Our operations team is a cornerstone of the Achievement First approach—its members manage day-to-day administration of all non-instructional aspects vital to running our schools.
"I like that I’m a jack of all trades and I do a little bit of everything, but it’s the relationship building with our Team & Family that keeps me excited about work every day."
Last Position: Office Coordinator, AF East New York Elementary
Undergraduate Degree: Brooklyn College
When visitors stopped by AF East New York Elementary, it was Corey’s face that first greeted them in the main office. When parents called the school, it was his voice they first heard on the phone. Corey prides himself on his ability to build relationships with co-workers, students and parents, conveying a positive impression of the school and helping those he meets get the most out of their time at Achievement First. Corey served as office coordinator for four years, which gave him the opportunity to use his skills as a people person and a problem-solver. His many duties included inputting data into Infinite Campus, calling parents, managing attendance slips and addressing various issues that come up throughout the day. Corey continues to use his skills in his new role as operations associate at AF Aspire Elementary, which opened in 2013.
Corey grew up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn and worked at Starbucks as he attended Brooklyn College. He graduated with a degree in finance in tumultuous financial times and decided to seek a role that would allow him to use the relationship-building skills he learned in his work. Corey has always been drawn to education, but he didn’t feel his skillset was best for teaching. As an operations associate at Achievement First, Corey feels he gets the best of both worlds: the ability to work in a school while focusing on his interest in business.
Favorite aspect of role: "I love the relationships I’m able to build with everyone associated with the school. We share our building, so I’ve also developed good relationships with many people outside of Achievement First."
Proudest moment: "I am proud to see how our third graders have come such a long way. When they came to us in kindergarten, many of them barely recognized the alphabet. When I’m entering students’ scores and grades, I see how advanced they have become in reading, and every day I see all of the character development."
"I enjoy making sure the whole child is looked after so their brains can be ready to learn. I’m not just behind the scenes directing, I’m directly involved in every aspect of school."
Last Position: Youth Coordinator, The Partnership for Kids (PARK Project)
Undergraduate Degree: Berklee College of Music
For Florisca, being the director of school operations at AF Bridgeport Academy Elementary doesn’t mean managing from behind a desk—it means having a hand in every non-instructional decision and investing in the culture of the school with her whole heart. She wouldn’t have it any other way. As director of school operations, Florisca is a focal point of the school’s Team & Family. She communicates with and supports everyone from custodians and kitchen staff to teachers and the principal. Her role in overseeing the school’s efficiency—managing aspects including transportation, books, meals and cleaning—is critical to the overall welcoming feeling students get when they enter the building.
Florisca’s work in the central operations role at Achievement First Bridgeport Academy Elementary—a job she feels she was meant to have—came after a unique journey. When she arrived in the United States from her native Dominica at 21 years old, she was a successful singer who planned to earn a degree in performance studies and music education so that she could return home to teach. As she studied music, she also launched a business career, working for health and financial companies. She missed her true passion—working with young people—and left her corporate job for roles in youth enrichment. Eventually, she became youth coordinator for The Partnership for Kids, helping young people with mental disabilities reach their potential. She joined Achievement First as the founding director of school operations at Achievement First Bridgeport Academy Middle, eventually transitioning to the same role at the elementary school.
Favorite aspect of role: "I like the whole job—all aspects of my job allow our school to run smoothly, and as a result, we are able to support the students and what they’re learning."
Proudest moment at Achievement First: "A few of our high school students came back to volunteer at our school this summer, and when I talked to them about college, every one of them knew where they wanted to go. These were students I saw during my first year at the middle school, students who were reading at a first- or second-grade level. I knew my work with them had contributed to their improvement academically and behaviorally and helped them make a total change."
"No two days are ever the same, which is incredibly challenging and incredibly exciting. There is tremendous opportunity for growth, and the rewards are really unbeatable."
Last Position: Assistant Director of Alumni Relations, Wesleyan University
Undergraduate Degree: Wesleyan University
Sandy, now a director of school operations at AF Hartford Academy Middle, came to Achievement First as an operations associate at AF Amistad High. At each AF Amistad High School graduation, parents approached and thanked Sandy for everything she’s done for their children, even though she’s never once taught a class. Her work as an operations associate—which included interpreting internal data, meeting with school leadership about school-wide systems, and managing student credits to track progress on the path to graduation—contributed enormously to student success. Sandy loved that her role allows her deep investment in systems and logistics while also providing an environment full of diverse challenges.
Before joining Achievement First, Sandy worked on project management, event planning and fundraising as Wesleyan University’s assistant director of alumni relations. Her passion for working in education was sparked when she was selected for Prep for Prep, a program that places New York City’s most promising students of color in private boarding schools throughout the Northeast.
Favorite aspect of role: "I love that I am always exposed to new things. My role allows me to manage logistics as well as to spend time with students and families."
Proudest moment at Achievement First: "I am proud to run Senior Signing Day every year. It is such a happy moment when students announce their college choices; everyone has such a great time and they leave with lifelong memories."
"I love that I can make a seemingly small tweak, change a seemingly small procedure, and see the huge impact it makes on our students."
Last Position: Director of School Operations, AF Crown Heights Middle
Undergraduate Degree: Northeastern University
Graduate Degree: Metropolitan College of New York
When Tsehaia visits the schools under her direction, she relishes the opportunity to step back and think about how different systems or procedures can improve each school. In working with operations staff throughout New York, Tsehaia can learn from each director of school operations and share their best practices across all of the schools she serves. In a typical week, Tsehaia visits at least half of the schools in her portfolio, observing transitions, checking in with the director of school operations, Operations Associate and Office Coordinator, and troubleshooting both internal and external issues. She thrives on helping schools run more efficiently and loves seeing the huge impact seemingly small, non-instructional changes can have on students.
Born to Trinidadian parents in Brooklyn, Tsehaia was a first-generation college student who benefited from non-profit opportunities and scholarships. When she graduated, she knew she wanted to work in social services. She worked for Volunteers of America, serving those who deal with issues including incarceration and homelessness, before she decided to work on prevention instead of remedy. She joined Achievement First as an operations associate at AF Crown Heights Middle and then became a director of school operations and eventually regional director of operations.
Favorite aspect of role: "I love visiting the schools almost every day, working on school readiness and on operations throughout the year. I love that I can walk down the hallways and see how kids are progressing and know that the work we’re doing is having a positive impact on learning."
Proudest moment at Achievement First: "I am extremely proud of our first cohort of seniors at AF Brooklyn High. My proudest moment will be when they graduate in June. I worked with many of these students when they were in middle school at AF Crown Heights Middle, and I’m humbled by how much they’ve achieved during the past seven years."
“I am happy to work for an organization that values learning and development. People receive top-notch growth opportunities here.”
Last Position: Development Director, St. Joseph School
Undergraduate Degree: Princeton University
Graduate Degree: Yale University, School of Management
For Brett, serving as the director of school operations for AF Apollo Elementary is like running a small business. Many of his duties are akin to those of a chief operating officer at a company with a multi-million dollar budget, which is a management experience that appealed to him after he earned his M.B.A. Brett loves that he is charged with big picture financial, budgeting and compliance work while also delving deeply into the academic and cultural aspects of the school. At Achievement First, he spends his days making school-wide business decisions while managing the school’s operations staff and building relationships with students and families. These relationships—a favorite part of Brett’s job—begin with daily morning handshakes and culminate in inspiring “stepping up” ceremonies when he watches students with whom he’s built strong bonds advance to middle school.
Brett came to Achievement First after developing a passion for education and a desire to bring his management skills to a mission-driven organization. After he completed his undergraduate degree, Brett volunteered in Nicaragua, where he taught English. While he was interested in education, he realized he did not want to work as a teacher. He worked as the development director at a Catholic school in Bronx, N.Y. before earning a master’s degree at Yale.
Favorite aspect of the role: “I really enjoy my human resources responsibilities. I like the idea that I’m the go-to person for 60 staff members when they have questions. Even though I am engaged in operations work and not instructional work, teachers view me as a leader.”
Proudest Moment: “I am very proud of founding AF Apollo Elementary and seeing it reach full scale as an elementary school. I’ve navigated shared space challenges as we added students, and helped us grow and improve. I’m proud that we’re a school that is set up to get even better.”
At most traditional public schools, critical non-instructional functions are performed by principals, taking important time away from their ultimate goal of improving student achievement. At Achievement First, this essential work is performed by members of our operations team in each building, professionals who work tirelessly to manage the multitude of operations-related aspects involved in running a successful school. Led by our directors of school operations, our school operations staff is integral to Achievement First’s success. Their dedication to efficiently and effectively handling a host of non-instructional issues allows our principals and deans to focus on instruction, observation and coaching, and provides the support that allows Achievement First’s students and teachers to thrive.