about the educators

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 2.29.22 PMChristine McCartney was reintroduced to the power of volunteer work while earning her teaching degree.  During that time, she spent three years tutoring writing as a volunteer at Napanoch Correctional Facility, an all-male maximum security prison through the Bard Prison Initiative.  As a social justice educator, she has spent the past decade teaching high school level English in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District.  She strives to help her students recognize the power of civic involvement, understand how to recognize and address injustice, and develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions to enact positive change in their community and beyond.

In 2013, Mrs. McCartney was awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching and spend four months living in Finland studying the education system there.  She was a Gilder Lehrman Fellow at Harvard College in 2014, a Fund for Teachers Fellow in 2016 and was named to the Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice Honor Roll in 2016.

Jacqueline Hesse learned the importance of service learning during her senior year of college, when she spent a semester volunteering as an English Language teacher at Wat Don Chan school in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  The school served students from seven different hill tribes, and many of the students lived at the school, either because they were orphans or because their home villages were too far away. Despite having no common language with the students, who spoke only their hill tribe languages and no Thai, she found the experience to be extremely rewarding. She enlisted the help of a local Buddhist monk who taught mindfulness to young children, and learned how to manage a classroom without the use of oral language.  Upon returning home, she realized that her perspective on the world had completely shifted during her months away, and she became committed to volunteer work.

Jacqueline has been teaching ELA in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District since 2007, and is the founding ELA teacher at Excelsior Academy.  Excelsior Academy is highly collaborative, and project based learning forms the backbone of the curriculum.  This year, tenth grade students spent several months researching and learning about modern day slavery.  The students planned and executed a community awareness event in February 2016, at which over 200 participants learned about the horrors of human trafficking and forced labor.  Jacqueline also coordinates many of the volunteer opportunities at Excelsior, and she hopes to illuminate the importance of community involvement for her students. This spring, she was honored by the Orange County Human Rights Commission for her work with her students.

With the support of a Fund for Teachers grant, in 2016, she traveled with Christine McCartney to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.  They spent a week volunteering and solidifying the necessary partnerships for Global to Local.


Kevin Rothman is the proud founding House Principal of Excelsior Academy. Before taking on this role, he spent 9 years teaching 7th grade math at Heritage Middle School, where he also served as the lead teacher and the chairperson of the building leadership team. 

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 5.23.14 PMIn 1993, he graduated from Newburgh Free Academy; he is honored to be serving the same school and community that helped shape him in his adolescence. After graduating from NFA, he continued his education at Boston College, earning his B.A. in 1997. He earned his master’s degree from Mount Saint Mary College and a post-master’s advanced certificate in Educational Leadership from Stony Brook University.

He os honored and privileged to work with an amazing group of students and teachers who make coming to work enjoyable every day.  Outside of his role at Excelsior Academy, Kevin enjoys spending time with his family. They love spending time outside, rooting for the Mets, and traveling.