Faculty

Nancy Banks 

Nancy Banks received her B.A. in History and Religious Studies from New York University, her MA in political science from the New School for Social Research and her Ph.D. in American history from Columbia University. Dr. Banks’ is a specialist in 20th-century American political and labor history. Her doctoral dissertation focused on the struggle over affirmative action in the NYC building and construction trades during the 1960s and 1970s. She has taught courses at the New School, Columbia University, and Barnard College and is currently the chair of the Fieldston History Department.


Lan Cheng

Lan Cheng received her B.A. in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language from Shanghai International Studies University, M.S. in Education from SUNY Potsdam, and M.A. in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language from Middlebury College. She taught advanced level Chinese at Inter-University Program in Beijing as well as beginning and intermediate level at Cornell University. She has been teaching Chinese at Fieldston since 2009.


Vincent Drybala 

Vincent received his B.A. in English from Allegheny College and his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.  He has worked as an English teacher since 2008, and has developed curricula for all of his classes.  He has been involved in establishing leadership groups and coaching sports, and has a particular fondness for Ultimate Frisbee.


Esperanza Caño

Esperanza Caño received her B.A. from Iona College in Spanish and English and her M.A. from New York University in Madrid, Spain.  She has taught E.S.L. at Westchester Community College, Puerto Rican Studies at Mercy College and Spanish at Iona College. She has been teaching Spanish at Fieldston since 1987. While at Fieldston, she has lead cultural trips to Spain and she has traveled various times to northern Argentina where she was on a Fulbright Teacher Exchange and most recently on sabbatical.




Tom Christensen 

Tom Christensen has been the director of the Fieldston jazz program since 1991 and on the faculty of Nyack College since 2007. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, he is currently an established teacher, saxophonist and composer in New York City. He can be heard with The Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra as well as on Grammy nominated albums with Joe Lovano, Paquito D’Rivera, David Sanchez and Don Sebesky. Christensen has also performed with The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, David Liebman, the BMI Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra as well as for many Broadway shows, television and radio commercials and film scores. All About Jazz listed his latest CD “New York School” as one of the top ten jazz recordings of the year.


Melanie Cooper Leary

Melanie Cooper-Leary is an avid runner who has completed 13 marathons.  She spent her junior year of Middlebury College studying abroad in Paris, received her M.A. In French history and politics from NYU, and worked for the French Embassy Trade Office for four years.  She is the proud Mom of Jesse (12) and Marcus (6).  

Rachel Ehrlich

Rachel Ehrlich is a perpetual student and anti-bias educator. She attended Hampshire College and received a B.A. in Urban Studies from New College of California. She has an M.S.W. in Clinical Social Work from Smith College and a M.A. in Social Justice Education from UMass Amherst. She is currently working on a PhD in Urban Education at the CUNY Grad Center. Her dissertation focuses on educational policy, teacher’s unions, and racial and class inequity. She regularly consults with public and private school teachers/administrators on multicultural education, diversity, and inclusion. At Fieldston she is the chair of the Ethics Department and teaches courses focused on power and social justice. 




Maura Furfey Maciel

Maura Furfey Maciel received her B.A. in Spanish and Anthropology from the University of Oregon.  She has been teaching Spanish to Middle School and High School students for over ten years in places such as Eugene (OR), Miami, and currently in the Bronx at the Fieldston School.  She has run High School Study Abroad programs to Guanajuato, México.  She started walking tours of Spanish-speaking New York and is currently focused on the evolving cultural impacts of recently arrived immigrants in New York City.


Andrew Meyers 

Andrew Meyers received his A.B. in architecture from Princeton University, M.A. in architectural and planning history from Yale, and M.Phil. in urban history from Columbia. He has taught courses at Connecticut College, Yale, Empire State College and Columbia. Formerly chair of the History Department at the Fieldston School, where he has worked since 1994,  he is currently a history teacher, college counselor and Director of City Semester. He created both the Inventing Gotham course at Fieldston and the New York Experienced course at the Columbia Summer Program, and was among the first tour leaders for Big Onion Historical Walking Tours.



Clare Mottola

Clare Mottola received her B.S. degree in Drama and English from Syracuse University, and her M.F.A. in directing from Indiana University. Her teaching experience includes Indiana University and Seattle Children's Theatre.  Clare co-founded mtp! in 1998, an interdisciplinary arts organization; its work includes a world premiere production of John Berger's Once in Europa. mtp! has also hosted Brooklyn's inner city young artists for their Get Down, summer arts education program. Clare has been a member of the performing arts department at The Fieldston School since 1998 and is currently the department chair.


Mark Stracke

Mark Stracke graduated from NYU with a B.A. in Arts Education. He came to Fieldston in 1978 and instituted the photo program, rising through the ranks to become the chair of the Visual Arts Department in 1984. In addition to his teaching and administrative duties he has coached Cross Country at both the high school and, currently, middle school levels, as well as serving one year as the golf coach. He is also one of the five teachers in the Interdisciplinary Senior Seminar, which has been running for the last three years.



Howard Waldman 

Howard Waldman received his B.S. in Environmental Biology from Yale University and his M.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona. He has taught biology at Fieldston since 1999, during which time he has served as class dean for eight years and most recently, as Fieldston's "Green Dean", working on school-wide issues of sustainability. He has developed curriculum for the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the NYC Parks Department, where he was an urban park ranger and ultimately, borough director of the Queens Rangers


Benjamin Wearn

Benjamin Wearn received his B.A. in Music from Yale University and studied Physics at Yale and later Applied Physics at the University of Washington. He started his teaching career in the Seattle area and has taught Physics and other courses at Fieldston since 2005. His non-teaching endeavors at Fieldston include working with the Ultimate Frisbee team and the Math Club.


Ying Wu

Ying Wu received her B.A. in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language from East China Normal University, and M.A. in Foreign Language Teaching Education from New York University. She taught Chinese at college level programs such as CIEE, NYU Shanghai, and UVa in Shanghai.  She has been teaching Chinese at Fieldston since 2009.


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