"It makes me want to chase my goal harder."
"It pushed me to do better."
"I put effort in everything that I do, because everything has a chain reaction."
"It helped because it showed me effective listening and to think about my future."
"This has taught me to go for my dream no matter what. Believe in yourself and don’t let anyone drag you down."
"The entire program helps me to overcome my fear of speaking in public."
"It taught me to believe in my dreams when people don’t believe in me."
"It showed me and told me to take the opportunity when it’s given to you – Don’t Wait!"
"It opened my eyes to what is and what isn’t."
"It helped me to get through the future and the past."
"They’re giving me the courage to go for a job and pursue my dream no matter how hard it seems to me."
"I liked how we learned about self-esteem."
I came to the program in 2015 as a former classroom teacher currently holding New York State certifications in Childhood Education, Literacy, and Students with Disabilities. As a teenager with little direction is was difficult for me to develop a plan for my future. I struggled with figuring out what my best skills were and how to apply myself to obtain a meaningful career. Through Liberty I can alleviate that confusion for our students. We provide opportunities for them to explore their talents through the various workshops embedded into our program as well as planned experiences that are individualized to help meet their life goals. My passion lies with being a youth advocate and mentor as well as creating positive change within the communities that we serve. I am always eager to meet parents as well as form new partnerships with fellow community leaders. Please don’t hesitate to contact me!
When I’m not at work I enjoy spending time with my husband Josh and two boys, Carter(6) and Wesley(3), who keep me very busy.
I am an educational professional with over 16 years experience helping students achieve success academic, personal and professional success. My background includes working in higher education as an academic success coach as well as mentoring and instructing for the grant funded programs Academic Talent Search and the Higher Education Opportunity Program. I also worked as a long-term substitute teacher for the Buffalo Public School System, and just before joining the Future Leaders Liberty Partnerships Program team, I was an Assistant Director for the Boys and Girls Club of Buffalo, NY. Each of these experiences has helped me to discover my passion for assisting students navigate the educational landscape in order to realize their goals and become the best version of themselves as possible.
The Future Leaders Liberty Partnerships Program had allowed me the opportunity to marry my passion with my knowledge. Through this program, I am afforded daily opportunities to work collaboratively with students, families, community members and organizations, and local educational professionals in order to support and improve the lives of our students and the communities in which they live. There is truly nothing more gratifying than knowing that the Future Leaders Program was instrumental in helping a student reach his/her life goal.
“Be the change you wish to see on the world”….Ghandi
Assistant Program Director
Kelly Peters comes from a background in Social work, Criminal Justice and Psychology with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Mercyhurst University. Her greatest passion continues to be helping others any way she can. She is heavily motivated by social service according to her Indigo report and in her life. Working with urban youth has opened her eyes to their resiliency and amazing personalities that inspire her every day in a career that allows her to be her true, authentic, and goofy self.
Peters’ personal mission is to motivate youth and be a guiding hand to help them on their life paths to success. She is accomplished in identifying risk factors towards possible deviance, and Liberty Partnerships Program enables her to apply her preventive skills while working as a positive influence among youth. Her own role models have encouraged and motivated her own successes, and she only hopes she can pay that forward and do the same for the youth in Niagara County. Her competitive spirit and low compliance behaviors translates into constant efforts of creating new ways of making learning fun. She loves offering students opportunities in life experiences as well as hands-on learning that go beyond the desks and projectors of traditional school settings.
When she is not in the classroom, Kelly is playing rugby or coaching high school girls’ rugby at her alma mater. You can also find her traveling, camping, hiking with friends, or admiring cute puppies she daydreams about owning one day.
Program Administrator/Case Manager: Niagara Falls High School
Cassandra Schumacher is a former teacher with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Anthropology from SUNY Oswego and a passion for breaking out of the old-fashioned education mold. Nothing makes her happier than using innovative and nontraditional ways to motivate youth into learning. Schumacher has worked in human service and with urban youth for her entire professional career because working for others truly inspires her. It is no surprise that her Indigo says she is very socially and academically motivated.
Schumacher has a passion for educating and working with people to achieve their goals and find success on their individual paths. Working with Liberty Partnerships allows Schumacher the opportunity to meet incredible young people and teach in a way that empowers and motivates adolescents toward their own goals. Having been the child who needed to know why she had to learn a certain fact or skill, she has made it her life mission to teach young people not only facts and skills but also why those facts and skills are important and needed. She firmly believes that knowledge that cannot be applied is not worth having. When she is not in the classroom, you can find Schumacher writing textbooks, cooking, or hanging out with her dogs and three pet geckos.
Program Administrator/Case Manager: Niagara Street Elementary and Gaskill Preparatory
Courtney Santasero is a graduate of the University at Buffalo, with a degree in Psychology, Counseling, and Education. This fall she looks forward to studying with the International Institute for Restorative Practices. Courtney joined the Future Leaders Program with the intention of utilizing her background and experiences to foster social-emotional and leadership development among the program’s youth. Her mission in life is to help individuals develop the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve their goals, be guided by their passions, and live fulfilling lives. In addition to her role in the Future Leaders program, Courtney works as a student workshop facilitator for the Indigo Project, as a skill builder for Hillside Family of Agencies, and serves as the Vice President for the Character Council of Western New York. Courtney’s role with NCCC’s Liberty Partnerships Program has allowed her to apply her skills in curriculum development, leadership, advocacy. In her spare time, Courtney enjoys hiking, going on adventures with her boyfriend, Brett, and seizing any opportunity to learn something new. She also recently received certification in scuba diving and looks forward to advancing her certification.
Retention Specialist: All sites
Program Administrator/Case Manager: LaSalle Preparatory
Kara Fox is originally from the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in northwestern North Dakota and is an enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation. She is also Tuscarora, the 6th Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and currently resides on the Tuscarora Nation with her husband Clint and two children Tristan (12) and Ellie (8). She graduated from Dartmouth College in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in Native American Students and Education Studies. She completed her Master’s of Educational Psychology in School Counseling from the University of Utah in 2008. She has her School Counselor Certification Grades PreK-12 through the New York State Education Department.
Education has always been a priority and value in her family’s life and has worked in the field of education throughout her career. She believes a healthy, safe, and positive community that is committed to their children’s education will help continue traditions and culture for generations to come. She is grateful for the opportunity to make connections with families and their children by providing the leadership and guidance to establish goals for their academic, social, and behavioral needs through Liberty Partnerships Program’s personal learning plans (PLP’s). She has experience working with at-risk youth and can offer interventions and assistance to students and involving multiple resources that are available to them with Liberty Partnerships. Her primary goal with Liberty is to help students prepare and achieve successful transitions to middle and high school as well as onto higher education and different career pathways.
Kara enjoys spending time with her family, watching her children play sports, playing basketball, going to the movies, church, gardening, and traveling. She has filled the roles of President, Treasurer and Secretary over the past 7 years for the parent organization Tuscarora Home School Council at her children’s school. She loves helping her community and watching her family grow!
Program Administrator/Case Manager: Tuscarora Elementary and Edward Town Middle School
Over the past 18 years, Antoinette has been helping people from birth to centenarian in various walks of life make choices to live their lives to the fullest. She began her education at Canisius College and received her Bachelor of Arts in Biology. She continued her education at Erie Community College to earn her Applied Associates in Science - Occupational Therapy Assistant. From then to the current day, helping people has been her daily job. She has succeeded in doing this in a variety of work settings. She helped to rehabilitate people in nursing homes so they may return to their previous lifestyle. She worked with children with disabilities, from birth through high school, to acquire the fundamental skills to be successful in school. She even worked at the college level by supporting college students, with and without disabilities, to attain a degree which will lead to their career of choice.
Liberty Partnerships Program will give her the opportunity to utilize her skill set of positivity, creativity, inspiration and charisma to assist students in researching, setting and reaching goals to lead them their future dreams. Working with Liberty Partnerships Program will allow her to continue to reassure people, whether young or mature, to keep making strides, to learn a trade or to get a 2-year degree, even if it means taking one class at a time. She will let them know that with each successful course, they are closer to a career choice that no one will ever be able to take away from them. Antoinette collects Hippopotamuses (Hippopotami). She has MANY, MANY Hippos!
Program Administrator/Case Manager: Lockport High School
Rhonda joined the Future Leaders Liberty Team in 2016, and is currently the Case Manager for North Park Junior High School. Rhonda, a graduate of Niagara University with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work, has worked in the educational field and is committed to providing students with opportunities that will add to their success. Prior to her position with Future Leaders, Rhonda worked with first-generation, underprepared, minority college students helping them to navigate the higher educational landscape. This role was extremely important, as many of these students had no to answer questions or give them advice about how to be successful in college. Rhonda is very excited and highly motivated to help shape our students into Future Leaders. One of Rhonda’s strongest skills is the ability to build healthy and open relationships with students, their families, as well as the school faculty and staff. Rhonda is a treasured gem at her North Park.
Rhonda is actively involved in many community projects such as helping to raise cancer awareness. When Rhonda is not busy walking for a fundraiser or contributing to an event she enjoys spending time with family and friends. Rhonda is very proud of her two grown daughters and three grandchildren and is excited about what the future hold for herself, her family, and the Future Leaders Liberty Partnerships Program.
Program Administrator/Case Manager: North Park Junior High School
Kelly is enrolled at Purdue University working towards a Bachelor’s in Psychology in Addictions with an expected graduation date of January 2021. Being part of the Future Leaders program has opened her eyes to wanting our Future Leaders to succeed. Through working with Liberty, she is able to provide each student with mindful listening and direction for goals, careers, education. She is really looking forward to this upcoming school year. With one small random act of kindness, we can make a difference.
Technical Assistant/Tutor: LaSalle Preparatory School, Gaskill Preparatory School, Niagara Street Elementary School, Niagara Falls High School