Who We Are
Joshua Abrams – Head of School; Mathematics, Science, and Technology
B.S. in Biology, Yale University
M.A. in Mathematics Education, Columbia University
Josh has been a teacher, curriculum developer, and teacher leader for over thirty years. He has taught mathematics and science research in a variety of schools including positions as Master Teacher of Mathematics at the Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science, a state-wide, public, magnet school, and Mathematics Department Head at The Rivers School. He has taught in settings ranging from prisons to suburban day schools. Josh has also worked with students on extra-curricular activities including Model United Nations, math club, and juggling. In 1998, he was a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics from President Clinton. Along with a group of enthusiastic parents and educators, Josh founded Meridian in 2005.
Cristiana Bentivoglio – Spanish Community Service Coordinator
M.A.T. Spanish, Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY
M.A. in Educational Theater, Universittá Cattólica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy
B.F.A University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Cristiana is a native Spanish speaker from Venezuela. She studied Fine Arts at USC and went on to work as an artist, interpreter and designer for film and theater in the US and Europe. While raising her children in a multicultural environment, Cristiana became interested in Educational Theater as a vehicle to foster communication and gain an appreciation for cultural diversity. In Italy, she taught Theater Arts to students of different languages at the American School of Milan. Upon returning to the US, she pursued a degree and certification to teach Spanish, and implemented an arts- infused curriculum at White Plains High School.
Judy Boykin-McCarthy – Counselor
B.A. in Behavioral Science, Lesley University
M.A. in Psychology and Counseling, Goddard College
Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Change, Fielding Graduate University
Lenny Brown – Physical Education
B.A. in Black Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston
Lenny has been working with youth in educational settings for almost two decades. He is committed to physical activity and has a variety of activities that he enjoys: lacrosse, basketball, martial arts, long distance running, hiking and mountaineering, bike riding, swimming, skiing, rollerblading and gardening. He has lived in Boston his entire life and values its unlimited opportunities including the Charles River and Minuteman biking trails, hiking in the Blue Hills, and nature walks along the Emerald Necklace or Franklin Park. He shares his lifetime of love for, and learning from, the outdoors, sports, and experiential education with his students. When not teaching, Lenny cares for his two very active boys. Lenny joined Meridian in 2006.
Jonathan Cannon – Mathematics, Science, and Technology
B.S. Mathematics and Computer Science, Brown University
Ph.D. Mathematics and Statistics, Boston University
Jon spent his years in graduate school and his two subsequent years as a postdoc at Brandeis using mathematics and computer simulation to explore the workings of the brain, with specific focus on the causes and functions of rhythmic electrical activity in neural tissues. Although he enjoyed teaching his field of study, his love of teaching first found full expression in the context of his other lifelong pursuit, traditional fiddle music. Working around his academic life, Jon has taught violin students of all ages and run ear-training workshops for groups of musicians at all levels. He also enjoys rock climbing, wire art, classic literature, and the untrained but enthusiastic pursuit of ethnomusicology.
Abigail Carle – World Languages
B.A. in Spanish, University of Virginia
M.A. in Teaching a Foreign Language, University of Virginia
Upon graduation from UVA, Abby spent two years in South America, first as a high school English teacher in northern Chile and then as a Fulbright teaching fellow at the University of San Juan in Argentina. Since then Abby has taught in Spain, China and the United States. She has loved being able to share her passion for language in classrooms around the world, helping her students to make connections, ask questions, and take risks. Abby has been teaching at Plymouth North High School since her return to the United States. When she is not teaching or traveling, Abby enjoys playing the piano, being outdoors, and spending time with her cat.
Catherine Epstein – Humanities
B.A. in English, Vassar College
Hailing from Stow, Massachusetts, Catherine graduated from Walnut Hill School for the Arts and Vassar College, where she wrote her thesis on banned books in American schools. She has worked as a public radio producer for WNYC, a freelance writer, and a submissions reader of short stories and plays. She has taught classes on subjects ranging from capital punishment to Shakespeare in South Africa, New Haven, Austin, and San Francisco. She also worked for two years as an educator at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City. Catherine joins us from Francis W. Parker Charter School, where she taught Humanities. In her work, Catherine values hearing students' new, surprising, and ever-evolving perspectives on academics and the arts.
Emily Farbman – Art
B.A. in Art History with Visual Arts Concentration, Barnard College
M.S. in Art Education, Massachusetts College of Art
Emily spent most of her youth growing up outside of Washington, DC. However, it was her formative senior year spent at a tiny American school in Rabat, Morocco that influenced much of her path as a student and educator. She went on to study art, art history, and sociology at Barnard College in New York, though it is a little-kept secret that she initially started as a math major. Several years after graduating, she returned to the Massachusetts College of Art and Design to become an art teacher and has been teaching all forms of art, design, and discovery for the past ten years. In her own art, she is also focused on people, having found no way to depart from the portraits that she always loved to draw and paint from a very young age. She is so excited to have found a school on the scale of her graduating high school where she developed such immediate, intense, and valuable bonds with her classmates and teachers. She encourages her students to continually innovate and create with their endless artistic resources.
Tasha Greenwood – Mathematics, Science, and Technology
B.S. in Environmental and Marine Science, Northeastern University
Tasha grew up on Gulf shores of Florida before transitioning to the colder climes of New England for college. During this time, they studied with SEA Semester, completing two research voyages, sailing across the Pacific aboard a tall ship. Their research focused on social sustainability of Polynesian cultures, and the community composition of phytoplankton and cyanobacteria across oceanographic regions. During and post-college, they continued to work as an educator aboard sailing ships in New England and California, and developed curriculum for other sailing and science programs. Tasha has now returned to life on land, and continues to focus on bringing the excitement of science under sail into the classroom. When not teaching, Tasha can be found tide-pooling, biking around JP, or cultivating their garden.
Moreno Guzman – Building Maintenance
Born in the Dominican Republic, Moreno moved to the United States in 1989, and he has since held a variety of jobs. When he lived in New Jersey, Moreno worked for UPS and FedEx. After moving to Boston, Moreno worked at Temple Hillel B’nai Torah in West Roxbury. His given name is Socrates, but he most often goes by his nickname, “Moreno,” a common Dominican Republic term of endearment and affection. Moreno has two teenage sons, and he’s proud to say they are doing very well at school. He began his position at Meridian in the fall of 2014, and finds that the students and faculty are thoughtful and welcoming.
Kevin Hong – Humanities
B.A. History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University
M.Phil. Criticism and Culture, University of Cambridge
Born in Chicago, IL, Kevin studied creative writing at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, MA before attending Harvard University, where he concentrated in History of Art and Architecture. As an undergraduate, Kevin was a classical music DJ for WHRB 95.3, as well as Publisher of The Harvard Advocate, the college's literary magazine. Kevin has read fiction for the Harvard Review and reviewed books and art for The Arts Fuse. For his masters dissertation at Cambridge, Kevin explored the use of imagery in the writings of Virginia Woolf. Kevin enjoys thinking about how materials and modes of production drive history and ideas. He is excited to be at Meridian, where his passion for the humanities can be fully expressed.
Laura Jaye – Music
B.A. in Jazz Voice and Composition, Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University
M.A. in Jazz Studies and Vocal Performance, New England Conservatory
Laura knew at a very young age that a life of music was the only one for her. She is equally at ease playing bassoon in a symphony orchestra, scatting in a vocal jazz group, or jamming with an African drumming ensemble. While her career currently includes arranging, composing, and performing, Laura has found a unique joy in teaching. At Meridian, Laura leads our multi-genre band and teaches Music appreciation classes. She finds it very gratifying to share her passion for collaborating with other musicians, creating original music, and performing music. The Laura Grill Band, Laura's original folk/bluegrass/jazz project, can be heard in and around Boston.
Ed Kleiman – Business
B.A. in Philosophy from Tufts University
M.S.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from Wheelock College
M.A. in Instructional Design from University of Massachusetts - Boston
Ed has worked in the private and non-profit sectors for many years and is currently dividing his professional time among an accounting firm, two synagogues, a foundation that raises funds for schools, and several private clients. Unprompted, Ed says that he loves his work at Meridian.
Hilary Law – Administrative Assistant
B.F.A., Hampshire College
After receiving her art degree in 1984, Hilary launched Hilary Law Design, a textile product design and manufacturing company specializing in floorcloths. A lover of all things tactile, she gardens, knits, sews, cooks, does the crossword, entertains, and makes a general mess in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts where she lives with her tolerant family. Hilary has been a welcome addition to Meridian's administrative efforts since she joined us in 2008.
Sarah Parker Geller – Head of the Upper School; Humanities; College Guidance
B.A. in Political Science, Bryn Mawr College
M.A. in Teaching in Political Science/Political Philosophy, Tufts University
Originally from New Mexico, Sarah earned her BA from Bryn Mawr College and then moved to Boston to teach 5th grade at Cambridge Friends School. After earning an MAT in social studies education at Tufts University, Sarah moved to Atlanta. During her four years in the South, she taught high school history at The Weber School, an independent Jewish school. Prior to coming to Meridian, Sarah taught 6th and 7th grade humanities at Abington Friends School in the Philadelphia area. Sarah believes that young people should learn to think critically about the world around them and use their education to make positive contributions to society. She also strives to instill in her students the idea that learning is not something that takes place in a day or a week but over the course of a lifetime. Sarah joined Meridian in 2009.
Leisa M. Quiñones-Oramas – World Languages
B.A. in Comparative Literature and Hispanic Studies, with a minor in French, University of Puerto Rico - Río Piedras
M.A. in Spanish Language and Cultures, Boston University
M.A.T. in Second Language Acquisition, Boston University
A native of the coastal northwestern town of Isabela, Puerto Rico, Leisa moved to Boston after finishing her bachelor’s degree. Here she pursued graduate studies and taught various levels of Spanish at Boston University, UMass Lowell, Simmons College and UMass Boston.
For the past three years, Leisa has taught high school Spanish in Boston Public Schools, where she has faced the many thrills, challenges, and rewards of teaching in an urban classroom. Throughout her career, she has focused on making language learning relevant to students by fostering oral communication and the use of art and authentic resources. Outside of teaching, Leisa enjoys cooking, painting abstracts, reading 19th century fiction, and visiting museums. Leisa is very excited to be a part of the vibrant community at Meridian.
Nathan Sokol-Margolis – Head of the Middle School; Humanities
B.A. in International Relations, Alliant International University
M.Ed. in Social Studies, Lesley College
Nathan's experience has covered three continents and a wide range of subjects. From teaching history to youth in and out of jail in Boston to teaching economics in China, he has focused on giving students a voice. Nathan’s teaching is informed by his passions for philosophy, theater, and storytelling that help students create their own worlds in and out of the classroom. Nathan works with his students to apply their learning to addressing real world problems that they identify and to engage with their communities as active citizens. In 2013, Nathan was named Humanities Teacher of the Year in the Dipont Education group of over 25 schools across China.
Laura Somia – World Languages
B.S. in Law, Université Paris X
M.S. in Teaching a Foreign Language, Université Paris X
Born in Paris and raised in the coastal southwestern town of Biarritz, France, Laura moved to Boston after finishing her Post-Graduate Teaching Certificate at University College London. Prior to her move to the UK, Laura studied and received a Masters from Université Paris X in Teaching French as a Foreign Language with a minor in Spanish. For the past three years, Laura has taught middle and high school French and Spanish at the British International School. There, she was fully involved in the school life, as she believes that being a teacher includes much that is beyond the classroom. Having been raised in a multicultural household and lived in several different countries, Laura is always encouraging students to try new things, push their boundaries, and broaden their horizons in and outside the classroom.
Michael Tornabene – Mathematics, Science, and Technology
B.A. in Biology, Towson University
M.S. in Biology, Saint Mary’s College of Maryland
Michael has been a life-long Maryland resident before deciding to join the community at Meridian Academy. Growing up on an old tobacco farm, he developed a passion for the outdoors and specifically the plants around him. After working for several years in the herbarium at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, he pursued this passion as a graduate student studying population genetics and botany. During his graduate research, he could often be seen trudging through swamps looking for ferns up and down the East Coast of North America. Thankfully, he was required to teach as a graduate student, and found it even more rewarding than the aforementioned fern searches. He looks forward to sharing his own enthusiasm for learning about the natural world with the community at Meridian.
Chanel Thompson – Dance
Chanel "Ms.5678" Thompson is the choreographer for Xbox's "Dance Central" Game and six time awardee of the National Cheerleading Association. Currently working on choreography and motion capture for Harmonix Music newest video game set to release in 2019, she has been teaching in various studios, schools, producing dance for the 2018 Hubweek HipStory Series, Boston Center For The Arts, Palaver Strings Ensemble, and the 2018 Hatch Awards. She is also founder of Performance Build, established in 2004 to bridge the gap between record labels and talent agencies. Ms.5678 is creatively directing artists, talent, and young achievers to move creatively with encouragement and excitement using dance fitness.
Board of Trustees
Joshua Abrams – President
In addition to his experience listed above, Josh has held leadership positions helping schools during their initial accreditation and reaccreditation with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), has assisted with college guidance, and has had responsibility for budgets and personnel decisions. Josh founded Meridian because he wanted to provide an option for secondary students that valued their ideas, understood their need to be useful members of their communities, and welcomed them as junior researchers within and across the disciplines. Both of Josh's sons, Matthew '11 and Isaac '17, graduated from Meridian.
James Maguire, CPA – Treasurer
B.S. in Accounting, Boston College
Jim is a retired PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP (PwC) assurance partner with over thirty years of experience with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 50 market leaders. He served as a lead global relationship partner responsible for managing world-wide audits with a focus on quality, independence, transparency and integrity. Jim served both public and private clients primarily in the retail, manufacturing, consumer product and non-profit sectors.
Tricia Morrow – Secretary
B.A., Knox College
Tricia Morrow has enjoyed her role as a Teacher/Director at Neighborhood School in Jamaica Plain since she co-founded the purposefully small, independent elementary school in 1986. Her trek from Illinois to Boston in 1982 was stimulated by a strong sense of calling to live and work with children in an urban, multicultural environment. With teaching certification in elementary and special education, followed by graduate coursework in educational management and parenting studies, and then parenting three children, Tricia is committed to the rich, personalized learning and family connections that small schools cultivate. Tricia's son, Nick, is a member of Meridian's class of 2019.
B.A. in Management Information Systems, Brown University
Jorge has spent most of his career as Chief Information Officer in large advertising agencies. For the last several years he has been an independent Information Technology consultant and has provided outsourced CIO services to small and midsize companies as well as non-profits. Jorge served on the board at the Atrium School where he stewarded the physical expansion of the school to add a middle school. He is the parent of Alejandro Abellas-Seitz, class of 2017.
B.S. in Economics, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
Seth is a managing director and equity research analyst at Wellington Management Company. He is responsible for analyzing equity investments in the information technology, business services, and consumer sectors. Prior to joining Wellington in 2006, Seth worked as an equity analyst at Putnam Investments. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. Seth has been a resident of Jamaica Plain since 2006 and is the parent of three daughters, Ayelet, Aviva, and Aria.
B.S. in Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctor of Medicine, Stanford University
MBA, University of Massachusetts
Bill is a physician, scientist, and entrepreneur in biotechnology. He has been a practicing physician and has led the research and development of new medicines in both large and small organizations. Bill currently also serves on the boards of several biotech companies. He and his family live in Newton and he is the parent of four children, including Emily, class of 2021.
BA, Oberlin College
Ed.M and Ed.D, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Antonia is the Director of reDesign, a national consulting practice that supports the design and development of learner-centered communities. Antonia began her career as a high school teacher, and then went on to found a NYC public school similar to Meridian. In her work at reDesign, Antonia is deeply engaged in working with educators, at all levels of the system, as they work to develop and support learning communities that truly nurture students. Antonia’s daughter, Luca, is a member of Meridian’s class of 2022.
B.A., Washington University in St. Louis
Beth is the Director of Development for Springwell, a non-profit organization that helps seniors and people with disabilities live independently in their homes. She has worked to advance social service organizations addressing issues ranging from domestic violence to suicide prevention for more than 20 years. Beth has advised non-profits and schools in Boston and Chicago on fundraising, marketing and programming, and has worked with Meridian Academy since its inception. Beth is the parent of Max '17 and Jesse '22.