School Leaders

Andrea d'Amato
Andrea d'Amato, Principal

Andrea d’Amato has been working in education for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Secondary Education from Boston College, a Master’s in Business Administration from New York University and a School Administration and Supervision degree from Hunter College. 

Ms. d’Amato started as a math teacher on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. After several years in the classroom, she became a School Support Manager with the City University of New York. In this role she had the opportunity to collaborate with teachers and principals in dozens of schools across the city.

As the Principal of University Prep Charter High School, Ms. d’Amato relies heavily on an effective system of distributed leadership where each member of the staff participates in school decision-making and takes responsibility for the harmonious accomplishment of school-wide goals. Core to her philosophy is the belief that every child can learn and achieve at high academic levels. This is her second year as the Principal of UPCHS and she is eager to continue and build upon UPCHS's tradition of outstanding student results.

Andrew AyersAndrew Ayers, Assistant Principal of Instruction

Mr. Ayers, a proud denizen of the Bronx for over 25 years, began his career in the classroom as an English Language Arts instructor.  He attended Fordham University where attained both a bachelor's and master's degree.  For over 15 years he enjoyed sharing the love of literature with all students.  Teaching a humanities course, he focused heavily on multicultural and topical issues to facilitate the students' ability to establish a sense of self and develop a moral code.  He firmly believes that the themes of both modern and classical literature apply universally and can reveal much about the world around us.  In his career teaching all levels of high school English, he endeavored to have students read, write, and think each day.  Almost academic content comes to the learner through reading.  Therefore, finding ways to improve student literacy has always been paramount to his approach.  

In addition to his many academic pursuits, Mr. Ayers is a fervent fan of athletics and music.  Athletics and music, Mr. Ayers believes, can be a wonderful outlet and means of catharsis.  He is happy to assist in the moderation of the music club and coached basketball for 12 seasons.  These opportunities for release and alternative expression are vital for student person growth and development.  His commitment to athletics, music, and dance contribute to his belief that the body, mind, and soul require daily attention.

In the 2017 - 2018 school year, Mr. Ayers was honored to join the administration team at University Prep.  A faculty member for the previous six years, the mission and its execution particularly resonated.  While happy as an instructor, Mr. Ayers wanted to make a larger impact on the school community as a whole and help ensure that the cornerstones of what makes UPCHS great are supported and maintained.  In his new role, he will continue to make literacy a priority, hold students accountable for being their best selves, and support the staff to deliver the high-quality, rigorous instruction that is the hallmark of University Prep Charter High School.

Miguel Suarez

Miguel Suarez, Assistant Principal of Instruction

Mr. Suarez grew up in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx.  He is first-generation Puerto Rican from a family of educators and has been teaching in the South Bronx for the past seventeen years. Mr. Suarez received his Bachelor’s degree in Art History from the University of Rochester and his Master's in Math Education from Lehman College.  He began his career teaching Global History and Algebra.  He has since taught all levels of High School Mathematics, served as Student Dean, Head of the Math Department, and Union Chapter Delegate. 

Mr. Suarez is one of the founding teachers of University Prep and in 2015 he became the Assistant Principal of Instruction.  He takes pride in working alongside the dedicated teachers at the school to further develop the curriculum and teaching practices. Mr. Suarez looks forward to continuing to work with staff and families to empower the students and maintain a school culture of success and community.


Deborah Raji
Deborah Raji, Assistant Principal of Operations

Deborah Raji first became interested in working in the education sector in early high school while tutoring neighboring children who, she came to realize, were performing significantly below their grade levels.  After growing up in the Bronx and Harlem, Ms. Raji attended Amherst College in Massachusetts where she received her B. A. in Spanish.  She then moved to Mississippi to become a member of the Mississippi Teacher Corps (MTC), a rigorous alternate route teaching program.  During her time down South, she taught middle school Spanish and English; high school Spanish, English, and ACT Prep/College Life; and earned her M. A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Mississippi. 

 After MTC, Ms. Raji returned to New York to continue her work in Education outside of the classroom. Over the next several years she expanded her skill set by serving as the Student Registrar at a Harlem charter school, the Director of Operations at a Brooklyn charter school, and an Operations Manager at a student leadership development non-profit in Manhattan.  In these positions she added to her professional toolbelt by overseeing logistics for hundreds of student and staff events from state test administrations to 1000-person commencement events, facilities and maintenance for multiple sites/buildings including small and large-scale renovations and construction projects, technology support, and various sub-departments in between.  

With more than a decade of experience working in Education, and as a native New Yorker, a proud Nigerian, and a Hapkido/Kickboxing/a cappella/step/photography enthusiast, Ms. Raji is excited to bring her personal background and her knowledge and skill set to the University Prep community in order to help ensure college acceptance and success for all of our students and to promote a thriving school community at large.