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Vanessa Acevado is the International Studies Coordinator at DCIS at Fairmont. Previously she taught early childhood education ELA-S/E in the Denver Public Schools at Cole Arts and Science Academy. During her time at Cole she served as team leader of the ECE, K and First grade team, facilitated professional development for teachers around culturally responsive pedagogy, served as a peer observer for the school’s LEAP roll out and was a member of a DPS pilot program that worked on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.
Aaron Aguirre-Castillo is a 9th grade Geometry teacher at Uplift Heights Preparatory in Dallas, TX. He serves as an instructional coach for first year teachers and as the 9th grade team leader. Previously, he was at Oscar Dean Wyatt High School in Fort Worth, TX where he began his career in education as a 2011 Teach For America corps member. He taught Geometry, Algebra II and AP Statistics while serving in multiple roles including Geometry Specialist, First Year Mentor, Diversity Initiatives Coordinator, and Senior Sponsor. All these opportunities inspired his desire to pursue school leadership, committing his efforts to learning and implementing the skills and competencies necessary to lead our country's high needs schools. Aaron’s goals are to learn from other educator’s experiences, and together, build on the framework and research provided by SPA to elaborate our understanding of leadership effectiveness.
Karen Ahn is the Founding Dean of Teaching and Learning at University YES Academy Elementary School. University YES Academy Elementary School is a public charter school in the west side of Detroit, MI. Karen has served as a founding instructional leader during her time at University YES. She received a B.A. from the University of Washington in 2010, and is a Teach for America, Detroit alumna. Karen is looking forward to working with and learning from other passionate leaders, and putting these ideas to action in Detroit.
Isabella Anderson teaches Fifth Grade at Bruce Vento Elementary School on the east side of Saint Paul, MN. Bruce Vento serves a highly diverse population of students, with 64% of the students being multilingual and 96% free and reduced lunch. Isabella is currently serving on the School Leadership Team at Bruce Vento where she helps make school wide decisions regarding budgeting, Professional Development, and guiding instructional practices using the lens of equity for the success of all students. Previously, Isabella worked for Eden Prairie Schools where she was lead of her grade level Professional Learning Community, was a founding member of the School Equity Team, a mentor for new teachers, and a member of the District Equity Leadership Team Advisory Board. Isabella aspires to become a principal in a school committed to racial equity and hopes to help change academic practices to become more focused on the success of all students.
Ashley Baker is a Humanities Instructor and Curriculum Coach. She will be completing her Administrative Internship at Bard High School Early College, a public high school through which students earn both a NY State Regents Diploma and an Associate of Arts degree. Previously, Ashley was as a founding instructor and teacher trainer at Year Up - Silicon Valley, a workforce development program which prepares under-resourced young adults for technical careers in Fortune 500 Companies such as Facebook, Google, eBay and JPMorgan Chase. As a founding community leader and Chairperson of the Diversity and Cultural Competency Committee, Ashley developed protocols and trainings which encourage open dialogue, meaningful feedback and community accountability. Ashley aspires to collaborate with forward-thinking educators who are eager to create a model of 21st Century skill-based learning.
Colleen Berry Taylor
Colleen Berry-Taylor is a 3rd/4th grade teacher at Jordan Elementary, a Title I school in Orange, California, where many of the students are English Language Learners. Colleen is grade level leader for fourth grade and has served as the teacher liaison for the ASES after school program, on the School Site Council and the District Curriculum Council, and is a member of the Instructional Leadership Team. Colleen was selected to be a representative on the Common Core Transition Team, where she was responsible for implementing strategies aligned to the Common Core Standards, as well as providing professional development to the staff. Colleen aspires to be a leader in an urban school environment where she can foster growth from both students and teachers while making gains in student achievement.
Cecilia Xie Birge is a Title One Teacher of mathematics at Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, New Jersey. She successfully piloted the Math180 program in her current school in which students who have demonstrated difficulty with math achievement in the past learn it through technologically based motivational activities. She is also collaborating with her colleagues to streamline and strengthen the algebra curriculum to help propel students who struggle with math to the path of college and career readiness. Previously, Cecilia worked as a bond analyst on Wall Street. She is also the first Asian American woman elected as mayor in New Jersey. She hopes to lead an innovative green school in under performing school district in the future.
Sharifa teaches Spanish for grades 9-12 at the Charles A Tindley Accelerated School one of the highest performing urban charter schools in the nation and Blue Ribbon recipient from the United States Department of Education. In this position she has written curriculum for Spanish levels 1-3 and served as the Foreign Language Department Head since the schools inception. Upon completion of Summer Principal Academy, she aspires to gain training in effective school leadership to continue transforming urban public schools.
Charlie Bull is a founding staff member and 6th grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at DECA PREP—a college minded charter school in Dayton, Ohio. He has held a number of leadership positions including serving on the School Wide Leadership and Innovation Team, New School Start Up Team, Candidate Interview Team, and acting as the 6th Grade Team Leader. Prior to opening DECA PREP, he taught 7th and 8th grade at the Dayton Early College Academy—a partner high school to DECA PREP. Charlie aspires to assume an administrative role in creating a network of joyful yet rigorous DECA charter schools that offer real alternatives and hope to the children and families in the Dayton community.
Deloreon Burton teaches 6th Grade Social Studies at Frederick Law Olmsted Academy North, an all-male Title One school in Louisville, Kentucky. Deloreon has taught on advanced placement, exceptional child education, and English language learners team while at Olmsted Academy North. At Olmsted Academy North, Deloreon has served as team leader, chairman of the Parent Involvement Committee, and teacher representative on the School Based Decision Making Council, the governing body of the school. His goal is to become a principal in an urban environment and ensure students from all backgrounds are college and career ready.
Cory L. Cain
Cory L. Cain teaches 11th and 12th grade Biology, Physics, and Engineering at Urban Prep Charter Academy – Englewood, the United States' first all-male public charter high school, that serves boys in underserved African-American communities. In this position he has focused on communicative approaches to teacher-led professional development, cooperative learning, and data-driven instructive practices and has led the science department to record ACT scores. Previously, he led a teacher-led hiring initiative, he created, based on behavior-based interviewing, developed Yale-based, social emotional training classes for teachers and has spent the last few years on the Instructional leadership team. He aspires to learn what it takes to participate in a team that works together to run a high-performing school, particularly while learn top-notched practices while at Columbia.
Ben Carter coordinates extended learning opportunities at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. In this position he provides students with opportunities to learn outside of traditional classroom methodologies through participation in rigorous, relevant, personalized, business-partner experiences. Previously, Ben served at a School Improvement Specialist at the Indiana Department of Education and as a high school Algebra teacher at Arsenal Technical High School. He aspires to become a principal at an Indianapolis area school.
Joy Clarke is the founding 9th grade English teacher at Power Center Academy High School, a charter school in the Hickory Hill neighborhood of Memphis, Tennessee, which provides an academically rigorous learning environment with a business and entrepreneurship focus. As Lead Teacher and Content Area Leader, Joy supports a diverse group of teachers at all stages of their teaching career. She is excited to hone her talents as an educator and leader with like-minded and innovative peers at SPA. One day, Joy hopes that she will be a school leader who inspires teachers and students alike to be life-long learners.
Lane teaches 2nd grade at Tulsa Lighthouse Charter School - an arts-infusion school that serves students across the Tulsa area, 95% of whom qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch. Lane was a member of the transition team that helped open Tulsa Lighthouse Charter School in the 2012-2013 school year before becoming a founding teacher, is a member of the hiring committee, attends operations and budget meetings, and gives feedback on lesson plans and observes other teachers. Previously, she taught Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten with Tulsa Public Schools as a Teach for America Corps Member. Lane is looking forward to developing and leading adults in a way that ensures student achievement and wants to be a principal of an elementary school.
Jess Cleveland serves as a Science Department Chair, Instructional Coach, and 12th grade science teacher at KIPP Denver Collegiate High School. KIPP Denver Collegiate, a high school serving students and families in Southwest Denver, is a team and family that works passionately toward their mission of ensuring that all students are supported in going to and through college. Through her unique role, Jess has been able to help drive school priorities and vision within her department while simultaneously partnering with teachers to drive inquiry-based instruction and vertically aligned common core shifts within classrooms. Jess aspires to assume an administrative role where she can continue to support the development of passionate learning environments and rigorous instruction that will provide the space to promote equity for all students.
Molly Coyne is a Manager, Teacher Leadership Development with Teach For America - Eastern North Carolina. She coaches first and second year teachers in three rural counties, designs and facilitates professional development, and partners with principals to accelerate student outcomes. Molly previously taught fourth and fifth grade and coached teachers in Colorado. As a school leader, she intends to drive toward equity for all students through a rigorous and relevant education.
Vanessa Cuarenta is a 1st grade dual-language teacher at Rosemont Elementary, a PK-5th grade school which serves a largely low-income community of 600 students in Fort Worth, Texas. Vanessa also serves as grade level chair and established the 1st grade after school tutoring program targeting emerging readers. Additionally, her students earned the Istation Reading Award 2012 for the highest Tier 3 reading growth in the Fort Worth and Dallas Independent School Districts. Vanessa wants to lead an elementary urban school to success by ensuring that all students exit performing on or above grade level allowing students to develop alongside with their teachers and families various pathways to success.
Allie DeRosa teaches Spanish to eighth grade students at KIPP Ujima Village Academy in Baltimore, Maryland, a charter school whose mission is to lead students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and a diversity of skill levels to attend and succeed in four-year colleges. Allie is responsible for bridging the gap between middle and high school foreign language and is charged with creating and implementing a curriculum that will allow students to receive high school foreign language credits while still in middle school. For the past three years, Allie taught Spanish levels I, II and Honors Spanish III at Patterson High School, a public high school in Baltimore City. While working at Patterson, she also co-chaired the School Family Council in an effort to further link the school community with the community beyond Patterson. Allie aspires to become a leader of a community school that meets all of the needs of its students while its students give back to the community.
Jonathan Dionisio Peña
Jonathan Dionisio Peña teaches 5th grade Dual-Language at Seminary Hills Park Elementary School, a school that serves a population that is 85% Hispanic and 93% of the students receive free or reduced lunch. Mr. Peña has led his students to an average 2.5 years growth in English reading levels and has had 90% of his students apply and gain admission into highly selective magnet schools. He also serves on the district-employee relations committee, site-based decision making team, and parent-teacher association. Previously, Mr. Peña worked in Washington D.C at the Latin American Youth Center, teaching G.E.D. and English as a Second Language courses in the evening and prepared briefs as an assistant at the United States Department of State, Department of Western Hemisphere Affairs during the day. As a member of the 2014 SPA cohort, Mr. Peña hopes to gain the tools necessary to continue to empower students, teachers, and entire communities to overcome all obstacles and become successful.
Philip Dong Woo Kang
Philip Dong Woo Kang teaches 6th grade English at Downtown College Prep, a school that serves the community of East San Jose, California. Phil has served as the chairperson of the School Site Council and is currently the lead for independent study projects. He is also the cross-country, basketball, and soccer coach. He looks forward to collaborating with like-minded and passionate educators and aspires to be a school leader that empowers the community he serves.
Kiara Drummond currently works as a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development for Teach For America Jacksonville. Her work expands into four schools throughout the North side of the Jacksonville community. In this position she has the opportunity to work with over 30 first and second year teachers in various content areas to assist in their development both in and outside of the classroom. Previously, she taught 6th grade English Language Arts at DuPont Middle School in Jacksonville, FL. She aspires to gain a plethora of professional development with the SPA program this summer and to continue to sharpen her leadership skills in order to continue shaping the young minds of our youth.
Brian Ellis teaches Math at First Coast High School, a 9-12 school which serves a largely low-income community of 2400 students in Jacksonville, Florida. As the Algebra I Team Leader, he has played an active role in the creation and execution of lessons designed for remediation while maintaining grade level rigor and has been observed as a model teacher for both the school and district. He is active in the schools National Honor Society, and has been a Basketball coach at the school for the past three years. Brian aspires to become a principal in a Duval County public school in Jacksonville.
Christina Estrada is an Assistant Principal at IDEA College Preparatory in Donna, Texas, an open enrollment charter school that is rewriting the story of underprivileged communities in South Texas. Christina oversees culture and discipline for the middle school and manages the Humanities and Art departments. Before she was an Assistant Principal, Christina taught 8th grade U.S. History at IDEA College Preparatory, where she led her district in the percentage of students passing their state exam. Although she may have several roles as an Assistant Principal, Christina’s main goal is to ensure that 100% of IDEA College Preparatory students matriculate into a four-year college or university. Christina aspires to become a principal in South Texas and help Latinos not only obtain college degrees, but also give back to their communities and become leaders in society.
Nicola Evans teaches all subjects in an ICT 5th grade classroom at PS41 in the Bronx, NY. PS 41 is an elementary school that serves a multicultural community whose mantra is “Believe and Achieve”. In this position Nicola has served in multiple leadership roles such as Advance teacher leader, Data Core leader, and Professional Learning community leader, serving as a liaison to schools aides and teachers alike. As a member of the 2014 SPA NYC cohort, Nicola aspires to work collaboratively with others of diverse backgrounds and viewpoints to grow into the servant-leader she knows will be necessary to lead teachers and students into the future.
Joanna Fuller is presently working as a Coordinator at Colegio Bilingue Amilat, a K-9 school in San Salvador, El Salvador. The school is associated with a non-profit orphanage housing over 60 Salvadorian children without parents or capable parents, who receive more than just academics from Ms. Fuller; she lives with, eats with, cooks with, mentors the children after school and on weekends. Previously, Ms. Fuller taught Algebra 1 and Geometry teacher at Audubon Middle School in Los Angeles, California and after two years, she became the Mathematics department chair and support teacher for new educators at her site. Ms. Fuller aspires to become a principal who can lead a team of professionals holistically, setting data-driven goals, developing a culturally-responsive program that produces student success.
Ryan Gassaway is Dean of Student Culture at Coney Island Prep, a wonderfully diverse school in Brooklyn that reaches a population of 23% students with special needs and 75% recipients of free or reduced lunch. As a founding staff member at Coney Island Prep, Ryan has helped drive the evolution of instruction and overall school culture. He’s coached the school to increase consistency and fairness in the management of student culture and pushed the development of strong writing skills through his leadership of the social studies team. He aims to become the principal of an excellent public school that prepares students from low-income backgrounds to succeed in the college and career of their choice.
Theodosia Goddard is an 8th grade teacher at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, a priority school, in Temple Hills, MD. In addition to her classroom teaching, Theodosia serves on the Leadership Team, she leads the Teachers Union Faculty Advisory Council, she serves as 8th grade team lead, and heads the Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) program at her school. Theodosia looks forward to leading a school in a low-income community that not only achieves academically but serves at a catalyst for transforming the trajectory of what is possible for students and families.
Nicole Grandinetti is a founding 3rd grade teacher at Achievement First Bridgeport Academy, a public charter school in Bridgeport, CT. In this position, Nicole works as the 3rd grade Lead Writing Planner to create rigorous lesson plans and conduct student data analysis. She also works as a Writing Course Lead for the Achievement First network to develop curriculum and instructional materials. Before coming to Achievement First, Nicole was a Teach For America Corps Member at Carver Elementary School in Indianola, Mississippi. Nicole is thrilled to learn from and with her SPA cohort to become a strong school leader.
Rachel Green Sharpe
Rachel serves as a Reading Specialist and member of the Instructional Leadership Team at Emmerich Manual High School, a Title I turnaround academy in Indianapolis, Indiana. In this position she teaches reading intervention classes, coaches teachers on classroom culture and instruction, provides regular professional development, and supports the creation and implementation of school-wide academic initiatives. Prior to this role, Rachel served as the Manager of Curriculum for a charter school network in Dallas, Texas serving primarily low-income students where she oversaw implementation of the International Baccalaureate program in grades K-12 and drove the creation of common assessments. One day Rachel hopes to lead a school in Indianapolis that provides all students with an excellent education regardless of background and creates engaged and informed citizens of our global community.
Jovana Hackman teaches the 6th Grade SOS Transition Course at Northwestern Middle School that serves urban youth. In this position she teaches a character education pilot course that instructs students in life skills, decision making, and how to make a successful transition from elementary to middle school. She was also the team lead for Duval County Public School Curriculum and Assessment Writing Team for two years, where she helped develop the curriculum for the 6th Grade SOS Transition Course that she is currently teaching. Previously she taught 3rd grade ELA, at Carter G. Woodson elementary school and served as the team lead. Jovana aspires to become a school leader in an urban environment that has a student-centered culture with high expectations, accountability, and professional development.
Kara Hafner is a 6th Grade ELA/History Teacher and team leader at Allen at Steinbeck K-8, a diverse Title 1 school community of over 900 students. In addition to her classroom teaching, Kara serves on the revision team for the Common Core Standards units within the district, as PTA Secretary, and as a Teach for America collaborative leader. She’s looking forward to engaging with a likeminded, passionate group of educators and continuing to examine her craft on a deep, intellectual level. She looks forward to becoming a consulting teacher before moving directly into school leadership.
Blake Hammond teaches 4th grade at Harrington Elementary School in Denver Public Schools, a district that serves over 87,000 students and is the fastest growing urban district in terms of enrollment. He also serves in a Differentiated Teacher Leader role that provides fellow teachers with the opportunity to receive more feedback to support their ongoing instructional development. Blake joined Teach For America in 2009 as a corps member in Greenwood, Miss., where he helped lead the transformational change of an elementary school. Following his Teach For America experience, Blake returned to his alma mater, Colorado College, to work as an Assistant Director of Admissions with an emphasis on American ethnic minority recruitment. Blake aspires to be a school leader because he believes that all students can succeed, regardless of their background or circumstance. For him, it all comes down to giving them the opportunity to receive a quality education by educators who believe in the values of “students first”, “high expectations” and “accountability."
John Heneghan teaches 12th grade science at Frederick Douglass Academy III, a college preparatory school serving high needs students in the Bronx. In this position he teaches AP Biology and Environmental Science while also serving as the Science Department Chairperson. Through this role, he leads a collaborative team in the analysis of student work and sharing of best practices to meet a wide range of student needs. He aspires to blend innovation with proven strategies alongside a group of dedicated educators at SPA en route to becoming a Principal in a New York City school.
Ashley Holden teaches agriculture and animal science at John Bowne High School in Flushing, Queens. As a lead teacher in the department, Ashley instructs students at varying levels in experiential, hands-on learning. As an FFA Advisor, Ashley engages students in leadership skills development opportunities and service-learning events. Working closely with her colleagues, Ashley has promoted college readiness in her students, connecting them with the premier agricultural colleges in the Northeast. In the future, Ashley plans to lead an agricultural high school program and continue connecting urban youth with agricultural experiences.
Hope Hollenhead teaches 4th Grade Math at IDEA Academy San Juan, a charter school that prepares students from underserved communities for success in college and citizenship in deep South Texas. Hope has held a variety of instructional and leadership roles including Reading Content Leader and Curriculum Writer for the IDEA Summer Curriculum Writing Team. She is currently Grade Team Leader and District Content Area Leader (Math 4th Grade) in which she provides instructional support for teachers in the Rio Grande Valley and Central Texas. Previously she worked for the La Joya Independent School district as a self-contained 4th grade teacher. She aspires to use the leadership skills that she develops to positively impact her community by becoming a school leader.
Stephanie Hubley teaches 4th grade at Piñon Elementary School, a K-6 public school that serves a largely Hispanic, low-income community of 600 students in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In her current placement, Stephanie has tutored English Language Learners, implemented service-learning initiatives for students, led staff development, worked to map out ELA curriculum for the district, and partnered with the non-profit the Academy for the Love of Learning to explore transformative methodology. Previously, Stephanie earned her Master’s Degree in Education through the New York City Teaching Fellows Program, while teaching at C.S. 134 in the South Bronx; Stephanie also worked for four years at a public magnet school in Connecticut as a classroom teacher and a Gifted and Talented teacher. Stephanie aspires to hone her leadership skills at SPA so that she may become a visionary and progressive leader in her field.
Kathryn Hyde has enjoyed teaching first and third grade for the past 5 years. She currently teaches at Rowe Elementary School, an independent charter school in Chicago. For most of the 2013-2014 school year, Kathryn has served as an Interim Dean of Academics for grades 3-5. She will leave the classroom in the 2014-2015 school year to pursue this administration role full time, which includes coaching teachers, monitoring academic data, providing professional development, and coordinating the administration of all district assessments. In the past, Kathryn has held leadership roles including grade level chair and summer school principal. She looks forward to learning new leadership skills during SPA and hopes to one day run her own school.
Patrick Kennison served as AVID coordinator and science teacher at Warren G. Harding Middle School in Philadelphia. As AVID coordinator he has worked to build the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program in his building over the past four years to the largest in the city of Philadelphia. AVID, both a system of school-wide instructional strategies and an elective course to support a college going culture, has been a great agent of change within Harding. As Patrick transitions to his new role in Indianapolis, IN he aspires to use his SPA experience to build and work within a school community with an intentional culture of success and respect.
Tina-Marie is an Academic Dean at Achievement First Brownsville , a K-4 public charter school that serves a largely low income community and strives to rigorously prepare scholars for college and beyond. As a founding teacher and (then) dean at AF Brownsville, Tina-Marie has played a major role in building the school, particularly grades one through four. In her current role, Tina-Marie has actively led teachers through the shift to the Common Core standards via coaching, professional development and curriculum development. Tina-Marie aspires to become a founding principal at an urban school.
Rodolpho Loureiro teaches 7th Grade Math at North Star Academy, West Side Park Middle School, a national Blue Ribbon award-winning charter school that is a part of the Uncommon Schools network in Newark, NJ. In this position he is an Instructional Leader, coaching a portfolio of teachers in his school and a Lead Lesson Planner, responsible for creating a rigorous curriculum aligned to the Common Core State Standards, that will be used by the entire network. Previously, he served as a 2010 Teach for America Corps Member in Delaware, teaching 6th Grade Math. Rodolpho aspires to collaborate with some of the most intelligent minds in education to develop an urban school model that is rigorous and intellectually engaging for all students and staff.
Chelsea, a Teach for America alumnus, teaches 8th grade English at Northwestern Middle School; a poverty-stricken community in Jacksonville, FL. In this role, she leads as content and grade level chair as well as supervises Northwestern’s after school TEAM-UP program. Prior to teaching, Chelsea earned an undergraduate degree in Journalism from Florida A&M University. She aspires to become a Principal that creates sustainable solutions to increase teacher retention and to provide a culture that develops successful students in urban areas.
Laura Maurer teaches third grade in an ICT class at P.S. 163 Alfred E. Smith, which is a school that serves a richly diverse student population. Laura holds a variety of leadership roles at P.S. 163: she is a member of the Literacy and Math Teams as well as the Behavior Committee, and she serves as the Grade Leader for the third grade. She previously worked as a part of an AmeriCorps program which brought conflict resolution strategies to at-risk students in a school in inner-city East Baltimore. Laura aspires to become a public school principal who solicits and considers the voices and strengths of the school’s entire staff and student body.
Lucía Rocha Nestler
Lucía Rocha Nestler is a Spanish immersion kindergarten teacher at Laurel School in Menlo Park, California, a community of educators working together to inspire high academic achievement among all students, serve their needs, challenge their minds, and enrich their lives. She has been part of the district English language arts goal team, leads Professional Learning Communities and grade level studies in the area of literacy and brings a strong understanding of curriculum planning and sustains energy among her peers. She was previously an instructional coach working alongside teachers in kindergarten through grade 3. Her 10-year career has been spent in Dual Language and second language immersion classrooms and schools. As an SPA student, she looks forward to growing her thinking and leadership skills to continue to support teachers and student achievement.
Rabin Nickens is a Teacher Ambassador with the New York City Department of Education. In this role, she supports the professional development and retention of teachers in schools throughout the city, and builds the capacity of school-based teacher leaders in order to enhance student outcomes. For over a decade prior to this, she cultivated her expertise in roles such as lead teacher, grade leader, and dramatic arts/literacy specialist, where she successfully drove the achievement of diverse early childhood, elementary, and middle school scholars in high-need public schools, including children with special needs, English language learners, and gifted and talented children. Rabin looks forward to utilizing her SPA experience to develop and share replicable models of school culture that nurture both teachers and students in order to ensure a quality education for every child throughout the nation.
Janice Nolan supports teachers and English language learners (ELLs) in grades PreK-12th for an urban public charter school that serves 900+ students in Washington, DC. In this position, she directs the ELL Department and serves on the senior leadership/administrative team to help create, develop, and inform on policies related to global learning, college readiness, and character development. Previously, Ms. Nolan served as an ESL/Bilingual Teacher and University Lecturer--developing students of all academic levels, demographics, and ages (from pre-schoolers to post-graduate students). She aspires to become a transformational school leader who successfully develops educators, fuels student achievement, and invests stakeholders in matters that benefit all learners.
Kate Oldre is currently a Freshman & Sophomore Coordinator and Advisor at The Beacon School in Manhattan. Beacon is an inquiry based arts and technology high school that admits students from every borough through a portfolio-based application process. In her role, Kate develops and implements student academic support systems; collaborates with the math and science departments to advance and align curricula; and works closely with the administration as a Professional Learning Group leader and teacher portfolio developer. Previous to this position she taught freshman science and technology. Kate aspires to join the administration to help further serve the needs of the school as it transitions to a larger space and builds a greater community in 2015.
Miguel Ortega is a 3rd grade, self-contained, dual-language teacher at Uplift Heights Preparatory in Dallas, Texas. He also serves as a grade- level chair and as an instructional coach for new teachers. Prior to joining Heights Preparatory, Miguel began his educational career as a Teach For America corps member in Fort Worth, Texas. While serving as a corps member, he taught in 3rd and 5th grade bilingual classrooms for three years at T.A. Sims Elementary. During these experiences, Miguel developed a passion and true understanding of the importance of leadership in public education. Miguel is now committed to leading a school where students, teachers and administrators can build a joyous and collaborative environment in an effort to maximize student achievement.
Nick Perry serves as an Assistant School Leader at KIPP Indianapolis College Preparatory, a middle school which serves students in grades 5-8. In this position, he is responsible for culture and academic achievement in the 7th and 8th grades and leads a variety of school-wide initiatives and parent communication efforts. Previously, he served as the 8th grade math teacher at KIPP Indianapolis for three years. He aspires to leverage his experience at SPA to develop the skills, knowledge, and mindsets necessary to be an effective school leader, and he is committed to urban education in Indianapolis and the growth of the KIPP Indy regional network.
Alyssa Rigg is as an instructional coach for special education teachers at The Coy L. Cox School in Brooklyn, one of the largest District 75 schools in NYC. She currently serves vulnerable and exceptional student populations from high poverty communities in kindergarten through 12th grade. She also facilitates various inquiry-based team meetings that empower teachers to set common instructional outcomes and helps them to analyze student data to strengthen their instructional practices. Prior to her current role, Alyssa served as the Alternate Assessment Coordinator for a unit of The Coy L. Cox School that services k-8th grade students diagnosed with Autism. Alyssa feels extremely privileged to be a part of SPA’s commitment to understanding concrete ways to build the best school system possible and she hopes to create a future school that is a catalyst for social change.
Melanie Rosenberger teaches first grade at a Success Academy charter school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Melanie currently provides instructional support to other first grade teachers in her role as Grade Team Lead. Prior to teaching first grade, Melanie taught science for kindergarten, first, and second graders. She looks forward to learning from administrators who value teacher development and retention in preparation of becoming a principal at a New York City public school.
Lauren Ryan is a first grade teacher at Lincoln Center Elementary, an International Baccalaureate (IB) School in South Saint Paul, MN. In addition to teaching, she serves as her team's PLC leader, sits on the district Professional Development Committee and is a member of a task force working to redesign South St. Paul’s mentoring and induction program for new teachers. Previously, Lauren taught at PS6X in the Bronx for three years and served as a Corps Member Advisor and School Director at Teach for America's Summer Institute in New York City. Through her varied roles in education she is constantly inspired by teachers and students working together to learn and think globally and to raise expectations. Her passion and goal is to someday lead a school that provides an equitable and empowering education for all students regardless of background.
Jeffrey B. Sagor teaches Mathematics at Shiprock High School, a Title 1 school based on the Navajo Reservation that serves an exclusively Native American Population of around 600 students. In addition to his classroom teaching responsibilities, Jeffrey is an adjunct professor at Diné College and has had a range of leadership roles, including yearbook sponsor, a member of the hiring committee, a member of the district curriculum alignment team, and Mathematics Department Chair. As a student at SPA he is looking forward to building his leadership skills so that he may one day transform a school into one that supports a community-centered culture, with high levels of instructional support for teachers, and exceptional academic outcomes for students.
Marissa Schoenfeld is Special Education Coordinator for PS/MS 29, The Melrose School, a traditional K-8 public school in the South Bronx that works to education a diverse student body and create an environment in which students learn to take ownership of their learning. Marissa has worked diligently to insure that all special education students are afforded a fair and equal education within their community school. She has coordinated with teachers and administrators to spearhead the NYC DOE special education reforms to offer special education students more opportunities to be successful in academic and social settings. Marissa was chosen to be part of the NYC DOE Teacher Leadership Program. She looks forward to working as a school leader and creating a supportive and inspiring community for both students and staff.
Heather Schwartz is an Instructional Coach at Omar Torres Charter School on the southwest side of Chicago. In this position she works directly with teachers to help them create intellectually active and engaging learning experiences for students. Additionally, she works with leadership team to conceive of and implement improvements to school culture. This year, Heather helped pioneer Torres Tutors and the middle school advisory program, along with the use of Document-Based Questions in the middle grades. Previously, she taught seventh grade Language Arts. Heather aspires to contribute to a more just society as part of a school leadership team. She believes that building successful schools involves unique and complex adults working to meet the needs of equally unique and complex students. She hopes to continuously nurture a growth mindset for teachers, students and herself as a leader.
Arielle Starkman teaches Special Education at the New Open World Academy, a K-12, Title 1, Pilot School in the Los Angeles Unified School District. In this position, she has been both a teacher of a self-contained elementary special education class, as well as a high school inclusion teacher. Arielle has served as a member of her school’s Governance Council for the past two years, and this year holds the position of the council’s President. She also serves as the Special Education Department Chair and a member of the School Wide Leadership Team. Arielle aspires to become a leader in reforming special education practices in Los Angeles, through the implementation of fully inclusive educational programs for students with special needs.
Brett Stidham teaches 5th-8th grade mathematics at KIPP DC: WILL Academy in Washington, D.C. that supports a thriving community of nearly 400 scholars who are on the path to and through college under the direction of skilled faculty. In this position he has had the opportunity to support students with special needs through targeted interventions and a variety of academic supports that enable scholars to access and excel in math. Previously he taught 9th grade Algebra 1 in Prince George's County Public Schools, where he led the 9th grade and Algebra teams, as well as coached varsity and jv swimming. Through his studies, Brett aspires to attain the competencies necessary to successfully lead within an academically rigorous environment, while creating a culture conducive to collaboration and growth for students and staff.
Cody Stipes is the 7th grade team leader and math teacher at KIPP Indianapolis College Prep Middle School. KIPP Indy provides a college preparatory curriculum to middle school students in the under-served communities of Indianapolis, Indiana. Before joining the team at KIPP Indy, Cody served as an instructional coach with Teach For America – Indianapolis where he managed and developed 24 first and second year teachers in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. He aspires to become a highly effective urban school leader as he develops a culture with an absolute bar of academic achievement for students and a supportive, collaborative, and innovative environment for both students and staff.
Lou Tanyu teaches 7th & 8th grade English Language Arts at Betsy Ross Arts Magnet in New Haven, Connecticut, a school with a diverse student population that promotes both academic rigor and individual creativity. Lou has held a variety of leadership roles including Data Team Leader and Teacher Facilitator, and currently serves on several committees including PBIS (the school's positive culture program) and PTSO. Through SPA, Lou hopes to gain valuable insight and skills to set a vision for, effectively lead, and dramatically improve an urban public school.
Arthytiya Thebprasith teaches Science at Walter Crowley I.S. 5 in Queens, a middle school that serves over 1600 low-income immigrant and first generation students of Asian and Latino descent. Arthytiya plays an active role in her Inquiry and Department Teams by introducing and integrating technology to improve pedagogical and administrative strategies. As a Curriculum Writer, she incorporates and aligns the National Common Core Standards and Next Generation Science Standards in revising IS 5’s Science Curriculum. Arthytiya aspires to become a motivating middle school leader who promotes responsibility and citizenship by establishing nurturing administrative-staff relationships that parallels similar staff-student relationships.
Sophia is a founding teacher at New Bridges Elementary PS 532, an elementary school that integrates the arts with an academically rigorous education. She teaches 1st grade in an ICT class and, as the leader of the Learning Support Team, aims to meet the needs of all students. Previously she taught as a 2008 TFA corps member in Denver, CO and was chosen as a Mile High Teacher. She looks forward to learning the skills necessary to become an agent of change in the fight to provide a quality education to all children.
Dave is the Assistant Director at Leonardo da Vinci Health Sciences Charter School in Chula Vista, California. Prior to his transition to Southern California, Dave taught kindergarten, 2nd, and 3rd grade in San Jose and Oakland, CA. In addition to his teaching roles, he worked in various capacities at the school and district level to support teachers with data analysis and classroom technology. For his M.A. thesis, Dave investigated the intersections of race, class, and gender in decision-making at a small, alternative school in southern Mexico. He aspires to become a system-level school leader in an urban community in California.
Michelle Turnbull is a Special Education teacher who teaches 8th grade ELA at Riverdale Middle School, a Title 1 school, that serves close to 800 students in Clayton County, GA. In this position, she has raised test scores at least 25%, prepared students for the Georgia 8th Grade Writing Assessment, and became ELA Department Chair. As department chair, she has pioneered a collaborative movement to include all academic departments in reading and writing across content areas. Previously, she was the director of Melrose Community School, a private school in the Bronx, which serviced students in a low-income area. She aspires to lead a school that makes tremendous gains on improving the educational advancement and life trajectory of the students in her care.
Priscilla Pan Walton is currently a 5th grade English Language Arts teacher at a new secondary charter school called Central Queens Academy. It is located in one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the world, Elmhurst, Queens. She is currently the main curriculum writer for the fifth grade ELA team. She develops and implements a rigorous and engaging curriculum tailored to Emergent Bilinguals. Previously, Priscilla served in different capacities at urban schools in Baltimore, Harlem and the Bronx. She taught grades two through five, acting as grade team leader and a member of the professional staff development team for a large charter network. Additionally, she is a skilled curriculum writer and has experience as a leadership resident. As a strong, capable leader, Priscilla aspires to create a school culture of community, longevity with rigor and joy.
Ashlee is a Special Education teacher at Drew Elementary in Northeast, Washington D.C. She began her teaching career as a D.C. Teaching Fellow and has taught students in grades 2nd – 5th as a resource, inclusion and self-contained teacher. She serves on her schools the local school advisory team and as a teacher lead. After school, she also works as a writing and soccer coach. Her educational interests include teacher retention at Title I schools, urban school leadership, and educational equity. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Black Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and plans to one day lead an urban elementary school that focuses on building a strong collaborative culture that results in high levels of achievement for all.
Debbie Weinerman teaches 11th and 12th grade math at Urban Assembly Media High School, a small college preparatory public school that serves students from across NYC. She has held a variety of leadership roles, including 12th Grade Team Leader, Math Vertical Team Leader, and Performance Assessment Coordinator. She also provides instructional support as a cooperating teacher and new teacher mentor. Debbie helped establish more advanced courses at her school, and teaches the first AP Calculus class. She began her teaching career through NYC Teaching Fellows and is currently a Math for America Master Teacher. She aspires to lead an innovative school that raises the expectations for underprivileged students in New York City.
Abbey teaches 8th grade mathematics at Fannie Lou Hamer Middle School that serves students and families in the South Bronx. In this position she has mentored new teachers, collaborated on projects to improve school communication, started a technology initiative to connect students and teachers, and taught many middle schoolers math, scoial studies, and science. Previously she worked as the Service Director at City Year Rhode Island. She's excited to discuss and develop new ideas for making education work for all students in urban areas.
Stephanie Witt is an Instructional Coach at Fort Scott Middle School, in a southeast Kansas school district with 65% free and reduced lunch. She works closely with teachers to align curriculum to the Common Core Standards as well as helping to model and implement instructional strategies based on the school-wide adoption of Literacy First. Stephanie has previously taught in both public and independent schools in Connecticut and New York City. Stephanie aspires to help struggling schools create a vision for education that values curiosity, creativity and collaboration as vital to learning.
Shira Wrightman is an ESL & Global History teacher and instructional coach at the High School of Language and Innovation in the Bronx. HSLI serves a population consisting of 80% English Language Learners and is committed to self-initiated learning in which students pursue their own interests and learn cooperatively so that they become resourceful, independent learners. Shira was a member of the founding teacher team at HSLI and in her current position she mentors new teachers, facilitates department teams, runs professional development for the faculty, and coaches the girls’ lacrosse team at Columbus Campus, which she founded. Previously, she taught K-5 ESL at P.S. 230, an elementary school in the South Bronx. Shira aspires to open a new New York City public school.
Anne teaches 8th grade physical science and chairs the science department at Southeast Middle School in South Gate, California. With an educational pedagogy deeply rooted in the belief that all students are primed for greatness, Anne serves as a marathon coach and peer-tutoring lead teacher at SEMS with hopes of guiding low-achieving and at-risk students toward realizing their potential for academic success and social development. Drawing from her experience in Project-Based Learning through UCLA's Teacher-Initiated Inquiry Project grant program and evaluating Common Core ELA in Science initiatives through The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST), Anne aspires to equip pre-service science teachers with solid instructional practice and know-how in making science palatable and interesting to students of all ages.