Our Educators

Village East Gifted has exceptional educators who have been teaching gifted and talented students for up to thirty years. Each teacher implements the VEG Core Curriculum as well as their own curriculum areas of expertise. Many classes have VEG Mentors that work with the teachers. Many of our educators have "Mentors", VEG Alumni, who have been with the program for at least six years and have joined the staff serving as invaluable role models for the students.

Ms. Tobi J. Phillips, Ed. D. (cert.)

Teacher of the Gifted

Ed. D. (cert.) Teacher's College, Columbia University – Educational Technology
M. Ed. Boston College -Education and Special Education
M. Ed. Boston College -Peripatology/ Blind and Visually Impaired
B. A. Ithaca College - Music /Anthropology

Ms. Phillips holds the following certifications:

» Gifted Education

» Early Childhood-Kindergarten

» Elementary Education Grades 1-6 and Social Studies/English Grades 7-12

» Special Education K-12

» Special Education for the Blind and Visually Impaired K-12

» Braille Transcription

» Peripatology (Orientation and Mobility for the Blind)

» License from New York State in Archaeological Excavation

Read more about our founder...

Deborah Goldfarb

"Teacher of the Gifted"

Adelphi University Masters of Science /Reading Teacher
Beit Beryl University, Tel Aviv, Israel English as a Second Language 1989
English as a Second Language
SUNY Buffalo, Bachelor of Science Degree, Elementary Pre-K-6 and Special Education 1978

» Half Hollow Hills School District, Dix Hills, NY 1999-2014
Chestnut Hill Elementary School-Kindergarten, First, Second, Third Grade Teacher
» Three Village Central School District, East Setauket, NY 1998-1999
Minnesauke Elementary School- Kindergarten Teacher
» East Woods School, Oyster Bay, NY 1992-1998
Nursery and First Grade Teacher
» YMCA, Huntington, NY 1991-1992 Nursery Teacher
» Middletown Central School District, New Monmouth, NJ 1990-1991
Pre-School, Multi-Handicapped Teacher
» The Walworth-Barbour American International School, Kfar Shmaryahu, Israel1984-1988
Pre-K and Kindergarten Teacher
» United Cerebral Palsy,Inc., Long Branch, NJ 1980-1982
Kindergarten, Primary Multi-Handicapped Teacher
» Springville-Griffith Central School District, Springville, NY 1979-1980
Secondary School Resource Room Teacher

» New York-Permanent Reading Teacher Certification
» Permanent Elementary Teacher Certification Pre-K, Kindergarten, Grades 1-6
» Permanent Special Education Teacher Certification
» Permanent Special Education Teacher Certification

Carrie Palmer

"Teacher of the Gifted"

Rutgers University BA
Montclair State University MAT in Leadership
Fairleigh Dickinson University MAT in Elementary Education
Universidad de Salamanca Spain, Summer Study Abroad

» School Building Leader
» Supervisor
» Elementary Teacher (K-8)
» Gifted and Talented Teacher
» English as a Second Language Teacher

» Adjunct Professor, St. John's University School of Education
» K-8 Curriculum Coordinator
» Teacher, K-2
» Teacher, Junior Kindergarten (a NJ Best Practices award winning program)
» Private Tutor, K-5
» Attended Teacher's College Reading and Writing Project Summer Institutes, Columbia University
» Awarded grants to fund educational programs in my classroom, including "Playing to Learn" and "Handwriting without Tears"

Amy Lindenbaum

"Art Teacher/Director"

MA in special ed from LONG ISLAND UNIVERSITY

» art teacher in Elwood school district for 18 yrs
» art director at independent lake sleep away camp for 15 years
» art director at camp Wayne for girls sleep away camp for 5 yrs
» taught adult ed photography classes and ceramic classes through the town of Huntington for 8 yrs
» private art lessons/portfolio prep for 18 years
» freelance artist
» taught summer art classes at Huntington art league
» has taken students abroad on biannual multicultural art trips for the past 10 years....so far, trips have included....Greece, turkey,
London, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belgium, Rome, Tuscany, and the French Riviera,
» started both, the national art honor society & the national junior art honor society in the Elwood school district.
» has won several grants bringing new materials and programs into her classrooms
» has been recognized in who's who among ny teachers
» has exhibited multiple students in "long islands best" juried student art exhibit

Patricia Wright

"Art Teacher/Director"

University of Colorado/Boulder: BFA
Teachers College, Columbia University on full fellowship: M.Ed. in the Education of the Gifted and Talented.

» Studied at the Art Academy in San Francisco
» Studied at the International Center of Photography in NYC.
» Art teacher at the Stuyvesant High School
» Art teacher Weber Middle School in Port Washington for the last twenty-one years.
» Spent three years as an ESL teacher in Gabon for the Peace Corps
» Followed her passion for fine-art photography using infra-red film and spend many summers at the Maine Photographic Workshops
in Rockport working with a variety of world renown photographers.
» Her fine art photography has been exhibited at the:
Arts and Architecture Gallery in Toronto, Canada
Ceres Gallery in NYC
Heckshire Museum in Huntington, NY,
Graphic Eye Gallery in Port Washington, NY
Macy Gallery at Teachers College, Columbia University
Galleries at Skidmore College, NY

Brian Clare

STEAM Teacher

SUNY University at Buffalo B.S. Geology
SUNY Stony Brook M.A.T. Earth Science / General Science education

» Half Hollow Hills Earth Science teacher (2006-2008)
» HHH Planetarium/Discovery Center Co-Director (2008-present)

Christopher Lafferty

STEAM Teacher

SUNY University of Cortland B.S. in Geology/Biology
SUNY University of Cortland M.A. in Secondary Education

» Holds certificates New York State certificates in Secondary Education, General Science, Earth Science and Biology.
» Honors Earth Science teacher at Elwood/John Glenn High School for over twenty-one years.
» Four years as an adjunct professor at SUNY Cortland
» Several years in extensive field research through Cornell University's Entomology Department
» Team Coach for the Forensic Challenge Competition


Emily Vassallo

"Assistant Educator"

B.A. in Education and Anthropology/Sociology - WAGNER COLLEGE
Concentration in Childhood Ed. grades 1-6, General Ed. and Special Ed.

Activities, Awards, and Achievements:

» Graduated Summa Cum Laude with a GPA of 3.9
» Achieved Dean's List all four years at Wagner College
» Outstanding Academic Achievement Award
» 14 weeks of Student Teaching on Staten Island
» 200 hours of Field Observation in Elementary education across 5 semesters
» Passed all New York State Teacher Certification Exams
» Studied abroad in England at the University of Roehampton
» Experienced in Musical Theater
» Past member of the NYSSMA All-State Mixed Choir
» Past member of the Walt Whitman High School Wildcat Marching Band
» Worked as a Client Associate at Merrill Lynch
» National Honor Society at Walt Whitman
» Secretary of Tri-M Music Honor Society at Walt Whitman
» Treasurer of Theater Honor Society at Walt Whitman
» Experienced in Creative Writing

Eric Gesulae

VEG Alumni "Staff Mentor"

Village East Gifted Student Since 2006
Grade 12
GPA: 3.8
SAT Scores: Writing 780, Critical Reading 760, Math 650.

Activities, Awards, and Achievements:

»AP Scholar with Honor

»Business Honor Society of New York State

»High Honor Roll (18 Times)

»National Honor Society

»New York State Academic Excellence Award

»Future Business Leaders Of America (Grades 9-12), President

»Outstanding Achievement in Behavioral Science - Long Island Science Congress 2013

»1st Place of 50 teams in Entrepreneurship - Huntington Township Chamber of Youth Professionals Competition 2011

»1st Place of 50 teams in Hospitality Services - Chamber of Commerce Youth Professionals Competition 2012

»1st Place Varsity Extemporaneous - LIFA December Tournament 2013

»1st Place Varsity Extemporaneous - New York State Qualifying Tournament 2013

»2nd Place in the New York State Suffolk County Regional Competition 2014

»2nd Place Varsity Public Forum - LIFA December Tournament 2013

»2nd Place Varsity Public Forum - NCFL National Qualifying Tournament 2012

»3rd Place in Job Interview - Chamber of Commerce Youth Professionals Competition 2010

»3rd Place Parliamentary Debate, 7th Best Speaker Award

»Best Delegate Security Council - Columbia University Model UN Tournament 2012

»Bicycle Film Festival (Summer 2012), Intern

»Charity: Water: Board of Volunteers

»Citibank (Summer 2013), Intern

»DECA (Grades 9-12)

»French Cultural Club (Grades 9-12)

»Honorable Mention in Behavioral Science - Long Island Science Congress 2012

»Model United Nations (Grades 9-12), President

»Pegasus Literary Magazine (Grades 10-12), Assistant Editor

»Pennsylvania Liberty Bell Classic Debate Tournament 2013

»Quarter-finalist Varsity Extemporaneous - New York State Championship 2013

»Recycling for Charity, Co-Founder

»Science Explorers (Grades 9-12), President

»Scleroderma Foundation, Volunteer Coordinator

»Speech & Debate (Grades 9-12), Public Forum Debate Captain

»Gifted Education

»Earth Science 7-12 Biology 7-12 General Science 7-12

»Reading K-12

»Extension, Elementary Pre-K-6

Alyson Givre

VEG Alumni "Staff Mentor"

Village East Gifted Student Since 2007
Grade 12

Activities, Awards, and Achievements:

»High Honor Roll – eighteen times (2007- present)

»President's Education Award for outstanding academic excellence (2009)

»International Mathematics/Verbal Talent Search

»Distinction in Mathematics and Critical Reading (2009)

»Nominated for National Scholars Program (2011)

»Future Cities Competition-Best Infrastructure Award (2009)

»Future Cities Competition-Best Water System Award (2010)

»Building Future Leaders (2008-2010)

»National Junior Honor Society (2009-2010)

»National Student Leadership Conference (2012)

»Excellence in Health Award (2010)

»National Spanish Exam Gold Winner (2010 and 2011)

»Varsity Field Hockey in 9th grade (2011)

»Dolphin Macabee Swim Team-Most Improved Swimmer Award (2007)

»Outstanding Judaica Student (2009)

»Excellence in Attendance-Temple Beth Torah Religious School (2007)

»In-school Academically High Aptitude Program (2006-2008)

»Certified Lifeguard and CPR/First Aid (2011)

»Odyssey of the Mind International Competition Village East Gifted team member (2009-2010 - 2nd place and 2010-2011)

»Mock Trial Club (2010-present)

Andrea Ramsay

VEG Alumni "Staff Mentor"

Village East Gifted Student Since 2006
Grade 12
GPA: 3.9
SAT: Math 800, Critical Reading 750, Writing 780.

Activities, Awards, and Achievements:

»Maintained solid A+ average throughout school

»Suffolk County Quiz Bowl JV 3rd Place: 2013

»Suffolk County Quiz Bowl JV 3rd Place: 2013

»History Bowl National Competitor: 2013

»Quiz Bowl National Qualifier: 2013

»District's MVP Award

»Science Olympiads

»Peer Ambassadors/ Anti-Bullying Program

»First violin for seven consecutive years in the school orchestra

»Received an A in level six NYSSMA

»Fastest Runner in her school district (consisting of 10,000 students)

»MVP for girls cross country in sophomore year of high school

»Cross Country Team Leader: 2012, 2013

»Cross Country MVP: 2011

»Cross Country Varsity Member: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

»Sportsmanship Award Winner: 2013

»All-League Award Winner: 2011

»Member of Thespian Society participating in stage crew

»District Enrichment Program (2006-2008)

»Invited to serve as a Peer Ambassador

»Earned Silver Award on the National Spanish Exam

»Consistent participation in Best Buddies

»Volunteer at Horseability

Matt Mautarelli

VEG Alumni "Staff Mentor"

Village East Gifted Student Since 2006
Currently a Junior at Bard College at Simon's Rock

Matt Mautarelli is 17 years old. Traveling from the east end of Long Island often as much as three times a week, he studied at Village East Gifted with its founder, Tobi Phillips, Ed. D. (cert.) as a private enrichment student for two years. Shortly after, he attended Village East Gifted weekly classes during the school year and over the summer (2008 to 2011). Matt was on the Village East Gifted International Odyssey of the Mind Village team in 2010 and 2011. Matt also attended the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth for three consecutive years during which time he was appointed "Poetry Queen" of Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) Carlisle 2010.

Matt became a black belt in Tae Kwon Do by the age of 12. At 13 years of age, he earned a perfect score on the writing portion of the SAT. In the sixth grade, he played first trombone with the Gemini Traveling Orchestra at Lincoln Center (age 13) and SCMEA Concert Band, Orchestra and Jazz Band (age 12-14). After attending middle school for one year, he was accepted into Bard College at Simon's Rock earning college credits that went toward his high school diploma (age 14).

Matt has worked for two years in the Village East Gifted Summer Program where he served as a Staff Mentor and private tutor to gifted students with special needs. While still in college, he returns each summer to VEG to continue mentoring the gifted and talented participants of VEG's Camp ThinkTank.

Pooja Pandya

VEG Alumni "Staff Mentor"

Village East Gifted Student Since 2006
Grade 12
GPA: 3.8
SAT Scores: Writing 730, Critical Reading 750, Math 770.

Activities, Awards, and Achievements:

»High Honor Roll

»National Honor Society

»Presidents Award for Excellence

»National Spanish Exam Honorable Mention

»National Spanish Exam Silver Medal

»The NYS Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Award

»Student Executive Council Elected Member

»Odyssey of the Mind International Competition/Second Place (2 Years)

»NYSSMA: Four Instruments

»Competitive International Dance Performer

»Village East Gifted Afterschool and Summer Programs Staff Mentor (2 years)

Tulsi Pandya

VEG Alumni "Staff Mentor"

Village East Gifted Student Since 2006
Grade 11
GPA: 3.8
SAT Scores: Writing 730, Critical Reading 740, Math 640

Activities, Awards, and Achievements:

»National Junior Honor Society

»National Honor Society

»National Spanish Honor Society

»National Spanish Exam Gold Medalist

»Piano NYSMMA Participant

»Competitive International Dance Performer

Arthur Ramsay

VEG Alumni "Staff Mentor"

Village East Gifted student since 2006
Grade 12

Activities, Awards, and Achievements:

»National History Bee JV Regional Champion

»National History Bowl JV Regional 2nd Place team

»National Science Bowl Regional Finalist

»District Enrichment Program (2007-2008)

»Took SAT in 8th grade twice and ACT in 8th grade once

»Student of the Month September 2010 (1st month of HS)

»Volunteer at Camp HorseAbility for Summer 2011