A Conversation with Our New Director,
Dr. Michael Finley

Q. What drives your work in education?
A. “I went into education because I had a model teacher who inspired me. I’m finishing my fourteenth year in education. In that time, I’ve been a classroom teacher, a coach, a grade-level chair, an assistant principal, and a principal. Most important, I’m a mentor to students, which is my passion.

I love trying to connect the dots for students; trying to create the best conditions for them to learn…to help them develop academically and in the social and emotional aspects of life. If you can be an inspiration and you can help a kid turn the corner by what you say, by how you carry yourself as a professional, and by providing resources they need, it’s the best thing in the world to see them turn the corner. That’s what makes my heart beat a little harder.”

Q. What led you to UCAP?
A. “I believe in UCAP’s mission to remove barriers that are in the way of kids accessing a good education. I have experienced some of the struggles that many UCAP students experience. Students need consistency and a place to come to that they consider their safe place. I believe that is a major strength of UCAP. It is providing a consistent space in a way that meets kids where they are. Some students lack the consistency outside of school needed to help them be successful. UCAP has done a great job in connecting students with after-school activities and enhancing their education through its Beyond U Program.”

Q. How can we help students learn?
A. “If you really want to know what kids need, you need to talk to their teachers. And listen to them. My experience as a teacher and a leader is that students need consistency, safety, a voice in their education, and someone to believe in them.

Middle school kids are curious. They want to figure things out. They’re capable of doing what they want to do; they just have to put in the effort. Giving them more voice and choice in the classroom is important to help them facilitate their own learning. I think it’s
our job to connect their learning to the bigger picture. However, that doesn’t happen overnight. They need positive reinforcement to help facilitate their educational process successfully.

I look at students as seeds…you have to water them, and you have to give them sun. They don’t all sprout at the same time. They might not get it the first day, second day, they might not get it all that year, but you have to believe that with effort and support each student is capable of learning at a high level in their own way. You have to give your all in helping them through that process. I will work with our students to help them carry themselves upright and head held high because they’re golden. I want people to see the gold.”

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Michael Finley, Ed.D., Director of The UCAP School

Chris Cuthbertson, Director of Curriculum & Instruction
Deb Ferrara, Assistant to the Director
Abraham Bienvenido Perdomo Henderson, Dean of Students
Lisa Hoopis, Coordinator of Admissions & Recruitment
Nathan Kaufman, Business Manager
Andrea Joseph, Interim Director of Development
Muriel Ouellette, School Secretary
Carolyn Taylor, Special Education Administrator/Title I Coordinator
Mimi Tsiane, Academic Support Specialist

Social Studies

Briana Casale
Phil Silva

Technology Coordinator

Jim Bowker

Beyond U Program

Elisa Almonte, Director of Beyond U Programs
Lady Jaramillo, Parent Engagement Coordinator


Steffanie Hozempa, School Social Worker

Special Education

Carolina Almonte

75 Carpenter Street Providence RI   |   401-272-0881

The teachers and staff never gave up on me.

Jesus Nunez, former UCAP student

Freshman at Johnson & Wales University studying business administration