Ms. Bakunets graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics and Mechanics of Saint Petersburg State University (Russia) with a diploma equivalent to a master’s degree.
Since she was a primary school student, Ms. Bakunets had a dream of going into teaching. That aspiration evolved into a true intention to become a math teacher once she realized the beauty of mathematics and felt the satisfaction it brought when helping her classmates or siblings understand the concepts.
Ms. Bakunets followed this passion by teaching mathematics in Russia and the U.S. for over 18 years. She worked at two specialized physics and mathematics schools in Russia, teaching grade 5-11 students. Once in the United States, Ms. Bakunets continued teaching, bringing her expertise to tutoring and working with the enrichment programs SchoolPlus and City Smart Scholars Program. In this realm, she is able to deliver complex ideas to kids with different personalities and background knowledge. Ms. Bakunets believes that every child is creative by nature and her goal is to awake and expand their creativity and self-confidence. When her students succeed in a math competition or by successfully being accepted by the best schools, Ms. Bakunets reaps the rewards of her work.
Ms. Bakunets views mathematics as a form of art and carries that passion outside of teaching. She loves to draw, visit galleries, and listen to music. In sport, she gravitated toward rock climbing because it looks like a dance when one solves puzzles written by features of the rock in the most efficient way. In addition, Ms. Bakunets enjoys mountaineering and hiking and has organized several multi-day backpacking trips with her students.
Mr. Belotto received his undergraduate degree in history and holds a Masters of Arts in History with a concentration in European History.
Born and raised in South Florida, he received both of his degrees at Florida Atlantic University and then went on immediately following graduation to teach at a private school in Boca Raton. That is where he honed his skills as a teacher and learned the best strategies to help students reach their own, individual, academic excellence. What Mr. Belotto enjoys most is employing these strategies for each of his students at BASIS Independent Manhattan every day.
Throughout his career, Mr. Belotto has had many incredible opportunities to learn with and from prestigious members of the academic community in the fields of European History, World History, U.S. History, with specific focuses on Medieval History, American Social and Political History, and Holocaust Studies, to name a few.
In his spare time, Mr. Belotto loves watching any and all sports (especially his hometown Miami Dolphins!), traveling to new places, and spending quality time with his fiancée and their young golden retriever.
Ms. Ermakova was born in Moscow and has lived in Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. After graduating from Cheltenham Ladies College, she went to Duke University and completed a Bachelor of Science in Economics with minors in Computer Science and Chinese. During her time at Duke, Ms. Ermakova taught at a middle school in China and tutored students in Spain and the United Kingdom. She also served as a student researcher for two years with the Duke Creative Industries and Urban Environment Project Team and was a member of the Investment Club and the Language Dorm.
As an educator, Ms. Ermakova aims to instill passion in her students and get them excited about learning economic concepts and applying economic principles to their everyday lives.
Ms. Ermakova chose BASIS Independent Manhattan because of its unique curriculum that fosters intellectual curiosity and aptitude, as well as its tight-knit, welcoming atmosphere.
Outside of the classroom, she loves going to art galleries and exhibitions, traveling to new places, learning languages, reading, playing the guitar, and singing.
Before moving to New York City, Mr. Gellman received a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Sociology from Skidmore College. He then moved to New York City to attend Columbia University where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Columbia University with a concentration in Poetry.
For the past five years, Mr. Gellman has been teaching Expository Writing and Creative Writing at Hunter College, the School of Visual Arts, and Skidmore College, among other universities, as well as tutoring students in English Literature and Advanced Placement World History. It didn’t take long for Mr. Gellman to discover that teaching was a natural outlet for his lifelong passion for literature. He is honored to help the curious and motivated students at BASIS Independent Manhattan discover the power of their own voices both on the page and in class discussions. Mr. Gellman sources constant energy from the creativity his students bring to the classroom every day.
In addition to teaching, Mr. Gellman enjoys watching documentaries, attending concerts, studying botany, working in elder care, and exploring New York with his friends. He is currently working on a novel and has a chapbook of poems coming out in 2022.
Ms. Horoszewski has a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Binghamton University where she graduated with honors for Distinguished Independent Work in Chemistry. Before graduating, she was invited to the American Chemical Society National Conference to present her research and thesis on “Using Tattoo Inks to Develop Undergraduate General Chemistry and High School Chemistry Students’ Understanding of Atomic Emission and Spectroscopy.” She expanded her education with several exciting, interdisciplinary courses such as bioinorganic chemistry, surveying the relationship between metals and biological systems, and a materials science course centered on the chemistry of painting, glassmaking, rocks and geodes, and more.
In the classroom, Ms. Horoszewski aims to create a culture of inquiry-based learning and to encourage students to take control of their education through research and exciting laboratory experiments and demonstrations. She says, “I want to use my passion and expertise to inspire my students’ affinity for chemistry.” Outside of the classroom, Ms. Horoszewski enjoys making charcuterie boards, writing, and cuddling with her cat, Fara.
Ms. Jiang started her first job in a local newspaper as a news reporter and editor after she graduated from Hangzhou University in 1994. She received her master’s degree in Journalism at Zhejiang University in 2005 and another master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Hunter College in 2022.
She served as the chief editor of the Education Page before moving to Sino-American University where she was responsible for Public Relations and the Media Center. She also has taught ESL to immigrants and Chinese to middle school students in NYC. Ms. Jiang thinks it is the best way to develop linguistic skills by using the language in real life rather than “just in education.”
Being proficient in two languages, her professional experience in teaching, background in news reporting and writing, and diligence in education has positioned Ms. Jiang to teach Chinese and English language passionately and efficiently.
As a language teacher and a language learner, Ms. Jiang can always see from the student perspective to motivate, encourage, and support them. Her goal at BASIS Independent Manhattan is to help students to master Mandarin-integrated cultures.
Ms. Jiang likes reading, hiking, traveling, and enjoying wonderful nature.
Mr. Laga graduated from Five Towns College with a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts. He received his master’s degree in educational theatre in 2018 from The City College of New York. During the summers, he runs a theatre program at a sleepaway camp.
Mr. Laga’s goal as an educator is to help develop strong, positive, and creative individuals whose hard work is applicable to the real world, and who will succeed both inside and outside of the classroom.
He says he chose to join the founding faculty at BASIS Independent Manhattan due to the strong community. He says, “the idea of ‘support’ plays a huge role in growing to be successful. I feel that our school truly understands that. We ensure that there is support by faculty for each and every student. But we also have a community of support and respect among faculty and staff – and make sure that students support each other, as well.”
Dr. Jeff Lai received his Ph. D. in chemical and biomolecular engineering with a Baldwin Fellowship from Lehigh University. He also holds a master’s degree in chemical engineering from National Taiwan University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from National Chung Hsing University.
Dr. Lai’s research work has been published in several prestigious international science journals and has focused on chemical and biochemical catalysis, reaction engineering, and operando in-situ spectroscopy. It was during his time doing AP Exams and standardized test prep with students that ignited Dr. Lai’s desire to work more with middle and high school students. After years of research and academic consulting, Dr. Lai is very excited to follow his passion for teaching science to these grade levels in a full-time role.
Dr. Lai enjoys playing sports, attending concerts, traveling, and discovering authentic cuisine.
Dr. Marushina was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she got her degree in Mathematics (equivalent to a master’s degree) from the Mathematical-Mechanical Department of St. Petersburg University. During her studies, she started working with children as a math teacher, math club leader, and table tennis coach.
For almost 30 years, Dr. Marushina taught in various educational institutions in St. Petersburg, including the Mozhaysky Space Academy and the city’s secondary schools. After moving to New York, she received her Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and her dissertation was devoted to extracurricular work in mathematics. She also worked part-time in several New York Colleges teaching a variety of mathematical and statistical courses. Dr. Marushina believes that teaching of mathematics is most effective when carried out through problem-solving and is eager to share her love for challenging problems with her students.
Dr. Marushina is not only a faculty member, but she also is a parent of Wildcat middle school student. She is invested in BASIS Independent Manhattan and chose the school personally and professionally because “of the devotion to academic rigor.” In her spare time, Dr. Marushina enjoys traveling with her family.In her spare time, Dr. Marushina enjoys traveling with her family.
Mr. Patel is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Journalism.
After seven years in the corporate world, he became a Teacher in the Chicago Public School District with Teach for America. Mr. Patel went on to teach middle school science and social justice at public schools in Miami, Florida, and served as a department chair during that time.
Mr. Patel spent the past four years teaching 8th grade biology at an all-girls charter school in NYC. He is passionate about the sciences and how the universe works, and always aims to pass that on to his students in the classroom.
Outside of school, Mr. Patel practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu daily, is a DJ, and a professional dance for over twenty years.
Mr. Robinson joins BASIS Independent Manhattan with more than a decade of teaching experience. He graduated from Abilene Christian University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in English Education at City College.
Mr. Robinson began his career at Manhattan independent schools teaching preschool and lower school students as they traversed the adventures of learning to read and write. That was the time when he not only discovered that teaching was both a strength and a passion, but also that his calling was to work with older and more developed minds. Mr. Robinson feels deeply privileged to continue pursuing his lifelong dream of teaching, and now at BASIS Independent Manhattan can help his middle school students grapple with the engaging complexities of literature at greater depth.
Outside of school, Mr. Robinson enjoys writing both literature and music and is currently beginning to work on his first novel.
In 1977, Mr. Schuman completed his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Economics from Drew University. In 1983, he earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Temple University. From 1992–1993, he participated in a Master’s degree in Education program at Temple University.
Mr. Schuman is a math teacher at BASIS Independent Manhattan. His goal is to impart and share his love of mathematics to primary and middle school students at BASIS Independent Manhattan so that they will understand and feel confident with the fundamentals of arithmetic, algebra, and basic mathematics. The goal is to gain a sound understanding of the fundamentals, which enables students to become innovative and creative problem solvers
Mr. Schuman chose BASIS Independent because of its reputation for being a rigorous academic school. “Students at BASIS Independent are curious and motivated to learn about the world around them,” he says. Mr. Schuman shares that same attitude towards learning and academic rigor, and is excited about helping his students succeed not only at mathematics, but understanding how mathematics is connected to many parts of our lives.
When he is outside of the classroom, Mr. Schuman enjoys reading, attending theater, playing tennis, and riding his bicycle.
Mr. Smith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and Art Education Certificate from the University of Iowa. Since 2013 he has been teaching art to students of all ages.
Mr. Smith joined the BASIS Independent Manhattan community in 2017 as a founding staff member and is using this experience to help set the foundation for the Upper School campus in his Teacher Mentor role. As an educator, Mr. Smith’s goal is to create an environment that allows students to become the architects of their own education, and that fosters their love of learning.
When he is not in the classroom, Mr. Smith is in the studio or sharing his passion for pottery in an adult wheel throwing course. An avid sports fan, Mr. Smith enjoys biking, the outdoors, cooking, and finding great food with his partner, Lindsay.
Mr. Solano received a Master of Science in Physics from The City University of New York (CUNY) and a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Florida Atlantic University. Beginning in 2014, Mr. Solano entered the sphere of education and went on to teach at various institutions including CUNY, Manhattan College, Columbia & Barnard College, and Mandl College. He taught a range of classes such as Conceptual Physics to Physics with Calculus and their associated laboratories as well as Computer Applications for the Sciences.
Before finding his calling in education, he worked in numerous specializations in applied physics at City College’s NASA Center for Optical Sensing and Imaging, Columbia University’s School of Engineering & Applied Science, and Brookhaven National Laboratory. His work as a physicist ranged from remote sensing in photonics to nanofabrication techniques for biomedical research, and high energy calorimetry for Brookhaven’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.
Mr. Solano aims for his students to apply new concepts and thoughts to STEM-related fields and then use that skill in life as well. He hopes they learn to think analytically and appreciate their environment and the universe we live in.
After receiving a Bachelor of Science in Physics at St. John’s University, Mr. Tamory pursued his higher education at New York University. He earned both a Master of Science in Software Engineering and a Master of Science in Theoretical Physics.
While part of a research team during his graduate years, Mr. Tamory discovered quantum gravity as his field of interest and concentration. With this team, Mr. Tamory had several publications in Phylsical Review Journals on superconductivity and quantum gravity. He also worked for Ericsson Sweden and New York, as a member of the research team for developing encoding and decoding WAP Algorithms.
Mr. Tamory found his passion for teaching while in graduate school. He taught physics, calculus, and computer programming at the College of Aeronautics and College of New Rochelle. Next, he taught AP Physics and AP Computer Science at Commonwealth Academy in Virginia.
He chose BASIS Independent Manhattan because of the importance placed on teachers to think critically and curiously about complicated concepts in their fields of expertise, and then be able to impart that to his students. Mr. Tamory’s interests outside of school include playing golf, soccer, and tennis. He also loves to travel, read, and learn different languages.
Dr. Waite received her Doctor of Philosophy in French from The Graduate Center, CUNY, her master’s degree in French Literature from New York University, and her Bachelor of Arts in French (Cum Laude) from Bates College.
From 2005-2009, she lived, studied, and worked abroad in France. From 2018-2022, she worked as an Assistant Teaching Professor of French and Coordinator of the French Language Program at Syracuse University, where she received an Instructional Innovation Award and a Writing Across the Curriculum Faculty Fellowship. She is the author of Pas à pas : méthode d’anglais (2009), Ma Méthode d’anglais (2016), and various peer-reviewed articles.
Since 2012, Dr. Waite has been teaching all levels of the French language as well as courses in Business French, French phonetics, French translation, and French and Francophone literature and culture.
As a native New Yorker and lifelong Francophile, she is happy to be teaching French at BASIS Independent Manhattan. Her goal as an educator is to show students the enduring, transferable value of learning a new language and developing critical reading and writing skills. During her spare time, Dr. Waite enjoys reading, writing, researching, and traveling.
Ms. Walker received her MBA from Columbia University and then went on to earn various postgraduate certificates in foreign language teaching. Ms. Walker is certified in the International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years and Diploma Programmes. With more than eighteen years of experience teaching Spanish, from kindergarten to college-level courses, Ms. Walker has created numerous Spanish courses at different levels (SAT II, AP, and above). Born and raised in Argentina, Ms. Walker spent her early career there with a license in Business Administration, as a CPA, and an auditor for Deloitte & Touche for several years.
Ms. Walker was drawn to BASIS Independent Manhattan because of the confidence given to the teachers to deliver rigorous and meaningful language and cultural experiences to the students. From her first visit to the school, she was inspired by the types of students she encountered here. The goal in Ms. Walker’s classroom is to provide students with solid language instruction through memorable and fun cultural experiences each day.
In her spare time, Ms. Walker likes spending time with her husband, children (ages 26 and 23), and little Maltipoo, Caramelo. She also enjoys playing tennis, reading, traveling, the arts, and taking walks in New York City and the surrounding areas.
Mr. Wirth received his Master of Arts in Honors History from Brooklyn College and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Queens College. He has spent over two decades in the classroom, teaching American History, American Government, Global Studies, English Language Arts, and Humanities to middle and high school students at private, public, and charter schools. In addition to teaching, Mr. Wirth has served as a Faculty Advisor, chess coach, and mentor for a student mentor project, all of which have helped make him a productive collaborator with fellow faculty members and administrative teams.
Mr. Wirth was drawn to BASIS Independent Manhattan because the school’s mission was in line with his educational philosophy and its belief in the unlimited potential of all students. His goal is for students to exceed expectations in a supportive and respectful environment by managing and recognizing their individual needs.
As an avid reader, Mr. Wirth is extremely interested in the political events of the moment. He enjoys going to the movies, listening to all forms of music, attending concerts, cross-country skiing, and walking in Nature. He has had many incredible experiences including working as a Flight Simulator Instructor in the United States Air Force, making furniture, working as an indoor horticulturist, working in the film industry, and working in the field of human/civil rights.