Central Campus Staff

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Malika Ali, Arts & Science Educator

  • B.A., Brown University, Public Health

Ms. Ali has studied and worked in the intersections of health and education for years. She is committed to guiding young scholars to think critically, engage curiously, and find creative solutions to social problems.

Interesting Fact: I am older than my country of origin, Eritrea.

 Contact: malika.ali@nowellacademy.org


    Michelle E. Arias, Math Interventionist

    • B.S., Northeastern University, Business Administration, Accounting

    Ms. Arias has a diverse and interesting background. During college she taught English in China through her school’s international co-op program. She also spent time in South Africa working directly with urban entrepreneurs to help grow their businesses and studied micro-finance. She loves the arts and education and is excited to work directly with the students.

    Interesting Fact: Ms. Arias visited four continents in the span of two weeks!

    Contact: michelle.arias@nowellacademy.org


    Laura Briggs, Humanities Educator

    • BA, University of Rhode Island, Secondary Education and History,Middle Level Endorsement (Grades 5-12)

    Ms. Briggs has worked as a caterer, waitress, organic farmer, house cleaner, and nanny while supporting herself through college. Currently she teaches World History, US History, and Criminal Justice and is the facilitator for NLA’s Student Council. While teaching she enjoys using creativity, technology, and collaboration in her classroom. She is dedicated to social justice and believes education can empower young adults with knowledge and opportunities. Aside from teaching, she is involved in a community organization called COAAST (Creating Outreach About Addiction Support Together) which uses community engaged practices to create an ongoing dialogue about addiction and recovery. In the past, she has worked as a social action representative for the Representation Project with the mission to inspire individuals and communities to challenge and overcome limiting stereotypes. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Urban Education at Providence College.

    Interesting Fact: Ms. Briggs is a blues/rock vocalist in a band and is currently recording her first album.

    Contact: laura.briggs@nowellacademy.org


    Reza Clifton, Teaching Partner/Mixed Media Teacher

    • B.A., University of Rhode Island, Africana Studies

    Ms. Clifton has worked as a writer, communications specialist and community organizer, both independently and for organizations across RI for nearly a decade. She teaches writing and digital media at various sites (schools and community centers), is exhibiting a photography show called Music Moves, and is working on her first collection of poetry. Ms. Clifton's interests and background also include blogging and radio production - two areas for which she has been awarded the Metcalf Diversity in the Media Award. She has also been recognized for leadership as a community organizer and contributor to the music and art scene in Providence.

    Interesting Fact: Ms. Clifton is a DJ.

    Contact: reza.clifton@nowellacademy.org


    Alicia Cook, Special Educator

    • M.Ed., Providence College
    • Teaching Certificate - Secondary English, Providence College
    • B.A., Simmons College, Public Relations/Marketing Communications

    Ms. Cook is a founding teacher at Nowell. She served as the Communications Educator at Capital Campus for two years prior to becoming the Special Educator for both Capital and Central Campuses. She began her career in public relations and marketing prior to entering education. She has been involved in politics and government for over 20 years in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. In addition, she is a freelance writer.

    Interesting Fact: Ms. Cook was on an episode of Restaurant Impossible.

    Contact: alicia.cook@nowellacademy.org


    Brianna Mendonsa, Problem Solving Educator

    • BA, Rhode Island College, Secondary (7-12) Education, Mathematics Concentration

    Ms Mendonsa has taught all levels of Mathematics for the past 6 years, in both public and charter schools. She has a diverse teaching background , while having taught in the following school districts: Pawtucket, Warwick, and Providence. She is currently the Math department head of Nowell Academy.

    Interesting Fact: Before going into the education field, Ms Mendonsa practiced in the medical field; more specifically, she studied in the Physician Assistant Master's Program for one and a half years at Quinnipiac University. Although medicine is of interest, her true passion is in Education and to help and support those kids who are in need.

    Contact: brianna.mendonsa@nowellacademy.org


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    Johanny Toribio, Parent Coordinator

    Johanny graduated from Nowell Leadership Academy in 2014 as part of the very first graduating class. Currently she is in school to become a massage therapist. Johanny has great passion for helping adolescents succeed, especially teens who are pregnant or parenting. She is a proud parent of two beautiful children.

    Interesting Fact: Johanny was born in the Dominican Republic.

    Contact: johanny.toribio@nowellacademy.org