About

About Us

We are journalists, former teachers, parents and public school advocates dedicated to improving schools for every child in the city. We believe that engaged, informed parents can promote racially and economically integrated schools of the highest quality. We work towards that goal by providing independent reviews of schools based on visits and school data, publishing research and guides about the NYC school system, and teaching courses and encouraging parent dialogue on InsideSchools+.

Our team is small, so we welcome your support. Contact us if you would like to volunteer, shop at our InsideSchools Store, or make a tax deductible donation.

InsideSchools is a project of the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School and is supported by grants from the Walton Family Foundation, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the New York Community Trust. We are also supported by reader donations and advertising revenue. Former grantors include the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Tortora-Sillcox Family Foundation, the David L. Klein Foundation.

Who we are

Clara Hemphill, founder

Clara Hemphill, the founding editor of InsideSchools, is writing a book about how schools adapt to neighborhood change, focused on an elementary school in the rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford Stuyvesant. She was formerly the director of education policy at the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School. The New York Times called her guidebooks to NYC's public schools a "Bible for urban parents."

Tom Liam Lynch, editor-in-chief

A parent of a child in the city's public schools, former English teacher, and education professor, Tom earned his doctorate in education from Columbia University's Teachers College. He directed teams in the Central offices of the New York City Department of Education, where he led the implementation of a $50 million online learning program in over 100 schools called iLearnNYC. Tom later architected and drove the implementation of WeTeachNYC, a $6.8 million digital resource repository, learning environment, and blended learning program for the city’s 80,000 teachers. Tom's research examined the relationship between software theory, literacy, and education reform. He has written dozens of articles and presented the world over on educational technologies, school reform, new literacies, and K-12 computer science.

Nicole Mader, senior research fellow

Nicole manages the statistical data on InsideSchools and contributes research, analysis and data visualization to the Center for New York City Affair's k–12 education policy research projects. Before coming to InsideSchools, she taught high school social studies for six years at Samuel Gompers CTE High School in the South Bronx and Lyons Community School in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She holds a master's in secondary social studies education from Fordham University and a bachelor's in political science from Davidson College. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in public and urban policy at The Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School, where her focus is on the potential for integrated student supports to reduce the impact of poverty on educational outcomes in New York City public schools.

Melanie Quiroz, data analyst

Melanie is an Education Policy Data Analyst, assisting with data management for InsideSchools. She is currently pursuing her BA in Urban Studies and an MS in Public and Urban Policy at The New School. She has worked at the educational non-profit Prep for Prep as a student advisor, helping high-achieving, disadvantaged, minority NYC middle school students transition to independent day and boarding schools, both socially and academically, and is an alumna of the program herself. Melanie has also worked in Community Outreach at Target through their Human Resources department, and is currently a Respite Service Coordinator at the non-profit Human First, providing in-home support services to adult individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

Lydie Raschka, reporter

Lydie reviews schools and writes for the Insideschools blog. She is a graduate of Bank Street College and is interested in education in all its forms. With Clara Hemphill, she co-authored a 2015 report called "Conquering Teachers' Math Anxiety." Lydie is a former public school teacher (grades 1–3) and continues to work as a Montessori teacher-trainer during the summers. Her son attended public school in Manhattan. As a teacher, parent, writer and consultant she has been inside hundreds of New York City schools.

Gail Robinson, reporter

Gail has been visiting schools and contributing write-ups and blog posts to InsideSchools since 2012. An independent writer on education and other policy issues and an adjunct professor of journalism at Baruch College/CUNY, Gail was editor-in-chief of Gotham Gazette and has covered politics and environmental issues. Her article on Brooklyn's John Dewey High School won a first prize for education reporting from the Education Writers Association. Gail's two children attended New York City public schools.

Caley Jack Steward, web developer

Caley Jack Steward is our full-stack web developer that handles all facets of the InsideSchools website. He has been designing and building digital experiences for over 15 years. In that time he has been a lead engineer and technical director at several creative agencies. Some of the notable brands he has worked with include Microsoft, ESPN, Cornell and Tory Burch.

Jacqueline Wayans, consultant

Jacquie was the outreach and event coordinator, and on-camera voice of InsideSchools, where she worked for more than 10 years. She is a co-author of the New York City’s Best Public Schools guides, having visited more than 350 city schools. Most important, she is the mom of three children who've all successfully completed their education in New York City public schools. Her passion is to inform low-income and minority communities about all of the options available to them.

Tanishia Williams, researcher

Tanishia is a Researcher at the Center for New York City Affairs. A former principal, executive director, and instructional superintendent, Tanishia has worked to redesign education for the past twenty-one years as an advocate for students. Guided by her belief that equity in education is one of the greatest civil rights issues of our time, Tanishia is working toward obtaining a Ph.D. in Public Urban Policy from the Milano School of Policy, Management, and Environment at The New School.

Laura Zingmond, senior editor

Laura reviews schools, writes for the Insideschools blog, advises parents on school choice, and contributes to policy research for Insideschools and the Center. She has visited hundreds of schools across the city and led the research on middle and high schools for a multi-year project evaluating science and math instruction. Previously, Laura worked as a litigation attorney and administrative law judge. From 2014 to 2016, she served as Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer's appointee to the New York City Panel for Educational Policy. Laura is a lifelong New Yorker and her two children are the fourth generation in her family to have attended the city's public schools. She holds a bachelor’s from the University of Michigan and a law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.