Cooke Institute


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.

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.

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.

Andrea Kreckler

Andrea Kreckler is a Cooke Institute consultant with over 15 years of experience in Early Childhood Education. She has worked as a classroom teacher in the Bronx, created an Arts Curriculum for an Elementary school, and was the Project Arts Coordinator and District Liaison. Most recently, Andrea founded Pee Wee Picassos which is based on using Arts Integration strategies to enhance early learning. Andrea brings her knowledge and passion to Cooke in supporting the whole child. Andrea holds a Master’s degree in Education from Marymount College and is certified in both Art and Elementary Education.

Doreen Costanzo

Doreen Costanzo is a Cooke Institute consultant for both our school-age and universal preschool divisions. She brings her expertise in behavior intervention and special education when working with teachers to enhance their practice. Doreen is a fierce advocate for students with special needs, and conducts workshops on identifying students with special needs and educates teachers, support staff, principals and parents on the steps in the evaluation process, differentiation in instruction and how to meet the needs of students either through multisensory integration or learning through play. Prior to Cooke, Doreen held various roles working the New York City DOE, Long Island School Districts, as well as private and charter preschools throughout New Jersey and New York City. Doreen holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology specializing in child and adolescent psychology, a Post-baccalaureate degree in both early childhood and school aged education from William Paterson University, and a Master’s Degree in Education from Hofstra University.

Emily Levine

Emily Levine is a committed educator and advocate for children currently working as an instructional consultant in Pre-K-8th grade classrooms. In this capacity, she provides professional learning opportunities to teachers, schools, and organizations targeting the cognitive and emotional growth of children. In addition, Emily presents courses for teachers at summer institutes, creates online modules designed to ensure educators meet the rigorous demands of the Common Core standards, and reviews and designs reading and writing curriculum units. Previously, Emily held a variety of positions within New York City schools, which include literacy coach, grant coordinator and elementary school teacher. Emily received a M.S. Ed. from Bank Street College of Education in 1998 and a B.A. in Government from Wesleyan University in 1994.

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.

Helaine Schachter

In her 35 year teaching career at the NYC Department of Education, Helaine held a variety of positions ranging from classroom teacher to Teacher Center Specialist for the NYC Teacher Center, Regional Coach, and Assistant Data Coordinator. In addition, Helaine was a curriculum writer for the UFT English Language Arts Resource Curriculum Guide. Helaine has taught both undergraduate and graduate literacy courses at Queens College. Helaine’s career as an educator continues at Cooke Institute where she works with teachers in planning and implementing units plans and daily lesson.

Helaine received her B.A. from Queens College and her M.A. from New York University.

Irene Rosen

Irene Rosen is a veteran educator with 30 years experience in the New York City Department of Education.  Her experiences include: fourth and fifth grade math teacher; Title I math teacher; Math Staff Developer; Mathematics Coach; and teacher mentor.  Irene worked as a mathematics consultant for Cooke Grammar School.  Currently, Irene is an instructional consultant for Cooke Institute providing on-site professional development in mathematics.

Jenna Papandrea

Jenna knew from the tender age of four that she wanted to be an educator. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Education and a Master’s degree in Special Education, she began her diverse teaching career in NYC. During her time as an educator, she has taught a variety of subjects and grades, and held leadership positions. However, the most significant component that has remained constant in her career is her drive for helping students gain independence in their work, especially the youngest of learners. Jenna takes joy in guiding students lay the bricks for a strong foundation. Through her work with Cooke Institute, Jenna is proud to work alongside other passionate educators and administrators. Jenna thoroughly enjoys the process of creating appropriate, developmental practices in the classroom for our youth.

In addition to her professional work, Jenna is a mother of two young children. Jenna is honored and privileged to be able to carry over the knowledge, patience and dedication every educator needs in order to succeed.

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.

Laurie Uffner

Laurie Uffner has 40 years of experience as an early childhood educator, working with 3 and 4 year olds. During that time she has been a strong advocate of preschool education in order to help young children develop their full potential. Her positions in early childhood ranged from leading Mommy and Me classes, to head teacher, to Assistant Director. In 2015, Laurie joined Cooke as a member of the Pre-K consulting team, where her work emphasizes the social emotional development of young children. Additionally, she consults on mentoring and coaching teachers, parent communication, curriculum development in New York City. Laurie received her B.A. from Indiana University and earned her MEd. in Early Childhood/ Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Marilyn Wrubel

Marilyn Wrubel is an instructional consultant for Cooke Institute working with teachers to implement best teaching practices in reading and writing. Her prior experience includes teaching middle school language arts for 28 years and working as a New York City Teacher Center specialist where she developed and conducted workshops and seminars, mentored teachers, and provided demonstration lessons and action labs. She also worked as a regional coach for the Reading First initiative. In addition, she was a writer and editor of the UFT English Language Arts Resource Curriculum guide, and an instructor for the New York State Teacher Certification exam.

Pamela Jacobs

Pamela Jacobs is a Cooke Institute instructional consultant who received her Ph.D. in school psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, where her dissertation focused on the development of an instructional program in informational text comprehension for children in the primary grades. She completed her predoctoral internship at Cooke under the supervision of Dr. Michael Termini. Pam has taught in the Reading Specialist program at Teachers College and the School Psychology program at Touro College. She has supervised graduate students in fieldwork placements at NYC Catholic schools and served as a psychology consultant in NYC charter schools. She has also worked as a member of a multidisciplinary school-age evaluation team at Albert Einstein Medical Center. Pam is a NYS licensed psychologist and a co-investigator on an ongoing Teachers College project to develop a diagnostic measure of early reading comprehension-related skills.

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.

Rebecca Bravo

Rebecca Bravo has served as an educator and administrator in the NYC Department of Education for 25 years, and as an adjunct instructor at Hunter and Mercy College. Her roles in education have included teacher, Program Coordinator, Assistant Principal and Principal. Rebecca brings to Cooke Institute her wealth of knowledge and experience coaching teachers who teach students with unique needs. In addition, Rebecca conducts workshops to a wide range of participants throughout New York City covering topics such as Differentiated Instruction, Using Data to Plan Instruction, Classroom/Behavior Management, Working with English Language Learners, and Cyberbullying. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Hunter College NYC with a major in Psychology and a minor in Early Childhood Education, a Master’s Degree from Hunter College in Special Education and a Master’s Degree from City College in School Supervision and Administration. She is bilingual in Spanish. Rebecca has earned many awards including being named a Danforth Scholar.

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.

Sonia Blanco-Florentino

Sonia has served in NYC public schools for 30 years. Her roles included supporting schools and CPSE as an educational evaluator, teacher trainer, and bilingual special education teacher. In addition to her Cooke Institute consulting work, Sonia mentors, supervises, and teaches teachers at City College who are in the process of obtaining their Master’s degree and State certification. Sonia also conducts workshops on mindfulness and creative expression for teachers teaching culturally linguistic diverse students with disabilities.

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.

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.