Meet Our Fellows

Each year, a cohort of 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.

2018: Global Music Education
Prague, Czech Republic

Laurie D'Amico
Tottenville High School
Staten Island
Laurie D’Amico is a music educator who has served Staten Island for the past 10 years. She received a BA in music and history from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, an MA in music education from NYU Steinhardt, and her administrative certificate from Canisius College, Buffalo. Laurie teaches multiple levels of band and Advanced Placement music theory at Tottenville High School; she is also the assistant director of their competitive marching band and faculty advisor for SING and the THS Saxophone Ensemble. She is the Staten Island director for the Salute to Music middle school band program, the program that inspired her to be a music teacher. She is a facilitator for the New York City Department of Education Office of Arts and Special Projects Arts Monday initiative, collaborating with other music educators to bring formative assessment and curriculum alignment to the music room.

Kara Dago-Clark
P.S. 161X Juan Ponce De Leon
Kara Dago-Clark is a Brooklyn-born artist, conservatory-trained classical clarinetist, and lifelong advocate for the advancement of children and music education. She is a 13-year veteran music teacher as well as an Arts Education Liaison for the last 10 years. In this leadership role, she has built long-standing partnerships and has written grants on behalf of the school, receiving over $275,000 in arts funding. Kara is a music professional development facilitator for the NYCDOE’s Office of Arts and Special Projects, and is the founder and executive director of Music Road, a community cultural arts center in Harlem. She has attended Carnegie Hall Music Educator Workshops, presented at the House of Justice Deaf Club in the National Action Network, and delivered instruments and a workshop to the migrant and refugee children of the former Calais “Jungle” migrant camp

Eric Dalio
High School For Public Service
Eric Dalio is a musician and educator in central Brooklyn who has taught band, chorus, and core music classes incorporating keyboard and music technology. Inspired by project-based learning, the iterative process of design thinking, and the maker and hacker movements, Eric explores ways to design flexible classroom environments where student learning is driven by original music production, composition, and improvisation. Eric is a faculty member for the Carnegie Hall Summer Music Educators Workshop and a presenting member of the yearlong Music Educators Workshop. He has also been a curriculum contributor and facilitator for the New York Philharmonic Young People's Concerts for Schools. Additionally, Eric designs and facilitates professional development for NYCDOE music teachers
across all five boroughs.

Norbert Goldberg
Theater Arts Production Company School
Norbert Goldberg’s background as a professional percussion musician has given him the opportunity to perform many different types of music (including jazz, Broadway, Latin, and Brazilian) and collaborate with musicians from all over the world. Through his interest in global music and research of various musical traditions, he has become a more versatile and multifaceted musician. Teaching has always been an important part of his career and he finds it gratifying to share his knowledge and skills with a wide range of audiences through a preschool music program, children’s library performances, and his current work as a high school music teacher. Additionally, he has written articles and led workshops geared toward the professional community.

Rachel Goodman
P.S. 150Q
Rachel Goodman teaches classroom music and chorus at P.S. 150 in Sunnyside, Queens. Under her direction, her choirs earned Gold Awards at the NYSSMA Festival and performed at venues all over New York City, including Symphony Space, The Fraunces Tavern Flag Day Parade, CitiField, and the Intercontinental Barclay Hotel. Her students consistently earn top scores at the NYSSMA Solo Festival and were selected to participate in the NY-ACDA Children's Honor Choir. Rachel graduated from the Eastman School of Music and completed Orff Levels courses at Hofstra University. She was a Carnegie Hall Choral Fellow during the 2012–2013 school year. In her free time, Rachel loves performing operetta and musical theater with the Village Light Opera Group and the Blue Hill Troupe.

Tim Gramling
Science, Technology & Research Early College School
Tim Gramling is a music teacher at the Science, Technology & Research Early College School in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. He is the school’s only music teacher in its history, having established and maintained an instrumental music program in his 11 years at the school. He teaches mostly beginning guitar and keyboard, with a focus on student composing/songwriting, modern repertoire, and basic music literacy. Tim received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and his master’s from New York University. Outside of teaching, Tim is the drummer in the New York City–b­­ased rock band The Stink.

William Green
Frederick Douglass Academic III
William Green is the science department chair and new teacher instructional coach at Frederick Douglass Academy III High School in the South Bronx. In an effort to expand his community outreach, Billy has ventured into new projects with East Harlem community-based organizations to provide inclusive programming and services for LGBTQ youth. He is a district finalist for the 2017–2018 NYC Big Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching; a Jhumki Basu Sci-Ed Innovators Fellow, 2010– 2011; a Pi Lambda Theta 2010 member at New York University; and a National Science Teachers Association Amgen Fellow 2009. Billy matriculated at Williams College with a degree in chemistry and attended New York University where he received a master of arts in secondary science education (chemistry).

Julie Hoffman
Frank Sinatra School of the Arts
Julie Hoffman teaches 12th grade English language arts at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, Queens. The school was founded by the beloved singer Tony Bennett, who wanted to start a school for the arts in his hometown of Astoria. She has twenty-five years of teaching experience in the New York City public school system. Outside of teaching, Julie is currently learning how to speak Mandarin Chinese. Her studies have led her to China this past summer, where she enrolled in a grueling but rewarding language immersion school.


Heidi Kreusch
PS 3 Melser Charette
Heidi Kreusch is a teacher at the John Melser Charette School (P.S. 3) in the West Village. She holds a BFA in dance, an MS in special education, gifted extension, and has taught K–5 general education, special education, and gifted children. She incorporates music and art in her classroom on a regular basis as she sees the arts as an integral part of every child’s public school education and a way to reach children who have learning or behavior difficulties. She has participated in Carnegie Hall’s Link Up and Musical Explorers programs.


Juraj Matolak
Robert F. Wagner Middle School 167
Juraj Matolak is a distinguished music educator, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and arranger from Kamienka, Slovakia. His forte is transforming traditional folk music into unique arrangements for a broad range of public performances for his public school students and his two Eastern European folk ensembles in New York City, “Vox Ethnika” and the “Ariana Lem Joy Trio.” As a music educator, Juraj incorporates world music and multicultural approaches into his instruction to inspire his students with a global perspective. Juraj is committed to sharing the values of global music education with his students, colleagues, and other members of the community.

Charles Mister
P.S. 217 Colonel David Marcus School
Charles Mister is a fourth-year music teacher at P.S. 217 Colonel Marcus David School, a vibrant and diverse elementary school in Brooklyn, where he teaches general music, leads the chorus, and directs an after-school recorder ensemble. He has always made global music an integral part of his curriculum. He is constantly excited to open the minds, ears, and hearts of his students to new ideas, sounds, and forms of expression. For his graduate thesis project at Brooklyn College, Charles wrote a unit that introduces North Indian Classical music to elementary school students. Charles hopes to develop a comprehensive global music curriculum for grades Pre-K to 5 that he can share with other educators.

Amy Orr
P.S. 56 Lewis H Latimer
Amy Orr is the founding teacher of the Gifted and Talented program at P.S. 56, where she has been teaching for four years. In 2017, she was honored by The Metropolitan Museum of Art as a museum educator for New York City public schools. Her curriculum is grounded in learning by doing through hands-on projects and experiential learning. She was instrumental in connecting Grammy-nominated musician Suzi Shelton to her school to establish a Community Music through Schools program that is now two years old. Amy received a BFA in commercial illustration from the Fashion Institute of Technology and her master’s in early childhood education from Brooklyn College. Additionally, she attended the Universidad de Puerto Rico, earning certificates in both special education and Gifted and Talented with an emphasis on culturally diverse learners.

Cynthia Soriano
P.S. 152M Dyckman Valley School
Cynthia Soriano came into the field of education as an NYC Teaching Fellow specializing in bilingual education and has been an educator in the New York City public school system for 10 years. Cynthia’s knowledge and passion for the arts provide her with an alternative lens through which she imparts information to students. For her students who are learning a new language, there is no better way to gain fluency and comprehension than through music and theater. She strives to create a safe haven for students where they can express themselves confidently and make mistakes freely. As an undergraduate, Cynthia focused on the arts, earning a bachelor of fine arts in jazz vocal performance.

Ulises Soto
M839 Tompkins Square Middle School
From primary through high school, from CUNY to SUNY, graduate school, and the NYC Teaching Fellows, Ulises Soto is a product of the New York City public school system. A lifelong learner, he has committed his life and career to music education. While everyone agrees on the vast benefits of public school music education, the necessary support is far too often lacking. It is programs like the Astor International Travel Fellowship for New York City Teachers that offer a breath of life to continued commitment for growth as music educators. It affords an opportunity to reach beyond New York City in pursuit of professional development.

Sarah Tomic
Young Women's Leadership School of the Bronx
Sarah Ellis Tomić is the two-time recipient of grants from the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, and an active participant in Little Kids Rock and the Carnegie Hall Music Educators Workshop. Sarah is committed to bringing rich and rewarding musical experiences to her students. Now in her fourth year at the Young Women's Leadership School of the Bronx, she has built her music program from the ground up to include a concert band, modern band, and after-school music club. With the help of visiting guest artists and clinicians, the young women of TYWLS Bronx have recently been exposed to New Orleans traditional jazz and various styles of the blues. Sarah completed her MM at Ithaca College and her BM at the State University of New York at Fredonia.

S. Alex Ruthmann
Astor Fellows Faculty Leader
Alex Ruthmann is an Associate Professor of Music Education and Music Technology. Dr. Ruthmann is also the Director of Music Education, and the Director of the NYU Music Experience Design Lab (MusEdLab). He received his Ph.D. in Music Education (Cognate in Educational Leadership) from Oakland University.