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Welcome to New Calhoun Faculty and Staff: 81st Street

Meet the newest 81st Street Calhoun employees.

Upper School

​Atef Friji: US French Teacher

Atef Friji will be taking over our French language program this year. Atef has a BA and MA in French from West Chester University and is a native speaker of both French and Arabic. Atef is passionate about languages, especially French. He believes that the world can be a better place by being able to communicate to different people through different languages. He enjoys traveling, meeting new people, promoting diversity, visiting museums and cooking.


Sridhar Nagubandi: US Math Teacher

Sridhar Nagubandi is joining us as an Upper School math teacher this year. He has a BA in mathematics from St. John's University, an MA in mathematics education from New York University, and a PhD in mathematics education from the University of Plymouth, where he completed his dissertation on An Investigation into the Impact of Visual-Spatial Difficulties on Learning Geometry. Sridhar has been a math teacher for 20 years, and he has also taught personal finance, coding and physics. He is passionate about helping students learn and working with his colleagues to make school a better experience for all of his students.

Pilar Sanchez: US Spanish Teacher

Pilar is delighted to join the Calhoun community as a Spanish teacher in the Upper School. She previously served as a licensed bilingual per diem teacher with the NYC DOE where she created and taught bilingual lessons to meet NYS learning standards while making every student feel valued, safe, and welcome. Pilar also served as a teaching artist with the prestigious New York City Center Education Department where she designed experiential curriculum and taught Spanish dance along with Spanish language and culture in close collaboration with classroom teachers. Pilar holds a master’s degree in digital media from New York University and a bachelor’s degree with a double major in Spanish language & culture and dance education from the State University of New York. When she is not teaching, she enjoys baking, taking walks in Central Park, and rescuing dances in danger of extinction.

Food Program

Lisa Locke: Director of Food Services and Executive Chef

Lisa was hired after an exhaustive national search to fill the role vacated by Chef Bobo, who retired at the end of last year. She comes to Calhoun with over 15 years of experience as a registered dietitian, professionally trained chef and food service director. Tracing back to her research at the University of Michigan's Kinesiology Department, Lisa is passionate about how nutrition and food relate to athletics, fitness and overall well-being. She previously spent six years as the Executive Chef and Director of Nutrition and Food Service at the Metropolitan Montessori School, where she ran the kitchen with a focus on education and sustainability––establishing a student-run rooftop garden and eliminating single-use packaging. Prior to that, she spent time in multiple Michelin star kitchens and graduated top of her class from the French Culinary Institute.

Rich Okamoto: Chef

Rich Okamoto was born and raised in New Jersey. He was the sous chef with Chef Lisa at Metropolitan Montessori, and worked in many NYC restaurants before that including ABC Cocina, North End Grill with Floyd Cardoz and Momfuku. He has a bachelor's degree in early childhood education and also played keyboard, and composed music for the band Houston Calls. His favorite dish to cook (and eat) is fried chicken. 

Jose Raposo: Prep Cook

Jose Raposo is from the Dominican Republic, and spent the past 19 years at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Petrie Court Cafe. He loves to cook sancocho, a traditional Dominican stew with chicken and pork, yucca, corn and butternut squash with adobo. In his time off, Jose loves to travel, see live music and spend time with his children at the park.

Carmen Romero: Prep Cook

Carmen Romero is originally from the Dominican Republic. She has cooked in the Tiffany's Blue Box Cafe for over three years, and before that she worked at Jeffrey's Restaurant with Restaurant Associates. She loves to cook classic Dominican food, and spend time biking, at the gym and dancing.



Allana Edwards: Communications Coordinator

​Allana graduated from Colgate University in 2017 with a BA in English. Before Calhoun, Allana worked in advertising, healthcare, and education as a writer. She really valued her time in healthcare, and wanted to find a role where she could use her talents to have an impact and make a difference. Calhoun was the perfect place for her to merge these goals with her creativity. 


Amy Keith: Development Associate

Amy graduated from San Francisco State University with a BS in environmental science. Before joining Calhoun, she worked as a climate justice activist in San Francisco, working to recruit middle and high schoolers for leadership roles within the climate justice movement. She's very passionate about supporting future generations on their journey to become engaged, passionate, and thoughtful global stewards. She relocated to Brooklyn at the beginning of this year to be closer to family and is enjoying exploring her new city and experiencing seasons.

Emma Woodcock: Digital Communications Specialist

Emma graduated from Wheaton College (MA) with a BA in history and business & management. For the past several years, she worked at a nonprofit for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in western Massachusetts. 


New Roles

Emily Capkanis has attended Calhoun as a student and taught in the Lower, Middle and Upper School divisions in the past. This year she will return to the Upper School as one of our visual art teachers. Emily is an emerging mixed media artist based in New York City. 

Cassandra Cuppy will be returning from her parental leave as Calhoun's librarian.

Jose Roman has been promoted to Chef de Cuisine.

Coach Casey Shane will serve as the parental leave replacement for physical education teacher Brooke Carbaja.