Danielle Smerina

Lead Instructor and School Building Leader

Danielle is a certified School Building Leader issued by the New York State Education Department. Danielle’s professional journey started at Brooklyn College, CUNY, where she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology, Speech and Hearing Sciences. After college, she continued her studies at Hunter College, CUNY, where she earned a Master’s degree in Special Education Grades 1-6, Dual Certification. In addition, Danielle currently completed a Certificate of Advanced Study in School Building Leadership from The College of St. Rose/CITE. Danielle has much experience in leadership roles and decision making that impacts the overall school community and instructional practice. She has experience working as a School Building Leader from grades K-12, as well as an Academic Intervention Specialist, Special Education Teacher Support Services provider, and Special Education Teacher for Grades Pre-K- 6th Grade.

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As a teacher who taught in the public school system for about 10 years, she understands that individualizing instruction to students’ academic and social emotional levels are crucial components for students’ overall academic achievement. Danielle prides herself in aligning her personal passion projects with her professional goals. Danielle understands by using guided instruction, as well as collaborating with Related Service Providers increases students’ overall academic achievement. That is why she values Hand Over Hand’s Professional Learning Community. Hand Over Hand individualizes instruction based on a holistic view of each child.


Esther Heinberg

Occupational Therapist 

Esther completed her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at Touro College School of Health Sciences in Manhattan, New York, in 2014. She has spent her whole career in pediatrics, working with children in early intervention (ages 0-3), preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school, with mild to significant motor, sensory, and other developmental delays. Esther actively continues to refine her skills and learn new strategies to implement with her students by taking continuing education courses and obtaining specialized certifications when possible. She aims to administer targeted, client-centered treatment strategies and guide her young clients to believe in themselves in order to reach their unique goals.

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Esther has a passion for helping students to improve their quality of life by becoming as independent as possible while participating in everyday activities. Outside of her work, Esther likes to spend time with her family, including her own preschool and elementary school-aged children.

Marie Bennett

Special Education Teacher

Marie earned her Master of Education Degree from Brooklyn College, City University of New York (CUNY). She spent 27 of her 30-year career working as a Special Education Teacher. She was also a member of the School Based Support Team as the IEP Teacher, as well as the Special Education Liaison of District meetings.

Marie served as the Academic Intervention Team Leader while also providing Academic Intervention services to small groups. After retirement from the NYCDOE, Marie continues to provide SETSS to grade school students.

Gitty Abramczyk

Special Education / General Education Teacher

Gitty is a certified NYS K-2 Special Education teacher, as well as a General Education teacher. She received her Masters in Education and Special Education from Robert Wesleyan University.

She is a highly skilled educator who believes that with individualized education, every child can thrive. Her mission is to empower students to be the next generation’s leaders.

Gitty has 6 years of experience working with children with various disabilities. She has experience within the classroom, as well as volunteer opportunities. Gitty has collaborated with co-teachers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, and parents to ensure that each student receives the proper guidance to grow.

Dr. JodiAnn Pantry

Special Education Teacher

Dr. JodiAnn Pantry has been working with learners for 15+ years and is elated to be part of the Hand Over Hand Team to provide individualized and targeted support to our learners at Hand Over Hand LLC.

Dr. Pantry earned a Bachelor’s in Business Management and Finance from Brooklyn College. However, during that time, she worked in various childcare settings and went on to obtain two Master’s in Education specializing in Child Development and Special Education, as well as a Doctor of Education in Special Education.

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Dr. Pantry holds a New York State Professional Certification in General Education and Students with Disabilities from Birth through Second Grade. She is currently working on a K-12 Students with Disabilities Certification.

Dr. Pantry has worked with all age groups in various educational capacities such as Tutor, Classroom Teacher, School Leadership, Program Evaluator, Instructional Coach, Special Education Manager, and Adjunct Professor.

Jeanine Zaccone


Jeanine earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Fordham University. From there, she earned a Master of Science Degree in Education at Fordham University Graduate School of Education. Jeanine’s teaching certification is Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), with ages ranging from Pre-K to 12th grade. Upon graduation, Jeanine began her career working as an English as a New Language teacher in the public school system.

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She has worked with students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade. Jeanine has worked with students of various cultures and proficiency levels. She supports her students in four modalities of English language learning- speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Jeanine practices culturally responsive teaching. She teaches content that is culturally relevant to students and uses their background knowledge and life experiences as a foundation to build upon. Jeanine really enjoys advocating for her students and helping her students succeed.

Kiany Guider

Grant Writer and Consultant

Kiany Guider is our inaugural Hand Over Hand grant writer and consultant. In addition to an MBA with a concentration in nonprofit management, Kiany has worked with community organizations for over five years, raising over $2 million that support programs for youth, workforce development, substance abuse and more. Passionate about helping nonprofits and small businesses reach their highest potential, Kiany works with organizations that prioritize education, diversity, equity and inclusion.