the whitestone academy team members

Francis ottaviano, Principal



B.A. Education, College of New Rochelle

Francis Ottaviano is the Principal and face of The Whitestone Academy. Francis was born in Italy and raised in New York. He has been a successful business man his whole life and for the past 26 years has been part of The Whitestone Academy Family. His mother, Helena Ottaviano was the original founder of the school and passed her passion of education on to Francis. He always goes out of his way to make every students life better. He helps them with anything they need and the well being of the students is his first priority. When Francis is not in school he enjoys spending time outdoors with his friends and family. He enjoys riding ATV’s, fly fishing and boating. 

John Kubat, Director of Admissions, DSO


Laura Ottaviano, Student Management, DSO


Dana Claus, Director of Independent Studies


Elisabeth Guerra, Secretary


Christina Costa, English Department



B.S. English Literature, Minor- Child Psychology

Christina Costa has been teaching English at The Whitestone Academy for 12 years. Christina attended Hofstra University where she received her degree in English Literature. She grew up in Whitestone and has a strong appreciation for the community. Christina has always loved sharing knowledge, inspiring children and watching them progress. She has a strong sense of commitment to the children at The Whitestone Academy and possesses a need to make a difference in the lives of each child that walks through her classroom door. 

Danielle DiDonna, Art Department


 B.A. Studio Art/Art History/Art Education

In 2002 Danielle DiDonna-Suraci, started working at The Whitestone Academy, following her employment at Holy Trinity. Danielle is a former graduate of the Whitestone Academy and has been a life-long resident of Whitestone. Since she was a young girl, Danielle has always wanted to be a teacher. She made her passion of art and her dream of becoming an educator a reality and attended Queens College after high school. Danielle enjoys sharing her knowledge with her students, watching their critical thinking and creativity skills grow, and outside of school enjoys her family, friends and cooking.

Nicole Gisser, Science Department


B.S. Environmental Studies, M.S. Secondary Science Education

Nicole Gisser has just joined our team this year as our science teacher. Nicole has a plethora of experience from working in public schools in Queens and Brooklyn. Nicole has also designed individualized instruction for at-home learners. Nicole attended Queens college, as well as SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Nicole has always considered herself a problem solver and has always found joy in teaching others to “think like a scientist.” Her love of logical thinking and problem solving led her to science education. Nicole enjoys her time away from the classroom learning as much as she can, spending time with her friends and family, reading, music, dancing and appreciating everything nature has to offer. 

Lincoln Grant, Mathematics Department


B.S. Mathematics

Lincoln Grant has been teaching every level of mathematics at The Whitestone Academy for 18 years. Lincoln previously taught at Bronx community school for technology and at York College. He is originally from Jamaica, West Indies. Lincoln enjoys every minute of everyday that he is in his classroom educating young minds. He feels that it is a remarkable achievement and a great honor to change a life and be especially influential in a child’s development. He believes that the impact that a teacher has on a life is immeasurable. Lincoln is a wonderful asset to our school community and really shines as an educator. Lincoln is responsible for all mathematic course work and implementation.

Susan Marchica, English Department


B.A. English

Susan Marchica-Iadevaia has been teaching at The Whitestone Academy for 18 years. Susan previously taught at the Kumon Learning Center in Flushing, NY, where she grew up. Susan loves learning new things from her students and appreciates that everyday is different. Susan cares about her students and enjoys helping them with anything she can. She has had the opportunity to watch many students grow as people and academically and there is no better feeling. Susan is trilingual, speaking English, Italian and Spanish. Outside of school, she enjoys trying new restaurants. 

Maria Monaco, English Department


B.A. English and American Studies, Minor in History

Maria Monaco has had ties to The Whitestone Academy as a teacher, and substitute for over 15 years. Maria taught at The Whitestone Academy, and then became a substitute when her family began and started to grow. She has always been a strong addition to our team and we have been lucky enough to gain Maria back as a full time teacher. Maria loves literature and writing. She enjoys the daily opportunity to share her thoughts, and her love of literature with her students. When Maria is not in her classroom she enjoys cooking, eating, reading, walking, traveling and of course spending time with her family. 

Steven Rosino, Social Studies Department


B.A. Secondary Education, History

M.A. History

Steven Rosino is a strong minded, well rounded person. Steven has had prior work experience on Wall Street, with a variety of firms and institutions, including Goldman Sachs. His upbeat personality combined with his love of History makes the perfect classroom setting. His students share the same interest of learning when in his classroom. 

Joseph Suraci, English Department


 B.A. Secondary Education/Graphic Design 

Joseph Suraci has been teaching at The Whitestone Academy for 12 years. He formerly taught at St. Luke’s and Queensborough Community College. Joseph strongly believes “Teachers preserve the past, reveal the present, and create the future.” He enjoys watching his students grow throughout the years, heading the chess club, collecting coins, cooking, learning and writing. 

Silvia Tehomilic, Jr. High School


B.A. History

Silvia Tehomilic has been with us for a year. She previously worked at Flushing high school and attended Stony Brook. Silvia is a joy to be around and her love of teaching shows everyday. She loves teaching because she enjoys giving her students the tools they need to live happy and productive lives. When Silvia is not in school she enjoys spending time with her family and traveling. 

Lida Zhang, English Department


  B.A. English 

MBA Finance

Lida Zhang has been with The Whitestone Academy for a year. She has had teaching experience at Richmond Hill High School, and  Zhejiang University in Hangzhou China. Lida loves sharing her knowledge of the English language and watching her students become fluent speakers of the language. She enjoys gardening, spending time with her family and taking time to be alone.