Gravitas teachers are engaging, supportive, dedicated, mission-driven experts in their fields. Here’s what our students have to say about them:
"All the teachers and faculty members are engaging and always show interest in students and their classes. The classes are intensive and rigorous, but all the teachers support you to a degree where all the work and studies become manageable."
"My class was pretty intensive, but my teachers were very supportive and helpful with the assignments and projects given to me throughout the week. Not only with assignments but during class, they were very engaging and were some of the greatest teachers I had."
"Ms. Schwein is extremely dedicated to ensuring that I am challenged and getting the most out an exceptional course. She is an awesome teacher! I also greatly appreciate the scholarly approach of Dr. Manis and Mr. Brownworth. All my teachers have been great."
"Great teachers for every class."
Nancy "Joqui" Giron-Melendez
Nancy "Joqui" Girón-Meléndez serves as a Spanish teacher for Gravitas. Joqui graduated from Gordon College in 2011 with a double major in Middle School Education and Spanish. Upon graduating, she returned to her high school alma mater, Boston Trinity Academy, to serve as a Spanish teacher for 10 years. In that decade, she taught levels 1 through AP to grades 6-12. As a language teacher, Joqui strives for her students to include Spanish into their persona, challenging students to view language acquisition as a pathway to practice loving their neighbor. In addition to her passion for language acquisition, Joqui has a passion for student leadership and has led training on leadership and character development. Joqui has held various leadership roles throughout college and her 10 years at Boston Trinity Academy, including serving as the Dean of Students. In May 2019, she received the Boston Trinity Academy Alumni Recognition award, which highlights how an education at Boston Trinity Academy prepares students for leadership and service in college and beyond. Outside of school life, Joqui is an avid reader of fiction and social justice, seeking ways to understand how to love her neighbor. She and her husband are currently expecting their first child!
R. Zachary Manis, Ph.D
Director of Character Formation and Humanities Faculty
Zachary Manis (Ph.D., Baylor University) is Director of Character Formation and Humanities Teacher for Gravitas. He is an academic philosopher by training, with areas of expertise in philosophy of religion, Christian ethics, and Kierkegaard studies. Dr. Manis is the author ofSinners in the Presence of a Loving God: An Essay on the Problem of Hell (Oxford University Press, 2019), as well as numerous peer-reviewed articles. He is coauthor, with C. Stephen Evans, of Philosophy of Religion: Thinking about Faith, Second Edition (IVP Academic, 2009). Prior to joining the Gravitas team in 2021, Dr. Manis taught philosophy at a Christian liberal arts university for sixteen years. He lives in Bolivar, Missouri with his wife Lisa and their three children: Solomon, Nora, and Emmaline. In his spare time, Dr. Manis enjoys spending time with family and friends, discussing philosophy and theology, reading, and playing drums.
Sean A. Riley, Ph.D
Sean Riley serves as the Executive Director of Gravitas. Since 2007, Sean has served the school as Academic Dean, History Department Chair, Teacher, Coach, and Dorm Parent. His Ethics Bowl team has won the Long Island Regional Competition four years in a row. He has won several teaching awards, including the PLATO K-12 Teaching Award, a national award for pre-college philosophy teachers. During the summer of 2021, he will help lead a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for teachers entitled "Disputatio and the Pursuit of Wisdom in the Humanities." Additionally, he has been a frequent presenter at conferences and has published several articles on philosophy and education. Sean holds a BA/MA in philosophy from Penn State University, and a Ph.D in philosophy from Baylor University. He loves competitive sports, travel, wildlife photography, architecture, and designing elegant solutions to complex human problems. He lives on the campus of The Stony Brook School with his wife, Emily, and his four children.
Mathematics, Computer Science, and Physics Faculty
Ali Schwein serves as a math, physics, and computer science teacher for Gravitas. Ali graduated with distinction from the University of Colorado in 2020 with a BA in Mathematics and an Education License. While at CU, Ali earned the Jack Hodges Award for Excellence in Mathematics, she started and led a Bible study for athletes, and won an NCAA title in triathlon. Since graduating she has been working as a teacher and track coach in Boulder, CO. Ali is passionate about building relationships with students, integrating cross curriculum problems into mathematics, and teaching students to find innovative solutions using computer coding. She’s on the hunt for the best vanilla latte, loves spending time with her family and dog, Penny, enjoys accruing plants and succulents, and competes competitively in triathlons.
Kelly Weininger teaches Advanced Economics for Gravitas. She joins Gravitas having taught at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta for seven years, where she served as an Economics and STEAM Electives teacher and served as the Innovation Lab Coordinator. Prior to that she taught Economics in a public school in Georgia. Kelly holds a BS in Economics from Oglethorpe University and an MA in Teaching Social Studies from Georgia State University. Kelly lives in Georgia with her family.
Vanessia Wilkins serves as the World History Teacher for Gravitas. Vanessia holds a BA in Spanish and a BA in History from the University of North Florida, a MA in History from Western Kentucky University and a MS in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology from the University at Albany. Currently, she is a doctoral student at UAlbany pursuing a Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction. She has been privileged to partner with students and teachers in a variety of settings ranging from K-12 to higher education. She has worked as a GED Instructor, History, ELA, and Writing Teacher, Academic Advisor, Career Coach, and Adjunct Professor. Her goal is to create academically engaging learning experiences through an environment that fosters creativity, collaboration, and kindness. With that as her focus, Vanessia serves as part of The Freedom Dreaming for Educational Justice Collective which is directly targeted to changing inequitable schooling systems. Additionally, she shares her passion for student success as an adjunct professor at University of the People. Her teaching philosophy is built on the premise of creating productive members of society through socio economic awareness and educational success as “Lifelong Learners”. Above all, her greatest accomplishment is her family. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, Jonathan, and their four children.
Holly Winant teachers English 8 for Gravitas. Prior to joining the team, Holly served as an English Department Chair and Middle School Lead Teacher at Smithtown Christian School. She holds a BA in English from Regent University and an MS in Adolescent Education from Dowling college. She lives on Long Island with her husband and one child.
Erik Yoder teaches STEM 7 and 8 and coaches the Middle School Robotics team on campus at The Stony Brook School. For Gravitas, he teaching STEM 8. Erik holds degrees from Philadelphia Biblical University, has taught for six years in public schools and at SBS for two year, was a VP of a railroad, and has coached cross country and karate. Erik brings contagious energy and creativity to every lesson.