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Fourth grade teachers  

Tori Leventhal 

Tori Leventhal is so excited to join the Compass team!

Tori grew up in a small town in upstate New York. She attended Hamilton College and studied English literature. After college, Tori spent a year teaching high school students in East Java, Indonesia, a life-changing experience that first sparked her love of teaching.

After returning to the U.S., Tori moved to NYC and has lived here for the past ten years. She worked in both nonprofit and book publishing, but found neither career fulfilling. Once she began spending a few early mornings a month as a volunteer in a public elementary school in East Harlem, Tori realized that she needed to be in a career where she worked with children. She hasn’t looked back since.

While a graduate student at City College, Tori worked as an Assistant Teacher at the City and Country School in Manhattan, a progressive school with an over-100 year history. There she learned about the power of integrated units of study, democratic decision-making, and purposeful outdoor play.

Tori has spent the last five years teaching in the New York City Department of Education: first teaching at an elementary school in Hunts Point in the South Bronx, and then at a large public school serving mostly immigrant families in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Having mainly worked as a co-teacher focusing on the needs of English language learners and children with learning needs, Tori is passionate about exploring language with students--whether in reading, writing, social studies, or even math. She loves to use students’ natural curiosity and astute observations to examine the way language works: to communicate, illuminate, to exercise and even undermine power.

Tori is a voracious reader and would love to spend all the free time she has (just kidding!) deep into a short story collection, a novel, or a professional text that captivates her. Mainly, though, Tori and her husband, Dave, spend their days chasing around their 1-year old daughter, Mollie, who is in turn chasing around their Pit Bull mix, Lita.

Melissa Pirkl


Melissa is very excited to continue her teaching career at Compass. She is passionate about fostering the holistic development of each child by building a community of learners where social, emotional, and academic growth are all of important focus and all strengthen the community as a whole. She loves nurturing a classroom of students to respect and support each other and watch them feel empowered to learn, inquire, investigate, and solve problems together. She loves nurturing students’ natural wonder for the world with authentic and meaningful learning experiences that intrinsically motivate them to ask more questions, find more answers, and share their findings with each other. 

Melissa formerly lived in North Carolina. She went to high school in the small town of Denver, NC (just north of Charlotte) and then went to North Carolina State University to study Biomedical Engineering for 3 years. After 3 years, she decided she was not as passionate about her career choice, so she followed her heart into teaching children. She attended Western Carolina University to study Elementary Education and also went on to pursue her Masters in Elementary Education from there as well. She worked at several different charter schools throughout North Carolina that helped shape her practice in creating a nurturing and engaging learning environment for all children. 

After 5 years of teaching in North Carolina, Melissa visited NYC for the first time to visit her close friend from college who lived in Harlem. The city took her by surprise and she quickly fell in love. She saw NYC as a beautiful celebration of diversity and humanity and she felt inspired to take a new step in her life to discover, explore, learn, and grow. She wanted to see what she could offer this city and what this city could offer her. She accepted a teaching job in Harlem and made the leap! 

Along with being a teacher, Melissa loves to be outside biking, walking, exploring, spending time on or near the water, and practicing yoga. She also has a special love for music, reading, and learning new things from a variety of experiences and people, including children! 

Luke Lee

Luke is very excited to start his very first year of teaching! He is thrilled to start his career at Compass. Luke was born in South Korea and was raised in north New Jersey. He graduated from Syracuse University and was in the Inclusive Elementary and Special Education teacher prep program. During his fall semester of his senior year, Luke took the opportunity to do his student teaching in New York City where he was exposed to progressive schooling in an urban setting. Since then, Luke knew exactly where he wanted to teach.


Luke’s last student teaching placement was in the fourth grade and he is very happy to begin his first year with fourth graders. He loves the way fourth grade students begin to construct their understanding of themselves and the world and is willing to work tirelessly to help them get to where they need to be. Luke loves the diversity New York City offers and is looking forward to meeting all of his students and the rest of the student body at Compass. He loves building close relationships with his students and enjoys building a community where everyone feels safe and respected. Luke always puts his students first and is a child at heart; he seizes every opportunity to get to know them better and helps them grow academically, socially, and emotionally.


Outside of school, Luke loves to workout and his favorite sport to compete in is boxing. He loves watching all kinds of sports and loves to write and spend time with friends and family whenever he can.


Luke hopes to learn from all of his fellow colleagues and students as he embarks on his first year of teaching!


Born and raised in Queens, New York, Jessica has always been a risk taker.  She was a member of the first graduating class at the Queens School of Inquiry, an early college school associated with Queens College, and member of the first class of a semester-long science and leadership school for 10th grade girls, located on the coast of Maine.

Jessica is a graduate of Syracuse University’s Inclusive Elementary and Special Education teacher preparation program. Although Jessica loved her teaching experiences in Central New York, she seized the opportunity to participate in the Bridge to the City program for her student teaching, working in both East Harlem and Brooklyn.

Through all of her experiences, she’s realized that she learns best through discovery and risk-taking, and wants to help children realize the benefits of taking their own risks and exploring possibilities.

Jessica Hollins