Our People

HOLA staff members share a passion for quality education, recognize the value of bilingualism, and are committed to diversity in the classroom.

Jen Sargent
  • Executive Director

Jen Sargent was part of HoLa’s original founding team, and has been deeply involved in the school in a variety of capacities since its inception – most recently as Executive Director since 2013. She holds a B.A. from New York University and an M.S.Ed. from Hunter College (CUNY), and she completed the Relay Graduate School of Education National Principal Supervisor Academy in 2019. Ms. Sargent believes that bilingualism is not just a critical 21st-century skill, but a real-life superpower! She has two children, who attended HoLa and are now in high school (St. Peter’s Prep) and college (University of Michigan), making good use of the academic and linguistic skills they developed at HoLa. Ms. Sargent is passionate about social justice, and loves art, music, and adventures big and small.

Nissa Gainty
  • Elementary School Instructional Lead

Srta. Gainty holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Music from Bates College and a Master’s of Education from Bridgewater State University. In order to fully immerse herself in the Spanish language and Latin American culture, Srta Gainty moved to Quito, Ecuador where she started her first job teaching English to a range of students from PreK-12th grade. Five years later she took on the coordination of the English Department and then she assumed her first school-wide leadership role as the school’s Principal of Academic Affairs. Srta Gainty then went on to serve as the Head of Teacher Training at Enseña Ecuador. After sixteen years abroad, Srta Gainty “came back” to the US. Srta Gainty has completed leadership training in Theory U: Leading in Times of Disruption and is currently pursuing her Principal certification. This is Srta. Gainty’s third year serving HoLa’s mission to build global citizenship through bilingual education.

Adina Medina
  • Middle School Instructional Lead 

Mrs. Medina served as our Middle School ELA teacher for five years and has over fifteen years of classroom experience, in both high and middle school levels. She then shared her love of learning and literacy with our teachers when she served as our Middle School Instructional Coach and the 3rd/4th Grade Language Arts Coach. A graduate of Relay’s National Principal Academy Fellowship and of Rutgers’ School Supervisor Certification program, Mrs. Medina holds a BA from SUNY New Paltz in English Literature with a minor in Black Studies, as well as a Master’s degree from Seton Hall in Education with a focus on Curriculum Design. As she is finalizing additional graduate study to secure Principalship certification at Rutgers, Mrs. Medina is excited to partner with our school leadership team to further develop our students’ access to a bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural educational experience. Mrs. Medina loves all things book-related, but particularly classic fiction and sci/fi fantasy. She is also a low key comic book fanatic and she believes that life is better when there is a superhero present. A mother of two and one canine, Mrs. Medina is excited to return to HoLa as our Middle School Instructional Lead!

Vanessa Abrisqueta
  • Head of Student Support & Academic Success

Srta. Abrisqueta began her journey at HoLa as a Middle School Math and Science teacher. She then had the opportunity to serve the Middle School community as Dean of Students, and she credits her students with teaching her patience, kindness, and honesty. Through this role, Srta. Abrisqueta discovered her passion for ensuring that students receive an equitable and rigorous education, and she completed the Relay Graduate School of Education’s National Principal Academy Fellowship (NPAF) in order to bring that passion and dedication to our students and staff alike. She served as an advisor for the NPAF program after completing her own training there and recently served as HoLa’s K-8 Instructional Lead in order to share her expertise with our community and ensure that ALL students are given the opportunity and access to academic excellence. She has an academic background in Mathematics and Biology, and even married a mathematician, who is also an educator!

 

Marta Pizarro
  • Administrative Manager

Marta has two children who graduated from HoLa in 2017 and 2018. She started with HoLa as a volunteer in 2010 and has happily grown with the school in different capacities. Marta has her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management, and is certified with the NJDOE to teach Food Management and Marketing. She is also a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. Marta previously worked with Verizon for 10 years and owned her own business. Marta was a resident of Hoboken for 20 years before moving to Saddle Brook, NJ. She currently sits as Chair of HoLa’s Diversity, Inclusion, Community, and Equity (DICE) committee. Summer is her favorite season, when she loves to relax at the beach or poolside amongst friends.

Digna Moreira
  • Operations Manager

Srta. Moreira has a Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers University and has been working in the operations management field for sixteen years. She currently holds a Professional Certificate in Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration from Rutgers Business School and a Professional Certificate in Project Management from E-Cornell University . She joined HoLa in 2016 as she transitioned into a new career in education. Digna previously worked with Office Depot for over ten years and has extensive experience in operations, talent development, marketing/branding and Human Resources. Digna is a foodie, enjoys trying out new recipes and Latin Social Dancing!

Douglas Heyman
  • IT Administrator

Mr. Heyman holds a BA from Washington University, St Louis MO as well as various technical certifications. With over 22 years dealing with all of the pitfalls and pratfalls of technology, he’s a 4 star general on the front lines of the war against the robots, protecting humanity from the fate of the dinosaurs. From fixing broken things to figuring out who needs the next best thing, he’s always looking forward and backward to best effect.

Jocelyn Padilla
  • ES Executive Assistant

Jocelyn has been with the HoLa family for two years! Previously, Jocelyn worked for over six years at Adventures in Learning as Executive Assistant/Enrollment Specialist. She has her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education from Hudson County Community College and is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education with a double minor in Special Education and Spanish at New Jersey City University. Jocelyn is a member of NJCU’s Leadership & Success Honor Society. In her spare time, Jocelyn enjoys coordinating weddings, birthday parties, and other events. She looks forward to fulfilling her dream of becoming a teacher and being able to instill a love of learning in children.

Julie Duarte
  • MS Executive Assistant

Julie started her journey with HoLa eight years ago and has served as an apprentice teacher in the 3rd and 4th grades. She then spent 2 years working in the elementary office and has now transitioned to serve as the Middle School Executive Assistant. She thrives on being part of the backbone of HoLa and keeping the wheels turning. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and loves to interact with students any chance she gets. Born and raised in Hudson County, she enjoys sharing her Colombian background and colorful culture with the students and staff. In her spare time she loves to cook, travel, and work out.

Nissa Gainty
  • Elementary School Instructional Lead

Srta. Gainty holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Music from Bates College and a Master’s of Education from Bridgewater State University. In order to fully immerse herself in the Spanish language and Latin American culture, Srta Gainty moved to Quito, Ecuador where she started her first job teaching English to a range of students from PreK-12th grade. Five years later she took on the coordination of the English Department and then she assumed her first school-wide leadership role as the school’s Principal of Academic Affairs. Srta Gainty then went on to serve as the Head of Teacher Training at Enseña Ecuador. After sixteen years abroad, Srta Gainty “came back” to the US. Srta Gainty has completed leadership training in Theory U: Leading in Times of Disruption and is currently pursuing her Principal certification. This is Srta. Gainty’s third year serving HoLa’s mission to build global citizenship through bilingual education.

Vanessa Abrisqueta
  • Head of Student Support & Academic Success

Srta. Abrisqueta began her journey at HoLa as a Middle School Math and Science teacher. She then had the opportunity to serve the Middle School community as Dean of Students, and she credits her students with teaching her patience, kindness, and honesty. Through this role, Srta. Abrisqueta discovered her passion for ensuring that students receive an equitable and rigorous education, and she completed the Relay Graduate School of Education’s National Principal Academy Fellowship (NPAF) in order to bring that passion and dedication to our students and staff alike. She served as an advisor for the NPAF program after completing her own training there and recently served as HoLa’s K-8 Instructional Lead in order to share her expertise with our community and ensure that ALL students are given the opportunity and access to academic excellence. She has an academic background in Mathematics and Biology, and even married a mathematician, who is also an educator!

 

Brigitte Garcia
  • KA Lead Teacher

Srta. Garcia holds a BA from Boston College in Elementary Education and French. This will be her twelfth year in HoLa, and her eighth year teaching Kindergarten. Growing up in a Spanish-speaking household, she is excited to share her love of the Spanish language with her students. Srta. Garcia is passionate about reading instruction as well as integrating social justice into her teaching whenever she can. When not in the classroom, she enjoys exploring New York City, getting cozy with a good book, or going for a hike.

Karen Gomez
  • KA Apprentice Teacher 

Srta. Gómez was born and raised in Honduras. She was a teacher for 15 years in her hometown and 10 years in the USA . She is always excited for new adventures and so grateful to work as a Kindergarten Apprentice Teacher for her third year.  Srta. Gomez loves teaching  social studies and science. 

She loves to sing and is mindful about the needs of others. She loves spending quality time with her family.

Miriam Net
  • KB Lead Teacher

Srta. Net was born in Barcelona, Spain but moved to Puerto Rico when she was three years old and lived there until she attended Villanova University in Pennsylvania. Srta. Net earned her BS in Marketing and International Business with a Minor in French. She started her career in education by teaching children working in the streets of Quito, Ecuador. After a year of this volunteering experience, Srta. Net decided to continue her passion for education, and joined the NYC Teaching Fellows. She earned her Master’s of Bilingual Special Education from City College of NY and has taught for over eleven years in NY and NJ. Srta. Net has also taught a Master’s course Teaching Content Using English and the Native Language as an Adjunct Professor at City College of NY. She enjoys traveling, hiking and spending time with her husband and two daughters. This is her third year at HoLa.

Sara Majano
  • KB Apprentice Teacher

Srta. Majano is new to the HoLa family and is excited to join the Kindergarten team! For the last ten years Srta. Majano was a lead teacher for Pre-K 3 students at Adventures in Learning. She is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree from New Jersey City University in World Languages and Cultures. On her spare time, she enjoys reading books, listening to music and loves spending time her family.

Carla Brinnich
  • 1A Lead Teacher

Srta. Brinnich was born and raised in Cochabamba,Bolivia. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Social Communication from San Simón University. She has worked with children for over ten years in Bolivia. After moving to Denver, Colorado in 2012, She began teaching Spanish classes. In Denver she received her Master’s degree in Education with an endorsement of Culturally Linguistically Diverse. She is a mother of a sweet little boy. Srta. Brinnich joined the Hola Family in February 2021, She is thrilled to be rejoining the HoLa family for her second year.  In her free time, Srta. Brinnich enjoys dancing traditional Bolivian dances and participating in parades in different states.

Glenys Silverio
  • 1B Lead Teacher

Srta. Silverio was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York City. She earned her BA in History from Lehman College, CUNY, and her K-6 teaching certificate and is working on her Master’s degree in Special Education. Srta. Silverio joined the Hola Family in December 2019. In her free time, Srta. Silverio loves traveling and spending time with her family.

Rosa Morales
  • 1B Apprentice Teacher 

Srta. Morales was born and raised in Guatemala. When she was 13 years old she came to the United States. She went to Hudson County Community College  and graduated with an Associates Degree in Elementary & Secondary Education. She also received a Bachelor of Arts Degree  in Spanish from NJCU and is working on getting her teaching certification, to become a Spanish teacher. Srta Morales has worked as a substitute teacher, as well as a Special Needs Classroom Aide. She is also ACTFL Certified (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages). She loves anything related to nature – especially fishing trips and biking – as well as spending time with her family. This will be my second year at HoLa.

Katherine Valderrama
  • 2A Lead Teacher 

Srta. Valderrama was born in Colombia and raised in NYC. She earned her Masters in Early Childhood Education at CUNY Hunter College. She is a Responsive Classroom and Positive Psychology enthusiast and is passionate about nurturing and empowering students through Social Emotional Learning. She feels truly fortunate to be part of a school who shares her vision and teaching philosophy. Outside of the classroom she spends time enjoying her family, organizing  and trying to squeeze in a nap.

Betzy Moya
  • 2A Apprentice Teacher 

Srta. Moya loves spending her time by either reading a good book or by doing some writing. She has been working in a school setting since she was 18 and loves working with kids. She was born and raised in New Jersey but her family comes from Ecuador, which she likes going to visit almost every year. She has worked in HoLa before as an after school aide and is excited to take on the new role as apprentice teacher. She graduated from NJCU with a bachelors in English creative writing and is in pursuit of getting her teaching certificate and hopefully in the future becoming a school counselor. 

Lina Giraldo
  • 2B Lead Teacher

Srta. Giraldo was born and raised in Cali, Colombia. She graduated from Montclair State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Special Education from New Jersey City University. She has 6 years of experience educating children across a range of ages and grades – from 3 months to 12 years old. Srta. Giraldo loves dancing, and spending time outdoors with her family, including her 5-year-old Husky!

Anallansy Soler
  • 2B Apprentice Teacher

Srta. Soler was  born and raised in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. She has worked as a teacher for over 24 years in her home country. Srta. Soler joined the HoLa family in 2018 as a Kindergarten Apprentice Teacher but this year she is excited to join the 2nd grade team. She is the mother of two children. She loves spending quality time with her family.

 

Oscar Ruiz Maroto
  • 3rd / 4th SLA Teacher

Sr. Ruiz Maroto is a madrileño (Madrid, Spain), who is thrilled to join the HoLa community this year.
His academic background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Foreign Language Teaching (UCM) and Master’s Degrees in Pedagogy (UNED) and International Education (UCJC). He completed part of his undergraduate studies in Ireland and the UK. His 20-year professional career in education has been focused on helping elementary school students to learn language and culture, as well as developing global citizenship. Sr. Ruiz Maroto has worked in Bilingual, Dual Language and Heritage Programs in Texas, Illinois, New York and in his native region of Madrid. He joins HoLa after completing a 6-year assignment in the educational services department of the Consulate of Spain in New York City. He loves traveling, nature, literature and handicrafts.

Patricia Salguero
  • 3rd / 4th ELA Teacher and K-8 ESL Coordinator

Patricia Salguero is delighted to join HoLA Hoboken for the 2021-2022 school year in a combined role of 3rd/4th grade ELA Teacher and K-8 ESL Coordinator. She began her teaching
career volunteering for The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia. She is a native Washingtonian, born in the nation’s capital. She has a variety of teaching experiences teaching pre-K through 9th grade and has worked with a variety of ELA curricula. Ms. Salguero has a BA in International Studies and Spanish literature from George Mason University. Her love for language learning led to the study of bilingual education, earning a Master’s of Science in Education in TESOL from the City College of New York.

In her free time, she enjoys staying active, exploring the city’s rich cultural offerings, reading children’s literature, and sipping a robust cafecito.

Diana Yepez
  • 3rd / 4th Grade Science and Social Studies Teacher

Srta. Yepez was born and raised in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where she lived for sixteen years before moving to New Jersey. She graduated from Rutgers University Newark with a BA in Spanish Studies and a Creative Writing minor. While earning her Bachelor’s degree, she was fortunate enough to intern for one semester at HoLa! Currently, she is attending New Jersey City University, where she is working towards a Master of Arts in Teaching – Secondary Education in Spanish as a subject area. Prior to joining HoLa, she had the opportunity to teach students across grades K-8 for two years. This will be her second year as a lead teacher at HoLa, and she’s excited to start this new chapter. During her free time she enjoys travelling, reading and writing poetry, and spending time with her family and friends.

Sheila Linares
  • 3rd / 4th Grade Math Teacher

This is Srta. Linares’ 6th year teaching at HoLa. She was born in Cuba and raised in West New York, and graduated from New Jersey City University majoring in Psychology and Education. One of her favorite things about 3rd and 4th grade is teaching students new mathematical concepts and strategies that will turn them into Math Lovers! Math is a perfect opportunity to practice, get feedback, and get better! Srta. Linares looks forward to celebrating her students’ success at the end of the year. In her free time, she enjoys going on bike rides with her family, playing with her two French Bulldogs, and attending her daughter’s Cheer competitions (which is an Hola 6th grader).

Jennifer Martinez
  • 3th Grade Apprentice Teacher

Srta. Martinez was born in Constanza, Dominican Republic and raised in New York City. She spent her childhood moving between New York City, Dominican Republic, and Florida, until she finally settled in Bronx, New York for her first year of college. She graduated from CUNY Lehman College with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree. This is Srta. Martinez’ 2nd year at HoLa! She’s very excited about providing academic support for 3rd graders for the upcoming school year. Srta. Martinez looks forward to having a fun and exciting year with everyone. In her free time, she currently enjoys watching TV, exercising, and playing with her cat, Rocky (named after her favorite movie character, Rocky Balboa).  

Shyam Martinez
  • 4th Grade Apprentice Teacher

Sr. Martinez was born and raised in Union City, NJ where he developed a passion for education and athletics. He attended New Jersey City University where he worked and volunteered his time in summer recreational and sports camps throughout New York, New Jersey and Florida. Growing up, he played on travel teams where he learned the value of teamwork, respect and responsibility. Sr. Martinez has been a part of the HoLa community for 9 years and is passionate about the direction of our youth. In addition to working at HoLa, he is a youth counselor with the Boys and Girls Club of Hudson County after school, as well as summers. Sr. Martinez is looking forward to teaching Social Studies in the 2021-2022 school year.

Paulina Sainz
  • Spanish Language Resource Teacher

Srta. Sainz was born and raised in Mexico. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture, a Master in Education, a Professional Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and is currently pursuing her Professional Certificate in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language. This will be her 10th year teaching and her 2nd year at HoLa. She is very excited to serve this year as the Spanish Language Resource Teacher. Srta. Sainz looks forward to using her expertise as a native Spanish speaker to share her knowledge and love for Spanish, as a language, and cultural integration with her students. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her family and friends.

Yrays Cardenas
  • Elementary Special Education Teacher

Srta. Cardenas has been part of the HoLa community for 5 years, fulfilling multiple roles. She is currently in her 4th year as the Elementary School Special Education Teacher. Srta. Cardenas holds a Master in Early Childhood and Special Education from Montclair State University. Srta. Cardenas enjoys spending time with her family and friends, taking long walks in the park, watching movies, and playing board games.

Sabrina Campagnola-Vargas
  • Physical Education & Health Teacher

 Srta. Campagnola is excited to return to HoLa for her third year.  She is our Health and Physical Education Teacher for the Elementary School. She was born and raised in Argentina, where she developed a tremendous love for sports at an early age and went on to play Rink Hockey for Buenos Aires National Team in Argentina. Later, she moved to the United States to attend Kean University, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in K-12 Health and Physical Education. During her time at Kean University, Srta. Campagnola-Vargas played for the Women’s Lacrosse Team.  In her free time, she loves traveling and spending time with family and friends.

 

Alicia Alonso
  • Music Teacher

Srta. Alonso has been teaching at HoLa for nine years. She studied Music at the National School of Music in Havana, Cuba and received her Choral Conductor Certificate in 1989. In 2004, she moved to the United States, and attended Julliard School for a Masters Course in Choral Conducting. By 2010, in addition to her Bachelor’s degree, she had also completed majors in Spanish and Music in Performance. Since she has always loved school so much, she followed this up with a Masters of Music Performance in 2012. Her favorite thing about teaching is watching students come alive when they perform and sing in Spanish, because it combines both of her passions!

Alejandra Gaxiola
  • Art Teacher

Srta. Gaxiola serves as our Art teacher at both the Elementary and Middle School. She’s originally from Mexico City, where she studied Art History and Interior Design. When she moved to the United States back in 2003 she started working as a docent in Spanish for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2012, she was appointed as the Chairman of Spanish Docents. She’s currently an emeritus  volunteer at MoMA and has been volunteering there for more than 10 years. She joined HoLa in 2013 as an Artist in Residence and became the full-time Art teacher the following year. Once a year she hosts a student art show – HoLa MoMA – showcasing our homegrown talent. When she’s not inspiring our students to express their creativity, she loves cooking, traveling, and playing board games with her family.

Paola Ramirez
  • School Psychologist / Coordinator of Student Services 

Trained as a psychologist and child psychoneurologist in Colombia, Srta. Ramirez discovered her passion for working with students in a school setting after moving to the U.S. She received her Masters in Educational Psychology as well as her professional diploma in School Psychology from New Jersey City University, and she is currently pursuing her certification as a Behavioral Analyst (BCBA). Srta. Ramirez has worked in the field of psychology for over seven years,  providing educational, behavioral, and mental health services for children, families, and educators to create a supportive and safe learning environment for all students. She loves what she does! New to the HoLa community, Srta. Ramirez is eager to work with the school’s dedicated staff and students this year. Srta. Ramirez loves to spend quality time with her family; she also loves to talk, laugh and dance to any kind of music – but especially Latin music!

Isaac Ibarra
  • ES Facilities

Isaac joined HoLa in 2015 and has not looked back. No project is ever too small or too big for Mr. Ibarra as he loves applying his phenomenal skills in carpentry to the test! During the summer months Mr. Ibarra shines in wood work and paint projects. In his spare time, he enjoys drawing and enjoys all different types of music!

Adina Medina
  • Middle School Instructional Lead 

Mrs. Medina served as our Middle School ELA teacher for five years and has over fifteen years of classroom experience, in both high and middle school levels. She then shared her love of learning and literacy with our teachers when she served as our Middle School Instructional Coach and the 3rd/4th Grade Language Arts Coach. A graduate of Relay’s National Principal Academy Fellowship and of Rutgers’ School Supervisor Certification program, Mrs. Medina holds a BA from SUNY New Paltz in English Literature with a minor in Black Studies, as well as a Master’s degree from Seton Hall in Education with a focus on Curriculum Design. As she is finalizing additional graduate study to secure Principalship certification at Rutgers, Mrs. Medina is excited to partner with our school leadership team to further develop our students’ access to a bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural educational experience. Mrs. Medina loves all things book-related, but particularly classic fiction and sci/fi fantasy. She is also a low key comic book fanatic and she believes that life is better when there is a superhero present. A mother of two and one canine, Mrs. Medina is excited to return to HoLa as our Middle School Instructional Lead!

Vanessa Abrisqueta
  • Head of Student Support & Academic Success

Srta. Abrisqueta began her journey at HoLa as a Middle School Math and Science teacher. She then had the opportunity to serve the Middle School community as Dean of Students, and she credits her students with teaching her patience, kindness, and honesty. Through this role, Srta. Abrisqueta discovered her passion for ensuring that students receive an equitable and rigorous education, and she completed the Relay Graduate School of Education’s National Principal Academy Fellowship (NPAF) in order to bring that passion and dedication to our students and staff alike. She served as an advisor for the NPAF program after completing her own training there and recently served as HoLa’s K-8 Instructional Lead in order to share her expertise with our community and ensure that ALL students are given the opportunity and access to academic excellence. She has an academic background in Mathematics and Biology, and even married a mathematician, who is also an educator!

 

Jason Gonzalez
  • Coordinator of Student Support

Sr. Gonzalez steps into his new role as Coordinator of Student Support where he will focus on student development, basic skills, maintaining positive school culture, being an advocate for students and resource counselor. He will still be in the classroom teaching Financial Literacy for all 6th-8th graders. Sr. Gonzalez also assists in coordinating athletics and heads all basketball activities, as well as coaching the 7th/8th grade boys’ travel basketball team. Sr. Gonzalez is passionate about helping our students make and achieve positive goals in their lives, inside and outside of the classroom. Jason is also a talented athlete himself; he was a three year baseball letterwinner at Manhattanville College and coached High School baseball for 10 years.

Kate Santana
  • Math Coach 

Ms. Santana graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Business Administration, but entered the teaching profession right out of college through Teach For America.  She fell in love with math education and never looked back! She taught 6th-8th grade math in Brooklyn for 8 years, while also earning her Master’s in Secondary Math Education. She then moved to NJ where she began her coaching career at HoLa for 2.5 years. After taking two years away as the Dean of Curriculum and Instruction at a charter school in Newark, she was thrilled to return to HoLa last year as the Middle School Math Coach. Along with her husband and two daughters, she loves spending time outdoors, playing math games, reading, learning new things, and spending time with family and friends.

Carlos Cantillo
  • 5/6 English Language Arts

Sr. Cantillo earned his BA in English, as well as his BS in Secondary Education from Seton Hall University. This is Sr. Cantillo’s third year in his role as 5/6 Language Arts Specialist. His favorite type of literature is the Great American novel. As the son of two immigrants and a first generation American, he considers graduating college and pursuing his passion of teaching to be the greatest achievement of his life so far. In his free time, Carlos enjoys reading, writing, watching movies and television, and exercising. Ultimately, his mission is to unlock this same passion for his 5th and 6th graders so that they may have a strong foundation going into adolescence and adulthood. Sr. Cantillo is extremely excited to make this school year a success for all students!

Trini García-Villén
  • 5/6 Spanish Language Arts 

Srta. Garcia-Villén is from Jaen, Spain, which is located in Andalucía, in the Southern part of Spain. She has worked as a teacher and a translator in the USA for the last 15 years. She graduated from the University of Granada, Spain with a Bachelor’s degree in Teaching and Translation and a Master’s Degree in Linguistics and Translation. Srta. García-Villén joined the HoLa family when our school first opened its doors in 2010. Srta. García-Villén taught at the Elementary level for six years, in 1st and 2nd grade, and has been part of the Middle School team for the past four years. She is the mother of two children Isabella, who graduated as part of HoLa’s first 8th grade class and is now attending Northeastern University in Boston; and Noah, who just graduated HoLa this past year and is now a freshman at Xavier Highschool in NYC. In her free time, Srta. Garcia enjoys spending time with her family and friends and catching up with the last best thrillers on Netflix.

Sandra Romano-Lazo
  • 5/6 Social Studies 

Srta. Romano was born and raised in West New York, NJ and graduated from The College of New Jersey with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Secondary Education and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Special Education. This is her 8th year at HoLa. Srta. Romano is a self-proclaimed history nerd and is passionate about introducing students to new worlds and different perspectives. Her goal is to engage all students and ultimately bring out everyone’s inner historian. In her spare time, Srta. Romano loves reading, watching Marvel movies, and spending time with her family and friends.

Alejandra Levine
  • 5th/6th Grade Science

Srta. Levine was born and raised in Colombia. She is a geologist and loves science, especially the study of fossils and volcanoes. Srta. Levine joined HoLa in 2020 and is excited to be back this year! She is passionate about teaching and helping others and is thrilled to learn and discover new things in her position as 5th and 6th grade Science teacher this year!

 

César Volquez
  • 5th/6th Grade Math

Sr. Volquez earned his BA in Mathematics from New Jersey City University and his Masters of Arts in Teaching from RELAY Graduate School of Education. He has been an educator for over 12 years, teaching in a range of classrooms, from Elementary to College. Sr. Volquez was born in the Dominican Republic but lived the majority of his life in the great city of Newark, NJ. He is very excited about returning to HoLa for his Fifth year! In his free time, Sr. Volquez loves watching movies, working out, eating, watching sports, and spending time with his loved ones. Sr. Volquez believes that with patience, joy and encouragement, all students can excel in math.

Jessica Fernandez
  • 7/8 English Language Arts 

Srta. Fernandez is a first-generation Cuban-American from Hudson County who credits her mom for inspiring her love of learning, language, and appreciation of culture. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English degree from Montclair State University. Authors Shirley Jackson, Harper Lee, and George Orwell sparked her early interest in pursuing Literature and English Language studies. She hopes to instill a love of reading in her students through the various novels they will explore together during her third school year at HoLa. During her downtime, Srta. Fernandez enjoys reading, road trips, and all things nature and art-related.

Jeffrey Maccoux
  • 7/8 Spanish Language Arts 

From an early age Sr. Maccoux has had a passion for learning other languages, traveling and immersing himself in local cultures. Sr. Maccoux earned a BA in Spanish with a minor in German, but he has also studied French, Swedish, Walloon and some Japanese. He went on to earn a Master Level Certification in Bilingual Translation in Madrid where he has lived for extended periods during his adult life. Sr. Maccoux began his teaching career in Spain back in 2004 and has taught students from 1st grade through high school in Spain and the United States. He joined HoLa in 2015 as a 3rd grade teacher; this will be his third year at the Middle School. In his free time, Sr. Maccoux loves reading, swimming, traveling, Netflix binge-watching, and spending time with family and friends. He believes that rigorous learning should also be fun!

Nicole Carrasquillo
  • 7/8 Social Studies

Ms. Carrasquillo was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She earned a BA in Middle School Social Studies at the University of Puerto Rico. Has worked as a teacher in  Puerto Rico, Ohio and now she joins the great team at HOLA. She is passionate about helping others and working in the community. In her free time she enjoys being with her two dogs, working out and spending time with her family. Faithful believer in this motto ” Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Stephanie Aponte
  • 7th/8th Grade Science

Maestre (Mx.) Aponte (Elle/Elles/They/Them) was born in Jersey City to Peruvian parents. They studied plant science for their Bachelor of Science, and entomology in their graduate studies at Rutgers University. Throughout their career they advocated for educational resources in Spanish, social responsibility on a global impact, and helping people build connections to their environment. This includes, but not limited to, insects, spiders and plants. In their free time Mx. Aponte works at a diagnostic lab and spends time with loved ones. They’re working on American Society of Clinical Pathology Molecular Biologist Certification, and is a participant in HoLa’s Teacher Certification program. Their goal is that everyone enjoys science a little bit more after each interaction.

Lil Duarte
  • 7th/8th Grade Math

Srta. Duarte has a BA in Mathematics and an MA in Urban Education from NJCU. As a seasoned math teacher, Srta. Duarte brings a passion for immersion and critical thinking to the classroom. She strives to make math class fun and interactive. In her down time, Srta. Duarte loves relaxing on the beach and listening to the waves crash. She is also an accomplished Baton Twirler and has performed on a competitive level for over ten years. Srta. Duarte is excited to return for her 9th year at HoLa.

Jacqueline Abregú
  • Basic Skills Teacher

Srta. Abregú was born and raised in Perú. She graduated from Montclair State University with a Bachelor’s in Mathematics. She is working toward her NJ teaching certification. Srta. Abregú joined the HoLa family in early 2017. She has worked as an Apprentice Teacher for the past four years at Elementary school. This year, she is excited to join the Student Support and Academic Success team at Hola to support Middle schoolers to have a successful academic year. In her free time, Srta. Abregú enjoys watching movies, drawing, painting, and spending time with friends and family.

 

Ilena Mendez
  • Basic Skills

Srta. Mendez was born and raised in Cuba, where she graduated in 2002 from Orient University in Santiago de Cuba, with a Bachelor Degree in History. She has been working at Hola since January 2020, first as Instructional Aide and then as Apprentice Teacher. This year she is joining the Basic Skills Teacher Group at the Middle School to support students in their academic success. Prior to working at HoLa, she had 7 years work experience as TV producer, script writer and programming specialist. She also had a 6 years experience as a Pre-K Education Teacher. She is currently working toward her NJ teaching certification. In her free time she enjoys traveling, going to the beach and visiting family and friends.

Paulina Sainz
  • Spanish Language Resource Teacher

Srta. Sainz was born and raised in Mexico. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture, a Master in Education, a Professional Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and is currently pursuing her Professional Certificate in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language. This will be her 10th year teaching and her 2nd year at HoLa. She is very excited to serve this year as the Spanish Language Resource Teacher. Srta. Sainz looks forward to using her expertise as a native Spanish speaker to share her knowledge and love for Spanish, as a language, and cultural integration with her students. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her family and friends.

Steven Romero
  • STEM

Sr. Romero has worked with HoLa since its inception. After working at the school as part of an NJIT grant program for a year, he fell in love with the school, and this will be his 9th  year as a full-time teacher. During the school year, when he’s not teaching, you can find him coaching an Elementary Science Olympiad team, a Middle School Science Olympiad team and four CyberPatriot cybersecurity teams. Sr. Romero is a technology enthusiast who enjoys reading about and testing out the latest gadgets. He’s also a hardcore football fan and can be seen wearing his Giants gear on Fridays or Mondays. During the summer, whenever he’s not Netflixing or adjusting the STEM scope and sequence, he enjoys traveling and going “down the shore” to work on his tan.

Ana Ordoñez Retamar
  • Middle School P.E & Health

We are so pleased to officially welcome Srta. Ordoñez to the HoLa team this year! Srta. Ordoñez was born and raised in Madrid, Spain and later moved to New Jersey. She attended Manhattan College where she majored in Exercise Science and Physical Education and was a collegiate track and field sprinter. Srta. Ordoñez started her education career as a Physical Education and Health teacher in the Island of Turks and Caicos where she was able to motivate students through movement and sports. She cannot wait to do the same here at HoLa! Outside of anything sports related, she enjoys traveling and spending time with friends and family.

Alicia Alonso
  • Music Teacher

Srta. Alonso has been teaching at HoLa for nine years. She studied Music at the National School of Music in Havana, Cuba and received her Choral Conductor Certificate in 1989. In 2004, she moved to the United States, and attended Julliard School for a Masters Course in Choral Conducting. By 2010, in addition to her Bachelor’s degree, she had also completed majors in Spanish and Music in Performance. Since she has always loved school so much, she followed this up with a Masters of Music Performance in 2012. Her favorite thing about teaching is watching students come alive when they perform and sing in Spanish, because it combines both of her passions!

Alejandra Gaxiola
  • Art Teacher

Srta. Gaxiola serves as our Art teacher at both the Elementary and Middle School. She’s originally from Mexico City, where she studied Art History and Interior Design. When she moved to the United States back in 2003 she started working as a docent in Spanish for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2012, she was appointed as the Chairman of Spanish Docents. She’s currently an emeritus  volunteer at MoMA and has been volunteering there for more than 10 years. She joined HoLa in 2013 as an Artist in Residence and became the full-time Art teacher the following year. Once a year she hosts a student art show – HoLa MoMA – showcasing our homegrown talent. When she’s not inspiring our students to express their creativity, she loves cooking, traveling, and playing board games with her family.

Paola Ramirez
  • School Psychologist / Coordinator of Student Services 

Trained as a psychologist and child psychoneurologist in Colombia, Srta. Ramirez discovered her passion for working with students in a school setting after moving to the U.S. She received her Masters in Educational Psychology as well as her professional diploma in School Psychology from New Jersey City University, and she is currently pursuing her certification as a Behavioral Analyst (BCBA). Srta. Ramirez has worked in the field of psychology for over seven years,  providing educational, behavioral, and mental health services for children, families, and educators to create a supportive and safe learning environment for all students. She loves what she does! New to the HoLa community, Srta. Ramirez is eager to work with the school’s dedicated staff and students this year. Srta. Ramirez loves to spend quality time with her family; she also loves to talk, laugh and dance to any kind of music – but especially Latin music!

Fermin Duarte
  • MS Facilities

Hailing originally from Colombia, this is Sr. Duarte’s fourth year at HoLa. In addition to being a handyman extraordinaire, Sr. Duarte is an avid reader and his colleagues are very happy to be the regular beneficiaries of his amazing flancocho, arequipe, and other baked goods! He is also the proud padre of our two lovely Srtas. Duarte!