Cooke Institute


Cooke Institute Staff

Aliza Kushner

Director, Cooke Institute

Aliza directs all aspects of the consulting and workshop programs at Cooke Institute. She works closely and collaboratively with Principals, Directors, Superintendents, and role specific educational leaders who contract for Cooke services. Aliza develops strong and long-lasting relationships with clients, ensuring that they are provided with the high-quality professional development, collaboration, information, and documentation they require. As an educator for over two decades, Aliza has championed the cause of improving teaching and learning, and continues to be committed to developing and strengthening whole school communities to ensure successful outcomes for all students. Aliza has a Master’s Degree in Education and holds a permanent certification in teaching.

Elizabeth (Beth) Carr

K – 8 Program Supervisor

Beth is the Program Supervisor for the K-8 Consulting and Training program and Lead Consultant, and also teaches at Brooklyn College. Beth has worked as Cooke’s Curriculum Supervisor and as a literacy coach for the past 10 years. Prior to that, Beth has worked in elementary and middle schools for the nearly 20 years. In addition she leads presentations on many topics such as writing, differentiating instruction, and principal leadership of literacy programs. Beth has her MA in Reading from New York University; she is certified as a Reading Teacher and as a Special Education teacher.

Susan Devlin

Pre-K Program Supervisor

Susan started Cooke’s Early Childhood program 20 years ago. Currently, she supervises Cooke’s Pre-K Consulting and Training program. Susan is an early childhood and special education expert and advocate responsible for the daily coordination and supervision of consulting services across Pre-k For All programs. Embedded in her work is ensuring systemic delivery of high-quality professional development services and facilitating professional collaboration among CI pre-k consultants. In addition, she presents on topics related to special education to program leaders across New York City. Susan has a Master’s Degree in Special Education from SUNY Albany and a Professional Diploma in School Administration from Fordham University. She is certified as an Elementary and Special Educator as well as a School Administrator and Supervisor.

Cooke Institute Consulting Team

Adjowah Scott

Bio to come.

Benjamin Yost

Bio to come.

Doreen Bevilacqua

Bio to come.

Fran Dreyfus

Fran Dreyfus joined Cooke Institute after more than 30 years with the New York City, Department of Education where she served as a teacher, principal, supervising principal, and local instructional superintendent in special education and 8 years as a director of early childhood services for a non-profit agency. As an instructional consultant, Fran utilizes her expertise in the areas of autism spectrum disorders, academic and behavioral interventions, and differentiating instruction in content areas to coach classroom staff. Throughout her career, she has worked with students in grades prekindergarten through college who demonstrate learning, social/emotional, and behavioral challenges. Fran received her Ed.D. in special education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Janet Hon

Bio to come.

Laura Dombrowski

Laura has two decades of international work experience in public and private education, a graduate degree in TESOL from Long Island University and a graduate degree in Educational Leadership from the Leadership for Educational Change Program at Bank Street College of Education. Her years in the classroom and her experiences in a wide range of school systems in diverse cultural contexts have cultivated her lens for understanding the general systemic challenges of schools as well as the realities of education policy at the level of implementation. These years have also heightened her awareness of the importance of professional development for teachers and school administrators.

As a literacy and math consultant, she provides individualized instructional consultations to K-8 teachers and administrators on differentiating instruction, utilizing formative and summative assessment to inform instruction, setting classroom and school-wide goals, and aligning instructional plans to the Common Core Standards. her background in TESOL and her Special Education teaching experience inform her consultations on meeting the needs of English Language Learners and Special Education Students. In her professional development workshops and in her consultations, she aims to promote school-wide collaboration to optimize the school’s activation of its professional resources.

Lillian Sanabria-Hernandez

Bio to come.

Marilyn Rubinstein

Bio to come. 

Patricia Tweedy

With degrees in psychology and special education and New York State certification in early childhood, elementary and special education, Pat was well prepared for working with children with a range of abilities and needs. During her employment with the New York City Department of Education she provided service and support to both students and the educational staff as a teacher, staff developer, and lead teacher coach. Since leaving the NYCDOE Pat has been a Regional Lead Trainer for Alternate Assessment and an educational consultant for school districts, schools and agencies providing education to children. Pat is also an adjunct professor at Hunter College, City University of New York specializing in special education assessment and curriculum development.

Phyllis Stern

Phyllis has been an educator for over 35 years. Prior to working at Cooke, Phyllis’ career began as a classroom teacher in elementary and middle school, then as a literacy coach and teacher trainer. As a national AFT teacher trainer, Phyllis mentored teachers across the country. One of Phyllis’ greatest joys is sharing the knowledge she has gained over the years, and constantly learning from the teachers she works with. Phyllis holds a Master’s in Reading, K – 12.

Robin Gattegno

Robin Gattegno received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Hunter School of Social Work and was awarded The Clark Foundation Fellowship from Baruch College. As a member of the Cooke consulting team, Robin works as Pre-K consultant, and supports the ADNY Early Childhood Social Workers in Pre-K for All Programs. In addition, she consults for several Head Start Programs. Robin believes that the well-being of children is one of society’s foremost concerns and her therapeutic philosophy permeates all aspects of her work with children, educators, and parents. Robin has extensive experience in differentiating instruction, parent training, parent support groups, assessments, and counseling for children, adolescents and adults.

Robin also has a private practice that includes children, adolescents, adults and couples. With her background in art, psychology and education, she specializes in play therapy for children and creative arts therapy for adolescents.

Susan Cernansky

Susan Cernansky holds a M.S.Ed. in Reading, and is a veteran of the NYC school system. For years she was a K–5 classroom teacher and later became a literacy coach and a UFT Teacher Center staff member. Before joining Cooke, Susan provided staff development, coached and mentored teachers, held study groups, and led citywide institutes in literacy development. Susan was also a member of the Elementary Teacher Network, The Institute for Literacy Studies, and the NYC Writing Project. In addition, Susan was a staff developer where she showed teachers how to connect arts experiences with literacy development for children.

Susan Markman

Susan Markman is a consultant in the areas of Child Development, Behavior, and Literacy. She combines over thirty years of experience in schools with knowledge from the fields of Neuroscience, Mental Health, and Special Education. Her focus is on building resilience and capacity for learning through improvements in self-regulation and executive functioning. Susan has an M.Ed in Multicultural Education and in School Counseling and Psychology. She has received awards from the Massachusetts Dept. of Education and the New England Center for Equity Assistance for outstanding efforts to foster understanding of differences based on language, special needs, race, class, and gender.

Takiyah Jackson

Bio to come.

Vanessa Bottiglieri

Vanessa Bottiglieri is an experienced educator who has taught in the Department of Education in public schools in Staten Island and also helped develop and launch Our Lady Help of Christians’ Pre-K 3 program. Vanessa specializes in working with elementary aged children who struggle with reading and fluency and is a fierce advocate for students who present unique learning needs. Vanessa earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and Speech Communication from St. John’s University and her MA in Elementary Education with a concentration in Reading. Her love and passion for teaching and children makes her an integral part of Cooke’s consulting team.

Vera Kohn

Vera Kohn began her teaching career in a school for gifted students in the South Bronx. For the next 25 years she continued her teaching career both as a classroom teacher and as a literacy coach in NYC schools modeling lessons, planning with teachers, facilitating reading and writing workshops, and working closely with administrators to create school-wide initiatives to support literacy. Most recently, Vera has worked as a literacy consultant for Cooke Institute, continuing to improve instruction and outcomes in classrooms across New York City. Her enthusiasm and dedication is evident in all her work.

Vera has an MS degree from Hunter College and received a doctorate in Jurisprudence from Pace Law School.