Faculty and Staff


Thomas R. Piro, Ph. D., Principal/Pre-K For All Director – principal@sta-catholicacademy.org

After attending Catholic elementary and high schools, Dr. Piro received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Fordham University.  He also received a Masters and Doctoral degree from Fordham in Education.  And, received an additional Masters Degree in Spanish from Queens College and Doctoral Degree in Spanish from The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY).

Dr. Piro’s entire career has been spent in the field of education. He began as a teacher and assistant principal in the New York City Public School System and subsequently became principal of the Floral Park-Bellerose Elementary School and  principal of St. Kevin Catholic Academy in Flushing.  Dr. Piro is also an Adjunct Professor of Spanish at Nassau Community College.

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. 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. Thomas 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. Barbara Brussell – PreK for All Lead Teacher – 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

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. Josephine Pirozek – PreK for All 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 attended Queens College.

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

Ms. Kristina Valentino – Grade 1 – kvalentino@sta-catholicacademy.org

Mrs. Geteerly Delgado – Grade 2 – gdelgado@sta-catholicacademy.org

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

Ms. Larissa Gargano – Grade 4 – 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

Mrs. Patricia Eggers – Grade 5 – 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

Mrs. Karla O’Malley – Grade 6 – komalley@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 35th year teaching in the Diocese of Brooklyn. 

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

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

Support Staff

Ms. Larissa Castillo – Guidance Counselor

Ms. Jackie Gillette – Music

Mrs. Janice Huderski – Art (K-5th Grades)

Ms. Janet Ponce – Spanish Teacher

Mr. Arlene Reyes – SETSS Teacher

Mr. John Safia – Physical Education