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2014 NOLA Cohort
From teaching Sunday school classes, to volunteering in various early childhood and middle school settings, Esther has always felt the draw of education. An internship experience with Breakthrough Long Island, formerly Summerbridge, as a student-teacher would lead her into the classroom. Breakthrough provided a summer of training, learning, workshop and grit that rooted her philosophy on education. Upon graduation from The University of Florida (B.A. Anthropology- 2004) Esther worked as a Program Assistant with Breakthrough. During her 5-year tenure with Breakthrough Long Island, she served as an Assistant Director, Co- Director and ultimately a Director of the academic enrichment program. While promoting and upholding the unique students teaching students framework of Breakthrough, she taught 8th grade Ethics, 7th grade World Cultures, coached and advised students at a Quaker independent school on Long Island. The same pull she originally felt to accept her participation in the education movement, motivated Esther to join her like-minded educators in New Orleans. These rich experiences led to Esther becoming a 2010 teachNOLA fellow. For two years following her fellowship, she taught 2nd grade as a founding teacher at a turn-around charter school before moving to her current position. She serves as a Team Leader, as well as an upper elementary teacher at a charter school in New Orleans. As an aspiring school leader, Esther is looking forward to using her experiences as a SPA NOLA graduate to create and foster a school climate of high intellectual curiosity, empathy, compassion and justice for all learners. The same pull she originally felt to accept her participation in the education movement, motivated Esther to join her like-minded educators in New Orleans. These rich experiences lead to Esther becoming a 2010 teachNOLA fellow. She taught 2nd grade as a founding teacher at a turn-around charter school and currently serves as a Team Leader, as well as a Literacy Teacher at Lusher Charter School. Esther is thrilled to join the 2014 SPA NOLA cohort and looking forward to shaping a culture of learners- in both teachers and students- this upcoming school year as a member.
Ruben Alonzo is a proud graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received a B.S. in Economics. After MIT, Ruben obtained an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education as a Harry S. Truman Scholar and specialized in Prevention Science and Practice. After five long years in Cambridge, he relocated to Pharr, Texas as a 2012 Teach For America corps member. Ruben is a founding teacher at IDEA Pharr College Preparatory and has served in multiple roles ranging from grade team leader to content leader. In his first year of teaching, Ruben and his students achieved a 98% passing rate on their STAAR Algebra I EOC (compared to a 78% state average). Ruben now serves as IDEA Pharr’s Assistant Principal of Instruction and coaches and develops the math department. In his continued pursuit of promoting educational excellence and youth empowerment, he will soon receive his Ed.M. in School Leadership from Columbia University.
Curry Andrews is a native of Atlanta, Georgia and the proud product of the Atlanta Public Schools System. After graduating from the University of Georgia in 2011 with a B.A. in Journalism, Curry was drawn to the idea of serving in schools like Atlanta’s where she had seen the disparities of public education first-hand. Curry joined Teach For America in St. Louis where she taught 8th grade science at Premier Charter School for two years. In her work with Principal Mike Schrimpf, Curry developed an interest in educational leadership. She was responsible for rewriting the 8th grade science curriculum incorporating elements of Common Core strands and Next Generation Science Standards. Curry also mentored fellow Corps Members as the Content Team Leader for middle school science. Curry returned to Atlanta in 2013 to become a founding 8th grade science teacher at KIPP Vision Academy (KVA) in Southeast Atlanta. While there, Curry served as a grade-level chair and a teacher-mentor for KIPP Metro Atlanta’s Teacher Fellows Program. She was also responsible for editing the 8th grade science regional curriculum and benchmark assessments. Next year, Curry will be the literacy coordinator at KVA where she will oversee curriculum implementation and coaching for all literacy teachers. Curry is thrilled to have gained invaluable knowledge from her time with SPA Nola and will to use it to propel her leading to new heights.
Alex is originally from Huntsville, Alabama and holds a B.S. in Secondary Education General Social Science from Auburn University and a M.A.T in Social Science Education from The University of West Alabama. Upon moving to Atlanta in 2010, Alex began her teaching career in the Cobb County School District where she taught primarily at risk freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Following this, Alex joined the faculty at Fulton Science Academy, a Blue Ribbon Award winning charter school in the Fulton County School District. While at Fulton Science Academy, Alex taught Talented and Gifted Georgia Studies, served as the co-advisor of the regionally and nationally acclaimed Model United Nations Team, and served as the English Language Arts Department Chair. Driven by her passion for transforming schools, Alex was invited in the spring of 2014 to attend a White House Social with Dr. Jill Biden, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and 19 fellow educators around the country to discuss education reform. Currently, Alex is on the faculty at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School in Atlanta, Georgia where she serves as The Head of 8th Grade, Social Studies Content Lead on the school’s Research and Development Team, and teaches 7th and 8th grade social studies. In addition to these roles, Alex serves on the Atlanta K-12 Design Challenge Team, a partnership with Atlanta area independent schools, Fulton County Schools, and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University (the d.School) charged with utilizing Design Thinking to innovate Atlanta’s schools.
Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Marquita Curry graduated from Northwestern University with a B.S. in Communications and African American Studies. She began her career in education with Teach For America in New Orleans as third grade teacher. Since then, she has served as both a teacher and a leader for elementary students throughout New Orleans. In 2011, the Louisiana Association of Teachers of Mathematics recognized Marquita as an Outstanding Elementary School Math Teacher. In 2012, Marquita transitioned into instructional leadership. She served as the Dean of Instruction at a charter school in New Orleans East, where she managed the upper elementary instructional program, coaching and supporting third-fifth grade teachers through various development methods. She has also served as a Corps Member Advisor and a School Director with the Teach For America Summer Institute in Atlanta, which prepares incoming corps members for their first year of teaching. Currently, Marquita works for ReNEW Charter Schools as a Network Instructional Coach and Curriculum Specialist. In addition to her position at ReNEW, she also serves as an Adjunct Instructor for Relay Graduate School of Education. Marquita is passionate about curriculum, instruction, and teacher development. She is looking forward to using her SPA education to become a leader who provides all students with a socially just and equitable education.
George D. Galindo, a Teach For America Alumnus, began his career in education in the Rio Grande Valley teaching 9th and 10th grade English II Pre-AP at IDEA College Preparatory Donna, the Flagship campus for IDEA Public Schools, a K-12 charter network preparing students from underserved communities for college and citizenship. After his first year of teaching, George became the 9th Grade Team Leader as well as the 9th Grade District Course Leader. In both roles, he supported his team of grade level and content teachers and ensured successful academic performance from all students in each subject area. In the fall of 2014, Galindo transitioned to Mercedes Early College Academy, or MECA, a secondary high school within the Mercedes Independent School District. At MECA, students can earn an associates degree in conjunction with their Texas High School Diploma and graduate under the Distinguished Achievement Program, Texas’ most rigorous graduation plan. In his first year with Mercedes ISD, Galindo was named the 2015 MECA Teacher of the Year and the Mercedes ISD District Teacher of the Year. George currently serves as the Secondary Curriculum Manager for English Language Arts for IDEA Public Schools and is charged to create curriculum and assessments that will lead all campuses in the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, and Austin to success on state, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate examinations.
Hailing from Wilmington, Delaware, Alice Goldsberry began her official teaching career as a 2007 Arkansas Delta corps member. She first became interested in becoming an educator during her undergraduate career, where she volunteered as an Algebra I tutor at Overbrook High School and as a summer intern at Belmont Charter School; both located in West Philadelphia, PA. After earning a B.A. in Political Science from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, Alice moved to Helena, Arkansas to teach at KIPP Delta College Preparatory School. Though she has taught each core subject within the middle school, Alice has primarily focused on mathematics instruction. This upcoming academic year, Alice will return to KIPP Delta as an Assistant Principal and will manage the school's science and social studies teachers. Upon completion of SPA NOLA programming, Alice will seek opportunities to become a middle or high school principal.
Onaje began working for after school programs tutoring Physics and all levels of mathematics while in undergrad. After he attained his B.S. in Physics with a minor in Mathematics from Xavier University, he had his formal entry to teaching with Teach for America in New Orleans. Mr. Harper then spent seven years teaching developmental mathematics at Brookhaven Community College in Dallas, two of those years serving as full time faculty, and obtain a M.S. in Higher Ed Instruction, from Texas A&M Commerce. Realizing that he still wanted to impact secondary education, Onaje returned to the high school classroom to teach Algebra II and AP Calculus and served as the Mathematics Department Chair. During this time, he expanded his areas of service with his work with the Urban League of Greater Dallas Young Professionals. In August of 2011, Onaje joined Uplift Education as the Pre-Calculus and AP Calculus teacher on the campus of Uplift Summit International Preparatory, in Arlington Texas. Over the past three years, Onaje has played a critical role in the creation and sustainability of his campus’ SAT/ACT program which has propelled the success of his campus. Mr. Harper’s work has significantly contributed to the school’s recognition on both The Washington Post’s, America’s Most Challenging High Schools List and Newsweek’s – Daily Beast, Nation’s Top 25 Transformational High Schools. In an effort to expand access to advanced placement courses across the curriculum on his campus, Mr. Harper took on the additional role of teaching AP Statistics which allowed every student on his campus to have the opportunity to take an advanced placement course in every content area during their high school career. Mr. Harper has spent his entire professional education career serving children who find themselves on [or coming from] a Title One campus. In the Fall of 2015, Onaje will begin his new role as a Dean. He will be tasked with the coaching and evaluation of eight mathematics and science teachers as well as shaping the student culture.
Haskel Harvey III graduated from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas with a degree in Biology. In 2010, he began working at YES Prep Public Schools – a charter school system in Houston, Texas with a mission to send 100 percent of the inner-city students it serves to college. Haskel began as a sixth grade Math instructor at YES Prep Bray Oaks Campus. The following year, Haskel became the grade level chair of the 6th grade; the year thereafter he began his tenure as the Dean of Students. Haskel is still serving as the Middle School Dean of Student and is responsible for discipline, programming, student interventions, and other initiatives that serve to build a campus culture that promotes student achievement. Haskel is excited to continue developing his educational leadership skills as an alumnus of Summer Principals Academy, Teachers College, Columbia University.
A native of Buffalo, Amanda Hestdalen earned her BA in Visual Arts from Wells College in Aurora, New York and her teacher certification from Our Lady of Holy Cross College in New Orleans. A former high school math teacher on the west bank of New Orleans, she is looking forward to beginning her new adventure in 3rd grade mathematics this fall. In addition, she has served as a new teacher mentor through the School Leadership Center, as well as a teacher-leader for the Louisiana Department of Education common core implementation. Amanda's area of focus is teaching mathematics to struggling studentsIn the future, she hopes to build a small charter school that allows students to work through a high school curriculum in self-paced modules using the "teacher-as-coach" model.
After earning a degree in Spanish and Sociology from the University of Kentucky, Rachel began teaching in New Orleans in fall of 2010 at Abramson Science and Technology Charter School. In her two years at Abramson she served as a 1st through 11th grade Spanish teacher, high school Algebra teacher, and instructional coach. She also was the positive behavior incentive coordinator for the school. In 2012 she began teaching Spanish and Algebra at KIPP Renaissance High School. The following year she transitioned into a new role at KRHS with the student support team, as RTI and transition coordinator and special education case manager. Next year she will continue serving students in New Orleans at ReNew Accelerated High School as a Special Education teacher. She aspires to be a school leader who creates pathways to success for students who are not on a traditional high school trajectory.
A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Courtney earned her B.A. in Political Science from Saint Martin’s University and her M.A.T through Western Governors University. In 2012, Courtney transitioned from working as a corporate trainer and adult development coordinator for Zappos to teaching public education at Thomas Nelson High School, in Bardstown, Kentucky. She has served in multiple leadership opportunities with a variety of demographics throughout her career as a corporate trainer, special education classroom paraeducator, and high school Social Studies teacher. Some of these leadership opportunities in public education include National Honors Society Sponsor, Kentucky Youth Assembly Sponsor, school community visioning, and literacy initiative committee. She currently works as a History PLC Leader and Social Studies teacher in Bardstown, KY where she lives out her passion of educating her students to develop their local, national, and global citizenship. Courtney is looking forward to the growth and collaboration that will be achieved through the progressive SPA NOLA program. She hopes to use the skills and knowledge from educators across the country to aid in her future endeavors as a school building leader.
Todd Hollett is from the rural setting of Jackson County, located a quick 20 minutes north of Athens, Georgia. He studied International Relations, focusing in Community Development, at the School of Public and International Affairs and was the fifth generation of his family to graduate from the University of Georgia. During his undergraduate studies, he received a Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant from the United States Department of Education, which enabled him to work in Fortaleza, Brazil, in the public school of CAIC as a technology teacher. Simultaneously, he studied Instructional Technology at the Universidade Federal de Ceara. After graduating from the University of Georgia, he taught 8th grade reading in the Rio Grande Valley with Teach For America. In 2010 Todd received a Fulbright-Hayes grant to study educational systems and reform in Tanzania and Rwanda. Currently, Todd works with the Clarke County School District as an Instructional Technology Specialist where he has lead the district’s 1:1 student learning device initiative. During his undergraduate studies, he received a Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant from the United States Department of Education, which enabled him to work in Fortaleza, Brazil, in the public school of CAIC as a technology teacher. Simultaneously, he studied Instructional Technology at the Universidade Federal de Ceara. After graduating from the University of Georgia, he was accepted into the nationally-renowned Teach For America program, which placed him in the Rio Grande Valley. There, he taught 8th grade reading. His dedication to closing the opportunity and achievement gap enabled his students to obtain the highest scores within the district during, with 96% passing the end-of-the-year state exams. In 2010 Todd received a Fulbright-Hayes grant to study educational systems and reform in Tanzania and Rwanda after which he hiked Mount Kilimanjaro. Currently, Todd works with the Clarke County School District as an Instructional Technology Specialist. This district leadership position allows him to continue working with students and teachers to close the high opportunity gap caused by the increasing levels of poverty in Clarke County.
An Indianapolis local, Luke attended Lawrence Central High School where he developed an interest in music, theater, and writing. Continuing those interests in college, Luke enrolled in Notre Dame’s “Great Books Program,” a course of study focused on classical literature and philosophy, and received his B.A. in 2012. Being exposed to thoughtful authors, lively discussions, and timeless ideas fostered a love of education. Luke turned this love into practice for the first time during the summer of his sophomore year when he taught 7th and 8th grade African immigrants in Buffalo, NY. After a mere three months in the classroom, the idea of teaching transformed from a potential prospect to an undeniable calling. Answering that call, Luke joined Teach For America back home in Indianapolis where he has spent the last two years teaching 7th and 8th grade Humanities at the Tindley Preparatory Academy, an all-boys charter school with an accelerated curriculum. His experience at Prep solidified his already firm belief that the yawning gap in education can, with hard work, be closed. Moving into a new role as Prep’s vice principal of academics, Luke is excited to create an academic culture that places a premium on rigor and student engagement. He plans to leverage the intense, collaborative learning experience at SPA NOLA to jettison Prep to new heights. Answering that call, Luke joined Teach For America back home in Indianapolis where he has spent the last two years teaching 7th and 8th grade Humanities at the Tindley Preparatory Academy, an all-boys charter school with an accelerated curriculum. His experience at Prep solidified his already firm belief that the yawning gap in education can, with hard work, be closed. Moving into a new role as Prep’s vice principal of academics, Luke is excited to create an academic culture that places a premium on rigor and student engagement. He plans to leverage the intense, collaborative learning experience at SPA NOLA to jettison Prep to new heights. On the weekends, Luke can be found reading about economics, listening to blues music, or butchering a recipe his mother recently emailed him.
Darin Lim Yankowitz
Darin is the Vice President of Recruitment People & Performance. In this position, he leads a 30-person central team that supports 180 field recruiters to find and enlist our nation’s most promising future leaders to join Teach For America by setting the vision and strategy for talent, learning and development, performance analytics, and finance and operations. Darin began his career in education with Teach For America in 2008 as a corps member at L.W. Higgins High School in Marrero, Louisiana. Outside of Teach For America, Darin designs and leads professional development for a local charter school on anti-racist education and how to redesign the school’s systems to create a more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and affirming space for students and adults
After earning her B.A. in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Washington University in St. Louis in 2010, Grace began her career in education as a member of the Teach for America charter corps in San Antonio, Texas. In San Antonio, Grace taught a self-contained, bilingual fourth grade class and led 100% of her students to pass the Texas state writing test. In addition to teaching, Grace served as the founder and faculty advisor to the elementary school’s student council and was a corps member advisor at Teach for America’s 2011 New York City Summer Institute. In 2012, Grace moved to Austin to become a founding teacher at IDEA Allan College Preparatory. She taught sixth and seventh grade English Language Arts and served as a grade team leader and content leader for two years. 92% of her seventh graders passed the 2014 Reading STAAR and 32% earned a commended score, making IDEA Allan the #1 IDEA campus in Central Texas. In 2014, Grace moved to San Diego, CA, where she currently teaches fifth grade at a project-based learning school called High Tech Elementary Chula Vista.
Originally from Paramus, New Jersey, Sharon graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from Johns Hopkins University in 2008. After graduation, she moved to New Orleans as a Teach For America corps member. For two years, she taught in Jefferson Parish Public Schools, and in 2010 joined the team at KIPP Central City Primary. For the past five years, she has taught Kindergarten and has been fortunate enough to receive many leadership opportunities, including teacher coaching, curriculum development, and school-wide systems planning. Sharon is passionate about rigorous and holistic early childhood education, and hopes to develop her own leadership skills to better support her team, her students, and the city of New Orleans.
Amanda received her M.S. in Special Education from Florida State University in 2008. She began her career in education in 2006, working with students with emotional, social, and behavioral needs. Since then, she has worked with children in Pre-K-8th grade with varying needs and exceptionalities. She currently provides instruction and support for Pre-K students receiving special education services in the community. She assists teachers with classroom management, accommodations, teaching strategies, and developmentally appropriate practices. She serves as a Child and Youth Advocacy Coordinator for Florida’s Council for Exceptional Children, advancing FCEC policies, and advocating for students with disabilities and gifts and talents. She has worked on several district, state, and national projects related to providing access to standards and curriculum for students with disabilities.
Mr. Mufuka is a graduate from Emory University in Atlanta Georgia. Immediately upon graduating college, he was commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. During his time in the military, he has served as an Infantry Officer and International Affairs Officer, spending a majority of his career overseas. As part of his professional development, he attended several institutions of higher learning, earning a Master’s degree in Religious Studies (East Asian) at Columbia University, an MBA in International Business from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Master of Commerce from Macquarie University in Australia. Upon leaving active duty Mr. Mufuka began his career as a Social studies teacher in South Miami. Mr. Mufuka credits the time spent abroad with cultivating in him a unique perspective on the ideas, beliefs and events that shape the world. He believes that this knowledge is best shared with the next generation of leaders within our society.
Amanda Parker is from Atlanta, GA where she earned her B.A. in Sociology from Georgia State University. She worked as a manager at an internet company in Atlanta for four years. In 2009, her career took a big and unexpected turn when she joined Teach for America. She taught special education in an inner city high school in southeast Washington D.C. During her time in D.C., she earned her M.Ed in special education from George Mason University. Upon returning to Atlanta following her time in Teach for America, she began teaching middle and high school math at the first school in the country devoted solely to refugee education. At the Fugees Academy, Amanda served as head of the math department where she developed a very unique and differentiated middle school math curriculum, interviewed and coached teachers, and managed a new teacher mentoring program. Amanda has also served as an instructional coach and Special Education Department Chair at an alternative high school in College Park, GA. Currently, Amanda is preparing to transition into a principal role in Memphis, TN as a Ryan Fellow. She is completing her fellowship year at the The Soulsville Charter School in Memphis.
Lakeesha Ramdhanie began her career in education as a founding kindergarten teacher at KIPP SPARK Academy in Newark, the first elementary school of the KIPP New Jersey region. There, she taught kindergarten for three years and served as Saturday School Coordinator. Originally from the Bronx, New York, Lakeesha was thrilled to begin her career serving her regional community where she gained her initial interest in becoming an educator.
In 2012, Lakeesha was afforded the opportunity to pursue a leadership role as founding Lower School Dean at KIPP STRIVE Primary (KSP), where she helped establish Atlanta’s first KIPP elementary school. Lakeesha had come to know and love Atlanta, Georgia, by way of her time at Spelman College, where she earned a B.A. in Psychology in 2009.
During her first year at KSP, Lakeesha was granted the opportunity to participate in the KIPP School Leadership Program in the Teacher Leader strand. Under her instructional leadership, KSP has earned designation as top performers in both math and reading on the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment for three consecutive years.
As a firm believer in continuous learning and self-improvement, Lakeesha earned her M.A in Organizational Leadership from Columbia University’s, Summer Principal’s Academy at Teachers College. In addition to this recent accomplishment, Lakeesha was named Assistant Principal of the Year for the Atlanta Public School District. Lakeesha attributes these successes to her commitment to education and mission to serve her community. Next year, Lakeesha will continue her leadership journey as principal of KIPP STRIVE Primary school. When not serving her scholars at KSP, Lakeesha spends time with her family, shops, and tries new restaurants.
Jennifer is originally from North Brunswick, NJ. Jennifer received her B.S. in Journalism from the University of Florida. After graduation, she returned to New Jersey where she spent a summer as a grant writer for a non-profit organization dedicated to combating childhood obesity. Jennifer began her career in education as a 2010 Teach for America Corps member in Phoenix, Arizona, where she taught both first and third grade. During this time, she earned her master’s degree in elementary education from Arizona State University. Jennifer stayed in her placement school for an additional year, then relocated to Minnesota, where she became a founding lead teacher of a charter school on the west side of St. Paul. The following year, Jennifer moved into an academic specialist position at Northpoint Elementary, a public school in Blaine, Minnesota. In this K-3 school, she was able to work with students across campuses, and finished the year stepping into the Dean of Students role. Jennifer will continue her work in elementary education as she relocates to Brooklyn in the Fall of 2015.
Lillian earned a B.A. in Psychology and English from University of California at Berkeley in 2010. Lillian began exploring education during college, working as an assistant teacher in the Berkeley Early Childhood Education center, volunteering at a high-need elementary school in Oakland with ESL learners, and teaching a documentary film course in the UC Berkeley Social Welfare department. These teaching experiences inspired her to apply to Teach for America, and she spent four years teaching 8th grade mathematics and Algebra 1 at a high-need traditional public school in St. Bernard parish. Lillian has written the 8th grade mathematics curriculum for St. Bernard parish for the past five years, has served on the district curriculum leadership team during those three years, is on the leadership team for the Math Design Collaborative in Louisiana, which is a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded program, and won Teacher of the Year in 2013. She had the highest mathematics scores for 8th grade students in her district for each year that she taught. In 2014, she was invited to attend a roundtable with Melinda Gates and nine other educational leaders to discuss education reform in the United State. She also wrote the 8th grade mathematics curriculum for TFA’s 2012 Atlanta Institute and worked as an instructional coach for incoming corps members. She served as the curriculum team leader for the greater New Orleans area Teach for America 8th grade mathematics corps members. Currently Lillian is an instructional coach and RTI director supporting all teachers and curriculum in a middle school in the greater New Orleans area.
Angela graduated from Penn State University in fall 2009 with a B.A. in Communications and a minor in Psychology. In 2010, she joined Teach for America in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she taught pre-kindergarten at a Head Start program for two years. During her second year, she worked for national CMO Lighthouse Academies as a founding associate of Tulsa Lighthouse Charter School. Angela then taught 1st grade at Tulsa Lighthouse as a founding teacher, achieving significant growth with her students and working with fellow teachers and instructional leaders to make the school one of the best in the Tulsa area during its founding year. Angela went on to found Lighthouse's Oklahoma City campus, working on staff and student recruitment, fundraising, school board logistics, and planning for the school's opening in August 2016. Currently, Angela teaches middle school reading and writing at KIPP: Reach in Oklahoma City. Angela firmly believes in educational equity for all children, and that solid teaching and leadership is the pathway.
B.A in History from Mars Hill College in 2011. Greg is from Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. After playing four years of college baseball, Greg joined Teach For America as part of the 2011 South Carolina Charter Corps. The past three years, Greg has taught eighth grade South Carolina History and reading enrichment courses at W.J. Clark Middle School in Orangeburg, South Carolina. At Clark Middle, Greg has founded and served as the head coach of the baseball team. He has also started Odyssey of the Mind and served as the school coordinator. During that time, Greg has taken students to the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. As a corps member, Greg earned his M. Ed. from Francis Marion University in 2013. In the 2014-2015 school-year, Greg served as a Manager, Teacher Leadership Development for Teach For America-South Carolina. Next year, he is moving to Indianapolis where he will teach fifth grade social studies and serve as the Assessment Coordinator for KIPP Indy College Prep Middle.
David Spencer graduated with a B.S. in Political Science and Journalism from Texas Christian University and immediately joined Teach for America as a 2008 Houston corps member. David taught 6th grade math at Fondren Middle School and 6th through 8th grade math at YES Prep Brays Oaks. Following his corps experience, he attended Andrews University where he earned an M.A. in Youth and Young Adult Ministry while also managing middle and high school ministries geared toward inner-city youth through Young Life in Benton Harbor, MI. Currently, David serves as the Senior Director of Learning for By The Hand Club For Kids, a faith-based not-for-profit with the targeted vision of helping kids in critical need of intervention have abundant life through the program’s holistic approach. Currently, David is the Director of Blended Learning for Moving Everest charter school in Chicago, IL.
Jamal is a proud native of Arnaudville, Louisiana. He is a proud member of the Jaguar Nation (Southern University) where he received B.A. in History. He subsequently attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he earned a Masters of Arts in Teaching with a specific in special education. Jamal Taylor began his career has spanned the English, Special Education, and a data management role. He subsequently completed a principal internship in the Acadian community. He is currently one of seven individuals that received the highly competitive Louisiana Believe and Succeed Grant. The Believe and Succeed grant program provides New School Development grants to individuals who satisfy two sets of criteria. Grant recipients must be able to articulate a vision for a new school that will serve students who currently attend failing schools, and they must have identified and gained admittance to specific training programs that will prepare them to achieve their vision. Jamal is currently completing his application and is anticipating opening a school during the 2017 school year.
After graduating from Ohio University Cherrelle Turner began her career as an educator in Washington D.C. While in Washington D.C. she taught grades K-2 and earned a Master’s degree in special education from George Mason University. Turner later moved to Japan (her country of birth) where she taught English to students (grades 1- 8), lead a cluster of 21 teachers, and devised the professional development plan for all incoming English teachers in the city of Kobe.
Upon her return to the United States, she sought to serve in a place where the need for improving the academic climate was undeniable. She decided upon the fruitful and resilient city of New Orleans. With Firstline Schools, New Orleans first post- Katrina charter management organization, Turner simultaneously managed behavioral and academic interventions as well as instructional coaching. During this time Turner earned a second Master’s degree from SPA NOLA, Columbia University, Teachers College.
Turner returned to her family’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio and spent an entire year planning for the opening of EPrep & Village Prep Willard, Breakthrough Schools' newest K-8 campus. She is committed to serving the children and families of the city as the founding principal of the school and believes that education is an essential tool for addressing the multi-faceted challenge of creating choice for those with a muffled voice.
Originally from Lynn, MA, Chris received his B.A. from Columbia University. There, he worked both as a private tutor and an after school program coordinator through the America Reads program. He cared for each of the students he worked with equally, but was acutely aware of the disparity in access to opportunity between his students at the Grant Houses living project and their more affluent peers. After graduating, he moved to New Orleans to serve as a 2009, Greater New Orleans Teach For America corps member. There he taught 5th-8th grade science at Einstein Charter School and created a rigorous and robust science fair program where each of the school’s 200 middle school students completed a project judged on the INTEL science fair rubric. Following his three years at Einstein, Chris has worked for Teach For America as a Manager and Director of Teacher-Leadership Development to coach, mentor, and develop teachers as well as coaches to be both great instructional leaders as well as life-long advocates for our children in low-income communities. He has also has served at the Teach For America Atlanta Summer Institute as a Corps Member Advisor twice, as well as a School Director. As a part of the 2014 SPA Nola cohort, Chris is excited to build relationships and learn more about visionary school building leadership.
Neval earned her B.A. in Political Science at Loyola University of New Orleans in 2008. She stayed in New Orleans and began her career teaching as a founding 9th and 10th grade English teacher at International High School of New Orleans. She also worked as the International Baccalaureate Program Coordinator and collaborated with a team of 8 teachers to implement the program within her school. Neval then transitioned to working in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates where she worked as a department head for both the English and social studies departments and was responsible for curriculum and assessment. She facilitated exploring and teaching the common core state standards with a team of teachers from countries throughout the world including South Africa, New Zealand, and England. After returning to New Orleans, Neval taught at KIPP Renaissance high school where she served as founding 12th grade teacher to the first graduating class. She now works for Celerity Educational Group as a training administrator and curriculum specialist to support K-8 teachers with planning, curriculum, data analysis, and assessment.
Emily L. Waterfield is currently the Director of Student Support Services for the KIPP New Orleans Schools charter network in New Orleans, LA. In this position, she leads intervention services, special education, ESOL programming, health and mental health services, to deliver on the vision of KIPP New Orleans being a network that provides a high quality education for all students to pursue college and career success and lead happy, healthy, independent lives. She began her career in education as a special educator teaching middle and high school students with special needs in Charlottesville, Virginia and Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. In addition to teaching, Emily worked at Teach For America for four years managing their team of instructional and leadership coaches as well as directly supporting and coaching teachers across five parishes in Southeast Louisiana. As an advocate for students and families, Emily has served as board member and Vice-President of the New Orleans Charter School Foundation, which led McDonogh City Park Academy from being a Failing school to a “C” rated school in just two years. Emily graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in African-American Studies and Politics.
Stacia Wegner Comer
Stacia Wegner Comer graduated in 2007 from the University of Texas with a B.S. in Communication Studies. After college, she joined the Teach For America Rio Grande Valley corps and began teaching ninth grade English and yearbook in La Joya, TX. Later, she joined IDEA San Juan as a founding teacher, grade team leader, and yearbook sponsor. With over seven years of experience, Stacia is now back teaching in her hometown of Austin, TX at Eastside Memorial High School. Here she works in multiple roles as an English teacher, department chair, and instructional coach. As a member of the SPA NOLA 2014 cohort, Stacia is looking forward to collaborating with others to strengthen her leadership skill set, so she can one day become a school leader in her community.
Alicia attended Trinity University and graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and History. Upon graduation, she moved to Baltimore, Maryland and taught middle school Social Studies in the Baltimore City Public School System through Teach For America. During those years, she graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a Masters in Teaching. Then, life took her to Okinawa, Japan for three years. Upon her return to the United States, she began working for a start-up online school in the Charter School District of South Carolina. Provost Academy serves any student in the state of South Carolina that wants or needs a different kind of education, one that is received at home, through the internet. Alicia has enjoyed working at Provost Academy for the last seven years, teaching every Social Studies class imaginable, developing curriculum, and serving as department head for the last three school years. Since taking over teaching the American History course, she has raised the End-of-Course Exam scores from a school average of 45% in 2011 to an average of 75% in 2015. In October of 2015, she is set to earn her Ed.M. in Educational Leadership from Columbia University.
Emily L. Waterfield graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in African-American Studies in Politics. She began her career in education as a special educator teaching middle and high school students with special needs in Charlottesville, Virginia and Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. In 2006, she was the Greater New Orleans recipient of the Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teaching award. Emily worked at Teach For America for four years managing their team of instructional and leadership coaches as well as providing professional development and coaching to teachers across five parishes in Southeast Louisiana. Emily went on to serve as Director of Student Support Services at KIPP New Orleans Schools, building out their special education and clinical services model. Currently, Emily is the Executive Director of Student Support Services at ReNEW Charter Schools, a network of open-enrollment public charter schools serving students from ages 3 through 22. As an advocate for students and families, Emily serves as board Vice-President of the New Orleans Charter School Foundation, which led McDonogh City Park Academy from being a Failing school to a “C” rated school in just two years. In her free time Emily enjoys gardening and volunteering.