Board of Directors 2021-2022
Priscilla Zarate served as Executive Director for the Division of English Language Learners and Student Support at the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) for two years. In this capacity, she served over 150,000 English Language Learners in 1,800 schools throughout the NYC five boroughs. Ms. Zárate led citywide initiatives including the creation, development, deployment, implementation, and monitoring of supports, resources, and services for English Language Learners (ELLs) across districts, field support offices, and schools. She implemented and expanded high quality Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE), English as a New Language (ENL), and Dual Language (DL) programs. Ms. Zarate built the capacity of superintendents, principals, assistant principals, teachers and Field Support Centers in the areas of instruction and compliance.
At the present time, Ms. Zarate serves as Director of Pre-K-12 for the Port Washington Union Free School District, Trustee for Suffolk County Community College Board, and as Chairwoman of the Suffolk County Hispanic Advisory Board for the Suffolk County Government Office of Minority Affairs. She recently appointed as President-Elect for the New York State Association for Bilingual Education (NYSABE).
In 2013, she was recognized by the Town of Babylon and Supervisor Rich Schaffer as a “Hispanic Leader Serving and Guiding Our Nation with Pride and Honor.” That same year, State Senator Phil Boyle honored her as a Hispanic Leader in the Brentwood community.
Ms. Zarate believes that “every child deserves high quality educational programs that value, respect and represent the cultural diversity and languages that students bring into their school communities.”
Janet Suárez Lovett
Ms. Suárez Lovett became a bilingual teacher in 1999 at the Brentwood Union Free School District (BUFSD) in Suffolk County. She taught for seven years and then accepted a Bilingual Resource Specialist position in the BUFSD where she provided professional development to teachers, parents, and administrators.
In 2009, Ms. Suárez Lovett became the Assistant Administrative Coordinator for the Intensive Teacher Institute where she managed the grant for general education teachers seeking to obtain their bilingual extension or their English to Students of Other Languages (ESOL) certification. Ms. Suárez Lovett worked with institutions of higher education across the State of New York to ensure that teachers were receiving the preparation necessary to properly educate students learning English as a new language.
In 2014, Ms. Suárez Lovett was hired as the Coordinator of Bilingual Education & World Languages in the Hempstead Union Free School District where she continues to advocate for multilingual learners and their families. She works closely with a professional team dedicated to providing what is in the best interest of the students in the district.
Currently, Ms. Suárez Lovett is a doctoral student at the University of Phoenix online program. Her passion is centered on the engagement of parents of multilingual learners. She is expected to receive her doctoral degree by the year 2020.
Lyda Ragonese is the Assistant Director for the Office of English as a New Language, World Languages and Bilingual Education in the Syracuse City School District. She is a Hmong-American from Laos and is a fluent speaker of Hmong. She began her teaching career in 1993 as an English as a Second language teacher at Franklin Elementary before moving to Frazer K-8 School in Syracuse. She has her TESOL certification from Le Moyne College and M.A. in Reading Education from Syracuse University. After leaving the classroom, her experiences varied in the fields of student learning objectives (SLO), APPR, and was elected as the treasurer of the teacher’s union in Syracuse. She has served as an adjunct professor at Le Moyne College and earned her Certificate of Advanced Studies (C.A.S.) from Syracuse University in Educational Leadership.
James Nieves Bermúdez grew up in the town of Hatillo, Puerto Rico. He decided to become a teacher when he was in high school. After graduating high school in 1996, James attended the University of Puerto Rico, School of Education, and majored in Spanish. During his junior year in college, he had the opportunity to be part of the Cordova Internship. He worked at the office of the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico in Washington DC, where he covered congressional hearings related to education. After completing his internship, he returned to Puerto Rico to finish college where he received the medal of excellence in student teaching.
James graduated from the University of Puerto Rico in May of 2002. While in Puerto Rico, James had the opportunity to interview with the Syracuse City School District and obtained a teaching job at the George W. Fowler High School. He taught all levels of Spanish, including Spanish for Spanish Speakers and Distant Learning Spanish. In May 2009, James completed his Master’s Degree at Syracuse University in the Spanish Language, Literature and Culture program. He has held many leadership roles such as department chair, building union representative, secretary of the Syracuse Teacher’s Association and Coordinator of the Twilight Academy. James also had the opportunity to be part of the Teacher Advisory Council to the Commissioner of Education of New York State. In October of 2013, James received the Educator of the Year Award from the Nosotros Radio, in Syracuse, NY.
James completed his Certificate of Advance Studies at the State University of New York at Oswego in Education Leadership. In September of 2014, James had the opportunity to become Vice Principal of the Westside Academy at Blodgett. James is part of the recruitment team for the Syracuse City School District and the ELL Core Leadership Team. In July 2018, James became the Principal of Seymour Dual Language Academy where he currently works. He has been part of the Syracuse Westside community for the past 17 years.