High School Equivalency » Instructors


High School Equivalency Instructors

Meet Our High School Equivalency Preparation Program Instructors helping you succeed!

Frank Finch


Instructor Frank Finch with a student“This is the first time they have enjoyed learning,” said Frank Finch, High School Equivalency instructor, when describing his experience helping adult students study for the TASC™ exam.


Frank began working for the High School Equivalency Preparation Program at the beginning of the  2014-15 School Year.  “I love it and we’ve seen great results,” he said.


Establishing a bond with his students by sharing a laugh with them along with helping them to relax and take risks are a few of the tactics he uses in the classroom. “I do whatever I can to get them to learn and enjoy it,” said Mr. Finch. “I think education is empowering, especially for the older students.” He teaches students from 18 years old to 50 and older. Frank creates a learning family atmosphere where he acts as a coach inspiring them to keep going. “With half of them, it’s a confidence issue. They need a confidence boost.” Students work individually, with a partner, and as a team.


While Mr. Finch runs a successful financial advising practice during the day, at night you’ll find him teaching. In addition to teaching for the TASC™ test, he also teaches financial planning classes in a college setting and in nearly a dozen suburban high schools in the Saratoga-Albany area.


Frank has years of experience in the education world. An advocate for life-long learning, he earned a graduate degree in education and taught social studies at Fayetteville-Manlius and Vernon-Verona-Sherrill School Districts. Mr. Finch was included in “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.” He was the director of Education Services International in Asia and the Mediterranean and was a college instructor in Illinois, where he pursued additional graduate study in the social sciences while on a fellowship at the University of Illinois.


A native of Queensbury, and resident of Saratoga Springs, Frank likes to hit the gym daily, ski, travel, Latin dance, serves as a trustee for the Shriners, and is past Area Governor for Toastmasters International.


Shazima Gillani

woman in blue green scarf standing in front of bookcase filled with files and books

Shazima Gillani began working for the High School Equivalency Program at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. Providing open communication and creating a bond with her students, Mrs. Gillani said of her position, “I love it. I have the opportunity to work with a variety of students at different levels. I’m constantly assessing and changing my teaching methods and using different strategies for student success.”


In addition to teaching content, Mrs. Gillani assists students in preparing for the TASC test. Her goal is for students to enjoy their learning experience and help them achieve their maximum potential. She also added, “we have an excellent staff and I enjoy working with our team.”


Mrs. Gillani’s many years of experience in education include being a teaching assistant, substitute for 10 years, after-school program teacher and a library teacher.


She earned a bachelor’s degree in childhood education grades 1-6, English grades 7-12 from Stony Brook University, a master’s degree in literacy from SUNY Plattsburgh and a special education certificate from the College of Saint Rose.


Mrs. Gillani loves to exercise regularly and enjoys spending time with family and friends. She is also a volunteer at the Saratoga Springs Figure Skating Club and participates in many community fundraising events.


Lynn Larli

Lynn Larli


Lynn Larli is certified in Elementary and Special Education. She taught in various Special Education settings which included private school, public school and adult-day programs.


Her teaching philosophy is one where she believes each student is unique and everyone learns at their own pace and in their own way. When she can, she uses multiple teaching strategies (project-based learning, differentiated instruction, and a teacher support model) as well as methods (linguistic, visual, auditory, kinesthetic) to reach students where they are and to help move them forward. She loves watching the progress a student makes, no matter how big or small that is. Lynn said, “I appreciate that I can be a small part of that as well as a witness to their success."


“I listen to people’s stories about why they are in this program and I get excited to translate some of my professional and home-educating to adults. I want to help them in achieving success both academically and career-wise.”


Lynn wants to ensure students are prepared and feels there is no better way than to ensure students have their material specifically picked out and tailored to exactly what they need to be working on and at a pace that is appropriate to them individually.


Lynn is an avid reader of psychological thrillers & mysteries and she loves photography and Disney.

Ursula LeGere
Ursula LeGere
Ursula has been teaching HSE and ABE Distance Learning and Classroom Programs since 2005 and was excited to join the WSWHE BOCES High School Equivalency Instructor Team.
Over the years, she has received countless rewarding experiences watching many students obtain their HSE diploma. Seeing the positive dramatic changes, it had on them and their lives is what inspires her to continue teaching. She enjoys watching students become nurses, teachers, business owners and military personnel, all because they took that first step towards getting their high school equivalency diploma.
Ursula said, “The success of my students and their goals is very important to me. I have a deep respect for individuals who have made the decision to pursue their HSE diploma. These students have returned to the classroom after absences of months, years, even decades, to compete for official recognition of their educational attainment. That is not an easy task for they are often balancing "real world" jobs, families and expenses.”
As an HSE teacher, Ursula’s main philosophy is to provide her students not only the best academic tools to prepare for the TASC test, but let them know that she cares deeply she will continue until they have obtained that piece of paper.
Ursula has a B.S. in Economics/Management from Russell Sage College and an M.S. in Basic Classroom Teaching - Secondary Education from the State University of NY at Albany. Prior to returning to teaching in 2005, she spent 14 years as a Human Resources Manager with two private industry firms.
Born and raised in Schenectady, NY, Ursula has been a resident of Glenville, NY for the past seventeen years where she lives with her husband. She is the proud mom of one adult son. She loves to spend time with her family and friends, cook lots of Italian dishes, travel and go antiquing!
Sharon Varney
Sharon Varney
Sharon Varney has worked for nearly 20 years in education. She was an elementary teacher, taught at the intermediate level, earned her CAS in Building and District Administration where she was then a Dean of Students, Interim MS Assistant Principal and Elementary Principal during the later years of her career. She is now “semi-retired” and says she’s “fortunate to be part of a dedicated team of High School Equivalency Instructors.”

When talking about the changing times everyone has had to work with, Sharon said “we are equipped with online programs that enhance on-site instructional delivery and connections at home. The students are friendly, responsible adults working hard to earn their diploma to open more opportunities in their life.”

As a life-long learner she is always interested in knowing more about the past, present, and the curiosity of what our futures will be. Sharon said she has always been an educator at heart and she loves to learn and loves to teach.

Sharon’s teaching focus for the TASC test and HSE program preparation is “First it is important to share with adult students, as teachers, we understand that life is a balancing act and we are available for support. For me, to know each student's ability and interests allows me to design curriculum programs with their input. They have ownership of their learning progress and TASC test preparation with my guidance and expertise providing direction to where they want to be.” She wants to help them integrate work-place skills such as communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and organization because she knows this helps better prepare students for a variety of job prospects of their choice.

Sharon lives in Queensbury with her husband and their energetic black lab. They have three adult children and many grand-pets. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, biking, reading, and relaxing by a warm outdoor fire.
Questions? You can email or call us at:
(518) 581-3555