Director of Interventions
IDEA Public Charter School
Charlene Evans-Smith completed her undergraduate studies at Towson University, where she majored in Early Childhood Education, specializing in supporting students from birth to third grade. Charlene began her teaching career as a preschool teacher in the Baltimore area. Throughout her time teaching, she realized that some of her students experienced gaps in academic equity and supportive community structures. To better support her students, Charlene chose to further her education and complete her Master’s in Special Education, and a doctoral degree in Education Policy and Administration, at The George Washington University. During her studies at GWU, Charlene was the recipient of several awards, including the Achilles-Harper-Swenson Emerging Researcher Award, the Vest Graduate Endowment Fellowship, and GWU GSEHD Educational Administration and Policy Studies Scholarship Recipient.
Charlene’s path as an educator includes her experience as a Special Education Coach, Reading Specialist, Interventions Manager for all 6th-12th grade students within DC Public Schools, and Director of Interventions and Accelerations for a Washington DC Charter School. Charlene is the co-author of two research studies focusing on critical race theory. Her dissertation research focused on the influence of educational support for African American female students in middle schools. Chalene brings a deep commitment to cultivating inclusive learning environments, culturally responsive teaching, and racial equity.
District Reading Coach
Decatur Public Schools
Dr. Gail Hardwick’s, educational career began 25 years ago. She has served as a K-5 classroom teacher, Elementary Director, Reading Specialist, Early Intervention teacher, MTSS lead, and currently serves as a District Reading Coach for City Schools of Decatur, Decatur, Georgia. Dr. Hardwick has served as a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)/ Southern Association of Independent School (SAIS) team member, served as a consultant for a national curriculum, as well as served on the Teacher Advisory Council for City Schools of Decatur. Dr. Hardwick’s believes that literacy provides the freedom for children that allows them to unlock their highest potential. Because of this belief and as a language and literacy specialist, Dr. Hardwick is passionate about improving Tier 1 reading instruction for all students. She lives in Lilburn, Georgia and enjoys reading and spending time outdoors.
K-5 Functional Life Skills Teacher
Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District
My name is Elyse Hahne and I am a K-5 Structured Life Skills Teacher as well as PK-5 Special Services Teacher in Grapevine, Texas. I am an ASCD Emerging Leader and enjoy collaboration with educators often. This is my 11th year in Education and I have taught in K-8 as well as in HS settings. I am passionate about Universal Design for Learning and Special Education as well as Social and Emotional Wellbeing for all. This includes support(s) for students to be successful in all areas of education. Advocacy in education as well as student voice with trauma informed practices are near to my heart. I have shifted to supporting students to supporting teachers and students through coaching, mentorship, and opportunities as they have come. I want to provide culturally responsive teaching practices and learning in classrooms and as well as coach teachers. It’s the best of both worlds to me.
My passions include Special Education, retention of teachers and educators, mental health of students and staff, as well as finding a balance of work-life and how to accept this balance individually. Supporting students and staff has my heart and how to support the ever growing demands of the workplace and for us to be successful is driving my work at this time. Personally, I enjoy spending time with family and friends as well as our dogs and taking pictures of natural photography and flowers. I am honored for this opportunity to be on the board.
Student Support Teacher/Case Manager
NOLA Public Schools
Lauren Jewett is a third/fourth-grade special education teacher in New Orleans, where she is an active member and executive council member of United Teachers of New Orleans. She is a Mentor Teacher in the state of Louisiana and currently in her 13th year of teaching. A National Board Certified Teacher in the area of Exceptional Needs, Lauren serves as the Policy/Advocacy Chairperson for the Louisiana NBCT Network and mentors National Board candidates in her school and city as a professional learning facilitator. Lauren holds a BA in history and political science with a minor in American Sign Language from the University of Rochester and is currently pursuing an MA in English from the Middlebury College Bread Loaf School of English where she is an involved member of the Bread Loaf Teacher Network. Lauren has presented sessions at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual conference, led local professional development workshops for AfterCLASS New Orleans, and served as a co-presenter for the National Board Core Connections webinar series. She was a 2019 ASCD Emerging Leader and 2019-2020 Understood Teacher Fellow, and she has written articles for ASCD’s In-Service blog and Understood.Org. Lauren is passionate about Universal Design for Learning and mental health and wellness supports for students and teachers. She is an avid runner and yoga enthusiast.
Partners in Schools Innovation
Ty’s career in education began in Philadelphia, where he taught special education, science, reading, and math. Building on the success of raising elementary reading levels of children with autism to that of their peers, Ty began working in leadership. He completed leadership training with PhillyPLUS, where he learned to balance adaptive and technical skill sets to drive teacher improvement and gains in student outcomes.
His greatest achievements came while serving as an assistant principal of specialized services in a charter junior high school. In that role, Ty led his department to create a vision statement and supporting systems to strengthen content and rigor; adjust least restrictive placements for students; and reduce special education referrals given a remodeled intervention process.To read about Ty’s work at Partners, please see his story from the field, “Determination.” Outside of work, Ty enjoys cooking, fitness, and travel.
Director of Curriculum
Alexis Lewis has served in the education community for 20+ years in Central Florida, from City of Orlando to St. Petersburg, as a K-12 instructor, curriculum developer and advocate. To date, Alexis has developed a curriculum/methodology; PROJECT I.A.M., based on emotional I.Q., supportive to academic curriculum, for Birth to Adult. She was able to present it to the White House/D.O.E., along with the RISE Bill and Prison Reform, and is now working on its franchising. She sits on 2 boards, United Foundation of Central Florida, and the State of Florida Attorney Generals’ Human Trafficking Task Force, and conducts classes for parents, caregivers and educational staff on Sex Abuse and its Awareness.
Alexis partners with and consults with other schools, education groups, and education stakeholders in D.E.I., Cross Cultural & Sensitivity Trainings, and Crisis Management through public relations consulting. In her spare time, she loves to read and travel.
Regional Math Trainer
Southern Nevada Regional Professional Development Program
Jen Loescher has worked as an educator within the Clark County School District for 22 years. In 2018, she joined the Southern Nevada Regional Professional Development Program team as a Middle School Math Project Facilitator. She previously worked at Sedway Middle School as a Strategist/Coach and Data Coordinator and has taught 6th grade math and 2nd grade. She is an alumna of the Public Education Foundation’s Teacher Leadership Academy and the Tuva Fellowship. Jen is also a 2021-2022 Teach Plus Nevada Executive Senior Policy Fellow and a Community Manager with Digital Promise’s Coach PLC. She earned a BS in Elementary Education and an MS in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Most recently she became a 200-hour Certified Yoga Teacher (CYT 200) and earned a Social-Emotional Learning Facilitator certificate from Breathe for Change. Jen is passionate about energy mindfulness (how to better manage our energy in order to maximize our time) and leveraging teacher leadership to impact student outcomes.
SELPA Program Specialist
Santa Clarita Valley School District
Dr. Nu’Man is an educator and advocate whose passion lies in the areas of social-emotional learning and leadership, restorative practices and principals, and teacher trauma. Dr. Nu’Man has worked for sixteen years as an Education Specialist for students with significant cognitive and physical disabilities. During that time, she mentored and supervised beginning teachers in inclusive practices, lead and implemented initiatives for individuals with disabilities, trained and developed administration and staff on best practices for individuals with moderate to severe disabilities, and multi-tiered systems of support.
Currently, Dr. Nu’Man is the Program Specialist, for Santa Clarita Valley SELPA. In lieu of this position, she continues to lead professional development opportunities across districts in the areas of Non-Crisis intervention, the Facilitated IEP process and culturally responsive teaching.
First Grade Teacher
Red Clay Consolidated School District
Sarah Oberle has served the Red Clay Consolidated School District for 14 years as a first grade teacher. She is also team leader, representing her colleagues on her building leadership team. Sarah has a passion for understanding the learning sciences to improve instructional content and practice. She believes that connecting educational research to the classroom is essential towards maximizing all learners’ experiences. Sarah earned a B.A. in Psychology, M.Ed. in Elementary Education and is currently working on an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Delaware. She lives in Newark, Delaware with her husband and two daughters. During free time, Sarah enjoys spending time with family and friends.
Kelly Sheppard is currently the curriculum coordinator at the WSWHE BOCES in upstate New York where she supports 31 districts as well as BOCES instructional programs with curriculum development, enhancing instructional practices and embedding social emotional learning. Prior to this, she was a special education teacher in Connecticut and New York for 14 years working in self-contained and inclusive settings in a variety of school districts. In all aspects of her career, Kelly has worked to support teachers through providing them a voice and empowering them to be reflective professionals. She supports teachers and leaders in holding high expectations for each and every student through professional learning, collaboration and instructional coaching. Kelly is also an avid tech user, helping teachers harness the power of technology to enhance pedagogy, provide access and amplify opportunities for students. She is a certified Google Trainer. Kelly is a proud mom of two, musical junkie and self-professed beach bum.
Julye Williams is the founder of the Project 2043 Institute, an educational firm committed to helping individuals, organizations, and educators develop an inclusive, equitable, and healthy multiracial society. An educator and skilled facilitator, Julye uses her talents and passion for equity and social justice to develop educational tools, lead engaging conversations, and inspire audiences large, and small to take action to create inclusive organizations and communities. Julye began her career establishing free tutoring programs in New York City public schools. She went on to create the cultural exchange program, Global Youth Connect, to give students in New York, South Africa, Cameroon, and India exposure to one another. She later co-founded North Star Academy – Liberty Elementary School in Newark, NJ which today continues to educate 450 students annually. Most recently, Julye served as the director of professional development at a national non-profit, where she created educational resources, workshops, and more on the topics of race & diversity, trauma, and social-emotional learning. Her tools have been downloaded by more than 75,000 PreK-12 educators nationwide, impacting more than one million children. Fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, Julye holds an MBA from Florida A & M University.
Verizon Innovative Learning Schools
Theresa Womack graduated from ASU with an ESL and middle school math endorsement. She has taught 7th grade math and 5th grade self contained. Prior to graduating from ASU she was an elementary school librarian for 6 years. Theresa has been a VILS coach for the past 2 years working with her teachers and students in a high needs title 1 school district. Theresa has formed and leads an amazing tech team on her campus. She leads these students in closing out IT tickets, getting laoners out, setting up new student ipads, and creating the school’s morning announcements. She is also the school cheer coach, and student council sponsor. Theresa works with her TLC and leadership team to foster a positive culture on campus when it comes to technology. In her spare time Theresa likes to work out at the gym, hike, complete 5K races, and spend time with her girlfriends. She is a mother of 3 grown children who make her proud every day.