Teacher Groups

Teacher Advisory Group

The Teacher Advisory Group (TAG) was formed in 2013 to support NCTQ in its mission by providing consistent and meaningful teacher voice to our work. Teacher Advisors contribute crucial perspectives to the work that NCTQ does, helping to bridge the gap between policy and practice. Members of the TAG hail from diverse backgrounds and varied experiences and all have one thing in common: their passion to improve the educational landscape of their districts, states, and the nation.

Lisa Christensen

Lisa is currently teaching 6th Grade Language Arts and Social Studies at Parras Middle School in Redondo Beach, California. She started her teaching career in Patterson, California in 2004. Her teaching experience spans grades and continents. She has taught 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 6th grade. Her third year of teaching was spent at an international school in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, East Africa. Her experiences in education outside the classroom include working as a research assistant on federally funded education research, serving as a BTSA mentor for new teachers, and reviewing curriculum for the California Department of Education. She holds a BA in Liberal Studies from California State University, Stanislaus and an M.Ed. in International Education Policy and Management from Vanderbilt University. She is currently working on an Ed.D. at the University of Southern California.

Dan Cultra

Dan has taught for 16 years in Elmhurst, Illinois. Dan currently teaches 6th grade language arts and social studies at Churchville Middle School. He has taught 7th grade language arts and social studies and 4th and 5th grade in a self-contained setting. Dan has experience as a grade level team leader, summer school coordinator, and curriculum writer. Dan also has experience as a union representative and currently serves on the district leadership team. He earned his BA in elementary education from Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois and his MA in educational leadership from DePaul University in Chicago.

Aaron Grossman

Aaron Grossman is a 5th grade teacher in Washoe County School District that includes Reno, Sparks, and Incline Village Nevada. Aaron started in education as a member of AmeriCorps helping with the Montana Reads initiative. He moved to Reno, Nevada in 2001 to teach 6th grade in one of Nevada's most impacted schools. In 2007, Aaron moved out of the classroom to become an instructional coach, then a school improvement coordinator and in 2011, Aaron started the Core Task Project. The effort garnered national attention and in 2014, Aaron was named an EdWeek Leader to Learn From. In 2015, Aaron returned to the classroom.

Melissa Guillen

Melissa Guillén has served in education for seven years in several roles including as a behavioral specialist program manager, and teacher leader. She began working for District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) in 2011 as a dual language 1st grade teacher. Ms. Guillén has earned a rating of Highly Effective under the DCPS evaluation system and is currently a participant in the New Leader for New Schools Emerging Leaders program. Ms. Guillén has a Masters of Education from George Washington University. She is excited to support teacher growth and voice and believes that all students deserve an outstanding education.

Mahoganey Jackson

Mahoganey is currently teaching 8th Grade Georgia Studies at Sylvan Hills Middle School, in Atlanta, Georgia. She has also taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade English Language Arts both in gifted and inclusive settings. She started her teaching career in Decatur, Georgia in 2008 after receiving her degree from Albany State University. She nurtured her desire to learn and grow more by receiving a Masters degree in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in 2010, from Walden University. Mahoganey has experience as a grade level team leader, department chair, district level curriculum writer, and currently serves on her schools leadership team. In 2015, Mahoganey was in the top 10% of teachers in Atlanta Public Schools under the Georgia Teacher Keys Effectiveness System. Mahoganey has always had a strong interest in educating inner city youth. She thrives on helping youth achieve greatness both academically and personally. She is committed to ensuring that every student receives quality education, from a quality teacher, and looks forward to working with NCTQ to ensure this outcome.

Betty Jensen

Betty K. Jensen earned a PhD in physics from Columbia University and subsequently an MBA with a major in finance from St. John's University. She has extensive experience in energy and environmental research and the communication of scientific issues to the public. Betty has served as an advisor to a number of government, academic, and private institutions and has published numerous peer-reviewed articles. Betty has always had a strong interest in teaching. This interest was heightened by her effort to communicate scientific issues with the lay community. Since so much of our daily lives relates to technological, environmental, and risk issues, a solid foundation in math and science is a must. Since taking early retirement from industry about ten years ago, Betty has been on the faculty at Notre Dame Academy High School on Staten Island, an all-girls school, where she teaches science and math. Betty also serves as a peer reviewer for several academic journals and participated in developing tools for teachers as a member of the Air and Waste Management Association's Committee on Education. She has also served as an advisor to middle and high school students participating in an advanced science program at New Jersey's Liberty Science Center. 

Brandon Ledford

Brandon Ledford has taught for nine years at Ithica Elementary School in Villa Rica, Georgia. He has taught language arts and social studies in fifth grade and language arts and science in fourth grade. During his career in education, he has taken on many roles and responsibilities to contribute to the teaching profession. He was a fellow of the Cherokee Rose Writing Project at the University of West Georgia. He has served as a grade level leader and trainer for his school. Brandon worked as a curriculum consultant at the state and district levels for the state of Georgia. He earned his B.Ed. and M.Ed. in middle grades education from the University of West Georgia and his Ed.S. in teaching and learning from Northcentral University.

Jeanette Speka

Jeanette has taught K-4th grade students for 18 years in both urban and rural areas of Northern California. She is currently a Literacy Specialist teacher working with at-risk kindergarten and first grade students who struggle with basic early literacy skills. She has taught at Nokomis Elementary School in Ukiah (Mendocino County), California since 2005. Jeanette holds a BA in Liberal Studies/Multiple Subjects from San Francisco State University, a Reading Instruction Certificate from University of California at Davis, and an M. ED in Curriculum and Instruction, Literacy Emphasis, from American College of Education. Jeanette is passionate about ensuring that all students start their education with well-trained teachers who understand the complexities of teaching beginning readers and the importance of high-quality, evidence-based, early intervention for at-risk students.

Karen Vogelsang

Karen Vogelsang has taught elementary school for thirteen years. She currently teaches 4th grade at Riverwood Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a Master's Degree in Elementary Education. In 2007 she became a National Board Certified Teacher in Early Childhood. The following year she began mentoring candidates pursuing National Board Certification and discovered a new passion helping other teachers pursue the rigorous certification process. In March 2012, Karen received a fellowship from The Martin Institute to attend Harvard's Project Zero Classroom. As a result of presenting at Harvard's Project Zero conference in February 2014, Karen was asked to co-lead the Project Zero Memphis group, and currently serves as the co-chair. She served as a Study Group Fellow for the 2015 Harvard Project Zero Classroom convening. Karen has served on Tennessee's Math Textbook Committee and as a Common Core Math Coach. She is a Hope Street Group Fellow for Tennessee, and served as the 2015 Tennessee Teacher of the Year. Karen currently serves on Governor Haslam's Teacher's Council and Commissioner McQueen's Teacher Advisory Council.

Emmy Clarke

Emmy spent the past two years as a 2014 Teach for America Corps member in the Greater New Orleans Region teaching Chemistry and AP Chemistry. She grew up in rural South Carolina in a typically underserved and low-performing region, which inspired her to pursue work in low-income education. Having completed an alternative teacher certification program, she is very passionate about high requirements for admission to and completion of teacher preparation programs. As a young and relatively new teacher, she is excited to learn more about how teachers are coached and evaluated across the country, and hopefully contribute towards positive and meaningful change to improve student achievement and teacher retention in our most vulnerable schools and districts. Emmy also believes strongly in the value of experiential education, which led her to spend her first summer off from teaching working in Wyoming as the High School Internship Coordinator for City Kids Wilderness Project. She is excited to be continuing her career in education by moving to Arizona to be the founding high school science teacher at Empower Collegiate Academy, which opens its doors in August 2016. Emmy is a graduate of Clemson University and will be beginning work on her Masters of Science in Education through Johns Hopkins University this fall.

Amanda Zullo

Amanda Zullo is a National Board Certified Chemistry teacher at Saranac Lake High School in Saranac Lake, New York. She apart of the ADK Farm to School Initiative as USDA Planning grant coordinator and co-writer of the NYS Agriculture Grant. Amanda is an advocate for inquiry activities having served as associate editor for the POGIL project Chem, Bio, AP Chem and AP Bio books and worked with PASCO on writing guided inquiry AP Chemistry labs. She presents on these methods at local, regional and national conferences including AP Summer Institutes. Amanda is a National Teaching Fellow with Hope Street Group, a National Board candidate support provider, a member of the New York State Master Teacher program, the American Chemical Society, #TeachStrong and New York State Ed Voice Fellowship. In her ten-year teaching career she has been honored with several HACH and National Education Association grants. She serves on the teacher advisory board for the National Council on Teacher Quality and is a 2015 New York State Finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science. Amanda has a BS in Organizational Communication/Pre-Medical Studies from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Geneseo and a Master's in Science Education from Union Graduate College.


Teacher Candidate Advisory Group

The Teacher Candidate Advisory Group was formed in 2014 to support NCTQ's Teacher Preparation Studies department in its mission to ensure that every teacher enters the classroom with the training necessary to be competent and confident on Day One. As students currently enrolled in teacher preparation programs, Teacher Candidate Advisors review our work-in-progress with a perspective grounded in their ongoing coursework and clinical experiences. 

Benjamin Alexander

Benjamin Alexander is a senior at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, where he studies language arts education and English literature. His experiences as a student in Columbus City Schools formed his interest in becoming a teacher. He will graduate in May 2017 and plans on leaving Ohio to teach, but hopes to someday return to Columbus to give back to his community.


Lennon Audrain

Richard "Lennon" Audrain is the Latin teacher at Arizona' s Bennett Academy and a senior at Brophy College Preparatory, the only Jesuit, Catholic high school in Arizona. Lennon holds an associate's degree in elementary education from Rio Salado College and is the state president of Educators Rising Arizona, a career and technical student organization dedicated to ensuring the future is filled with high-quality educators. In the future, he aims to pursue a career in education policy.

Jerrika Bailey

Jerrika Bailey is a senior at Dallas Baptist University. She is studying elementary education and will graduate in May 2017. Currently, Jerrika is serving as president of the Student Education Association, and she previously served as Greek life chaplain. At her church, Fielder Road, she teaches Sunday school in the Fielder Kids Ministry and she has been a part of the college ministry team. Post-graduation plans are yet to be determined, but children will remain a central part of the future.

Rebecca Duitsman

Rebecca Duitsman, a senior at Dallas Baptist University working toward a degree in 7-12 English, is eager to share her love of writing and the English language with her students. Currently, she teaches children ages 9 to 11 at her church. Rebecca has served as the communications officer for the university's Student Education Association and has been an active member in the association for three years. In the future, Rebecca wants to help students of all ages through a program that partners with schools in the community to help local students succeed. Besides helping with homework, Rebecca deeply desires to help students expand their horizons and experience hands-on learning through partnerships with companies, greenhouses, zoos, and other community-based organizations.

Joi Funches

Joi Funches is a graduate student at Walden University, pursuing a master's degree in teaching and early childhood education. In 2014-15, she served as an AmeriCorps Reading Corps member in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, where she taught early literacy skills to Head Start students by using evidence-based intervention strategies. She actively serves her community as a member of Prince William County Schools' Special Education Advisory Committee and the Superintendent's Advisory Council on Instruction. Joi has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Florida A&M University and has held professional leadership roles in marketing and hospitality management. She is excited about the contributions that she will make in education and looks forward to helping children gain the skills they need to succeed in school and life.

Caroline Goodill

Caroline Goodill, a senior at the University of Dayton, is studying middle childhood mathematics and English language arts and pursuing a TESOL certification. She is the president of the University of Dayton's Collegiate Middle Level Association, and her academic and professional interests include research, educational policy, and leadership. In the future, Caroline foresees a career working in urban education, teacher preparation, and professional development.

Haydn Lambert

Haydn Lambert's passion for teaching and learning began at an early age. Through working as a teaching assistant at his high school, and as a student advisor to the Illinois State Board of Education, Haydn got his first look at education policy, which drove his desire to make a difference both in and out of the classroom. Now, he is a freshman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he is majoring in political science and the teaching of English. He is a member of several campus and professional organizations and a Golden Apple Scholar of Illinois. Through the Golden Apple Scholars program, Haydn will spend the next four summers preparing to fulfill his commitment to teaching in a high-need school.


Ramon Montano

Ramon Montano is currently working toward his bachelor's degree, and hopes to become a middle school history teacher and principal. Ramon previously worked for the San Diego Unified School District as an elementary school aide and as the program community assistant for the Parent Outreach and Engagement Department of the Title VII Indian Education Program. He now works for a charter school as the restorative justice coordinator and is active in the Restorative Pipeline to Success Campaign, which advocates for full implementation of restorative justice practices in San Diego County Schools. Ramon is a youth panel member of the International Education Commission, commissioner of indigenous youth affairs for the Indigenous Democracy Defense Organization, a youth advocate for the Global Campaign for Education-U.S., and an incoming fellow for the United States Human Rights Network RESULTS Educational Fund.

Madison Pettit

Madison Pettit is a senior at the University of Iowa studying elementary education with endorsements in reading and social studies and a minor in psychology. Her future plans are to work in an urban elementary school, where she can support English language learners and students from low-income families. Currently, she works at a preschool in Iowa City and serves as an ambassador at the Belin-Blank Center for gifted and talented students. In her free time, she hikes, takes road trips to the beach, and hangs out with her friends and roommates.

Sarah Rahimi

Sarah Rahimi graduated summa cum laude from Southern Methodist University with a bachelor of science in education and a bachelor of arts in history. She is currently pursuing her master's degree through the Hunt's Residency in Teaching at SMU and working as a clinical teacher at Stonewall Jackson Elementary in Dallas, Texas. As an International Baccalaureate diploma holder, Sarah's goals include teaching in a developing country and instilling the ability and desire in her students to become lifelong learners.

Rebecca Rodgers

Rebecca Rodgers is a special education teacher at Eagle Academy Public Charter School in Washington, DC. Last year, she joined the Eagle Academy team through the Urban Teachers residency program. As an Urban Teachers fellow, she is currently earning a dual degree in elementary education and special education from Lesley University. Prior to entering the education field, she managed a youth-focused program that provided free meals to after-school and summer programs in the DC metro area. Rebecca hails from Chester, VA, a suburb of Richmond. She graduated from James Madison University, where she studied history and anthropology.