Many remarkable individuals are a part of Peak Year's mentoring and leadership efforts.
Helene Eisman Fisher
Helene is a writer, mentor/tutor and health awareness advocate. She received her B.A. from Purchase College in Literature, and is currently pursuing an M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing at City College New York. Helene has developed film scripts for director/producer Todd Graff and producer Sarah Green. Her essays have appeared in Hip Mama and Wild Violet. Helene is also the co-founder of Say Ah, a health literacy organization, celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Mariana is one of the most dynamic Tango performers of the new generation, Mariana has established herself in the field of Argentine Tango through performing in numerous Tango shows and motion pictures. She has also distinguished herself as an extraordinary Tango mentor of children and young adults throughout the world.
Before discovering tango, she graduated from the National School of Dance in Buenos Aires, where she studied ballet, folklore, jazz and modern dance. Mariana has studied under such prominent instructors as Juan Carlos Copes, Mingo and Esther Pugliese, Graciela Gonzélez, Gustavo Naveira, José Garéfalo, Natalia Games y Gabriel Angio, Facundo and Kelly, Julio Balmaceda and with renowed milongueros such as Tete and Silvia, Rodolfo and Maria Cieri, ‘El Pibe’ Palermo, Carlitos Albornoz and many others. In 1997 she starred in the Buenos Aires Tango show with the Walter Réos Orchestra, which ran in Tokyo, Japan. She toured Chile with Osvaldo Zotto’s group, and in 1999 was also part of Anébal Pachano’s Tangou musical show. Mariana’s remarkable maturity and depth as a dancer is exhibited in films such as “Evita,” directed by Alan Parker, and “El Sueño de los Héroes (The Dreams of Heroes)” by the Argentine director Sergio Renén. In Buenos Aires, Mariana joined the Escuela Argentina de Tango and the Abasto Plaza Hotel teacher’s staff. She has also taught Tango workshops throughout the world including Argentina, the United States, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, France and Denmark.
Sara is a graduate of The Pratt Institute with a Masters in Design, Sara is a Creative Director and educator with over ten years of experience both in the US and abroad. As an educator, Sara believes that providing students with flexible systems to explore subjects allows them to have unique, meaningful experiences and nurtures a sense of agency with regard to their own scholastic endeavors. Using this approach, students gain lasting impressions and valuable tools that they can carry forward and apply to their lives both inside and outside of academia. Sara is a member of the faculty at NYU.
She has also been faculty at Hofstra University and is a visiting critic at The Pratt Institute. Her design experience includes a fellowship at Milton Glaser’s and an Art Directorship at J. Walter Thompson. She also served as Art Director at Desantis Breindel for many years. Sara currently runs her own consultancy, working with a broad range of clients, from international brands to small businesses and individuals. At Peak Year LLC, Sara serves as our Director of Design Thinking Studies.
Liam is an Actor, Dancer, Aerialist and teacher from London, England. Having graduated from Bretton Hall, Leeds University in the UK in 2005, Liam spent the following five years predominantly working with the UK’s flagship theatre for children, The Unicorn Theatre in London. He spanned a diversity of roles whilst there including ambassador, actor and teaching artist and worked with children of various ages on acting technique, critical analysis of narrative and interactive workshops that emphasized the importance of role play in developing empathy and a relationship to the material. With the Unicorn and other theatre companies for young people, Liam has spent a great deal of time working in special educational units for children with unique learning needs. He has also performed in a range of Theatrical productions gaining particular recognition for roles such as Caliban and Alonso in “The Tempest” and D’artagnan in “The Three Musketeers.” He recently completed a three-month run at London’s Roundhouse and additionally served as the dance captain and lead performer in the highly physical Off-Broadway show Fuerzabruta Wayra in New York City. Located in Los Angeles, Liam works in-person and remotely with Peak Time experience students, embedding Executive Function skill mentoring for students interested in creative and performance based work.
As an undergraduate student, Dustin attended UC Berkeley, where he initially planned to study astrophysics. His love of both reading and writing fiction, however, led him to attain a B.A. in English Literature instead. He continued this course of study in graduate school at Indiana University Bloomington, where he focused on using 18th Century “rise of the novel” theory to examine the more recent “rise of the graphic novel.” Since moving to New York in 2007, he has divided his time between teaching and writing. His first novel, the Los Angeles Times bestselling Icelander, was published by McSweeney’s in 2006, and his second novel, Bad Teeth, was published by Little A in 2014. Wide-ranging in his own interests, at Peak Year Dustin has worked with students in a great variety of areas. In addition to reading and composition, he has also taught subjects as diverse as biology, math, geography, political science, etc., always with an eye to helping students improve Executive Function and work toward self-reliance. Dustin enjoys building long-lasting relationships with his students and demonstrating how the same set of Executive Function tools can be usefully applied not only to just about every area of academic study but also to the non-academic challenges of life, as well.
Gayle is an artist, dancer/choreographer and computer scientist. She received a BA in dance performance and choreography from the conservatory of dance at the State University of New York, Purchase in 1992.
Dance: Gayle has toured, performed, and choreographed nationally and internationally since 1992, including having her own NYC-based dance company for 3 years. Dance/choreography clients and venues include Opera Boston, the Spoleto Festival, American Dance Festival (U.S. and Korea), Jacob’s Pillow, Cannes Dance Festival (France), and Manhattan School of Music, among others. She was the 2011 and 2008 U.S. Tango Champion and regularly teaches and performs Argentine tango.
Computer science: Gayle’s computer skills are primarily self-taught. She grew her consulting career simultaneously with art and dance and has worked at Goldman Sachs (12 years), Merrill Lynch (3 years), InterContinental Exchange (5 years), and Microsoft (4 years). Her specialties are various types of analysis, technical writing, software testing, and applying creative solutions to institutional challenges.
Art: Gayle began painting and drawing at age 5 in the countryside of Virginia. Since 1992 she has pursued independent art studies at the Art Student’s League, Grand Central Academy, New York Academy of Art, and School of Visual Arts. Her paintings and drawings have been featured in many exhibitions, publications, and a few films. Her painting clients and venues include Hershey’s Corporation, The National Arts Club, Salmagundi Club, Principle Gallery, and the New York Hall of Science, among others.
Gayle’s diverse array of accomplishments come from a strong work ethic, grit, large amounts of curiosity, excellent executive functioning skills, and the ability to apply creative ideas within institutional settings. She enjoys helping young people find their way through a mindset of play and curiosity, showing them how to create their own systems for any situation, and to apply this mindset to every task in life.
Gayle is a much appreciated member of Peak Year’s executive function team that travels to boarding schools, independent schools, and universities for their faculty in-service days.
Tioma is an MIT-trained physicist and mathematician, Moscovite Tioma divides his time between mentoring at Peak Year LLC, Individual U. LLC and dancing at all-night tango gatherings (milongas) from New York to Buenos Aires. His tango work is internationally recognized under the performance name, “El Ruso.” At MIT, Tioma worked in the Plasma Fusion Center, the Robotics Lab, and consulted for the Global Lab, while also mentoring incoming freshmen from economically disadvantaged and minority backgrounds to prepare them for MIT coursework. He received his teaching certification in Physics from Wellesley College while teaching twelfth grade at Boston Latin High
Allison received a BA from Brown University in History and a MS in Education from Pace University. She continued her graduate studies at Teachers College, Columbia University, which culminated in her certification as a New York State Teacher. With over 18 years of experience teaching in New York, Allison serves a diverse learning community. She created a Pre-Teacher pilot program which addressed the under-representation of teachers of color in NYC public schools. As a recipient of the Freeman Experiment Teacher’s Project Grant, Allison toured rural China and designed history curriculum on Maoist Revolutions. A native of Mississippi, she returned for a year to conduct fieldwork and investigate social history at the University of Mississippi’s Center for Southern Studies.
A mother of three children, Allison enjoys equipping students of all ages with the critical thinking skills to navigate the complexities of disparate narratives. She specializes in creating curricula to address the individual needs of students as she inspires them to fine tune their academic strengths and address their academic weaknesses.
At Peak Year, Allison mentors students in the careful reading and writing of history, literature and pop culture while integrating mindfulness and Executive Function into their work. She also supports students as they pursue higher degrees, maneuver the college application process, the college/university experience and the world beyond.
Sae is a true ambassador of Japanese culture and language, Sae earned an MA in American Literature at Kansai University and a second Master’s degree from New York University in teaching Japanese as a foreign language. Sae firmly believes that a greater understanding of Japan and its arts, customs, and traditions can be brought to the United States through the transmission of its language and has put this belief into practice with years of teaching experience, including work at the University of San Francisco and New York University.
At Peak Year LLC, Sae embeds Executive Function mentoring into her work in Japanese language, art, culture and cooking. She conveys a unique perspective on the world that fuels students’ interests in Asian language, art and culture while simultaneously conveying a joyful and mindful approach to organizing and approaching assignments, deadlines, projects and tasks.
Sensei Gerald L. Orange
A native of Detroit, Gerald L. Orange has resided in New York City for the past several decades where he has served as a mentor of Chi-related practices, including Goju Karate and Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan and Tai Chi Sword, to countless students. At the age of 17, the reputation of the Fighting Leathernecks compelled him to join the United States Marine Corps during the height of the Vietnam War, beginning his rigorous training at the dreaded Parris Island South Carolina Marine Corps boot camp. Revered in worldwide karate circles as “the mongoose” for his lightning strike speed and uncanny jumping ability, Sensei Orange has achieved the rank of tenth degree black belt in Goju Karate and has been twice Worldwide Karate Champion. He is the grand honchi of American Goni Karate. Among his other qualifications and disciplines, Sensei Orange is an alumnus of the Lee Strasburg Theatre Institute.
He is a writer as well and the recipient of two writing awards: The Theodore Goodman Fund Writing 2 Award and the Goodman Fund Film and TV Award. He speaks a number of languages, including Mandarin Chinese. Sensei Orange was powerfully influenced by the guidance of his dear grandmother Mary Anna Shepard (Anna) and the Hartford Avenue Baptist Church and the Boy Scouts of America Troop 647, where he was an honored patrol leader.
At Peak Year, Sensei warmly shares his skills, wisdom and philosophy with all of his students. He can often be heard saying “Relax, let go. Relaxation is the key—the height—of all the arts, ” as he mentors chi channeling, chi practice sword, and Flow to our community of Peak Experience learners. Yoosh!
Rick has been delighted to find a career in music and teaching after first attending Seton Hall Law School. He comes to Peak Year after a three-year history as the Music Director of Individual U, where he has mentored students in a variety of musical instruments, digital recording techniques and music software. He has been writing, recording and performing music since the age of 11. Along with his brother Kurt Reil, Rick is the Co-Owner of House Of Vibes (HOV), a commercial recording studio in Highland Park, NJ, which serves as the creative base for their band, The Grip Weeds. Critically acclaimed for their recordings and blistering live shows, The Grip Weeds have produced eight albums and have garnered considerable airplay on Steven Van Zandt’s Underground Garage Sirius XM radio channel. Experienced recording engineers, Rick and brother Kurt have produced all the bands’ recordings, as well as those of other clients of HOV which include Mark Lindsay, former lead singer of Paul Revere And The Raiders, The Smithereens, and members of the The Grass Roots.
From 2010 to 2013 Rick was the drummer for the legendary ’60s band The Left Banke, known for their hit song “Walk Away Renee.” Since 2015 The Grip Weeds have served as the backing band for Mark Lindsay, performing many of The Raiders’ classic hits. Much happier playing a riff and mentoring students than arguing a case, Rick has been delighted to find a lifetime in music and education. Rick’s special interest in his educational endeavors is in imparting Executive Function skills through the study and practice of piano, guitar and drums. He also helps Peak Year students with an interest in the music business to learn the art and design of music editing and other important studio skills.
Ethan is a Boston and New York-based cum laude graduate of Cornell University. He majored in physics with study concentrations in math and chemistry. As an undergraduate, he did biophysical research at Columbia University where his research was published. He is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and was the Valedictorian of Rhinebeck High School’s Class of 2010.
Currently the youngest member of the Peak Year mentoring faculty, Ethan has nevertheless been mentoring and tutoring for many years, concentrating on helping students in math, physics, biology, chemistry and science writing. He also does SAT, SAT ll and AP Test Prep for younger students through our sister organization, Individual U LLC. Ethan works with students not just as a tutor and mentor but also as a collaborator so that students can explore their interests and appreciate their efforts. His proximity to the college experience is valued by Peak Year’s senior mentoring team. In addition to helping students directly with the course material, Ethan provides mentorship that encourages resourcefulness and resilience. He works with students to help them change behaviors, adopting healthier sleeping, eating, and relaxation techniques, thereby maximizing the time they spend studying. He also helps them adopt more productive patterns of studying such as by scheduling study periods as exams approach and by collaborating with other students on problem sets.
Artist Eunnye (“IN-YA”) Yang was born and raised in South Korea. She earned a B.A. in Fine Arts from E-Wha Woman’s University in Seoul, South Korea and moved to New York City in 1996 to continue her studies. She completed her Fine Art studies at the National Academy of Design School of Fine Arts in New York in 2006 where she garnered the Edward Mooney Travel Prize, the Newington-Cropsey Foundation Academy Award for Summer Study in Italy, and the Frismuth Whitney Prize for Young Sculptors. Eunnye combines her training from numerous disciplines—sculpting, painting, restoration, performing arts, yoga, meditation, cooking and nutrition—into her constantly expanding artistic vision, and integrates that vision into her teaching in Art and Design through EY Design consulting services.
At Peak Year, Eunnye consults as the head of art, sculpture, yoga studies, and museum-based learning. She combines her work in sculpture with mentoring in Executive Function skills, particularly by helping students sculpt figurative self-portraits. Eunnye was commissioned to create a relief sculpture representing the self-monitoring aspect of Executive Function, and her three-part series capturing ten years of self-monitoring of her own life hangs at the entrance of our main learning center. She feels privileged to bring her own learning experiences as an artist to her work with young people and, as a member of a team of mentors, assists students in finding their passion and best path forward. Eunnye guides students who are looking to have careers in the arts in creating their portfolios and preparing for the interview process as well. Eunnye also serves as Peak Year’s official liaison to the Korean community in the United States and in Korea, where she is the contact point for families and organizations wishing to send their children to study at Peak Year and in the US in general. The most rewarding aspect of Eunnye’s work as a mentor is that former students love to remain in contact with her over the years, sharing how they are thriving in their studies, seeking advice, or simply requesting to enjoy a day at a museum or exhibit together when they are nearby or when Eunnye can visit them. Eunnye has served for several years on the board of the AHL Foundation, the Korean Contemporary Artists Support System. In her extra time, Eunnye is an avid animal lover and well-documented cat whisperer.
Lucie is an internationally successful journalist and author who has written extensively for the New York Times newspaper and magazine, the London Telegraph newspaper, and myriad publications globally. Her blog has had 200,000 hits and has been read in 130 countries, and her biography of designer Eva Zeisel was a nonfiction best seller. Her specializations include arts, culture, design, architecture, food, travel, spirituality and health reporting. Lucie discovered the powerful, transformative energies of Tai Chi and Qigong 20 years ago. At Peak Year, in addition to mentoring chi-channeling practices, Lucie mentors creative writing and essay writing and enjoys helping students find their unique voice and explore their creativity. These two ancient Chinese practices are the most studied forms of exercises in the world. For over 15 years, Lucie has taught students of all ages and abilities the classic Yang style Tai chi short form. Her advanced students learn the rare and exquisite Yang style long form and push hands—the highest of martial arts. She also teaches Qigong exercises, which are immediately rewarding and easy-to-learn routines.