Staff

Clayton Harding, Director of College Counseling

As a native New Yorker and graduate of the New York City public school system himself, Clayton is passionate about helping students find a college that is the right "fit". His department works with students individually to help them each create a list of colleges to apply to, as well as to research and apply for financial aid, and for outside/private scholarships. Clayton has been involved with ACP since its inception, first as the owner of Bell Curves, the test-prep company that originally provided SAT-prep and Regents-prep for the program. He is a 25-year instructor and nationally published author of test-prep manuals and strategies, and still is called on to speak at conferences, parent orientations, and industry events on the subject. 

Mary Rose Synek, Director of Writing and Arts Achievement

Mary Rose lives to help students tell their stories, guiding them through every step as they create, organize, and bring to life their personal statements for college admission. During the academic year, her students study the ever-fascinating subject of themselves through acting, writing and reading the great works of under read masters. Through ACP’s unique summer program, Mary uses theatre and Broadway to further prepare students for their college experiences. 

Chris Vaios, Director of Testing & Academic Achievement

Chris is an entrepreneur, inventor, executive, consultant, board member and educational coach. Chris held engineering and management positions at Bell Labs, AT&T, Lucent and several startup ventures, and is currently a senior partner at State Group. His passion for individualized and collaborative education, extensive work on technologies, and his own upbringing and positive life changing experiences inspire him to help students in underserved communities maximize their academic potential. He is a long-time contributor and advocate for Khan Academy’s international platform, and has successfully introduced it as a foundational platform for math and sciences in after-school programs in the US and abroad. Chris holds BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from University of Massachusetts, and an MBA.

Alberto Aquino, Director of Armory College Prep Middle School

ACP’s mission to send students “to and through college” deeply resonates with Alberto’s personal beliefs. He has designed and delivered a program to set students up for long-term success. Prior to assuming this position, he served as a 5th grade math teacher at HYDE Leadership Charter School in the South Bronx and worked closely with community partners and students’ family members in reaching student achievement. Alberto began his career in education in Clarksdale, Mississippi, while completing his two-year commitment to Teach for America. While he misses the classroom, he is excited about his role in delivering a program that provides meaningful guidance and engaging instruction.

Erison hurtault, College Counselor

As a two-time Olympian and NCAA Division I All-American while at Columbia University, Erison helps students deal with the challenges many student-athletes are confronted with and helps them maintain the balance between athletics and academics. He works with students to help them understand the paths to potential careers and target colleges that will give them the best opportunity to succeed and reach their long-term goals. Beyond college selection, he works with the students in preparing financial aid applications and applying for outside/private scholarships. 

Davinna Thrower, College Counselor

Davinna was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She obtained her undergraduate degrees at Mitchell College in Criminal Justice, went on to John Jay College of Criminal Justice for a dual specialization Masters in Criminology and Deviance and Juvenile Justice then graduated from Fordham University with a Masters in Clinical Social Work.  She has been in the education field for over 10 years, working with several different youth programs and non-profits before joining the New York City department of education. Davinna also currently works as a social worker in a transfer high school for 16-21 year olds for the New York City Department of Education. 

Karen Gutierrez, Program Coordinator

Karen is a graduate of Manhattan Business Academy High School and is currently studying Human Services and Science at Bronx Community College. She has worked with New York City youth for over 3 years and has been part of the Armory College Prep team since the summer of 2015. 

COLLEGE PREP MATH AND ENGLISH COACHES

Kyoko Yoshida

Kyoko is an ACP Math coach with BS, MS and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering. She is currently a senior researcher at Columbia University’s Myers Soft Tissue Lab. She has also taught calculus classes at the Dept. of Mathematics at University of Notre Dame and robotics classes to high school students during summer programs in Indiana.

Linda Ensor

Linda is an ACP English coach and holds BA and MA degrees in Education from Furman and South Carolina Universities respectively. Linda brings to our program 30 years of teaching English, Math and computing classes in public and private schools, consulted students on college scholarships, and served as a financial aid officer at three different colleges, the last of which was Princeton University.

Michael Morrissey

Michael is an ACP English coach with a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations and a Masters in Literacy Education. He brings to the program over 8 years of teaching experience in public and private high schools and afterschool programs.

Megan Armstrong

Megan is an ACP Math coach with Bachelor and Master degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Columbia University. Megan is currently a PhD candidate, a research assistant, and a teaching assistant at the Dept. of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia. She has also taught high school level Algebra, Geometry, General Science, Chemistry, History, French, and English since 2010.