Ivy Abiona begins her first summer at The Children’s Academy in June, but she is no stranger to working with children. A professional basketball player who has made stops in Australia, Peru and Spain, the George Washington University graduate (BA 2010; MPH 2012) has worked in a variety of school and camp circumstances.
From 2014 - 15, Ivy was an Operations Assistant at Voice Charter School in Long Island City, where she worked closely with staff and parents on academic, athletic and enrichment programs for students. Prior to her time in Queens, from 2012 – 13 Ivy was the head coach for the St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School girls varsity basketball team. She also enjoyed a stint in 2015 as the head counselor for a youth basketball camp in Mildura, Australia where she worked with children ages 4 – 16.
A tireless worker whose success as a five-year player for the Colonial basketball team at GWU as well as on numerous professional basketball opportunities, is a by-product of a her passion for excellence. Ivy brings a can-do attitude to LIU Brooklyn this summer!
An American Red Cross certified Water Safety Instructor, for the past three years Hurshed Akbarov has taught swimming at LIU. As a competitive swimmer, Hurshed particularly enjoys assisting young swimmers who want to improve their strokes and ability.
Pursuing a degree in chemical engineering, Hurshed is disciplined in his fitness regimen, swimming every day to ensure that he demonstrates proper technique to his students.
Eli Brandwein (Product Design) is a Brooklyn-based illustrator and comic author. Recently graduated from Pratt Institute ('12), he is currently freelancing while working on his self-published comic Claws.
Noelia Brito (Product Design) is a Brooklyn-based illustrator and comic author. Recently graduated from Pratt Institute ('12), he is currently freelancing while working on his self-published comic Claws.
Juanita Cardenas is an aerial performer and instructor based in New York City. She has a BFA in fine arts from the Cooper Union and uses her training in visual arts to inform her circus performances. She has also choreographed and produced aerial student shows, performed in circus theater and cabaret shows and produced aerial showcases for her work as a fashion/ costume designer.
With ample experience in teaching young children both in the United States and Taiwan, Lu Chun Chiu (Chinese), originally from Taiwan, is a recent graduate of LIU Post with a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education. Lu Chun taught Kindergarten students in Taiwan, as well as working as a tenth grade teacher’s assistant.
In the U.S., Lu Chun completed 150 hours of early childhood classroom observations, with the majority of her observation hours and fieldwork taking place at the Big Chief School in East Meadow, NY, observing preschool and Kindergarten classes.
Teaching in both Taiwan and the United States has provided Lu Chun with a culturally diverse background that provides a unique perspective on teaching efficacy and an understanding of how best to help young children fulfill their potential.
Nicholas Cruz (BS, CSCS, PES, USAW) is a certified strength and conditioning coach with six years of experience working with various Division 1 collegiate athletic programs. While striving to prepare athletes to perform to the best of their abilities his main emphasis is injury prevention through performing exercises correctly and with proper technique.
Miles Gopie was born and raised in Brooklyn, so it only makes sense that he attended Brooklyn Technical High School where he first got a taste of technical design and engineering. Currently attending NYU-Poly, Miles is pursuing a bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering and is part of PolyBots robotics club. Having taught Lego robotics to college freshman as a teacher's assistance, Miles looks forward to teaching robotics at LIU this year!
Carlton Jones first saw capoeira in 2001 and was mesmerized by this expression of "dance fight." Training for over a year with Mestranda Edna Lima—four-time Pan-American Games Karate Champion—Carlton joined her school and studied the true art form and technique of capoeira.
In 2012, after training for 10 years with Abada-Capoeira, the world's largest capoeira organization, Carlton received his blue cord (graduado). In addition to teaching regular capoeira classes, Carlton offers a cardio adaptation Capoeira Workout and a series of Capoeira Workout Master Classes.
Christine Jones, a highly decorated track and field star as well as a recipient of bachelors and masters degrees in Exercise Science degrees while spending six years at LIU Brooklyn, will be back on campus to oversee the Blackbird Strength + Conditioning camp. Since graduating in 2013, Christine has been coordinator of cross-country, track and field athletes at Columbia Preparatory and Grammar School, as well as a fitness and nutrition instructor with fan4kids — a comprehensive Bronx-based program that introduces kids to a lifetime of healthy living — and select public schools in Brooklyn.
A two-time Northeast Conference (NEC) Track and Field Champion at LIU Brooklyn and four- year Division I track and field athlete, Christine brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our newest sports camp. Certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and as a Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES), she is also a certified by the American College of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer.
Patricia Kolakowski is currently working on her Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy, and continues to be strongly involved in her work as an aquatic instructor. Her background as a swimming and water aerobic instructor includes teaching experience with population of different ages (children, adults, seniors) and of different abilities. Patricia's current certifications include: Water Safety Instructor (WSI), Yoga Instructor, Lifeguard, First Aid, CPR & AED. Patricia believes that swimming should be taught in a thoughtful manner by using strategies that respond to the individual's needs and interests. She considers swimming as an important skill in life which learning should remain enjoyable and fun for the student.
Sue Macleod began her career as a graphic designer in Hong Kong where she worked for Time Inc. Asia. Following a move to New York City she became a senior designer at Workman Publishing where she continues to work freelance.
Pursuing a long-standing dream, Sue earned an advanced certificate in art and design education from Pratt Institute. Since then, she has enjoyed introducing budding young artists to the exciting world of graphic and package design.
Amanda Medina, currently an honors student in LIU Brooklyn’s music department, has lots of experience playing and teaching musical instruments. A drum teacher the past five yearsat Brooklyn’s Emmanuel Academy of Arts, Amanda teaches beginner, intermediate, and advanced snare and drum set techniques and rhythms to children ages 7 and up as well as adults.
A member of LIU Brooklyn’s Jazz Choir and the LIU Jazz Ensemble, in addition to playing drums Amanda plays piano and guitar.
Named to the 2013 Capital One Academic All-America Division I Softball First Team, Lauren Morizi — currently a doctoral candidate in physical therapy at LIU Brooklyn — will again take the diamond at LIU Field to assist the fledgling Blackbirds Baseball Camp.
While wearing LIU’s black and silver, Lauren was one of the more accomplished players in program history. Seventh in career batting average (.345), she is the program leader in doubles (52), seventh in walks (76) and on-base percentage (.432) and in 2013 banged out 71 hits — the second highest season total in Blackbird history.
Chetara Murphy (Swimming) has taught many different levels of swimming through the years, specializing in teaching toddler-swimming fundamentals. Ms. Murphy is trained in Water Safety, Lifeguard, First Aid, CPR and AED use, all attained through the American Red Cross. Since 2006, Ms. Murphy has served as Head Lifeguard at LIU Brooklyn.
John Pepaj has been swimming competitively for the past 10 years. A 2015 graduate of St. Francis Brooklyn, Pepaj was a member of the Terriers’ NCAA Division 1 men’s swimming & diving teams. The team swim captain the past two seasons, he is the school record holder in the 50 yard freestyle.
In addition to his competition in the US, Pepaj competed in the World Swimming Championship (Manchester 2008), FINA World Swimming Championship (Rome 2009) and European Swimming Championship (Istanbul 2009).
Karina Popp is a game developer, teacher, and researcher. She enjoys creating small, experimental games about humor, gender, and activism. Karina is currently an MFA candidate at the NYU Game Center.
Felicia Reynolds (Swimming) is an American Red Cross certified Water Safety Instructor and Lifeguard. Ms. Reynolds has been a lifeguard for eight years and a swimming instructor for the last four year. Felicia has taught all levels of swimming in both group and private settings and particularly enjoys classes involving toddlers. Before becoming Red Cross Water certified, Felicia spent her summers in her native New Jersey as a summer camp swim instructor and volunteering at local pools.
After a 13-year personal yoga and meditation practice at Sivananda Yoga NYC, Christina Rufin decided to become a certified yoga teacher and specialized in training to teach in-need communities with Jill Satterfield’s School for Compassionate Action for kids and people with chronic pain. Christina knows that yoga and meditation plant the seed towards finding wellness of body and mind and has now been teaching in yoga studios and to kids in after-school programs throughout NY, mixing the power of fun with the power of breath.
Janet V. Sabillon (Spanish) is a UPK teacher at a local preschool with a Master in Early Childhood Education who has been teaching for 12 years.
Of Puerto Rico and Honduras heritage, Janet’s parents taught her the importance of knowing her roots, culture and most of all their native language, Spanish. Janet believes that it’s crucial for children to understand different cultures and learn other languages.
While attending the University of New Hampshire, Sam Stage (Gymnastics) danced with the Northeastern Ballet Company and Great Bay Academy of Dance. After college he worked in L.A. as an actor alongside Danny Glover and as a photo and stunt double for Nickolaj Coster-Waldau, Paul Walker, and Elijah Wood.
With over fifteen years of experience unicycling and inline skating, for the last five years Sam has been performing on aerial silks, static trapeze and partner acrobatics as a member of Hoak & Stage.
Since the age of five Nik Vale has been obsessed with building a combat robot, inspired by the show Battle Bots. By his senior year of high school Nik had built several smaller robots along with a prototype of an oil separating rover that won him first prize and top honors in local science competitions. After creating LIU’s first Build Your Own robotics class, Nik reverse engineered the curriculum and developed a new type of affordable robotic kit. Now he’s back to teach students the basics of robotics using his kit and extensive knowledge of how it all works.
Joshua Vizzi (Design and Build) is a practicing architectural designer who has worked on buildings in New York, California, Seattle, Washington D.C, Europe, and Africa. Mr. Vizzi has designed and constructed sustainable housing for the U.S. Solar Decathlon and served as a jurist at the School of Visual Arts. Joshua graduated with a Bachelor’s of Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University.
Drew Walsh, a four-year starter for the LIU Brooklyn Division-I men's baseball team, is the Blackbirds’ career leader in assists and finished in the top three all-time in at-bats, hits, and games played. While earning a MS in Exercise Science, Drew was part of the LIU baseball coaching staff. He received awards in academic excellence for both his undergraduate and graduate studies.
Currently an instructor/coach for Brooklyn Baseball Association, Drew works with players 8 to 14 on all facets of the game including infield drills, speed and agility development. As an Under-Armour Baseball Factory Athlete Development/Baseball coach, he covers events throughout the East Coast.
A graduate of Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture and NC State University School of Design, Ian Gordon is a registered architect who has his own practice, e+i Studio, with his wife Eva Perez de Vega.
An instructor with Parsons School of Design and New York City College of Technology, this past summer he taught Design + Build in Session II of our day camp. Proficient in 3D modeling with Rhinoceros (Grasshopper + Rhinoscript), Maya, 3D Studio Max, AutoCAD, Sketch Up, Ian regularly teaches Rhino workshops to aspiring 3D modelers as well as practicing architects.
Jing Wang, a New York based independent filmmaker, is a cofounder of jZi Studio and an adjunct lecturer at Hunter College. Jing enjoys working as a director and producer of short films and documentaries. She is also a passionate, enthusiastic and creative teacher, who enjoys introducing children to the art of filmmaking.
A native of Anqing, China, Zao Zao Wang is a Chinese Literature major who has taught Chinese-English translation at New Oriental, one of China’s largest provider of private educational services.
A recent in masters degree graduate in Bilingual/Bicultural Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College, Zaozao has employed her knowledge of American and Chinese pedagogical concepts in teaching opportunities at select Manhattan schools including Avenues, PS 184 and PS 20.
Johnna Woods developed her passion for ceramics while attending Herron School of Art where she earned her BFA in sculpture and ceramics. After graduating, she worked as the studio and production manager for a ceramic studio in Brooklyn. Currently, Johnna is a ceramic studio assistant at LIU.
Carl Wright is an accomplished chess instructor with over 21 years of experience who has served as a coach, tournament director and independent consultant in charter and public school as well as in after school programs for general, special and bilingual populations of students.
Praised by parents and children alike, Mr. Wright’s methodical approach to teaching chess uses one piece at a time in mini commander games so children come to know not only the moves of each piece but the ideas and concepts they can use to play well in full games.
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