Emily Bierwirth is a Work Based Learning Coordinator at the Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation (RCHSI). She was born in NYC and later lived in Westchester, but she spent a part of childhood attending school in Portland, Oregon. There she gained an appreciation for outdoor education and bilingual programs. Emily worked in non-profit management before seeking a degree in School Counseling. Since graduation, she has worked in the College and Career Readiness department at RCHSI as both a teacher and a work based learning counselor.
Bill Chen is currently entering his first year as Academic Coach focused on STEM and GLAD strategies at Kahakai Elementary in Kailua Kona, HI. A Teach For America 2013 alum, he taught five years in 3rd grade at Kahakai, his placement school. Some of the experiences that have been integral to Bill’s leadership journey has been the Rural School Leadership Academy, a TFA-DOE program that allows rural educators to learn from rural schools, as well as the Teacher Leadership Academy, a HIDOE initiative targeting aspiring school leaders on how to lead in and outside of the classroom. Bill aspires to learn from his fellow leaders through SPA and deepen his understanding of how schools can utilize community needs to drive vision.
Kaitlin Dauner teaches 6th grade math in Cincinnati Public Schools in Ohio. Previously, she taught 6th grade in St. Louis, Missouri at Farragut Elementary School for four years at her Teach For America placement school. She has served as a Teacher Leader Coach and a Manager of School Operations at the Teach For America Phoenix and St. Louis Summer Institutes. Along with being an educator in the classroom, she also coaches Junior High Women’s Basketball at Taft High School and works on other youth initiatives throughout the school year with non-profits including Saturday Hoops and Youth Hope Cincinnati, both focused on youth development outside the classroom. Kaitlin aspires to continue her development through the SPA program on becoming the most effective and justice-oriented school leader.
Dulyne Desmangles teaches 9th and 11th grade English Language Arts at Wadleigh Secondary School for Performing and Visual Arts, serving students from grades 6-12. She has served in numerous leadership roles, such Mentor Teacher to other teachers and most recently as the Peer Collaborative Teacher. In these positions, Dulyne supports colleagues in improving their planning and delivery of engaging and rigorous instruction. She aspires to be an effective and caring school leader that empowers her fellow educators. She considers herself a life-long learner and believes that SPA will help her gain the knowledge, tools, and experience necessary to lead in an urban school setting that provides exceptional educational opportunities for all students.
Dan Effland is entering his first year as a school leader as an Assistant Principal at Summit Public Schools: Sierra in Seattle, WA. Needing to answer the daily question of how he was contributing to and serving his community, Dan became working as a Special Education teacher in Chicago through Teach for America at the age of 33 after a prior career as a professional jazz musician. Over 3 years, he taught grades 7-12 in two schools in Chicago prior to joining the Summit Sierra team as a learning specialist, and during his first year at Summit, he was asked to join the school leadership team. As an educator and a leader, Dan has a deep passion to support all students to develop and act upon a vision for their future that is not bound by the biases and -isms that our culture projects upon them. Through SPA, Dan hopes to develop knowledge and skills to make this boundless vision a reality for all of the children he serves.
Laura Gomez is a School Leader Fellow at Circle City Prep, a new independent charter school in Indianapolis, Indiana. She will be a Lead Teacher in 2nd grade this fall and grow into the role of Lower Elementary School Principal over the next three years, leading the K-2 division of the school. As a 2013 Teach for America corps member, she started teaching in Kindergarten with Uncommon Schools at Excellence Girls Charter School in Brooklyn, NY and then worked on the Personalized Learning Team at St Thomas School near Seattle, WA. Laura has a Masters in Teaching (Early Elementary) from Relay Graduate School of Education. She believes excellent teaching can change lives and create a more equitable world for all kids.
Brad Daniell teaches 8th grade physical science to students involved in the STEM Academy at Peachtree Charter Middle School. While this is Brad’s main focus, he also serves as chair of the STEM program and science department, and supports his fellow colleagues as a teacher leader on the Parent Teacher Charter Council. Brad looks forward to learning the strategies required to be an effective leader, while utilizing complements of STEM to encourage underrepresented populations to pursue a related field.
Willie Ho is currently a 7th grade English Language Arts teacher at Montauk Intermediate, a school in Brooklyn, NY with a diverse student population. Willie started his career in education as a college writing instructor at Touro College. He transitioned into public school education after receiving his Master’s Degree in Secondary English Education at New York University. Through SPA, Willie hopes to acquire the skills and perspectives necessary to become a school leader that can create a culturally inclusive school environment suitable for learners of all background
Karima Hughes is a proud New York City public school educator who has taught 7th and 8th grade students in the Bronx for nine years. She is currently an Advanced Placement and 10th grade English educator in a 7-12 public school in West Harlem. Besides being an educator, Karima also serves as a Peer Collaborative Teacher, New Teacher Mentor, Lincoln Center Education Program liaison, Union Chapter Leader and a Humanities Department Lead. As a member of the 2018 SPA NYC cohort, Karima aspires to magnify her impact beyond her classroom to lead with intent and passion, fostering educational equity for students of color, supporting the professional growth of their educators and maintaining meaningful collaborative relationships with their families in order to better equip them for success in the 21st century.
Sarah Jabbar teaches 10th and 12th grade Social Studies at Hampton High School, a suburban public school in Pittsburgh, PA. In this position, she promotes student-centered learning strategies and collaborates with a team of educators to improve the World History curriculum. Sarah previously taught 9th grade AP World History and Integrated Co-Teaching Global History at Maspeth High School in New York City, where she also served as department leader, teacher mentor, mock trial advisor, and girls tennis coach. As a SPA student, she aspires to develop the skills and mindset needed to become a highly effective public school leader.
Joezette Joseph is a 4th grade teacher at Excel Charter School in Canarsie, Brooklyn. For the past three years, she has had the privilege of working alongside amazing, highly dedicated educators while servicing students in her Integrated Co-Teaching classroom. Prior to her years at Excel, Joezette served four years at Aaron School, a self-contained private school in Midtown Manhattan that serves students with special needs. Aside from her roles in the classroom, she has had opportunities to lead several literacy-focused professional development sessions within her network of schools, and serve as a mentor for incoming teachers who are new to education. Through her experience in TC, Joezette anticipates developing the knowledge and skills that will successfully help her lead a school that values a mission to educational equity and understands the importance of teaching and nurturing the whole child.
Julie Kim is a middle school math teacher from California. Julie started her career in Southern California as an elementary teacher, but later switched over to teach middle school, and loves it. She has experience teaching in multiple grades and subjects. She also has taught in different types of schools, including both traditional districts, as well as a charter school. In addition to teaching during the school year, Julie teaches at summer camps through a local university. More than subject matter, grade level, or type of school, Julie enjoys mastering the “art of teaching” and seeks ways to improve this art. Julie is here in the SPA program to do just that and learn and grow as an educator, with the hopes of one day of making systematic changes to Education in the U.S.
Marlowe Knipes is a founding teacher at Bronx Park Middle School. He has taught 6th grade Social Studies, Software Engineering, Math and Literacy AIS and serves as a grade team leader. He is a Lead Coach with the NYC Teaching Collaborative, formerly the NYC Teaching Fellows, serving the past five cohorts of new teachers. Through the SPA program, Marlowe seeks to develop the skills needed to empower communities, teachers and students to create more just and equitable city.
David Ledesma has been teaching for the past 12 years in English and social studies. He has worked in the New York City Department of Education for 9 years as a middle and high school social studies and dual language teacher at the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology in the Bronx. He was nominated for a position as a model teacher through the Teacher Incentive Fund grant within the NYCDOE. David has also contributed as a Collaborative Coach for the New York City Teaching Collaborative for the past 5 years. He has a deep passion for education and the development of all members within the school community, both teachers and students. Through SPA, David strives to commit his efforts to developing as an inspirational and motivating partner with the hope that his experience as a classroom teacher and mentor will guide his thinking around being an effective school leader.
Jennifer Martin, a TC Alumna (Teaching of English Instep ‘12) is an English Teacher at Ramapo High School in the East Ramapo School District, where she has been for 2 years as a member of the School Building Leadership Team and continuing to work with new curriculum initiatives for stronger student engagement. Prior to Ramapo, Jennifer taught for 8 years at Middletown High School working on multiple initiatives with leadership including the Literacy Committee at the District level. In addition, Jennifer teaches a course in the undergraduate English Department of Dominican College; A Study in Class, Culture and Power through writing as well as a course in the Graduate Teacher Education Program; Inclusive Literacy Strategies with a focus on marginalized students. At home in Warwick, NY, she is the proud mother to three children: Josephine (11), James (5) and Katherine (5) where they love to hike, bike, swim and explore. Jennifer’s reason for coming to SPA is to learn ways to honor the experiences of her students and teachers by becoming a leader who are free from the confines of oppressive structure and work on pedagogical and curriculum shifts that reflect the cultural needs of the students.
Yaribel Mercedes, a Reading Coach for the Mayor and Chancellor’s Equity and Excellence Universal Literacy Initiative, is also a former New York City Teaching Fellow. Yaribel’s journey as an educator evolved from classroom teacher to grade leader and mentor before transitioning to literacy coach. Since she became an educator, her mission has been to stimulate students to develop a love of learning that leads to increased academic engagement and striving for excellence. Yaribel hopes to serve as an example of the transformative power of education for children and families. As a coach, Yaribel trains K-2 teachers in a six-week cycle, on the five pillars of reading. As a leader, her supportive and collaborative approach, helps guide educators to thoughtfully and intentionally promote equity and inclusion in their classrooms and schools for the benefit of all members of the community.
Maggie Moon is the K-5 Literacy Liaison and Coach at The School at Columbia University. Before working there, she was a 3rd and 4th grade teacher in the NYC Public School System, and then became a Senior Staff Developer for The Reading and Writing Project, at Teachers College, Columbia University. In between her two NYC lives, she lived in Southeast Asia for seven years, consulting with International Schools and presenting at conferences on Literacy and Coaching. She especially loves working alongside teachers in lab sites, supporting them as they teach and collaborate with children and their colleagues.
Ji-Myung Nam is a science teacher at Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day High school. She was born, raised, and educated in South Korea where she completed her master’s degree in Science education and earned a secondary education teaching license in Biology. She came to New York City where she earned a Master’s Degree in Science Education, and high school teaching licenses in Biology, Chemistry, Korean and TESOL. She is a science teacher at Manhattan Comprehensive Night & Day High School. She worked as an Instructional Lead for two years and is currently a Model Teacher in the DOE’s Learning Partners Program.
Shaina Neal has spent the last year as the AVID coordinator at Valdosta Middle School in Valdosta, Georgia. This year she is assuming the role of Assistant Principal at Tindley Collegiate in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is an Educator with over 10 years of experience both in Title 1 - public schools and overseas in South Korea, Spain, and England. Shaina began her educational career as an 8th grade Math teacher in Phoenix, Arizona and is a Teach For America alum. She is also an Indianapolis Principal Fellow. Shaina is excited about acquiring the tools to make her passions for educational reform a reality.
Bridget O’Neill is a 12th grade English teacher in New Jersey where she is focused on preparing students for college and career readiness. O’Neill has committed her career’s work to urban education and seeks to provide equitable access to educational opportunity across the global scale. In 2016, she completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Malaysia where she worked in a historically underserved district to found a professional development program for new & veteran English as a Foreign Language teachers. Before entering the classroom, O’Neill worked in the social services sector and seeks to become a leader in a school setting that meets the intersection of a student’s educational, social, emotional, and physical health needs.
Jaclyn Overton-Desouza teaches Third Grade at Nellie K. Parker Elementary School in Hackensack, New Jersey. As a Teach For America 2007 Corps Member, she began her career teaching bilingual Kindergarten and First Grade classes at PS 205 in the Bronx, NY. She holds a Masters of Science in Education (Dual Language/Bilingual, Childhood General) from Bank Street College. In her future role as school leader, Jaclyn looks forward to empowering teachers and students to cultivate diverse, inclusive learning communities that are built upon a culture of collective investment and success.
Minoosh Tina Pardakhti Nord is a School Counselor and Transitional Coordinator at The New LIFE School, a special education school in the Bronx. She is currently transitioning into a leadership role as an IEP/Testing Coordinator and supervisor. Minoosh has Masters degrees in School Counseling and Psychological Counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is looking forward to her time with SPA where she hopes to grow as an educator and school leader.
Ornella Parker is a Teach For America 2014 New York alum. For the last 4 years, Ornella has been serving as a Special Education Teacher for 6th Grade Math at Fort Greene Preparatory Academy. Ornella was previously a Head Female Mentor and now the Education Specialist for University Settlement. Also, Ornella previously served as a Mentor Teacher for the 2017 New York Regional Institute at Inwood Academy for Leadership. She is looking forward to furthering her leadership development with the aspiration of becoming the most equipped leader she can be in an environment of like-minded individuals who will both support and challenge her.
Alysha Russell is a 5th and 6th grade reading teacher in New Haven, Connecticut’s public school system. She previously taught grade 4 for several years before transitioning with her students to a middle school model that she launched alongside her talented grade level team. Alysha has served her school community in several leadership roles such as a vertical team leader, teacher facilitator, TEAM mentor and cooperating teacher. Alysha’s students are her top priority as she strives to fulfill her passion of “breaking the cycle” through her everyday attitudes, practices and relationships with families and colleagues. Through SPA, Alysha hopes to expand her commitment to reaching students by formalizing her leadership experiences at the level of building leader.
Paige Sjoerdsma currently teaches 6th-8th grade English Language Arts at the IPS/Butler Laboratory School, a project-based learning school in the heart of Indianapolis. Before moving up to create the middle school program, she began her career teaching primary students in grades K-3. Paige is one of the founding members of her school’s racial equity team and serves as a teacher leader for Indianapolis Public Schools. She is committed to teaching in public schools and creating equitable education for all students.
Karissa Sullivan is a former New York City Teaching Fellow. She currently is a Special Education teacher at Bronx Green Middle School, located in the Northern section of the Bronx, where she teaches 6th Grade ELA in an Integrated Co-Teaching classroom. Over the past year, she has stepped into several leadership roles including 6th Grade Team Leader as well being a founding member of the schools Social Emotional Learning Team. She plays an intricate role in developing the English Language Arts curriculum as well as helping Bronx Green Middle School to become more equitable for students of color. Through SPA, Karissa hopes to become more critically conscious and knowledgeable to increase her impact on the community.
Sierra Sullivan is a School Leader Fellow with Teach For America in Cincinnati, Ohio. This year she will be transitioning into a leadership role within Cincinnati Public Schools. As a 2013 Teach For America corps member she began her teaching career in a public elementary school in Memphis, Tennessee. She transitioned to KIPP Memphis to become a content team leader, grade-level chair, and lead kindergarten teacher. During this time she also received her Masters of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins University. She is looking forward to gaining the skills necessary to be an effective school leader and expanding her impact outside of her own classroom.
Erin Theiss currently teaches 5th grade at North Charleston Elementary School in Charleston, SC. Beyond the classroom, she is a District STEM Launch Lead Teacher, Site Liaison and Head Coach of Girls on the Run, and serves in multiple leadership roles within the school. Erin has acted as the Site Coordinator for the North Charleston Elementary Extended Year Program and the Children’s Festival through the Mayor’s Office of the CIty of Charleston. Throughout these leadership roles, she has facilitated professional development and led teachers and community members to provide opportunities for all students across the district. Erin is looking forward to being a part of SPA to gain the insight, knowledge, and skills to become a highly effective school leader. She strives to create an equitable community of scholars where all teachers and students have the opportunity and the support to succeed and make a lasting impact on the community.
Natalie Vantuyn teaches both middle and high school math at the Institute for Collaborative Education in New York City. Since she began teaching, Natalie has become a teaching fellow at Math for America and has conducted math-related educational research internationally. She also serves in many other roles throughout the school year: coach, professional development team leader, and grade level leader. She is looking forward to collaborating with a cohort of driven and dedicated educators: learning, sharing, and expanding upon skills and ideas that will help move her toward becoming an effective and equitable school leader.
Emily Veling began her career in education at the largest elementary in Seattle Public Schools where she gained experience as a dance specialist, 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 4th grade teacher. This past school year, she joined a Design Team to help launch a brand-new school – Cedar Park Elementary. In her current role at Cedar Park, Emily teaches 1st-5th grade Literacy while also serving as the building’s mentor teacher and Multi-Tiered System of Supports team lead. Her passion for leadership extends to district-level projects, where she guides the implementation of new literacy curriculum and facilitates Building Leadership Team institutes focused on leveraging shared leadership as a critical strategy for engaging stakeholders and improving equity. As a future school leader at SPA, Emily aspires to empower students and adults alike while redefining school-level leadership practices to create an equitable education landscape for every learner.
Nicholas Wilken teaches English as a New Language to 8th grade English language learners. He teaches English in the contexts of ELA, social studies and science. He serves as his school’s United Federation of Teachers Chapter Leader and is the Educational Liaison between his middle school and its after-school programs. Through the SPA program, Nicholas is excited to learn about and develop strategies to help his fellow educators grow into their best selves.
Marquis Harrison is a proud educator at the Frederick Douglass Academy in the village of Harlem, NY. Marquis is a licensed social studies educator and has taught US history, Participation in government, economics, and global history. Currently he teaches 11th & 12th grade college workshop seminar, an elective course and serves as the co-director of the college and post-secondary planning office. Marquis serves in a number of leadership roles in his school, including serving as the current union chapter leader, coordinator of student activities, and a member of the school leadership team. As a member of the SPA NYC cohort 2018, Marquis is eager to learn from the faculty, staff, and his peers to gain insight into what makes effective school leaders so that he can continue his own work of supporting young people in urban areas to assure they are provided equity in education.