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). 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. She is passionate about social justice, and loves art, music, and adventures big and small.

Vanessa Abrisqueta
  • K-8 Instructional Lead

Srta. Abrisqueta began her journey at HoLa six years ago 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. She has an academic background in Mathematics and Biology, and even married a mathematician, who is also an educator!

 

Adina Medina
  • Middle School Instructional Lead

Instructional Lead Ms. Medina holds a BA from SUNY New Paltz in English Literature as well as a Master’s degree from Seton Hall in Education with a focus on curriculum design. 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 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!

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 the Treasurer of the PTO in the Saddle Brook school district. Summer is her favorite season, when she loves to relax at the beach or poolside amongst friends

Digna Moreira
  • Operations Manager

Digna has a Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers University and has been working in the operations management field for fifteen years. She currently holds a Professional Certificate in Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration from Rutgers Business School. 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
  • Chief Technology Officer

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 backwards to best effect. 

Joseph Spano
  • Director of Student Services

 Mr. Spano brings decades of experience as a teacher, Principal, Director of Special Education, and Learning Specialist to his current role at HoLa, where he has been leading the Resource team since 2013. His certifications include Supervisor / Principal, Secondary Social Studies, and Teacher of the Handicapped, as well as Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant (LDTC). Born and raised in Hoboken, Mr. Spano is an avid tennis player and skier, and he makes an incredible marinara sauce, which he loves to share with his colleagues at HoLa! 

Julie Duarte
  • Middle School Executive Assistant

Julie started her journey with HoLa six 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.

Jocelyn Padilla
  • Elementary Executive Assistant 

Jocelyn is pleased to have joined the HoLa family this year! 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. 

Vanessa Abrisqueta
  • K-8 Instructional Lead

Srta. Abrisqueta began her journey at HoLa six years ago 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. She has an academic background in Mathematics and Biology, and even married a mathematician, who is also an educator!

 

Nissa Gainty
  • K-2 Instructional Coach 

Srta. Gainty has a BA in Spanish and Music from Bates College and a Master’s of Education from Bridgewater State University.  She has just returned to the United States after sixteen years of living abroad in Ecuador, where she taught English and held positions as English Department Coordinator, Principal of Academic Affairs, and Head of Teacher Training.  She has returned to the United States in order to expand and experience global citizenship and bilingual education from a more international perspective.  This is her first year at HoLa

Brigitte Garcia
  • KA Lead Teacher

Srta. Garcia holds a BA from Boston College in Elementary Education and French. This will be her tenth year in HoLa, and her sixth year teaching kindergarten. When not in the classroom, she loves exploring New York City, getting cozy with a good book, or going for a hike.

Karen Gomez
  • KA Apprentice Teacher 

Srta. Gomez loves new experiences and is excited for new adventures at HoLa. She loves singing and spending quality time with her family. She also has 13 years of teaching experience in Honduras, where she was born and raised, and 10 years in the USA.

Nina Thurau
  • KB Lead Teacher 

Srta. Thurau is originally from Brooklyn, NY. She received her M.S. Ed in Elementary Education  from Hunter College and went on to teach in public, private and charter schools in New York before moving to Spain where she spent five years teaching English. She is  thrilled to be joining the HoLa family for the first time this year. Srta. Thurau loves all things related to nature, books, tea and chocolate.

Annallansy Soler
  • KB Apprentice Teacher

Srta. Soler is from Cuba. She is married with two children. She was a teacher for 24 years in her home country and is excited to start her second year at HoLa.

 

Sharon Gomez
  • 1A Lead Teacher

Srta. Gómez was born and raised in Santo Domingo, República Dominicana. She attended St. George School, a British international school with a rigorous bilingual program. She has worked as a teacher and a private tutor in the USA for the last 10 years. She graduated from INTEC, Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo, with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and from UASD, Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, with a Master’s Degree in Bilingual Education. Srta. Gómez  joined the HoLa family in 2012 as a Kindergarten Lead Teacher, she went on to teach 2nd grade for three years, and she currently teaches 1st grade. She is the mother of two high school daughters, both of whom attended HoLa. 

Jacqueline Abregú
  • 1A Apprentice 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 and eventually her Master’s in Education. Srta. Abregú joined the HoLa family in early 2017; this is her second year as an Apprentice Teacher in 1st grade. In her free time, Srta. Abregú enjoys watching movies, drawing, painting, and spending time with friends and family.

 

Aroa Gonzalez
  • 1B Lead Teacher 

Srta. González was born and raised in Spain. She graduated from Complutense Madrid University with a Bachelor’s in Elementary and Physical Education. She holds special certification in kindergarten, as well as a Master’s Degree in Performing Arts.  Srta. González is an experienced Kindergarten and Elementary educator; she had been teaching in Spain for 16 years, and she has participated in different intercultural exchange programs, such as one year in Houston, Texas, and the Erasmus Plus Program in Denmark. She loves teaching, reading and dancing.  This is her first year at HoLa.

Katherine Valderrama
  • 1B Apprentice Teacher 

Srta. Valderrama earned her Masters in Early Childhood Education at Hunter College. She is a Responsive Classroom and Finnish Education enthusiast and hearts all things crafty, spending time with her children and watching tv dramas.

Sue-Ellen Castillo
  • 2A Lead Teacher

Srta. Castillo was born and raised in Hoboken. She has been teaching at HoLa since 2017. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Montclair State University. In her spare time, Srta. Castillo enjoys singing, and going on roller coasters with her family.

Janelle Gratale
  • 2B Lead Teacher

Srta. Gratale was born and raised in Miami, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Exceptional Student Education and began teaching in 2010. She has two beautiful children and resides in Hoboken. She has been in HoLa since early 2018. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family and baking.

Viviana Ludena
  • 2nd Grade Apprentice Teacher

Srta. Ludena is native to Ecuador and Chile. She came to the U.S. and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Art and Psychology. In her spare time she enjoys traveling the world and serving others in her community.

Elimey Rodriguez
  • 3rd Grade Lead Teacher

This is Srta. Rodriguez’ 7th year in HoLa, and her second as the Third Grade teacher on the Spanish side. It is her pleasure to share her knowledge and passion of the Spanish language, and prepare students to be Global Citizens by using bilingualism as their super power! In her free time, she loves to watch movies in Spanish and enjoy time with friends and family.

Sheila Linares
  • 3rd Grade Lead Teacher

This is Srta. Linares’ 4th year as the Third Grade teacher on the English side. One of her favorite things about 3rd 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.

Gabriella Rodriguez
  • 3rd Grade Apprentice Teacher 

Srta. Gabriella was born and raised in Hoboken. This is Srta. Gabriella’s first year teaching at HoLa and is entering her third year of working in education. Besides being an Apprentice teacher, she is also the lead Social Studies teacher for Third Grade. Srta. Gabriella graduated from New Jersey City University’s Honors College with a BA in English and Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies minor. She is passionate about Social Studies, and is excited to share this love of history with her students. She believes this will enable students to expand their influence beyond HoLa’s doors as global citizens. In her free time, Srta. Gabriella enjoys writing poetry, practicing yoga, and spending time with family and friends.

Sergio Villa-Real
  • 4th Grade lead Teacher 

Sr. Villa-Real was born in Madrid, Spain. He studied physical education and teaching at Politecnica University and CJCU in Madrid. He has lived his whole life in Madrid, except for a year spent teaching in Houston, Texas three years ago. This will be his 22nd year as a teacher! Until now he has been teaching at a bilingual school in Madrid. He loves his job, as well as coaching basketball and volleyball teams. He and his wife have come together to teach at HoLa (she is the First Grade Lead teacher!). They have come to HoLa full of excitement to share their love and passion for learning and the Spanish language!

Elisabeth Herrera-Strand
  • 4th Grade Lead Teacher

Srta. Strand was born in San Jose, California, where her family still lives. She studied Psychology and Spanish at Loyola Marymount University, and received her bilingual teaching license and Masters in Teaching at The University of San Francisco. She has lived in Hoboken for 11 years with her husband, and is happy to call this town home.  She previously taught in a bilingual class in the Bronx, and has been teaching math for AlphaMinds since her daughter was born 5 years ago. She loves yoga, going to the gym, learning new languages, reading, and dancing with her 2 children. She is excited to jump into this year of learning, and to share her commitment to bilingual education!

Yrays Cardenas
  • Elementary Special Education / Resource Teacher

Srta. Cardenas has been part of the HoLa community for 3 years, fulfilling multiple roles. Srta. Cardenas is currently in her  2nd year as the Elementary School Special Education Teacher, and she is working toward her dual MA 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.

Alicia Alonso
  • Music Teacher

Srta. Alonso has been teaching at HoLa for eight 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 is originally from Mexico City, where she studied Art History and Interior Design. When she moved to the U.S. in 2003 she began working as a docent in Spanish for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2012, she was appointed as the Chairman of Spanish Docents. She is currently an emeritus volunteer at MoMA and has been volunteering there for more than 10 years. Srta. Gaxiola joined HoLa in 2013 as an Artist in Residence and became the full-time Art teacher the following year! She is passionate about teaching at HoLa because she has the opportunity to share her language and culture with all of her students! When she is not inspiring our students to express themselves and create, she loves cooking, traveling, and playing board games with her family.

Sabrina Campagnola-Vargas
  • Physical Education Teacher

New to HoLa this year, Srta. Campagnola is our Health and Physical Education Teacher for the Elementary School, as well as 6th grade. She graduated from Kean University where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Physical Education. She has taught for over 10 years from elementary to high school level. She was born and raised in Argentina, where she developed a tremendous love for sports since an early age. She played Rink Hockey for the Buenos Aires National Team in Argentina, then later played for the Women’s Lacrosse Team at Kean University. Srta. Campagnola is mother of two beautiful children, and she loves traveling and spending time with family and friends. 

Joseph Spano
  • Director of Student Services

 Mr. Spano brings decades of experience as a teacher, Principal, Director of Special Education, and Learning Specialist to his current role at HoLa, where he has been leading the Resource team since 2013. His certifications include Supervisor / Principal, Secondary Social Studies, and Teacher of the Handicapped, as well as Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant (LDTC). Born and raised in Hoboken, Mr. Spano is an avid tennis player and skier, and he makes an incredible marinara sauce, which he loves to share with his colleagues at HoLa! 

Paola Ramirez
  • School Psychologist

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!

Vanessa Abrisqueta
  • K-8 Instructional Lead

Srta. Abrisqueta began her journey at HoLa six years ago 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. She has an academic background in Mathematics and Biology, and even married a mathematician, who is also an educator!

 

Adina Medina
  • Middle School Instructional Lead

Instructional Lead Ms. Medina holds a BA from SUNY New Paltz in English Literature as well as a Master’s degree from Seton Hall in Education with a focus on curriculum design. 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 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!

Kate Santana
  • Middle School 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’s incredibly excited to be back at HoLa as the Middle School Math Coach. Along with her husband and daughter, she loves traveling and seeing the world. She’s a huge fan of math games, reading, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends.

Jason Gonzalez
  • Middle School Dean of Students
  • Middle School Physical Education and Health Teacher

Sr. Gonzalez continues this year in his hybrid role of Dean of Students and Middle School Physical Education Teacher, as well as the 7th/8th grade basketball coach. Sr. Gonzalez is passionate about helping our students make and achieve positive goals in their lives. When he’s not leading our students in the gym, you can find him inspiring them in the classrooms and hallways, in any way possible. Jason is also a talented athlete himself; he was a three year baseball letterwinner at Manhattanville College and continues to work as a baseball coach specializing in player development at all levels. 

Carlos Cantillo
  • 5th & 6th Grade English Language Arts

Sr. Cantillo earned his BA in English, as well as his BS in Secondary Education from Seton Hall University. His favorite type of literature is the Great American novel. Carlos was born and raised in New Jersey, but his mother and father grew up in Cartagena, Colombia. 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. Carlos has two younger sisters and two dogs, making for an exciting home life. In his free time, Carlos enjoys reading, writing, watching movies and television, and exercising. Ever since childhood, Carlos has loved reading and writing. One of his mother’s favorite stories from his childhood is about how he would carry a notebook and a pencil everywhere, from school to the supermarket to the bathroom. 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!

Trinidad García-Villen
  • 5th & 6th Grade Teacher
  • 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 three years. She is the mother of two children, Isabella, who graduated as part of HoLa’s first 8th grade class, and Noah, who is currently in 7th grade at HoLa. 

Sandra Romano-Lazo
  • 5th & 6th Grade Social Studies Teacher

Srta. Romano graduated from The College of New Jersey in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Secondary Education. This is her 6th year at HoLa. She is a self-proclaimed history nerd and is passionate about the study of American history and ancient civilizations. She loves reading, café con leche, and traveling, and is a diehard Red Bulls fan! 

Gisselle Pascal
  • 5th & 6th Grade Science Teacher

Srta. Pascal hails from the Dominican Republic, and has been with HoLa for six years in various teaching capacities. She began her career as a doctor in medicine, but fell in love with teaching. She went back to school for her Masters in Teaching, and this will be her 12th year in the classroom. She is excited to continue with the Middle School team, and is looking forward to a wonderful 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 10 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 third year! Sr. Volquez believes that with patience and encouragement, all students can excel in math.

Kathryn Lobo
  • 5th and 6th Grade Special Education / Resource Teacher

Ms. Lobo is joining our team as a Middle School Special Education Teacher. She graduated from Rutgers University with her Masters in Special Education (K-12) and Elementary Education, and a Bachelors in Psychology. This is her first year at HoLa and after working in Bogota, Colombia for the last two years, Srta. Lobo is extremely excited to begin her journey with the Middle School students and staff. Outside of the classroom, Ms. Lobo enjoys running, traveling, and dancing!

Francesca Fuertes Ortiz
  • 5/6 Special Education / Resource Teacher

Sra. Ortiz is starting her first year at HoLa working as a Middle School Special Education Teacher. Sra. Ortiz graduated from Loyola University Maryland with a degree in Marketing and Spanish, and continued her education at Notre Dame of Maryland University to earn a Masters Degree in teaching Spanish and Special Education. She taught in Baltimore County for one year before moving to New Jersey. Sra. Ortiz is excited to be at HoLa this year, and is looking forward to working with the 5th & 6th graders in the math classroom. Sra. Ortiz and her husband enjoy exploring the Hoboken area, as well as traveling to visit friends around the country.

Jessica Fernandez
  •  7/8 English Language Arts

Srta. Fernandez is very excited to begin her first year at HoLa! She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Montclair State University in 2011. A life-long resident of Hudson County, NJ, Jessica’s parents immigrated from Cuba and have inspired her love of learning and appreciation of culture. Jessica credits authors Shirley Jackson and Harper Lee with sparking her interest in Literature and English studies. During her downtime, Jessica enjoys reading, road trips, all things art-related, and spending quality time with her cats, Luna and Lucy.

Jeffrey Maccoux
  • 7th & 8th Grade Spanish Language Arts Teacher

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 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 second year at the Middle School. In his free time, Sr. Maccoux loves reading, swimming, Netflix binge-watching, and spending time with family and friends. He believes that rigorous learning should also be fun!

Miriam Net
  • 7th & 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher

Srta. Net is excited to return to HoLa for her second year. She 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. She has since taught elementary grades for eight years as a bilingual special education teacher 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 and spending time with her husband and two-year-old daughter.

Jesus Valls-Ruano
  • 7th and 8th Grade Science Teacher

Sr. Valls joins HoLa as part of our new Visiting Teacher Program, in partnership with the Education Office of the Spanish Embassy. Señor Valls is originally a professionally trained engineer from Barcelona, who discovered his love of teaching and changed careers to education. He now has over 14 years of teaching experience across a range of subjects and grades. He has also coached Robotics teams and worked to cultivate a love of all things STEM among his students. He is thrilled to be joining the HoLa team!

Lil Duarte
  • 7th & 8th Grade Math Teacher

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 7th year at HoLa.

Leslie Baez
  • 7th and 8th Grade Special Education / Resource Teacher

Srta. Baez is starting her 2nd year at HoLa working as a Middle School Special Education Teacher, and her 7th year teaching. Srta. Baez received her BA in History and English from Rutgers University-Newark and is wrapping up her dual MA in Early Childhood and Special Education from Montclair State University. She began her career in world language textbooks at Wiley, right here in Hoboken, before deciding to pursue her passion in teaching. Born and raised in Jersey City, Srta. Baez loves exploring all the new restaurants and stores that have opened locally.

Filmar Cruz
  • 7th and 8th Grade Basic Skills / Resource Teacher

Sr. Cruz has been a part of HoLa since its inaugural year, in 2010, as an intern from Rutgers University-Newark. He holds a Bachelor of Arts with multiple concentrations in Mathematics, Spanish Language and Literature, and English Literature. Throughout his years at HoLa, Sr. Cruz has fulfilled multiple roles and continues to be fearlessly committed to HoLa’s mission.

Steven Romero
  • STEM Teacher

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 7th 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.

Alicia Alonso
  • Music Teacher

Srta. Alonso has been teaching at HoLa for eight 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 is originally from Mexico City, where she studied Art History and Interior Design. When she moved to the U.S. in 2003 she began working as a docent in Spanish for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2012, she was appointed as the Chairman of Spanish Docents. She is currently an emeritus volunteer at MoMA and has been volunteering there for more than 10 years. Srta. Gaxiola joined HoLa in 2013 as an Artist in Residence and became the full-time Art teacher the following year! She is passionate about teaching at HoLa because she has the opportunity to share her language and culture with all of her students! When she is not inspiring our students to express themselves and create, she loves cooking, traveling, and playing board games with her family.

Sabrina Campagnola-Vargas
  • Physical Education Teacher

New to HoLa this year, Srta. Campagnola is our Health and Physical Education Teacher for the Elementary School, as well as 6th grade. She graduated from Kean University where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Physical Education. She has taught for over 10 years from elementary to high school level. She was born and raised in Argentina, where she developed a tremendous love for sports since an early age. She played Rink Hockey for the Buenos Aires National Team in Argentina, then later played for the Women’s Lacrosse Team at Kean University. Srta. Campagnola is mother of two beautiful children, and she loves traveling and spending time with family and friends. 

Joseph Spano
  • Director of Student Services

 Mr. Spano brings decades of experience as a teacher, Principal, Director of Special Education, and Learning Specialist to his current role at HoLa, where he has been leading the Resource team since 2013. His certifications include Supervisor / Principal, Secondary Social Studies, and Teacher of the Handicapped, as well as Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant (LDTC). Born and raised in Hoboken, Mr. Spano is an avid tennis player and skier, and he makes an incredible marinara sauce, which he loves to share with his colleagues at HoLa! 

Paola Ramirez
  • School Psychologist

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!

Michelle Cayetano
  • Middle School Nurse

Srta. Cayetano is thrilled to return to HoLa for her second year. She has over three years of experience in the nursing field in areas such as pediatrics, medical-surgical medicine, and family medicine. In addition to being a school nurse, Michelle is currently a nurse at Jersey City Medical Center. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree from Seton Hall University in 2016 and recently returned for her Master’s degree from Vanderbilt University to become a family nurse 

practitioner. Michelle has traveled to Ecuador as an RN to assist nursing staff in caring for sick and disabled children and to learn more about the Ecuadorian culture related to the profession. During the summer, Michelle enjoys spending time with her family down the shore, and reading plenty of good books!

Fermin Duarte
  • Middle School Facilities/Maintenance

Hailing originally from Colombia, this is Sr. Duarte’s third 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!