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Misty Ackles Dumas
Misty an experienced educator, has been in education for over 25 years. She is a mother, wife of 24 years, teacher and Girl Scout Leader. Upon graduating with her initial degree, Misty completed undergraduate research at the Susan Gray School of Vanderbilt University. This experience developed a sincere desire to work with children with exceptionalities. Her first teaching position she worked as a teacher of students with severe disabilities. In 2000, she earned a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership. After completing this second degree, she had one daughter, Arlissa Sue an honor roll 10th grader in Indianapolis at Cathedral High School. Motherhood shifted her interest to social justice and human equity. Misty wanted to be instrumental in equalizing the landscape of education in Indianapolis. Misty was the founding principal of the Indianapolis Lighthouse Charter School. She also worked on program development and coaching with LHA and other school leaders across the country. In 2007, she successfully opened another charter school. In 2015 she worked as a consultant for Columbia Teachers College in New York City. Currently, Misty is a teacher leader of students with exceptionalities for the MSD of Lawrence Township Schools. Misty holds a BS in Early Childhood Education from Tennessee State University, Masters in Educational Leadership, Administration and Foundations, from Indiana State University as well as an Ed.S in the School Superintendence from Indiana State University. Recently she won a Real Change, Real People Award from the American Heart Association. She won this award for making a significant healthy lifestyle change. Misty’s favorite job is being a mother to 15 year old Arlissa! She is a Diamond life Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. She is also a member of Barnes United Methodist Church
Denise Adams is a graduate of Florida State with a Bachelors and Masters degree in Communication Disorders and a Specialist Degree from the University of Florida in Educational Leadership. She has served in public schools for almost 40 years in a variety of capacities. She began her career in Gainesville as a Speech Language Pathologist in 1976, since then she has served as an ESE Director, Assistant Principal, Principal, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction and Deputy Superintendent. In addition to serving Columbia University Teachers College as a mentor, Mrs. Adams is an adjunct for the University of Florida and Saint Leo University and a certified Family Mediator.
Dr. Mokysha Benford
A native of Texas City, TX, Mokysha Benford earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Texas at Austin, her Masters of Education degree from the University of Houston, and her Doctoral Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas Southern University. Her portfolio includes serving at the elementary, middle, high school, and collegiate levels. She has served in some of America’s toughest schools working in La Marque, Fort Bend, and Houston ISD in roles ranging from long-term substitute, teacher, athletic coach, teacher leader, Campus Improvement Specialist, Title 1 Specialist, Assistant Principal, and Principal. Dr.Benford has founded her own consulting firm, DrB!Real Consulting, offering educational and non-educational services. DrB!Real Consulting was birthed out of life experiences and 18 years in the field of education. Serving in these professional roles, as well as the roles and circumstances that life has thrown at her, has afforded Dr. Benford multiple perspectives through which to work as she challenges the status quo and gives voice to those without. She is a high-spirited, energetic teacher who is passionate about her work. She is unrivaled in her gift of transparency in sharing Real Life experiences and engaging in Real Conversations leading to Real Change! She makes you think, causes you to reflect, and challenges you to refine your thinking and your practice.
Dr. Robert Bennett
It has been a pleasure to accumulate 36 years in the field of education. Bennett has recently retired from the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada serving 16 years as a school principal. Prior to these years, Bennett was an assistant principal, a Special Education Teacher and a Classroom Teacher. Along with his Administrative certification, he holds a dual certification in Elementary Education and Education for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Bennett taught in the 2nd grade and in the field of Blind Education for 18 years prior to becoming an administrator. His Bachelors was completed at Eastern Michigan University, Master’s Degree completed through Idaho State University and his ED.D was completed at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Bennett has enjoyed many roles in the field of education and still enjoys all the opportunities and possibilities to share his experiences and promote the education of our students.
Dr. Regina J. Boyd
Ms. Tamela Brown
Ms. Tamela Brown has served as a school administrator in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for the past fifteen years. She is currently the principal of Whispering Pines Elementary School (PreK-5), recognized as an A+ School in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Ms. Brown also serves as a lead principal in her region and is a member of several district leadership committees. Ms. Brown has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Florida A&M University, a Master’s in Mathematics Education from Florida State University and a second Master’s in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Miami. In addition to this, she completed an Ed.S. Degree at NOVA Southeastern University. Ms. Brown actively participates in ongoing professional development to make certain her role as principal results in a positive learning experience for students. Ms. Brown works collaboratively with colleagues to build professional capacity which will ultimately enrich the lives of young learners and yield productive citizens.
Dr. Michael Cormack
Dr. Michael Cormack, Jr. is the CEO of the Barksdale Reading Institute. In this role, he sets the vision and direction for the Institute and also oversees the Mississippi Building Blocks. Before joining BRI, he served as the elementary principal at Quitman County Elementary School, a BRI partner school. Michael has also served as a teacher and a program director and manager for Teach For America. He received his bachelor’s degree from Boston College, and holds a master’s degree in elementary education from Delta State University, a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University, and earned his doctor of education degree in education leadership and policy studies at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Cormack is a graduate of SPA|NYC, a veteran coach for SPA|NOLA, and a faculty member for SPA|NYC.
Dr. DeWayne Davis
Dr. DeWayne Davis has been an educator for over 25 years in the Los Angeles area of California and now serves as the Deputy Superintendent in the Division of Strategy and Accountability for Waukegan Community Unit School District #60 in the Chicago metropolitan area. Shortly after being recruited into the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), Dr. Davis began his doctoral work at Pepperdine University, focusing his doctoral research on school reform and using his research findings as a theoretical platform to reform some of Los Angeles’s most challenging schools. As a school leader, Dr. Davis has received numerous awards including the Middle School Principal of the Year-2010, by the Association of California School Administrators. Dr. Davis is currently serving as was assigned as a Senior Director of Secondary Education in Los Angeles, replicating his leadership work and expanding the scale of his leadership and transformation of secondary school administrators. Dr. Davis also serves as an Adjunct Professor, board member on various educational and community organizations, guest speaker on school transformation and leadership; and, is a Visiting Committee Member of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)-an organization that accredits schools.
Ms. Ana Escobedo
Ana M. Escobedo is born and raised in Los Angeles and a proud product and professional of the Los Angeles Unified School District. She has served LAUSD as a professional for 24 years at the elementary school level. Ana started as a Teacher Assistant and worked her way up from there, teaching every grade level, kindergarten through fifth grade, then becoming a Coordinator, Assistant Principal and Principal. She has served as a mentor for several university credentialing programs and has served on several committees for LAUSD. Ana had the great honor of representing the LAUSD elementary principals when she served as President for the Elementary Principals Organization (EPO). She has served on EPO board for the last seven years. Ana became a Coach for the Summer Principals Academy at Teachers College, Columbia University in 2017 and enjoys supporting future Educational Administrators. Ms. Escobedo considers herself a lifelong learner, starting her education at the University of Southern California (USC) where she completed her Bachelors in Education, Multiple Subject Credential and Bilingual Credential. She continued at USC to complete her Masters in Education then went on to complete a second Masters in Educational Administration and Administrative Credential from California State University Los Angeles. Ana is also GATE Certified and has begun the coursework towards her Doctorate in Education.
Dr. Kathleen Grigsby
In many respects, Dr. Kathleen Grigsby’s fundamental underpinnings as an educator and desire to be an instructional leader are derived from many early experiences. As a child, she was reared in a household with two deaf parents. As a result of their disability, her parents were concerned about their ability to adequately provide the necessary resources and educational reinforcement that hearing parents could. Consequently, educational achievement and academic excellence constantly became a primary focus leading her in the desire to empower others to be lifelong learners. Dr. Grigsby believes educators must desire to teach and lead each child to his or her maximum potential through a whole child approach. Educators should balance the focus on academic achievement with an educational emphasis promoting long-term development and success of all children. The result of such an approach is each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Dr. Grigsby’s major community involvement includes serving as a commissioner on the governor and mayoral selected Better Together Commission for Jackson Public School District and three AdvancED Review Committees. In both roles, she partners with local citizens, area organizations and institutions, local and national education leaders and experts to help make decisions that positively impact all children. She led efforts to create educational transformation in schools by identifying assets and gaps with specific recommendations on what is needed to create suitable learning conditions for all children to prosper academically and socially. Dr. Grigsby’s greatest contribution and accomplishments while in the profession include being the first graduate from Mississippi College’s doctoral program and increasing the scores and accountability grade levels of the schools she served as principal and mentored. Dr. Grigsby is clear in her focus on student achievement. As principal at Marshall Elementary, she moved the school from an F rating to a C rating in three years. As principal at Davis Magnet, she has achieved top rankings in student proficiency every year. Of the many areas that helped Davis Magnet achieve an A rating accountability status, she is most proud of the growth of almost 100 points in 2017 leading to a number one ranking. During her leadership, Davis Magnet has received the 2018 PREPS Value Added Award in MAP Reading and Math, 2017 PREPS Value Added Award in MAP Math and the 2016 Highest Proficiency in MAP Reading. In 2015, the school also received the PREPS Value Added Award for ELA and Math. Not only does she provide opportunities for students to excel academically, she also solicits support from the staff and community to host enrichment activities after school including American Sign Language, Spanish, STEM, Girls on the Run, Golfing for Guys, Arts and Crafts, Basketball, Pep Squad, Drama, Tennis, Gardening, Desktop Publishing, Chess, Swimming, Ambassadors, and Beta Club. Dr. Grigsby personally teaches sign language classes and swim classes. She also volunteers her time as Murrah High School’s Swim Coach. Murrah is the only high school in Jackson Public Schools with a swim team. Recently, Dr. Grigsby was selected as Jackson Public School District’s Administrator of the Year and Mississippi Congressional District 2 Administrator of the Year. She has also been a Life Changer Award Nominee. Additionally, she has been nominated to the University of Mississippi School of Hall of Fame. She is the youngest person to be selected for this honor. Her personal philosophy of education and teaching, her community involvement, along with her contributions and accomplishments have changed the lives of many students and educators during her 20 years in the education profession.
Dr. Jerri Johnson
Dr. Jerri Johnson is currently the Principal/Director for the Normandy Early Childhood Center. Johnson most recently served as an Elementary Principal in the Riverview Gardens School District. She has also served as an Assistant Principal at the Imagine Academy of Environmental Science and Mathematics, and Communication Arts Supervisor with the St. Louis Public Schools. Dr. Johnson has held the positions of Instructional Coach, Reading Specialist and was a Classroom Teacher with the Normandy School District. She has also taught at the post-secondary level, serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Dr. Johnson earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Harris-Stowe State University in Elementary Education. She earned the following advanced degrees at the University of Missouri-St. Louis: Masters and Educational Specialist Degree in Educational Administration; along with a Doctorate Degree in Teaching and Learning. Dr. Johnson is a member of the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, International Literacy Association, and National Council of Social Studies.
Dr. Shakirah Miller-Harrington
Dr. Shakirah Harrington was born in Newark, NJ where she graduated from Hawkins Street Elementary School and earned a scholarship to attend Blair Academy, a prominent boarding high school in Blairstown, NJ, where she excelled in field hockey, basketball and track. She is a graduate of Rutgers University-Newark with a bachelor’s in Psychology. Because of her love of psychology, she attended Teachers College-Columbia University and earned a master’s in Applied Psychology. Dr. Harrington worked as a Substance Abuse Counselor for Straight and Narrow in Secaucus, NJ, where she provided individual and group counseling services for women and their families. Dr. Harrington’s professional career in teaching began in 1999 at Chestnut Hill Academy, an all-boys school, in Philadelphia. Her love for home brought her back to Newark to teach mathematics at Luis Munoz Marin Middle School. 4 Coupling her passion for mathematics and love for instilling in her students an appreciation and respect for the content, Dr. Harrington was motivated to earn her master’s in Administration and Supervision from St. Peter’s College while still a middle school mathematics teacher. She was then promoted to the position of Vice Principal at Newark’s Barringer High School and Rafael Hernandez Elementary School and in 2007 became principal of Miller Street School. After serving the community of Newark for 14 years, Dr. Harrington pursued and earned the position of principal at Mount Vernon Avenue Elementary School in Irvington, NJ. During this time, Dr. Harrington earned her Ed. D in Education Leadership from Teachers College-Columbia University. After eighteen months of serving the Mount Vernon Avenue community, she was promoted to the position of Interim Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Harrington's tenure with Irvington Public Schools ended after the interim position and she currently serves in the role as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction with Roselle Public Schools. Dr. Harrington serves as a Board member of The Wight Foundation, Inc., a non-profit foundation that provides scholarships to students to attend independent, boarding high schools and she is a member of Christian Love Baptist Church in Irvington, NJ. Dr. Harrington said her toughest but proudest job is being the mother of a set of seven-year-old twins, Brett and Zoey.
Dr. Lannie Milon
Lannie M. Milon Jr., holds a Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University in Education Leadership and brings with him nearly 2 decades of applicable urban and sub-urban education teaching, building leader, central office/ district leader administration and tier-one university educational leader & policy studies adjunct professor experience. His cutting-edge schools and districts reform work, teacher and leader coaching & development work and district-wide employee performance evaluation work of a 30, 000 employee district are each infused with interdisciplinary research informed by the cognitive sciences, economics, medicine, the humanities, and more. He has serviced in Atlanta, Kansas City, Houston, New Orleans and has extended supportive service in New York, Orlando, Tampa, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Louisville.
Ms. Elizabeth Ostberg
Ms. Ostberg developed The NET Charter High School in response to the high drop out rate in her beloved adopted city, New Orleans. She has lead the school as principal since it opened in 2011.
After teaching students who had dropped out of high school in Philadelphia, Ms. Ostberg moved to New Orleans to build the student support system for The New Orleans Charter Science & Mathematics High School. Subsequently she served as Director of Talent Management/HR for FirstLine Schools supporting them through their expansion from one to five schools over the course of three years.
She holds an MEd. from Harvard University with a focus on education in crisis zones. She is married to the best man in New Orleans and together they are raising too many cats and a dog.
Mr. Bobby Rollins has been an educator for 15 years, and six of those years have been in administration. He has degrees from Furman University in Educational Leadership (M.Ed) and Superintendency (Ed.S.), and his professional interests lie in early literacy, curriculum/instruction, and administration. He is preparing to make an exciting transition from public schools to a charter school in the upcoming year.
A native of Memphis, Tennessee and a graduate of Memphis City Schools, Brenda F. Thompson attended The University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Thompson received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Zoology with a minor in education from UT Knoxville. Upon graduation from UT Knoxville she spent several years as a Professional Sales Representative with Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages and as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative for Princeton Pharmaceutical Company a division of The Bristol Myers Squibb Company in Houston, Texas, Little Rock, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee. After moving back to Memphis, Ms. Thompson continued her sales career as a Medical Equipment Sales Representative for O’Brien Pharmaceuticals for 2 years before beginning her career in education. She is certified to teach and has taught General Science, Physical Science, Biology, Honors and AP Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Ms. Thompson received her Master of Science in School Administration Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Memphis becoming certified as a Professional Licensed K-12 Administrator for the State of Tennessee. After a total 7 years as a science classroom teacher for Memphis City and Shelby County School Systems, Ms. Thompson was chosen to become a high school principal. She has served as a middle and high school administrator for 20 years.
Dr. James “Jimmy” Zoll
James “Jimmy” Zoll currently serves at the principal of Johns Creek High School in Johns Creek, Georgia. He has been a principal in Fulton County Schools for twenty years beginning as principal of Title 1 schools in south Fulton County. In 2000, Jimmy was asked to move to a school that had experienced major upheaval due to the quick departure of the principal. Working with the staff to create professional learning communities and a focus on academic excellence, a new culture was created at the school. In 2004, Jimmy was given the opportunity to open a brand new elementary school in Johns Creek, Georgia. After seven years, the school became a great success even winning the Platinum Award from the Governor’s Office of Student Affairs, the highest award for student achievement. Jimmy began his career teaching social studies in middle school and thus chose to become a middle school principal before moving to the high school level. He believes that building strong school cultures that are true professional learning communities is the route to successful schools. He received his PhD from Mercer University and is an avid University of Georgia Bulldogs fan! Jimmy currently teaches classes for Kennesaw State University. His wife Laura is also a principal in Fulton County and they have two grown sons.