Faculty and Staff


Dr. Phyllis Reggio, Ed. D., Principal/Pre-K For All Director – principal@sta-catholicacademy.org

Dr. Phyllis Reggio holds an Ed.D. from Fordham University in Urban School Leadership. Prior to her appointment as principal of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Academy she served in NYC schools as a high school English teacher, assistant principal, principal,  local superintendent, and as an assistant professor at Hunter College. In addition to her career in active school leadership, Dr. Reggio continues to research and publish on current issues in education. As principal she is eager to bring fresh approaches to teaching and learning that are guided by our Catholic faith. 

Ms. Ariana Boston-Hill, Administrative Assistant/Pre-K For All Secretary – aboston-hill@sta-catholicacademy.org

Ms. Nubia Martinez, Bookkeeper/Administrative Assistant – nmartinez@sta-catholicacademy.org
Ms. Martinez joined St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Academy in 2014 as a teacher’s aide after working for 24 years as an Administrative Assistant/Education Administrator for a non-profit marketing communications trade association. She has been a long standing parishioner and school volunteer for different activities. Ms. Martinez holds an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts from Kingsborough Community College.

St. Thomas the Apostle Parish Administration

Reverend Frank Tumino – Pastor

Msgr. Edward Wetterer – Retired in Residence

Mr. William Smiddy – Director of Music Ministry

Mrs. Carmella Dearing – Director of Parish Outreach

Ms. Natalia Parra – Director of Faith Formation


Mrs. Barbara Brussell – Nursery – bbrussell@sta-catholicacademy.org
Mrs. Brussell received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and Master of Science in Education degree from Molloy College and is NYS certified in Childhood Education, Students with Disabilities, and Visual Arts. Mrs. Brussell has previously taught 3rd grade for several years at St. Francis de Sales School, Social Studies at St. Brigid Catholic Academy, and was a building substitute teacher for grades preK through 12th grade at the Henry Viscardi School, which is a school for physically disabled children.

They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel. ? Carol Buchner

Mrs. Josephine Pirozek – Nursery Aide/PKA Liaison – jpirozek@sta-catholicacademy.org
Mrs. Pirozek has been a teacher assistant at St. Thomas the Apostle School since 2002. She is currently assisting in the Nursery classroom and also assists teachers of all grades whenever needed for prayer services, school plays, graduations, etc. Mrs. Pirozek is also the Liaison to the NYC Department of Education for the UPK Program and also works in the Afterschool Program. She has completed 83 credits at Queens College.

Mrs. Jeanne-Marie Leeb – Pre-K For All Lead Teacher – jleeb@sta-catholicacademy.org
Mrs. Leeb received her Bachelor of Arts degree from NYU, after which she worked with autistic children for a year and a half in a special education school. She then returned to school to get her Masters degree in Early Childhood Education at NYU. After receiving her MA, she began teaching at St. Thomas the Apostle School, first, in the position of Kindergarten teacher. In 2002, Mrs. Leeb became New York State certified. After 12 years as the Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Leeb was tapped to pilot St. Thomass new Universal Pre-K program, which she has done since 2010. Her philosophy of teaching is to see every student in her care as an individual.

Every person is gifted in some area. We just have to find out what. – Evelyn Blose Holman

Mrs. Stephanie McAdams – Pre-K For All Lead Teacher – smcadams@sta-catholicacademy.org
This is Mrs. McAdams third year teaching PKA at St. Thomas the Apostle. Previously she was the SETSS provider for St. Thomas the Apostle, and has previously taught preschool as both a general education and special education teacher. Mrs. McAdams received her Bachelor of Arts in Child Study from St. Joseph’s College and Masters of Science from Long Island University in Literacy. She is certified in Early Childhood Education, Childhood Education, Students with Disabilities, and Literacy.

Ms. Carolyn Gaynor – Pre-K For All Lead Teacher – cgaynor@sta-catholicacademy.org 

Mrs. Gwen McLernon – Pre-K For All Lead Teacher – gmclernon@sta-catholicacademy.org 

Mrs. Mariane Frenzel – Pre-K For All Aide
Mrs. Frenzel has been a teacher assistant at St. Thomas the Apostle School since 2002. She is currently in the PKA classroom and also assists teachers of all grades whenever needed for prayer services, school plays, graduations, etc. Mrs. Frenzel also works in the Early Drop Off and Afterschool Programs and assists Mrs. Pirozek with the PKA Program coordination. She attended Queensborough Community College.

Mrs. Monika Buda – Pre-K For All Aide
Mrs. Monika Buda joined the faculty of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Academy, in 2014.  She has a Master of Science in Education degree from the University of Warmia and Mazury (Poland), and currently, graduating from Queens College with a Master degree in Teaching (B-2).  Moreover, Mrs. Buda works as a head teacher to eighth grade students at  St. Faustinas Polish Supplementary School.

Mrs. Marbella Paniagua – Pre-K For All Aide
Mrs. Paniagua joined the faculty of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Academy in 2014 as a Teacher’s Aide in the PKA Program. Mrs. Paniagua has been an active parishioner and volunteer for many years at St. Thomas the Apostle.

Mrs. Louise Connors – Pre-K For All Aide
Mrs. Connors joined the staff of St. Thomas the Apostle School in 1994 as the second-grade teacher’s aide. The following year Mrs. Connors became the Kindergarten aide where she remained for 14 years. She then became the Pre-K Aide and is now an aide in one of our Pre-K For all classrooms where she enjoys working and creating things with the children. Through her 20 plus years working at St. Thomas, Mrs. Connors also enjoys drawing and painting props for our Christmas and Spring shows. As the years pass so fast, Mrs. Connors quote is “Live, love and laugh with children, before you know it, they will be men and women.”

Ms. Sabena Kernizan – Pre-K For All Aide

Mrs. Anny Garcia – Pre-K For All Aide

Ms. Christine Small – Pre-K For All Aide

Mrs. Consuelo Ramirez – Pre-K For All Aide

Ms. Marisa Larsen – Kindergarten – mlarsen@sta-catholicacademy.org

Ms. Larissa Gargano – Grade 1 – lgargano@sta-catholicacademy.org
Ms. Gargano received her Master’s degree in General and Special education from the University of St. Johns. Ms. Gargano has previously taught fourth and fifth grade ELA and Social Studies. She has also previously worked at St. Thomas as a SETTS provider.

“Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Ms. Ingrid Düffer- Grade 2 – iduffer@sta-catholicacademy.org
Ms. Düffer is fluent in both Spanish and English. She has worked in the public, private and Catholic educational systems in varying grades throughout the years. Her experiences began in 1987 as a student teacher and include public schools in both Harlem (3-5) and Richmond Hill (K-10), The Rockefeller University Childrens School/Infant Toddler Center in Manhattan (N,K). In 1999, she joined the Catholic  Schools System teaching at St. Benedict Joseph Labre School in Richmond Hill (2, 6 ELA and Science), as well as, here at St. Thomas The Apostle School (5-8 Music) in 2006.

 Ms. Düffer studied at Hunter College majoring in Psychology with a concentration in Elementary Education through the Training Tomorrows Teachers Program. She passed the NTE (National Teachers Exam) in 1991. In addition, she has taken courses in the field of education at NYU SCPS, The Bank Street College of Education and St. Johns University for professional development. She aspires to mold and to develop her students into independent, confident readers, writers and out of the box thinkers. Her focus is not only to teach them academically, but to help them formalize a deeper relationship with our Lord Jesus as they prepare to receive Him in their First Holy Communion.

Mrs. Nikitha Bachu – Grade 3 – nbachu@sta-catholicacademy.org

Mrs. Patricia Eggers – Grade 4 – peggers@sta-catholicacademy.org
Mrs. Eggers began teaching in Catholic schools in 1995 after an eleven year career in Marketing and Finance. As her own children became of school age, she began to volunteer more and more for different activities, and this eventually led her to pursue a second career in Education. She began at Epworth Parish Preschool and Day Camp, then St. Clement Pope School, and St Benedict Joseph Labre. Mrs Eggers has had experience teaching grades Pre-K through 8, and has also taught Computer and technology. She received a BA from Marymount Manhattan College, and has post-graduate credits from St. Johns and LIU, as well as a NYS certificate in Technology.

Let the little children come to me. – Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew 19:14

Ms. Anneliese Villanueva – Grade 5 – avillanueva@sta-catholicacademy.org
Ms. Villanueva received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education and Geology from Queens College and is NYS certified in Childhood Education. In March of 2016, Ms. Villanueva began working at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Academy as a substitute teacher. Ms. Villanueva takes great pride in being an alumni of St. Thomas the Apostle, having graduated from the school in 2005. She is an active member of the parish community and is beginning her Masters degree in Early Childhood Education from Queens College.

Ms. Brittany Ciccone – Grade 6 – bciccone@sta-catholicacademy.org 

Mrs. Adelaide Polito – Grade 7 – apolito@sta-catholicacademy.org
Mrs. Polito graduated from St. Josephs College with a Bachelors Degree in History and Education. She started teaching in 1975, first at St. Malachys where she was a self-contained classroom teacher and also worked in the departmental JHS level, teaching Social Studies, Religion, Math and Language Arts. After 4 years, she joined the staff at St. John Neumann, teaching both in a self-contained and departmental setting, where she remained for 11 years, until giving birth to her daughter in 1989. While staying home to raise her daughter, Mrs. Polito substituted at three different Catholic Schools. In 1999, she returned to full time teaching at St Thomas the Apostle School. This is Mrs. Politos 33rd year teaching in the Diocese of Brooklyn and she currently teaches 6th and 7th grade ELA and Religion to 6, 7, and 8th.

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself! – John Dewey

Mrs. Helen Hartel – Grade 8 – hhartel@sta-catholicacademy.org
Mrs. Hartel joined the faculty of St. Thomas the Apostle in September of 2006. She has her Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from The University of SUNY New Paltz. Mrs. Hartel is currently teaching Math to 6, 7, and 8th grades, as well as Science to 6 and 7th grades.

“Success is achieved and maintained by those who try and keep trying.”  W. Clement Stone

Support Staff

Ms. Rebecca Rosa – Guidance Counselor

Ms. Deborah Camp – Art (N-4th Grades)

Mr. Jorge Quezada – Music

Mrs. Janine Miller – SETTS Teacher

Ms. Shannel Tomlinson – Physical Education