Every child deserves a chance to achieve.
The mission of the Amani Public Charter School is to provide Mount Vernon, New York students in the 5th through 8th grades with the academic skills necessary to succeed in competitive high school programs, college and the career of their choice.
The concept of Amani began at their kitchen table. Founders Charles and Debra Stern then formed a coalition to bring a high performing charter school to Mount Vernon, NY. The Sterns, along with other public school parents, educators and business people joined forces to develop the school's charter application. In 2010 the New York State Education Department authorized Amani Public Charter School. Amani is the first and only charter school in Mount Vernon. Admission is open to all children, including those with special needs and English language learners. Nearly all of our students reside in Mount Vernon. Students are admitted through a random lottery held each April.
Mrs. Stern brings to Amani her experience as a college administrator, adjunct faculty member and social worker. She is also a public school parent and an active member of the Alumni Council of Cornell University. She holds a Masters in Social Work from College of New Rochelle, and a Master of Educational Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University. A New York City native, Debra grew up in New Rochelle and then lived in Mount Vernon for many years, where she founded the Friends of Mount Vernon Public Library, and also served as President of the districtwide PTA Council. This unique background makes her exceptionally qualified to lead the organization as it grows and pursues its mission of educational achievement.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Mr. Visners has over 15 years of experience in urban education. Beginning as a Special Education teacher in the Bronx, Mr. Visners has taught math, humanities and science. He most recently served as an instructional coach at the middle school level. He has trained new teachers for the NYC Teaching Fellows and served as an adjunct instructor at Mercy College. Mr. Visners earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of New Haven, a Master of Education degree in Special Education from Lehman College, and an Advanced Certificate of School Leadership and Administration from the College of St. Rose.
Director of Operations
Mr. Tanner earned a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Long Island University, C. W. Post. In addition, he is a graduate of The Institute of Culinary Education Professional Chef Program. Mr. Tanner brings over 15 years of event planning, programming and management, along with his extensive culinary background, to his responsibilities for the day-to-day operations services for the school.
Director of Finance
Mr. Bailey earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Central Connecticut State University in 2009, where he served as captain of the football team for two years. Mr. Bailey has held the position of Director of Finance at Amani since 2011. Currently, he serves on the Financial Advisory Board for Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas. Mr. Bailey also volunteers as a head coach of a Pop Warner football team.
Director of Pupil Personnel Services
Ms. Danko brings a wealth of experiences in Special Education. She earned a Masters in Educational Leadership and Administration from Western Governors University, a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the College of New Rochelle and a Bachelor of Science in Special Education from the College of Mount Saint Vincent.
Dean of Scholars and Families, Upper School
Mr. Scott earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from the State University of New York at Cortland and is currently pursuing a Masters in Physical Education as a Coaching Pedagogy. Mr. Scott is also the Commissioner at MVP Basketball Camp.
Dean of Scholars and Families, Lower School
Title I Coordinator
Mr. Johnson earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Central Connecticut State University where he served as captain of the football team. This year he will graduate from Touro College with a Master of Science in Adolescent Special Education, grades 7 – 12.
Director of Advancement and Legal
Ms. Livingston earned a Bachelor of Arts from Fordham University and a Juris Doctor from New York Law School. She is also a member of the New York State Bar. Her professional experience encompasses the legal, human resources, and non-profit fields. Ms. Livingston has a passion for working with children and investing in their future.
Tara McLaughlin, Data Coordinator and Math Program Coordinator
Amiell Parker, Registrar
Maureen Moser, ELA Program Coordinator
Beth Johnson, Science Program Coordinator
Harvey Zuckerman, Coordinator of Guidance and Enrichment
Alysia James, Coordinator of Guidance and Enrichment
Mandy Zoffness, Social Worker
Nicole Francis, Nurse
Ashley Davenport, Office Manager
Antonio Scott, Head Custodian
Jerry Lester, Custodian
Board of Directors
Sid Burke: a partner in the New York Office of DLA Piper LLP (US), a global law firm. Mr. Burke lends his own legal expertise and facilitates pro bono legal assistance for the school. Mr. Burke received his J.D from NYU School of Law and his A.B from Harvard University.
Adell Dowdy: an educational professional with a career spanning over thirty years. Presently Ms. Dowdy is an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate Education Department of Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. She brings expertise in professional and curriculum development as well as school administration. Ms. Dowdy earned a BA from Bennett College in Elementary Education and Reading, an MA in teaching from New York University and the Professional Diploma in Supervision and Administration from the City College of the City University of New York.
David Eichler: a Certified Public Accountant with extensive professional experience as a controller for a multibillion-dollar division of a public company. Mr. Eichler earned his BS in Accounting from New York University and has a long career in the motion picture industry.
Laura Francis: a lifelong resident of Mount Vernon, and a former teacher in the Mount Vernon City School District. Ms. Francis has a long history of school and community involvement. She holds a Bachlor of Science from The American University and a Master of Science from Fordham University.
Jim Killoran: Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity, Westchester County. Jim is a graduate of St Josephs College BA Seton Hall University MDiv. and has an honorary doctorate degree from St Josephs College of Maine. He is also the treasurer for the Yonkers Charter School of Educational Excellence. Mr. Killoran believes every student deserves an excellent education.
Stephanie McCaine: Director of Admissions at Purchase College . Ms. McCaine brings a strong operations background as well as visibility into the remote end of the Amani students’ educational journey. Ms. McCaine is a graduate of Skidmore College.
Richard Thomas: Mayor of Mount Vernon, New York. Mayor Thomas is a graduate of New York University and also attended the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Robert Jones: An entrepreneur and former corporate executive with multi-functional experience spanning consumer goods, retail, and education sectors. Mr. Jones is a Mt. Vernon resident with keen interest in improving the city’s K-12 achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Mr. Jones earned a BS degree in Chemical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a MBA degree at Harvard Business School.