Paul Adler serves as Director of Follow On Support for Building Excellent Schools (BES) where he provides high-impact, mission-driven coaching to leaders and schools in their first three years of operation. He also leads cohort training for BES leaders in their planning year. His most recent work at BES involves aligning the coaching model across twelve distinct geographies so that all leaders receive a consistent quality and quantity of support.
Paul served for six years as the founding principal of Achievement First Brooklyn High School. He led the first three graduating classes to college readiness, with all students being accepted to four-year colleges, and he led the school to be ranked in the top third of 29 schools in the Achievement First network for academic performance. Previous to Paul’s work as principal with Achievement First, he was a Teach For America corps member, teaching seventh grade math in Compton, California. He then moved on to become a founding math teacher and then assistant principal at Brooklyn Preparatory High School.
Paul received a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University, a Master of Arts in Teaching in Mathematics Education from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Quantitative Economics from Tufts University.
Tyeisha Chavis is an educator, youth advocate, executive coach and thought leader in educational leadership, administration, curriculum, and instruction. As a response to systemic poverty, mass incarceration and monolithic views of success, Chavis chose to dedicate her professional life to addressing disparities in education and public administration. She is personally and professionally committed to working with young women and men of color both inside and outside of the classroom, creating intensive intervention program models that seek to disband and eradicate the school to prison pipeline.
Hailing from Harlem, New York, Ms. Chavis began her career in education as a local youth development leader during her late teens. After graduating from Columbia University as a Gates Millennium Scholar with a B.A. in Political Science, Ms. Chavis continued her journey in education and youth development as a NY Teaching Fellow and worked for the New York City Department of Education (DOE) as a Special Educator and Instructional Specialist for grades 9-12 across core disciplines. Following her tenure as a secondary public school educator, Ms. Chavis went on to become an Assistant Principal at a charter school, where she led the design, implementation, and evaluation processes for the development of research-based curricula, top tier instruction, and quality assessments in core subject areas. Seeing leadership development and coaching as a critical need for teaching professionals and school leaders, Ms. Chavis moved on to prioritize longitudinal professional development of struggling high schools as a Leadership Coach with the Office of School Renewal in the DOE. In this role she led engagement for ongoing professional learning opportunities and coaching support for teacher teams and school leaders across several public high schools in New York City.
Tyeisha Chavis is currently a Director of Continuous Improvement in the Office of Superintendent Carron Staple for Districts 8, 10, & 11, where she facilitates and oversees the creation and implementation of needs-aligned improvement plans for identified, persistently low-achieving schools. She is also presently at Columbia University, Teachers College working towards her Doctoral Degree in Education Leadership. She plans to continue her research and professional impact on changing leadership in education by further researching and illuminating the experiences of black female leaders and their influence on shaping school improvement policies in K-12 education. Additionally, Ms. Chavis holds three master’s degrees, one from City College of New York City and two from Teachers College, Columbia University. She currently resides in Bronx, NY and is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a public service sorority.
Ingrid Chung currently serves as principal at the Urban Assembly School for Applied Math & Science (AMS), a non-screened traditional public school serving the most incredible students in grades 6-12 in the South Bronx. In addition to serving as principal, Ingrid teaches an AP Language & Composition course to seniors, serves as the lead facilitator for the school’s young men’s leadership program, Umoja, which works with traditionally defined “at-risk” boys, and coaches brand new teachers at AMS. She is a 2007 Teaching Fellow and is particularly passionate about effective new teacher training and development programs as well as transformative intervention systems for at-risk students.
Ingrid’s work in public education has been featured by news outlets like The Atlantic, Good Morning America, and The New York Times’ SchoolBook, specifically highlighting her dedication to creating innovative programming for traditionally defined at-risk subgroups and her belief that all students, regardless of their circumstances, should have the opportunity to be children (e.g., have opportunities for joy, curiosity, and wonder) and be able to speak for themselves. She and her students have presented their work in culturally responsive education and Umoja at both national and local conferences and venues like COSEBOC, the Decolonizing Education Conference, Teachers College’s And Still We Rise Conference, the New York City Writing Project Conference, and at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. Her work at AMS (where she started as a first-year teacher twelve years ago and is now in her first year as principal) has allowed her to develop close partnerships and relationships with the Expanded Success Initiative (ESI), Young Audiences New York (YANY), Exploring the Arts (ETA), and Wingspan. Through ESI, Ingrid has presented her work at various conferences including Excellence Through Equity Conference, ASCD, and a Dream Deferred. As a lifelong teacher, she particularly enjoys taking her babies (her students) out to educational events that give them a platform to share their life stories and expertise as well as to family dinners in delicious restaurants across New York City.
Ingrid holds a B.A. in English and creative writing from New York University, a M.Ed. in Adolescent English Education from Hunter College, and an M.A. in Educational Policy (School Building Leaders) from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education. She enjoys spending time with her babies (her students), thinking of creative solutions for systemic issues in education, wandering the world, and eating everything she can find in New York.
Benjamin Feit is a senior associate at the Community Training and Assistance Center (CTAC), where he provides strategic guidance and policy support to state agencies, school districts, and charter networks. At CTAC, Ben also conducts evaluations of large-scale, publicly funded initiatives that address persistent opportunity and achievement gaps.
Prior to joining CTAC, Ben spent six years at Democracy Prep Public Schools, a Harlem-based, nonprofit charter management organization. As Vice President of Strategy and Chief of Staff, Ben oversaw Democracy Prep’s expansion from a four-school network to one that operates over 20 Title I schools in five states. At DPPS, Ben managed large, diverse teams responsible for furnishing accountability, governance, policy, data management and analysis, information systems, and operational support services to a network of over 1,100 employees. In addition, Ben served as the executive director of a turnaround school in Washington, D.C., taught a college-style civics seminar to seniors at Democracy Prep’s flagship Harlem high school, and served as a principal network representative to all federal and state regulatory agencies, charter school authorizers, elected officials, Boards of Trustees, funders, and researchers.
After graduating from Yale (cum laude with a BA in History), Ben taught at an international school in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Ben was a law review student at Duke, and he clerked for a federal appellate court judge after graduating magna cum laude. Ben is a licensed member of the Massachusetts and New York bars, and in 2018 he served as the chief legal officer on a state-level Massachusetts political campaign, crafting policies designed to promote voter access and inclusion.
Jordan is presently serving as Senior Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Hebrew Public Charter Schools. In this role, she oversees curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Jordan works with the entire network team and the school leaders to help drive academic excellence for students. She sets academic guidelines for all schools, oversees interim and state testing, designs professional development, and coaches school leaders. Jordan continually seeks innovative ways to use data and instructional best practices to help ensure students reach their goals.
Jordan began her career in education working as a bilingual classroom teacher through Teach For America at New Millennium Business Academy in the South Bronx. She continued to teach in New York at the Dwight School for several more years before transitioning to school leadership in Chicago. She served as an assistant principal at UNO Charter: Sandra Cisneros for four years focusing on student data analysis, staff development, and school culture.
Jordan has a bachelor’s degree with high honors from Dartmouth College and a master’s degree in elementary education with a bilingual concentration from Pace University.
Erica Holmes-Ware joined Instruction Partners, an education non-profit, in 2019 as a Director of Instructional Support, bringing 10 years of experience in education. She works to ensure all students experience an excellent education that prepares them to contribute to their community, achieve economic security, and pursue their dreams. In her role, Erica works shoulder-to-shoulder with educators to support great teaching and accelerate student learning. Focusing on small systems, both districts and charters, the primary function of her role is to ensure equitable access to great instruction for students in poverty, students of color, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities. Erica has served as an elementary school teacher, K-12 instructional coach, and most recently, a middle school principal. She received her master’s degree in Education Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Stany Leblanc is currently the assistant principal at the Mott Hall Science and Technology Academy in the South Bronx. Stany received a bachelor’s from Stanford University, a Master of Science in Teaching English from Fordham University, and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from CUNY Baruch. He is also an alumni of the NYC Leaders in Education Apprenticeship Program (LEAP).
After graduating from Stanford University in 2009, Stany had the pleasure to become part of Teach For America and join the faculty at Mott Hall during its inaugural year. During his first years, The Wall Street Journal featured him on its front cover in an article regarding new teachers in the New York City Department of Education and acknowledged his tremendous gains with students. Teach For America also nominated him for a “Teacher Excellence Award” based on his impact in the classroom. Ten years later, he is still a proud member of Mott Hall and has had transformative experiences that have informed his approach to teaching and learning.
Under the mentorship of Dr. Patrick Awosogba, Stany taught different grade levels and held a variety of leadership roles that formed him into the instructional leader he is today. He has taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade English/Language Arts as well as served in leadership roles such as Testing Coordinator, Grade Team Leader, Data Specialist, Literacy Coach, Master Teacher, and now, Assistant Principal. Through these diverse leadership positions, he has gained unique insight into the educational and administrational structures and systems of a school and the impact they have on student achievement. Using his vast experiences and the support of his team, student proficiency levels schoolwide on the Common Core English/Language Arts Exam increased by 200%: from 15% in 2013 to 45% in 2018.
Stany’s dedication to education and passion for social justice is not new; it stems from his valuable experiences growing up. As the child of Haitian immigrants, he has always had a deep appreciation of the value of education and of enabling students from low-income and minority backgrounds to have full access to the resources a solid education can provide. He has founded and maintained a mentorship program with at-risk students that empower them to take advantage of their education and pursue their aspirations. One mentee in particular captured Stany's heart and he legally adopted him. His son, and former 8th grade student, is now twenty years old and pursuing his dreams in Los Angeles, California.
Donny Lopez has been the principal of PS 163 in the Upper West Side of Manhattan since 2012. A member of the 2018-19 Cahn Fellowship Program for Distinguished Principals at Teachers College, Columbia University, his yearlong project focused on unpacking cultural bias and connecting the work of equity to daily classroom instruction as a means to ensure equitable practices. Donny joins the UELP Doctor of Education program to strengthen his leadership skills so that he has the necessary tools to interrupt systemic structures that lead to disproportionate outcomes for students of color.
Since the start of his career as a building leader, Donny has worked closely with his staff on increasing student-led discussions as a way to support the school's vision of supporting and nurturing the opinions and ideas of its students. In 2017, Donny applied for PS 163 to be a host Learning Partners Program School. They were accepted and under Donny's leadership as a model principal (2017-19), PS 163 spent the following two years working with neighboring schools on sharing their best practices on student-led discussions.
A graduate of the 2011-12 NYC Leadership Academy, Lopez received a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in rehabilitation services from The Pennsylvania State University, a Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) from Fordham University, and a Master of Science in Education (Ed.M.) administration from Bank Street College. Before working as a principal, Donny was a special education public school teacher. He currently lives in NYC, is happily married, has two children, and is an avid runner.
Jim Monaco is currently the Director of English Language Arts and Media Services at J. Sterling Morton High School District 201, a high school district serving approximately 8,200 students in Cicero and Berwyn, Illinois. These communities, adjacent to Chicago, are diverse racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically, with more than half of the students being bilingual. Both towns have always been rooted in the immigrant experience, shifting from predominantly Eastern European to a Hispanic, African American, and two-plus race population. While some areas of the surrounding community, including Oak Park, Illinois, have become gentrified, Cicero, parts of Berwyn, and other suburbs feeding into the district remain low-income. Over 90% of all Morton students are eligible for free or reduced lunches.
As part of his educational philosophy and beliefs, Jim strongly supports the power of reading and writing as transformative experiences for students. He guides teachers with the vision that all students deserve opportunities to find their voices through authentic literacy experiences. It is Jim’s hope to continue this work, focus on it in his research, and develop helpful workshops and professional development to provide all educators with avenues to build cultural competency and culturally relevant pedagogy.
Throughout his fifteen years in education, Jim has held a number of roles with increasing responsibility, beginning as a high school English teacher before entering the world of administration. During his tenure in educational leadership, Jim has been an assistant principal, department chair, building-level curriculum developer, and district-level director of curriculum. In all of his positions, Jim has excelled at developing and scaffolding student learning through balanced assessments, activities, and lessons. He has cultivated an adult education program that promotes safe learning environments and ensures teachers have up-to-date training and professional development.
Jim has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Secondary Education from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. He also received his Master of Education in Educational Leadership from DePaul University, focusing on multicultural, urban education.
Ilona Nanay is a Model Teacher, Wellness Coordinator, and Union Leader at Mott Hall V, a 6th grade through 12th grade school in the Soundview neighborhood of the Bronx. Ilona has been teaching at Mott Hall V for the past 8 years. As a Model Teacher, she supports school staff in building capacity around culturally relevant pedagogy. She leads professional development that models how to incorporate youth culture to deepen student engagement. Ilona has started many school-wide initiatives to foster school community; for example, she started a mentorship program that connects middle school students with high school students. She also introduced yoga and mindfulness as an elective course, and helped to integrate restorative justice practices with the high school advisory program. These initiatives demonstrate Ilona’s commitment to cultivating a teaching and learning context that is emancipatory and invests in young people’s perception of self-worth.
During her undergraduate studies, Ilona designed her major to compare contemporary urban problems in China and the United States. In 2010, Ilona studied in Yunnan Province, China, with the School for International Training (SIT), researching the effects of China’s transition to a market economy on rural communities. She was struck by the educational disparities China’s rural ethnic minorities faced. When she returned to the United States, she volunteered at Rikers Island Jail to facilitate a debate program for young, incarcerated men. She worked with young men who, having felt disempowered by the education system, dropped out of school. Her experiences both at home and abroad prompted her to apply for a teaching fellowship because she hoped to foster a learning community in which students felt empowered. After graduating from NYU in 2011, Ilona was awarded a teaching fellowship by New York City.
As a teacher, Ilona is interested in transforming classrooms into places of intellectual stimulation, curiosity, and engagement, where learning is not measured by standardized test scores, but rather, the development of individuals who can think, plan, create, question and engage as learners. In an ever-changing world, Ilona wants to ensure that young people are prepared to lead informed and fulfilling lives, that they have the ability to synthesize information from diverse sources to not only make sense of global issues but to address these issues. Students actively participate in different historical simulations and embody different historical figures. (Check out their work at www.teachnanay.com as students tackle both historical and contemporary issues from multiple perspectives through multiple mediums). These activities ensure that students think critically about historical events and use 21st century skills to share their thoughts with a larger audience. Consequently, they also experience first-hand the role human agency plays in driving history.
Ilona is a strong advocate on behalf of young people. She has worked with organizations such as Educators for Excellence, Expanded Success Initiative, NYC Men Teach, and YoGirls to expand restorative justice, mindfulness, and culturally relevant pedagogical practices across New York City. Ilona loves to teach and to learn. She believes in education’s capacity to liberate and disrupt existing narratives of power and privilege. She works daily to empower her students to be agents of social and institutional change.
Ilona holds a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Planning and Public Policy from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, and a Master of Science in Education with a focus on students with learning disabilities from Hunter College.
Martin Perez, Jr. is currently the Assistant Principal for Student Success "Dean of Students" at Betty H. Fairfax in the Phoenix Union High School District. Before joining Betty H. Fairfax, Perez served as the Assistant Principal for Academic Services and Operations at Academia Del Pueblo School (preK-8th grade). In his current role, Martin provides comprehensive leadership with the implementation of restorative justice and community partnerships initiatives to reduce school suspensions. Martin was the first in his family to attend and graduate college. Martin’s passion to ensure every student is provided with access to a high-quality education stems from his own educational upbringing growing up in Compton, CA, his teaching experience, and his community engagement. He began his career in education as a middle school teacher through Teach for America. He served on the Arizona Supreme Court Committee on Juvenile Courts, Arizona Department of Education Educator Retention and Recruitment Task Force. He currently serves on Arizona Early Childhood Development—First Things First Commission, the City of Phoenix Youth and Education Commission, and Arizona’s Department of Education Latinx Advisory Board.
Among his distinctions, he has been recognized as the 2014 Alhambra School District Teacher of the Year and Arizona’s Valle Del Sol 40 Under 40 Hispanic Leaders. Martin’s personal experience, as well as his time in a classroom, make him uniquely suited to address how—and why—Arizona must provide a quality education for each and every student.
Martin earned two master’s degrees in education, in K-12 Education and Educational Leadership, from Arizona State University, and his Bachelor of Arts in Social Welfare from University of California at Berkeley.
Ivelise Velazquez currently serves as New Haven Public Schools Deputy Superintendent. As Deputy Superintendent, she is responsible for leading strategic change across districtwide departments that improve the lives of students through improved instruction and innovative programs. Through a message of coherence, Ivelise and the central office department she manages demand high expectations for all students and ensure better outcomes for students, including ever-increasing graduation rates, college attendance, scholarships, and access to highly skilled jobs. Ivelise is setting a clear vision for professional learning that focuses on research to better serve students with disabilities and English Learners. She is establishing a culture of learning and continuous improvement with 41 school leaders, serving 21,500 students. She is implementing a strategic planning process that requires a through-line of priorities from the district plan to the department plans to the improvement plans of every school.
After finishing her master's, Ivelise started her career as a primary teacher and a reading teacher in Berkeley, California, where she worked for five years on a successful school-wide literacy reform initiative. Following a move back East to be near family, Ivelise held positions in elementary schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut for 7 years before becoming a staff developer at Connecticut’s State Education Resource Center (SERC). At SERC, she began to study and train others on issues of racial equity and culturally relevant pedagogy. She worked as part of SERC’s Equity Team consulting with urban districts throughout Connecticut to review and adjust policies and practices to improve outcomes for students of color. Six years later, Ivelise returned to the public schools to hold several administrative positions, including Dean of Students at Parkville Elementary in Hartford, Director of Reading in Windham, Chief Academic Officer in New London, and her current position in New Haven. Ivelise served on the cabinet in three different urban districts, working closely with Superintendents to lead strategic change and challenge existing inequity inherent in the current systems.
Ivelise earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Cornell University, a Master of Education from George Washington University, and Connecticut’s Superintendent Credential from Central Connecticut State University.
As a child, Baltimore native Arnetta 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 Master 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. Her next school leadership role was serving D.C.’s adjudicated youth as the principal of the Maya Angelou Academy at the New Beginnings Youth Development Center in Laurel, Maryland. During her tenure there, she was interviewed by Chelsea Clinton for a feature on Rock Center with Brian Williams and given a national platform to advocate for reform in juvenile justice.
One of the highlights of Ms. Young’s educational career was working with the late Grant Wiggins, co-author of Understanding by Design, as a professional facilitator and curriculum specialist. In 2011, she joined him and his wife at the American School of Milan, where they worked with International Baccalaureate teachers to implement backwards mapping, differentiating instruction for students performing at high level, and de-mystifying expectations. In addition, Ms. Young was one of the authors of scripted curriculum for Prince George’s County Middle School language arts teachers.
In 2014, Ms. Young joined Howard County Public Schools as a leadership development facilitator. It was here that she married her love for research and instructional design with talent-spotting and coaching leaders. The hallmark of her work included authoring four blended-learning coaching modules: Coaching Fundamental, Coaching What’s Strong, Not What’s Wrong, Coaching Through Change and Conflict, and Coaching Teams to Success. While she enjoyed creating the courses, her favorite times were spent with the participants while they “tried on” their coaching hats with colleagues who presented real-life quandaries.
Currently, Ms. Young is assigned as an administrator at Long Reach High School in Howard County. Here her instructional focus is on ESOL, fine arts, and physical education. She is working diligently to disrupt the philosophies and behaviors that lead to student disengagement, frustration, and failure, in order to dismantle the school to prison pipeline. In addition, Ms. Young uplifts the importance of music, visual arts, dance, and physical education in developing well-rounded and well-adjusted young adults.
Rabin is a coach, author, NYABJ award-winning journalist and consultant who acts as a trusted thought partner for organizational leaders within both the public and private sectors, particularly in the field of education. She draws from over 20 years of experience in diverse roles such as mayoral advisor, classroom teacher in high-need schools, literacy, and leadership coach, and NYCDOE senior school improvement specialist, supporting the success of thousands of students, parents, teachers, and principals across New York City.
Rabin has shared her methodologies as the author of “The Playmaking Way: Using Dramatic Arts to Support Young Readers and Writers,” as well as “The Leadership Guide to Designing Professional Learning,” and is a featured author in the international research project “Racially and Ethnically Diverse Women Leading Education: A World View.”
She holds an Ed.M. in Education Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University and an MS.Ed. with honors in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College, a B.A. in Journalism and Theatre from Baruch College, CUNY, and a license in School Building Leadership from the New York State Department of Education.
When she is not collaborating with mission-driven education administrators to foster creative and culturally responsive literacy learning across multiple school districts in her current role as Director of Special Programs for the New York City Department of Education's Middle School Quality Initiative, or interviewing innovators in politics, religion, business, or arts and sciences as guest host of Cultural Caravan TV, Rabin enjoys exploring world cultures and hiking.
Program Director: Dr. Jeffrey M. Young
Teachers College, Columbia University
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