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Irina Mashinski, the CPT founding director, is an award-winning teacher and university professor. As a New Jersey high school teacher, she has taught various sections of high school Mathematics and Science. She has passed the Praxis Mathematics Teacher certification exams with a Certificate of Excellence (top 15%) and holds two NJ standard teacher's certificates. Irina is the recipient of the Geraldine R. Dodge Fellowship Award for alternate route teachers.

Besides a B.S.& M.S summa cum laude and  a Ph.D. in Science (Physical Geography and Paleoclimatology) from Moscow University, Irina holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from New England College. She is also the co-founding editor of the StoSvet literary project and co-editor of The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry (Penguin Classics, 2015).