Teachers & Staff
TEACHERS & STAFF
Our Teachers are trained educators from all over the Spanish-speaking world. We recognize and celebrate their different accents and unique experiences. We consider this diversity an important strength of OWP. Our teachers and administrators not only foster but are also part of our community of learners.
Ambar Díaz Santiago was raised in Río Grande, Puerto Rico. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Elementary Education with a major in kindergarten to third grade and a minor in preschool.
Ambar says she was drawn to OWP not only because of its emphasis on Spanish immersion, but for its philosophy of encouraging children to help direct their own educations based on their interests and backgrounds. As her tenure at the school continues, she plans to create additional strategies for teaching Spanish through ludic and imaginative play.
“I love taking an active role in helping children develop their innate potential while they explore their surrounding environment.”
Ana Fernandez was born and raised in the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa. She came to the United States with her husband and four children 6 years ago.
Throughout her life, Ana has taken care of children of all ages. In her home country, Ana taught in public and private high schools. She also taught science laboratory and Spanish reading to first and third grades.
In 2016, she found One World Project and became a part of it. She loves working here because she knows that everyone is a learner.
“Seeing the children every day helps me learn how they learn naturally. I learn something new every day from everyone.”
Originally from Spain, Belén spent time in Mexico City and Chile before moving to New York City 14 years ago. Beyond fluency in Spanish, Belén translates from English into Spanish, and has experience in private tutoring. She studied the Arabic language and culture, leading to a degree in Arabic Philology.
Her wealth of experience, from educating her own three daughters, and knowledge of linguistics are evident as she creates a natural learning environment for children to acquire another language. She knows children learn best through play, and consistently engages learners in read-alouds, dramatic play and other child-centered activities.
“I love working with children who are learning a second language.”
Catalina has worked teaching adults and teenagers, both in Chile and Argentina, where she lived for 8 years. She taught philosophy and art theory in university settings, and also conducted long-term art workshops in private settings as well as arts institutions. Working with that range people and topics has helped prepare her for the flexibility and creativity required in teaching children.
More recently, she co-founded a story-time for children at the Lesbian Herstory Archives that focused on sharing stories around difference, social justice, and gender expression
“Teaching has always been part of my practice, I really like to observe the learning process of children and learn from them. I like it because every day is different with children, and they connect to the present, as well as the more playful and creative aspects of ourselves.”
Christy Gomez, a native of Flushing, Queens, worked as a student-teacher in P.S. 189 Cypress Hills Community School before joining One World Project. While at P.S. 189, she taught fifth-grade bilingual students, as well as students with limited English fluency, and at OWP she continues to enjoy the challenge of tailoring lessons and activities to accommodate all types of learners.
She enjoys visiting places she’s never been and learning about other cultures and traditions. Her favorite thing about One World Project, she says, is its sense of community and the lasting friendships she has built with coworkers and families.
Cinthia Lucena was born in Acapulco, Mexico, and moved with her family to Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood when she was 7. Placed in an ESL class with other non-English speaking students, she was inspired by the example set by her teachers. “They made me feel safe and confident,” she says, “and taught me to challenge myself by making mistakes. I still thank them for all the hard work they made me do.”
As a teenager, Cinthia discovered her love of working with children through babysitting and summer-camp counseling jobs. She joined One World Project in 2013. She continues to pursue her professional development, with the goal of learning more about educating children with special needs.
“I love One World because all of the staff share a mutual feeling of care and respect for all children,” she says. “To see my students build their own confidence and skills and form the closest of connections with each other is one of the best feelings you can get as a teacher.”
Claudia was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. She moved to the United States at the age of 12 where she had to quickly integrate to the language and culture of the US. She understands the importance of being a bilingual individual in today’s world and she is aware that each student has a different and unique learning approach. She finds enjoyment in catering to each student’s strength to make their learning a fun and positive experience!
Claudia has always enjoyed spending time with children. Her love for pre-school aged children solidified after working with the education department at Enable CNY, where she worked closely with pre-school children with physical and/or developmental disabilities as part of her psychology internship.
She is currently pursuing her doctorate in physical therapy and hopes to continue to work closely with children in their early developmental stages.
Originally from northern Spain, Elvira moved to NYC in 1992 to further her education as a graphic designer.
After her son Felix was born in 2012, she became immediately interested in all aspects of child development, and discovered her affinity with kids. After hosting a weekly Spanish-speaking play group at her home, volunteering in the toddler program at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and experiencing the OW community as a parent, she decided to become a teacher. She worked as a substitute teacher at Maple Street School before joining the OWP’s teacher training program.
Elvira loves learning alongside her students and values OWP’s emphasis on fostering multiculturalism.
Gissela Arteaga grew up in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. A former nanny, she has taught at One World Project since 2015, following in the footsteps of her mother, who taught children for 30 years.
“I feel like part of a family at OWP,” she says. “Every day, I learn something new with the children.” An enthusiastic cook and craftsperson, she especially enjoys opportunities to cook and work on creative projects alongside the students. “It’s endless, what you can learn with them.”
Isabel was born near Paris, France, from two Spanish parents. Both of her parents emigrated from Spain to France and has lived between those countries until she finally moved to New York.
I love children and I love to watch them eager to learn, their natural curiosity, how they can still get surprised and amazed discovering new things.
Joanne Derwin, is a mother of two bilingual children and an experienced nonprofit manager, educator, and social justice advocate. Before initiating One World, Joanne worked at the Alliance for a Greater New York and Urban Agenda, organizations aimed at building a thriving, green, and just New York. Previously, Joanne worked at the Ford Foundation and helped manage three grantmaking initiatives with a combined annual budget of $12 million. Joanne has also done research for Partners of the Americas and the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership in Washington D.C. and spent two years working as an English teacher in Alicante and Barcelona, Spain. She is a graduate in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder and holds a Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University.
Karla was born and raised in a small town in Ecuador until the age of 7. At the age of 8 she had the opportunity to once again be reunited with her mother. Since then, Sunset Park has become her hometown and the place she calls home. From a very young age she became interested in working with children, which eventually led her to obtaining a Bachelor's degree in Psychology at the College of Staten Island (CUNY). While pursuing her interest of working with children, she began her journey as a teacher assistant serving the community in East Harlem, for roughly three years.
Becoming part of the One World Project family in 2017, allowed her to continue to pursue her passion of working with children and instruct them in her native language. Karla is currently pursuing a Masters degree in School Psychology at Long Island University (LIU), and hopes to continue to foster a transformative, welcoming and caring community of learners.
Maria Rivera grew up in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and has a Master of Science in General Education and Special Education from Touro College and more than 15 years of classroom experience. In her classroom at One World Project, she takes an individualized approach to accommodate every child’s learning style, and to better teach the language and culture of Spanish and Latin cultures to non-Spanish-speaking children.
Maria decided to work at OWP for its supportive and welcoming community of parents, fellow teachers and administrators and staff, and for the opportunity to work with young children. She says that the children “continually amaze me. I truly love being an educator and having the opportunity to be a part of their lives. My hope is to always instill in all of my children a love of learning.”
Marta Prudencio grew up in Badajoz, a city in Spain’s southwestern Extremadura region, and holds a Bachelor's Degree in teaching from Universidad de Extremadura and a Masters in Bilingual Education from The International University of La Rioja. She also studied an Art and Culture Program at the University of Bali. Prior to joining One World Project, she volunteered for a number of teaching jobs in New York for four years.
As a teacher, Marta prioritizes cultural understanding, building friendships and community, and responsible stewardship of the environment. An active painter and craftsperson in her spare time, she brings her love of the arts to the classroom, encouraging children to freely explore their creative impulses.
“I believe art is a great way to engage students in the class, they are having so much fun, and then is when learning happens”
Michelle Morales was born and raised in New York City, but spent her childhood summers—and two years of her adolescence—in her other “hometown” of Barranquilla, Colombia.
Michelle holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from New York University, and is currently pursuing her Master’s in early childhood education at Hunter College. An avid gardener in her spare time, she helped lead the establishment and upkeep of the landscaping and garden at One World Project, the continued care of which is now a favorite part of every class’s curriculum and activities.
She credits her degree in psychology with recognizing the importance of social-emotional learning in the classroom, while her current studies elucidate the importance of meaningful interactions for learning. “Teaching found me,” she says. “Being a Spanish speaker gave me this opportunity, and the joy and excitement of learning alongside the children keeps me going.”
Michele Ponce is from Guayaquil, Ecuador. Having been raised in Ecuador and educated in Argentina, she has grown to appreciate being immersed in diverse experiences from a personal and professional setting. She originally began her career in journalism in Argentina, which taught her the value of communicating effectively to enhance the lives of others. She decided to pursue education because she am passionate about teaching and it is her goal to improve the lives of her students and their communities.
As a graduate of Instituto Cervantes in Teaching Spanish as a Second Language, OWP emphasizes its unique position as a school that caters to students of all backgrounds.
I look forward to learning new strategies and methods to be able to effectively reach out and teach students.
One World Project’s founding Spanish teacher, Mónica Paillet Zurdo, came to the school with more than a decade of early-childhood teaching experience, and has taken the lead in shaping its pioneering play-based language-acquisition curriculum, as well as its overall pedagogical philosophy. She now serves as the school’s preschool director.
Mónica holds a master’s degree in educational psychology and a bachelor’s degree in education, both from the University of Valladolid, Spain, as well as extensive training in intercultural education. Her work history includes positions as an early-childhood speech therapist, a kindergarten teacher, and a teacher and academic director for the Centro Educativo en Español de Nueva York (CENY), A Spanish government-supported center offering language-immersion program.
“A better world requires better education,” she says. “I believe in the transformative value of school.”
Noemí was born in Spain, Andalusia, and raised in Almeria. Most of her background is in music, voice, and piano. She has a Bachelor’s degree in piano and voice from the Conservatory of Almeria and Cordoba, a Masters degree in “Expert in Vocal Pathology” by University of Alcala de Henares Madrid, Spain and a Doctorate in Music and Visual Arts by the University of Cordoba(Spain). She has also been a conductor of many choirs in Spain (classical music and gospel) and also in NY (Redes USA).
She says “I never choose to be a teacher, I just love to share knowledge and hopefully my knowledge can help others…that’s why I started to teach.”
Raquel is from Granada, in southern Spain. She discovered her passion for teaching early in high school when she started tutoring math, science and studying skills.
Later she received a Master's Degree in Psychology and worked in a hospital psychiatry department assisting researchers, psychiatrists and psychologists before moving to NYC.
“I was lucky to discover OWP after moving to NYC - one of the rare places sharing many of my principles and values, encouraging children to be themselves, and requiring us to do our part with empathy and assertively.”
Rebeca Martín is from Madrid, Spain, and holds a degree in education from Complutense University of Madrid. She grew up wanting to be a teacher, working as a babysitter and at summer camps, and she has worked in early childhood education for nearly 10 years.
Martín says what attracted her to One World Project was its principle of giving children the freedom to navigate their own learning process, and the incorporation of nature exploration and outdoor activity into the curriculum. In her free time, she likes to connect with nature—hiking and visiting parks and nearby beaches.
“I love my job and it brings much happiness to my life,” she says.
A child of a U.S. military member, Ruth Castillo lived in Maryland and Panama before her family eventually settled in a small town outside of Corpus Christi, Texas. She holds a Bachelors degree from Texas A&M University and a Masters degree from Middlebury Institute of International Studies. She has taught and worked in schools in the U.S. and abroad, including time spent as a teacher-trainer in Haiti and Mexico.
As an educator, Ruth takes particular interest in children’s social-emotional development, and says she especially values the ways OWP parents and teachers contribute their individual talents and passions to create an ever-changing, well-rounded curriculum. As an avid runner, hiker and salsa dancer, she passes on her love of physical activity to the students.
“I love people, especially kids,” she says. “Each one of us has a story to tell, and that story is what I want to be a part of.”
After working in Fashion, Finance and Marketing around the world in Spain, England and Germany, Silvia moved to Brooklyn with her family of four and found a job at One World Project. In her role as Director of Finance, Silvia manages the organizational budget, and she is a liaison between parents and the school.
“I love the environment at One World Project,” says Silvia. “I know everyone in our great community of families, which is very strong—we all support each other.” Silvia herself speaks three languages (Spanish, English and German) and she learned her second and third languages as an adult, which has its challenges. “I have to translate in my head and concentrate to speak in another language,” she says, adding that she is a huge proponent of OWP’s immersion program. “For children this age, there is no effort to learn to speak, it comes so naturally. These kids are not just learning language, they are opening up to global culture—they see the world differently because of this school.”