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Summer Principals Academy in New Orleans
The Education Leadership Program in the Department of Organization and Leadership
Dr. Brian K. Perkins
Dr. Brian K. Perkins is the Director of the Urban Education Leadership Program at Columbia University Teachers College Department of Organization and Leadership. In the past two years, Dr. Perkins has reorganized the UELP under a dynamic new conceptual framework. He also directs the Superintendent’s Work Conference (started in 1941) at Teachers College. He is the former Chair and Professor of Education Law and Policy at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Connecticut. As Chair, Dr. Perkins successfully led his department through the licensure of the university’s first doctoral program and full NCATE accreditation. Dr. Perkins is a distinguished Yale alumnus and was named a Timothy Dwight Fellow in 2004. He was a member of the research faculty at the Yale University School of Medicine. He has served as a consultant to school districts throughout the U.S., Brazil, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa. Dr. Perkins is a visiting professor at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Dr. Perkins is the host of his own Internet radio show, The Perkins Platform, which is a monthly forum on education leadership topics with thousands of listeners. Dr. Perkins was the President of the New Haven (CT) Board of Education where he served for 11 years. He also served for four years on the Board of Directors of the National School Boards Association. Dr. Perkins served two terms as national chair for CUBE: Council of Urban Boards of Education and was the chair for the National Black Caucus of School Board Members. Dr. Perkins was also the national chair of the Leadership for Healthy Communities initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Dr. Perkins is the author of several published articles and book chapters and serves as the Principal Investigator and Author of Where We Learn (2006), Where We Teach (2007) and What We Think (2008) – the largest studies on urban school climate in the history of public education. Dr. Perkins is leading a ground-breaking study and improvement initiative of school climate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His forthcoming manuscript, Improving School Climate from the Inside Out, is under review and is scheduled for release next year. Dr. Perkins travels extensively in sub-Saharan Africa and leads annual delegations of educators to the region. He is leading an effort to provide clothing and funding to the Tholakele Orphanage in the Republic of South Africa where he currently serves as an advisor. He is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated and a member of the Sigma Pi Phi Boulé. Dr. Perkins received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry from Grambling State University, a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the Yale University School of Medicine and his Doctor of Education Degree from Columbia University Teachers College. He has a graduate certificate in executive coaching from the Columbia Business School. Dr. Perkins is a registered provider of continuing education for school board members by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and a nationally certified principal mentor by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.
Dr. Al Alcazar
Dr. Al Alcazar is a Filipino-American who was exiled to the US in 1972 during the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines. He has lived in New Orleans for over 40 years and has worked at Loyola University for 27 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy (Pontificia Universitas Sanctae Thomae, 1971), a master’s degree in Theological Studies (Notre Dame Seminary, 1976) with a Clinical Pastoral Counseling certification (Baptist Hospital, 1976), and a master’s degree in Religious Education (Loyola University, 1984). He has a Doctor of Philosophy degree in curriculum and instruction (LSU, 2001) and his dissertation was on curriculum as intercultural and interfaith narratives for social transformation. He is the director of Twomey Center’s Urban Partners program, the editor of the Blueprint for Social Justice, and a trainer with the Twomey Center’s Diversity and Conflict Resolution Training programs. He teaches in the Religious Studies Department and in the Latin American Studies Program at Loyola. He also teaches the diversity and conflict resolution components of the graduate-level Diversity and Social Justice course at Tulane University’s School of Social Work. In the fall semesters, Dr. Alcazar conducts a leadership seminar (including diversity and conflict resolution skills) for graduate students in the non-profit sector of the Political Science Department at the University of New Orleans. In 2008, he co-founded the Intercultural Charter School in New Orleans east and wrote its conflict resolution curriculum.
Dr. Sarah E. Benis Scheier-Dolberg
Dr. Sarah E. Benis Scheier-Dolberg is the Associate Director of the Urban Education Leaders Collaborative (UELC) at Columbia University Teachers College Department of Organization and Leadership, a differentiated professional development program that empowers educational leaders with relevant tangible skills required to lead in school systems facing unprecedented challenges. Dr. Benis Scheier-Dolberg works in partnership with urban district leaders in New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Charlotte, and other major cities to develop and deliver professional development programming for district-level and building-level leaders that supports the development of leadership teams through experiential learning and collaborative decision-making. In her leadership work at the UELC, Dr. Benis Scheier-Dolberg creates collaborative spaces for leaders to learn, innovate, and improve decision-making within the context of complex, real-world leadership problems in urban education systems. UELC modules, co-authored by Dr. Benis Scheier-Dolberg, span a vast range of topics relevant and timely for urban education leaders.
In 2014, Dr. Benis Scheier-Dolberg completed her doctoral degree in Urban Educational Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University as part of the Urban Education Leaders Program. As a doctoral student, she interned at the New York City Department of Education and Boston Public Schools. She co-chaired the Aspiring Superintendents Work Conference in 2011 at Teachers College, bringing together current and aspiring district leaders from around the country. Her dissertation research explored leadership practices that foster the professional growth of teachers of English learners in urban public schools. As a research consultant, Dr. Benis Scheier-Dolberg has written cases exploring the pressing and complex issues faced by urban school building leaders and district leaders for the Teachers College Urban Education Leaders Program and Urban Education Leaders Collaborative. She has also developed and supported online professional learning communities across multiple platforms for aspiring district leaders, school building leaders, and teachers.
As a classroom educator in urban schools, Dr. Benis Scheier-Dolberg served as a mentor and site director for the Boston Teacher Residency Program. While teaching in Boston, she served as a curriculum consultant for Brown University’s Choices Curriculum, education consultant and trainer at Tufts University, and debate coach and professional developer for the Boston Debate League. Dr. Benis Scheier-Dolberg began her career as an educator serving as a Teaching Fellow for Citizen Schools in Boston and then moved to Japan to teach ESL. Earning an MAT at Tufts University in 2005, she holds teaching licenses in Social Studies and ESL. Dr. Benis Scheier-Dolberg also has an MEd in Urban Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University. She completed her undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College in 2000, earning high honors and a research award for her thesis exploring service learning in urban schools.
Ms. Erin Brady Wiggins
M.A. in Education Leadership, with a concentration in Public School Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University (Summer Principals Academy) and a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Government from Connecticut College. Erin began her teaching career as a Teach For America 2010 corps member in the Greater New Orleans region and continued to teach middle and high school sciences for 5 years. Currently, Erin works for ReNEW Charter Schools as a network instructional coach, supporting all of ReNEWs pK-8 charter schools through curriculum development and support as well as on-site teacher coaching. Erin works with SPA NOLA as an Internship Instructor and has also served an an Instructional Assistant for the Emotional Intelligence course students take their first summer with the program.
Dr. Pamela Burke
Pamela Burke, Ph.D., is an organization development consultant and university instructor who specializes in helping people and organizations find their strengths and use them well. Her clients include innovation units in the bio-medical, healthcare, telecommunications, education, publishing, consumer products, manufacturing, energy, defense, and aerospace industries. She is an affiliate faculty member teaching graduate courses on leadership, creative collaboration, constructive conflict, and organization development at Teachers College, Columbia University and Stevens Institute of Technology. Pam received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Cornell University, was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University, and managed organizations at Bell Laboratories before starting her consulting business. She received affiliate faculty teaching awards from Stevens and a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship (Fiction) in 2009.
Mr. Joseph Daschbach
Joseph Daschbach is a doctoral candidate in Leadership, Policy and Politics at Teachers College, Columbia University. A former public school teacher in both New Orleans and New York City, and a former charter school principal in New Orleans, Joe currently works as an independent consultant with a variety of educational clients. His areas of expertise include school operations and finance, school decentralization, and privatization. He is also the founding director of US-HP Skilled Trade Initiative, a recently launched startup that provides job skills and industry-based certifications to area high school students. Joe currently serves on the Board of Directors at the New Orleans Charter Science and Math High School. In his role as a researcher and doctoral candidate, Joe is examining the impact of decentralization and privatization on school finance. In particular, he is interested in identifying trends that emerge as charter schools in New Orleans begin to re-centralize as charter management organizations, and whether and how those organizational changes lead to a change in expenditures within schools.
Mr. Joshua Galindo
B.S in Pre-Medical Biology from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2010. Joshua, a Teach For America alumni, began his career in education in the Lower Rio Grande Valley over 7 years ago. He has taught a variety of science courses ranging from middle school science to Biology and Chemistry. As a founding 2012 Summer Principals Academy-New Orleans cohort member, he has had the opportunity of evolving with with the program from a student, to instructional assistant, and now an instructor for Conflict Resolution. Joshua is currently the Dean of Instruction at Mercedes Early College Academy, an early college high school in south Texas that prepares students from underserved communities for success in college and citizenship through a unique partnership with South Texas College. Joshua is responsible for the supervision of all instructional programs within the school, evaluating lesson plans and assessments, and observing classes on a regular basis to encourage the use of a variety of instructional strategies consistent with research on learning and development. Joshua aspires to be a school leader dedicated to creating an environment where innovation and risk-taking play a fundamental role in fostering educational change.
Dr. Scott Hollinger
Scott Hollinger was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. As a child, he lived in Lima, Peru, for two years, where his father was a teacher at the FDR American School. Returning to the States, Scott went to elementary school in the Columbus, Ohio area and graduated from Vinson High School in Huntington, West Virginia. Scott attended The Ohio State University in Columbus, graduating with a BA in languages and a BS in education. While teaching Spanish and French at an inner-city middle school, he continued at The Ohio State University, studying deaf education and earning a Master's degree. Deaf education brought Scott to Memorial High School in McAllen, Texas, where he taught English and math, and eventually served as chair of the special education department. In 1989, Scott began his studies in Mid-Management at the then-Pan American University. Scott worked many years for the McAllen Independent School District. He took the central office position of Supervisor of the Regional School for the Deaf in 1989, became principal of Fields Elementary School in 1994, and then principal of McAuliffe Elementary School in 1998. During this time, he began his doctoral work, graduating from The University of Texas-Pan American in 2000. A highlight in Scott's professional career, he was named the National Distinguished Principal of Texas in 2003. He took the position of Principal at Quest College Preparatory School, a new McAllen-area public secondary charter school of the IDEA Public School System that opened in July of 2006. He also serves as a clinical professor in the UTPA College of Education, Department of Educational Leadership. Scott enjoys singing, is a member of the South Texas Symphony Chorale, and for 22 years has served as bivocational Minister of Music, leading worship at three McAllen churches.
Dr. Luis A. Huerta
Luis A. Huerta is an Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy at Teachers College-Columbia University. He earned his Ph.D. in education policy from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002. He teaches courses in policy analysis and implementation, school finance and organizational sociology. His research and scholarship focus on school choice reforms and school finance policy. His research on school choice reforms examines policies that advance both decentralized and market models of schooling—including charter schools, homeschooling, tuition tax credits and vouchers. His research also examines school finance policy and research, with a specific focus on how legal and legislative battles over finance equity in schools and the research which has analyzed the effects of resources on student achievement, have consistently overlooked how resources are used within schools. Prior to joining the Teachers College faculty in January of 2002, he served as a research associate and coordinator for K-12 education policy research for Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE). He also served as a California public school teacher for six years. He is a contributing author to the book, Inside Charter Schools: The Paradox of Radical Decentralization (Harvard University Press, 2000). He is also the author of recent articles on school choice and school finance published in Educational Policy, Journal of Education Finance, Teachers College Record, Peabody Journal of Education, Journal of Education Policy and Phi Delta Kappan. He is currently serving as co-editor of the journal, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.
Dean María Pabón López
Dean María Pabón López is an expert in immigrants’ rights (including the education of immigrant children), immigration law and diversity/multicultural matters in the legal profession. She also focuses her research on issues concerning Latinos, race and the law, and the status of women lawyers. She has published articles on topics such as the rights of immigrants in the U.S., Spain’s immigration laws, undocumented workers in the U.S. and Argentina, as well as the impact of immigrant nurses on the nursing shortage in the U.S. She has done research in the areas of family law and inheritance law as it pertains to those who are not U.S. citizens. She has also analyzed U.S. state laws affecting immigrants and hate crimes against immigrants. A prolific author, Dean López has placed articles in journals such as the Harvard Latino Law Review, the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, the Hastings Women’s Law Journal and the Seton Hall Law Journal. She has also published articles in Revista Juridica de la Universidad Interamericana and Revista de Derecho de Extranjeria. Her book, Persistent Inequality: Contemporary Realities in The Education of Undocumented Latino/a Children (with Gerardo R. López), was published by Routledge: Taylor and Francis Group in late 2009. Her current research projects are (1) an examination of U.S. and European immigration laws (3) the status of women lawyers in Lousiana, and (3) diversity in the legal profession during the economic downturn. Dean López is a graduate of the Teacher Preparation Program at Princeton University and has taught numerous courses in the U.S. and abroad. She has taught at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, lectured at Universidad Latina in Panama, and collaborated with the faculties at Renmin University in China and Universidad Nacional de la Plata in Argentina. She has taught the following courses in her law teaching career: Criminal Law, Family Law, Immigration Law, Professional Responsibility, Trusts and Estates and a seminar on the Rights of Noncitizens.
Dr. Eric Marcus
Eric Marcus is the founder and principal of The Marcus Group, a New York City based consulting firm specializing in building the capacity of individuals, groups and organizations for a wide variety of public and private sector client systems. Primary areas of practice over the last twenty five years include: working with individuals and groups on issues of change, resistance, leadership and team development, intra and inter group mediation and conflict resolution, diversity, feedback, and related areas. Eric also conducts workshops on group dynamics, conflict resolution, feedback, and team development. Dr. Marcus is an adjunct faculty member at Columbia University (International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution), teaching courses in conflict resolution, negotiation, team building, organization development and consultation and related areas. Most recently he was on faculty at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) Executive Development Program working with diplomats from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on issues of conflict and negotiation. Dr. Marcus is a certified mediator in New York State involved in community mediation in Bronx County. He is a past president of the Organization Development Network of Greater New York and now serves on their Advisory Board. Eric is one of the co-editors of The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice (2nd Edition), with Morton Deutsch and Peter Coleman, in which he has a chapter on Change and conflict. A third edition of the Handbook is in preparation. He received his MA and PhD from Columbia University in social and organizational psychology, and a Bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University.
Ms. Jennie Moctezuma
Dr. Home Nguyen
Dr. Home is an educator, executive coach, and leadership consultant with experience working in diverse cultures and settings. He designs and facilitates learning programs and leadership retreats for corporate professionals and educators, integrating mind and body awareness practices with psychology and research. As an certified executive and life coach with over 10 years experience, Home has worked with a wide range of leaders and their teams, from CEOs of privately owned companies to managers of large corporations, helping them develop strategic insights, social and emotional intelligence and mental and physical resiliency. He is passionate about helping his clients get clarity of purpose, prioritize personal values, and take powerful action. As adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, he teaches courses on Self- Awareness Training, Mindfulness and Contemplative Practices for educators, therapists and leaders. In addition, he also conducts Personal Leadership & Career Fitness workshops for MBA students at Columbia Business School, and teaches with the Summer Principals Academy at Teacher’s College. Home received his BA from the California Institute of Integral Studies, and his doctorate in adult learning and organizational leadership at Columbia University. His research focuses on the development of wisdom and mindfulness with individuals, teams and organizations. A Certified Professional Co-Active Coach through The Coaches Training Institute, he also received a certificate in conflict resolution through the Harvard Negotiation Insight Initiative at the Harvard Law School. A student and long-term practitioner of Mindfulness meditation, Home is the co-founder and co-president of the Mindfulness and Education Working Group (MEWG) at Columbia University. In 2013, he was a featured speaker on mindfulness and leadership at TEDx Teachers College. An émigré from Vietnam, Home was co-founder and artistic director of the first Vietnamese American Theatre Troup, using the dramatic arts to help immigrants and refugees adapt to their new environment. His signature piece, Laughter from the Children of War, was performed at major theaters and college campuses across the USA.
Dr. Andra Penny
Dr. Andra Penny is currently a practicing elementary school principal at Cottonwood Creek Elementary in Coppell, Texas. She has served as the principal of the school since its inception in 1996. Cottonwood Creek Elementary has been awarded the state’s highest “Exemplary” rating by the Texas Education Agency for all 16 years. Prior to leading Cottonwood Creek, she was an assistant principal in Coppell ISD and Denton ISD, both Texas public school systems. Dr. Penny taught Kindergarten for seventeen years and Gifted and Talented education for one year. She has a total of almost 40 years in Texas public schools. Andra received her BS in Elementary Education, MEd in Early Childhood Education, and PhD in Early Childhood Education/Public School Administration from the University of North Texas. For the past seventeen years, Dr. Penny has been an adjunct professor at UNT where she has taught in the departments of Educational Administration, Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, and Curriculum and Instruction.Dr. Penny is also an adjunct professor with Summer Principals Academy at Teachers College, Columbia University. Andra has served on the state board of Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association for 10 years, and served as the President of the association in 2009-10. TEPSA is the largest organization for elementary principals in the nation. She is the recipient of many awards and honors including the UNT Outstanding Alumnae for two years and National Distinguished Principal finalist. Dr. Penny is a frequent keynote speaker and presenter.
Dr. Sheryl Petty
Sheryl Petty, Ed.D. has worked in educational systems change, equity and organizational development for 20 years. She has been a high school teacher, an executive director, and a consultant and advisor to school districts, nonprofits, universities and foundations. She is a national Education, Equity and Systems Change Consultant, an associate consultant with Movement Strategy Center (Oakland, CA) and Management Assistance Group (Washington, D.C.), and most recently a Principal Associate at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. She has co-designed and facilitated trainings and planning processes in partnership with practitioners, staffs and boards nationally. Dr. Petty’s work currently focuses on promoting aligned approaches across a number of education sectors including educator preparation and development, practice, research, capacity building, policy, community organizing, messaging and communications, and contemplative practice. She has also been a fellow at Stanford University's Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, and a qualitative researcher and life coach. She holds a B.A. in Mathematics, an M.A. in Systematic & Philosophical Theology from San Francisco Theological Seminary in the Graduate Theological Union, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership & Change from Fielding Graduate University. Her focus is on supporting individuals and communities to unleash our most vibrant selves and improve our collective life.
Dr. Ben Ploeger
Dr. Ben Ploeger is the Superintendent of Schools at Kaohsiung American School (KAS) in Taiwan. KAS is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School where 700 students from over 30 nations can graduate with a U.S. high school diploma or the IB Diploma.
Dr. Ploeger recently finished his fifth year as the Principal and Head of School of Eagle Ridge Academy Charter High School in Brighton, CO. Eagle Ridge Academy was a high performing but fiscally endangered school when Dr. Ploeger joined the team. In his time at ERA he led a successful financial turnaround, raised test scores, and steered the school through several successful charter renewals.
Previously, Dr. Ploeger was an Academy Director at Sarah T. Reed Senior High School, a high-needs public school in New Orleans. Dr. Ploeger was instrumental in transforming the school and improving test scores by at least 12% for three consecutive years. Dr. Ploeger also led the creation of the Academy of Engineering in order to address critical needs in the STEM fields.
Dr. Ploeger’s interest in education began while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the island nation of Vanuatu. After serving in the Peace Corps, Dr. Ploeger focused his sight on tackling the challenges in the educational system in his home country. Dr. Ploeger earned his Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines, his M.A. in Educational Leadership and his M.A.T. in Secondary Math Instruction from Xavier University of Louisiana, and his Ed.M. and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Dr. Zachary Van Rossum
Dr. Zachary Van Rossum is an educator, researcher, coach and consultant who supports leaders in cultivating the individual and organizational capabilities necessary to successfully compete in a dynamic and ever-changing world. He is expert in the science that supports effective decision-making and complex problem solving. Zachary supports leaders and teams in clarifying their vision for success and building the necessary skills to marshal resources and align diverse stakeholders behind strategic goals and timelines. Zachary is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University where he teaches courses on leadership and adult development. He is also a senior research analyst at Lectica, Inc. and a consultant for Springpoint Partners, LLC. Zachary trains groups, coaches leaders, and facilitates change, and has worked with individuals and groups across a variety of industries, both in the US and abroad, including Ketchum, Teach for America, People and Nature Trust (Botswana), Columbia University, Harvard University and University of Milan. Zachary holds a doctorate in Adult Learning and Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University. His dissertation investigated the role of social perspective taking in leadership decision making, describing what this process looks like across three levels of psychological development. Zachary also holds a masters degree in Buddhism and contemplative psychology from Harvard Divinity School and a bachelors degree in transpersonal psychology from the University of California-Santa Cruz. Zachary is certified in Executive Coaching through Columbia University and as a mediator through Harvard Law School, and has specialized training in the Subject-Object Interview assessment and the Immunity to Change process developed by Robert Kegan at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Originally from Chico, California, Zachary enjoys biking, skiing, and spending time outdoors.
Dr. Rona Wilensky
Rona Wilensky was principal and founder of New Vista High School in Boulder from 1992-2009. She is currently Director of Mindfulness Programs at Passageworks Institute and is responsible for growing the dissemination of SMART in Education. She is actively integrating diversity and cultural responsiveness work within the mindfulness movement through presentations and planning conferences. Rona served on the Leadership Council of the Initiative on Contemplative Teaching and Learning at the Garrison Institute and is a Fellow of the Mind and Life Instiutue A past contributor to state and national conversations on high school reform, her essays have appeared in Education Week, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan and Education News Colorado.