Jacob Colwell graduated from Cortland with bachelor’s degree in Physical Education. He completed his student teaching in Cohoes and Rensselaer and has taught and coached in a variety of afterschool and summer programs. Jake has also worked at Parsons Child and Family center in Albany as a teacher’s assistant and coach.
Nieves Gonzalez is our artistic and creative Spanish teacher. She holds a master’s degree in Montessori Education and the equivalent of a master’s degree in geography and history with a minor in Anthropology from University of Madrid. Nieves has been teaching Spanish at WHMS since 2000. Combining a variety of projects with Spanish instruction has been a hallmark of Nieves’ teaching style. Nieves’ Spanish teaching experience includes teaching Spanish to SUNY professionals. Her field work in Anthropology was in the highlands of Chiapas in Mexico.
Charles Austin holds an associate degree in music from Schenectady County Community College, and a bachelor’s degree in music Education from the College of St. Rose. Charles has been a private teacher for students in guitar, piano, bass, voice and musical theory. Charles has also written a book available to students designed to make the learning process more efficient and effective.
Matthew Olmstead is our Primary, Elementary, and Middle School Music teacher. He has toured nationally as an a cappella musician and performs with the a cappella group Fault Line. In 2007, Matthew’s group was one of the 20 finalists in America’s Got Talent. Matthew has a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from The College of St. Rose, and previously taught music for the Thomas O’Brien Academy for Science and Technology Schoolin the Albany City School District. Matthew is also a summer music instructor for the St. Rose Summer Academy for Youth, and an instructor for the Cady School of Music.
Annika Pfluger holds a master’s degree from Boston University, and was a Fulbright grant recipient for study at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary. Annika has more than 20 years of performing and teaching experience. She has taught chamber music at Harvard University Mather House, competed with the chamber ensemble “Kammerton” in the International Festival Van Flaandern competition in Bruges, Belgium and has recorded for WGBH Boston.
Cathy Schane-Lydon holds a master’s in Education from Springfield College, Springfield, Mass. and a bachelor’s degree from Simon’s Rock College, Great Barrington, Mass. She also studied at Westminster Choir College, Princeton, New Jersey, and the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, Connecticut. Cathy is currently in her third year of a Doctoral Program, EdDCT Music Education, at Teachers College Columbia University, New York.
Marla Bracco has been playing the violin since the age of six when she was introduced to the Suzuki method and its philosophies. Marla graduated from the five-year BM/MM program in violin performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music of Johns Hopkins University. Marla studied under the renowned violinist and pedagogue, Shirley Givens. Previously, Marla taught at Waldorf School in Saratoga. Marla works with WHMS students throughout the week, both in teaching violin to individuals and as part of the WHMS Chamber Ensemble.
Janis Rink earned a bachelor’s degree in art education from The College of Saint Rose in Albany. Her experiences in art education have been varied. In addition to teaching art in the elementary school she was the art director for the town of Clifton Park’s summer recreation program. Additionally, Janis spends several weekends a month teaching art to the children at Wildwood Programs in Rotterdam. Janis also taught art at St. Helen’s school in Niskayuna. During the past year she worked as an adjunct instructor for the College of Saint Rose supervising and mentoring student teachers.
Maggie Schmonsky earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. At Sage Graduate School, Maggie earned a master’s in Literacy Education. In 2004, she became a member of the International Reading Association. As a New York State Certified Elementary School Teacher with a New York State Professional Certificate in Literacy Education, Maggie has tutored students who are struggling with reading and writing in various capacities. In addition, she worked as a Technology Teacher at Saint Thomas School in Delmar with students in grades K-8.