Teacher Fellow Biographies
Our elementary and middle school LTI
Project Teacher Fellows come from Harlem and Brooklyn representing nine
different schools. With the support of faculty and graduate students from
Teachers College, they develop collaborative action research projects based on
literacy practices they deem most important in their classrooms. They then
present their research at Teachers College and state, national, and
international conferences. They also write for publication in widely read
scholarly journals and contribute book chapters to edited books.
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 is a 1st grade teacher at Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School and has taught for 11 years in Harlem and the Bronx. She serves many roles including: UFT Chapter Leader, co-chair of the School Leadership Team, CookShop Coordinator, and on several other school committees. She has researched ways to inspire literacy through poetry with young children, adaptation of packaged curriculum with multicultural literature, and improving literacy through reciprocal teaching with her first graders. She is a member of Kappa Delta Pi and the New York State Reading Association. Pamelyn has presented her research at Teachers College, the New York State Reading Association annual conference and has contributed a chapter for a book to be published in 2014. Pamelyn was one of the original Fellows, joining LTI in spring, 2012.
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 is a 3rd-5th grade Special Education teacher at PS 125 and has also taught a 1st/2nd grade Special Education class, 6th grade for four years, and was a lead teacher for a 1st/2nd grade building in Long Island. She has developed two research projects: (1) the use of parent communication folders and journals to improve students’ literacy achievement and (2) using socio-emotional focused literature to improve students’ literacy skills, self-esteem and the classroom climate. Danielle has presented her research at Teachers College, the Beyond Bullying Conference, and the New York State Reading Association annual conference. She is also a member of the Principal’s Instructional Cabinet and conducts workshops at her school for colleagues. Danielle was one of the original Fellows, joining LTI in spring, 2012.
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.
Lauren has taught middle school English Language Arts for the past seven years in Brooklyn and the Bronx. She is currently ELA Department Leader and a New-Teacher Mentor at her school and completing her Literacy Specialist Masters degree at Teachers College Columbia University. Lauren’s past research focused on the connection between motivation and writing using sketchbooks in the classroom to foster a love of writing among resistant middle-school students. Her current research examines how to help readers construct text-based, inferential ideas and draws on research by Beers and Probst (2013) and theories of transference (Keene, 2007). She has presented her research at Teachers College and the New York State Reading Association annual conference. Lauren has been an LTI Fellow since fall, 2012.
Lexie is a fifth-year special education teacher at The Ronald Edmonds Learning Center (RELC) in Brooklyn. She has taught science and is certified in Childhood Education and Childhood Special Education. Lexie recently earned her Literacy Specialist Masters at Teachers College Columbia University and was inducted into Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in education (spring 2009). She has served on her school's Inquiry Team, Quality Review Team, and Local Measures Committee as part of the new Advance teacher evaluation system. Lexie has also been a School Captain liaison and Summer Resident with Educators4Excellence, an educational policy organization. Lexie's research focuses on increasing students’ engagement in reading and writing through the use of media and relevant materials. Lexie has been an LTI Fellow since fall, 2012.
Andrew is an English Language Arts teacher at New Design Middle School in West Harlem. He entered education through the New York City Teaching Fellows program and has taught 5th – 8th in the Bronx and Harlem for the past six years. He is completing a Masters in Literacy at Teachers College Columbia University. Andrew’s research focuses on teacher efficacy across socio-economic status, disability and race without simply using standardized test scores. He maintains that teacher efficacy is gauged in ways that ostracizes students and teachers alike. By breaking these bonds we can create school environments that are responsive to students’ needs rather than state exam demands. He has presented his research at NCTE and has been an LTI Fellow since fall, 2013.
Lakeya is a 7th grade Literacy teacher at New Design Middle School in West Harlem. She has also taught 3rd grade in Detroit, Michigan. Lakeya was a McNair Scholar at Michigan State University and is an active member of Kappa Delta Pi International Education Honor Society through the Teachers College chapter. She is currently a Masters student in the Literacy Specialist Program at Teachers College Columbia University. Lakeya recently joined as an LTI Fellow during spring 2014.
Buster Nelson teaches sixth grade English Language Arts at Keigwin Middle School in Middletown, Connecticut. He has taught in New York City, San Francisco, Hartford, and Middletown. Buster received his B.A. from Amherst College, M.S. from the University of New Haven, and is completing an M.A. in Liberal Studies at Wesleyan University (CT). He co-chairs his local library’s Strategic Educational Partnership Committee and is a founding member of his school’s Educational Equity Study/Action Group. Buster is interested in how critical pedagogy and the study of youth pop culture texts affect learning. Buster has been an LTI Fellow since Spring 2014.
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.