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-8 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: Milena Trubskyy

I am the: Director of the Watertown Campus

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: 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: Tori Bartley

I teach: English for Grades 1-3

This is my education background: Masters in Literacy from High Point University as well as my Bachelors from High Point University in Elementary Education.

What I do outside Star Academy: I love reading, going on long runs, and traveling. In 2017, I was able to pursue my love for traveling by visiting over 14 different countries across 4 different continents!

Teaching mantra: I am a passionate educator who strives to cultivate a classroom environment where everyone feels welcome and ready to succeed!

Hello, my name is: Natalia Bilan

I teach: Math at the Elementary level

This is my education background: Master’s of Arts in Teaching from Barnaul, Russian Federation. I also continued my education with diplomas in Science in Applied Computing from South East Technological University, Waterford, Ireland

What I do outside Star Academy: I enjoy camping with my family in summer, biking on trails in fall and spring, skiing in winter, reading books, and doing my garden.

Teaching mantra: I would like to instill love for math in kids by providing them with appropriate challenge, encouraging perseverance in solving problems, and supporting productive struggle in learning mathematics.

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: Rita Dunn

I teach: Math Grades 4 & 5 and I am the Math Department Chair

This is my education background: Masters in Mathematics for Teaching from Harvard University and a Bachelors in Mathematics and Russian Literature from Wesleyan University

What I do outside Star Academy: You can usually find me getting scratched up and dirty somewhere in the Adirondack or White Mountains. I am an avid rock climber and hiker, and I thoroughly enjoy spending a night camping under the stars with my husband and two kids. You can also find me running/biking on the trail or out in open water, and I am hoping to get more into triathlons in the near future. Don’t worry, I do know how to slow down; you can also find me cuddling up for hours with a good book.

Teaching mantra: I want math to come alive for my students, and for them to see that it’s embedded in everything around them: in nature, music, sports, and, most importantly, in the way they think and reason. I want my students to investigate and discover the properties of mathematics, and to value deep understanding above rote memorization.

Hello, my name is: Eric Gerstenberger

I teach: Math, Grades 2-6 and Logic Grades 1-4

This is my education background: I hold a Master’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Drexel University of Philadelphia.

What I do outside Star Academy: I enjoy cycling, and during the winter snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Teaching mantra: Every student can succeed with practice, patience, and the appropriate support!

Hello, my name is: Tatyana Gessen

I teach: Theater

This is my education background: Tatyana earned her Master’s degree in Theater and Film from Moscow Art Theater School. She was privileged to study under the guidance of Alexander Kalyagin, Alla Pokrovskaya, Oleg Tabakov, Oleg Yefremov, Vitaly Vilenkin, Andrey Droznin, and Anna Petrova.

After graduating she worked at Alexander Kalyagin’s theater Et Cetera - from its grand opening and for many productions further – playing Chekhov, Ostrovsky, Moliere etc.

After moving to the United States, Tatyana studied at New York Film Academy and was making documentaries about theater. Her 2005 documentary, Unprotected Senses, about ground-breaking Russian-Jewish theater director Kama Ginkas, won an Accolade Competition Award.

What I do outside Star Academy: Tatyana Gessen is an actress, theater director, writer, producer, and documentary filmmaker.

Her recent theater project King Richard’s Borscht, made in collaboration with Brookline Puppet Showplace, premiered in June 2022. She is an artistic director at Lumina Theater Company.

She is also currently working on her new documentary, Chekhov in Times of Change, about the great Russian playwright Anton Chekhov and his influences on theater globally as well as on individuals’ lives.

She enjoys books, films, and everything storytelling.

Teaching mantra: I believe that theater is the best environment for children to develop and grow. It helps them express themselves and it nourishes their creativity. And also, it teaches them compassion and brings a sense of community and ensemble. As my beloved teacher Alla Pokrovskaya used to say: “Theater is essential for developing people’s hearts and souls.”

Hello, my name is: Liliana Glik

I teach: Music, Vocal

This is my education background: I graduated from Lithuania’s National Music Academy and received a Master's Degree in choir conducting, and education as a vocal and music teacher.

My professional career includes years of teaching in music schools, both in the USA and Lithuania, working with children to create an inspiring musical experience.

While teaching in public school in Lithuania I created a school choir and we won many competitions, creating life-long memories and inspiring kids to achieve their musical potential.

In addition, I have performed all over the former Soviet Union and around the world. I have won a Silver Medal and a “Fan-Favorite” Prize at the Jewish Musical Festival in Kharkov, Ukraine in 1991.

What I do outside Star Academy: I love to travel around the world, spend time with family and my children. My passion is cooking and one of my new hobbies includes home bread making. I am a soloist at the Jewish Musical Theater and a performer throughout our community.

Teaching mantra: Inspire children to speak the most universal language in the World – Music!

Hello, my name is: Marina Gutner

This is my education background: I have a Master's degree in Child Psychology and Early Education from University of Wallenberg Institute of Special Education and Special Psychology, St. Petersburg.

What I do outside Star Academy: I have years of experience of all kinds of work with kids. I lived in Europe, Czech Republic, for 17 years. I enjoy spending time with my family, hiking, traveling and celebrating holidays. My special hobby is baking cakes!

Teaching mantra: I believe that learning Math can be easy, and every kid can enjoy it if the teacher infuses kids with enthusiasm. I use each student's bright sides as a foundation for new knowledge.

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: Cheryl Bistany Hill

I teach: Kindergarten

This is my education background: I graduated from Fitchburg State University with a degree in Elementary Education. In addition, I am a certified early childhood educator. This is my 18th year teaching Kindergarten.

What I do outside Star Academy: I love to spend time with my family, going to the beach, hiking, and reading. My true passion is to travel!

My teaching mantra: I feel as a classroom teacher, I need to make a connection with each child.  I am a dedicated teacher who feels it is imperative that every child feels welcome, happy, and safe at school. I believe I need to make a respectful connection with parents as we are partners in their child’s education.

Children have a natural curiosity and, as an educator,  it is my job to instill a love for learning that will last a lifetime!

Hello, my name is: Aimee Hodgman

I teach: Kindergarten

This is my education background: I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Early Childhood Education from Westfield State University and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Framingham State University.

What I do outside Star Academy: I enjoy going on long walks around my town and local walk trails. I also enjoy taking day trips to the Cape and Boston. These trips are often spontaneous! In 2019, I had a trip planned to Europe, but I was unable to go. It is my goal to be able to travel abroad in the future! When I am not walking outside, I enjoy sitting outside and reading a good book with my two dogs, Finn and Nikkita.

Teaching mantra: I believe that students are most successful when they can have hands-on learning experiences and when they know that their teacher is their greatest supporter. During these experiences, students can explore with each other, ask questions, and discover new findings/ideas!

Hello, my name is: Beverly Hugo

I teach: English

This is my education background: Girls Latin School-Boston, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Post-Graduate Studies – Boston University

What I do outside Star Academy: I love spending time with my cherished family and friends. Hiking, bicycling, photography, gardening and traveling (pre-pandemic) are some of my most enjoyed activities. I am actively involved in enhancing U.S. education by advocating for favorable legislative policies as a School Committee member on a regional, state and federal level. As a coach, judge and international evaluator in the Future Problem Solving International Program, I work with students and educators from around the world by teaching and promoting 21st Century Skills.

Teaching Mantra: My philosophy in reaching children is to be kind, supportive and understanding while inspiring them to thrive, develop a lifelong love of learning and be socially/emotionally well. I use differentiated instruction to develop each individual’s potential. Teaching in a hybrid model during the pandemic, I was mindful of the added stresses on my students and encouraged flexibility and resiliency while fostering a “joie de vivre.” Creative and critical thinking, communication and collaboration are some of the many important skills that I utilize in my pedagogy.

Hello, my name is: Nicholas Hunter

I teach: Science, Grades 3-8

This is my education background: Ph.D. in Neurobiology from Harvard University.

What I do outside Star Academy: I love to spend time with my family. I enjoy hiking, cross country skiing, and sitting quietly observing nature. I love to read books of all genres but especially history, poetry, and science.

Teaching Mantra: The natural world is endlessly fascinating. As a teacher I strive to keep a sense of wonder at the forefront of my lessons. I also emphasize that science is not merely a body of knowledge but a method for approaching problems.

I believe that with proper support all students can excel in science. Every student learns science from a different foundation of knowledge and experience. My challenge is to find the explanations, metaphors, and questions that allow each student to grasp ideas that are complex and sometimes counterintuitive.

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: Masha Kozhushko

I teach: Gymnastics and Dance

This is my education background: I graduated from ballet school in the Ukraine. I have a Bachelor degree in dance and history of art at National Pedagogical University of Kiev, Ukraine. In addition I have taken master classes in rhythmic gymnastics in the United States. I have a certification from the USA Gymnastics University and have taken several gymnastics camps at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center. My students have received high marks, including first place at state and international competitions.

What I do outside Star Academy: I worked for the Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet of Dnipro. I spent 7 years on stage dancing shows such as: the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, and Romeo and Juliet. I have been coaching Rhythmic gymnastics for more than 5 years in Boston working with different age groups and levels including the Junior Olympic team.

Teaching Mantra: I am in love with dance and gymnastics and I can broadcast this love to children. My goal is to help the kids grow confidence, grace, and being organized through sport and dance.

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, Herzen State Pedagogical University, St. Petersburg, Russia; PhD, Bryn Mawr College, PA, USA.

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. I am also a content advisor for the Massachusetts World Languages Curriculum Framework in 2020-2021 and a judge at the annual Olympiada of Spoken Russian for New England at Harvard University.

Teaching Mantra: “A language is not just words. It’s a culture, a tradition, a unification of a community, a whole history that creates what a community is. It’s all embodied in a language.” (Noam Chomsky)

Hello, my name is: Alex Kushkov

I teach: Art of Fencing

This is my education background: Alex was born in Kyiv, Ukraine. Alex has more than 30 years of competitive and coaching experience, training at a specialized fencing school in the Ukraine from childhood including Upper Specialized Sport High School of Olympic Reserves.

Alex is a professional Fencing coach. He received a B.A. in Physical Education and Coaching (Fencing) with honors from Ukrainian State University of Physical Education and Sport. He received an M.A. in Physical Therapy with honors from National University of Ukraine for Physical Education and Sport. Alex also holds a Doctorate NUUPES, ABD in Physical Training and Sport.

What I do outside Star Academy: After moving to the US Alex founded and runs the "Dynamo Fencing Center', one of the strongest premier fencing clubs in the USA. Among his students World Champion and several World Cup medalists, several National US Champions, numerous medalists of all levels. Many of his students got to the college teams (including: Harvard, MIT, NYU, UNC, Upenn, Princeton, UMich, Tufts and many others).

Currently Alex is a Head Coach of TUFTS University Men Team, and runs fencing programs at several High and Middle schools in the Greater Boston area.

Teaching Mantra: Every fight you either win or learn.

Hello, my name is: Xiaoping Liang

I teach: Mandarin

This is my education background: I received a Master’s of Science, and previously a Bachelor’s of Science from Sichuan University, China.

What I do outside Star Academy: In my free time, I enjoy taking walks around ponds, playing ping pong, and reading novels.

Teaching mantra: We will learn Mandarin through “Easy steps to Chinese.” Students will be able to improve their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. We will also have some fun activities such as singing songs, playing games, and using integrated technology.

Hello, my name is: Frank Manzelli

I teach: 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: Julie Mason

I teach: English Grades 6-8

This is my education background: Master's in English Education from New York University and Bachelors Degree from Connecticut College in English and Dance

What I do outside Star Academy: I enjoy spending time with my husband and three sons. We love getting outside and exploring Boston. I am very active and have fun running, spinning, yoga, skiing, and dancing. When I have free time, you'll find me reading a book on my sun porch or brewing my favorite coffee.

Teaching Mantra: In my classes I work alongside my students to guide and facilitate learning. I enjoy designing creative lessons that spark meaningful discussion, provide opportunities for collaboration, and of course, fun! I believe that it is my responsibility to scaffold and differentiate my lessons so the student experience is personalized, challenging, and meaningful. When students leave my classroom, I hope they feel confident, capable, and curious.

Hello, my name is: Eve Matulevich

I teach: Science Grades 2-5

This is my education background: I graduated from the Moscow State University, Chemical Department with a Ph.D. At that time my passion was to learn how the "things" around us are built and how a function of "things" is connected to a structure. That led me to spend six years learning Crystallography and X-ray analysis! It required a lot of Math too!

Later I was lucky to get a chance to work for Samsung in South Korea as an engineer and I've learned so much about how to develop Phosphor materials over the course of two years and Battery materials over the course of four years. More than that, I've learned how big production is working and how it is different from a Science Lab! Looking for a new challenge, I moved to the USA. I worked as a Battery materials consultant and then my little daughter arrived which changed my life very quickly. Spending time with my daughter and her friends, I got an idea about simple experiments that teach Science and I even started to write a book about Science for Little Kids!

What I do outside Star Academy: I love hiking and traveling with my family. Once I hiked 30km in a single day! And I am also trying myself recently as a book writer and photographer.

Teaching Mantra: To teach children how to look at things differently and to learn how to ask questions. I encourage students to be inspired by the incredible planet and the universe in which we live.

Hello, my name is: Samantha McFarland

I teach: English 1-2 Grades

This is my education background: Bachelor Of Arts in Elementary and Special Education from Providence College

My teaching experience includes practicum teaching 2nd and 5th grade English and Math/Science in a general education classroom. During my student teaching, I taught English in a 3rd grade general education inclusion/resource classroom and was a 4th grade Humanities teacher. Last year, I worked alongside Ms. Reytblat teaching 1st grade English.

What I do outside Star Academy: I will be completing my Master’s in Education from Lesley University in December, which has kept me learning and very busy this summer. When I am not teaching or studying, you can find me running long distances, hoping to run the Boston Marathon soon. I also enjoy spending time outdoors and traveling and was lucky enough to teach English while I studied abroad in Florence, Italy!

Teaching mantra: I believe schools lay the foundation for student’s to step outside of their comfort zone and enable the development of social relationships and interactions. I strive to be an inclusive teacher that encourages all students to participate, learn and develop meaningful relationships. I enjoy embracing each student's culture, language, learning style, and abilities. As an educator, I wholeheartedly believe I can be the catalyst for a child's success and that includes providing a quality of education that advocates for academic success.

Hello, my name is: Judy Murad

I teach: English 3-4 Grades, French 3-9 Grades

This is my education background: I have been teaching for many years. I have a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Boston University and a master’s degree in Elementary Education from Simmons College in Boston. I am also certified in teaching French to grades 5-12. For the last 20 years I have taught French and Spanish. I am a fluent French speaker and have spent much time in France. I especially love to visit Paris, where I have many cousins.

What I do outside Star Academy: I have four sons, two golden retrievers, and a black lab. My husband and I also like to ski with our children, although I am not very good at it. Reading as many different genres of books is a passion of mine. I also love to solve Cryptoquote puzzles

Teaching mantra: I believe schools lay the foundation for student’s to step outside of their comfort zone and enable the development of social relationships and interactions. I strive to be an inclusive teacher that encourages all students to participate, learn and develop meaningful relationships. I enjoy embracing each student's culture, language, learning style, and abilities. As an educator, I wholeheartedly believe I can be the catalyst for a child's success and that includes providing a quality of education that advocates for academic success.

Hello, my name is: Emma Oeland

I teach: History/Geography, all grade levels

This is my education background: Master's in Education from Boston University and a Bachelor's Degree in History from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

What I do outside Star Academy: I spend a lot of my time drawing, reading, listening to music, and going out into nature. I love travelling, trying new foods, going to the movies and visiting art museums. Some on-going goals I have been working on outside of work is continuing my learning of Mandarin Chinese and working on a stand-up comedy routine.

Teaching mantra: I believe a great teacher is not only an engaging speaker but a good listener as well. While I encourage students to showcase their individual strengths, I also believe in creating a collective learning environment where all students work together, make meaningful contributions, and feel empowered to learn on their own. My teaching style is creative, efficient and diverse. Whether it be through projects, formal assessments, or discourse in the classroom, I try to find a myriad of ways for students to show what they know. Above all else however, I aim to make history interesting, relatable, and fun!

Hello, my name is: Paula Reytblat

I teach: Elementary English, Social Studies, Science

This is my education background: I graduated from Framingham State University with a psychology major. Since then, I have taught in kindergarten and fourth grade classrooms.

What I do outside Star Academy: I love to travel around the world. I have visited 13 different countries and hope to visit many more. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I have a Yorkshire Terrier, Eva, that loves to go on hikes, go shopping with me, and go on car rides.

Teaching mantra: Every student has a spark, but it’s what ignites the spark that I challenge myself to find. By connecting with students on individual needs, interests and preferences, we as educators are able to form a love for life long learning!

Hello, my name is: Liubomyr Senyshyn

I teach: Orchestra Grades 3-9

This is my education background: Bachelors and Masters in Music from the Mykola Lysenko Lviv National Music Academy in Ukraine, as well as a Graduate Performance Diploma and Artist Diploma from the Longy School of Music at Bard College in Cambridge, MA.

What I do outside Star Academy: I enjoy playing music with my wife, colleagues, and other Boston musicians. When I’m not playing music I like to spend time outside hiking and camping, or cooking delicious food with my family!

Teaching mantra: I do believe that every child can play and enjoy music! Music is a wonderful avenue for expression and communication. Any string instrument will help you to develop better motor skills, rhythm, and the art of creativity. Music is a universal language which will hopefully stay with you your whole life!

Hello, my name is: Maria Shandalov

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: Ilya Silchukou

I teach: Vocal Grades 5-9

This is my education background: I earned my Master’s Degree in Musical Arts at Belarusian State Academy of music.

Became a prize winner of more than 15 international opera competitions, including H.G.Belvedere competition in Vienna(2010),1st M.Magomaev Competition in Moscow(2010) and 3d CLIP Competition in Portofino(2017).

In 2010 I passed the Young Singer’s Program of the prestigious Salzburg Festival in Austria.

As an opera singer, I collaborate with leading opera companies of the world: Belgian Royal opera La Monnaie, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Israeli Opera Tel Aviv, Frankfurt Oper, Theatre du Capitole de Toulouse, and many more.

My teaching mantra: As famous German poet R.M.Rilke wrote— Gesang ist Desein- singing means existing, First act of a newborn human entering this world is a shout of exclamation! I believe that Learning to sing is learning to express yourself to the world and your own joyfully!

Hello, my name is: Olga Stepanova

I teach: Russian 1-8 Grades

This is my education background: I graduated from Kharkov Institute of Social Progress in Ukraine and received the qualification of a Philologist: teacher of foreign languages and literature, adviser-interpreter. Since 1990 I have been working with all levels and age groups of students, from preschool children to undergraduate students. I have been teaching Russian and English as Second Languages and Russian as foreign language in Ukraine and the United States.

What I do outside Star Academy: I provide one-on-one classes in person and online and handle students with diverse linguistic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. My off-work passion is my family and Westie dog, and recreational traveling, biking, and walking with my family. I also enjoy reading and creating educational materials.

My teaching mantra: My mission is to develop a strong foundation that encourages students to love learning. I value each person as a very special human being who has a unique set of learning abilities and situational demands. This means I endeavor to construct and apply the most fitting combination of learning styles and methods. I believe the advance of students’ language proficiency can help open the door for increased future opportunities. My goal is to make sure all students feel valued and understand our lesson concepts, so that they can become independent life-long learners!

Hello, my name is: Jacob Sydney

I teach: Grades 5 & 7 English

This is my education background: Master's in Education for Middle School English from Lesley University and a Bachelor's of Arts in English from Colgate University.

What I do outside Star Academy: Outside of the classroom, I used to enjoy playing sports like soccer and basketball, reading realistic fiction and fantasy novels, and traveling internationally to countries like Morocco and The Philippines. Now that I have two daughters, ages 3 and 5, I am happy to play games like Concentration and Candyland, read children's books like Goodnight Moon and Olivia, and travel only as far as the local playground and ice cream shop. I love being a dad.

My teaching mantra: I love being a teacher, too. Something happens in the classroom everyday that makes me smile, reflect, and be impressed. In my classrooms, I endeavor to create a safe, even brave, environment where students have the confidence to share their unique perspectives and accept the challenge of enhancing their skills. Lessons are structured to be instructive yet engaging and even (gasp!) fun, with a diversity of activities. I have high expectations of my students, because from past experience, I know that they are capable of great accomplishments.

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: Olga Zheleznyak

I teach: Dance

This is my education background: Born in Russia in a family of sportsmen, I’ve been trained in the Russian sport school of rhythmic gymnastics for 5 years. After that I started my dancing career in Ballroom dancing and Latina, which lasted over 10 years. I participated in the World Dance Competition in London - Blackpool, Austrian Open and Holland. I achieved a Master of Sports in Dancing in 2003. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree of Russian Academy of Economics and Law. I am co-founder of dance studio, Gala Dance, in Moscow.

What I do outside Star Academy: I spend most of my time with my family, playing tennis, and upgrading my dancing skills. I am interested in the fashion industry and traveling with my family.

My teaching mantra: I would love to help children enjoy moving through the art of dance.