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Academic Faculty


Samuel Zhou

Director of Education

Dr. Zhou received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Rutgers University. Before joining Fei Tian, he taught computer science in University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers University, and had been an undergraduate advisor and served on the Chair Search Committee at the Department of Computer & Information Science in University of Pennsylvania.

Ronald C. Fortunato

Director of Special Projects and Partnerships

Mr. Fortunato is a pioneer and innovator in the development and implementation of educational technology. He is one of the original five Christa McAuliffe Educators in the USA selected by the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education, and a NASA Space Ambassador for the United States. He is also Adjunct Professor for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Maureen Zebian

Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Social Study Teacher

Maureen Zebian brings to Fei Tian Academy 19 years of classroom teaching experience. She has taught social studies and English, as well as elective classes including health and criminal justice. At Fei Tian she will teach world history and eastern hemisphere history.  As a curriculum specialist, she is skilled in improving learning opportunities for students and educators alike.  She will work with teachers and administrators to implement rigorous curriculum and assess the quality of instruction.

Ms. Zebian holds a B.A in political science from the University of Arizona. She has three grown children: Ryan 28, Natalie 26, and Rita 24.

Kelly Connerton

English Teacher

Kelly Connerton joins Fei Tian Academy as a Master Teacher with over ten years experience instructing High School English classes in New York City. She has taught in a myriad of contexts, from Remedial English to ESOL Students, to Advanced Placement Literature and Composition. Mrs. Connerton has also taught a variety of elective classes such as Theater, Journalism, Creative Writing, and College Prep. Various Leadership positions held have been Lead Mentor Teacher, Literacy Coach, Department Chair and, finally, Instructional Coach, with a focus on Curriculum Design and Experiential Learning. She has taught model lessons for Chancellor Joel Klein and worked with New York Times Writer David Rosenberg on a series about educational shifts in New York City. Kelly has a passion for Shakespeare, American Classic and Russian Authors.

Mrs. Connerton holds a B.A. from The Eugene Lang College and a Dual Masters in English Education and Drama from NYU. She currently resides in Cold Spring NY with her husband, toddler son and dogs. When not reading, she likes to spend her time hiking, working with animal rescues, and seeing Experimental Theater in NYC with a focus on new interpretations of Classic Literature.

Matthew Carl

English Teacher

Matthew Carl began working for Fei Tian Academy in 2016.  Previously, he worked for four years in the Enlarged City School District of Middletown, New York as a substitute teacher.  Following his graduation from the State University of New York College at New Paltz in 1997, he worked as a retail manager for over a decade before returning to the academic world in 2012 to pursue a Master’s Degree in Literacy at Mount Saint Mary College, which he completed in 2016. He has worked with young people in a variety of arenas including summer camps, residential facilities, and classrooms.

Kimberly Crespin

English Teacher (ESL)

Before joining Fei Tian Academy, Ms.C taught English to speakers of other languages for four years in international, domestic, and virtual settings. For two years, she taught English at a Chinese university and draws on this experience when working with Mandarin-speaking students. Ms.C holds a B.A. in Anthropology with minors in English and Linguistics from SUNY Plattsburgh as well as being certified in both TEFL/TESOL instruction.

She applies her background in language and cross-cultural understanding in all aspects of her teaching. Ms.C believes in creating an engaging learning environment that focuses on relevancy. Her goal is to create an atmosphere that inspires confident English-speaking students.

Michael Sokoler

History Teacher

Mr. Sokoler teaches United States History, Government, AP Government, and English Language Arts. He holds a Master’s degree in English and has a Bachelor’s degree in American History, and double-minored in Political Science and Eastern European Civilizations. Over the last year he completed his published work on the history of the Enlightenment through a combination of a political theorist and philosophical lens.

Additionally, Mr. Sokoler worked extensively at an education center focused around tutoring and test prep, where he specialized in teaching students content on the ACT, SAT, and regents exams, while also teaching college writing. Mr. Sokoler also spent several years teaching Science programs for children, and spent two years working at a Veterinarian hospital.

Mr. Sokoler enjoys reading, studying new works, and writing, with a particular focus on politics and philosophy.

Mark Horler

Social Studies Teacher

Mark Horler joins the Fei Tein Academy after 32 years as a Social Studies teacher. He will be teaching 6th grade Eastern Civilizations, 7th grade Early American History and 12th grade Civics and Economics courses. Mr. Horler served as the Subject Matter Leader for 15 years and during that time he also served as liaison to the New York State Education Department as an Assessment writer and chaired multiple Curriculum Writing projects in district.

Mr. Horler holds a B.S in Education from Suny Cortland and a M.A. in Secondary Social Studies from SUNY New Paltz. His wife Nikki is also an educator and presently is serving as a High School Principal. He has two wonderful daughters Amanda a RN and Madeline a student.

Valeria Dyman

Physics and Math Teacher

Valeria joined Fei Tian in 2017 after working for one year in NYC Public Schools and consequently for five years in Minisink Valley and Warwick Valley School Districts. Prior to that, she taught math and physics in Russian public school.

At Fei Tian, Valeria teaches Algebra 2, Calculus and Physics. She has a Baccalaureate in Physics and Master of Science in Radio Physics and Electronics from Lobachevsky State University, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, and Master of Arts in Education from Marist College, Poughkeepsie NY.

Valeria loves sharing the beauty of math and physics with all of her students. She loves classical music and enjoys spending time outdoors with her four children and husband.

Parul Patel

Science and Biology Teacher

Mrs. Patel has joined our team at Fei Tian Academy of the Arts well into her 9th year of teaching.  She is highly motivated and passionate about teaching science on both middle and high school levels due to the endless possibilities. She attended Temple University and earned her Bachelors of Science in Education with a focus in Biology in 2008, a Master’s of Science in Special Education from Gwynedd-Mercy in 2013, and English as a Second Language (ESL) Certification from Penn State in 2014.

Primarily having worked in an inner city Title 1 setting, Mrs. Patel has geared her educational approach to making students lifelong learners. Therefore, they will be able to successfully defy stereotypes, challenge their mindset and create a road to their success.  Beyond doubt “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”(Nelson Mandela)

Chris Montalto

Science Teacher

Mr. Montalto joined FTAA during the Fall of 2016.  He teaches both Middle School and High School in a variety of courses ranging from Integrated Science, Earth Science and Environmental Science to Business Management.
Mr. Montalto has a M.A. in Biology.

Lu Lu

Biology and Chemistry Teacher

Lu Lu received her B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology and M.S. in Environmental Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC), where she developed a passion for biology and water treatment. At UIUC, she spent four years on academic research in various fields including chemical engineering, genetic engineering, and virology. Her research results have been published in numerous journals including Nature Communications and Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Before starting a career as a licensed environmental engineer, Ms. Lu turned her attention to Fei Tian Academy and teaching. At Fei Tian, Ms. Lu teaches Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and AP Biology. She also advises students for the World Bridge Science Project.

Tim Sun

Math Teacher

Tim Sun holds a B.Sc. in Information and Control Systems from Shanghai Jiaotong University in China and M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from University of Southern California.

Prior to joining Fei Tian as a math teacher, Tim has 22 years of industrial experience of applying mathematical models to automotive engineering and marketing systems. Tim has a passion for teaching. He had served as board member of local Chinese school, as well as teacher of various subjects.

Tim has designed and conducted professional development programs on Chinese culture and arts for public school teachers and administrators of New York City and New Jersey. He has also provided numerous seminars and presentations on such topics to corporations, schools, libraries, and clubs. Tim is a member of Rotary International.

Gloria Shang

Chinese Language Teacher and Homeroom Advisor for Academic Students

Gloria Shang was born in China, where she lived before coming to the United States in 2008. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Chinese Linguistics and Literature at Hebei University, China, and earned her Master’s Degree in Education: Curriculum & Classroom Instruction at Ashland University, Ohio, in 2009. She completed the Indiana University Chinese Pedagogy Institute’s intensive courses on teaching Mandarin Chinese at the secondary-school level in 2010 and 2011.

Ms. Shang obtained her teaching license, P-12, in Chinese, and before joining Fei Tian, she taught Chinese in middle and high schools in Indiana for seven years. She feels honored to help students develop a passion for appreciating the 5,000 years of divinely inspired Chinese culture and for learning the beautiful Chinese language.

Tysan Lerner

Physical Education Department Chair

Tysan Lerner is a certified health and fitness coach from New York University, The Health Coach Institute, Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and Holistic Nutrition Lab. Ms. Lerner is a certified Pilates teacher, as well as a certified Scientific Back Training Coach and Corrective Exercise Science Coach from The CHEK institute.

Ms. Lerner was trained as and performed as a professional dancer in ballet, modern, and classical Chinese dance. Her struggles with weight and injuries lead Ms. Lerner to the field of corrective exercise science and nutrition, which Ms. Lerner has been working in for the past 20 years.

Zenon Dolnyckyj

Physical Education Instructor

Zenon Dolnyckyj is the Co-founder of Tyzen Fit, an elite online health and fitness company.

Mr. Dolnyckyj was the Head Performance Coach of Golf & Body NYC and a Tier 3 trainer at Equinox. He was certified as a personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the Chek Institute as a corrective exercise coach and Golf Biomechanic.

Mr. Dolnyckyj’s movement background started at a very young age, playing competitive hockey 5 times a week during Canadian winters and soccer in the summer. He later gravitated toward Japanese and Chinese martial arts and eventually classical Chinese dance. As a personal trainer he has worked with high school tennis players and golfers. He is excited to develop a physical education program for Fei Tian Academy that will focus on health and biomechanics. This knowledge will help students in competitive sports at a young age and help maintain a high quality of life through their later years.