Our Instructors

All instructors at the School of Practical Philosophy are also students who have been studying practical philosophy for many years. They have discovered in their own experience that philosophy works — that the uses of philosophical wisdom are limitless and real. In conducting and leading classes, their aim is simple — to guide and foster each student’s journey of self-discovery. Instructors at the School are not paid; they offer their services for the benefit of the School and its community. Their personal and professional backgrounds vary as widely as the students they serve.

Alvin Wasserman

Alvin Wasserman has attended classes at SPP since 1978. From the first class, Alvin knew he found what he was seeking. Alvin was elected to the School of Practical Philosophy’s Board of Trustees as Treasurer and served for twenty years. He also volunteered as SPP Principal for five years. Alvin works as Director of Asset Management for a large real estate company on Long Island. He loves living the Practical Philosophy offered at SPP. Alvin currently tutors classes in the lower school. His favorite quote is from Marcilio Ficino, “Attend more to what a man has done than to what he has said, for many speak well but few act well.”

Barbara Mandel

Barbara who now lives in Arizona was an instructor in the New Jersey School since its inception. She tutors Philosophy classes in the Practical Philosophy Online program. Barbara has served on the School’s Board of Trustees. She formerly worked for more than thirty years as a technical manager of systems engineering and software development.

Barbara Solowey

Barbara Solowey has been a long time student of the School of Practical Philosophy. She has been teaching the introductory course for over thirty years. As a teacher of literature and philosophy, she has worked in the New York City public and private schools. She has a special interest in the American Transcendentalists — Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman — and presents lectures at the School, the New York Open Center, and elsewhere. She loves how philosophical conversations bring greater freedom and joy to everyone.

David Steingard

David Steingard has been teaching the introductory course since 2000. Each term he is inspired by watching the students discover for themselves the great benefits of Practical Philosophy. He enjoys meeting new students, discovering what each one is looking for and helping them in that pursuit in any way he can. He loves attending his own Philosophy class, which continues to be a source of awareness, understanding and peace of mind. He was a former criminal prosecutor and left to start a coffee company. David lives in NYC with his wife Cecilia, and two children, Paloma and Sam. He wishes all students success in their Philosophical endeavors.

Dwight Primiano

Dwight Primiano began attending class at the New York School of Practical Philosophy over a decade ago. Since high school, he has always been interested in living a life that prioritizes the optimism inherent in Philosophy. Certainly his career as a visual artist and his classes at the School of Practical Philosophy continually afford him that opportunity. For Dwight, studying Philosophy makes it possible to join the activity of the world by reflecting and learning instead of reacting and judging circumstance, thus enriching the experience of wonder, patience, consideration for others, while developing a very deeply held gratitude for all life.

Earl Miller

Earl is a long time student of the School of Practical Philosophy and has been a Philosophy Works instructor for many years. Earl leads a group in the Practical Philosophy Online program and is a member of the Board of Trustees. Earl is an insurance professional and lives in Rockland County with his wife, Diane.

Fari Safinia

Fari Safinia caught the Practical Philosophy bug in 2005 at the California School; after the first class, he became such an enthusiast that he accompanied his wife Mariam to every group, attending as many as six classes a week. He is a retired oral surgeon, an avid skier and tennis player and believes that Practical Philosophy and, in particular, the practice of meditation have truly transformed his life. He and Mariam manage all aspects of the California School with the help of their senior students.

Frank Ponzio

Frank Ponzio vividly remembers his earliest experiences as a student of the School of Practical Philosophy. Something special was taking place in that classroom. In a relaxed and joyful atmosphere, people from all walks of life were engaging in lively and honest discussions. It became clear that discovering the truth was of the utmost importance and a lot of fun. Tutoring Philosophy Works, he shares in the happiness and freedom that students experience. As a jazz pianist, composer and teacher, Frank has found that the performance of music and the practice of philosophical principles naturally inform each other and enrich his life.

Jaime Rathore

Jaime Rathore has been studying Practical Philosophy for over a decade, starting in the London School. She prefers the vital life to the vanilla life, and finds that studying and teaching at the school has revealed the endless possibilities that come with her first sip of coffee each and every morning. Career highlights include working in the first free elections of South Africa and her work between London and NYC as a media executive. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two young children, serving a variety of philanthropic organizations.

Mariam Safinia

Mariam, who originally hails from Iran, has been a student of Practical Philosophy since 1989. In 2004, when she and her husband moved to the U.S., she started a branch of the School in Northern California. Originally trained as an architect, she also ran a residential real estate business in central London for almost twenty-five years. The Philosophy School and its thriving student body are her greatest passion, second only to family and grandchildren.

Mary Bosworth

Mary Bosworth has studied at the School of Practical Philosophy since 1992. She was thrilled to find the School since she had been asking questions about the meaning of life for as long as she can remember. Recently retired as a History and Philosophy teacher at an independent school in New York City, Mary tutors Continuing Courses. She frequently reports that the conversations on these evenings are the deepest and most nourishing times of the week. In addition to her formal responsibilities, Mary loves to cook, travel and study but she says that none of these activities beat the joy of philosophy.

Michael Posnick

Michael has been teaching the School’s introductory course, Philosophy Works, since 1979. He finds great satisfaction in the sincerity, openness and good humor of students — and in their genuine appreciation for the practical benefits of this study. At the School he has lectured on Forgiveness, Philosophy & Judaism, and Philosophy & Death. During the day he serves as Director of the Department of Dance & Theatre at a nearby college, writes occasional songs, and shares a bountiful life with his wife Eileen.

Niall Mandal

Niall began his study of Practical Philosophy in Dublin in 1972. After coming to the United States and attending classes in the New York City school, Niall opened an affiliated branch in New Jersey. Niall’s interests include race walking, flying, martial arts and the study of Sanskrit, to mention a few. He is president of a Microsoft gold certified software development company. The Mandals recently moved to Arizona and are establishing a branch in Scottsdale.

Preethi Gopinath

Preethi Gopinath is a textile designer, a professor at FIT and a professional performer of classical Indian dance (Bharatanatyam). As a young student of design in India, Preethi was intrigued by the philosophy of Plato that was introduced in a design theory class. She began studying and practicing Philosophy at the School in Toronto in 2000. Living in NYC now, she continues to delight in the practical approach to Philosophy at the N.Y. School. A teacher and performer her whole life, she particularly enjoys the lively interaction with her students, the sense of community and facilitating the process of self-discovery in the early levels of the School’s program.

Randolph Kraus

Randolph has been a student at the School since 1979 and has taught at various levels since the late 1980’s. He works in information systems and looks after the School’s Practical Philosophy Online program. His interests include Plato and Socrates, hiking, dancing, cooking, Dylan, Hot Tuna, language, the mathematics and mystery of music, travel and the meaning of meaning.

Ray Graj

Ray Graj has attended the School of Practical Philosophy since 1987, and is passionate about philosophy and its practical application in life. Not only does he appreciate its broad scope but also marvels at how his studies at the School have equipped him to address the real world challenges of running a business and raising a family all while actively pursuing the larger questions in life. Ray tutors the introductory Philosophy Works course, and finds it immensely gratifying when like-minded people gather to explore and discuss the underlying principles that govern our lives. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Ray now lives in Montclair NJ with his family. When he is not at work, studying or tutoring Philosophy at the School, Ray enjoys photography, travel and being active in the great outdoors with his family.

Rebecca Wasserman

Rebecca Wasserman, a member of the School of Practical Philosophy for over twenty years, facilitates the Introduction to Philosophy course. One of her favorite things about this role is the opportunity to engage in rich conversations with a wide array of students from across the city. One of her favorite practical applications of this work is finding equipoise amidst the jostle of the subway platform—particularly on rainy days. When not here, Rebecca is a nonprofit professional with experience leading programs at a number of educational organizations. In her free time she enjoys cooking, hiking, going to the opera, meditating, and reading historical fiction.

Robert Blejer

Robert Blejer joined the School in 1971 after a long search for direction in developing what he had experienced as an inner clarity and light. Appreciating the easy-to-understand and practical approach of the School, Robert continued with classes and over the years has served the students and the School in various ways, including acting as Principal, as a member of the Board of Trustees, and as a tutor of students with various levels of experience. He particularly enjoys finding ever new and simple ways for students to understand and utilize the Philosophy in their day to day life. He is currently tutoring the School’s introductory course, Philosophy Works, as well as an online class with students from various countries.

Roland Rothenbucher

Roland Rothenbucher first came to Philosophy School in the mid-‘80s, and was attracted by the good company of inspiring teachers and fellow students looking to discover what it means to master the art of living. An educator by trade, Roland currently serves as a High School Principal in Independent School Education. Roland especially enjoys introducing new students to Practical Philosophy in the Philosophy Works course as well as translating the writings of the Florentine Renaissance philosopher Marsilio Ficino.

Seamus Kennedy

Seamus Kennedy began studying Practical Philosophy in 1994 seeking to answer a simple question, “Is there more to life than just the day-to-day routine?” In attending the School he has discovered the answer is a resounding “Yes!” He very much enjoys teaching the introductory course, Philosophy Works, and finds that his own energy and insight are strengthened from the enquiries and questions of the students. He and his brother own a custom orthopedic manufacturing business in Long Island City. Born in Ireland, Seamus is married with two children and he lives on the Upper Westside of Manhattan.