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Urban Education Leaders Program
Department of Organization and Leadership
Ruby Ababio-Fernandez was born in Accra, Ghana and moved to the United States just before her 11th birthday. As an immigrant child from Ghana, Ruby faced many social and academic challenges that left an indelible imprint and shaped her life’s journey and choices as an advocate for children.
Ruby is a principal with the Boston Public Schools. Prior to her role as a principal, she enjoyed six successful years as an English Language Arts teacher, literacy specialist and a literacy coach assigned to the John W. McCormack Middle School in Dorchester, MA. Over the course of her tenure at the Boston Public Schools, Ruby assumed substantial leadership roles in schools which include coordinating school-based professional development workshops that supported the implementation of district initiatives such as Readers and Writers Workshop, facilitating instructional leadership team meetings and mentoring new teachers. Her academic interest and dissertation topic include the area of adult development, leadership and executive coaching; specifically the support, development and professional growth of principals in the second phase of their careers.
Ruby is the first person in her family (both maternal and paternal) to acquire a college degree. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Framingham State College, master’s degrees from both Lesley University where she’s served as adjunct faculty in the Graduate School of Education, and Teachers College, Columbia University. Ruby is a “product of possibilities” and believes that it is her charge as a leader to create conditions that highlight the possibilities in teachers and students. When she is not working, Ruby loves spending time with her loved ones, traveling, working out and shopping.
Sarah Benis Scheier-Dolberg
Sarah Benis Scheier-Dolberg is a coach and professional developer in the New York City public schools. She consults with schools through AUSSIE Partners in Professional Development as well as directly with Children First Network 206. Sarah is a member of the 2009 Urban Education Leaders Program at Teachers College, Columbia University where she is completing her doctorate in urban educational leadership, adult development, and the leadership practices that foster the professional growth of teachers of English learners in urban public schools. Before relocating to New York, Sarah was an educator in Massachusetts, teaching in the Boston Public Schools as a high school humanities and special education teacher. Sarah has lived and worked abroad in Central America and Asia. She holds degrees from Teachers College, Tufts University, and Swarthmore College.
As a teacher leader and professional developer, Sarah brings a wealth of expertise across subject areas and grade levels. Having served as an intern in the NYCDOE Division of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners, a high school special educator, and a Mentor Teacher and Site Director for the Boston Teacher Residency Program, Sarah brings a K-12 perspective to supporting teachers and school leaders in their efforts to create inclusive learning communities. Sarah has participated in numerous teacher leadership roles in the area of Social Studies through Tufts University and Brown University. Additionally, in her work for the Boston Debate League, she led a Debate Across the Curriculum initiative to transform the practice of teams of high school teachers through integrating more student-centered, academically rigorous debate curricula across all subject areas. Sarah has also been a mentor, coach, and professional developer for teachers working across varied settings to support English learners and their families, most recently presenting with a team of teachers at the Massachusetts Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages conference in 2011 on elementary programming for newcomers. In her current work in New York City schools, Sarah supports teachers and school leaders K-12 in the areas of Technology Integration, Literacy, Social Studies, and Curriculum Mapping with the Common Core State Standards.
Carol Birks, cohort 2009, is a native of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Throughout her career, she has implemented several middle and high school reform efforts that address the disparities in education and promote urban school reform. Previously, she has served as a teacher, program manager for a school reform initiative, administrative fellow to a college president, adjunct professor, assistant principal and principal. During her tenure as principal, she implemented innovative reforms that have had a significant impact on learning and teaching that has yielded her local and statewide recognition; Carol recently coauthored an article for the National Association of Secondary School Principals entitled Tips for First Year Principals: Eight Ways to Make Your Mark which reflects on her experiences as a principal. Additionally, as a result of her success and experience with leveraging the community to support the work of schools, she has contributing comments featured in Making the Mathematics Curriculum Count: A Guide for Middle and High School Principals published by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Currently, Carol serves as the Vice President of Operations with Global Partnership Schools, a New York based national educational management company whose mission is to build an integrated knowledge rich learning community in which affiliated schools and school districts share worldwide resources to create an educational environment that improves the instructional capacity of teachers and prepares students to succeed in the global economy. In her role as Vice President of Operations, Carol operationalizes and provides administrative oversight of the company’s Global Village Academies. She also provides support to the company’s partner schools that have been identified as turnaround, restart and transformation. In addition to her school level support, Carol assisted with the development of the conceptual framework and design of the company’s Global School Leaders Program. Also embedded in her work experience, Carol is being mentored by Rudy Crew Ed.D., president of Global Partnership Schools and other nationally recognized leaders.
Clover Codd began her teaching career in Seattle after earning her Master’s degree from the University of Washington Teacher Education Program in 1998. She entered the Danforth Educational Leadership Program at the U of W in 2003 and became the principal of Loyal Heights Elementary School for the next 5 years. Shortly after she moved to New York to enter the doctoral program at Columbia Teachers College. She became a staff developer at the Reading and Writing Project, founded by Dr. Lucy Calkins, where she worked with teachers and principals in Harlem, the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn to implement literacy reform. During her internship with the NYC Department of Education in the Division of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners in 2010, she collaborated with Celia Oyler, Director of the Teachers College Inclusive Classroom Project, to implement professional development to New York City Network Leaders, principals and teachers during the roll out of the Phase One Special Education Reform Initiative. She is currently working on her dissertation under the advisement of Dr. Eleanor Drago-Severson, Associate Professor at Teachers College. Her research interests focus on how superintendents of school districts lead in developmentally oriented ways. Specifically, Clover is studying how superintendents employ a learning oriented model of leadership in support of principal growth and development. Clover continues to work in Seattle and travel to NYC for her studies. She has aspirations of becoming a superintendent of an urban school district. Clover’s passion lies in expanding access to a rigorous, high quality educational experience for all children.
Scott Crawford serves as director of Cedar International School, a PreK-12 independent school on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Cedar is an International Baccalaureate World School, utilizing the IB curriculum to serve a diverse student body representing 40 different nationalities. Previously, Scott lived for nearly a decade on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he founded and headed the island’s first high school (now Gifft Hill School). In between stints in the Caribbean, he served as the Director of International Education at Lees-McRae College in North Carolina. Originally from Ohio, Scott earned his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and his Master's in Global Education from Ohio State. Despite working full-time in Tortola, he is also pursuing his Ed.D as a member of the 2009 cohort in the Urban Education Leaders Program at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
Linda Curtis-Bey began her career in education as a teacher in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently the Chief Academic Officer and Deputy Cluster Leader for over 300 schools in Cluster 2, New York City. Before taking this position, she was the Director of Mathematics and Science for all NYC schools for eight years. Linda has worked on several state and national initiatives including: the Math Advisory Committee for the New York State Education Department; the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; the Mathematics Feedback Group of the Common Core State Standards Initiative; and, the Joint Task Force on the Common Core State Standards (commissioned by the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics, the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics). Linda has taught undergraduate and graduate students at Brooklyn College and Bank Street College. She holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, a M.S. in Occupational and Environmental Health from Hunter College and an Ed. M. from Teachers College. Linda is a member of the 2009 Urban Education Leaders Program at Teachers College, Columbia University where she is completing her doctorate in Urban Educational Leadership.
Ramon Gonzalez has been a life long educator. He started teaching in 1995. He taught technology, English, and mathematics to 6th and 7th graders. The Merrow Report, a nationally syndicated show on education, spent the entire year documenting Ramon and his 6th grade class at IS 44. The recordings evolved into a three part series called “Growing up in the City”, a program about race, education and identity in New York City. It continues to air on PBS 10 years later! Ramon has also written about adolescent issues and urban gangs. He contributed a chapter called “Welcome Home Boyz: Building Communities through Cultural Capital” in a book titled Adolescent Gangs: Old Issues, New Approaches edited by Curtis Branch, a professor at Columbia University in 1999. Ramon found through his research that some of the major issues that deeply influenced young people to join gangs were their need for a familial structure, lack of a clear vision of their future, and few models of success. These findings would serve as the basis for his school which was founded in 2003.
Ramon Gonzalez is the founding principal of MS 223-The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, a middle school in the South Bronx. Ramon started his school in one of the most dangerous middle schools in NYC at the time. Less than 10% of his students were at grade level in reading and mathematics when the school was created. Six years later, 65% of his students are on grade level in English and 85% in math. Ramon’s community activism has deeply influenced his school. Students take courses in financial literacy and participate in a school-wide economy where they can earn, save, and spend “school bucks”. He was named a 2007-2008 Cahn Fellow for Distinguished Principals at Teachers College/Columbia University. He currently serves as a mentor for interns from City University, Baruch College and Mercy College. He holds a BA from Cornell University, a MS from City College, a MA and Ed.M from Teachers College Columbia University.
Fun Fact: Ramon spent five summers in his youth tipping cows, hiking, and skipping rocks during his summer with a family as part of the Fresh Air Fund. Over that time he thought the most dangerous ghetto was less scary then walking alone through the woods in Vermont!
Edward Grande taught for eight years at Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark, New Jersey. While in this role, he instructed students in the various levels of mathematics from basic skills to Advanced Placement and worked diligently to help guarantee that all students were receiving the quality education to which they were entitled. In addition, he assumed a number of extracurricular responsibilities, including serving as an advisor to the student council. For the past two years, he has remained in that district as the K-12 content area supervisor of mathematics, world languages, business, and technology. He works to improve the continuity of instruction by, for example, developing curricula and providing teachers with professional development. He has also taught and advised students at the college level during evenings and on weekends.
As a former master’s student at Teachers College in the Summer Principals Academy, he examined the weighted student formula, high school reform, and alternative approaches to the traditional dissertation under the guidance of Dr. Arlene C. Ackerman. He also conducted a study on ways to increase student performance in mathematics and sections of this paper are to appear in the forthcoming third edition of Coghlan and Brannick’s Doing Action Research in Your Own Organization. Prior to coming to TC, he studied at Rutgers University and earned a B.A. in mathematics and an Ed.M. in mathematics education. He is looking forward to returning to TC as a student in the Urban Education Leaders Program. Through his future interactions with faculty and fellow students, he hopes to become even more equipped for my continued role in the fight for social justice.
Tia Morris is a New Jersey native. After spending some time in the Irvington, NJ public school system, Tia Morris began her formal teaching career in Harlem in 1998 when she joined Teach For America. In 2002, she left the New York City school system for Newark, New Jersey to help start a KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) middle school, TEAM Academy. As a founding teacher, her language arts classes rose nearly 50 points to the 73rd percentile. A Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award winner, Tia designed the curriculum for Liberation Arts, a class based in social justice that develops critical thinking, speaking, and writing skills. This class is currently used throughout KIPP schools across the US.
Now with four campuses, TEAM has grown into a network of college preparatory schools that seeks to help raise the quality of education for all Newark children. With a fifth school opening in 2012, TEAM Charter Schools is now the largest charter organization in New Jersey. As an Executive Committee member, Tia has played a key role in the organization’s strategic growth. In her nine years at TEAM, Tia has been a classroom teacher, Grade Level Chair, High School Placement Coordinator, Director of TEAM through College and Director of Community Engagement. She now serves as the Chief Community Officer and sits on the TEAM Charter Schools Executive Committee. Tia completed her undergraduate studies at Seton Hall University, and holds Masters degrees from, both, The Bank Street Graduate School of Education and Columbia University’s Teachers College.
Tia joined the Urban Education Leadership Program with hopes to have a significant impact on urban education. She is particularly interested in exploring how strategic partnerships between families, schools, and community stakeholders can positively influence parental engagement and student outcomes.
Arnetta Rudisill Young
Arnetta Rudisill Young - as a child, Baltimore native, Arnetta Rudisill loved, “playing school.” After experiencing success as a public relations director for her alma mater’s radio station, Morgan State University’s 88.9FM WEAA, she began her career in education. No longer playing, she immediately began identifying ways in which lessons as a journalist and public relations specialist transfer into the classroom. After her first year of teaching she participated in the Project Site Support Teaching Residency program, in which she earned her Masters of Arts in Teaching Secondary English from Johns Hopkins University. She established and co-coached the City-wide Champions of the YMCA Middle School Debate League as Language Arts instructor at Lombard Middle School. After demonstrating student achievement and leadership abilities as a founding English teacher at The Academy for College and Career Exploration, where she also coached with the Baltimore Urban Debate League, she entered the New Leaders for New School program. Before the official conclusion of her residency, she was assigned as principal of Homeland Security Academy in Baltimore where Arnetta was able to make significant and unprecedented gains in student achievement and climate improvement. Currently, she serves D.C.’s adjudicated youth as the principal of the Maya Angelou Academy at the New Beginnings Youth Development Center in Laurel, Maryland.
Joyce Walker grew up in Boston and was bused to a suburb for grades K-12 through a government-funded program to desegregate Massachusetts’ suburban public school districts.
Joyce participated in The Broad Residency in Urban Education 2006 Cohort, serving her two-year Residency in Durham Public Schools. Her prior roles in Education have included Special Assistant to the Chief Academic Officer in Baltimore, MD and Special Assistant to the Superintendent for Planning and Performance Management in Durham, NC. She also served as executive director for Citizen Schools, an education non-profit organization, in Massachusetts.
Prior to joining the Broad Residency, Joyce spent almost 15 years in business including: sales, corporate training, and insurance underwriting as well as implementing strategic business plan initiatives. She earned a bachelors degree in English from Tufts University and a masters degree in business administration from The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
Joyce is deeply committed to ensuring that all urban students receive a high quality education.