School of Education Alumni Advisory Board

Alumni Advisory Board Members

The School of Education Alumni Advisory Board advises The School of Education (SOE) regarding its progress with external individuals and organizations. They work to create opportunities for professional development, networking, community service, and socialization for our alumni and current students.

Anna Montuori

I am a triple alumna of St. John’s. I received a BS in Elementary Education and an MS in Curriculum and Teaching from the School of Education and a PD in Child Psychology from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. I also hold a degree in Administration and Supervision from Long Island University. I taught a multiplicity of grade levels in the North Babylon School District for fifty-one years, have worked as a bilingual psychological/educational consultant for BOCES of Nassau County and Western Suffolk BOCES, and have been an adjunct professor at LIU and Touro College. Presently, I am an adjunct in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching of the School of Education. I have received many prestigious awards throughout my career. One of which I am most proud is the St. John’s University School of Education Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Education.

I never really left St. John’s after I graduated. I have been a member of the School of Education Alumni Board since the 1990’s, served as its president for many years, and I am a member of the Loughlin and McCallen Societies. I am excited about the many initiatives the School of Education is pursuing, and I am delighted and humbled to be serving on this committee. Hopefully, I can play a part in helping the School of Education achieve its goals and continue as well as expand upon the excellent training it provides its students within the framework of the University’s mission.

Weedens E. Blanchard, Ed.D.

Education Administrator/Professor/Mentor

Dr. Weedens E. Blanchard is an experienced Education administrator with 21+ years of combined experience in academic management, project management, information technology, training & development, and mentoring. Woody, as he is often referred to by his family and friends, was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Dr. Blanchard was announced the eleventh principal of Holy Cross High School as of July 1, 2023. Prior to this appointment, he has served in various Education leadership roles such as: Assistant Dean, Senior Learning and Development Consultant, and Interim Director. He also works as an Adjunct Assistant Professor for the School of Education at St. John’s University, where he teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate education courses. He also served as the Academic Dean of an innovative program called the Advantage Academy Program, which prepared underprivileged New Yorkers for success. He served as 2006 Technology Committee Member for the Middle States re-accreditation process of St. John's University to identify how the enhancement of technology has impacted teaching and learning.

In addition, Woody serves as an Alumni Advisory Board Member for the School of Education at St. John’s University and he also served on the Executive Board of the

PDK 161 - St. John's University, NYC Chapter from 2010 to 2012 where he helped to coordinate and promote numerous educational workshops, mentor programs, and seminars.

Dr. Blanchard’s academic credentials include an AS degree in Electronic Data Processing, BS degree in Computer Science, MBA in Executive Management, PD in Instructional Leadership and an Ed.D. in Educational Administration & Supervision from St. John’s University. He is also a COMPTIA A+ Certified Professional and a Licensed Business School Teacher.

While he is not working or teaching, he loves traveling to the Poconos and Florida, going to the movies, and catching up with close family and friends.

Fino Celano

Dr. Fino M. Celano has been Superintendent of the Herricks Public Schools since 2015. Prior to coming to Herricks, Dr. Celano served for 10 years as an Assistant Superintendent in the Garden City Public Schools. He has also served as the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources in the Roslyn School District. Dr. Celano began his career in education as a high school social studies teacher was a middle school Assistant Principal, and served as Principal of Grand Avenue Middle School in the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District. Dr. Celano is a Past-President of the Long Island Association of School Personnel Administrators and the New York State Association of School Personnel Administrators. He holds a B.A. from Marist College, an M.A. from Manhattan College, a Certificate of Advanced Study in educational administration from Hofstra University, and a Doctor of Education degree from St. John’s University. In addition, Dr. Celano has participated in professional development at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

Dr. Celano’s research interests include new teacher mentoring, trust and teacher efficacy. His research on these topics has been presented at national conferences, including the American Educational Research Association, and has been published in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Celano has also presented a variety of professional development workshops at school district, state and regional conferences. He has been the recipient of many honors and awards throughout his career, including the St. John’s University Leaders in Education Award (2013), St. John’s Distinguished Alumni Award (2017), the New York State P.T.A. Distinguished Service Award, and membership in Kappa Delta Pi National Honor Society in Education. Dr. Celano currently serves as a member of the St. John’s University School of Education Leadership Committee and the Hofstra University School of Education Advisory Board.

Karina Costantino

In July of 2007, Karina Costantino became the Community Superintendent of District 20 in Brooklyn, serving the children of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Borough Park.

Prior to being appointed District 20 Superintendent, Ms. Costantino was the Principal of P.S. 22 in District 31 from 1992- 2007.

Upon assuming the Superintendency of District 20, Ms. Costantino began to develop a strong relationship with the variety of communities the district serves with a focus on their specific needs.

Working side by side with the Community Education Council, her emphasis has been to explore new programs to bring into the District and to provide training and resources to empower parents enabling them to to be true partners in their child's education. Ms. Costantino's focus has been

  • to bring transparency to the variety of programs offered for special needs children, so that parents may make informed choices when exploring programs and making selections.
  • to explore the Renzulli School Enrichment Model for all schools to provide challenging and cutting edge curricula which will address the many talents of our children and also introduce curriculum compacting for our gifted youngsters throughout the District.
  • to give our English Language Learner parents additional options for programs being offered within the District for their children to address their specific needs.
  • to provide all members of the school community-namely, administration, staff, students and families training in Social Emotional Intelligence. To that end, in 2017. Ms. Costantino formed an Immigrant Advisory Council calling upon the various immigrant constituencies in the District to develop a deeper understanding of the various challenges our immigrant families are facing.

A strong advocate for After school and the creation of a seamless school day, Ms. Costantino is also actively involved with CBO's in the community to create the best possible project-based learning environment for the children of District 20 after school from three to six. p.m. Currently, all 39 District Schools have a Seamless Day hosting various community-based organizations in their schools.

As the most overcrowded school district in New York City, as well as the district with the largest immigrant population, District 20 is one of two Districts in the city that is in good standing with N.Y.S. The District is most proud of this accomplishment since they test over 23,000 students, with

20% of them being English language learners taking the state test for the first time. Ms. Costantino credits this success to her strong team, principals and teachers who focus on collaborative teacher inquiry to understand all of their student needs, as well as the implementation of Advanced Literacy strategies and a strong Social Emotional Intelligence base.

A former candidate for the New York State Assembly in Staten Island in 1984, and again in 1986, Ms. Costantino was appointed by Governor Mario Cuomo to the Governor’s Commission on Domestic Violence in 1988. She served as a member of the Commission, traveling across the State addressing the concerns of the Commission until it became a State agency in 1990. In addition, Ms. Costantino has been an adjunct professor at Touro-College, St. Francis and CITE.

Her strong beliefs around leadership, which she models in her day to day

practice can be best expressed in the following quote:

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” - John Quincy Adams.

Recipient of the following awards:

  • 1988 Pietas Award: St. John’s University
  • Educational Leadership Award presented by the
  • Bay Ridge Real Estate Board, December 2007
  • Professional Achievement Award Presented by the National
  • Federation of Italian-American Societies, Inc. 2008
  • Women of the Year Award 2011 presented by PS 186, April 2011
  • Grand Marshal of the Brooklyn Columbus Day Parade,
  • October 8, 2011 sponsored by the Federation of Italian Americans
  • Woman of the Year 2012 Award presented by The Shorefront Democratic Club, March 2012
  • Honorary Chair, 2013 Relay for Life, June 22, 2013
  • Grand Marshal, 2013 Bay Ridge Ragamuffin Parade, October 5, 2013
  • Special Congressional Recognition in Honor of Women’s History Month Presented by Congressman Michael Grimm, November 2014
  • Honoree at the “10th Annual Fight Against Hunger Benefit” sponsored by Reaching-Out Community Services, Inc. April 11, 2019
Tanairy Fernandez

Tanairy Fernandez is the Founder and Clinical Director of Balance Mental Health Counseling located in Huntington, New York. She is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in Anxiety Disorders. Tanairy has extensive experience counseling clients with Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) and Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (Pregnancy and postpartum). She has completed her graduate education from St. John’s University, and right after graduate school she began her postgraduate training. One of her greatest goals in life is to never stop learning. As a result, she has completed Postgraduate clinical training from International OCD Foundation, Beck Institute, Postpartum Support International, The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors, The Gottman Institute, and Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health. She serves as a Clinical supervisor for the Graduate Mental Health Counseling internship program at Balance Mental Health Counseling. Tanairy has a passion for helping clients decrease their fears, and gain control of their life again. She proudly sits on the Dean Advisory board of St. John’s University School of Education. In her free time she is cooking, reading, enjoying her family, exploring the historical sights of Long Island, and traveling. 

Francine Guastello

My professional career in teaching spans over a period of 45 years. After 12 years as an elementary and junior high teacher, I became an Elementary school principal for 16 years. Upon graduating with a Master’s degree as a reading specialist, I worked part-time as a diagnostician in the St. John’s Reading Clinic for 15 years. My professional career in higher education began as an adjunct instructor teaching graduate and undergraduate classes and then in 1999 I joined the ranks of the full-time faculty at St. John’s University as a member of the Graduate Literacy Program. I served as an assistant chair for several years before becoming the chair of Human Services & Counseling for 8 years. I have written 11 programs for my department and 1 for the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Over the past 17 years, I have served on various university and college committees and I am a member of several organizations on campus. My interests are photography, painting, and gardening and sports.

Madeline Larsen

Madeline Larsen has been with St. John's University for 34 years. She has worked as the School of Education's Executive Assistant for 25 years. Her work involves coordinating and overseeing senior-level administrative operations for the Office of The Dean.

During her tenure, she has organized numerous programs, conferences, and events and will continue to act as the primary contact person and liaison between the Alumni Advisory Board and School of Education.

Anna Lukachik

Currently, the Training Director for a NYS Regulatory Agency, Anna Lukachik’s career as an educational leader spans learning environments in corporations. schools, and most recently, the public sector. Anna has held a variety of positions within Learning & Development in the financial services industry. She has partnered with business leaders to solve performance gaps with end-to-end learning solutions that work across cultures and continents. Anna has directed learning functions responsible for developing and delivering compliance, technical, professional, and management skills for various client-facing and managerial roles.

Anna is a dedicated Red Storm fan since her undergraduate days. Anna has a Master of Science from Syracuse University in the field of Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation.


Vincent Maita

Vincent G. Maita BS Ed.'82, MS Ed.'85 is a graduate of St. John's University Jamaica, Queens New York. Mr. Maita is a retired NYS K-6 educator who taught public school in Nassau County on Long Island. While attending SJU as an undergraduate, his academic achievements appeared in the National Register, as well as Who's Who in American Universities. He was invited to join Kappa Delta Pi in April1980, and as a result of his scholarship, he was placed on the Dean's List in his junior and senior year. Soon after graduation, Maureen A. Hartigan '55 invited Vincent back to campus to speak at a SOE forum. Mr. Maita was very active while at SJU. He worked as a work-study student, he sometimes attended and participated in student government meetings, illustrated for the campus newspaper from time to time, raised funds for MDA, was a member of Campus Ministry, and would volunteer time at various functions sponsored by the School of Education at the request of his instructors. In addition to completing his MS Ed. '85 while employed full time, he worked part-time at both summer and winter camps for the Town of Hempstead Anchor program instructing mentally and physically challenged children and adults for several years. He later enrolled at CUNY Queens College to study Linguistics and then returned to SJU in 2001 to complete a TESOL K-12 certification. Vincent taught ESL on weekends to the parents of his students, as well as instructing evening classes to adults at Sewanhaka High School Floral Park, New York from 1984-2005.  He then became an evening adjunct professor at Nassau Community College Garden City, New York from 2000-2005. He continues to remain politically active in his community. In 2019, he reconnected with Dean Bell and the School of Education. He is very proud to be invited and included as a member of the Alumni Advisory Board. In addition, he will serve on the Executive Board as Alumni Liaison for the SJU chapter of Kappa Delta Pi


Mary Carole Schafenberg graduated from St. John’s University Schermerhorn Street in 1970 with a B.S. in Elementary Education. A P.D. in Administration and Supervision followed in l980. Ms. Schafenberg is a retired New York City elementary school principal who has worked in the NYC Department of Education for 45 years as a teacher, educational administrator, Assistant Principal, and Principal. Currently, she enjoys volunteering for her village of Steward Manor where she is serving as Deputy Mayor.

In 2010, Ms. Schafenberg received the St. John’s University Presidents Outstanding Achievement Award for her work in establishing the Schermerhorn Street Reunion initiative. Mary Carole is a member of both the McCallen and Loughlin Societies and continues to work on Schermerhorn Street reunion activities.

Joseph Sciame

Joseph Sciame, Vice-President for Community Relations at St. John's University since 1994, and graduate of the School of Education as of January 1971, has been a seasoned administrator in higher education, having been a vice-president in several areas, namely, enrollment management for admissions and financial aid.  He commenced his studies at the University and transferred to evening classes while working at the University in 1962 in the registrar and admissions offices. A staunch believer in consensus building, he has been a major force in sound community relations at St. John's, as he helped to guide the community during the years of transforming the University from a day hop school to on-campus living, and was therefore involved in community meetings that brought about a greater respect for the growth and ongoing development of a university that celebrates this year its 150th Anniversary.  Sciame is a founder in 2010 and immediate past chair, as of June 30, 2020, of the Bedford Stuyvesant New Beginnings High School and a former chair of the Futures in Education foundation of the Diocese of Brooklyn founded for the preservation and fund raising of Catholic Schools.  He has been the National Chair of the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators and is currently the President of the Sons of Italy Foundation, having been its National President.   Joseph Sciame has been honored by St. John's University with the President's, St. Vincent de Paul, Pietas and Outstanding Administrative medals on various occasions.  Born in East New York, he is a resident of New Hyde Park since 1955.


Kevin Sullivan earned a Bachelor of Arts from St. John’s University in English with a minor in Secondary Education in 1999; he returned to St. John’s University to earn a Master of Science in Secondary Education in 2002. In 2006, he earned a Professional Diploma in Education Leadership and in Administration from SUNY Stony Brook and is currently enrolled in the Hofstra University Educational Policy and Leadership Doctorate program. During his time at St. John’s University, Kevin partnered with the Sewanhaka Central High School District at Elmont Memorial High school as a student teacher in May of 1999 and began his teaching career as an English teacher at Elmont Memorial High School in September of 1999. Kevin taught English for grades 7-12 at Elmont Memorial High for seventeen years; during this time, he served the Elmont learning community as Dean of Students, Interim English Chairperson and coach. In September of 2016, Mr. Sullivan became the Chairperson of English and Library at Floral Park Memorial High School, also in the Sewanhaka Central High School District; he currently serves in this capacity. In 2009, he was named the Elmont Memorial High School Teacher of the Year and was recognized by St. John’s University School of Education as a LEAD Award honoree. Kevin is the youngest of four children in the Sullivan family to attend St. John’s University; all four Sullivan children are currently teachers in New York. Kevin has served on the School of Education Alumni Board for two years; his work on this board includes serving as a panelist for the Hartigan Forum and assisting with SOE events.

James Sheerin

Dr. James M. Sheerin founded Sheerin Associates LLC, to provide expert advice and direction on educational issues facing school districts. He brings nearly 40 years of educational experience to every client.

Since founding Sheerin Associates, Dr. Sheering has serves as an interim superintendent in Lebanon Borough, Monroe Township and Clinton Township, all in New Jersey. Hr has also represented educational software companies, companies marketing computer services to school districts, and non-profit educational organizations as well as lobbying in Washington, D.C. Dr. Sheerin served as an adjunct instructor at Kean University and has consulted for the State of New Jersey on Abbot School Districts

Previously, Dr. Sheerin has served as superintended of schools for the Livingston Public School and Hackettstown Public Schools, as well as principal of East Brunswick High School, all in New Jersey, and Center Moriches Junior-Senior High School in New York. Dr. Sheerun has also taught classes in elementary, middle school, high school and college.

A graduate of St. John's University with a B.S. in Elementry Education/Social Science, Dr. Sherin earned his Masters in Elementary Education/Social Science from Queens College and Doctorate in Education-School Administration from Nova Southeastern University. He is the author of numerous articles on education and has been a frequent workshop presenter in New Jersey and nationally.


The mission of the Alumni Advisory Board is to advise The School of Education (SOE) regarding its progress with individuals and organizations external to SOE. As part of this mission, the Alumni Advisory Board develops, plans, and facilitates specific targeted activities to inform these communities and advance the SOE goals.

In carrying out this mission, the Board and its members will

  • Advocate for The School of Education in the public forum.
  • Advance the professional careers of current students and alumni through networking events, mentoring, and continuing education opportunities.
  • Collaborate with The School of Education through committee work and attendance at meetings and events.
  • Develop activities that enhance the visibility and awareness of the school and its instructional and research activities to assist in developing and promoting the SOE image, message, and brand.
  • Provide advice and counsel on the strategic direction of The School of Education and its undergraduate and graduate programs.
  • Actively recruit prospective members to the Alumni Advisory Board.
  • Contribute to the ongoing financial support of the school. Board members will commit per year specifically for The School of Education in one of the following ways (current graduate or undergraduate student members are exempt):
    • First Tier
      Alumni within one to four years of graduation who contribute $150 or above annually
    • Second Tier
      Alumni within five to seven years of graduation who contribute $300 or above annually
    • Third Tier
      Alumni within eight to nine years of graduation who contribute $600 or above annually
    • Fourth Tier
      The Loughlin Society members: $1,000 or more annually

Board members who have already exceeded this annual amount are exempt from this expectation.

Membership on the Alumni Advisory Board begins with a nomination by an existing Board member. The nomination form and the nominee’s résumé are submitted to the Chair and Director of Development for distribution to the Committee. The Dean and the Director of Development meet with the nominee. Based on a review of the nominee’s qualifications and the visit with the nominee, the Advisory Board decides not to extend an invitation for membership, or they make a recommendation to the Board for approval based on the above process. Board membership is held at 20 members and each member is asked to serve a three-year staggered term, renewable to a maximum of two terms.

The Chair presides at all meetings of the Board. The Chair has the power to appoint, with the approval of the other members of the Board by simple majority, any committees that may be necessary and valuable for the achievement of organization’s mission. The Chair is an ex-officio member of all such committees. The chair should serve for a three-year term.

All standing committees help the advisory board fulfill its purpose. The Alumni Advisory Board shall form and maintain the following standing committees:

  • Events Committee
  • Marketing and Communication Committee
  •  Development Committee
  • The Events Committee plans, organizes, and executes events to support alumni relations. 
  • The Communication Committee creates awareness of upcoming meetings, news, and events via all appropriate media and marketing platforms. It also oversees and monitors the Alumni Advisory Board webpage.
  • The Development Committee primarily creates strategic and fundraising programs to solicit funds and donors and cultivate major gifts through the following activities:
    • Researching and writing grants for programs and special events, with an additional focus on developing an annual fundraising event
    • Identifying potentially new board members (donors)
    • Soliciting gifts at annual fund level, major gifts, and planned giving from alumni and the public sector
    • Establishing a School of Education Advisory Board endowed fund ($50K)

The board meets four times a year and sets meeting dates for the upcoming year. Meetings are conducted either face-to-face or virtually.

These bylaws may be amended at any regular or special meeting of the Board (at which there is a quorum) by a majority vote of the members present at such meeting, provided that a 20-day notice of the proposed amendment shall have been given to each member by written communication at his or her last known address.

Lead Award Recipients

Michael J. Coppotelli ’07GEd
Associate Superintendent
Archdiocese of New York

Karina A. Costantino ’67Ed
Community Superintendent
District 20 Brooklyn, New York City Department of Education

Maria Dove ’10Ed.D.
School of Education and Human Services, Molloy College

Joshua Furnell ’18Ed.D.
English Teacher
Milton L. Olive Middle School, Wyandanch Public Schools

Ronald D. Gimondo ’00PD
John F. Kennedy Elementary School, Great Neck Public Schools