I am from Chicago, Illinois, but I currently reside in St. Louis, Missouri. I am a Founder and Assistant School Leader of Instruction at KIPP St. Louis High School. I attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale earning a Masters of Science in Curriculum and Instruction. SPA will allow me to take a deep dive into my strengths that will allow me to adjust some of my educational practices, beliefs, and close my opportunity gaps and my students. SPA will prepare me with more tools to use inside my school, classrooms, community, and city, so that I can use my voice and position to always offer the best educational and social experiences for my students, families, and staff. Fun fact: taught Standard (3rd grade in a small village in Kenya, Africa for a week).
Hello, my name is Sydnie Julien. I am from New Orleans, La. I am currently a Middle School Science Teacher and Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary Charter School in New Orleans, La. I attended Xavier University of Louisiana for my undergraduate degree in Chemistry, Pre-Pharmacy with a minor in Biology, as well as my graduate Degree with a Masters in Arts of Teaching majoring in Middle School Science with a SPED certification. I aim to further my academic ventures in the hopes to become at certified principal to further the academic growth for the youth of Louisiana. I chose SPA Nola because the program presents the exceptional pathways to pursue a higher level of education in the efforts to produce extraordinary principals with core values, as well as making connections to like minds with innovative ideas. I look forward to the experience that SPA Nola will have for me and my future endeavors. Lastly, one interesting fact about myself is that I had four pet chickens when I was little, three named after famous scientists (Galileo, Einstein, Darwin) and last one Bob. Bob was my favorite!
Myriam Stephanie Santamaria is originally from Brooklyn, NY. Stephanie attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY where she double majored in Political Science and Latin American Studies. There she was awarded the Organizacion Ecuatoriana Juventud Scholarship, the Mujeres Destacadas Scholarship, and recognized in CUNY's Salute to Scholars Magazine. Her passion for youth was first realized when she served as a CUNY Service Corps Member for the Unaccompanied Latin American Minor Project, led by Dr. Isabel Martinez.
She initiated her teaching career right after college when she served as a 2017 Miami- Dade Teach For America Corps Member. There she taught English at Homestead Senior High School for three years. Her students not only made her love teaching, but they also taught her the importance of placing passion and hard work at the forefront of everything you do. In 2019-2020 she was voted Rookie Teacher of the Year by her peers.
Currently, Stephanie serves as Program Director of El Puente Beacon at Middle School 50. She oversees the after school program as well as the students Arts & Culture electives in the day-time. She is excited to join SPA as it will allow her to continue growing in her service to young people.
I grew up in Gilbertsville a small rural town in upstate New York. I currently live in Nashville TN and work for Explore! Community School. At Explore I enjoy working with teachers to lead our project-based learning. I graduated with my masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Michigan State University and with my undergraduate degree from Elmira College. I’ve worked in the field of education in seven different states. I applied to SPA because I feel that it is a comprehensive approach to leadership development. I am excited for the cohort model and to have the opportunity to grow as a leader. A little know fact about me is that I have hiked Rainbow Mountain in the Andes of Peru.
Sonya West, a native of North Carolina, is a proud alumna of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she obtained a B.S. in Middle Grades Education. West is licensed to teach science and math, and completed an academically/intellectually gifted licensure program at Duke University.
West is currently a seventh grade science instructor in Durham, North Carolina and is also the middle school liaison to Durham Public Schools’ Science Equity Team, working to improve minority access to advanced science courses.
Outside of work, West enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with family and friends. She believes eating delicious food and getting adequate rest is important to maintaining a balanced life.
Hello. I am Ray Mays, Jr. and I am originally from Mississippi, and now live in Oakland, CA. I currently work for Teach for America - Bay Area as a coach and lead much of our upper elementary design work. My professional goals are to work in school leadership for some time, and then found my own school in Mississippi.I am thrilled about SPA because it aligns with my career goals, and there is such strong faculty within Teacher's College. I am also eager to meet the fantastic cohort of individuals who will be alongside this journey with me. A fun fact about me is that I love to travel, I am a thrill seeker and I've jumped off the world's highest bungee.
Hi! My name is Krystle, and I'm from Cleveland, Ohio. I am in my sixth year teaching at John Marshall School of IT. The favorite part of my day is greeting students at the door with my megaphone. I consider myself a lifelong learner, so don’t be surprised when I ask all of the questions. My B.A. is in Humanities from Ursuline College, and I have a Master of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins University. My long-term goals are that of inspiring youth and helping them to be an advocate for themselves. I want to empower students to help their communities and their families by challenging the systemic issues our society faces as a whole, and SPA is the program to help me gain the skills necessary to do so. A fun fact about me is that I teach at the same high school I graduated from as a child. One day I would love to be the principal there, too.
I am a born NYC girl, raised between New York and the Dominican Republic. I currently serve as a 1st grade lead teacher in my 7th year in education. I attended many schools growing up but completed my undergrad studies proudly at SUNY Albany, Class of 2014. I chose SPA because as I continued learning and growing as an educator, I realized I also wanted to impact other educators to be the best version of themselves for our students. We often say how important representation is in the classroom for our students, but we lack that same representation in our administration and leaders. We need leaders who represent our children, who can relate and reciprocate the needs and wants of our communities. I hope to learn to lead with logic and heart to create within myself a leader that can guide educators to lead our students to success. Some fun facts about me is I love to cook and am so good at it! I am one of 5 siblings, the ultimate middle child and a former ballerina of 10 years.
Hailing from our nations capital Washington, DC, Daron Frazier is currently a sixth year classroom teacher at Charles R. Drew Charter School located in Atlanta, GA. Daron obtained his B.A. and his M.Ed from Howard University in 2014 and 2015 respectively. During his time at the real HU, Daron was a Hellen Matthews Rand Scholar. Following the completion of his first graduate program, he taught in DC for two years until he relocated to Atlanta, GA where he has been the last four years. In Spring 2019 Daron won Teacher of the Year! It was this experience that inspired him to advance his professional career as an educator. After sifting through multiple graduate programs that seemingly put their best marketing foot forward, it was SPA that stuck out the most. SPA's transparency and clear vision inspired him to apply. Daron is ready to begin his journey as a school leader and is looking forward to meeting his cohort members in the Big Easy this summer.
My name is Christian Garcia. I am from a small agricultural town called Reedley in the heart of the Central Valley in California. I currently work as an 8th grade Science and AVID teacher in North Las Vegas at Sedway Middle School. I have received a B.S. in Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles and an M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I became a teacher to inspire and mobilize the youth, particularly in low-income and minority communities. I understand the liberating power behind knowledge and wish to instill that in my students. Education promotes progress. Progress that America is struggling for right now. I chose SPA because I believe that it will help me elevate my educational philosophy (Be L.O.U.D), and allow me to contribute to systems change while combating educational inequity. My professional goals include opening my own school, becoming a district Superintendent, and ultimately running for public office. I am a huge sports fan! My teams include the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Yankees, and my UCLA Bruins. I love to run, read, workout, dance, and listen to new music. If I could eat one meal for the rest of my life, it would be stuffed-crust pizza!
Tommy Gonzalez believes that all students deserve a high-quality education to live choice-filled lives. Tommy is a first-generation college graduate from Southern California. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he pursued a double major in Philosophy and Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations. After working for several California state legislators of color and serving as the executive assistant to an assistant city administrator, Tommy wanted a career that had a more immediate and positive impact on Black and brown communities. He joined the teaching profession in 2012 to actualize this passion, which turned into his life's purpose. Tommy has taught first, third, fourth, fifth, and seventh grades almost entirely in East and West Oakland, California, in his nine years of teaching. Tommy has also taught middle school students coding and robotics as electives because he believes Black and brown representation in tech matters. He enjoys coaching novice teachers and has held various roles over the years within his school and region. Tommy is excited to join the SPA|NOLA family to bring about transformational change everywhere. Tommy plans to take a leadership position in Oakland and also continue his education after Teachers College. In his spare time, Tommy enjoys traveling the world with his partner Hannah. Tommy and Hannah live in San Francisco, California, with their cats Charlie and Gaia.
I am from Philadelphia Pennsylvania. I am currently a Reading teacher. I attended Lincoln University for undergrad and the University of Nevada Las Vegas for graduate. My professional goal is to become an Assistant Principal then Principal. Afterwards I want to open up my own school. I chose SPA because it is a transformational leadership program that not only grows great leaders but grows leaders into upstream system change agents. Some fun facts about me is that I am a vegan, mother, wife, and fluent in ASL. I also wrote a book in elementary school for PBS, and built a canoe in 7th grade.
Hi, my name is Bobbi Simpson. I was born in Michigan City, Indiana. However, I was raised in Madison, WI. I currently teach grades 2/3 at Gompers Elementary as a Cross Categorical Teacher. I went to HBCU, Grambling of Louisiana, but graduated from Cambridge College of Massachusetts with a bachelors in Multidisciplinary Studies and a Masters of education. I have worked in my current capacity for 8 years. I am interested in elevating my career to pursue education leadership. I'd like to eventually work to change k12 policies with regard to standardized curriculum as it relates to history especially. I became aware of SPA by happenstance. It is quite similar to my former experience at Cambridge College. After taking a deeper look into the program, I've been both impressed and overwhelmed. A fun fact: I learned to swim as an adult and I hope to learn to ride a motorcycle next!
My name is Nu'Nauvia Peacock. I am originally from Brooklyn, New York but I currently live in Atlanta, Georgia. I have been in Atlanta for six years and attended the illustrious Spelman College for my undergraduate degree. After graduating from Spelman College, I went to Relay Graduate School of Education where I obtained my Masters of Art in Teaching. I am currently a Kindergarten Lead teacher at a charter school. My overall professional goals are to first become a principal, then a superintendent in a underserved community, similarly to the one that I came from. I chose SPA because of the hands-on preparation they provide to all of their students. A fun fact about me is I have over 40 nieces and nephews!
Program Director: Dr. Brian K. Perkins
Teachers College, Columbia University 525 W 120th Street, Box: 65N