meet our teachers


Mrs. Gretchen Kraak

I chose Persistence Prep because… I believe in the model and mission. When I read Persistence Preps core values and mission, I knew it was the place for me! I believe that all children deserve a high-quality education and Persistence Prep provides that for all scholars. Persistence Prep values the “whole” child and prepares their scholars for any opportunity they want out of life.  I am honored to work alongside a team of like-minded educators that are all in for students.  I was looking for a school that valued a strong community not just among its staff but with students and families as well. Persistence Prep is that school.   


Ms. Elizabeth Giovino

I chose Persistence Prep because... it is powered by the hearts and minds of our wonderful educators. The teachers make up a curated team of passionate, intelligent, and caring professionals with depths of experience educating scholars. The word team is not to be taken lightly here. We are all working together to enrich the lives of our scholars by studying and implementing innovative scientifically proven techniques for classroom management and instruction. When we know better it is our responsibility as educators to do better every single day. I am lucky to be a member of this incredible team!

Mrs. Tracey Thomas

I chose Persistence Prep because... I want to empower our scholars with strategies and help them develop a desire to learn. I have taught and watched children in our inner city schools grow and transform into educated young adults. I believe in Persistence Prep core values. Our school is helping our scholars build self-awareness in Kindergarten so they will be successful in life. As an educator at PPA, I am honored to help shape our scholars, and see their abilities and believe in them. I strive to see the whole child in his or her learning process.


Ms.Carrie Godwin

I chose Persistence Prep because...after reading the mission there was no doubt in my mind that this is the school where I am meant to be. I knew that I would be held to high standards and have tremendous opportunities for growth as an educator. The community of educators and scholars at PPA would help me to become a better version of myself every day which would lead to greater success of my students. I am so lucky to be part of the team that is positively impacting the community of Buffalo.



Ms. Erin White

I chose Persistence Prep stated in our core beliefs, “education is a civil right”, but that hasn’t been realized for most of our city’s youth. I chose to be a part of the Founding Team at Persistence Preparatory Academy because I believe that all of our children deserve to have the opportunity to succeed- no matter the odds. It is our job as educators to barrel through those obstacles. Persistence Prep has been established on these same values and I am excited to be a part of this movement.


Ms. Megan Ayers

I chose Persistence Prep because... I believe every child deserves the absolute best education.  Persistence Prep will give our scholars the tools and motivation to achieve success in the classroom, and prepare them to take on new challenges each and every day.  Our team is dedicated to learning, growing, and achieving hand-in-hand with our scholars.  As teachers, we challenge our students to achieve at the highest level for their future academic and personal success. 

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Mrs.Sonya Ford

I chose Persistence Prep because...coming to Buffalo and working in the inner-city for over 8 years has reminded me of my city upbringing down state. I knew Persistence Prep was the platform for me because so many of our core values attribute to the reasons why I was a successful student in the inner-city. Persistence Prep isn’t just focused on high-quality academic education; we are a movement; a place of advocacy for the ‘whole child’.



Ms.Ashley Bartela

I chose Persistence Prep because...I truly believe in our school and our mission.  I believe that our scholars need to be given the best possible opportunity to learn, grow and succeed and I know that Persistence Prep can give them that opportunity.  Our team is dedicated to instilling in our scholars our core values: community, respect, grit, enthusiasm, justice and persistence.  With these values driving our learning community, I truly believe that our scholars are destined for greatness.  I am so honored to be able to work with a team full  such passionate educators, as well as our hard-working scholars and dedicated families. 



Mrs. Andrea Cox

I chose Persistence Prep because...I believe in the model and mission. Finding a school that focuses on strong family and community connections, high-quality instruction, and strong, well-trained teachers is rare. For that school to be solely dedicated to inner city children is unheard of! I am honored to work at Persistence Prep because of the dedication to the children of the East side of Buffalo. I was born and raised on the Eastside and to be able to give back to my community is a dream come true.


Mrs. Miranda Lee

I chose Persistence Preparatory Academy because... after reading the school’s mission statement, I knew it would be a perfect fit for me.We provide students with the high-quality instruction they deserve.  Teachers go through rigorous professional development to ensure that they are fully prepared to meet each child’s needs.  We truly embody our core values, from teachers and leadership, to scholars, and the persistence to continue to make a difference in the City of Buffalo. I feel honored to be a part of such a wonderful team raising the bar for education in Western New York.


Ms. Clarissa Hanson

I chose Persistence Prep because… it is clear to me how deeply every staff member at Persistence Prep cares about helping students grow. This team of educators understands that “the way it’s always been done” does not serve our students best. Through dedication to not only high quality, rigorous academics, but also strong personal relationships and social-emotional support, it is clear to me that Persistence Prep is helping to create leaders, changemakers, and lifelong learners.


Mr. Andrew Niederhauser

I chose Persistence Prep because…the mission statement aligns with my core values as an educator. Every child in the Buffalo community has the right to a high quality, rigorous education to better prepare them for life’s journey. I am committed to be an integral piece of the puzzle as we lay the foundation for every scholar. Every member of the Persistence Prep team shares this commitment, and it is a privilege as we work together to serve our community. I started my educational journey on the east side of Buffalo and am honored to be back where I belong.


Ms. Kasey Poloncarz

I chose Persistence Prep because….I firmly believe in the mission of Persistence Prep and the power that lies within each child. Scholars at Persistence Prep know their dreams and future success are not an “if,” but a “when.” Persistence Prep provides its scholars with the highest quality education and the necessary tools to achieve their dreams. It is a privilege to be a part of a learning community that inspires me to be the best version of myself and grow as an educator.


Ms. Taylor Miller

I chose Persistence Prep because...I whole-heartedly believe in the school’s mission and desire to create a positive change within our community founded upon the academic success and the development and acquisition of leadership skills of our young scholars. Student success, and the path to a 4-year college, is directly linked to the expectations set forth before them by their teachers. PPA is a beautiful community of teachers, administrators, professionals, students, and parents working together to maintain and achieve that one common goal: student success. Persistence Prep is my team, my army, and my family as we, together, continue to triumph in our common goal.


Mr. Mike Zeiser

I chose Persistence Prep because... I feel that it is a school that can, and will, create opportunities for children to become true agents of change and set them on the path to take down any obstacles they may encounter.  Too often, schools talk about doing things differently, and I feel that Persistence Prep is a school that means that and does it.  From the adult culture of constant growth and reflection, to the high standards that the kids and adult staff are held to, Persistence Prep is a school that truly embodies its mission and value of education as a fundamental civil right in everything that it does.  It is a place that truly values all children, their families and the staff and works together to ensure that each child gets the quality education that they so deserve. 

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Ms. Kimberly Bing

I chose Persistence Prep because...of the culture I was being introduced to. I have lived in Buffalo my whole life and I want to see it grow as a whole. Persistence Prep is giving our scholars the chance to get a quality education that sets them up to go to a four-year college and have great careers someday. I chose Persistence Prep so I can grow with our scholars, and become a bigger part of the community. As a first year teacher, I feel supported and inspired through Persistence Prep which is how I want our scholars to feel as well."

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Ms. Ashley Farina

I chose Persistence Prep because….. of the school’s mission statement, and community within the building. I believe that it is important for both the teacher and the school to work together to make sure that the students get a high-quality education, where students are celebrated and encouraged to be themselves. I wanted to be at a school that would challenge me to grow everyday as a teacher and provide support and education to help me do so. I am happy to be part of this amazing team of educators and cannot wait to build relationships with the students and their families. 


Ms. Heather Riedy

I chose Persistence Prep because... I believe deeply in the mission and values that we uphold and represent.  Every child has the right to a high-quality education, and I wanted to work in a school that believes this as deeply as I do. At PPA, I have the opportunity to work alongside an amazing group of people who are dedicated to fulfilling the mission that we set forth and whose utmost purpose is to give our scholars what they deserve. We are more than a school; it’s also a community of lifelong learners who have a drive and passion for knowledge and growth.We see that our scholars are our future, and we see a bright future ahead of us.

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Mrs. Alexis Wright

I chose Persistence Prep because...I believe that we will truly make a difference in the education field.  All of the teachers have a strong will to ensure that all students deserve the right to a holistic education.  We, as Persistence Prep educators, are invested in our scholars and will find any resource necessary to ensure our scholars are supported and can reach their highest potential.   I am excited to be apart of this team of strong educators and look forward building relationships with all scholars.


Ms. Gabrielle Threet

I chose Persistence Prep because... I firmly believe knowledge is the basis of all power. All students deserve access to high quality education. As an educator, I want to inspire my future students to chase their dreams no matter how out of reach they may seem, and to be the best citizens they can be! Here at PPA, we have a passionate team that is sincerely dedicated to helping students to become their best. PPA focuses on the social development of the child. Teaching them important core values of community, respect, grit, enthusiasm, justice, and persistence. PPA is a school that practices what they preach. I am happy to be a part of such a wonderful school and like-minded team.


Ms. Danita Harris

I chose Persistence Prep because...this school has a mission that is extremely refreshing in a society where inner-city youth are subject to systems that have set them up to fail. As a school counselor, I value PPA’s emphasis on college preparation. It is our goal to ensure that scholars are aware of the endless opportunities that await them. Persistence Prep has a strong set of core values that are deeply rooted in the school’s foundation. Persistence Prep scholars and educators uphold these values with tremendous honor and passion. I truly believe that in order to help a child reach his/her fullest potential it takes a community of dedicated supporters. Persistence Preparatory is a place where students are nurtured by a community of people who want to see them soar.


Mr. Nick DiPalma

I chose Persistence Prep because...of the strong culture that the school has instilled and seeks to distribute throughout the community at large.  Every child should have access to quality education regardless of circumstance.  It is a privilege to be able to work with like-minded individuals on a day to day basis who truly have the scholar’s best interest at heart.  I am grateful to be apart of this educational and community building mission.


Ms. Amanda Kellner'

I chose Persistence Prep because...I want to be part of school that values enrichment through movement and dance as much as I do. I believe the freedom to express through movement, as a form of art, a way to relief stress, a coping strategy and for social engagement enhances learning at a young age. More importantly, it’s so fun! When I read the mission statement, learned the core values and met the team, I knew our school was embracing the way I want to live and lead. As an educator and humbled role model, I know I can make a difference in the lives of Persistence Prep students. I am honored to be part of this amazing journey with the students and the Persistence Prep team.