Our mentor teachers, chosen for their record of moving kids academically fast, partner with teachers in districts and networks across the country to deliver teaching that transcends the ordinary.
Season 3: Summer 2022
Ayanna began her career with Teach for America in Baltimore, where she taught the fifth grade. Since then, Ayanna has served as dean of students, literacy coach, co-school leader, and principal with several charter school management organizations, including KIPP and Achievement First. Most recently, she joined the Achievement School District in Tennessee, a newly established district charged with reforming and boosting student achievement in the lowest-performing schools in the state. As the Achievement School District’s literacy coach and the principal of Georgian Hills Achievement Elementary School, Ayanna coached a team of educators responsible for moving the school from the bottom five percent of elementary schools in the state. Ayanna earned her B.A. in American Studies at Occidental College and an M.A.T. from Johns Hopkins University.
Brittany began with Teach for America in Charleston, South Carolina, where she taught the third and fourth grades at Sanders Clyde Creative Arts Elementary School. Brittany’s third-grade students achieved one of the highest rates of fall-to-spring growth on the NWEA MAP assessment. She became grade-level chair for five years in the both third and fourth grades. Subsequently, Brittany joined KIPP Jacksonville as an assistant principal, where she coached kindergarten through fourth grade in reading and math, and served on the core equity and culture team. Currently, she is an assistant principal with the Shelby County Schools in Memphis. Brittany earned a B.A. in political science from College of Charleston, an M.A. from Francis Marion University, and an Ed.M. from Columbia University.
Caroline began with Teach for America in Los Angeles, teaching high school English as a second language. After teaching middle school history and English, she returned to her hometown of New York City, where she taught seventh-grade English with Achievement First Endeavor Middle School and was named a Distinguished Teacher. As the school's ELA and history academic dean and principal-in-residence, Caroline led her team through the transition to Common Core standards and a 25 percentage point increase in student proficiency on the state’s ELA assessment. She then served as the school’s principal for five years; the school posted double-digit proficiency gains in both ELA and math. Today, Caroline is an educational consultant, specializing in school leader and teacher coaching and professional development. She earned her B.A in English from Dartmouth College and her M.A from Loyola Marymount University.
Carrie began her career teaching second and third grades for Teach for America in the South Bronx. Her students made on average 1.7 grades of growth in reading per year and 84 percent were found proficient in math. Carrie was a founding second grade teacher and leadership resident at Success Academy's flagship school, before becoming founding principal of Success Academy Upper West. Her school received the Blackboard Award for Rising Star Grade Schools and was ranked #1 in math and #8 in ELA, based on student performance on the New York State assessments. Carrie was a cognitively guided instruction (CGI) math consultant for various schools in Minnesota and most recently worked as a dean of instruction at Hiawatha Academies. Carrie earned a B.A. from Harvard University in psychology and an M.S. from Pace University.
Corey began her career teaching at Success Academy in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, where she taught the first through the fourth grades and was a lab site teacher and grade team leader. Her classes ranked in the top 10 percent in the network, and the strategies she deployed resulted in 100 percent of her students passing the state math exam. Later, Corey was principal of WeGrow, a private elementary school. She was then associate director of ELA for Achievement First’s Greenfield initiative. Currently she serves as an education consultant and instructional coach working across the east coast and virtually. Corey earned her B.A. from George Washington University in psychology and sociology and holds a M.S. from Touro College.
Christina began her career teaching seventh grade math as a Teach for America corps member at Achievement First East New York Middle School in Brooklyn. Over three years, she increased student proficiency on the New York Common Core mathematics exam by 43 percentage points. She then joined the school’s leadership team as academic dean for math, coaching and developing teachers and managing the math department. The following year her school achieved 92 percent proficiency across all grades on the New York Common Core math exam. Currently, Christina also coaches history. Christina earned a B.A. in public policy, with a minor in education and political science, from Duke University and an M.A. from Relay Graduate School of Education. She is pursuing an M.Ed. in education leadership from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
Evan began his career with Teach for America in Yazoo City, Mississippi, where he taught tenth-grade English and was named Yazoo City Teacher of the Year in 2015. Since then he has served as grade-level chair, associate academic dean, and seventh-grade literature teacher at the Achievement First Apollo Middle School in Brooklyn. In 2018, Evan’s students posted the highest growth on the New York Common Core English Language Arts exam in the network. Evan earned Achievement First’s Stage 5 Distinction, the network’s highest distinction, awarded for student achievement, student character development, quality of instruction and planning, and contribution to team achievement. Evan earned his B.A. in political science with a minor in Russian at the University of Washington and an M.A. from Relay Graduate School of Education.
Griselda began her career with Excellence and Justice in Education Academies in San Diego, where she taught third-grade dual immersion classes. As a founding member of the school’s math committee, she identified and implemented new math curricula, supported teachers with its implementation, and planned math nights for families. Griselda then taught a combined third- and fourth-grade class at the San Diego Cooperative Charter School. Today, Griselda teaches at Hawking STEAM Charter School 2 in San Diego, where she is the sixth-grade math teacher. Griselda received her B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Riverside and an M.Ed. from the University of California, San Diego.
Henry began his career with Teach for America in Phoenix, Arizona, where he taught seventh grade English and raised the passing rate of his students on Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards state test in writing from 41 percent to 71 percent in 2008. At Brooke Charter Schools in Boston, the highest-performing network in the state, Henry served as a mentor teacher, supervising the on-boarding, training, and year-long coaching of first-year teachers. At Achievement First Charter Schools in New York City, Henry was a grade-level chair, mentor teacher, and dean of students. He has been with NSSI since its inception as a teacher coach and mentor teacher. Henry earned his B.A. in English from the University of Vermont and his M.Ed. from Arizona State University.
Ifrat began her career as a founding fifth-grade humanities teacher at Success Academy in New York City. She has since taught both humanities and STEM classes. On the network’s content design and management team, Ifrat was middle school content lead. Her students consistently ranked in top three percent in the network and 100 percent passed both the New York State math and ELA assessments. Ifrat was a finalist for the New York City Big Apple Award. Currently, she serves as an assistant principal for a Success K-8 labsite school established to showcase exceptional teaching in the network. Ifrat earned her B.A. from Hunter College in biology and M.S. from Touro University in childhood general and special education.
Jeremiah’s teaching career began as a sixth- through eighth-grade English Language Arts and social studies teacher with Teach for America at Dodge Renaissance Academy in Chicago. While there, he raised grant money to found the first debate and poetry slam team. Jeremiah then joined the Noble charter network, where he taught AP English and composition; the eighteen young men he mentored in advisory all went on to college. Jeremiah moved to New York and joined Uncommon Schools’ Leadership Prep Canarsie, where he is the seventh-grade level lead and writing teacher. His students have consistently earned some of the top essay scores across the Brooklyn region of Uncommon Schools. Jeremiah holds a B.S. in political science and psychology from the University of Illinois and earned his teaching certificate at Dominican University.
Jo began her teaching career teaching kindergarten, third-grade math, and social studies at the elementary academy of Achievement First Hartford. As a third-grade math teacher, her students attained some of the highest scores in the network on the Connecticut Common Core exam, and she was named grade-level chair. Seventy-nine percent of her students were found proficient, with 47 percent found advanced. Jo then became a dean of students and STEM at the middle academy. During the pandemic, students in several grades in the middle academy were still able to produce top scores in math on network weekly quizzes. Today, Jo is a humanities dean in the school’s high school academy. Jo earned a B.A. in psychology from the University of Connecticut, an M.S. from Southern Connecticut State University, and an Ed.D. from the University of New England.
John began his career with Teach for America as an eighth-grade math teacher in a district school in the Bronx. Later, at KIPP’s Rise Academy in New Jersey, 86 percent of his fifth-grade math students were found proficient on the state exam. After moving to Minnesota, John joined Hiawatha College Prep, where he was a founding teacher, and for six years, principal. Under his leadership, Hiawatha Prep was recognized by Teach for America as a “School to Learn From" and was designated a Reward School by the Minnesota Department of Education. Longing to focus on instruction, John served as seventh-grade teacher for three more years before starting his current role as a director of curriculum and assessment. John earned his B.A. from St. John’s University in economics and an M.S. from Pace University.
Jon taught math at Western High School in Las Vegas, before enrolling at the Yale Divinity School, where he served as program manager of the school’s leadership development program. Jon was then the founding math teacher and department chair at Hiawatha Collegiate High School in Minneapolis. Pursuing his interest in educational leadership, he led Teach for America summer institutes for high school math teachers and wrote curriculum in math and culturally responsive pedagogy. Jon is now the dean of instruction for the Hiawatha Academies. He graduated with a B.A. in math and philosophy from St. Olaf College and earned an M.Ed. from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and an M.A. from the Yale Divinity School.
Jordan began his career leading youth development and after-school programs in his hometown of Minneapolis. As a program coordinator and instructor at the YMCA, he oversaw experiential learning and led trips to New York City, Sweden, Russia, and Peru. Jordan taught fifth-grade social studies and coached soccer at the Achievement First Endeavor Middle School in Brooklyn. Returning to Minneapolis, he joined Hiawatha Academies, where for six years he has taught ELA at the elementary and middle schools. In 2020, he was awarded the National University Teacher Award for the state of Minnesota. Jordan earned his B.A. from the University of Minnesota in psychology and comparative literature and an M.A. from the Relay Graduate School of Education.
Kendrick began her career in 2009 with Teach for America in Thoreau, New Mexico, where she taught special education for kindergarten through fifth grades and was department chair of the special education department. In 2013, she became a founding kindergarten teacher at KIPP Austin Leadership Elementary, and later, an assistant principal and math curriculum coordinator for the district. She has also worked for the Texas Education Agency as the quality review and adoption lead, supporting districts in their work to adopt high-quality instructional materials. Currently, she is the director of advocacy and education for the Allo Hope Foundation. Kendrick earned her B.A. in sociology and history from Boston University and her M.A. from Western New Mexico University.
Mallory began her career teaching seventh-grade English Language Arts in Champaign, Illinois, where she was named Outstanding Beginning Educator and was later named assistant principal. Currently, Mallory is the coordinator of data, design, and innovation for DeSoto Independent School District in Texas. At Desoto, she has co-led the strategic planning process, led three schools through whole-school redesign, and supported curriculum development. Mallory earned her B.S. in elementary education, her M.Ed in curriculum and instruction, and a M.Ed in educational organization and leadership, all from the University of Illinois. Mallory is currently pursuing her Ed.D in educational management and leadership, with a concentration in creativity and innovation, from Drexel University.
Mary Elizabeth began her career teaching kindergarten in Bridgeport, Connecticut. In 2006, she joined Achievement First, where she was a teacher, team leader, and math curriculum fellow for the network. As a classroom teacher, more than 85 percent of her students achieved a score of 90 percent or better on network math assessments. Mary Elizabeth continued to grow at Achievement First, becoming a curriculum designer on the Greenfield team, creating content for self-directed learning and cognitively guided instruction (CGI) math. She is now the math instructional specialist for Excellence Community Schools, where 93 percent of her students were in 2021 found proficient in math on the Connecticut state test. Mary Elizabeth earned a B.A. in education at Elmira College in New York.
Melanie began her career with Teach for America, teaching eighth grade math in Newark. She then joined Achievement First Voyager Middle School in Brooklyn, as a founding fifth grade math teacher; she went on to teach sixth grade math, and be named grade level chair and math dean. Melanie's fifth and sixth grade students increased their proficiency on the New York State Common Core math assessment by 28 percentage points and 26points, respectively. As dean she led her math faculty to make to the highest student growth of Achievement First’s ten schools for each of the past four years. Achievement First named Melanie a a Distinguished Stage 4 Teacher and a principal fellow. Melanie earned a B.S. in economics and public policy from Duke University and an M.A. from Relay Graduate School of Education.
Melissa began her career teaching third through fifth grades in Chicago and Boulder before becoming an instructional coach, school leader, and national consultant with a focus on distributed leadership, equity-focused design, and instructional quality in both charter and traditional public schools. In the wake of the pandemic, Melissa partnered with several Texas communities and nonprofits to redesign their schools through state and federal grants. She has been a middle school ELA curriculum reviewer for the Texas Education Agency and supported ELA teachers implementing new curricula this year. Melissa earned a B.A. from Wheaton College, an M.S.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from Chicago State University, and an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Mirella began her career as a middle school math fellow in Houston. She joined KIPP, first in Houston and then later in Austin, to teach middle school math. In 2015, Mirella moved to KIPP Connect in Houston to be the founding sixth-grade math teacher, rising to course leader, instructional coach, and math department chair. She was the school’s founding algebra teacher and then the dean of math instruction. Mirella then became the director of social-emotional learning for a community development non-profit in Houston. Currently, Mirella is a manager of district and school support for Good Reason Houston. The KIPP Foundation awarded Mirella the Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Award and the Kinder Foundation their Excellence in Teaching Award. Mirella graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. from the University of Houston in interdisciplinary studies, where she is pursuing her M.Ed.
Natalie began teaching as an New York University teaching fellow at Great Oaks Charter School in Manhattan. Natalie continued to hone her practice as a sixth-grade English teacher at Success Academy Charter School in Harlem. In 2016, 96 percent of her students passed the New York state ELA Exam in 2016. Subsequently, she joined the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore as a teacher and instructional coach; Natalie secured a grant to develop a new writing curriculum. Currently, Natalie works as an assistant principal at Rocketship Public Schools in the Bay Area, California. Natalie earned her B.A. in English from UCLA and her M.Ed. from New York University.
Nina’s career began at Roosevelt Middle School in Philadelphia teaching special education. She was then the special education teacher, case manager, fifth grade-level chair, and math problem solving and writing teacher at KIPP: Ascend Charter School in Chicago. During her time in the classroom, Nina’s students' academic performance grew 1.5-2.5 years each year on the MAP assessment. Nina became an instructional coach with the Academy for Urban School Leadership, supporting early career special educators across 33 Chicago public schools; she went on to co-manage the team of 25 such coaches. She is currently an assistant professor of education at Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin. Nina earned her B.A. from Lawrence University in Wisconsin, her M.S. from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
As a Teach for America corps member, Roberto taught special education in a district public school in the Bronx. He then taught third grade and was a staff developer at Uncommon Schools’ Excellence Boys Charter School in Brooklyn, where his work was featured in Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion. Later, at Democracy Prep Public Schools, Roberto was a founding teacher and curriculum director. Roberto was then a consultant/teacher coach for numerous school districts, including Achievement First, where he was a Level 5 ELA teacher coach, the network’s highest distinction. After moving to California, he taught sixth grade in a rural public school, where nearly all of his students passed the state’s English Language Arts exam. He earned his B.A. in Education from Washington University in St. Louis, and an M.Ed. from the City University of New York.
Sarah began her career teaching third grade bilingual special education inclusion with Teach for America in the Bronx. As a fourth-grade classroom teacher at Success Academies, 100 percent of her students passed the New York State exams. She went on to lead the Success network’s elementary math program, whose results consistently ranked in the top one percent of New York State schools. Sarah then became director of the Achievement First middle school math program, where she spearheaded a shift to culturally relevant curricula. Sarah has also taught at an American school in Morocco, trained NYC teaching fellows, and consulted with a number of charter networks. Currently, Sarah is a math coach at Lowell Community School in Massachusetts. She holds a B.A. with a double major in journalism and Spanish from New York University and an M.Ed. from Lehman College.
Suzie began her teaching career with Success Academy Charter Schools in New York, where she taught the first, second, and fourth grades. In 2017, 100 percent of her students passed the math and ELA New York State Common Core assessments with proficient or advanced scores; her scores consistently ranked in the top ten classrooms across Success’s 30 elementary schools. Suzie was invited to join Success’s central team as senior associate of advocacy, where she planned and implemented advocacy workshops to empower staff and parents to foster relationships with decision makers in their communities. She created an advocacy website which offers tutorials to help staff maintain relationships with local officials. Suzie holds a B.A. from Rutgers University in American Studies and an M.S. from Touro College in education and special education.
As a Teach for America corps member, Tiffany taught middle school ELA in the New York City schools. She then became part of the planning committee and founding staff of The Eagle Academy for Young Men in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn, where she headed the English department and facilitated professional development. Tiffany took a sabbatical from the DOE in 2014 to conduct an educational research project in India. When she returned, she led interdisciplinary, project-based curriculum design at a small, progressive school in Brooklyn before joining an independent school, Avenues: The World School. Currently, Tiffany teaches ELA at a charter school in Asheville, NC, where her son attends kindergarten. Tiffany holds a B.A. in English literature from the College of Wooster, an M.A. from Middlebury College, an M.S. from Pace University, and an M.A. from Bank Street School of Education.
Tinnae began her career as an early intervention program teacher for at-risk students in a district school in Atlanta. After teaching at a charter school in Decatur, she joined KIPP Texas Public Schools. There, Tinnae was a general education teacher and team leader. At KIPP Legacy School in Houston, the school’s third graders made the third-highest growth on the MAP assessment of all KIPP schools nationally in 2013-14. Moving to New York City, Tinnae’s students at KIPP NYC made double-digit annual growth on the Common Core state assessments. Subsequently, she served as the humanities instructional specialist at Excellence Community Schools in the Bronx. Currently, Tinnae is specialist assistant to the CEO of Prospect Schools in Brooklyn. Tinnae earned graduated her B.A. in journalism from Grambling State University.
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