Director of Guidance
Mrs. Michelle Blanco
High School Counseling Staff
Mr. John Flaim
Ms. Alexandra Roberts
Mr. Michael Zelizo
Middle School Counseling Staff
Ms. Lana Shtofmakher
Student Assistance Counselor/
Ms. Catherine White
Mrs. Lynda Nienstedt
Meet the Counseling Staff
Mrs. Michelle Blanco, Director
Mrs. Blanco has been a member of the Cresskill School District since 2000. She started as a chemistry teacher and then transitioned to the Guidance Department in 2003 as a middle school counselor. As the Director, she oversees the counseling department from K-12. Mrs. Blanco attended Villanova University where she earned her BS in Chemistry Education. She started her teaching career at Immaculate Heart Academy and then continued teaching at Fort Lee High School. She also has earned a MA in Psychology at New Jersey City University, a MS in Educational Leadership at Long Island University, a certificate in College Admissions from University of California, Los Angeles, and attended the Harvard Summer Institute on College Admissions. In addition to her duties as a guidance counselor, Mrs. Blanco has served the Cresskill Public Schools as a former advisor of the CMS and CHS Student Organizations, Help the Hungry, and Peer Advisors for Cresskill Teens (PACT), and the CMS Hip Hop Dance Club.
Mr. John Flaim, Counselor
Mr. Flaim joined the Guidance Department this year and will be taking on the role of guidance counselor in addition to his work as a special education teacher. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Iona College and two Master’s Degrees from Fordham University and from Manhattan College. Mr. Flaim has been with the Cresskill School District for the past twenty years as a teacher and has also coached baseball and basketball.
Ms. Alexandra Roberts, Counselor
Alexandra Roberts is a Bergen County native who joined the Guidance Department as well as the Special Education Department. She received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Delaware in 2012 and became a High School Social Studies teacher the same year. Ms. Roberts then went on to earn her Master's degree from New York University where she worked in Undergraduate Admissions as a college application reader. Ms. Roberts is the advisor for the Class of 2021 and the FLAG&BT Club.
Ms. Lana Shtofmakher, Counselor
Ms. Shtofmakher joined the Guidance Department in 2004. She attended George Washington University where she earned her BS in Biology. Ms. Shtofmakher received her MA in Clinical Counseling at Fairleigh Dickinson University and went on to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Within her time in the district she has worked as a Student Assistance Counselor at the Cresskill Junior-Senior High School as well as at Edward H. Bryan School and Merritt Memorial School. Currently, she is the School Counselor for grades 6-8. Ms. Shtofmakher is also one of the advisors for the middle school and high school Student Organization, and PACT (Peer Advisors for Cresskill Teens).
Ms. Catherine White, Student Assistance Counselor
Mrs. White came to Cresskill in 2006 as a member of the Child Study Team. In 2008 she moved to the guidance department as a Student Assistance Counselor (SAC). In September 2013 she became the 504 Coordinator for the Middle/High School. Mrs. White received her BA in Psychology from SUNY Geneseo and her Master's in Social Work from NYU. She completed her SAC certification coursework at New Jersey City University. Mrs. White is the district's anti-bullying coordinator and one of the advisors for the middle school and high school Student Organization, as well as PACT (Peer Advisors for Cresskill Teens).
Mr. Michael Zelizo, Counselor
Mr. Zelizo joined the Guidance Department from the Math Department in September 2013. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Villanova University in 2005 and his Master’s Degree from William Paterson University in 2011. Mr. Zelizo leads our Ambassadors program, which helps new students to CHS get acclimated to the district. In addition to his responsibilities as a Guidance Counselor, Mr. Zelizo is the HIB specialist for the high school.
Mrs. Lynda Nienstedt, Registrar/Administrative Assistant
Mrs. Lynda Nienstedt joined the guidance department in 2019. Mrs. Nienstedt is a graduate of Montclair State University and has her Bachelor of Arts degree in English. She worked in publishing for several years, and has served in various positions in local school districts.