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 McGann

Director, Graduate Support

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!

Jillian Beaman

Director of Development

Education: Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, BA in Applied Music – Bassoon. Also studied at Monroe Community College and The Ohio State University.
Jillian is enthusiastic about volunteering in the community, playing and listening to classical music, cooking, gardening, reading, exercise, and being a mom. She grew up in Columbus, Ohio and is a huge Ohio State Buckeye football fan.

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.

Charles Arnell

Physical Education and Health Teacher

Education: Williams College, 2 years

"Coach" Charles joined the Nativity Staff Team in 2021 and is passionate about providing guidance, comfort, and counsel for those in need. His favorite way to spend a rainy day is to play Scrabble and Jumble!

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.

Anna Doerr

Director of Student Support Services

Education: Nazareth College, Masters of Social Work; Manhattan College, Psychology and Peace Studies Major
Anna loves art, filmmaking, reading, writing, social justice, her family, soccer, and dogs. She played D1 college soccer in the Bronx and worked at the United Nations on poverty and sex trafficking issues during college.

Cynthia Ragus

Academic Intervention Services – English Language Arts

BS in Special Education and Elementary Education from Buffalo State College; MS in Special Education from Nazareth College; MS in Urban Administration from St. John Fisher College; Cynthia is also a graduate from Our Lady of Mercy High School.
Cynthia is excited about helping children learn, being kind to everyone (including animals), decorating, vacationing, and getting together with family and friends. She is also a proud cat mom (2 boys) named Louis Leatherpants and Ferris Featherpants.

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!

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!

Roxanne VanDeWalker

Cafeteria Supervisor

David Bergeron

Facility Custodian

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

Tatiana M. Colon

Rochester Youth Year VISTA

Education: Bachelors of Arts from St. John Fisher College; double major in English and Spanish; concentration in writing.
Tatiana is passionate about giving students the opportunity to find what they're passionate about and the encouragement to share their voices with the world. She loves creating all kinds of fun things, from cooking to creating art. She is currently focusing on writing short stories and making jewelry.

Tracey O'Brien

Math Teacher, Grades 5-8

Education: Masters in Education from Roberts Wesleyan College; BS in Math from SUNY Brockport.
Tracey joined the Nativity Staff Team in 2021 and is passionate about social justice! In her free time, she loves repurposing furniture and household items and baking cakes. Recently she and her husband became empty nesters!

Khan Smith

Teaching Assistant

Education: Sophomore at SUNY Brockport; History and African American Studies Major.
Khan is enthusiastic about helping and supporting kids to become the best version of themselves. He loves sports and his name in Cherokee Native folklore means "Prince of Wisdom."

Alexandra Arnell

Teaching Assistant and Social Work Intern

Alexandra loves to help adolescents by offering empathy, compassion, and understanding when in crisis situations and by maximizing their potential through encouragement to build self-esteem, self-awareness, and emotional awareness. She is also an advocate for social justice, equity, and equality. For fun Alexandra enjoys astrology as a way to learn more about ourselves and others and she also is the daughter of Nativity's very own "Coach" Arnell.