Meet Our Wave 6 Tiny Fellows!

We’ve selected 46 teams to join our 2019–20 Tiny Fellowship to pilot their innovative ideas with their communities to build a more equitable future of education.

Meet the 2019–20 Wave 6 Tiny Fellows

Destiny Woodbury | Houston, TX

About Destiny: Destiny Shantell Woodbury is from Rhode Island. She is entering her 13th year in education and is the Founder and CEO of The Anchor School. Destiny began her teaching career with TFA in 2007. She was a School Leader at YES Prep and Achievement First and an Instructional Coach with TFA-Houston. Destiny received her B.S. and B.A. in Chemistry and Secondary Education with a minor in Leadership Studies from the University of Rhode Island and received her M.Ed in Educational Administration and Supervision from National-Louis University.

Apryl Felder | Atlanta, Georgia

About Apryl: Apryl is a dreamer and a doer with a lifelong passion for the future of school. With 4.0’s help, Apryl ran a successful pop-up based on the tenants of democratic schooling and aspires to expand the opportunity of self-directed education to at-risk public school-aged children by co-creating with them a collaborative democratic learning space where they can successfully bridge pathways to success.

Jaime Johnson-Duplessis | New Orleans

About Jaime: New Orleans native, Dr. Jaime Johnson-Duplessis is an experienced educator with experience in both Middle and High School classrooms, Special Education, and as a leader within a national nonprofit organization which promotes college access to scholars in New Orleans. Jaime holds an Educational Administration Doctoral Degree with a research background which includes published works on Black Feminist Theory, Activism, School Leadership, and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy. An education-entrepreneur, Dr. Jaime-Johnson Duplessis has worked alongside her design team to develop a school model which promotes equity, deeper learning, and innovation under Ivy NOLA’s 4G Experience (Gifted, Guided, Glowing, and Growing).

Wanda Clark (left) and Easter White (right)

Wanda Clark & Easter White | Fayetteville, Georgia

About Wanda: Wanda started her career as an educator in a school where 80% of the students received free or reduced meals. She realized that illiteracy was not only a problem with many of my students, but with the parents as well. Focusing on literacy, She had the opportunity to transfer to a school that was a part of the Reading First initiative. This training equipped her with the skills to address the literacy gaps of her students. After the Reading First Program, she became a Literacy Coach in Fulton County where she was able to empower teachers to become literacy advocates.

Ameerah Bello | Atlanta, GA

About Ameerah: Only after spending time home-educating her children did Ameerah Bello, a fifteen-year public school teacher, stumble upon the gap that exists between math expectations for young children and their actual math capabilities. After much research, trial, and actual use she discovered the tremendous benefits of abacus-based math instruction, and envisioned an America that adopted this tool which has long benefited countries who continually out-pace us in mathematical achievement. Inspired, Ameerah developed her own simplified abacus-like apparatus to make math mastery in preschool-aged children and kindergarteners a more universal, realistically attainable goal.

Natalie Smith | Washington, D.C.

About: Natalie Smith is the Founder and CEO of Global Citizens School. Previously, Natalie served for three years as Head of School at Sela Public Charter School, a Hebrew language immersion charter school in Washington, D.C. She developed Sela’s dual-language, academic, and social-emotional programs and increased student growth by over 50% in literacy and math — earning Sela a Tier 1 ranking from the D.C. Public Charter School Board.

Ashley Brown | New Orleans, LA

About Ashley: Ashley graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta, her hometown, in 2010 and knew that the field of education was where she was most passionate. She volunteered at schools in the Atlanta area and saw the need for dedicated educators and the impact they had on students’ lives. In 2011, Ashley was accepted to TeachNOLA in New Orleans and began teaching. As a teacher, she learned much about the impact of quality instruction and developing as an educator. In 2017 and 2018, Ashley served, with zest and enthusiasm, as primary school Assistant Principal. She currently serves as a kindergarten teacher.

Naqibah Al-Kaleem & Jesse Leavitt | Boston, Massachusetts

About Naqibah: Naqibah is a Boston native and the mother of a wonderfully spirited son. She currently reside in Roxbury and is looking to use her education and experience to adequately support healing and restorative change in her community. Helping people through health and wellness initiatives, solving problems with a win-win wholistic approach, and creating inclusive systems of operation is her passion. She has a degree in Human Service. She loves science, nature, and generally all forms of dance, and practices reiki, meditation, Tui Na Massage. Naqibah loves connecting with people and learning new things.

Phillip Hon | Stockton, CA

About Phillip: Phillip is returning to his hometown of Stockton, and as a UnifED Fellow starting an intentionally diverse school with a focus on pluralism. His career has taken him to many places where he has focused on advancing equity through national and local roles in education, policy, and nonprofits. Within schools, he has worked to provide educational excellence to students and communities as a teacher, academic coach, and vice principal at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels. He is currently serving as the Dean of Culture at Yu Ming Charter School in Oakland, California.

Tatiana Feldman & Eli Szus | New York, NY

About Tatiana: Originally born in Latin America, Tatiana came to the U.S. as a child, and studied Journalism at NYU on a merit-based scholarship. Before dedicating herself fully to her idea, Tatiana was a finance professional with over a decade of Wall Street experience. Tatiana is now a mom of three and developed Circletime after years of research, discussions with experts, and personal experience. Her personal mission is to harness smart devices to bring the best in early childhood science, thought leadership, and practice to every household to provide educational equity when it is most critical.

Michellea Millis | Gainesville, FL

About Michellea: Michellea has 20 years experience in Education and 10 years in Non-Profit Administration. She has served in every role in Education except a Superintendent. In the last 10 years, she has been an instructional and leadership coach working with charter schools to improve teacher and leader effectiveness to increase student achievement and organizational performance. In her 20 year history, Michellea as worked in New Jersey, New York, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas. She is passionate about creating, nurturing, and sustaining high performing cultures of learning in underserved communities. She is an avid movie watcher and traveler.

Saymah Nah — Washington, DC

About Saymah: Saymah Nah has made it her personal priority to change the outcomes for black and brown students from neighborhoods similar to her own. Saymah believes that in order to equitably serve black and brown students we must educate holistically through academics, socioemotional support, and rewarding experiences. No factor is greater than the other. Saymah obtained her BA in English from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and her MA in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Howard University.

Holly Morris — Seattle, WA

About Holly: Holly leads Global Voice, an innovative organization co-designing and developing equity-focused, human-centered solutions for stakeholders in ELL/education space. Recognizing that all innovation brings change, Holly uses knowledge of change management frameworks to help leaders navigate as they and their organizations evolve and change. Holly also teaches human-centered design to leaders and teams. To all of this work, Holly brings ten plus years of experience in adaptive coaching, building leadership capacity within organizations for exceptional results.

Jessica Turnquest (left) & Marilyn Edmunds (right)

Jessica Turnquest & Marilyn Edmunds | Washington D.C.

About Jessica: Jessica began her career teaching English in Houston with TFA. In her Master’s program, she built her knowledge around policy, school law, and mandatory reporting. She later served as an Instructional Coach at Breakthrough Collaborative. After her teaching experience, she knew she wanted to stay in the education space to advance equity and opportunity for children and marginalized communities. She had the opportunity to this by working closely with DC Prep and Building Excellent Schools. She believes every community is beautiful, every child can learn, every teacher is impactful, and every idea that helps our world is transformational.

Katie Saiz — Wichita, KS

About Katie: Katie has been working with young children in various educational settings for 23 years. Currently, she runs a small home-based early learning program for preschoolers. As a working mom of two, she earned a B.A. in Child Development & Human Services from FHSU and a graduate level certification in Literacy Intervention. She has a love for reading, nature, and simple living and is passionate about creating alternative educational environments which inspire kids to direct their own learning, explore their interests, and live out their lives with courage, character, and purpose.

Lisa María Rhodes | New Orleans, LA

About Lisa María: Lisa María is devoted to increasing access to education and mental health supports for high school students and graduates in New Orleans. She is currently Director of Alumni Mental Health Services for Collegiate Academies Next. Inspired by past work with Orleans Public Defenders, Evangelical Immigration Table and Christian Community Development Association, Lisa Maria developed a system of support for students involved in criminal justice or immigration court systems at George Washington Carver High School, which she is now scaling to launch ALAS, a nonprofit that trains educators to create educational access for youth involved in immigration or criminal justice systems.

Atianna Cordova | New Orleans, LA

About Atianna: Atianna is a New Orleans native, and passionate about using design to advance social and environmental justice in communities of color. She founded WATER BLOCK in 2018 to address flooding in neighborhood blocks, and spur community driven development. Her startup won the grand prize at the 2018 Propeller Water Challenge Pitch Competition. Atianna has received awards for excellence in architecture, served on Mayor Cantrell’s Transition Committee, selected as a 2017 Salzburg Global Fellow, and was chosen for C40’s 2019 Women4Climate cohort. Atianna received her Bachelor of Architecture from LSU, her M.Sc in Disaster Resilience Leadership from Tulane University and certificate in Community Development Finance from the University of New Orleans.

Martha Diaz — Los Angeles, Ca

About Martha: Martha Diaz “MD” is a community organizer, media producer, archivist, curator, and educator. MD’s work has traversed the entertainment industry, the public arts and education sector, and the academy over the last 25 years. Her passion is advancing human rights and transforming communities through hip-hop, media, technology, and social entrepreneurship. MD has produced several community-based initiatives and solution-driven platforms that address social inequities, transform public spaces, and challenge epistemologies around the production of hip-hop. Through her publications of research reports, books, and curricula she chronicles hip-hop history, cultivates the field of hip-hop education, and preserves the culture for future generations.

Mathieu Williams (left) and Bill Chen (right)

Mathieu Williams and Bill Chen | Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i

About Mathieu: Mathieu is the current media and technology teacher at Kealakehe Intermediate School. Through the hard work of his students and support from his colleagues and community, he was recently named Hawa’i’s 2019 State Teacher of the Year. Mathieu holds a degree in Business Administration and an M.Ed in Educational Leadership. He constantly seeks opportunities and collaborations that connect student’s passions with the world’s greatest needs. He is passionate about human-centered and place-based design. He and his students live by the mission of lead from every chair, work from the heart and challenge your limits.

NJ Mvondo — Davis, CA

About NJ: NJ Mvondo is a writer, multicultural pop-up bookstore owner and community organizer based in Davis, California. She advocates cultural diversity in children’s literature, and shares resources on her various platforms, including on her blog Multiculturalism Rocks! She helps schools and Public libraries set up culturally diverse and educational events, while also providing access to hard to find multicultural and bilingual books for classrooms, educators and families, specifically from authors of color and independent presses.

Pranoo Kumar (left) and Desiree Hunter (right)

Pranati “Pranoo” Kumar and Desiree Hunter | West Palm Beach, FL & Brooklyn, New York

About Pranoo: Pranoo is a career changer from medicine to education- committed to culturally responsive practice. She taught for 6 years (PreK- 4th) at Success Academy, serving as Labsite Leader, creating PreK curriculum, the AT Development program, and was a two time recipient of the SA Teacher Excellence Award. She then served as Founding Instructional Leader/Leadership Coach at Impact Public Schools-the first elementary charter in Seattle. Here, she created an activism, identity driven PBL curriculum. She recently founded, divHERse, education consulting focused on representation of women of color in ed leadership. Currently, she is the Education and Training Specialist at FLI.

Rebecca Gartner (right) and Ellie Adelman (left)

Rebecca Gartner and Ellie Adelman — Denever, CO

About Rebecca: Rebecca is an early-childhood teacher passionate about cultural and educational equity. For the past 6 years, she has taught preschool and was the director at a daycare. Her year as an ESL teacher in Thailand taught her the value of cultural exchange, and the need we have in the US for cultural diversity in our education. Rebecca is now am teaming up with a group on The Village Institute’s mission with her personal focus on the multicultural childcare sector.

Niesha Freeman | New Orleans, LA

Niesha K. Freeman is most passionate about helping underserved young people from her hometown, New Orleans. Like many of our youth today she had no voice growing up in her crime-infested neighborhood. Her childhood environment served as motivation. In 2015 Niesha became the Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit Knowing Your Destiny, Inc (KYD). As the Founder and Executive Director, she developed and implemented programs for the betterment of New Orleans’ young people. The founded organization’s well-known program, Geaux Ready, has helped 50 participants earn $40,000 for their future endeavors after high school and teach financial literacy.

Cassandra St. Vil | Baltimore, MD

About Cassandra: Cassandra is passionate about affirming Black identities in schools. She is a trained Africanist, international social worker and experienced high school teacher, working with diverse adolescents for nearly 20 years and in over 30 countries. A Teach for America, Peace Corps and Fulbright Scholar alumna, she currently teaches high school history in Washington, D.C. and lives in Baltimore with her lively Labrador. She is a graduate of Howard University, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Hunter College, University of Michigan and Buffalo State College in African Studies, school design, special education, and social work.

Brandon Taylor | New York, NY

About Brandon: Brandon serves as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at DREAM Charter High School. Originally from South Jamaica, Queens, NY, he wants to ensure that future generations are prepared to address the major social and environmental issues of the future. In his role, he works to cultivate the next generation of leaders by guiding teachers in creating learning opportunities rooted in the pedagogy of play. Developing historically-informed methods of resisting oppression is a critical tenet of his pedagogy and he believes students should see their education as an instrument for social change and be fully engaged with the process while doing it.

Edith Arias | San Francisco, CA

About Edith: Edith was born in Mexico and came to San Francisco when she was 17. She loved school, but it was the advisor at the Latino group she joined who convinced and guided her to apply to college. She attended one semester at UC Santa Barbara before dropping out to get married. Years later, with her three children in school, she decided to take a computer class, and with help from another encouraging advisor, she continued school. Edith completed her teaching credential and a masters in special education. She is currently a Special Education teacher in San Francisco, and a community organizer.

Johnaé Strong | Chicago, IL

About Johnaé: Johnaé Strong is an educator, organizer, and writer working at the intersection of social movements, healing, and education. She is a founding member and leader of BYP100, a political organization for Black people 18–35 working for liberation for all Black people. He rwork spans across community and labor focusing on campaigns against state violence and school privatization and amplifying community-led strategies for creating a more just and safe society. Johnaé holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Master’s of Arts in Education from the University of Chicago.

Matsuo Marti | Chicago, IL

About Matsuo: Matsuo, a naturally curious scientist, is passionate about igniting the spark within all children to use their imagination to see what has yet to be seen, create what has yet to be created, and dream what has yet to be dreamt. After an engineering career, Matsuo taught mathematics and became the founding principal of an innovative, early college STEM high school. As Director of STEM, Matsuo led initiatives to increase STEM equity and access for all students. Currently, Matsuo is leading a reimagined high school experience that emboldens students to impact communities as consultants, innovators and social entrepreneurs.

Ronald Towns and Zachary Bell | Oakland,CA

About Ronald: Ronald grew up in a black, working and middle class community. He received a scholarship to attend a private high school that was in a predominantly white, suburban community. Family members regularly told him to not trust white people while parents of his classmates would not let their children come to his house because Detroit was dangerous. He became an educator and the co-founder of Camp Common Ground to eliminate the discomfort that people from different racial and economic groups feel towards one another. He’s worked as an educator for the last 12 years to do this work with youth.

Libby Curran — Wilmot, NH

About Libby: Libby is an early childhood teacher and special educator for over 25 years. Her greatest passion is teaching children to read because reading is key to success in school and life and the most direct route to interrupt the vicious cycle of generational poverty. She have authored hundreds of “little books” and created the Reading Train mobile apps so beginning readers can have a huge collection of books to read at school and at home. Awards include the Christa McAuliffe Sabbatical Award, a 2012 People Magazine Teacher of the Year Award and the 2015 International Literacy Association Grand Prize for Technology and Reading.

Domari Lewis | Frederick, Maryland

About Domari: Domari Lewis is an educational consultant who has worked with school districts, school leaders, teachers, parents and educational companies from across the country to help increase student success. She is passionate about teaching and has been committed to educating inner-city students for more than fifteen years. Two of the accomplishments that she is most proud of are being featured in Doug Lemov’s book “Teach Like a Champion” and being a mom to her four amazing children. In her spare time, Domari loves to watch crime drama tv shows and dance to reggae music.

Carmen Cruz and Angelo Cruz | New Braunfels, TX

About Carmen: Carmen Cruz, Ed.D., is a First-Generation STEM Latina Educational Leader, Author, Mentor, Advocate, Chief Program Officer and Co-Founder of 1st-Gen Scholars. Dr. Cruz is passionate about mentoring students to cross the finish line to graduate. Dr. Cruz received her Bachelors from Washington State University and both her Masters and Doctor of Education Degrees from Stephen F. Austin University. Dr. Cruz is an editor for the Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, Dissertation Award Committee Co-Chair: AERA Latina/o/x RI SIG, a current member/reviewer for AERA, ASHE, NASPA, and UNM. Her research interests include: diversity/equity/inclusion, Latina/o student access/persistence/retention, mentoring/coaching programs, and STEM education.

Karima Wilson | Houston, TX

About Karima: Karima Wilson, founder of EquityHow, supports schools in forging a new school experience for students of color through tools and trainings that help schools create affirming, rigorous learning communities. Karima has over a decade of experience, as a teacher and principal. Her passion is building supportive communities for educators and students to support their rigorous intellectual development. Karima won the KIPP Harriet Ball Excellence in Teaching Award. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and her master’s degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education. In her free time, she likes to cook and play capoeira.

Kendra Denmark | Atlanta, GA

About Kendra: Kendra is a Georgia native with aspirations to change the world, one youth at a time, through financial empowerment. With over a decade of experience in working with young adults, it has become her passion to encourage youth to get a jump start on securing their financial futures. As the Assistant Project Director for TRiO Student Support Services at Georgia State University, she has the pleasure of helping first generation, low income college students achieve their personal and academic goals. It is her life’s mission to give back by cultivating our youth.

Marisa Hamamoto | Los Angeles, CA

About Marisa: Marisa is a professional dancer and a stroke survivor who was temporarily paralyzed from the neck down while in college. This life changing incident led her to create Infinite Flow, a professional dance company composed of dancers with and without disabilities using dance as a catalyst to inspire inclusivity and innovation. Since 2015, Infinite Flow has performed over 100 events, from community fairs to corporate events with Apple, Red Bull, Porsche, Kaiser Permanente, and others. Their videos have been viewed by 70 Million+ people on Facebook alone, and they have organized 200+ inclusive dance classes.

Irene Greaves | Houston, TX

About Irene: Irene is first and foremost a human being. Above all things, she believes in love — love as a force for positive change in the world and love as panacea for the problems that plague the world. She dreams of a world where love is planted, nurtured and grown collectively. She is originally from Venezuela but consider our planet her home. She has had the great privilege of living a wealth of international study, volunteer and work experience, and learned that love is the only thing that transcends all differences and that we can learn to love.

Sarah Craig | Richmond, VA

About Sarah: Sarah has spent the last 20 years seeking both relationships across differences of race and class and methods by which America, and particularly Richmond, VA, might create racial equity. This quest has involved living in neighborhoods with those disinherited by race and poverty and leading fundraising and program design for youth development organizations. Professional positions have included Chief Development & Impact Officer (Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond), Director of Development (YMCA of Greater Richmond). She holds a BS (William & Mary), MA (Regent College, Vancouver BC), and MSx (Stanford Graduate School of Business).

Anna Gabriella Casalme (left) and Claudia Pacheco (right)

Anna Gabriella Casalme & Claudia Pacheco | Los Angeles, CA

About Anna : Anna is dedicated to creating a genuinely youth-driven civic engagement experience. She brings over 5 years of experience at the intersection of child health and well-being, design thinking, and technology. She completed her MSc in Childhood Studies from the University of Edinburgh, where she was a Rotary Maternal and Child Health Scholar and a Saltire Scholar. She received her B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University.

Jonathan Santos Silva | Rapid City, SD

About Jonathan: Jonathan Santos Silva is the Founder of the Liber Institute, an organization focused on developing the leadership capacity of Indigenous students, families, and educators to transform their schools and the communities that surround them. Prior to this, Jonathan served as a school founder, instructional coach, education consultant, and on-the-ground support to South Dakota’s Native American Achievement Schools. His education career began at Little Wound School on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where he taught secondary math and called play-by-play for Mustang Athletics. He was a 2017–2018 School Systems Leaders Fellow and 2019 TNTP Bridge Fellow.

Genevieve Backer & Colby Heckendon | St. Louis, MO

About Genevieve: Genevieve began her career in education as a TFA corps member in New Orleans. She taught 5th grade at a traditional public school for 3 years and was ranked in the top 1% most effective teachers, determined by the Louisiana Department of Education Compass Final Evaluation. Backer was a founding lead teacher at KIPP East in New Orleans and founding middle school teacher at LPA in St. Louis. She worked as the Director of Operations at The Opportunity Trust and now is a Principal in Residence at City Garden Montessori while she works to launch Atlas in 2021.

Darius Nabors | St. Joseph, Missouri

About Darius: Darius graduated from the University of Virginia and was a 2007 Teach for America corps member in South Dakota. After teaching, he took a trip to visit all 59 US National Parks. Currently, he uses 360 photos of National Parks to take students across the country on virtual tours of National Parks.

Robert Hendricks | Boston, MA

About Robert: Robert was part of the 2%. As a Black male educator, he’s experienced the struggles and beauties of having a unique perspective on education.When he decided to study Math and Social Studies Education, he didn’t realize how much the two subjects would complement each other. his Math brain allows him to solve problems reasonably and logically. His Social Studies brain enables him to make connections across space and time. In practice, he’s able to see the institutional issues in educational (in)equity over time, especially as it pertains to boys of color, and produce replicable, sustainable, and multifaceted solutions.

John Spencer | Philadelphia, PA

About John: John W. Spencer is a lifelong Philadelphian who believes that businesses have the responsibility to positively impact people, planet and profit. With that in mind, he formed TEACH IT Labs, Inc. [TEACH IT]. TEACH IT’s mission is to provide information technology that imparts skill and provides knowledge for social change and the advancement of humanity. John holds a Doctorate in Educational and Organizational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania, along with Master’s Degrees from Lehigh University and Drexel University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Morgan State University.

Ki’Amber Thompson | San Antonio, TX

About Ki’Amber: Ki’Amber grew up in communities that were over-policed, over-incarcerated, and over-polluted. She found healing from those experiences in the outdoors. She graduated from Pomona College where she wrote her thesis, “Prisons, Policing, and Pollution: Toward an Abolition Framework within Environmental Justice.” She activated the ideas in her thesis by founding Charles Roundtree Bloom Project, an outdoor healing justice program for youth of incarcerated parents. At the Ocean Conservancy, Ki’Amber built community partnerships and contributed community-based storytelling to Ocean Conservancy’s blog. Before that she led a pilot youth water testing and education program in Flint with Freshwater Future.

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At 4.0, we invest in community-centered models of education, providing coaching, curriculum, community and cash to those with the imagination to envision more equitable ways to learn, and the desire to ethically test those ideas.

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