At Nativity Preparatory Academy, every faculty and staff member is fully committed to creating an environment that prepares students intellectually, morally, and spiritually to succeed at high school and beyond.

With experience in both their chosen subject areas and inner-city education, our teachers bring a unique perspective to their positions that allow them to genuinely “connect” with our students. We also have two teacher’s assistants who add to the learning environment and oversee after-school programs, tutoring sessions, and Saturday activities.

The staff takes great pride in drawing upon their collective experiences and talents to develop Nativity students to be leaders of the future.  Beyond their academic expertise, our faculty applies a wealth of music, art and other talents to broaden the scope of learning available to our student body within our holistic educational mission.

The overall student-faculty ratio at Nativity Preparatory Academy is seven students to each faculty member. This small class size ensures that each student receives the attention he or she deserves.

Meet Our Team

James C. Smith


James is driven every day to empower others to unlock their brilliance. He is a long-time gamer since the days of programming his Commodore 64 computer.

Jennifer Kremer


Education: Nazareth College, BA in Music Education; MS in Education, University of Rochester, MA in Education Leadership/Administration
Jennifer is passionate about any opportunity to help children realize their own gifts. She enjoys time with family, directing her gospel choir, boating, hanging with her dog, Poncho, and up-cycling antique furniture.

Meredith Smith

Director, Student Support & Programs

Meredith enjoys playing with her puppy Iggy, trying new restaurants, running, and skiing. Before coming to Nativity in Rochester, she worked at the Nativity School in Boston while finishing her graduate degree. She is originally from Minnesota and has lived in 4 states to date. Meredith is a converted Red Sox fan!

Paula Dolan

Director of Special Projects

Paula is retired after 40 years as a Human Resources Executive. She is passionate about music and kids!

Amanda Adams

Science Teacher

Amanda is passionate about teaching middle school, which is her favorite age group! She spends time with her family (husband Kyle, daughter Bayleigh, and son Jack) and is a huge Star Wars, Star Trek, and Marvel fan.

Joseph Appleby

English Teacher

Joseph loves to see young people make connections and develop into lifelong learners. He enjoys the outdoors, especially camping, hiking, and fishing with his family and friends.

Susan DiFabio

5th Grade Teacher

Susan loves learning and inviting opportunities to stir-up curiosity. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and kayaking. She has hiked mountains in the Grand Tetons, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Blue Ridge and Green Mountains.

Sr. Mary Lisa Dwyer, SSJ

Academic Intervention ELA

Sara Jenks

AmeriCorps Volunteer, Nativity Fellow, Notre Dame Mission Volunteers

Sara is insatiably curious. She loves to learn about other cultures through books and travel. In her free time, you might catch her riding her bike around town!

Jon Matt

Physical Education and Health Teacher

Education: St. Bonaventure University, MBA; McQuaid High School graduate in 2002.

Jon is passionate about sports of any kind, playing golf, his new puppy Rina, and volunteering. His favorite color is orange and in his free time he enjoys stand up paddle boarding and camping.

Denise Smith


Amy Stell

6-8th grade Social Studies

Education: University of Rochester, BA in History; Margaret Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester, MS in Secondary Social Studies Education; Certification – 5-12 Social Studies Education

Amy is passionate about her students, social justice, travel, food, Harry Potter, art, reading, music, and her Beagle Olive. She has travelled to 21 countries to date and can’t wait to visit and experience more!

Shannon Yawman

Religion and Spirituality Teacher

Education: Fordham University, BA in American Studies & Communication; Currently pursuing at Warner School of Education, University of Rochester, a MS in School Counseling and Leadership.

Shannon loves music, family, travel, movies, drawing, activism, Disney trivia, and reading. She is also a classically trained singer!

Karen Anvelt

Office Manager

Karen loves education, social justice, and women’s rights advocacy. Both she and her 2 daughters all have matching Harry Potter tattoos! She also makes the best chocolate and peanut butter cake – from scratch!

David Bergeron

Facility Custodian

Dave is enthusiastic about riding his bike to work every day, even in the cold!

Roxanne VanDeWalker

Cafeteria Supervisor