The Upper School Welcomes New Faculty Members


Leia Haider, Staff Writer

Emma Weiss

Emma is a chorus teacher for grades five and up, teaching the Chamber Singers and Concert Choir ensembles, as well as the elective Vocal Studio in the Upper School. She was born and raised in New York City, attending high school at Riverdale Country School and later graduating from Skidmore College and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Emma got into music at five years old when she started playing the piano, and it has been her passion ever since. Other than musical activities, Emma enjoys taking her dog on long walks along the water in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Before coming to Friends, she taught at Dalton and Horace Mann. At Friends, she admires the practice of Meeting for Worship, which she believes is extremely valuable in bringing the community together. 


Monica Kaplan

Monica is the Upper School Psychologist in the Friends community. Though she grew up in New Jersey, she has lived in the city for twelve years. Monica attended Cornell University, where a professor inspired her to alter her plan of attending medical school and instead engage more deeply in personal work with people. Besides psychology, Monica is passionate about musical theater, and was even in an acapella group at Cornell. She also loves to cook and bake a variety of foods. Before joining the Friends community, Monica worked at Mary McDowell Friends School, a K-12 Quaker school in Brooklyn. So far, Monica values how warm and welcoming everyone in the community is. 


Neil Desai

Neil teaches ninth grade History of Belief and Belief Systems and tenth grade World History courses. He grew up in Queens and attended the University of Virginia. As a new member of the community, Neil notes how welcoming the people at Friends have been. He says that being a ninth grade teacher with many new students to the Upper School has helped him assimilate into the community. Neil enjoys visiting museums and eating foods from many different cuisines — especially finding the best vegetarian dishes!. He is proud to say that he speaks six languages. Neil loves history because he feels it is a way to work through his identity and feel more connected to the society around him. Other than history, he is passionate about literature, and has tried to read as many national epics as possible.


Sebastian Stoenescu

Sebastian teaches ninth-grade Geometry with Algebra Applications and also spends his time working in the Academic Center. At Friends, he notes the friendliness from both the staff and the student body, and appreciates being a part of a welcoming community. Sebastian grew up in Bucharest, Romania, and came to the United States in 1990, graduating from Stony Brook University. His first teaching job was at Kingsborough Community College in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Along with enjoying being outdoors, Sebastian loves reading historical novels and taking advantage of the multitude of cultural events the city has to offer.