Anita Manninen- Felix

FOUNDING Principal

Anita Manninen-Felix is the founding Principal of Murray Hill Academy since its inception in 2010.  Ms. Felix holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Master of Science in Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis and a Master of Science in Educational Administration and Supervision.  Ms. Felix has two decades of teaching and educational leadership experience.  She believes that all students can learn when provided the necessary care and supports.  Ms. Felix also believes that leadership is not a position, but action and example.  Ms. Felix enjoys visiting her home country of Finland and spending time with her husband and two sons.



Daniel Chu


Daniel Chu is the Assistant Principal of Organization at Murray Hill Academy. Mr. Chu received his B.A. in Secondary Education and Social Studies from the University of Maryland and his M.A. in Educational Leadership from New York University. Mr. Chu has over a decade of experience in teaching social studies, educational leadership, consultant work, and non-profit work. Mr. Chu believes that all students deserve a high quality education. As a grandson of Chinese immigrants, Mr. Chu believes that education can serve as a great equalizer and believes that high quality, engaging, relevant, instruction, provides students with the skills and knowledge to be productive, critical thinkers, in our ever changing democratic society. Mr. Chu is a third degree black belt and five time national champion in Soo Bahk Do martial arts. Mr. Chu’s hobbies include traveling the world, live music, hiking, yoga, basketball, volleyball, weight lifting, and biking.



Moe Islam

School Business Manager

Mr. Islam is the School Business Manager at Murray Hill Academy. He has been with the school since it first opened in 2010. Mr. Islam attended high school and college in NYC. He is originally from Bangladesh and migrated with his family when he was seven years old. He works with students and staff members for school events and budgeting. Mr. Islam enjoys watching movies, travelling, trying out new food, and swimming. He has travelled to Maldives for his honeymoon and is waiting to go back again very soon.



Ms. Abdul

Social studies teacher

Rubina Abdul, Global History Teacher / Special Education, Peer Mediation Coordinator. Mrs. Abdul received her BA from SUNY Cortland and currently completing her MSED at Long Island University. Mrs. Abdul is on her second year teaching and her goal is to provide culturally rich environment in the classroom and equal equity for all students. Mrs. Abdul is originally from Bangladesh but grew up in East Harlem. Ms. Abdul a political junkie and believes everyone should be politically inclined in society. She spent time in Middle East as volunteer Teacher and worked in District 39 as community liaison before pursuing teaching. Mrs. Abdul enjoys rock climbing, hiking and a good book.



Ms. Bou


Denise Bou is a Science Teacher and Department Lead at Murray Hill Academy. Since the age of 14, every job and endeavor Ms. Bou possessed involved working with kids which led her to become a high school teacher. Ms. Bou received her B.S. in Geology from Syracuse University and M.A. in Earth Science Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. From her academic experiences, she believes students learn best by applying major science concepts through real-world scenarios. Ms. Bou taught 6th and 7th grade general science to a middle school in the Bronx tailoring her lessons to attenuate the needs of her students. She is also a proud Math for America Master Teacher and is currently teaching Earth Science and AP Environmental Science at Murray Hill Academy.



Mr. Burstein


Josh Burstein is an English teacher, as well as the Testing Coordinator, the AP Coordinator, and the Peer Collaborative Teacher at Murray Hill Academy. He has been at MHA since the beginning. He earned his BFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU, and his MA in English Education at Columbia University. Mr. Burstein believes in having high expectations for his students. In his spare time, he enjoys trivia, watching hour-long dramas, axe-throwing, and the Mets )whenever they decide to be enjoyable). He lives with his soon-to-be wife, Rachel, and their beagle, Penny.



Ms. Caparos

Science teacher

Merlene Caparos is the Living Environment and Chemistry teacher at Murray Hill Academy. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Education major in Biology and General Science from the University of Santo Tomas (Philippines) and her MS in Education major in Science Education at Lehman College. She spent two years teaching Science in California before moving in New York. She taught Living Environment and Environmental Science in the Bronx. Her purpose as a teacher is not only to make a student literate but also to add critical thinking skills, knowledge and create self-sufficiency. So when there is a willingness to change, there is hope for progress in any field. Ms. Caparos improves herself personally and professionally by never discontinuing in acquiring new knowledge, learning new skills, and attending trainings and workshops to polish her teaching style. When she’s not at school she enjoys travelling and spending time with her family and friends.



Mr. Carrillo

Math and spanish teacher

Xavier Carrillo is a Mathematics and Spanish Teacher at Murray Hill Academy. Mr. Carrillo received his B.B.A. in Marketing Management from Baruch College with a minor in Spanish. Currently he is pursuing his M.S. in Adolescent Education at St. John’s University where he is specializing in Mathematics. Prior to becoming a teacher, Mr. Carrillo was a Police Cadet for the NYPD, where he applied values of courage and discipline every day. During his time at Baruch College, Mr. Carrillo was part of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Team for four years. Mr. Carrillo played as a goalkeeper and was captain during his junior and senior year. Mr. Carrillo strongly believes that all students have the potential to succeed and contribute to society in a positive way. His hobbies include traveling, playing sports, cooking Spanish food, and playing videos games.



Mr. Cheung

Math teacher

Kevin Cheung is the math teacher at Murray Hill Academy. He mainly teaches Geometry but is also involved with Algebra 1 and Financial Math. Mr. Cheung received his B.B.A. in Finance and Business Management from Pace University and his M.A. in Adolescent of Mathematics from Hunter College. Mr. Cheung has 5 years of experience teaching in both public and private schools. He also had close to 10 years of working experience as a tax accountant before changing his career to education. As a Chinese immigrant who came to the country at the age of twelve, Mr. Cheung believes education is the essential key leading to a successful future. Inside his classroom, you will find Mr. Cheung and his students being fully engaged in hands-on lessons. He believes students learn best when they are being involved. Mr. Cheung is a new dad and his interests/hobbies have all shifted to taken care of baby Jace!



Ms. Dang

Math teacher

Ms. Dang grew up in Seattle, Washington and graduated from Dartmouth College with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and from Relay Graduate School of Education with a Master of Arts in Teaching. Before teaching high school math, she was a preschool teacher and a children's martial arts instructor on the Upper West Side. This year she is teaching AP Statistics and Algebra 1. Ms Dang is passionate about helping students learn and grow as mathematicians and her goal is to inspire students to discover the joy in math and learn how to use logic to tackle any problem!



Ms. Esses

speech therapist

Jennifer Esses is the Speech-Language Pathologist at Murray Hill Academy. Ms. Esses received her B.S./B.A. in Psychology and Advertising from Boston University and her M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from Long Island University - Brooklyn Campus. She has been working with students on the Norman Thomas High School campus for past 13 years and has loved every minute of it. She has also had experience in writing copy for an advertising firm and in co-founding and running a small, gluten-free cookie company. Ms. Esses is passionate about her work with students and believes in a student-centered approach to therapy. She maintains that students must be active and motivated participants in their own educational process and that different students learn in individualized ways. Ms. Esses believes that students of ALL abilities have the potential to learn and to make meaningful and significant contributions to our society. In her free time, Ms. Esses enjoys spending time outdoors, running, yoga, baking, reading, and having living room dance parties with her two children and uncoordinated husband.



Ms. Finkelstein

ENGLISH TEACHER and subject area leader

Erica Finkelstein is the English Department Leader and an English Teacher at Murray Hill Academy. Miss. Finkelstein received her B.A. in English Literature from Lafayette College and her M.A. in Teaching of English from Columbia University, Teachers College. Miss. Finkelstein has been teaching for 9 years, 8 of which have been at Murray Hill Academy. Miss. Finkelstein believes that all students, regardless of their differences, can achieve true academic success. She is passionate about getting to know her students’ individual needs and helping each person grow from their unique starting points each year. Miss. Finkelstein loves the beach, reading, spending time with friends and family, reality tv, and all different types of workout classes from hot yoga to interval training. She is passionate about living a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle and encourages her students to learn ways to balance their academics and personal lives in a similar way.



Mr. Gieck

Art/attendance/ENL teacher

Dan Gieck is the Art, English as a New Language (ENL), and Attendance Teacher at Murray Hill Academy. Mr. Gieck received his B.A. in Fine Arts from the California State University, Chico. He also received his M.S. in Education from Fordham University with an emphasis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Mr. Gieck has over a decade of experience in teaching painting, drawing, ceramics, watercolor, and English as a Second Language (ESL). Mr. Gieck believes that art allows students to critically think about social issues and provides an avenue for students to express themselves. Throughout the school year, Mr. Gieck works with two New York City art organizations: City Arts and LEAP. Both organizations bring in professional teaching artists to create art projects with the students. Mr. Gieck speaks three different languages, Italian, Spanish, and English, and is currently learning Swedish. Mr. Gieck’s hobbies include traveling the world, reading, learning new languages, cooking, fly fishing, bee-keeping, motorcycle riding, and playing games with his daughter, Olivia.



Ms. Jurska

ENGLISH TEACHER/10th grade team leader

Cassandra Jurska is a 10th grade English teacher at Murray Hill Academy. Ms Jurska's goals are to teach her students to be critical thinkers and readers as well as thoughtful writers. Ms Jurska is also the grade team leader for the sophomore class, which means she and the rest of her amazing grade team plan and execute school trips, activities, advisory sessions, and give students extra help and support outside of class to help them be successful. Ms Jurska received BAs in English and Psychology (she couldn't choose!) at Hunter College in Manhattan and her Master's degree in English and Special Education (again, couldn't choose!) in St. John's University. Ms Jurska believes every student contributes to a classroom with their own story and personality and that school is where students learn how to not just be students, but how to be positive members of society as well. Everyday, Ms Jurska looks forward to the amazing ideas (or silly stories) her students will share with her. Some things Ms Jurska does for fun are: reading, baking, cooking, obsessing over the Harry Potter series in a way that is most likely inappropriate for her age, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, and watching way too many movies.



Mr. Kline

math teacher and subject area leader

Mr. Kline is the leader of the math department and the faculty adviser of the MHA chapter of National Honor Society. Mr. Kline currently teaches Algebra I, Algebra II, and an introductory music course. Before he taught at Murray Hill, Mr. Kline was a tutor specializing in SAT and ACT prep. He offers SAT tutoring to MHA students after school. Mr. Kline majored in history and minored in music at Hamilton College. After graduating from college, Mr. Kline taught at a private school in Edinburgh, Scotland. He later earned a Master's degree in American history from Stony Brook University and a Master's in Teaching mathematics from Relay Graduate School of Education. Outside of school, Mr. Kline enjoys playing with his dog Clio, playing piano, doing crossword puzzles, and watching the New York Mets.



Mr. Nielsen

social studies teacher and SUBJECT AREA LEADER

Christopher Nielsen is a Social Studies teacher at Murray Hill Academy. After growing up in the great state of New York, he traveled south where he earned his B.A. in History from the University of Maryland. After his graduation, he made his triumphant return to New York to pursue a career in historical scholarship at Fordham University. But alas, a potential lifetime of researching the enforcement of labor laws in Essex following the Black Death or the development of medieval debtor jails quickly became unappealing, so, once he earned his M.A. in History from Fordham, he decided to move on in search of more dynamic career options. After earning a M.A. in Social Studies Education from NYU, he began his career teaching in NYC in 2009. After a nomadic beginning to his career, he began teaching at Murray Hill Academy in 2012, where he remains to this day. When not working to forge the youth of NYC into agents of positive change in the world, Christopher Nielsen enjoys reading voraciously, supporting and consuming all manner of artistic pursuits, traveling the globe, and pondering the mysteries of the universe.



Mrs. Parra Innocent

social studies teacher and

IEP Coordinator

Ms Parra-Innocent was born in Bogota, Colombia and emigrated to the United States at the age of five. She attended New York University and majored in Philosophy and Sociology, and minored in Psychology. She coordinated various youth programs at the YWCA of New York City prior to becoming a teacher. She was selected as a New York City Teaching Fellow and has been teaching in NYC since 2006. She holds a Masters in Urban Education from Mercy College. In 2011, she was awarded the NYC Teaching Fellows Award for Classroom Excellence, for her work at DeWitt Clinton High School. She has been teaching at Murray Hill Academy since 2011, and has taught ELA and Social Studies. She is currently the Special Education Lead at MHA, and strongly believes in every student’s potential for excellence.



Mrs. Prescott

School Secretary

Yvette Prescott is the Pupil Accounting and Payroll Secretary at Murray Hill Academy. Ms. Prescott received her A.A. in Liberal Arts from Touro College. Ms. Prescott has nineteen years of experience as a School Secretary and over twenty years of experience as an Executive Assistant in the private sector. Ms. Prescott’s daily goal is to provide a welcoming, knowledgeable and pleasant experience to everyone who calls and/or visits the main office at Murray Hill Academy. Ms. Prescott is a huge fan of Marvel comics, movies, and board games.



Mr. Rios

Science teacher

I am Mr. Rios. I was born in New Jersey and bounded across this nation from New Jersey, Georgia, Ohio, Florida, Colorado and Texas before settling here the City of New York. I have an bachelor’s degree in Business Management from The University of Tampa and a Master’s of Education in Special Education from Long Island University. I am a husband and father of a 3 year old girl and owner of a cat. I am interested in weightlifting, comics, books and video games in my free time. I am a teacher of Special Education and I specialize in differentiation. I started my career in education nearly fifteen years ago in a private learning center working with students one and one and in classroom settings with literacy issues in areas such as decoding and comprehension. I decided to become a classroom teacher because I firmly believe all students can reach their dreams, they just need a path to get there that works best for their needs. I will continue developing differentiated techniques and strategies to help students move forward always!



Mr. Robinson

Science teacher/9th grade team leader

Wesley Robinson teaches Living Environment and Oceanography, as well as leading the 9th-grade team. Mr. Robinson received his B.S. from Stony Brook University studying Marine Biology, and his M.A.T. in Adolescent Science Education from Relay Graduate School of Education. Before becoming a teacher, he held various jobs educating the public about environmental affairs and the animals on the land and under the sea. Mr. Robinson believes that it is essential for students to understand science in order to make informed decisions about their place in the natural world, and how they can make a positive change in it. Students in his classes will be designing and executing experiments, using models to understand concepts such as how a disease is spread, as well as researching topics such as the human body systems and endangered species. On his free time, Mr. Robinson enjoys photography, hiking, camping, watching horror films, and playing board games.



Mr. Viets

ENGLISH teacher/11th and 12th grade team leader

Eric Viets is an English teacher and the Upper House (11th & 12th) grade team leader at Murray Hill Academy. Mr. Viets received his B.A.'s in English & Journalism from the University of Connecticut and his M.A. in Secondary English Education from New York University. Mr. Viets has taught in schools throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan for the past thirteen years, but has been thrilled to teach at MHA for the last three. Mr. Viets is passionate about transformative power of community and how the purpose of education is about learning to become your best self (or, in his words, a good dude). When not teaching Mr. Viets enjoys spending time with his daughter and wife or, if they are too busy for him, playing video games, catching up on his anime backlog, or trying to organize a trip to experience something new.



Mrs. Waleski

Math and virtual enterprise teacher

Deborah Waleski is a math and business teacher at Murray Hill Academy. Ms. Waleski received her B.S. in Business Administration from Buffalo State College and her M. A. in Math Education from Adelphi University. Ms. Waleski has 19 years of teaching math and business with the NYC Department of Education. Ms. Waleski believes that all students can learn no matter what they may struggle with. One thing that Ms. Waleski encourages students to do is to try something that they would have never thought of doing in high school. Ms. Waleski enjoys traveling, loves spending time with family and friends and enjoying life.



Ms. Weihberg

science and HEALTH teacher

Heather Weihberg is a Living Environment and Health Teacher at Murray Hill Academy. I earned my B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies with the option in Children, Youth, and Family Studies from The Pennsylvania State University. I have a M.S. in Secondary Education from Dowling College along with additional credits in Educating Computing from SUNY Stony Brook. I have four New York State Teacher Certifications for grades 7-12 in the following content areas: Secondary Biology, General Science, Health Education and Students with Disabilities in Biology. I am a highly skilled and dedicated professional educator with 15 plus years of extensive knowledge of curriculum development, planning, organization, assessments, data analysis and presenting information across different grade levels, learning styles, subjects, and abilities using various instructional approaches. I am passionate about the improvement and increased performance for each individual student, with a proven track record of significant improvements in learning processes, student assessments and maintaining a positive learning environment. In my spare time, I am involved with both the Penn State Long Island Alumni Chapter as well as the President of the Phi Mu Long Island Alumnae Chapter. I also spend time volunteering to help raise funds for both the Four Diamonds Fund and Children’s Miracle Network. I enjoy reading, traveling, going to concerts, hiking and spending time with my family and friends.