About Us

We are

Our Team

Rahel Tekola    Co-founder   Rahel is a current graduate student at Columbia University pursuing a Masters in Public Administration. Rahel is originally from Dallas, Texas and in high school participated in AVID, a College Readiness Program that provided subject specific tutoring. She then went on to Texas Tech University where she studied Political Science and worked at a middle school and high school in the AVID program, where she tutored in SAT and regional tests. Rahel is a product of purpose filled tutoring and college readiness programs and is now dedicated to bringing a more comprehensive and dedicated approach to tutoring in classrooms.

Rahel Tekola

Co-founder

Rahel is a current graduate student at Columbia University pursuing a Masters in Public Administration. Rahel is originally from Dallas, Texas and in high school participated in AVID, a College Readiness Program that provided subject specific tutoring. She then went on to Texas Tech University where she studied Political Science and worked at a middle school and high school in the AVID program, where she tutored in SAT and regional tests. Rahel is a product of purpose filled tutoring and college readiness programs and is now dedicated to bringing a more comprehensive and dedicated approach to tutoring in classrooms.

Niara Valério    Co-founder   Current graduate student at Columbia University and a graduate of Harvard University. Niara is originally from Queens, New York and has experience tutoring the SAT and Regents exams. Niara is passionate about helping students develop test taking skills and draws from her own academic experience to help students excel in a test taking environment. Niara has experience working in the New York City area. She’s developed Regents Prep material for a variety of subjects and served as Tutor Supervisor at FLAGS High School in the South Bronx.

Niara Valério

Co-founder

Current graduate student at Columbia University and a graduate of Harvard University. Niara is originally from Queens, New York and has experience tutoring the SAT and Regents exams. Niara is passionate about helping students develop test taking skills and draws from her own academic experience to help students excel in a test taking environment. Niara has experience working in the New York City area. She’s developed Regents Prep material for a variety of subjects and served as Tutor Supervisor at FLAGS High School in the South Bronx.

Melissa Mitchem    Social Studies Content Developer and Instructor   Melissa Mitchem is a PhD student in Social Studies Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Before beginning her doctoral studies, Melissa taught middle school English/language arts and social studies at an international school in Morocco for several years and several humanities courses at a summer program in Virginia for gifted and talented middle school students. Melissa has a Bachelor of Arts in History and African Studies and Master of Teaching in Social Studies Education from the University of Virginia.

Melissa Mitchem

Social Studies Content Developer and Instructor

Melissa Mitchem is a PhD student in Social Studies Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Before beginning her doctoral studies, Melissa taught middle school English/language arts and social studies at an international school in Morocco for several years and several humanities courses at a summer program in Virginia for gifted and talented middle school students. Melissa has a Bachelor of Arts in History and African Studies and Master of Teaching in Social Studies Education from the University of Virginia.

Yianella Blanco    Social Studies Content Developer   Yianella is a proud former NYC public school teacher. Prior to working with Purpose Tutors, she taught high school Global History, United States History, Government and Economics, as well as 9th Grade English. Additionally, she has worked as a Teacher Development Coach and Training Academy Director for the New York City Teaching Fellows, of which she is an alum. Currently, she is working towards her doctorate in Social Studies Education at Teachers College, Columbia University where she also supervises and works with pre-service educators.

Yianella Blanco

Social Studies Content Developer

Yianella is a proud former NYC public school teacher. Prior to working with Purpose Tutors, she taught high school Global History, United States History, Government and Economics, as well as 9th Grade English. Additionally, she has worked as a Teacher Development Coach and Training Academy Director for the New York City Teaching Fellows, of which she is an alum. Currently, she is working towards her doctorate in Social Studies Education at Teachers College, Columbia University where she also supervises and works with pre-service educators.

 
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Nick Anderson,

Mathematics Content Developer

Nick is working on his Ph.D. in Measurement and Evaluation at Teachers College (TC). At TC, his coursework has focused on statistics, research design, and measurement theory. Nick also works in the office of institutional studies at TC, where he has helped document the psychometric properties of the various survey instruments used by TC. His research interests include evaluation design, psychometrics, and multilevel modeling. He originally comes from a policy background, having worked for both the US State Department and the United Nations and received a MA in Political Science from NYU and BA degrees in economics, political science, international relations and Spanish from Boston University.

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Andrés Rodriguez-Aponte,

Mathematics

Andrés was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He holds a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus and is currently completing an MA in Mathematics Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is deeply interested in the social aspects of education, particularly in a city as diverse as NYC. As a Hispanic himself, Andrés is interested in working with Hispanic students and help them overcome any linguistic or cultural barriers. He also advocates for prison education programs and currently volunteers with the Petey Greene Program, tutoring incarcerated students at Rikers Island who are working on their high school equivalency exams.

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Emmanuel Blankson,

Mathematics

Emmanuel was born in Obuasi, Ghana and raised in the Bronx, NY. He holds a B.A in Sociology and Mathematics from Dartmouth College and is currently getting his M.A in Math Education from Teacher's College at Columbia University. Emmanuel is interested in the educational outcomes of students of color (especially Black and Latinx students) and their math achievement. He hopes to cultivate an environment that encourage students to see how interesting and creative math learning can be in their lives.


Lucia Brizio    Summer 2018 Business and Operations Intern   Lucia is pursuing a Master of Public Administration at Columbia University. She is originally from Peru, where she worked at the Strategic Planning and Budgeting Office of the Ministry of Education. There, she led the budget planning, monitoring, and evaluation for the Teacher Development and Educational Resources Departments and assisted the Rural Education Department on the implementation of the strategic lines of action for rural education.

Lucia Brizio

Summer 2018 Business and Operations Intern

Lucia is pursuing a Master of Public Administration at Columbia University. She is originally from Peru, where she worked at the Strategic Planning and Budgeting Office of the Ministry of Education. There, she led the budget planning, monitoring, and evaluation for the Teacher Development and Educational Resources Departments and assisted the Rural Education Department on the implementation of the strategic lines of action for rural education.

 
Celi Khanyile-Lynch    Advisory Board Member   Celi is an MBA candidate at MIT Sloan, an alum of Brown University and worked in the Office of Govenor Devaul L. Patrick. She is now serving the City of New York as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff & Briefing Director in the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Celi Khanyile-Lynch

Advisory Board Member

Celi is an MBA candidate at MIT Sloan, an alum of Brown University and worked in the Office of Govenor Devaul L. Patrick. She is now serving the City of New York as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff & Briefing Director in the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

 
Meheret Woldeyoannes    Advisory Board Member   Meheret is a TFA Alum who taught in San Antonio, Texas and then KIPP Dallas. Meheret is now based in Washington, D.C. working for an national education nonprofit, 50 CAN.

Meheret Woldeyoannes

Advisory Board Member

Meheret is a TFA Alum who taught in San Antonio, Texas and then KIPP Dallas. Meheret is now based in Washington, D.C. working for an national education nonprofit, 50 CAN.

Bhagirath Iyer    Advisory Board Member   Bhagirath is a current graduate student, pursuing his Masters in Public Administration at Columbia University. Previously, he has had a 10-year career in investment banking and credit ratings. Bhagirath is from India, where he also co-founded a voluntary organization that helps survivors of gender-based violence in India.

Bhagirath Iyer

Advisory Board Member

Bhagirath is a current graduate student, pursuing his Masters in Public Administration at Columbia University. Previously, he has had a 10-year career in investment banking and credit ratings. Bhagirath is from India, where he also co-founded a voluntary organization that helps survivors of gender-based violence in India.

Jocelyn Chu    Advisory Board Member   Jocelyn Chu is an economic development professional with nearly 10 years in the complementary fields of women’s economic empowerment (WEE) and private sector strategy. she became passionate about empowerment through education. Jocelyn Chu holds a dual MA in International Affairs from Sciences Po and Columbia University and an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Northwestern University.

Jocelyn Chu

Advisory Board Member

Jocelyn Chu is an economic development professional with nearly 10 years in the complementary fields of women’s economic empowerment (WEE) and private sector strategy. she became passionate about empowerment through education. Jocelyn Chu holds a dual MA in International Affairs from Sciences Po and Columbia University and an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Northwestern University.

JC Stiassni    Advisory Board Member   JC is a TFA Alum who taught fourth grade in Cleveland, Ohio. JC completed his commitment with Teach for America in June 2016. Since then, he has transitioned into urban real estate development. Just as education is an equalizer in society, he sees the opportunity to bring value to property as a strong long-term investment, which will enrich individuals, communities and cities.

JC Stiassni

Advisory Board Member

JC is a TFA Alum who taught fourth grade in Cleveland, Ohio. JC completed his commitment with Teach for America in June 2016. Since then, he has transitioned into urban real estate development. Just as education is an equalizer in society, he sees the opportunity to bring value to property as a strong long-term investment, which will enrich individuals, communities and cities.