Our Teachers

Our creative writing workshops are taught by an all-star group of teachers ranging from poets to illustrators, filmmakers, novelists, performers, clothing designers, and comedians – many of whom hold several of these titles!

Above all, they are experienced classroom practitioners. Uptown Stories teachers write terrific curricula, are dynamic and engaging in the classroom, can tailor their lessons to different age groups and abilities, and most importantly, are passionate about the craft and art of writing.

To top it off, most of our teaching artists are residents of upper Manhattan. Discover more about the fantastic Uptown Stories teachers below!

Njoli Brown
Njoli
Learn more about Njoli
Education

Education expert Njoli is a teacher of pedagogy and facilitator of programs with a passion for engaging the community in the process of discovery.

Works

A freelance writer, Njoli uses his dedication to restorative practices in generating pointedly introspective and connectively extrospective works.

Fun facts

An activist, public speaker, martial artist, and explorer, Njoli seamlessly integrates his love for adventure into his outlook on life and work.

Cozbi Cabrera
Cozbi
Learn more about Cozbi
Education

A teacher and committed children's book illustrator and fiber artist, Cozbi is a Parsons School of Design graduate and is trained as an art director.

Works

With numerous illustrated titles, Cozbi authored and illustrated My Hair is a Garden and Me and Mama. She has gained fame for her Honduran muñecas.

Fun facts

Cozbi is also an accomplished clothing designer and quiltmaker. Her handcrafted muñecas have been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show!

Shamie Cuthbert
Shamie
Learn more about Shamie
Education

Writer and local mom, Shamie has been an educator in NYC independent schools for five years, and teaching creative writing workshops for a decade.

Works

Shamie published several social perspective pieces for Circle Magazine and is currently working on a collection of NYC-based stories for children.

Fun facts

Shamie’s obsessed with her nephew, Oboe, who is a Shih Tzu and she wrote a musical about him.

Stacy Davidowitz
Stacy
Learn more about Stacy
Education

Stacy shares her expertise in creative writing and musical theater with kids of all ages, drawing from experience as a performer and published author.

Works

With a rich catalogue of plays, musicals, and award-winning children’s books like Chance to Fly, she's acclaimed for her Camp Rolling Hills series.

Fun facts

Stacy once sang the National Anthem solo for a NY Jets game! She was 16 at the time.

Nicholas Forker
Nicholas
Learn more about Nicholas
Education

Nicholas, a versatile artist skilled in production, art direction, mural painting, and writing comic books, shares his expertise through education.

Works

He created a comic book that released issues monthly for all of 2022, has illustrated for brands such as Marc Jacobs, and paints murals here in NYC.

Fun facts

Nicholas worked as a production specialist in Takashi Murakami and Frederico Solmi’s studios!

CJ Gardella
CJ
Learn more about CJ
Education

CJ lives the filmmaker's dream, as a producer's assistant, indie filmmaker, and educator! He shares his passion and creative expertise with students.

Works

CJ made his first feature Shunka (2011) and completed a short film Elegy (2017) which both garnered multiple awards.

Fun facts

CJ has served as a producer's assistant at Robert Altman's Sandcastle 5 Productions and assisted world-renowned director Noah Baumbach!

Assal Ghawai
Assal
Learn more about Assal
Education

Assal is a filmmaker, performer, writer, and professor at NY Film Academy, sharing her vast skills and experiences with our young artists.

Works

Her films grace international festivals, she directs music videos, co-founded Every Woman Biennial Film Fest, and co-created Iran Mustache Crisis.

Fun facts

Whenever she is not writing, teaching, reading, or preparing for a shoot, Assal spends quality time with her husband, their snails, and goldfish.

Miss Lasko-Gross
Miss
Learn more about Miss
Education

Miss is a published author and illustrator of celebrated graphic novels and comic books. She specializes in teaching comic writing and illustration.

Works

Her graphic novels such as Henni and Escape From “Special” have made top book lists, The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts, and been nominated for awards.

Fun facts

Miss once played a zombie in a low-budget horror movie.

Jane LeCroy
Jane
Learn more about Jane
Education

Jane - poet, performance artist, and educator - publishes student work and teaches writing, literature, and performance across all age groups.

Works

Jane's published poetry book Names is part of the award-winning ABC Chapbook Series. One of her poems has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Fun facts

Jane fronts the band The Icebergs and was a part of Sister Spit, the famed west coast women’s poetry troupe!

Tess Michaelson
Tess
Learn more about Tess
Education

Tess Michaelson is a writer, interdisciplinary artist, and educator with an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University.

Works

Tess’ articles have been published by The Chicago Review, independent online magazine The Rumpus, The Brooklyn Rail, and more.

Fun facts

Tess has an identical twin!

B. Sharise Moore
B. Sharise
Learn more about B. Sharise
Education

B. Sharise is a poet, short story author, poetry editor at Fiyah Literary Magazine, host of “Moore Books with B. Sharise” on YouTube, and educator.

Works

Her works have appeared in several anthologies and journals including For Harriet, Chosen Realities: Summer 2020, and Fiyah Literary Magazine.

Fun facts

In addition to writing, teaching, and mothering, B. Sharise is a classically trained pianist!

Dorkys Ramos
Dorkys
Learn more about Dorkys
Education

Our deputy director, Dorkys currently educates students of all ages in writing and art across Washington Heights and Inwood.

Works

Her bilingual works have appeared in Time Out NY Kids, BET, Parents Latina, Syracuse Post-Standard, and the Manhattan Times.

Fun facts

Dorkys keeps the gears of Uptown Stories turning, but when she's not at US she spends her time painting and illustrating!

Alejandra Ramos Riera
Alejandra
Learn more about Alejandra
Education

A Puerto Rican, published, and award-winning playwright, Alejandra is a dedicated teacher with Uptown Stories.

Works

The 2020 winner of Miranda Family Voces Latinx Playwriting Competition, she has multiple published plays and recent off-Broadway triumphs.

Fun facts

Alejandra achieved a 2021 Emmy nod for Voice Over Actress in La Cucarachita Martina’s Musical Adventure!

Kate Reuther
Kate
Learn more about Kate
Education

Kate, a dedicated educator, taught middle and high school humanities in both public and private schools for over 25 years before founding Uptown Stories.

Works

Her own fiction has appeared in The Madison Review, Brain Child, Salamander, and The Ledge!

Fun facts

Kate is a lifelong New Yorker and has lived in Washington Heights since 2003 with her two kids. Thank you Kate for the gift of Uptown Stories!

Luis Rivera Figueroa
Luis
Learn more about Luis
Education

Luis, a Puerto Rican actor and educator, holds an MFA in acting from Brown University. Proudly bilingual, he creates vibrant spaces for fun, learning, and growth.

Works

Luis has taught writing, acting, and speech in Puerto Rico and at Brown University. His acting credits include “The Glass Menagerie”, “Nicky Jam”, and more!

Fun facts

Luis’ first job was at Cold Stone Creamery where he performed mini ice cream ball juggling shows while preparing orders!

Dave Roman
Dave
Learn more about Dave
Education

Dave is an author, illustrator, and teacher at the School of Visual Arts. He shares his artistic skills with our young writers here at Uptown Stories.

Works

He is the author/illustrator of the Astronaut Academy series and writer of graphic novel, Teen Boat! Race for Boatlantis (with John Patrick Green).

Fun facts

Dave is a former editor at Nickelodeon Magazine, current editor for First Second’s Science Comics and History Comics series...and he loves waffles!

Mx. Mimi Shelton
Mx. Mimi
Learn more about Mx. Mimi
Education

Mx. Mimi is an educator in Washington Heights. For the past four years they have taught middle school English at independent schools and non-profits in Philly and NYC.

Works

Mx. Mimi wrote for GLSEN on supporting Black, Queer, Trans & GNC Educators, and contributed to The Indispensable Guide to Undergraduate Research.

Fun facts

When they aren’t advocating for collective liberation, Mimi loves to roller skate, watch professional wrestling, and dance.

Noelle Tannen
Noelle
Learn more about Noelle
Education

Noelle is a vocalist, songwriter, producer, composer, and educator. She teaches music at community programs and schools in NYC and New Orleans.

Works

Noelle has written and produced 3 studio albums, toured nationally, and performed at acclaimed venues and festivals!

Fun facts

Noelle has studied under Pulitzer Prize winners Du Yun and Joel Those. She is a born and bred New Yorker from our neighborhood, Washington Heights!

I feel like if I hadn't taken Girls Rising, I wouldn't have become a better writer, and I wouldn't have met some friends who have changed my life.

Xanthe

Student

Thanks to [Uptown Stories], a passing interest has become a passion.

Gerry

Parent

I really appreciate the fact that every every student has a voice in their class. They trust each other and they listen to each other. All of this is happening because Uptown Stories has created a community of learners where everyone learns from each other.

Nina

Parent

My daughter takes her writing seriously because Uptown Stories takes her seriously.

Kimberly

Parent

Writing used to be something that was just work; something we have to do at school. However, now it's a way for me to express different things, and it's much more enjoyable now that there is a place where everyone has the same passion for writing that I do.

Anna

Student

When it's Monday, I'm so excited for class to start! Favorite time of the week! Uptown Stories made me like writing even more.

Tallulah

Student

I love the teachers, love the community, have made SO many new friends. I feel like I can express myself through writing, and I couldn’t do that before. Everyone should be a part of Uptown Stories!

Isabella

Student

I've met a fantastic group of people and become a much better writer. Kate and the rest of the staff are hardworking and fun to work with.

Joseph

Student