Meet Our Fellows

Each year, ten to twelve full-time New York City public school teachers are selected through a competitive application process to receive an Astor International Travel Fellowship. Fellows represent multiple boroughs and levels of experience within K-12 instruction. Read below to meet our fellows. 

2016: Arts Education Down Under
Sydney, Australia


 Lenny Azarello
Leon Goldstein High School for the Sciences

After working as a composer for three soap operas and receiving two Emmy nominations for music composition on As The World Turns, Lenny Azzarello returned to teaching at Leon M. Goldstein High School for the Sciences in 1999. He now teaches Beginning and Advanced Piano, AP Music Theory, and is the director of the jazz and concert orchestra. He received a  master’s degree in music education from NYU in 2002 and a 2002 Fulbright Scholarship to Japan. He founded the Young Adults Jazz Choir and has organized and led student cultural exchanges to Italy and chaperoned students to Greece, Austria, and France.  

Paul Conlon
Robert A Van Wyck Middle School (MS 217)


Paul Conlon is an English teacher at M.S. 217 in Jamaica, Queens. He created and runs the school’s drama club and peer tutoring program, serves as a peer-collaborative teacher, works on the school’s Instructional Support Team, and is the chief curriculum developer and assessment captain for Grade 8. Paul believes education is a form of social justice and can help make an inequitable society more just and equitable. He creates lessons that support students’ abilities to think intensively and critically and that inspire, motivate, and cultivate character.

Uthman Ebrahim
Early Childhood Discovery and Design Magnet School PS 185


Uthman Ebrahim is an early childhood dance teacher at P.S. 185, the Early Childhood Discovery and Design Magnet School. He received a high school diploma and a BFA in contemporary dance from  the North Carolina School of the Arts, and has performed world wide with dance companies including Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Sensedance. Following his performance career, he studied aesthetic education at the Lincoln Center Institute as a Kenan Fellow and received a master’s degree in childhood and special education from Touro College in 2010. He is  currently studying dance education at Hunter College under Kathleen Isaac.

Caitlin Heibach
The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria


Caitlin Heibach has been a New York City public school theatre teacher for 10 years. She currently works at The Young Women's Leadership School in Astoria, Queens. She also works closely with the New York City Department of Education's Office of Arts and Special Projects to further develop assessment, curriculum, and professional development for other New York City arts educators. She received her bachelor’s degree in educational theatre from NYU and her MA in educational theatre from the City College of New York. Working with young people and theatre has always been a labor of absolute love for her.  

Carl McClendon
Brian Picolo MS 53


Carl McClendon is a 22-year teaching veteran and a current model teacher at M.S. 53 in Far Rockaway, Queens. Selected as Teacher of the Year in 2013-2014, he continues to mentor new teachers and has opened his classroom as a model lab class where teachers may visit and collaborate on best practices. He has partnered with Urban Arts, a non-profit organization that provides teaching artists for selected ELA and social studies classrooms to integrate dance, drama, music, and art into the mandated curriculum, for the last three years. Last year, his eighth-grade class published a book of poetry based on the refugee experience entitled Through the Fire.

Ryan Minezzi
Fort GreenePreparatory Academy, 13K691


Ryan Minezzi is a visual arts teacher who has served Brooklyn communities for the past 11 years. He graduated from Pratt Institute’s Art and Design Education program and began his career at a startup school infused with human rights and social justice education, where he partnered with The Advocacy Lab to create student driven activist art installations. As a collaborator with BuildOn, he supported student volunteers in fundraising and domestic and international service learning projects. Through a Fund for Teachers grant, he researched shadow puppetry in South East Asia, which empowered his students to use puppetry to tell personal stories. He then co-founded  a public middle school in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where he currently teaches.  He was a proud participant in the Invisible Children: Teacher Exchange in Northern Uganda.  His artistic work, currently in the form of puppetry and woodblock printing, often stems from personal experiences and associations with his travels abroad.

Will Mosley
PS 149 - The Danny Kaye School


Will Mosley teaches in the same community he grew up, East New York, Brooklyn. A product of the New York City public school system, he has worked as an elementary music teacher in the same system for eight years, helping build self-esteem, confidence, and determination for the next generation of music-makers. He loves seeing the “lightbulb” come on when a student sings their first song or plays their first note at a school assembly.

Shani Perez
Elias Howe Public School 51


Shani Perez is an arts liaison and arts educator for the New York City Department of Education. She is currently steering the visual arts program at P.S. 51, where  she has developed the visual arts curriculum for the last nine years. She holds a degree in fashion design from the Fashion Institute of Technology and a BS in art education and a MS in special education from SUNY New Paltz. She is also the UFT Chapter Leader at P.S. 51, serving on educational and community-based arts planning teams that develop arts curricula citywide and currently provides professional development workshops to New York City art educators. She was  a 2015-16 Big Apple Fellow and the New York City Art Teachers Association’s 2015 Elementary Art Educator of the Year, and received the 2011 Inspiration in Education Award from the Center for Arts Education. She was recently selected to serve on the New York City Department of Education’s Arts Education Committee to the Panel on Educational Policy and is a member of the Manhattan Borough Arts Festival planning team.


Clare Savage
PS 54R - C.W. Leng School

Staten Island

An elementary school educator for more than 19 years, Clare Savage is constantly looking for new ways to engage the reluctant reader and writer. Much to her delight, she discovered her passion for theatre provided the pathway she sought. Students who would never pick up a book out of choice gladly latched on to a script in order to participate in the after-school theatre programs she ran. Ten years later, her Literacy Through Drama cluster is a reality and she shares her love for reading and writing and passion for theatre with almost 500 pre-K to Grade 5 students.

Androneth Anu Sieunarine
August Martin High School


Androneth Anu Sieunarine is committed to the pursuit of an exemplary public education for all children. She is particularly passionate about an arts education that threads through the public school curriculums like fine embroidery. She currently teaches  at a renewal school in Queens, where she has found an incredible group of students.

E-Anna Soong
PS 184M Shuang Wen School


As an artist and educator, E-Anna Soong knows firsthand how the arts can evoke emotion, instill self-confidence, and create motivation within each of her students and sees it as invaluable to the makeup of the independent creative free-thinkers of her classroom. As a public school educator, she is committed to inspiring a passion for the arts, helping to form well-rounded, inquisitive, and innovative young adults.

Tammie Swopes
Hyde Leadership Charter School


Tammie L. Swopes has  been in the business of theatre and education for more than  20 years. She has worked with organizations such as Performing Arts Program for Youth , the Atlanta Partnership for Arts in Learning, and the Names Project Foundation, and has served as board secretary for an art in education organization led by Jane Fonda. After earning a master’s degree in educational theatre at NYU, she worked as a lead teaching artist, in-residence arts in education specialist, after-school theatre director/instructor, and a full-time theatre instructor. For the past five years, she has taught middle-school performing arts at the Hyde Leadership Charter School in the South Bronx, producing a variety of cultural and community events, and continuing her own work as an artist.