Our People

HOLA staff members share a passion for quality education, recognize the value of bilingualism, and are committed to diversity in the classroom. Contact us for more information, and like us on Facebook to see what we are up to.

Adina Medina
  • Middle School Instructional Coach

Instructional Lead Ms. Medina holds a BA from SUNY New Paltz in English Literature as well as a Master’s degree from Seton Hall in Education with a focus on curriculum design. Mrs. Medina served as our Middle School ELA teacher for five years and has over fifteen years of classroom experience, in both high and middle school levels. She loves all things book-related, but particularly classic fiction and sci/fi fantasy. She is also a low key comic book fanatic and she believes that life is better when there is a superhero present. A mother of two and one canine, Mrs. Medina is excited to return to HoLa as our Middle School Instructional Lead!

Joseph Spano
  • Director of Student Services

 Mr. Spano brings decades of experience as a teacher, Principal, Director of Special Education, and Learning Specialist to his current role at HoLa, where he has been leading the Resource team since 2013. His certifications include Supervisor / Principal, Secondary Social Studies, and Teacher of the Handicapped, as well as Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant (LDTC). Born and raised in Hoboken, Mr. Spano is an avid tennis player and skier, and he makes an incredible marinara sauce, which he loves to share with his colleagues at HoLa! 

Paola Ramirez
  • School Psychologist

Trained as a psychologist and child psychoneurologist in Colombia, Srta. Ramirez discovered her passion for working with students in a school setting after moving to the U.S. She received her Masters in Educational Psychology as well as her professional diploma in School Psychology from New Jersey City University, and she is currently pursuing her certification as a Behavioral Analyst (BCBA). Srta. Ramirez has worked in the field of psychology for over seven years, providing educational, behavioral, and mental health services for children, families, and educators to create a supportive and safe learning environment for all students. She loves what she does! New to the HoLa community, Srta. Ramirez is eager to work with the school’s dedicated staff and students this year. Srta. Ramirez loves to spend quality time with her family; she also loves to talk, laugh and dance to any kind of music – but especially Latin music!

Sabrina Campagnola-Vargas
  • Physical Education

New to HoLa this year, Srta. Campagnola is our Health and Physical Education Teacher for the Elementary School, as well as 6th grade. She graduated from Kean University where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Physical Education. She has taught for over 10 years from elementary to high school level. She was born and raised in Argentina, where she developed a tremendous love for sports since an early age. She played Rink Hockey for the Buenos Aires National Team in Argentina, then later played for the Women’s Lacrosse Team at Kean University. Srta. Campagnola is mother of two beautiful children, and she loves traveling and spending time with family and friends. 

Alicia Alonso
  • Music Teacher

Srta. Alonso serves as our Music teacher for both the Elementary and Middle School. She was born in Cuba and moved to Spain when she was 13 years old. She studied Music at the National School of Music in Havana and received her Choral Conductor Certificate in 1989. She has been an opera singer for more than ten years, traveling around the world. She is also a Cuban Folk singer and a co-owner of a Joaly Production Recording Studio. In 2004, she moved to the United States, went to Julliard School for a Masters Course in Choral Conducting, and by 2010 finished her Bachelor’s with majors in Spanish and Music in Performance. She followed this up with a Masters of Music Performance in 2012. She loves when students perform and sing in Spanish because it combines both of her passions! She also loves gardening and spending time with her family here and abroad.

Alejandra Gaxiola
  • Art Teacher

 Srta. Gaxiola serves as our Art teacher at both the Elementary and Middle School. She’s originally from Mexico City, where she studied Art History and Interior Design. When she moved to the United States back in 2003 she started working as a docent in Spanish for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2012, she was appointed as the Chairman of Spanish Docents. She’s currently a volunteer at MoMA and has been volunteering there for more than 10 years. She joined HoLa in 2013 as an Artist in Residence and became the full-time Art teacher the following year. Once a year she hosts a student art show – HoLa MoMA – showcasing our homegrown talent. When she’s not inspiring our students to express their creativity, she loves cooking, traveling, and playing board games with her family.

Joseph Spano
  • Director of Student Services

 Mr. Spano brings decades of experience as a teacher, Principal, Director of Special Education, and Learning Specialist to his current role at HoLa, where he has been leading the Resource team since 2013. His certifications include Supervisor / Principal, Secondary Social Studies, and Teacher of the Handicapped, as well as Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant (LDTC). Born and raised in Hoboken, Mr. Spano is an avid tennis player and skier, and he makes an incredible marinara sauce, which he loves to share with his colleagues at HoLa! 

Adina Medina
  • Middle School Instructional Coach

Instructional Lead Ms. Medina holds a BA from SUNY New Paltz in English Literature as well as a Master’s degree from Seton Hall in Education with a focus on curriculum design. Mrs. Medina served as our Middle School ELA teacher for five years and has over fifteen years of classroom experience, in both high and middle school levels. She loves all things book-related, but particularly classic fiction and sci/fi fantasy. She is also a low key comic book fanatic and she believes that life is better when there is a superhero present. A mother of two and one canine, Mrs. Medina is excited to return to HoLa as our Middle School Instructional Lead!

Kate Santana
  • Math Coach

Ms. Santana graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Business Administration, but entered the teaching profession right out of college through Teach For America. She fell in love with math education and never looked back! She taught 6th-8th grade math in Brooklyn for 8 years, while also earning her Master’s in Secondary Math Education. She then moved to NJ where she began her coaching career at HoLa for 2.5 years. After taking two years away as the Dean of Curriculum and Instruction at a charter school in Newark, she’s incredibly excited to be back at HoLa as the Middle School Math Coach. Along with her husband and daughter, she loves traveling and seeing the world. She’s a huge fan of math games, reading, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends.

Sandra Romano-Lazo
  • 5th & 6th Grade Social Studies Teacher

Srta. Romano graduated from The College of New Jersey in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Secondary Education. This is her 6th year at HoLa. She is a self-proclaimed history nerd and is passionate about the study of American history and ancient civilizations. She loves reading, café con leche, and traveling, and is a diehard Red Bulls fan! 

Trinidad García-Villen
  • 5th & 6th Grade Teacher
  • Spanish Language Arts

Srta. Garcia-Villén is from Jaen, Spain, which is located in Andalucía, in the Southern part of Spain. She has worked as a teacher and a translator in the USA for the last 15 years. She graduated from the University of Granada, Spain with a Bachelor’s degree in Teaching and Translation and a Master’s Degree in Linguistics and Translation. Srta. García-Villén joined the HoLa family when our school first opened its doors in 2010. Srta. García-Villén taught at the Elementary level for six years, in 1st and 2nd grade, and has been part of the Middle School team for the past three years. She is the mother of two children, Isabella, who graduated as part of HoLa’s first 8th grade class, and Noah, who is currently in 7th grade at HoLa. 

Leslie Baez
  • Middle School Special Education / Resource Teacher

Srta. Baez is starting her 2nd year at HoLa working as a Middle School Special Education Teacher, and her 7th year teaching. Srta. Baez received her BA in History and English from Rutgers University-Newark and is wrapping up her dual MA in Early Childhood and Special Education from Montclair State University. She began her career in world language textbooks at Wiley, right here in Hoboken, before deciding to pursue her passion in teaching. Born and raised in Jersey City, Srta. Baez loves exploring all the new restaurants and stores that have opened locally.

César Volquez
  • 5th & 6th Grade Math

Sr. Volquez earned his BA in Mathematics from New Jersey City University and his Masters of Arts in Teaching from RELAY Graduate School of Education. He has been an educator for over 10 years, teaching in a range of classrooms, from Elementary to College. Sr. Volquez was born in the Dominican Republic but lived the majority of his life in the great city of Newark, NJ. He is very excited about returning to HoLa for his third year! Sr. Volquez believes that with patience and encouragement, all students can excel in math.

Miriam Net
  • 7th & 8th Grade Social Studies

Srta. Net is excited to return to HoLa for her second year. She was born in Barcelona, Spain but moved to Puerto Rico when she was three years old and lived there until she attended Villanova University in Pennsylvania. Srta. Net earned her BS in Marketing and International Business with a Minor in French. She started her career in education by teaching children working in the streets of Quito, Ecuador. After a year of this volunteering experience, Srta. Net decided to continue her passion for education, and joined the NYC Teaching Fellows. She earned her Master’s of Bilingual Special Education from City College of NY. She has since taught elementary grades for eight years as a bilingual special education teacher in NY and NJ. Srta. Net has also taught a Master’s course Teaching Content Using English and the Native Language as an Adjunct Professor at City College of NY. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband and two-year-old daughter.

Lil Duarte
  • 7th & 8th Grade Math Teacher

Srta. Duarte has a BA in Mathematics and an MA in Urban Education from NJCU. As a seasoned math teacher, Srta. Duarte brings a passion for immersion and critical thinking to the classroom. She strives to make math class fun and interactive. In her down time, Srta. Duarte loves relaxing on the beach and listening to the waves crash. She is also an accomplished Baton Twirler and has performed on a competitive level for over ten years. Srta. Duarte is excited to return for her 7th year at HoLa.

Gisselle Pascal
  • Science Teacher
  • 5th & 6th Grade

Srta. Pascal hails from the Dominican Republic, and has been with HoLa for six years in various teaching capacities. She began her career as a doctor in medicine, but fell in love with teaching. She went back to school for her Masters in Teaching, and this will be her 12th year in the classroom. She is excited to continue with the Middle School team, and is looking forward to a wonderful year.

Carlos Cantillo
  • 5th & 6th Grade English Language Arts

Sr. Cantillo earned his BA in English, as well as his BS in Secondary Education from Seton Hall University. His favorite type of literature is the Great American novel. Carlos was born and raised in New Jersey, but his mother and father grew up in Cartagena, Colombia. As the son of two immigrants and a first generation American, he considers graduating college and pursuing his passion of teaching to be the greatest achievement of his life so far. Carlos has two younger sisters and two dogs, making for an exciting home life. In his free time, Carlos enjoys reading, writing, watching movies and television, and exercising. Ever since childhood, Carlos has loved reading and writing. One of his mother’s favorite stories from his childhood is about how he would carry a notebook and a pencil everywhere, from school to the supermarket to the bathroom. Ultimately, his mission is to unlock this same passion for his 5th and 6th graders so that they may have a strong foundation going into adolescence and adulthood. Sr. Cantillo is extremely excited to make this school year a success for all students!

Jason Gonzalez
  • Middle School Physical Education Teacher
  • Middle School Dean of Students

Sr. Gonzalez continues this year in his hybrid role of Middle School Physical Education Teacher and Dean of Students, as well as the 7th/8th grade basketball coach. Sr. Gonzalez is passionate about helping our students make and achieve positive goals in their lives. When he’s not leading our students in the gym, you can find him inspiring them in the classrooms and hallways, in any way possible. Jason is also a talented athlete himself; he was a three year baseball letterwinner at Manhattanville College and continues to work as a baseball coach specializing in player development at all levels. 

Jesus Valls-Ruano
  • 7/8 Science Teacher

Sr. Valls joins HoLa as part of our new Visiting Teacher Program, in partnership with the Education Office of the Spanish Embassy. Señor Valls is originally a professionally trained engineer from Barcelona, who discovered his love of teaching and changed careers to education. He now has over 14 years of teaching experience across a range of subjects and grades. He has also coached Robotics teams and worked to cultivate a love of all things STEM among his students. He is thrilled to be joining the HoLa team!

Filmar Cruz
  • 7/8 Basic Skills / Resource Teacher

Sr. Cruz has been a part of HoLa since its inaugural year, in 2010, as an intern from Rutgers University-Newark. He holds a Bachelor of Arts with multiple concentrations in Mathematics, Spanish Language and Literature, and English Literature. Throughout his years at HoLa, Sr. Cruz has fulfilled multiple roles and continues to be fearlessly committed to HoLa’s mission.

Francesca Fuertes Ortiz
  • 5/6 Special Education / Resource Teacher

Sra. Ortiz is starting her first year at HoLa working as a Middle School Special Education Teacher. Sra. Ortiz graduated from Loyola University Maryland with a degree in Marketing and Spanish, and continued her education at Notre Dame of Maryland University to earn a Masters Degree in teaching Spanish and Special Education. She taught in Baltimore County for one year before moving to New Jersey. Sra. Ortiz is excited to be at HoLa this year, and is looking forward to working with the 5th & 6th graders in the math classroom. Sra. Ortiz and her husband enjoy exploring the Hoboken area, as well as traveling to visit friends around the country.

Paola Ramirez
  • School Psychologist

Trained as a psychologist and child psychoneurologist in Colombia, Srta. Ramirez discovered her passion for working with students in a school setting after moving to the U.S. She received her Masters in Educational Psychology as well as her professional diploma in School Psychology from New Jersey City University, and she is currently pursuing her certification as a Behavioral Analyst (BCBA). Srta. Ramirez has worked in the field of psychology for over seven years, providing educational, behavioral, and mental health services for children, families, and educators to create a supportive and safe learning environment for all students. She loves what she does! New to the HoLa community, Srta. Ramirez is eager to work with the school’s dedicated staff and students this year. Srta. Ramirez loves to spend quality time with her family; she also loves to talk, laugh and dance to any kind of music – but especially Latin music!

Jessica Fernandez
  •  7/8 English Language Arts

Srta. Fernandez is very excited to begin her first year at HoLa! She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Montclair State University in 2011. A life-long resident of Hudson County, NJ, Jessica’s parents immigrated from Cuba and have inspired her love of learning and appreciation of culture. Jessica credits authors Shirley Jackson and Harper Lee with sparking her interest in Literature and English studies. During her downtime, Jessica enjoys reading, road trips, all things art-related, and spending quality time with her cats, Luna and Lucy.

Sabrina Campagnola-Vargas
  • Physical Education

New to HoLa this year, Srta. Campagnola is our Health and Physical Education Teacher for the Elementary School, as well as 6th grade. She graduated from Kean University where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Physical Education. She has taught for over 10 years from elementary to high school level. She was born and raised in Argentina, where she developed a tremendous love for sports since an early age. She played Rink Hockey for the Buenos Aires National Team in Argentina, then later played for the Women’s Lacrosse Team at Kean University. Srta. Campagnola is mother of two beautiful children, and she loves traveling and spending time with family and friends. 

Jeffrey Maccoux
  • 7th & 8th Grade Spanish Language Arts Teacher

From an early age Sr. Maccoux has had a passion for learning other languages, traveling and immersing himself in local cultures. Sr. Maccoux earned a BA in Spanish with a minor in German, but he also studied French, Swedish, Walloon and some Japanese. He went on to earn a Master Level Certification in Bilingual Translation in Madrid where he has lived for extended periods during his adult life. Sr. Maccoux began his teaching career in Spain back in 2004 and has taught students from 1st grade through high school in Spain and the United States. He joined HoLa in 2015 as a 3rd grade teacher; this will be his second year at the Middle School. In his free time, Sr. Maccoux loves reading, swimming, Netflix binge-watching, and spending time with family and friends. He believes that rigorous learning should also be fun!

Alicia Alonso
  • Music Teacher

Srta. Alonso serves as our Music teacher for both the Elementary and Middle School. She was born in Cuba and moved to Spain when she was 13 years old. She studied Music at the National School of Music in Havana and received her Choral Conductor Certificate in 1989. She has been an opera singer for more than ten years, traveling around the world. She is also a Cuban Folk singer and a co-owner of a Joaly Production Recording Studio. In 2004, she moved to the United States, went to Julliard School for a Masters Course in Choral Conducting, and by 2010 finished her Bachelor’s with majors in Spanish and Music in Performance. She followed this up with a Masters of Music Performance in 2012. She loves when students perform and sing in Spanish because it combines both of her passions! She also loves gardening and spending time with her family here and abroad.

Alejandra Gaxiola
  • Art Teacher

 Srta. Gaxiola serves as our Art teacher at both the Elementary and Middle School. She’s originally from Mexico City, where she studied Art History and Interior Design. When she moved to the United States back in 2003 she started working as a docent in Spanish for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2012, she was appointed as the Chairman of Spanish Docents. She’s currently a volunteer at MoMA and has been volunteering there for more than 10 years. She joined HoLa in 2013 as an Artist in Residence and became the full-time Art teacher the following year. Once a year she hosts a student art show – HoLa MoMA – showcasing our homegrown talent. When she’s not inspiring our students to express their creativity, she loves cooking, traveling, and playing board games with her family.

Steven Romero
  • STEM Teacher

Sr. Romero has worked with HoLa since its inception. After working at the school as part of an NJIT grant program for a year, he fell in love with the school, and this will be his 7th year as a full-time teacher. During the school year, when he’s not teaching, you can find him coaching an Elementary Science Olympiad team, a Middle School Science Olympiad team and four CyberPatriot cybersecurity teams. Sr. Romero is a technology enthusiast who enjoys reading about and testing out the latest gadgets. He’s also a hardcore football fan and can be seen wearing his Giants gear on Fridays or Mondays. During the summer, whenever he’s not Netflixing or adjusting the STEM scope and sequence, he enjoys traveling and going “down the shore” to work on his tan.

Joseph Spano
  • Director of Student Services

 Mr. Spano brings decades of experience as a teacher, Principal, Director of Special Education, and Learning Specialist to his current role at HoLa, where he has been leading the Resource team since 2013. His certifications include Supervisor / Principal, Secondary Social Studies, and Teacher of the Handicapped, as well as Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant (LDTC). Born and raised in Hoboken, Mr. Spano is an avid tennis player and skier, and he makes an incredible marinara sauce, which he loves to share with his colleagues at HoLa! 

Michelle Cayetano
  • Middle School Nurse

Srta. Cayetano is thrilled to return to HoLa for her second year. She has over three years of experience in the nursing field in areas such as pediatrics, medical-surgical medicine, and family medicine. In addition to being a school nurse, Michelle is currently a nurse at Jersey City Medical Center. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree from Seton Hall University in 2016 and recently returned for her Master’s degree from Vanderbilt University to become a family nurse 

practitioner. Michelle has traveled to Ecuador as an RN to assist nursing staff in caring for sick and disabled children and to learn more about the Ecuadorian culture related to the profession. During the summer, Michelle enjoys spending time with her family down the shore, and reading plenty of good books!