Our Leaders

Network Support Leadership

Our Network Support Team is a group of professionals working in departments that provide strategic and administrative support for our schools. Focusing on needs such as finance, human capital, operations, curriculum, and external affairs, their purpose is to manage the network­-wide needs of our 350+ staff and to support the overall mission of Blackstone Valley Prep.

Sarah Anderson, CEO and Superintendent

Bachelor’s in English from Williams College

Master’s in Education from Bank Street College of Education

Master’s in Education Leadership from Western Michigan University

Prior to BVP, Ms. Anderson was part of the Office of Transformation and Charter Schools at the Rhode Island Department of Education, where her work included policy development on school accountability and college readiness, as well as direct support to district leadership teams on school reform. She led their Academy for Transformative Leadership, which prepared and placed 13 new school leaders and supported over 90 teachers committed to advancing educational equity. Prior to moving to Rhode Island, she worked for Grand Rapids Public Schools, helping district and school leaders manage dramatic instructional reforms as part of a $5 million federal grant. Originally from New York, Ms. Anderson worked in New York City public schools as a professional developer, instructional coach, data specialist, and middle school English teacher.

Stephanie Bennetts, Chief Academic Officer

Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Pennsylvania

A native Rhode Islander, Stephanie is excited to be back in the state in which she was born and raised. Prior to joining the BVP team, for the last ten years Stephanie lived in Helena, Arkansas where she worked at KIPP Delta Collegiate High School. During her time in Helena, she taught high school English, reading and history, served as an Assistant Principal from 2010 to 2015, and then transitioned into the School Director role in 2015. Stephanie participated in the KIPP School Leadership Principal Prep training program in the summer of 2010. Stephanie came to Helena through the Teach For America program in 2007.

Michael DeMatteo, Chief Operating Officer

Master’s in Public Affairs from Brown University with a focus on Urban Education Policy

Mr. DeMatteo is a registered architect with over fifteen years of professional experience in institutional facilities programming, planning, and design, specializing in K-­12 education. Interested in more active engagement in the education sector, he shifted his professional focus to working within schools. He also served as a Fellow with Education Pioneers where he assisted the charter school, Alma del Mar, open in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Joshua Giraldo, Chief of Human Capital

Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary and Secondary Education from Providence College

Mr. Giraldo was elected in March 2020 to the seat in House District 56 in Central Falls, and then won re-election to a two-year term in November 2020. He is a member of the House Education Committee, the House Health and Human Services Committee, the House Small Business Committee and the House Special Legislation Committee.

Prior to joining Blackstone Valley Prep as Chief of Human Capital, he served as chief of staff for Central Falls Mayor James Diossa from October 2015 to July 2020. Before that, he worked as a teacher at BVP and as a family literacy instructor at Dorcas Place Family Learning Center. He also served as director of the Central Falls Department of Parks and Recreation for two years before becoming chief of staff.

Christine Losea, Chief Financial Officer

Bachelor’s in Social Work from Wheelock College

Master’s of Business Administration from Suffolk University

Prior to BVP, Ms. Losea held several administrative positions within Bridge Over Troubled Waters, a not-­for­-profit agency working with runaways and homeless adolescents on the streets of Boston. After earning her Masters, she became the Finance Director at Bridge managing all financial matters within the agency. Since returning to her native Rhode Island, Ms. Losea has worked primarily in the non-­profit financial world.

Beth Dowd, Director of Operations

Alyssa Fatal, Director of Human Capital & Title IX Coordinator

Dillon Falk, Director of Specialized Instruction

Chiv Heng, Senior Director of Operations

Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Rhode Island

Before returning to RI to take on his current role, Mr. Heng served as the Senior Director of Information Systems at Democracy Prep Public Schools, based in New York City. Prior to his experience in K-­12 education, he worked with the Providence Plan as the Director of Technology. He is a Rhode Island native passionate about improving the social well being of his community.

Marjorie Cortico Ramirez, Director of the Advancement Academy

Bachelor of Arts in Education, University of St. Martin

Master of Arts in Teaching, Special Education Concentration, Johnson & Wales University

Roger Williams University, Certificate in Speaking English to Speakers of Other Languages

Center for Leadership & Educational Equity, K-12 Administrator Certification

Currently pursuing a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Johnson & Wales University

As the Director of The Advancement Academy, Ms. Cortico Ramirez aids young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities navigate the world beyond as they transition out of highschool into exploring the areas of employability, independence, every-day living, community, education, and training.

Her career in education began while working as a teacher assistant at the Hillside Christian School followed by her role as general education teacher at the Genevieve Deweever Public School and St. Joseph Elementary School on the island of St.Maarten. Upon completing her masters degree at Johnson & Wales University-RI, Ms. Cortico Ramirez joined the BVP team as a special education teacher. She holds a tremendous amount of passion, love and dedication for the students that she serves. In addition to the above, Ms. Cortico Ramirez enjoys debating and volunteering in various capacities throughout her community. As she works on pursuing her terminal degree, Ms. Cortico Ramirez hopes to create a more seamless way for young adults with disabilities to access services and work opportunities within their respective communities.

Emily Stainer, Senior Director of Secondary Schools

Emily joined Blackstone Valley Prep in 2022 as a member of the Curriculum, Instructional, and Assessment network team. Previously she served Match Charter Public Schools as the Chief Academic Officer overseeing the academic program preK-12. Previously she led academics at UP Education Network and served as the Head of School for Alma del Mar Charter School in New Bedford, MA. She started her education career at Citizen Schools in 2002 through the National Teaching Fellowship program and then served in a variety of roles on the Massachusetts and national team. In addition to her twelve years of work at Citizen Schools, she has also served youth at City Year Columbia and the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University. Emily graduated from Brown University and later earned a Master’s of Education from Lesley University.

Danielle Thompson, Director of Elementary Schools

Tina Tonino, Director of Special Populations

Bachelor’s in Psychology from URI

Bachelor’s in Elementary Education with a Teaching Concentration in Special Education from Rhode Island College

Master’s in Educational Leadership from American International College

As Director of Special Populations, Mrs. Tonino supports learning for all scholars. Her career started as a special education teacher at the secondary level in Massachusetts. Following her great experiences in Massachusetts, she joined the BVP team to utilize her expertise at the elementary level. She holds high expectations for all scholars in academics and social-emotional wellness. Born and raised in R.I., she attended R.I. College for her second Bachelor’s in Elementary Education with a concentration in Special Education. Mrs. Tonino completed her Master’s in Educational Leadership through American International College and continues to be extremely passionate in serving the needs of all scholars.

Tina Wright, Director of Teaching Fellows Program

Master of Education, University of Hartford

Bachelor of Arts in English Literature

Minor in Psychology, Central Connecticut State University

Tina Wright is the Director of Teacher Fellows, where she passionately guides educators along their career pathways toward becoming certified teachers. Tina began her journey as a paraprofessional for Hartford Public Schools, where her dedication to students and their growth quickly became evident. She spent the next 7 years working toward her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, so she could become a certified teacher.

Upon graduating with her degree in education, she transitioned into a Teacher-in-residence position at Achievement First Charter School in New Haven, C.T., which led her to be hired the following year as a Lead Humanities Teacher. Tina’s passion for educational leadership led her to serve as the Academic Dean and Culture Dean at Achievement First, where she played a pivotal role in creating a thriving culture and academic environment. In 2022, she joined the BVP team, bringing her expertise and enthusiasm for teacher development to the role of Teacher Fellows Specialist. In 2023, she was promoted to Director of the Teacher Fellows.

Each one of our schools has a high-capacity leadership team.

In addition to a Head of School, each campus is made up of Deans who support behavior and instructional needs and day-to-day logistics.

Elementary Leadership

Rebecca Boswell, Elementary School 1 Head of School

Gwenn Cichoski
Gwenn Cichoski, Dean
Ruby Lazo headshot
Ruby Lazo, Dean of Operations

Rebekah Thibeault, Elementary School 2 Acting Head of School

Kourtny Gray
Kourtny Gray, Dean
Ashley Montague
Ashley Montague, Dean of Operations

Alex Smith, Elementary School 3 Head of School

Natasha Gates
Natasha Gates, Dean
Jenna Lefebvre Headshot
Jenna Lefebvre, Dean of Operations

Upper Elementary School Leadership

Sara Tucker, Upper Elementary School Head of School

Bachelor’s degree in Policy Studies & French from Syracuse University

Master’s in Urban Teaching from Providence College

Graduate of the Center for Leadership and Equity’s Principal Residency Network program

Ms. Tucker joined the team in 2012, founding the first and second grade teams at Elementary School 2, then becoming a Dean in 2014. Before coming to BVP, she taught four years in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as a Teach for America corps member and alumni. Through her dedication to her scholars’ academic achievement and relentless pursuit of excellence, Mrs. Tucker is dramatically impacting the lives of children on a daily basis and preparing them for future success in college and the world beyond.

Hillary Morente Headshot
Hillary Morente, Dean
LaShawn Simmons Headshot
LaShawn Simmons, Dean
Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy Logo
Marilyn Urban, Dean

Junior High School Leadership

Kelsey Joyce, Junior High School Head of School

Ariana Gray Headshot
Ariana Gray, Dean
Dan Parsons Headshot
Dan Parsons, Dean

High School Leadership

Marielle Emet, High School Head of School

Bachelor’s in History from Towson University

Master’s in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University

Graduate of the Center for Leadership and Equity’s Principal Residency Network program

Ms. Emet is a founding MS1 teacher and previously served as Academic Dean. Prior to BVP, she was a Teach for America corps member in Baltimore, where she taught history and worked as a curriculum specialist. In 2013, she was honored as Rhode Island’s Milken Educator Award winner.

Andrew Bernard
Andrew Bernard, Dean
Emily Drywa, Dean of Operations
David Jose Headshot
David Jose, Director of College and Careers
Rache Saia Headshot
Rachel Saia, Dean of Humanities