Who We Are
Iris M Even, Head of School
Iris M Even holds a BFA in Sculpture from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. Upon graduation, she became a Professional Tutor for UArts, assisting students with all academic courses offered by the university. Simultaneously, she embarked on a career in arts administration, working with galleries, schools and foundations, including The American Philosophical Society and Samuel L. Fleisher Art Memorial, on exhibitions, exiting materials and public relations. Soon thereafter, Ms. Even moved to New York to teach on set for On Location Education and, eventually, for private families through The School for Young Performers. She continued to pursue exhibition and publication projects for artists, such as Enrique Martínez Celaya and Jacob Collins, but felt drawn to education and helping students with realizing their goals, however audacious, complex or, seemingly, insurmountable. As such, she began to consult on academic workshops and rare queries for On Location Education, which eventually led to her current position as Head of School for The School for Young Performers.
Kelly Politzer, Academic Advisor and College Counselor
Kelly Politzer earned a BA in Human Development and Family Studies from Indiana University and an MSEd specializing in School Counseling from Hunter College. She has experience working in both New York City public and private schools with students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. She is thrilled to be able to pursue her passion of supporting students in their quest of academic and professional success. Her counseling philosophy is to approach each situation in a holistic style, addressing each student’s academic, personal and social needs. Ms. Politzer is a member of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and the New York State School Counseling Association (NYSSCA).
Emily Foley, Assistant to the Head of School
Emily Foley graduated with her BFA in Musical Theatre from Shenandoah University. While at Shenandoah, she discovered a knack for administrative work while working in the Office of Admissions as a work study student. Since graduating, she has worked as an actor at Florida Repertory Theatre, bringing COVID-safe, outdoor theatre to the Southern Florida Community. Most recently, she spent a year as an Admissions Counselor at William Peace University in Raleigh, NC, guiding high school students through the college search and application process. Emily is thrilled to be in a position where she can combine her passions for education, administrative work, and the performing arts.
Emily K. Smith, Director of Special Education and Giftedness
Emily earned a BA in Anthropology from the University of Colorado. She went on to earn a MAT from Teachers College, Columbia University from the Behavioral Science Program in Intellectual Disabilities and Autism. She attended graduate school on a partial scholarship and maintained this scholarship through being a research fellow focusing on Language Acquisition. Emily’s research-based focus and strong work ethic is matched by her warm relationship with students. She scored the highest points possible in the student relationship categories for her edTPA submissions. Emily has been in the teaching force for a number of years working at a mix of public and private schools K-12. In her public school days, she was selected to lead the gifted programs due to her ability to match high rigor with developmental sensitivity. She has continued her work advancing gifted learners through one-on-one enrichment strategies. She currently advises major publishing houses, consults on language acquisitions in schools, runs summer programs for gifted students, and has even created her own company to improve writing practices at the elementary level. At the School for Young Performers, Emily’s primary focus is on Special Education and gifted learners; however, her overall knowledge on individualized hybrid learning has made her an excellent resource for our team as well as her fellow teachers.
全球十大外围足球平台 Teaching Staff
Below is a curated selection of our teaching staff from each departmental area. In addition to the departments listed, we also have specialists in a variety of areas, including music, art, film, health/mindfulness education, language immersion, technology, and more. Be sure to check back as we continue to feature more of our outstanding educators!
As a seasoned educator, passionate teacher, and innovative curriculum designer, Fran has dedicated many years to shaping minds and fostering a love for learning. Leading with enthusiasm, Fran has embraced the roles of collaborator, educator and leader, contributing to the growth and development of countless individuals. Fran grew up in Connecticut, attended Boston University for Undergraduate work, receiving a degree in Psychology. After three years teaching English and learning Spanish while living in Costa Rica, returned to attend graduate school at Bank Street College for a dual masters in K-5 Education/ Bilingual Education K-5. During these early years as an educator, Fran taught in both dual and monolingual environments. In 2006, Fran became a middle school ELA teacher and never looked back. In 2010, Fran returned to Bank Street for her third degree in their Leadership for Change program. She was the General Education Supervisor at a small charter school, which her children attended! Their mom was one of their principals!!! After 5 years, rolling up her sleeves and getting into classrooms with teachers, is what she understood to enjoy the most! Since then she has been supporting, problem solving and encouraging young teachers to be the best they can be in order for our children to get what they need for success.
Beyond the classroom, roles as a devoted wife, mom/dog mom, aunt, and sister. She lives in Central New Jersey with her husband, 3 incredible children and a stunning chocolate brown, 80lb, Standard Poodle who is the most loved…spoiled dog in the world! Fran enjoys walking with the dog five miles a day, even when it’s freezing! Exploring the outdoors, staying active through regular workouts, and time in the ceramics studio, is where she finds solace. Whether molding clay, walking with the dog, making time to get both physically and mentally strong, allows her time to unwind and strike a healthy balance from the demands of daily life. This tapestry of experiences that shape who she is—a dedicated individual with a love for learning, creativity, and meaningful connections.
Lisa Barba earned her teaching credential and Master’s Degree in Education in Colorado. She began her teaching career in the Colorado public school system and, since moving to Los Angeles, has focused her work as an educator and instructional coach in Gifted Education at independent schools. Lisa thrives on making strong connections with her students and creates passion-based lessons in order to unlock their full potential. She strives to make learning fun, engaging, and accessible for her students, building their self-confidence and academic strength. Lisa has a certification in differentiation from USC and has worked as a small group tutor and teacher for private clients and schools across the country. She is thrilled to be working as a K-5 instructor at The School for Young Performers!
Sheri Taylor was born and raised in London, England. After immigrating to the U.S. in the early 90s, her family settled in Miami, Florida. Sheri earned her Bachelor of Science in Exceptional Student Education from Florida International University. Her experiences range from working with children with special needs to the gifted student populations in pre-K through 12th grade. Sheri also enjoys working with children with varied behavior exceptionalities. In recent years, Sheri has worked as an intervention specialist for students with specific learning differences and as a middle school dean of behavior. Sheri is in the last phase of completing her Educational Leadership, MA at the University of Central Florida. Sheri enjoys the arts, specifically singing and acting, which oftentimes is weaved into her unique teaching style. She currently lives in Miami, Florida with her husband and three beautiful children.
Kimberly is a New Jersey native with over fifteen years of experience teaching at middle school, high school, and at the college level, which she believes gives her a unique insight into what students need to prepare for higher education. She holds two bachelor’s degrees, one in Historical Studies and one in Teacher Education, as well as a master’s degree in American Studies, all from Stockton University in Galloway, New Jersey. An American Studies degree is unique in that it draws on all the major disciplines – history, sociology, anthropology, and literature, for example – to explore the American experience. The interdisciplinary nature of this graduate education led Kimberly down many different paths, such as examining issues of changing masculinity in music through her thesis, “Getting Back to the Garden: The Peaceful Uneasy Feeling of the Male American Troubadours of Laurel Canyon, California,” traveling to Kigali Rwanda with the Never Again Rwanda organization to study government, human rights, and post-genocide peacebuilding efforts, and researching and writing for a biographical investigation report of Martin Luther King’s residence at 753 Walnut Street in Camden, New Jersey for the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office. She has taught an array of courses including American and World History, World Myths and Legends, Intro to Literature, Rhetoric and Composition, and College Writing. She has now landed in Los Angeles, where she has become a firm believer in the many advantages individualized learning can provide to students. She applies an interdisciplinary nature to all of her teaching, always with a focus on critical thinking, reading and writing proficiency, and historical and social awareness.
Anthony is a New York native with 5 years of teaching experience in New York State and abroad at both the secondary and primary level. He has worked with students from a wide range of backgrounds, skills, and experiences. He holds a graduate degree in Education with a specialization in Social Studies and Language Arts. A teacher as well as a music producer and multimedia artist, he also holds a graduate degree in Creative Media, which he has extensive professional and educational experience with. He enjoys working with students' interests to drive inquiry and develop life-long skills in critical thinking, problem solving, and analysis. While Anthony finds all areas of Social Studies and History fascinating, he has a special interest in World History, Philosophy, and Music. He loves the unique, interactive, and personalized learning opportunities that are possible at 全球十大外围足球平台 and otherwise difficult to achieve in the traditional classroom.
Janice Lanzetta is a 20-year veteran English and Humanities teacher. She has mostly taught upper school courses, from advanced honors/accelerated coursework to differentiating general education classes for students with special needs. She has also spent much of her teaching career readying students for college, including assisting them with college essays, preparing them for standardized tests, and counseling them on their college choices. Janice is a volunteer mentor for the Mount Vernon Star Scholars where she helps students from underserved neighborhoods achieve academic success and attend highly competitive universities. After her retirement, Janice began the second part of her teaching career and is proud to be part of the staff of The School for Young Performers.
Megan earned her BA in Theatre Arts from McDaniel College and her Master of Arts in Teaching from Mount St. Mary’s University. She began her calling to teach students with Emotional-Behavioral Disorders (EBD) in 2005 acting as a Behavior Management Specialist and later as a high school teacher in 2007 in one of Maryland’s non-public special-education schools. Most recently, she has served in a variety of positions throughout the education system: teaching English in high schools, acting as Theatre Department Head, Director and Thespian Sponsor, Title I Liaison and Licensed Trainer for the International Institute of Restorative Practices. Megan believes that everyone deserves to experience the growth that comes from empowering oneself through education. She is thrilled to teach with 全球十大外围足球平台!
Helen Sim Ritenour
Focused on building a rapport with her students, Helen Sim Ritenour has been an educator for 20 years. She specializes in English and History and got her BA from Wheaton College with a major in European History and a minor in Religion and Philosophy. She holds a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential as well as a Masters in School Counseling. Her ability to connect with students enables her to quickly pinpoint their areas of need and her structured approach to teaching, coupled with her high expectations, has successfully brought out the best in students’ academics. Helen’s scaffolded approach allows her to meet students on their current level, wherever that may be, and to help them achieve their goals. She has traveled to over 34 countries and is an avid aficionado of culture and foods from all over the world. This global perspective informs her approach in shaping the younger generation to both think critically and to endow skills & mindsets that help students to confidently find their voice and broaden their understanding of the world at large. A mom to two younger boys herself, Helen has found that being a parent has sharpened and evolved her own perspective as a teacher.
Cherie Smith holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Public Relations. She is working towards an MFA in Creative Writing/Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California. She is a California credentialed teacher in both English and Social Sciences and has published a series of books to help students pass the AP United States History exam. Cherie designed the series for delivery in the Audible format with Canadian producer and voice actor Scott Armstrong to better reach the audible learner. Her experience includes teaching the Expository Reading and Writing curriculum and teaching and coaching a nationally recognized speech and debate team. She also does project work for The College Board and maintains a private practice teaching high school students how to pass the AP United States, AP European, AP World, and AP Government exams.
Dr. Jacqueline Zimmer
A passionate and creative teacher, Jacqueline loves working with students and being a part of their learning and growing. She has fourteen years of experience working with students of all ages. Prior to her work with 全球十大外围足球平台, Jacqueline was an educator in several public and private schools in Louisiana (Baton Rouge and New Orleans), California (Los Angeles) and lecturer of literature at Louisiana State University (2012-2015). Jacqueline has a PhD in Comparative Literature, MA in Philosophy and BA in Political Science. In addition to her work in the humanities, Jacqueline is fluent in both French and Spanish and is able to conduct immersion learning for students focused on mastering world languages. Jacqueline seeks to challenge students to take ownership of their learning and believes in building quality relationships with students and their families as an essential part of the learning and growing process.
Justin Merz received a BS in Education from Brenau University and obtained a clear credential in special education at UCLA. Currently, he is on track to receive an MFA in screenwriting from California State Fullerton in spring of 2023. Justin began teaching in Atlanta, Georgia but has taught school in West Los Angeles for over two decades. During that time, he’s taught a variety of subjects, but language arts and history remain his passion. Aside from his work in education,Justin scripted the 2014 animated feature, The Boxcar Children, based on the classic children’s book by Gertrude Chandler Warner; a book that was instrumental in his own learning. Additionally, Justin has other film projects set up at studios such as DreamWorks, Disney, and Netflix. Justin’s philosophy of education is based on the idea that learning is an interactive process and no two children learn in the same way. He lives in the Pacific Palisades with his wife, daughter, and dog.
Mathematics and Science Teachers
Dr. Jeffrey S. Greiff
Dr. Jeffrey S. Greiff earned his DC (Doctor of Chiropractic) from Palmer College of Chiropractic and a BA in Pre-Med from SUNY Albany. During his time at the University at Albany, he rowed on the Division 1 Varsity Crew team. Upon graduation, Jeff decided in addition to practicing Chiropractic that he wanted to follow in his parents’ footsteps and leave a mark on the Education sector. For the last five years, Jeff has been teaching in a variety of settings in K-12. Jeff’s philosophy of education encompasses a holistic approach in order to target each of his student’s specific needs. Jeff carefully designs a custom curriculum that focuses on building his students’ strengths while supporting their weaknesses. He is a firm believer that there is no such thing as a mistake as every wrong choice leads to a learning moment where a foundation can be made. Jeff has worked with students ranging from the gifted to SPED. Jeff never turns down a challenge whether it is in healthcare or education.
Hannah Hastings holds a BA in Earth and Environmental Science from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. A Connecticut native, Hannah has lived all over the United States since graduating from Wesleyan. She served as a volunteer for two years in AmeriCorps YouthBuild/Just-A-Start in Cambridge, Massachusetts and continued on to work in Environmental Education in San Diego County, California. She began teaching in the classroom in 2013 and has enjoyed teaching science and math for grades six through eight ever since. Hannah is an enthusiastic long-distance runner, competing for her alma mater and The Greater Boston Track Club. She continues to run and coach today! Her favorite aspect of teaching and coaching is getting to know the students she works with, and she is excited to continue meeting amazing kids at the School for Young Performers!
Tara Renner holds a BS in Wildlife Biology from Frostburg State University in Western Maryland and a Masters of Education from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. Tara is originally from New York and developed a passion for science and the environment at a very young age. She began her career as a small mammal biologist in Maryland and West Virginia working with the USFS. She then joined AmeriCorps where she worked in outdoor education and on natural resource conservation projects. This is where Tara found her true passion, taking groups of students out in the field and sharing her love and knowledge of the natural world. This inspired her to pursue a Masters of Education while living in Arizona. She continued traveling west from there and began teaching in Los Angeles in 2004. Tara has spent her professional career teaching a variety of math and science courses, excelling at building confidence in difficult subject areas while helping students realize their full potential. Throughout the years, Tara has strived to lower math and science anxiety using strategies that build on each learner’s individual strengths. She holds a CA teacher certificate and has taught in the public and private sector for 15 years before joining the wonderful staff at 全球十大外围足球平台.
Elan Rotenberg earned both a BA and MA in Mathematics from Yeshiva University. While earning his master’s, he began teaching part-time. Since then, he has taught and tutored hundreds of students ranging from elementary school to college. His experience extends from a standard classroom setting to tutoring and test prep. He is very passionate about math, which can be seen through his own company, ByRote, which uses cryptography to solve communication issues in sports. He strives to not only teach the material effectively but to bring math to real life, make it fun, and give students a passion for it. He will often use the students’ interests as an applied platform to teach math.
Vincent Wu holds a MS and BS in Chemistry, from University of Maryland, and The College of New Jersey, respectively. Vincent's journey to become a science educator started when he served as a teacher's assistant at UMD, facilitating recitation classes for general and organic chemistry. After graduating, Vincent became a high school teacher in NYC through the NYC Teaching Fellowship, and taught chemistry and earth science in Manhattan. In addition to teaching Chemistry at The School for Young Performers, he is also teaching general chemistry and organic chemistry at Kean University, and is teaching piano as a private piano teacher. Vincent's passion in communicating science in an interactive, fun, and engaging way has driven him to reach students of all backgrounds and levels; he really believes that all the amazing phenomena that occur in our natural world should be shared and enjoyed by all. Vincent is thrilled to teach at The School for Young Performers!
World Language Teachers
Fabian Naulleau (French)
Bonjour! Born and raised in France, I never lost my accent but I guess that it’s part of the unwritten requirements to be a successful French teacher. Although I started my career in public school in France, I have mostly worked in French immersion schools in the US, the UK and China. Recently I transitioned to teaching French in American schools in Los Angeles in addition to 1:1 instruction for 全球十大外围足球平台.
I would describe myself as a ‘relational teacher’ as I always try to build a solid, trusting relationship with my students, a prerequisite for a meaningful learning experience. Because I’m a native speaker, the lessons that I design feel more authentic for my students. I also make sure that we play a lot and laugh a lot during our time together. It’s touching to meet students who want to learn my mother language and explore the trickiness of French culture. For all that, merci!
Dr. Jesus Galleres (Spanish, French)
Dr. Jesús Galleres was born in Lima, Perú. He studied Law and Humanities at the Universidad Católica del Perú. Later, he obtained his BA in Comparative Literature, his M.A and PhD in Hispanic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Currently, he works as a Spanish Language and Latin American Culture and Literature instructor at UCLA. Jesus is a skilled world languages educator and has taught K-12 Spanish, AP Spanish, and Latin American Literature for The School for Young Performers for many years, thus he also advises on 全球十大外围足球平台’s world languages curriculum and making language accessible for all of our students.
Pilar DeNardo (Spanish)
Pilar was raised in Spain and Perú and came to the United States to attend university and learn English. She has earned a BA in Art History from Cal State University Fullerton and an MEd specializing in Bilingual Education from Loyola Marymount University. Pilar holds multiple teaching credentials and accreditations, including a multiple subject teaching credential, a single subject teaching credential in Spanish, and a reading specialist credential (from University of Southern California). Pilar has also completed the Reading and Writing Project from Teacher’s College at Columbia University in NY and is a certified Studio Teacher. Pilar has over a decade of classroom teaching experience at the elementary and preschool levels, including several years in a dual language immersion classroom. Her real passion is teaching Spanish to students of all levels, from preschool to high school. Pilar brings a lot of energy to her lessons incorporating music, movement, and games. She aims to keep lessons fun and engaging while maintaining a strict focus on proper language structure. When you hear her speak English, you would be shocked to find out it isn’t her first language!
Shengguo Zhang (Mandarin Chinese)
Shengguo Zhang earned his BA from Inner Mongolia University for the Nationalities and Masters Degrees from Beijing University of Science and Technology and New York University (NYU). While working as a chemist at Columbia University, Shengguo tutored Mandarin to college students attending Columbia, NYU, CUNY and Princeton. He fully embraced his passion for teaching and has taught students from all over New York. Shengguo’s focuses on working with young children, middle school students, and preparing more advanced students for AP Chinese and Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) exams. His flexible teaching style results in hands-on, interactive lessons tailored to students’ needs and language levels. Shengguo encourages students to realize their boundless potential in learning a world language. He hopes that his teaching has inspired hundreds of students to fall in love with Mandarin!
Special Education Teachers
Emily Margaret Suits
Emily Margaret Suits has been in the field of education for the last 15 years serving as a special education teacher, teacher’s aide, speech and language assistant, literacy assessor and more. Emily moved to Los Angeles in 2017 from Connecticut and began working within the nonprofit sector of education. Emily’s hobbies and interests include hiking, skiing, basketball, yoga, gardening, swimming in the ocean, cycling and more. Currently, she is studying to become a yoga teacher. Among her experiences, she has worked with students of all ages, with varying abilities, interests and learning styles.
Emily attended Eastern Connecticut State University for her undergraduate degree and graduated with a major in English and minor in writing. Shortly after, she continued her studies at Southern Connecticut State University where she then received her Master’s degree in Special Education & Reading.
Using a broad scope of educational methods and practices, Emily is able to cultivate an engaging yet safe climate and culture within all of her learning spaces. This includes but is not limited to yoga, gardening, mindfulness, athletics, nature/environment, cooking, basic life skills and more. As one size does not fit all, Emily designs individual learning goals and lessons that include the students interests while honing into their individual skill sets.