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EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE
BIOGRAPHIES 2014
Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 1
Alejandra Suarez entered the New York City public school system in
2001 as a New York City Teaching Fellow. She is currently an English as
a Second Language teacher for grades K-5 and English Language
Learner coordinator at P.S. 63, Authors’ Academy, in the South Bronx.
Alejandra’s responsibilities as ELL coordinator include screening new
admits, administering language assessments to incoming and
continuing ELL students, and facilitating workshops to parents of
ELLs. Additionally, she has served on her school’s Inquiry team,
provided ESL instruction to parents, and mentored new ESL teachers.
Alejandra has instructed ESL students in various settings, including
high school and community college. As a former ELL, Alejandra is
passionate about working with students who are learning English. She
looks forward to developing leadership skills through ELC to further
impact the lives of her students. Alejandra holds a B.S. in Human
Development, B.A. in Spanish Literature from Binghamton University,
and M.S. in TESOL from City College.
For her School Change Project, Alejandra will work on ELL parent
involvement and engagement at the elementary level. This will be
done through a series of workshops that will focus on
Social/Emotional development and Family literacy.
Alicia Wilson is the Director of Student Support Services at ROADS
Charter High School. She is a founding member of the ROADS' team; a
team committed to designing, launching, and scaling second-chance
charter high schools: schools dedicated to ensuring that over-aged
under-credited students graduate from high school thoroughly prepared
to excel academically, professionally, and personally. In her current
role, she is tasked with overseeing the student support team as well as
the culture team. Alicia’s career has been underscored by a deep
commitment to effect positive change in the lives of young people and
families, with a focus on educational equity and access, juvenile justice,
and multiple pathway programs. Prior to ROADS, she held a part-time
position for seven years as a Mental Health Clinician at Crossroads
Juvenile Detention Center. In this role, Alicia was charged with
providing mental health counseling, assessments and community
resources to juveniles and their families. Alongside this position for the
last twelve years Alicia served as a full-time school social worker to
various NYC schools. Alicia is currently completing her doctorate at
Adelphi University School of Social Work. She holds a MSW from New
York University. Alicia has numerous specialization certifications and is
an active member of the National Association for Social Workers.
For Alicia’s School Change Project, she plans on building a truancy
intervention program that is focused on improving student attendance
by utilizing the entire school staff to go into the community and build
strong relationships with students, their families and their
communities. Spending a day in their lives and providing one on one
mentoring will allow staff to know the families and determine what
factors may or may not affect them in order to create a program that
addresses these strengths or areas of concerns.
EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE
BIOGRAPHIES 2014
Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 2
Allison Ruth is a college counselor at The Urban Assembly School for
Criminal Justice, an all-girls, 6-12 school in Borough Park, Brooklyn. She
holds a B.A. in Communications and Spanish Language from American
University, and an M.S. Ed. in School Counseling at Brooklyn College. For
the last seven years, Allison has worked as a College Counselor for first-
generation students. Before joining the NYC Department of Education in
2007, Allison worked as a counselor in a Head Start program in
Washington D.C., and as a youth leadership trainer and service-learning
program coordinator at two public schools in New York City. When not at
school, she enjoys running, reading, learning new languages, and caring for
her many houseplants.
For her school change project, Allison is interested in creating a more
culturally inclusive college and career preparation program to meet the
needs of the growing South Asian population at her school.
Angie Odate has always exhibited a love for wanting to help others learn.
As early as she can remember, Angie has loved working with kids. After
graduating from Tufts University with a B.A. in Spanish Literature, she
decided to pursue teaching. She went on to become dually certified as a
Generalist and as a Special Educator and has been working in urban city
schools for the past 8 years in both self-contained and inclusion classroom
settings. Angie has worked in both the Bronx and Harlem and is currently
the 9th grade team leader at Renaissance Charter High School for
Innovation in East Harlem.
Working in urban city schools, Angie has noticed that there has been a
lack in school culture-building, more specifically within high schools. This
has driven her to focus her School Change Project on "Building a Culture
of Success." Through this project, Angie hopes to foster both academic
success and social growth.
Charlotte Pinkerton is the Special Education Coordinator and an
English and Special Education teacher at Williamsburg Preparatory High
School in Brooklyn. She has co-taught ICT 9th grade English for four of her
six years of teaching and has led her team in developing a rigorous,
differentiated, Common Core aligned curriculum. As Special Education
coordinator, she has worked with co-teachers across all subjects and grade
levels to maximize differentiation, support, and engagement for all
struggling students. She has developed data tracking systems, now used
school-wide, to monitor student progress in reading and writing, and
oversees IEP writing for the 91 IEP students at WP. After school, she leads
the Urban Explorer Club which takes 9th graders on field trips to landmarks
in the five boroughs. Chloe also taught for a year at LPS Richmond, a
charter school in Richmond, California that serves one of the neediest
communities in California. Chloe became a teacher through New York City
Teaching Fellows, where she has served as a Coach to incoming Fellows,
and got her B.A. in Slavic Studies from Stanford University and her M.S.
Ed. from Long Island University, Brooklyn.
For her School Change Project, Chloe will be working on improving
services for the upper grade IEP students at Williamsburg Prep. She plans
to implement teacher-led changes in scheduling, caseload management,
and coaching so that 11th and 12th grade students are better supported and
better prepared for life after high school. She hopes to focus on the self-
advocacy and literacy her students will need to succeed in the career or
educational pursuit of their choice.
EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE
BIOGRAPHIES 2014
Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 3
Craig Kropa is a Spanish and ESL teacher at Broome Street Academy,
a tuition-free public charter high school going on its fourth year and
located in SoHo. The admission policy at BSA gives preference to
students who are homeless, in foster care, or from low performing
schools. Craig has been a very active member of the faculty, playing an
important role in the progression and success of the school. Craig was
nominated by his colleagues to represent the teaching staff in his
school’s Faculty Advisory Council, a group led by the school leader and
dedicated to the positive growth of the academy. Also, he was chosen to
represent the Foreign Language Department on the Curriculum
Committee, a group led by the Director of Instruction to write, develop
and polish the school’s curriculum as it adapts to the Common Core.
Craig also provides professional development workshops on innovative
classroom management techniques, ways to adapt curriculum for ELL’s,
and building positive relationships with students. Craig received his
B.A. from Ithaca College in Spanish and adolescent education and his
Masters from SUNY Cortland in teaching English as a second language.
Craig believes that celebrating culture is crucial for building a positive
school atmosphere where students can feel comfortable taking risks
necessary for academic achievement and growth. It is a fear of his
that students leave high school unexposed to different global
perspectives and practices. His School Change Project will be to
implement and organize international celebrations with the goal of
exposing students to the various cultures represented in their school.
David Weinreb currently serves as the founding high school
placement director, staff recruitment lead, enrichment coordinator, and
technology enthusiast for The Equity Project (TEP) Charter School in
Washington Heights. David began as an operations intern during TEP’s
start-up summer in 2009 and went on to become TEP’s first Business
Manager. Since establishing TEP's high school placement program in
2012, David has visited over 95 high schools, placing 77% of students
into selective public, Catholic, and independent schools, which have
awarded TEP students over $733,810 in scholarships and financial aid.
David earned his B.A. in History and Urban Studies at the University of
Pennsylvania, where he also ran a weekly soup kitchen and worked with
Americorps' service learning programs. David has a collection of 1300
PEZ dispensers, runs with Back on my Feet, speaks a bit of Hindi, and is
fluent in Spanish. He enjoys bucket lists, biking, brothers, startups, very
long walks, mornings, being a grandson, strangers, hiking, health,
public transportation, and is the reigning champion of TEP’s Wacky
Day.
David’s School Change Project is focused on infusing digital literacy
into TEP’s culture. The school staff is working to secure a significant
grant to support digitally blended instruction and home-based
computers for the students’ families. While managing the rollout of
Google accounts to 5th-8th grade students, David is supporting the
integration of the Google Apps for Education suite into everyday use in
literacy instruction. These efforts are designed to prepare graduating
8th grade students with the professional digital skills to be successful
in strong-fit high schools, colleges, and careers.
EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE
BIOGRAPHIES 2014
Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 4
Devon Eisenberg, in partnership with LeMarie Laureano, co-founded
The Young Women’s Leadership School of the Bronx in July of
2012. Having started her career in the South Bronx nearly a decade
ago, Devon was inspired by the resolve of her students to achieve
success in spite of challenging living conditions and dedicated her
career to ensuring the best learning environment for the students she
serves. She joined the starting committee of Mott Hall V School where
she taught math for several years as she gained leadership
opportunities. While managing the Mathematics Department, she led
the school to achieve high success on standardized assessments. She
received the Rising Star Teacher of the Year, Blackboard Awards. That
same year, she was highlighted by the New Yorker of the Week. While
serving as an adjunct at DeVry University, Devon was inspired to start
an all-girls school that would focus on STEM initiatives; these are the
areas would provide her students with more opportunities in the future.
She currently co-manages TYWLS of the Bronx. Here, Devon has
merged her best practices as a teacher and administrator to create a
wonderful school for young women.
TYWLS of the Bronx has a wide range of students who work on different
grade levels. In order to provide multiple entry points for these students,
teachers need to expand their practices to ensure that all students can
access the general education curriculum. Devon’s School Change Project
will develop school-wide structures that will provide students the support
they need while systematically tracking their progress.
Gregory Jackson Jr. has been an elementary school teacher at the
Weeksville School-PS 243, in the historical Weeksville community for 15
years. There, he has taught 3rd, 4th, 5th grades and one year of physical
education. He also serves as the Dean and basketball coach. On
Saturday, Gregory organizes a basketball clinic for the kids in the
community, the main focus of which is to unify everyone through sports.
Gregory has a MS in Special Education from Touro College, a BA in
History from Dowling College, as well as an advanced certificate in
School Building Leadership from The College of St. Rose. His goal is to
become an elementary school principal of a true community school.
Gregory was born and raised in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn and
currently resides in East Flatbush. He enjoys working out, sports and
learning as much as possible. Greg's dad, the late Gregory Jocko
Jackson, was a huge pillar in the Brownsville community. His father’s
work inspires Gregory to do more than he's ever dreamed. At his dad’s
funeral, former Mayor Bloomberg approached Greg and stated, "People
show their love with their feet. There will not be this many people at my
funeral." Greg's life's mission is to impact the Weeksville community the
same way his father did in the Brownsville community.
For Gregory’s School Change Project, he will work closely with the
families of the Weeksville community to help them get more involved in
their children's education. He will additionally assist them in furthering
their own education by offering language learning courses, GED
programs as well as college level courses. All of this will be possible
through established partnerships with agencies and universities.
EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE
BIOGRAPHIES 2014
Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 5
Earl T. Gray has a strong commitment to education, which he pursued
following his retirement from Law Enforcement as a Captain in NYC
Department of Corrections. A graduate of Lincoln University,
Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Political Science and Psychology, he pursued
a Masters in Special Education and taught Math and History at Charles
H. Flowers High School in Maryland. In Washington D.C. he served as
the New Teacher Mentor and Positive Behavior Interventions Support
Coach for the staff and Dean of Students at the Young America Works
Public Charter School. Upon his return to NYC he was hired as the
Dean of Students at Harlem Renaissance High School (HRHS), an
alternative school for at risk students with a history of poor attendance,
low motivation and achievement due to academic and behavioral
problems. Through the use of behavioral intervention plans and the
establishment of trust systems with the students in collaboration with
the staff, his school has reduced student suspensions and increased
student attendance and graduation rates at HRHS. A community
activist, he has developed a Sports/Life Skills Program for youth ages
10-22, which provides academic, recreation, and social support for the
youth within the Southeast Bronx community.
For his School Change Project, Earl will continue to work with students
and their families through his "BELIEVERZ" Basketball/Life Skills
program focusing on fitness, self-discipline, goal-setting, team
building, literacy in math and reading, providing a safe outlet to
develop their physical, mental, emotional and intellectual capacity for
goal-achievement.
Isaac H. Mills III is Dean of Students and teacher of English
Language Learners at Gotham Professional Arts in Brooklyn, NY. Prior
to moving to New York, Isaac taught Special Needs students at the
middle and high school levels in Maryland. Isaac graduated from the
University of Maryland Eastern Shore with a B.S. in Special Education.
He earned his Master’s in Teaching English as Second/Other Language
from Salisbury University. Recently Isaac completed graduate course
work through Principal's Residency Network and New England College
for School Administration Certification. In addition to his work in
schools, Isaac has worked closely with sleep away and day summer
camps serving inner city youth. Isaac's primary goal is to ensure that all
students have access to opportunities and experiences that may result in
leading a healthy and sustainable life.
For his School Change Project, Isaac will focus on increasing the
graduation rate for male students within his high school. In addition,
he will work to increase college acceptance and graduation rates for
those students. He plans to drive his initiative by forming partnerships
that can assist with mentoring and providing beneficial real life
experiences.
EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE
BIOGRAPHIES 2014
Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 6
Jesse Matthews is currently the At-Risk Programs Manager at the
Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation in East Harlem. After
graduating from Maryland’s Towson University with a degree in Social
Sciences and Secondary Education, he moved to Brooklyn. He spent the
next 10 years as the Education Coordinator at the Adolescent
Employment & Education Program in East New York, serving 16-21 year
old high school dropouts classified as severely emotionally disturbed
and often coming from turbulent backgrounds. In addition to
coordinating the educational component of the program, Jesse taught
the Advanced GED and Creative Arts classes. At the Renaissance
Charter High School for Innovation, he has built out their full service
At-Risk Department, which now consists of four programs that support
low performing students who are academically or behaviorally at risk of
not graduating. Jesse is also a platinum music producer, who has done
music for artists such as 50 Cent and Rick Ross, as well as TV shows
such as MTV Cribs, MTV True Life, and Discovery’s The Shift. Jesse is
also a journalist who has written cover and feature stories for
internationally distributed magazines like XXL, Scratch, and Smooth.
The focus of Jesse’s School Change Project is to expand the department
to serve more students, support more teachers through training and
development, and to extend the academic success of at-risk students
into their mainstream classes.
Kanene Holder is an artist, activist and educator dedicated to
systemic change through critical analysis and creativity. She currently
teaches global studies and social justice at Launch El Charter School, an
institution dedicated to expeditionary learning and community
involvement. She devises Common Core standard based
interdisciplinary lessons about the ancient origins of Intersections of
Injustice (race, class and gender) and fosters critical thinking to analyze
current societal ills. Kanene received her B.S. in Speech Pathology from
Howard University and fellowships from the National Endowment for
the Humanities, The Colin Powell Center for Policy Study and Bard
College. She taught in public schools, for Harlem Children's Zone and
Urban Arts Partnership and writing and theater at Brooklyn Academy of
Music for their Arts and Justice program about racial profiling. She
received her M.S.Ed in Childhood Education from City College and
often conducts professional development about culturally relevant
pedagogy and parental involvement. Her research on hip-hop education
and parental involvement was published in U.S. News and World
Report and in “Teaching Matters: Stories from Inside City Schools”, a
book addressing urban education reform.
For Kanene’s School Change Project, she will engage
middle school students in a multi-disciplinary introspection into local
human rights issues, including stop and frisk, education reform and
environmental racism. Students will produce a newsletter and poetry
slam called I See, I Speak, I Seek, (IS/IS/IS) showcasing their research
and proposed policy solutions. I See- will feature their initial
observations about an issue; I Speak- will include their research and
reports and I Seek- will present their policy papers and proposals for
solutions.
EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE
BIOGRAPHIES 2014
Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 7
Linda Rosenbury is the Founding Principal of the Brooklyn Urban
Garden Charter School (BUGS), an independent middle school focused on
sustainability. In this role she has led the community in designing
interdisciplinary place-based curriculum, establishing student-led
conferences, and implementing a robust system of teacher evaluation
including peer-to-peer observations. She received her school
leadership training at the New York City Leadership Academy, where she
interned and was appointed as the Principal at Middle School 22 in the
Bronx. At M.S. 22 she introduced community walkthroughs, common
assessments, and online collaboration to create a professional learning
community and increase meaningful academic experiences for students.
Linda holds a B.A. from Yale University and a M.Ed. in Childhood
Education from Mercy College through the New York City Teaching Fellows
Program.
Linda’s School Change Project will build upon the diverse perspectives of
the BUGS community to support community members in developing better
understandings of class and race privilege and subtle forms of
discrimination. Teachers and parents will then use their heightened
awareness to assist students in successfully collaborating with their
diverse peers. The ultimate goal is to close the achievement gap and
ensure a better future for all students.
Marianne Van Auken is the Special Programs Manager at Harlem Link
Charter School. In this position, she develops and implements recruitment
strategy for high-quality faculty and staff, coordinates Harlem Link's
Alumni Program, facilitates internal and external communications, and
assists in efforts to create a strong school and professional community
culture. Prior to this role, she was a 5th grade teacher at Harlem Link as
well as Chalkley Elementary near Richmond, Virginia. She holds an M.A. in
International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia
University, and a B.A. in Political Science and Education from the
University of Richmond.
For her school change project, Marianne will explore how to build
community-wide involvement in Harlem Link's Alumni Program to ensure
it is a self-sustaining network of support for Link students and families
through middle school, high school, and college.
Maritza Santana is Dean of Students for grades 9-12 at Information and
Technology Academy in the Bronx. Originally from Chicago, she attended
De Paul University, where she earned a B.A. in Latino Studies and worked
for the Center for Latino Research, conducting research on the development
of Latino immigrant communities in the United States. Maritza’s
experiences within the community led her to join the New York City
Teaching Fellows, where she began teaching middle school Spanish, while
working towards her M.A. in Spanish Literature and Secondary Education
at Lehman College. Throughout her teaching career she has brought her
passion for service into the classroom, serving as Community Service
Advisor at Mott Hall High School, through New York Cares, a non-profit
service driven organization.
Maritza has also worked as a teacher selector for the New York City
Teaching Fellows and recently completed the School Building and District
Leader certification program at Hunter College. Her interests include
tennis, running, exploring city neighborhoods and getting creative in the
EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE
BIOGRAPHIES 2014
Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 8
kitchen.
As Dean, Maritza has witnessed both the positive and negative effects of
social media among middle and high-school students. Her School Change
Project will focus on developing and empowering a school culture and
climate where students and community members understand the benefits,
social responsibility and impact of social media and foster this awareness
through technology.
Sorinel Morel is a Special Education Teacher at La Cima Elementary
Charter School in Brooklyn. As a special educator, she works in an inclusive
classroom consisting of students with and without special needs. To help
meet students' needs, Sorinel works alongside a general education teacher
in developing and modifying curricula to meet the learning style and needs
of the children with special needs. Sorinel has also served as the Grade
Level Chair, the past two years, where she led and managed fellow
educators. In the 2014-2015 school year, she will be creating a new position
as Grade Level Chair lead, in which she will be overseeing and supporting
all of the grade level chairs in her school. Sorinel received a Master’s of
Science in Childhood Special Education from Hunter College and a
Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a specialization in Spanish
from State University of New York at New Paltz.
In order to improve the overall culture and academia of La Cima
Elementary Charter School, Sorinel’s School Change Project will be a
Saturday Academy program designed for students who need support in
their climb to demonstrate grade level proficiency on the New York State
Assessments.
Steven Koutsavlis is a National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescent
Mathematics and a NYC Teaching Fellow. He currently teaches 7th grade
mathematics at the New Voices School of Academic and Creative Arts, in
Park Slope, where he also serves as a grade team leader and technology
coordinator. Steven is very active in professional development focused on
STEM education, having worked as both a participant and program leader.
Last summer he attended the Institute for Advanced Study's Park City
Mathematics Institute, where he worked with hundreds of K-12 math
educators, administrators, and university researchers from around the
world on exploring teaching methodologies and the intricacies of the
Common Core Standards. Steven has also worked for The New Teacher
Project in advising and developing new educators, has attended multiple
conferences run by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and
this summer led a workshop through the Math in the City Program at the
City College of New York. Steven is also very interested in public policy
issues, having served as a field director for a political campaign and having
helped launch the NYC Academy for Discovery as a new school founding
committee member. He was born and raised in Brooklyn and attended
Stuyvesant High School. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and
received his Master's degree in Math Education from Pace University.
For his School Change Project, Steven is exploring how to enhance the
efficacy of blended learning in math classrooms using tablet devices and
SmartBoard technology. The project aims to utilize the practice of
Japanese Lesson Study to help pedagogues develop their lessons and
classroom methodologies vis-à-vis these tools.
EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE
BIOGRAPHIES 2014
Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 9
Vanessa Brissolese is the Lead Teacher and Literacy Coach at PS 42, the
Claremont Community School. She changed her career path in 2006 by
becoming a New York City Teaching Fellow. Vanessa creates and modifies
Common Core aligned ELA curriculum for her school, leads professional
development, and heads the Inquiry Team. This past school year she added
teacher of Academic Intervention Services to her responsibilities. For the
last four years, Vanessa has been a New Teacher Mentor but has also
mentored teachers in various levels in their careers in order to improve
teaching practices at her school. In addition, Vanessa believes in the
importance of participating in out of school initiatives. She is part of the
Teacher Leadership Program, initially as a participant and currently as a
facilitator. Vanessa was also an ELA Common Core Fellow this past school
year. She completed her Master’s in Urban Education from Mercy College.
Previously, she received her B.A. in International Relations and Political
Science from Syracuse University and a M.A. in International Political
Economy and Development from Fordham University.
Vanessa’s School Change Project is to have her school partake in a Guided
Reading Lesson Inquiry in order to improve students’ reading level and
move them to grade level standards. This project will allow teachers to
collaborate as they share and try out these new strategies.
Victoria Dedaj is the English Language Arts department chair and 7th
grade teacher at Jonas Bronck Academy. This is her fourth year teaching.
She is responsible for differentiating instruction for scholars, leading
educational team meetings, turn-keying professional development
information, and helping to create meaningful, real world based learning
opportunities that prepare students to thrive in their college careers. Before
beginning her teaching career, Victoria interned with the New York City
Council and supported the programmatic operations of United Way of New
York City. She earned her B.S. in Public Affairs from Baruch College and
her M.S. in Childhood and Special Education from Fordham University’s
School of Education.
Her School Change Project will focus on implementing a reading
intervention initiative within the school that involves teachers school-wide
to promote the teaching of literacy. The reading initiative will target
readers who are at risk and reading below grade level with proper
supports, along with enrichment opportunities for higher-level readers.

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ELC 2014 Participant Biographies

  • 1. EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE BIOGRAPHIES 2014 Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 1 Alejandra Suarez entered the New York City public school system in 2001 as a New York City Teaching Fellow. She is currently an English as a Second Language teacher for grades K-5 and English Language Learner coordinator at P.S. 63, Authors’ Academy, in the South Bronx. Alejandra’s responsibilities as ELL coordinator include screening new admits, administering language assessments to incoming and continuing ELL students, and facilitating workshops to parents of ELLs. Additionally, she has served on her school’s Inquiry team, provided ESL instruction to parents, and mentored new ESL teachers. Alejandra has instructed ESL students in various settings, including high school and community college. As a former ELL, Alejandra is passionate about working with students who are learning English. She looks forward to developing leadership skills through ELC to further impact the lives of her students. Alejandra holds a B.S. in Human Development, B.A. in Spanish Literature from Binghamton University, and M.S. in TESOL from City College. For her School Change Project, Alejandra will work on ELL parent involvement and engagement at the elementary level. This will be done through a series of workshops that will focus on Social/Emotional development and Family literacy. Alicia Wilson is the Director of Student Support Services at ROADS Charter High School. She is a founding member of the ROADS' team; a team committed to designing, launching, and scaling second-chance charter high schools: schools dedicated to ensuring that over-aged under-credited students graduate from high school thoroughly prepared to excel academically, professionally, and personally. In her current role, she is tasked with overseeing the student support team as well as the culture team. Alicia’s career has been underscored by a deep commitment to effect positive change in the lives of young people and families, with a focus on educational equity and access, juvenile justice, and multiple pathway programs. Prior to ROADS, she held a part-time position for seven years as a Mental Health Clinician at Crossroads Juvenile Detention Center. In this role, Alicia was charged with providing mental health counseling, assessments and community resources to juveniles and their families. Alongside this position for the last twelve years Alicia served as a full-time school social worker to various NYC schools. Alicia is currently completing her doctorate at Adelphi University School of Social Work. She holds a MSW from New York University. Alicia has numerous specialization certifications and is an active member of the National Association for Social Workers. For Alicia’s School Change Project, she plans on building a truancy intervention program that is focused on improving student attendance by utilizing the entire school staff to go into the community and build strong relationships with students, their families and their communities. Spending a day in their lives and providing one on one mentoring will allow staff to know the families and determine what factors may or may not affect them in order to create a program that addresses these strengths or areas of concerns.
  • 2. EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE BIOGRAPHIES 2014 Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 2 Allison Ruth is a college counselor at The Urban Assembly School for Criminal Justice, an all-girls, 6-12 school in Borough Park, Brooklyn. She holds a B.A. in Communications and Spanish Language from American University, and an M.S. Ed. in School Counseling at Brooklyn College. For the last seven years, Allison has worked as a College Counselor for first- generation students. Before joining the NYC Department of Education in 2007, Allison worked as a counselor in a Head Start program in Washington D.C., and as a youth leadership trainer and service-learning program coordinator at two public schools in New York City. When not at school, she enjoys running, reading, learning new languages, and caring for her many houseplants. For her school change project, Allison is interested in creating a more culturally inclusive college and career preparation program to meet the needs of the growing South Asian population at her school. Angie Odate has always exhibited a love for wanting to help others learn. As early as she can remember, Angie has loved working with kids. After graduating from Tufts University with a B.A. in Spanish Literature, she decided to pursue teaching. She went on to become dually certified as a Generalist and as a Special Educator and has been working in urban city schools for the past 8 years in both self-contained and inclusion classroom settings. Angie has worked in both the Bronx and Harlem and is currently the 9th grade team leader at Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation in East Harlem. Working in urban city schools, Angie has noticed that there has been a lack in school culture-building, more specifically within high schools. This has driven her to focus her School Change Project on "Building a Culture of Success." Through this project, Angie hopes to foster both academic success and social growth. Charlotte Pinkerton is the Special Education Coordinator and an English and Special Education teacher at Williamsburg Preparatory High School in Brooklyn. She has co-taught ICT 9th grade English for four of her six years of teaching and has led her team in developing a rigorous, differentiated, Common Core aligned curriculum. As Special Education coordinator, she has worked with co-teachers across all subjects and grade levels to maximize differentiation, support, and engagement for all struggling students. She has developed data tracking systems, now used school-wide, to monitor student progress in reading and writing, and oversees IEP writing for the 91 IEP students at WP. After school, she leads the Urban Explorer Club which takes 9th graders on field trips to landmarks in the five boroughs. Chloe also taught for a year at LPS Richmond, a charter school in Richmond, California that serves one of the neediest communities in California. Chloe became a teacher through New York City Teaching Fellows, where she has served as a Coach to incoming Fellows, and got her B.A. in Slavic Studies from Stanford University and her M.S. Ed. from Long Island University, Brooklyn. For her School Change Project, Chloe will be working on improving services for the upper grade IEP students at Williamsburg Prep. She plans to implement teacher-led changes in scheduling, caseload management, and coaching so that 11th and 12th grade students are better supported and better prepared for life after high school. She hopes to focus on the self- advocacy and literacy her students will need to succeed in the career or educational pursuit of their choice.
  • 3. EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE BIOGRAPHIES 2014 Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 3 Craig Kropa is a Spanish and ESL teacher at Broome Street Academy, a tuition-free public charter high school going on its fourth year and located in SoHo. The admission policy at BSA gives preference to students who are homeless, in foster care, or from low performing schools. Craig has been a very active member of the faculty, playing an important role in the progression and success of the school. Craig was nominated by his colleagues to represent the teaching staff in his school’s Faculty Advisory Council, a group led by the school leader and dedicated to the positive growth of the academy. Also, he was chosen to represent the Foreign Language Department on the Curriculum Committee, a group led by the Director of Instruction to write, develop and polish the school’s curriculum as it adapts to the Common Core. Craig also provides professional development workshops on innovative classroom management techniques, ways to adapt curriculum for ELL’s, and building positive relationships with students. Craig received his B.A. from Ithaca College in Spanish and adolescent education and his Masters from SUNY Cortland in teaching English as a second language. Craig believes that celebrating culture is crucial for building a positive school atmosphere where students can feel comfortable taking risks necessary for academic achievement and growth. It is a fear of his that students leave high school unexposed to different global perspectives and practices. His School Change Project will be to implement and organize international celebrations with the goal of exposing students to the various cultures represented in their school. David Weinreb currently serves as the founding high school placement director, staff recruitment lead, enrichment coordinator, and technology enthusiast for The Equity Project (TEP) Charter School in Washington Heights. David began as an operations intern during TEP’s start-up summer in 2009 and went on to become TEP’s first Business Manager. Since establishing TEP's high school placement program in 2012, David has visited over 95 high schools, placing 77% of students into selective public, Catholic, and independent schools, which have awarded TEP students over $733,810 in scholarships and financial aid. David earned his B.A. in History and Urban Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also ran a weekly soup kitchen and worked with Americorps' service learning programs. David has a collection of 1300 PEZ dispensers, runs with Back on my Feet, speaks a bit of Hindi, and is fluent in Spanish. He enjoys bucket lists, biking, brothers, startups, very long walks, mornings, being a grandson, strangers, hiking, health, public transportation, and is the reigning champion of TEP’s Wacky Day. David’s School Change Project is focused on infusing digital literacy into TEP’s culture. The school staff is working to secure a significant grant to support digitally blended instruction and home-based computers for the students’ families. While managing the rollout of Google accounts to 5th-8th grade students, David is supporting the integration of the Google Apps for Education suite into everyday use in literacy instruction. These efforts are designed to prepare graduating 8th grade students with the professional digital skills to be successful in strong-fit high schools, colleges, and careers.
  • 4. EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE BIOGRAPHIES 2014 Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 4 Devon Eisenberg, in partnership with LeMarie Laureano, co-founded The Young Women’s Leadership School of the Bronx in July of 2012. Having started her career in the South Bronx nearly a decade ago, Devon was inspired by the resolve of her students to achieve success in spite of challenging living conditions and dedicated her career to ensuring the best learning environment for the students she serves. She joined the starting committee of Mott Hall V School where she taught math for several years as she gained leadership opportunities. While managing the Mathematics Department, she led the school to achieve high success on standardized assessments. She received the Rising Star Teacher of the Year, Blackboard Awards. That same year, she was highlighted by the New Yorker of the Week. While serving as an adjunct at DeVry University, Devon was inspired to start an all-girls school that would focus on STEM initiatives; these are the areas would provide her students with more opportunities in the future. She currently co-manages TYWLS of the Bronx. Here, Devon has merged her best practices as a teacher and administrator to create a wonderful school for young women. TYWLS of the Bronx has a wide range of students who work on different grade levels. In order to provide multiple entry points for these students, teachers need to expand their practices to ensure that all students can access the general education curriculum. Devon’s School Change Project will develop school-wide structures that will provide students the support they need while systematically tracking their progress. Gregory Jackson Jr. has been an elementary school teacher at the Weeksville School-PS 243, in the historical Weeksville community for 15 years. There, he has taught 3rd, 4th, 5th grades and one year of physical education. He also serves as the Dean and basketball coach. On Saturday, Gregory organizes a basketball clinic for the kids in the community, the main focus of which is to unify everyone through sports. Gregory has a MS in Special Education from Touro College, a BA in History from Dowling College, as well as an advanced certificate in School Building Leadership from The College of St. Rose. His goal is to become an elementary school principal of a true community school. Gregory was born and raised in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn and currently resides in East Flatbush. He enjoys working out, sports and learning as much as possible. Greg's dad, the late Gregory Jocko Jackson, was a huge pillar in the Brownsville community. His father’s work inspires Gregory to do more than he's ever dreamed. At his dad’s funeral, former Mayor Bloomberg approached Greg and stated, "People show their love with their feet. There will not be this many people at my funeral." Greg's life's mission is to impact the Weeksville community the same way his father did in the Brownsville community. For Gregory’s School Change Project, he will work closely with the families of the Weeksville community to help them get more involved in their children's education. He will additionally assist them in furthering their own education by offering language learning courses, GED programs as well as college level courses. All of this will be possible through established partnerships with agencies and universities.
  • 5. EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE BIOGRAPHIES 2014 Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 5 Earl T. Gray has a strong commitment to education, which he pursued following his retirement from Law Enforcement as a Captain in NYC Department of Corrections. A graduate of Lincoln University, Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Political Science and Psychology, he pursued a Masters in Special Education and taught Math and History at Charles H. Flowers High School in Maryland. In Washington D.C. he served as the New Teacher Mentor and Positive Behavior Interventions Support Coach for the staff and Dean of Students at the Young America Works Public Charter School. Upon his return to NYC he was hired as the Dean of Students at Harlem Renaissance High School (HRHS), an alternative school for at risk students with a history of poor attendance, low motivation and achievement due to academic and behavioral problems. Through the use of behavioral intervention plans and the establishment of trust systems with the students in collaboration with the staff, his school has reduced student suspensions and increased student attendance and graduation rates at HRHS. A community activist, he has developed a Sports/Life Skills Program for youth ages 10-22, which provides academic, recreation, and social support for the youth within the Southeast Bronx community. For his School Change Project, Earl will continue to work with students and their families through his "BELIEVERZ" Basketball/Life Skills program focusing on fitness, self-discipline, goal-setting, team building, literacy in math and reading, providing a safe outlet to develop their physical, mental, emotional and intellectual capacity for goal-achievement. Isaac H. Mills III is Dean of Students and teacher of English Language Learners at Gotham Professional Arts in Brooklyn, NY. Prior to moving to New York, Isaac taught Special Needs students at the middle and high school levels in Maryland. Isaac graduated from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore with a B.S. in Special Education. He earned his Master’s in Teaching English as Second/Other Language from Salisbury University. Recently Isaac completed graduate course work through Principal's Residency Network and New England College for School Administration Certification. In addition to his work in schools, Isaac has worked closely with sleep away and day summer camps serving inner city youth. Isaac's primary goal is to ensure that all students have access to opportunities and experiences that may result in leading a healthy and sustainable life. For his School Change Project, Isaac will focus on increasing the graduation rate for male students within his high school. In addition, he will work to increase college acceptance and graduation rates for those students. He plans to drive his initiative by forming partnerships that can assist with mentoring and providing beneficial real life experiences.
  • 6. EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE BIOGRAPHIES 2014 Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 6 Jesse Matthews is currently the At-Risk Programs Manager at the Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation in East Harlem. After graduating from Maryland’s Towson University with a degree in Social Sciences and Secondary Education, he moved to Brooklyn. He spent the next 10 years as the Education Coordinator at the Adolescent Employment & Education Program in East New York, serving 16-21 year old high school dropouts classified as severely emotionally disturbed and often coming from turbulent backgrounds. In addition to coordinating the educational component of the program, Jesse taught the Advanced GED and Creative Arts classes. At the Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation, he has built out their full service At-Risk Department, which now consists of four programs that support low performing students who are academically or behaviorally at risk of not graduating. Jesse is also a platinum music producer, who has done music for artists such as 50 Cent and Rick Ross, as well as TV shows such as MTV Cribs, MTV True Life, and Discovery’s The Shift. Jesse is also a journalist who has written cover and feature stories for internationally distributed magazines like XXL, Scratch, and Smooth. The focus of Jesse’s School Change Project is to expand the department to serve more students, support more teachers through training and development, and to extend the academic success of at-risk students into their mainstream classes. Kanene Holder is an artist, activist and educator dedicated to systemic change through critical analysis and creativity. She currently teaches global studies and social justice at Launch El Charter School, an institution dedicated to expeditionary learning and community involvement. She devises Common Core standard based interdisciplinary lessons about the ancient origins of Intersections of Injustice (race, class and gender) and fosters critical thinking to analyze current societal ills. Kanene received her B.S. in Speech Pathology from Howard University and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Colin Powell Center for Policy Study and Bard College. She taught in public schools, for Harlem Children's Zone and Urban Arts Partnership and writing and theater at Brooklyn Academy of Music for their Arts and Justice program about racial profiling. She received her M.S.Ed in Childhood Education from City College and often conducts professional development about culturally relevant pedagogy and parental involvement. Her research on hip-hop education and parental involvement was published in U.S. News and World Report and in “Teaching Matters: Stories from Inside City Schools”, a book addressing urban education reform. For Kanene’s School Change Project, she will engage middle school students in a multi-disciplinary introspection into local human rights issues, including stop and frisk, education reform and environmental racism. Students will produce a newsletter and poetry slam called I See, I Speak, I Seek, (IS/IS/IS) showcasing their research and proposed policy solutions. I See- will feature their initial observations about an issue; I Speak- will include their research and reports and I Seek- will present their policy papers and proposals for solutions.
  • 7. EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE BIOGRAPHIES 2014 Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 7 Linda Rosenbury is the Founding Principal of the Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School (BUGS), an independent middle school focused on sustainability. In this role she has led the community in designing interdisciplinary place-based curriculum, establishing student-led conferences, and implementing a robust system of teacher evaluation including peer-to-peer observations. She received her school leadership training at the New York City Leadership Academy, where she interned and was appointed as the Principal at Middle School 22 in the Bronx. At M.S. 22 she introduced community walkthroughs, common assessments, and online collaboration to create a professional learning community and increase meaningful academic experiences for students. Linda holds a B.A. from Yale University and a M.Ed. in Childhood Education from Mercy College through the New York City Teaching Fellows Program. Linda’s School Change Project will build upon the diverse perspectives of the BUGS community to support community members in developing better understandings of class and race privilege and subtle forms of discrimination. Teachers and parents will then use their heightened awareness to assist students in successfully collaborating with their diverse peers. The ultimate goal is to close the achievement gap and ensure a better future for all students. Marianne Van Auken is the Special Programs Manager at Harlem Link Charter School. In this position, she develops and implements recruitment strategy for high-quality faculty and staff, coordinates Harlem Link's Alumni Program, facilitates internal and external communications, and assists in efforts to create a strong school and professional community culture. Prior to this role, she was a 5th grade teacher at Harlem Link as well as Chalkley Elementary near Richmond, Virginia. She holds an M.A. in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. in Political Science and Education from the University of Richmond. For her school change project, Marianne will explore how to build community-wide involvement in Harlem Link's Alumni Program to ensure it is a self-sustaining network of support for Link students and families through middle school, high school, and college. Maritza Santana is Dean of Students for grades 9-12 at Information and Technology Academy in the Bronx. Originally from Chicago, she attended De Paul University, where she earned a B.A. in Latino Studies and worked for the Center for Latino Research, conducting research on the development of Latino immigrant communities in the United States. Maritza’s experiences within the community led her to join the New York City Teaching Fellows, where she began teaching middle school Spanish, while working towards her M.A. in Spanish Literature and Secondary Education at Lehman College. Throughout her teaching career she has brought her passion for service into the classroom, serving as Community Service Advisor at Mott Hall High School, through New York Cares, a non-profit service driven organization. Maritza has also worked as a teacher selector for the New York City Teaching Fellows and recently completed the School Building and District Leader certification program at Hunter College. Her interests include tennis, running, exploring city neighborhoods and getting creative in the
  • 8. EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE BIOGRAPHIES 2014 Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 8 kitchen. As Dean, Maritza has witnessed both the positive and negative effects of social media among middle and high-school students. Her School Change Project will focus on developing and empowering a school culture and climate where students and community members understand the benefits, social responsibility and impact of social media and foster this awareness through technology. Sorinel Morel is a Special Education Teacher at La Cima Elementary Charter School in Brooklyn. As a special educator, she works in an inclusive classroom consisting of students with and without special needs. To help meet students' needs, Sorinel works alongside a general education teacher in developing and modifying curricula to meet the learning style and needs of the children with special needs. Sorinel has also served as the Grade Level Chair, the past two years, where she led and managed fellow educators. In the 2014-2015 school year, she will be creating a new position as Grade Level Chair lead, in which she will be overseeing and supporting all of the grade level chairs in her school. Sorinel received a Master’s of Science in Childhood Special Education from Hunter College and a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a specialization in Spanish from State University of New York at New Paltz. In order to improve the overall culture and academia of La Cima Elementary Charter School, Sorinel’s School Change Project will be a Saturday Academy program designed for students who need support in their climb to demonstrate grade level proficiency on the New York State Assessments. Steven Koutsavlis is a National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescent Mathematics and a NYC Teaching Fellow. He currently teaches 7th grade mathematics at the New Voices School of Academic and Creative Arts, in Park Slope, where he also serves as a grade team leader and technology coordinator. Steven is very active in professional development focused on STEM education, having worked as both a participant and program leader. Last summer he attended the Institute for Advanced Study's Park City Mathematics Institute, where he worked with hundreds of K-12 math educators, administrators, and university researchers from around the world on exploring teaching methodologies and the intricacies of the Common Core Standards. Steven has also worked for The New Teacher Project in advising and developing new educators, has attended multiple conferences run by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and this summer led a workshop through the Math in the City Program at the City College of New York. Steven is also very interested in public policy issues, having served as a field director for a political campaign and having helped launch the NYC Academy for Discovery as a new school founding committee member. He was born and raised in Brooklyn and attended Stuyvesant High School. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and received his Master's degree in Math Education from Pace University. For his School Change Project, Steven is exploring how to enhance the efficacy of blended learning in math classrooms using tablet devices and SmartBoard technology. The project aims to utilize the practice of Japanese Lesson Study to help pedagogues develop their lessons and classroom methodologies vis-à-vis these tools.
  • 9. EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COLLABORATIVE BIOGRAPHIES 2014 Education Leadership Collaborative is a partnership with NYC Collaborates 9 Vanessa Brissolese is the Lead Teacher and Literacy Coach at PS 42, the Claremont Community School. She changed her career path in 2006 by becoming a New York City Teaching Fellow. Vanessa creates and modifies Common Core aligned ELA curriculum for her school, leads professional development, and heads the Inquiry Team. This past school year she added teacher of Academic Intervention Services to her responsibilities. For the last four years, Vanessa has been a New Teacher Mentor but has also mentored teachers in various levels in their careers in order to improve teaching practices at her school. In addition, Vanessa believes in the importance of participating in out of school initiatives. She is part of the Teacher Leadership Program, initially as a participant and currently as a facilitator. Vanessa was also an ELA Common Core Fellow this past school year. She completed her Master’s in Urban Education from Mercy College. Previously, she received her B.A. in International Relations and Political Science from Syracuse University and a M.A. in International Political Economy and Development from Fordham University. Vanessa’s School Change Project is to have her school partake in a Guided Reading Lesson Inquiry in order to improve students’ reading level and move them to grade level standards. This project will allow teachers to collaborate as they share and try out these new strategies. Victoria Dedaj is the English Language Arts department chair and 7th grade teacher at Jonas Bronck Academy. This is her fourth year teaching. She is responsible for differentiating instruction for scholars, leading educational team meetings, turn-keying professional development information, and helping to create meaningful, real world based learning opportunities that prepare students to thrive in their college careers. Before beginning her teaching career, Victoria interned with the New York City Council and supported the programmatic operations of United Way of New York City. She earned her B.S. in Public Affairs from Baruch College and her M.S. in Childhood and Special Education from Fordham University’s School of Education. Her School Change Project will focus on implementing a reading intervention initiative within the school that involves teachers school-wide to promote the teaching of literacy. The reading initiative will target readers who are at risk and reading below grade level with proper supports, along with enrichment opportunities for higher-level readers.