Dianne Pennings

Director of Children’s Services

As a prior educator, Dianne holds SAIL close to her heart.  She has over 25 years experience in the field of special education.  Dianne began her teaching experience in a self-contained classroom and within a year was visiting schools to implement inclusion programs.  Her passion for educating youth has never wavered, even as she has stepped into an administrative role.

“I now have the opportunity to continue following my passion as I support staff, teachers, and parents in meeting the needs of children.”

Katie Cristaldi


Katie Cristaldi attended Le Moyne College for her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education and Psychology. She also received her Master’s from Le Moyne in Literacy. Katie has been teaching for 8 years. She began her teaching career in the Liverpool Central School District. She just completed her 5th year working in the Homer Central School District as a Special Education Teacher. Katie has been teaching for SAIL for 8 years.

Rachel Dentinger

Social Awareness

Rachel Dentinger has taught for two years as a music teacher, working with students in grades 5-12. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education and Master of Science degrees in Music Education and Literacy Education, all from Syracuse University. She currently works in the Weedsport Central School District. Rachel is incredibly excited to be teaching the social awareness classes. She believes that social awareness skills are such a valuable part of every person’s life. In her time outside of school, Rachel enjoys cooking, fitness, and spending time with friends and family, including her two cats Meeko & Bandit!

Katie Seeley


Katie Seeley attended LeMoyne College for both her undergraduate and graduate studies. She majored in English with a dual concentration/certification in Childhood Education (B-6) and Students with Disabilities (B-6). Her master’s degree is in Literacy for grades K-6.  Katie is in her 11th year of teaching and is currently a 4th grade teacher at Lyncourt School. She has over 7 years’ experience working in special education and inclusive settings. She also enjoys using American Sign Language in her classroom and passing the skill onto her students.

Khaya Palada


Khaya Palada is a 2016 graduate of the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam with a bachelor’s degree in music education. Her concentration is in choral and general music education. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Vocal Pedagogy at Syracuse University. She also works as a collaborative pianist specializing in vocal and choral accompaniment. Along with accompanying, Khaya teaches the class “Singing for Non-Majors” at Syracuse University. Khaya maintains a voice and piano studio at the YMCA of Greater Syracuse. Outside of her studio, Khaya is a classically trained soprano and enjoys hiking and horseback riding. She is excited to join the wonderful SAIL team and to work with the students of SAIL!

Nicole Backes

Assistant Program Director

Nicole Backes has worked with the SAIL program for the past 3 years and is back this summer assisting with the Learning Without Borders and SAIL programs. She is a second year graduate student at Syracuse University pursuing a Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology. She plans to stay in the area following graduation and work as an early intervention Speech & Language Pathologist. Nicole shares, “I am so happy I am able to stay involved with the programs again this year! The staff and students are wonderful. I look forward to another great summer!”

Meghan Hallihan

Reading, Study Strategies/Writing & Math

Meghan Hallihan graduated from SUNY Oswego in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Childhood Education and will be completing her master’s degree in Health Education at SUNY Cortland this December. She has been working with children since her undergraduate college days, spending summer breaks teaching for the Say Yes to Education program in the Syracuse City School District and volunteering for mentoring and homework help clubs in Oswego. She has been substitute teaching in the Baldwinsville and North Syracuse districts for the last four years, and cannot wait to have a permanent classroom of her own very soon!

Mara Yuzwak


Mara Yuzwak (pronounced Usewalk) has worked with several reading programs and was a pilot teacher for the Wilson Just Words program. Most recently, she supported middle school students via the Language Live! reading program. Currently, she works as a middle school consultant teacher within the Syracuse City School District. Prior to this, she worked within the district as a pilot teacher for students with autism and as a self-contained teacher for students with emotional disabilities. Mara states, “I am passionate about teaching students how to advocate for themselves in appropriate ways so that their needs can be better met socially, emotionally, and academically. I believe that while structure is a necessity in a classroom, flexibility is of equal value. It is important to teach in a manner that is meaningful to the students and to allow them, when appropriate, to make choices in the way they learn.”

Barb Cristaldi


Barb Cristaldi teaches in the Liverpool Central School district.  In her 22 years of teaching, she has taught every grade from Kindergarten through 6th grade. She currently teaches 2nd grade at Soule Road Elementary. Barb and her husband, Al, have been married for 34 years and have two adult daughters, Katie and Alyssa. Katie is a teacher and Alyssa is a teaching assistant. When she is not teaching, Barb enjoys decorative painting, gardening, swimming, camping, and spending time with family and friends. Barb’s goal is for her classroom to be a positive and safe environment where all students can learn and grow.

Janelle Jacobson


Janelle Jacobson recently graduated from SUNY Cortland this past May with a Master’s degree in Literacy. She also attended SUNY Cortland for her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She is currently a substitute teacher in the North Syracuse School District. Janelle is looking forward to teaching technology this summer. She believes technology can be beneficial to students’ learning when used appropriately. She also believes technology is an engaging way for students to learn any subject. Outside of school she loves to spend time with family and friends. She also has a huge passion for dance and has been a dancer since she was 3 years old.

Ondrea Clark

Study Strategies/Writing & Math

Ondrea Clark has two children, a 19 year old son and a daughter going into 6th grade. They love to travel, go camping, horseback ride, and play volleyball and softball. She has been teaching for 9 years, currently in Liverpool School District. Ondrea graduated from Syracuse University with a B.S. in Education and Special Education along with a concentration in Psychology and Sociology. She obtained her Masters’ degree in Childhood Education and Special Education at Le Moyne College and graduated in 2008 with 6 professional certifications. It is her mission to instill a love for learning in her students. She attempts to teach with a passion for the topics at hand so that her students develop a desire to become life-long learners. Teaching is an absolute passion of Ondrea’s.

Kayla Gallipeau

Study Strategies/Writing & Social Awareness

Kayla Gallipeau is currently a third grade teacher at Meachem Elementary School.  Kayla has been teaching for four years in the Syracuse City School District.  She acquired her Bachelor’s Degree in Childhood Education from SUNY Cortland in 2011 and her Master’s Degree in Literacy from SUNY Cortland in 2013. Outside of teaching, Kayla enjoys running, playing beach volleyball, and spending time with family and friends.  Kayla is extremely excited to explore new adventures with the students and teachers in SAIL!

Tamara Lavallee

Student Support

Tamara Lavallee is currently a Special Education Teaching Assistant in the West Genesee School District. She has worked there for 12 years. Tamara has worked in an inclusion classroom setting for 9 years and has experience working with students of all abilities. She is excited to work in the SAIL program this summer.

Joanne Almanzi

Study Strategies/Writing & Social Awareness

Joanne Almanzi teaches math and reading AIS for grades 6-8 at Clary Middle School. She is a 30 veteran Literacy Teacher who believes that learning lasts a lifetime and is FUN. Enthusiasm is contagious!

Symone Campbell

SAIL Intern

Symone Campbell graduated from SUNY Buffalo State this past May with a BA in Sociology. She will be attending the University at Albany in the fall to pursue a Master’s degree in Africana Studies. This is Symone’s first summer working as the SAIL intern.  Symone has had experience working with students in the past through the Upward Bound Program and a program in South Africa named Inkululeko. She is very excited to be working with the SAIL students and staff and hopes to make this a memorable summer for everyone.