Our Staff

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JOINED 2021-2022: Kevin has been an educator for over 10 years and is a Greenpoint resident. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Kevin earned his BA in English Literature from Boston University and his MA in Education from Relay Graduate School of Education. He began his teaching career at Achievement First before becoming a teacher and grade level leader at Uncommon Schools. He has previously worked as a curriculum writer for Teach Like a Champion's Reading Reconsidered Curriculum, developing several high quality literature units of study for middle schools across the country.

CONTACT:

kgrijalva@bkindependent.org

Kevin Grijalva

8th Grade Humanities,
8th Grade Level Leader

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FOUNDING TEACHER: Lauren has been both a teacher and leader for the past 9 years and is a Brooklyn Heights resident. Originally from New Jersey, Lauren earned her BS in Natural Resources and Wildlife Conservation from the University of Delaware and her MA in Environmental Education from New York University. She also holds a Masters in Childhood Education and Special Education from Touro University. While at Uncommon Charter Middle School, she served as both a Grade Level Chair and Science Instructional Leader.

CONTACT:

lhadam@bkindependent.org

Lauren Hadam

6th & 8th Grade Science,
6th Grade Level Leader

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JOINED 2020-2021: Everton has been a Math teacher at the middle school level for the past 5 years and is a resident of Bed-Stuy. Born and raised in Spanish Town Jamaica, Everton attended Ardenne High School in Kingston before moving to Connecticut to attend Wesleyan University. There, he earned a BA with a major in Biology, as well as specializing in classroom technology as a campus job. While at Achievement First in Connecticut and then Brooklyn, he taught 6th and 8th-grade Mathematics, as well as Regents Algebra I, driving exemplary proficiency growth every year. Everton was a member of the Achievement First Leadership fellows program and also led the school's soccer program for 4 years.

CONTACT:

elaidley@bkindependent.org

Everton Laidley

Dean of Culture

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JOINING 2022-2023: Ahtivah, a Fort Greene native, has spent her last five years as an ELA educator. She attended Benjamin Banneker Academy High School where her yearn to teach was originally developed. She then attended CUNY College of Staten Island where she earned her BA in English (Writing Concentration). She pursued and earned her Masters in Teaching at Relay Education Graduate School. She has worked in both charter & public school settings, and is passionate about all scholars receiving an education that is inclusive and private equity to all.

CONTACT:

alawton@bkindependent.org

Ahtivah Lawton

7th Grade Humanities

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JOINED 2021: Kevin has worked in education for the past 8 years, and is a resident of Astoria, Queens. Born and raised in New England, Kevin earned their B.A. in Classical Studies from Wesleyan University, and their M.A. in Ecclesiastical History from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Kevin joined the BKI team in the Fall of 2021 as Latin teacher, and they are beyond excited to expand their role as BKI’s second ever Science teacher for the ‘22-‘23 school year. Kevin is deeply committed to instilling in their students a deep sense of curiosity and wonder for existence—whether that is the natural world, human history and culture, or everything in between and beyond—and providing students with the skills to creatively rise to whatever challenges they may encounter on their quest to become their true and best selves.

CONTACT:

kmckeown@bkindependent.org

Kevin McKeown

7th Grade Science

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JOINED 2020-2021: Eden, LMSW, is a social worker with a background in theater and music education, which is woven into her clinical practice working with youth. Eden believes that the intersection of arts and counseling activates deep reflection, expression, and social-emotional learning. Her clinical approach is anti-oppressive and trauma and grief-informed with a relational and developmental lens. A native of Portland, OR, Eden is drawn to nature and has an abiding love for her rescue Pitbull, Lady. She obtained a Masters in Theater Education from New York University and completed her Masters in Social Work at the Silberman School of Social Work at CUNY Hunter College.

CONTACT:

eschwartz@bkindependent.org

Eden Schwartz

Social Worker

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JOINING 2022-2023: Vanessa's passion for social service led her to the path of becoming a teacher. Her educational career has brought to the surface a nuanced history of sociocultural evolution which has provided insight and understanding of the world we live in today. In her Humanities classes, Vanessa empowers students by teaching tools to explore the past and present. She also focuses on creating opportunities for students to re-imagine the future. Vanessa believes that respect, empathy, compassion, and love are essential for authentic human connection and actively incorporates those values in the classroom environment cultivated with students.

CONTACT:

vsoriano@bkindependent.org

Vanessa Soriano

6th Grade Humanities
 

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JOINED 2021-2022: Aidan grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and attended St. Ann’s School and Colgate University majoring in Japanese and a minor in film. Aidan worked with the after-school program Citizen Schools from 2009-2011. He then joined the Uncommon Schools charter network in 2011 as a founding 6th grade Math teacher. Over the last decade, he taught 5th-8th grade Math, coached and led both the Math and Science departments and eventually transitioned to being principal. He is excited to step back into the classroom at BKI and continue to do what he loves: teach students the beautiful language of math, how to be reflective members of a larger community, and how magical acknowledging our imperfections can be.

CONTACT:

athomas@bkindependent.org

Aidan Thomas

7th & 8th Grade Math,
7th Grade Level Leader

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JOINED 2021-2022: Etta opens the line of communication between clients, customers, and businesses to get projects done. She specializes in communication, coordination, and is responsible for using progressive systems and applications, including accounting software, mass communication procedures and organizational apps. Etta is a powerful force in the workplace and uses her positive attitude and tireless energy o encourage others to work hard and succeeed. She is inspired daily by her daughter. In her free time, Etta focuses on developing her herbal tea business, cooking, and spending time with family.

CONTACT:

ops@bkindependent.org

Etta Waddell

Operations Manager
 

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JOINING 2022-2023: Kadidiatou’s love for math began the day she was born. Numbers served as the vehicle that allowed her to break barriers for her family. This year, Kadidiatou is committed to pouring her love for math into her students in a way that develops them academically, emotionally, and socially.

CONTACT:

kwague@bkindependent.org

Kadidiatou Wague

6th Grade Math