Sarah Caney Head of School
Sarah Caney began her career in education teaching secondary ELA to over-aged and under-credited youths in Hartford, CT at Hartford Public High School. She served as a Curriculum Specialist within the Hartford Public Schools, where she worked with a team of instructors to lead the transition to the Common Core. She has also trained incoming corps members with Teach for America and completed a Principal Residence at Prospect Hill Academy in Cambridge, MA. She has worked at Phoenix Academy Lawrence in an administrative role as a Leader in Residence for the past year-and-a-half, and is looking forward to continuing her work with students and staff in her new role. Sarah completed her undergraduate degree at Hamilton College, and earned her Master’s degree in School Leadership from Harvard University.
Yessica Cruz Front Office Manager
Tamara Soraluz Director of School Culture
Ms. Soraluz was born and raised in Peru until her family emigrated to Connecticut. She received her bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University where she worked extensively with youth in Massachusetts. After graduating, she worked closely with Latino Communities as a staff member for Congressman Himes. She returned to school to earn her master’s degree in social work from Boston University and is extremely excited to be a Phoenix!
Amy Ciaraldi Director of Childcare
Ms. Ciaraldi is originally from New Hampshire. She attended Plymouth State University (’06). After graduating with a bachelor degree in Childhood Studies (minoring in both Athletic Coaching and Social Work) she moved to Orange Country, CA to live and work in an academic group home for adolescent girls. From there Ms. Ciaraldi moved to the Austin area where she attended Texas State University (’10) and earned a graduate degree in Family and Child Studies- Child Life. For the past three years she has been working in Massachusetts as an Early Intervention Specialist.
Erin McNiff Social Worker
Ms. McNiff is a Boston native and recent Simmons College graduate where she earned her Master of Social Work. She earned her undergraduate degree in Social Work from Providence College. Ms. McNiff has previous experience in an alternative school setting and is excited to be a part of the Phoenix team and the network’s effort in making education accessible to all. Ms. McNiff is looking forward to getting to know the Phoenix students in Lawrence and learning about the rich culture within the greater community.
Christine Van Ells School Nurse
Ms. Van Ells received her Nursing Degree at Northeastern University and her Masters in Public Health at UMass Amherst. She spent many years working in the field of Public Health as a nurse in remote Southwest Indian Reservations and Native American bush communities of Alaska and has been a school nurse for many years. Ms. Van Ells is passionate about bringing Holistic Health and Wellness to her students and enjoyed teaching yoga to students last year. Ms. Van Ells also values Cross-Cultural work and adventures in the Great Outdoors! She is excited to be returning to Phoenix for her second year.
Blaine Yesselman Director of Curriculum & Instruction
Born and raised in Cambridge, MA and a product of the Cambridge public schools, Blaine Yesselman joined the Phoenix Lawrence team after ten years of being a middle and high school teacher in the New York City and Cambridge, MA public school systems. She studied school leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and earned her principal certification through the Principal Residency Network of the Center for Collaborative Education in Boston, MA. Blaine is passionate about student engagement, and helping teachers to build classroom environments that put students at the center of learning experiences. A believer of building strong relationships, warm and inviting classroom culture, asking good questions, and constant growth and improvement, Blaine is driven by the belief that amazing teaching and rigorous learning experiences can absolutely open doors for students. Blaine loves traveling, spicy food, hip hop and exercising.
Sam Bixler Humanities Teacher & Athletic Director
Mr. Bixler was born and raised in Denver, Colorado where he attended Denver Public Schools until 2006. Upon graduation from high school, Mr. Bixler attended Ohio Wesleyan University. While at OWU, he volunteered with high school students in inner city Columbus which helped solidify his desire to work with at risk youth. Mr. Bixler firmly believes in education as a means of social mobility. He also believes athletics have the power to motivate certain students to stay in school and succeed academically. He currently resides in Cambridge.
Clare Franco Science Teacher
Ms. Franco is entering her 3rd year at Phoenix Lawrence. During her time, she has taught a number of science courses and works closely with the senior cohort. She earned her undergraduate degree in Biology from Carleton College in Minnesota. She is passionate about science education and loves sharing this passion with her students in Lawrence. Ms. Franco loves to spend time outdoors, biking, hiking, and rock climbing and she is excited to be teaching an environmental science course this year.
Miriam Friedman Math Teacher
Ms. Friedman is a native New Yorker, and very proud of it. She loves Massachusetts and the Lawrence community. She earned her undergraduate degree in Media and Culture at Bentley University in Waltham, MA, and earned her Masters in Effective Teaching through the Charles Sposato Graduate School of Education, a teacher training school tied to the Match Charter Network. Ms. Friedman loves to learn and grow, and feels so fortunate to be a part of such an incredible team.
Mr. Montero was born and raised in Miami, Florida. He attended Vassar College in New York, where he majored in Political Science, and then went to Ireland to complete a master’s program in Human Rights and Criminal Justice at the National University of Ireland at Galway. Mr. Montero is very excited for the opportunity to work in education and return to Phoenix Lawrence for a third year, after initially serving as an AmeriCorps Fellow. He enjoys reading, watching science fiction movies, and beating up fictitious aliens in video games to unwind.