the Boston Opera Institute.

What I do outside Star Academy: I teach master classes and lecture on the subject of vocal training and vocal rehabilitation. I've been featured in the Boston Globe, and more news sites. I was featured on the TV show "Young Marvels" by Ovation TV as a teacher of vocal prodigies. I've had students perform on America's Got Talent. Founder and director of Commonwealth Lyric Theater and Lucky Ten Young Talent Studio.

Teaching mantra: "One Two Three Sing" is my trademarked style of vocal training.

Hello, my name is: Lydia Roy

I teach: Gymnastics

This is my education background: Master of Sports at Rhythmic Gymnastics of Russian. Further education: Bachelor’s Degree from the Russian Presidential Academy.

Certification from the U.S.A Gymnastics University. Currently pursuing education as an illustrator at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. When she is not coaching or studying, she enjoys reading as a hobby and she is learning French.

What I do outside Star Academy: Lydia trained at Moscow’s Sports School 74 of Russian Olympic Reserve (home to Olympians, World and European champions) for fifteen years.

Lydia is a rhythmic gymnastics trainer.

Teaching mantra: Lydia’s goal is to make kids strive for their sport and to love physical activity from an early age.

Hello, my name is: Maria Shandalova

I teach: Russian

This is my education background: Belarusian State University, The University of Haifa, and Moscow State University.

What I do outside Star Academy: Maria is a philologist, linguist, and teacher of literature, Russian language and Russian as a second language. She also loves to write plays, poems, lyrics, and children’s theatre.

My teaching mantra: Maria believes in the methodology of play activities to foster academic growth, and assures that the creative development of a child has a foundation in their personality.

Hello, my name is: Milena Trubskyy

I teach: Math

This is my education background: Master’s in Mathematical Economics, Dnepropetrovsk State University in Ukraine.

What I do outside Star Academy: Milena has years of experience educating and enriching children through different environments such as: preschool, elementary, extended day, and summer programs. She enjoys time with her family.

Teaching Mantra: Mrs. Trubskyy’s dynamic lessons that leverage technology, research-based strategies, and best practices which emphasize reasoning and problem solving foster student enthusiasm for learning and guide them to reach their greatest

Hello, my name is: Arevik Tserunyan

I teach: Art

This is my education background: B.A. in English, Spanish, and Pedagogy, Yerevan State Linguistic University. M.F.A, Yerevan State Academy of Fine Arts. Further education: École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Marseille, France, and Master of Fine Arts Program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts University. Post-Graduate fellowship at SMFA at Tufts in introductory drawing.

What I do outside Star Academy: Arevik has been exploring collage, sculpture, and fashion through large-scale art installations. She was selected as Curator’s Assistant at the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown (MA) and had her first solo show The Lost Empire, a sculptural installation with accompanying performance. She received a special Visa to work at the Armenian Museum of America as the Artist-in-Residence where she worked through March 2020. Solo show: Amper (Clouds in Armenian). Arevik is an adjunct faculty at Monserrat College of Arts.

Hello, my name is: Benjamin Welton

I teach: English, Social Studies and Computer Science

This is my education background: B.A. in English and History, West Virginia University.

Further Education: M.A. in English, University of Vermont. Benjamin is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Boston University

What I do outside Star Academy: freelance writing, editing, and research.