Teacher Fellow BiographiesThe first cohort of Teacher Fellows of the Literacy Teachers Initiative project are from four elementary schools and one middle school in Community School District 5 of the New York City Department of Education. Read their biographies below and if this is the the type of collaborative research on teaching and learning that interests you, consider submitting an application to join our second cohort of Teacher Fellows in Fall, 2012. Feel free to contact Dr. Jodene Morrell to learn more:
Marie Clevering is a founding teacher at New Design Middle School, a public school in Harlem, where she teaches sixth grade reading and writing. Marie has been teaching in NYC public and charter schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn and now Harlem for the past seven years. Born in Oklahoma, Marie received her B.A. in social studies middle school education at Texas Christian University and her M.A. in English education at City College of New York. Marie is passionate about urban education. Her goal in teaching is to create an environment where her students learn to become life-long independent readers and writers who question the world and their surroundings.
Rachael Cooper is a third grade teacher and Literacy Liaison at Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School. She received a B.A in Psychology from Hampton University and her M.A in Literacy Acquisition and Development from The City College of New York. She is currently pursuing an M.A in Educational Leadership from the City College of New York. Her research interests are finding effective ways to implement guided reading into classroom instruction and using technology to improve student achievement. Ms. Cooper is a member of the NAACP and The National Alliance of Black School Educators. Ms. Cooper lives in Harlem, New York and enjoys bike riding and doing yoga.
Pamelyn A. Williams
Pamelyn Williams has been an early childhood educator for 10 years. She started her teaching career in the South Bronx at P.S./I.S. 123 in 2002. Now, she is a proud educator at Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School in Harlem. Ms. Williams holds a bachelors degree in psychology from Hampton University, along with graduate degrees in consumer-industrial psychology from Cleveland State University and elementary education from Lehman College. She is also an alumna of the New York City Teaching Fellows Program. She values education and believes that all children should have access to a quality rigorous academic program that also fosters social development. As a fellow in the Literacy Teachers Initiative, Ms. Williams will work towards providing students with a nurturing and stimulating environment in which they can take risks and develop the necessary skills to be successful in the world.
Alison Khan has been teaching second grade for the past 6 years. She completed her first year of teaching in Harlem at PS 318 (The Family Academy) teaching sixth grade. Now she is happy to be a teacher at Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School (TMALS) in Harlem. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in mathematics at SUNY Geneseo. She also has a Master’s degree from Syracuse University in Literacy. Currently Alison is certified in Elementary Education (PreK-6), Literacy (Birth-5 and 6-12), and Mathematics (7-12). Along with the IUME Literacy Initiative, Alison is also involved with 2 STEM grants. She values the importance of continuing her education and staying informed about best practices in teaching. Alison is also involved in the Extended Learning Time after-school program at TMALS. In addition to teaching her students different science and technology lessons after-school, Alison also teaches 25 first and second graders tap dancing every Wednesday. Alison became a teacher because she wanted to get students excited about learning and inspire them. She provides her students with a welcoming and safe environment that encourages them to think outside the box and question the world around them. Alison works hard at writing grants through Donorschoose.org so she can provide her students with resources that otherwise her students would go without such as laptops, iPads, and basic school supplies.
Danielle Del Gatto
Danielle Del Gatto is a first and second grade special education teacher at P.S. 125, The Ralph Bunche School. Danielle began her teaching journey on Long Island at Roosevelt Children's Academy where she taught sixth grade and then eventually became a Lead Teacher where she ran an entire building on her own! She is now extremely proud to be part of the New York City Department of Education! Danielle received her Bachelors degree in Child Study with a dual certification in general education and special education (Birth - Grade 6) from St. Joseph's College of New York. She also received her Masters degree in Literacy and Cognition from St. Joseph's College as well. Danielle has a passion for improving the literacy of her students and she believes by creating a nurturing, engaging, and rigorous environment in her classroom, the students will flourish. Danielle is thrilled to be a part of the Literacy Teachers Initiative and she is looking forward to the new ideas and discoveries that will follow with the hard work of all the LTI members! When Danielle isn't working hard in the classroom and with the Literacy Teachers Initiative, she is diligently planning her December wedding!
Siobhan Gordon is a first grade teacher at Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School. She truly enjoys teaching. Siobhan received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Regis College. She also received a Masters of Science degree in Curriculum and Teaching from Fordham University. As a proud member of the TMALS team, Siobhan is on a variety of committees that enrich the environment of her school. She strives to create a culture of excellence, exploration of ideas, acceptance, thoughtfulness and respect. Siobhan is passionate about educating the whole student. She creates a classroom environment where the individual needs of her students are met so they can reach and exceed their goals. Her literacy goal for her students is to create lifelong readers and writers that have the necessary skills to glean knowledge, to show understanding, and to be analytical thinkers. As a fellow in the Literacy Teachers Initiative, Siobhan will work on multi-layered questioning to further develop her students comprehension skills. Students will be challenged to formulate their own questions and to answer questions that address higher order thinking skills.
Juliet Kissoon-Pietracatella holds degrees in Language Art, a Dual degree in Special and General Education, and school Administration. She has taught Pre-K to the University level and is currently teaching fifth grade at Mary McLeod Bethune School. She previously held positions as Coordinators for Instructional Technology, Accelerated Reader program, school library, and science. Juliet was a senior lecturer at the Guyana's Teacher College and a lecturer at the University of Guyana where she presented co-workshops in early literacy, wrote books and curriculum guides, and illustrated books specifically for children of Guyana. Ms. Kissoon loves working with colleagues to identify students at risk, implement instructional strategies, use summative data to evaluate students' progress, and shape instruction. One of her key foci has been integrating content areas and instructional technology into the core curriculum areas. Juliet's goal for participating in the project is to provide leadership and administrative support/coordination to schools with a significant immigrant population.
Joan Stewart received a B.A. degree from Columbia University with a degree in Women's Studies and a minor in Film. She received a M.S. from Bank Street College of Education in Elementary Education. She began teaching as a Cohort 3 New York City Teaching Fellow in 2001. She received an Elementary School Leadership certificate from the New York City Writing Project in 2011. She is also currently participating in the Teaching American History initiative, a grant funded by the USDOE. Her research interests are varied but she is particularly interested in curriculum design, social media and technology and how they impact literacy achievement in urban communities. She is a Literacy Liaison and provides staff support in curriculum planning and the implementation of the Common Core Standards. She currently teaches Literacy and Social Studies at PS/MS 123, The Mahalia Jackson School in Central Harlem.
Kelly Johnston (Doctoral Research Assistant)
Kelly Carter Johnston is a first year Doctoral Student in the Department of Curriculum & Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research interests include out-of-school literacies and their impact on in school success, identity, and social positioning in and outside of school; the relationship between literacy practices and health and wellness; and the intersections between literacy, identity, culture, and social power. Kelly received her M.Ed. in Reading Education from Texas State University and her B.S. in Education from Baylor University. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Kelly began leading students in various settings, including church youth programs and after school clubs and tutoring. After serving as a non-denominational Youth Discipleship Leader for several years, Kelly taught in middle schools for four years, including two years at a private school and two years at a public school in Austin, Texas. While in these positions, she taught reading intervention and then served as a literacy coach. Currently, Kelly is working with IUME on the Literacy Teachers Initiative (LTI) project while pursuing her doctoral degree.
Jodene Morrell, Ph.D
Jodene Morrell is the Director of the Literacy Teachers Initiative project, a Senior Research Associate, and affiliate of the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University where she teaches in the Literacy Specialist Program and advises Masters students. Before joining Teachers College, she was an Associate Professor at California State Polytechnic University Pomona in the College of Education and Integrative Studies where she taught literacy courses for K-12 credential candidates and advised Masters students. She also codesigned the Reading and Literacy Added Authorization program for teachers interested in furthering their understanding of literacy pedagogy for diverse populations. Prior to teaching at the university, she worked as a literacy specialist at a magnet middle school for culture, language and communication arts in Lansing, Michigan where she co-taught and co-planned with teachers and taught sixth and seventh grade writing and E.S.L. classes. She also taught elementary school in San Francisco and Lawndale, California for many years. Jodene has a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Teaching and Educational Policy with an emphasis in Literacy from Michigan State University and is the author of book chapters and articles in journals including the Reading Teacher, Language Arts and the Journal of Urban Learning, Teaching and Research. Her recent research focused on supporting elementary students struggling with reading and writing in an after school literacy based program she developed for a Professional Development School.