About Our Staff
Ms. Kira graduated from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. A life-long soccer player, her love of sports lead to working with youth during college. After college, Kira served with Americorps as part of the City Year program in Cleveland, Ohio, serving at-risk youth in a low-performing elementary school. Kira’s experience with AmeriCorps led her to pursue a career in early childhood special education, and she earned her master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education from The George Washington University in Washington DC. Prior to joining the School District of Philadelphia, Kira taught Pre-K – 2nd grade special education and Pre-K4 inclusion for 5 years in the District of Columbia Public Schools. She also has experience working in Preschool Autism Inclusion classrooms as part of her master’s work. Kira loves sports and physical activity, baking, bullet journaling and volunteering with youth programs such as Girls on the Run.
Miss Morris is a devoted Pre-K Head Start teacher at Jackson Elementary School and has been part of our family for the past 11 years. In addition to her tenure in this program she has worked as a teacher in the Philadelphia School District for the past 24 years. She currently hold a Master’s Degree in Education from Cabrini College, as well as a BA from Temple University, graduating with a dual certification in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Miss Morris sets high expectations for herself, her students, and her peers. She understands the need for teachers to take on various roles within the community to create a positive school culture and to meet the diverse needs of her students. Her love and dedication to her profession show in the success of her children! In her free time she enjoys spending time with her daughter and her dog as well as viewing independent films and immersing herself in the rich cultural activities Philly has to offer!
Mr. Malara is a kindergarten teacher and began his teaching career at Christopher Columbus Charter School 12 years ago. During that time, he taught 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades. For the past 7 years, he has been with the School District of Philadelphia, teaching kindergarten at Andrew Jackson for the past 6 years. Living and teaching in the same neighborhood has been a wonderful experience!
Ms. Santo has been a teacher for seven years and with the School District of Philadelphia at Andrew Jackson for six of those seven years. Ms. Santo has a Master’s degree in education from Temple University and is certified in multiple areas including secondary education. In addition to being a kindergarten teacher at Jackson, Ms. Santo has been running the after-school robotics club with Mr. Kuhn for the last five years. Outside of school, Ms. Santo enjoys riding her bike, watching Jeopardy, playing Yahtzee, and spending time with her cat Pablo and dog Daisy.
Mrs. Galdo is a kindergarten teacher at Jackson school. Mrs. Galdo completed her Master’s of reading specialist this summer and graduated from Temple University. Mrs. Galdo has two daughters, Livia and Vida. She loves reading, teaching and Starbucks.
Ms. Pena has been teaching in the School District of Philadelphia for 17 years. She has been teaching 1st grade at Jackson for the last 10 years. She has a PA Certification in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She has a BS in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and a MS in Education Leadership/Curriculum Supervisor. She is the PFT representative and the Book Trust Manager for our school. She is currently enrolled in a program to obtain her ESL Certification.
Ms. Cucinotta is a first grade teacher at Andrew Jackson School. She holds a PA Certificate in Elementary Education K-6. She is entering her eight year with the School District. In addition to teaching first grade, Mrs. Cucinotta has taught sixth Grade and Kindergarten at Jackson. Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Cucinotta enjoys spending time with her husband, John, and son, Ryan, as well as good food and traveling!
Ms. Brozdonis is a first grade teacher at Andrew Jackson. She has been teaching in the district for 23 years. This is her 16th year at Jackson. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She has Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and also Literacy. Ms. Brozdonis is certified in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Rob, daughter Emma, and dog, Bella. Ms. Brozdonis enjoys reading, walking, exercise,good food, and watching her daughter play field hockey.
Ms. Harrigan is a second grade teacher at Jackson. She loves reading teen novels, binge watching Netflix, music (she proclaims she was born for Broadway and the kids often see her break out in random song and dance), eating out, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and hanging with her 7 year old son Micah and 11 year old Pitbull Bella Noche’. She knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was in the 5th grade. She obtained her Bachelor’s in Special Education from Kutztown University, Master’s from Cabrini College and is enrolling in a second Master’s program at Lincoln University for Administration and Leadership. She’s excited to have always been a part of the best staff in Philadelphia!
Mrs. Ryan is a fourth grade teacher at Jackson. Mrs. Ryan completed her second Master’s in School Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania and also has a dual Masters in Elementary and Special Education from La Salle University. She is Wilson Certified and the Head Coach of Girls on the Run. She loves running marathons, doing CrossFit, Halo Top (Red Velvet and Pumpkin Spice), anything Pumpkin Spice, Game of Thrones, and the Marvel Universe.
Ms. Pierce is a 2nd grade teacher at Andrew Jackson. This is her 4th year at Jackson and 8th year in the Philadelphia School District. She enjoys reading, playing sports, and going to the beach. Her favorite things are Starbucks, Harry Potter, and Sharpies. Ms. Pierce loves teaching and hopes to be in classroom for many years to come!
Ms. Chan is a third grade teacher and has taught in the School District of Philadelphia for 14 years. In addition to Elementary Education, Ms. Chan is also certified as a Reading Specialist and an ESOL Specialist. She is a member of the Philadelphia Writing Project and has presented her teacher research at the University of Pennsylvania’s Ethnography Forum. Prior to teaching in Philadelphia, Ms. Chan taught English in Japan for two years. She received her B.A. from Haverford College and her M.Ed. from Boston College.
Miss Mahoney is a third grade teacher at Jackson. This is her second year at Jackson and seventh year in the Philadelphia School District. She is a graduate of Catholic University of America with her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education. She also spent six years teaching in Washington D.C. before returning to Philadelphia and received her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. She enjoys Harry Potter, running races, Italian food, Philadelphia sports, binge-watching Netflix, walking her dog Chase, and the color purple. She is so grateful to be a part of the Jackson community!
Ms. Morris is glad to be teaching third grade at Jackson School as she enters her third year of teaching in the School District of Philadelphia. She is a graduate from Temple University’s College of Education and a scholar of the Philadelphia Writing Project. Currently, Ms. Morris is pursuing the Project-Based Learning Certificate from Penn’s Graduate School of Education. She is also a member of Need in Deed, an organization that supports teachers in implementing service-learning within the curriculum. Outside of Jackson, you can find Ms. Morris running, biking, and exploring the world!
Ms Atkins is a second grade teacher at Jackson. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and holds a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. A career changer, she spent 15 years as a community organizer, where she became fluent in Spanish while working on issues of immigrant rights, affordable housing, and racial justice. Atkins lives in south Philadelphia and is the parent of two young children.
Mrs. Rafferty is an ESOL teacher at Jackson. She is a graduate of Holy Family University with a Masters Degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). She has a son and daughter. Her favorite thing to do is spend time with family, friends, and her cat, Buster.
Mr. Konya is a 5th grade Literacy and Social Studies teacher at Jackson. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, and a master’s degree in Education. He has been a teacher since 2003, and has worked at various schools across the School District of Philadelphia.
Mr. O’Karma teaches 6th grade Math and Science. He has been with the School District since 1999. He’s currently certified K-6, Literature 7-12 and Social Studies 7-12. Mr. O’Karma has a Master’s of Education from St. Joseph’s University and a Master’s in History from Villanova University. He also coaches for the Palumbo Soccer Club outside of school.
Ms. Thompson attended Holy Family University and her degree is in Secondary Education Citizenship. She is currently teaching 7th grade social studies and reading and she is also responsible for designing and creating the year book. Ms. Thompson is entering her ninth year teaching, eight of which have been at Andrew Jackson School. In her free time she enjoys reading, gardening, traveling, and listening to live music.
Mr. Lindberg is an 8th grade English and Social Studies teacher. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in History and a Masters of Science in Education. He was a student teacher at Andrew Jackson in 2017 and joined the team the following year.
Mr. Morris is the 7th grade math and science teacher at Jackson School. This will be his sixth year teaching in Philadelphia, and his first with the School District of Philadelphia. He was born and raised in Philadelphia, and roots for any sports team from his beloved city. Mr. Morris graduated from Central High School, then took his talents to Temple University where he graduated with a degree in Kinesiology. He later earned a Masters of Education from Temple University and is certified in Middle Years Mathematics, Science, and ELA.
Mr. Kuhn is the Special Education Teacher for grades six through eight. He received his Bachelor of Science in Education from West Chester University and Master of Education in the area of Special Education with an Autism endorsement from Holy Family University. Mr. Kuhn is certified in the areas Elementary Education, Middle School Science, and Special Education. Along with his classroom duties he is also one of the coaches for the school’s robotics program.
Ms. Ghanayem has been teaching special education at Andrew Jackson for over 25 years. She attended high school in the School District of Philadelphia and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Education Degree and a Master of Education Degree from Temple University. She is certified to teach early childhood education, regular education and special education students. Ms. Ghanayem also serves as the Special Education Liaison for the Jackson School.
Ms. Storti is a special education teacher at the Andrew Jackson School. This will be her fourth year teaching Learning Support. Ms. Storti is also a Wilson certified teacher and uses the Wilson curriculum daily in her classroom. Ms. Storti is currently working towards obtaining an ESL certificate as well. Ms. Storti has a Bachelors Degree in Special Education, Regular Education and American Studies along with a Masters Degree in Education with an Autism endorsement.
Ms. DiFlorio has been a teacher for the School District of Philadelphia for 24 years. She is has been an ESOL teacher at Andrew Jackson for 6 years. She grew up in this wonderful neighborhood and is happy to serve our students and help them achieve their full potential!
Ms. DeVine is excited to be starting her second year at Andrew Jackson Elementary School as one of the ESOL teachers. Before returning to the SDP, Ms. DeVine worked in public and independent schools, facilitated literacy trainings, and supervised student teachers. She and her husband have two amazing daughters and two sweet dogs. She likes to cook, travel, read and spend time with her family.
Mr. Henry has been the Health & Physical Education Teacher at Andrew Jackson for 23 years and has been in the School District of Philadelphia for 24 years. He is a husband of 30 years and has 5 daughters and 5 grandchildren. Mr. Henry likes to exercise, is an avid cyclist, and plays various sports. Fun fact: Mr. Henry is into antiques and Steampunk projects!
Ms. Casanova is the School Counselor for all students, grades K-8. She has been a counselor in the School District of Philadelphia for 9 years, 7 of which have been at Jackson. She graduated with a Master’s Degree in School Counseling from Eastern University in 2009 after completing her bachelor’s degree in History and Spanish from Loyola College in Maryland in 2006. She is a Pennsylvania certified school counselor for grades K-12. She grew up in Hamden, Connecticut, but Philadelphia has been her home since 2006. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants, walking her dog and exploring the city.
Ms. D’Alessandro graduated with a degree in Elementary Education from Gwynedd-Mercy College in 1974. She also received a Masters of Education degree from Villanova University with a major in Educational Administration. She will be entering her 44th year of teaching this year. She started her career as a 5th to 8th grade teacher at Epiphany of Our Lord School on 13th and Jackson Streets in Philadelphia. After 15 years, she was hired by the School District of Philadelphia. She spent the next 20 years at Turner Middle School as an 8th grade science and Math teacher, SBML, School Growth Teacher, and Empowerment School Instructional Specialist. The last 8 years was at Andrew Jackson School as an Instructional Specialist and SBTL. She presently teaches Algebra I to 8th grade students and is the roster person, testing coordinator, and data specialist. She holds certifications in elementary education and Middle level math.
Mr. Argerakis is the K-8 general music teacher at the Andrew Jackson School. He was born and raised in Philadelphia, attending Philadelphia public schools from K-12. He studied music at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, earning his Bachelor’s Degree in music performance, and Master’s of Arts in Music Education. After college he relocated to Los Angeles, CA where he apprenticed with film composer, William Ross and scored numerous independent films and theater projects. This is Mr. A’s tenth year at the Jackson school, and he is looking forward to a very successful year with all of his general music classes, as well as with our band, “HOME”. Other than music, he enjoys running, reading, gardening, cooking and baseball. He lives in Northeast Philly with his two hairless cats, Izzy and Shelly.
Ms. Franko has been an art teacher in the School District of Philadelphia since 2009, and has been the art teacher of Jackson School since 2012. Originally from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Ms. Franko moved to Philadelphia after attending Kutztown University for Art Education with a concentration in fine metals, and later earned a Master’s degree and certification in Special Education at La Salle University. Ms. Franko also enjoys gardening, indoor rock-climbing, and pizza-making.
Mr. Levinson is the Computers/Technology teacher and Dean at Jackson. He is a product of the School District of Philadelphia. He has a B.S. degree in International Business and Economics from Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan and a M.S. degree in the Science of Teaching from Drexel University. Mr. Levinson holds the following certifications: Elementary Education K-6, Business Computer – Information Technology, and Administration K-12. Prior to teaching in the School District, Mr. Levinson taught English as a Second Language to adult learners at St. Joseph University ELS, and he lived in Japan where he taught English, went to university and worked in business. He has traveled extensively and his hobbies are reading, sports, computing, and enjoying the theater.
Mr. Tom Klemash is the Climate Liaison at Jackson. He is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a Master’s Degree in Social Work. His bachelor’s degree is in Psychology from Rutgers University. He has experience working specifically with children who have high social and emotional needs. His favorite hobbies include watching the Philadelphia sports teams, watching Marvel superhero movies, and spending time with his family.
Mr. Matteo teaches 5/6th grade math and science. He has been in the district for 10 years, and it will be his second year at Jackson. He graduated from Penn State University with his Bachelor’s degree, and he also has a Master’s degree in Education from Cabrini University. When he’s not teaching, he coaches basketball and baseball. He loves watching all Philadelphia sports teams, training for triathlons, and spending time with his wife and daughter.
Ms. Julio teaches 5th grade math and science. She has been teaching in the School District of Philadelphia for 18 years. She has a PA Certification in Elementary Education and ESL. She has a BS in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and a MS as a Reading Specialist and ESL. When not teaching, Ms. Julio enjoys spending time with her family and her two English bulldogs!