Experienced Educators

NSU University School teachers are passionate and well-qualified educators who facilitate collaboration, active learning, and personalized instruction in each of their classrooms. They develop deep, enduring connections with their students and support them in the classroom, on stage, and on the athletic fields.

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A Personalized Approach

USchool teachers ignite a genuine love of learning within their students and use proven teaching strategies tailored to meet their individual needs. Our personalized approach and small class sizes ensure that teachers get to know each child’s unique interests, strengths, goals, and learning style. As a result, our students become confident and self-driven, both traits admired in college and beyond.

Committed to Best Practices

NSU University School is a fully accredited, private school, and as such, our teachers are held to the highest teaching standards. They model innovative teaching methods and understand the importance of continuously developing and refining their own best practices in teaching. They pursue advanced degrees, attend local and national conferences, and also collaborate regularly to share learning strategies, which results in an educational experience that is transformative, innovative, and unique.


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Faculty Spotlight

Maria Taravella

Middle School teacher Maria Taravella has devoted 45 years of her life to inspiring a passion and appreciation for the Spanish language and culture in students, developing their global citizenship and intercultural understanding. Taravella has felt a strong love for teaching for as long as she can remember. Eager to have a classroom and students of her own, she arranged a large blackboard and desks in the basement of her home where she instructed imaginary students at the age of eight. The encouragement and mentorship she received from passionate educators, including her aunt, as she navigated her way through school drove her to follow her dream of becoming a teacher. 

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Maureen Gonzalez-Carbonaro

Meet Maureen Gonzalez-Carbonaro, NSU University School Preschool teacher who has dedicated the past 20 years of her career to educating 18-month-old toddlers to 3-year-old children. Over the course of her life, Gonzalez-Carbonaro has always had a strong desire to help others. As a young adult, she worked with youth groups, providing support to and empowering teens. Inspired by her father’s legacy, she later joined the military to defend and serve our nation as a U.S. Army airborne engineer.  

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Jonathan Moreno

Longtime Spanish teacher Jonathan Moreno has been making a difference in the lives of students at NSU University School for the past 14 years, helping Lower School students achieve language proficiency while gaining an appreciation for the Hispanic culture. His passion for education extends beyond foreign language and includes a universal form of expression – music. He shares this love with his students by integrating music and art into his lessons, making them more engaging and improving students’ attitude when learning another language.  

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Andrew Stephens

Inspired by his elementary school teachers, Andrew Stephens felt drawn to the teaching profession ever since the third grade. However, it was not until recently that he decided to pursue the calling. After his mother passed away in 2014, he received a letter from her that expressed how her life had been deeply enriched by all the fascinating things he had taught her and how she believed he was born to teach and hoped he would one day. These last words from his mom gave him the final push to transition from his former position in international higher education to his current role as an Upper School AP and honors psychology teacher.

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Monica Polanin

Since moving to Florida in 1988, Preschool teacher Monica Polanin has spent the past 35 years paving the way for the next generation of leaders. Her commitment to her students’ well-being and overall academic and social-emotional development has positively influenced countless lives and helped children ages two to four build a strong foundation for future academic success.

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Micaile Smith

From leading a class of imaginary students as a child to now having 20 years of experience in the education space, Micaile Smith knew from a young age that she was called to teach. Her love for children and helping them learn was evident as she was growing up, which led her to pursue a career in teaching. As a Middle School science teacher, Smith instills a love of learning in her students by helping them connect the material to their own lives and by creating a safe and comfortable environment. This way, students are interested and motivated to learn more, apply their understandings, and give their best effort.  

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Dr. Rafael Arechabaleta

Entering his 22nd year of teaching at NSU University School, Upper School Physics and Calculus Teacher Dr. Rafael Arechabaleta is no stranger to the USchool community. Drawn by the uniqueness of our school, Dr. Arechabaleta joined the USchool team early in his teaching career shortly after moving to the United States from Cuba. He has made significant contributions to our school over the years and has had a lasting impact in the lives of his students through his instructional approach and sense of humor, helping create a comfortable learning environment.  

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Upper School Teacher Tara Ellsley Recognized for Her Leadership and Outstanding Efforts

Upper School Teacher and President Sponsor for Le Congrès de la Culture Française en Floride Tara Ellsley was featured by the Florida Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French in their monthly newsletter for her leadership and outstanding efforts, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Associate Head of Academic Affairs Robyn Kaiyal Completes the 2019 National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy

Congratulations to Associate Head of Academic Affairs Robyn Kaiyal for completing the 2019 National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy (NIXLA) – an online strategic diversity leadership development and institutional transformation program. The immersive, highly selective five-week program offered Kaiyal an invaluable opportunity to further develop her skills as a leader and identify powerful institutional strategies that support diversity, equity, and inclusion at NSU University School.

Read More about Associate Head of Academic Affairs Robyn Kaiyal Completes the 2019 National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy