"Meet Our Changemakers" - Speakers and Panelists

Care Based Leadership Collaborative (CBLC)

Speakers: Dr. Spradley, Jessica Spradley, Dr. Allen, Eric Allen

Title: Imagining Educational Spaces the Care For Black Students

Type: Consult Session: (90 min) Indepth, instructional program with hands-on learning activities and specific takeaways.

Description: While most educators will claim they care about their Black students, research suggests that Black students are all too often emotionally and psychologically assaulted in the school context from lack of care from educators. Leaning on the work of Geneva Gay, Richard Milner, Yolonda Sealy Ruiz and others as theoretical framing, participants will (1)explore where schools have failed in caring for Black students,(2) examine cases of individual and systematic examples of successfully “caring for” rather than merely “caring about” Black students, and (3) identify ways to incorporate care-based practices into your schools.

Target Audience: Intermediate

Dr. Spradley

Dr. Spradley is the CEO of the Care Based Leadership Collaborative and has over 14 years of routinely advancing the retention of students and staff in Higher Education and K-12 environments through the use of cutting-edge technology and a deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusive practices to deliver incredible results. Obtaining his Bachelors and Masters from Robert Morris University and his Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh, Spradley’s research focused on care-based practices of mentors serving Black adolescent male mentees

Dr. Eva Allen

Dr. Eva Allen is a mother of three and has been an urban educator with Pittsburgh Public Schools for over 20 years. Currently, she serves in a dual role as a Principal in one of Pittsburgh’s high needs schools and as a Learning Environment Specialist with the Student Support Services department. She has held several leadership roles that include addressing the teaching and learning environment, equity, and facilitating professional development that surrounds culturally relevant practices and beliefs. Eva recently completed her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Duquesne University. Her research included establishing learning communities, intervention design based on her theory, cultural care, and incorporated elements of improvement science.

Jessica Spradley

Jessica Spradley,M.A has 15 years of experience in the field of education. Mrs. Spradley’s educational experience includes a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Cultural Anthropology and a Master’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Black Studies. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in Social Foundations of Education with a minor in Research and Measurement and anticipating the finish in the fall of 2019. Mrs. Spradley has a strong commitment to issues of diversity and their incorporation into the curriculum.

Eric Allen

Eric Allen has accumulated 19 years of expertise teaching Special Education for students in grades K-12 in the Pittsburgh Public Schools district. A graduate of Slippery Rock University, Eric served as the Special Education liaison and school compliance officer to the district as well as a member of the Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS) team at the school level.

Title: Architecture Demystified

Type: Show & Share: (60 min) An activity-based session that facilitates interactive and creative learning techniques.

Description: Architecture Demystified will allow for participants to engage in the activities that the company Drafting Dreams offers in K-12 schools focused around teaching architecture. Participants will spend 45 minutes designing the exterior of a one-bedroom house using architectural software, Google SketchUp. We will debrief in the last 15 minutes about how teaching architecture equips students to become change-agents in their communities and about the architectural skills that are transferable to students' academic success.

Target Audience: Advance

Christian Hughes

Christian J. Hughes is a native of Detroit, Michigan and a 2014 graduate of Hampton University in Hampton, VA, where he received the Master of Architecture (M.Arch) Degree. Christian is a Graduate Architect, in pursuit of his professional license as an architect. He serves Drafting Dreams as the Sole Proprietor and Education Director. Additionally, he is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Container of Nside Out Spaces, a design-build company that re-purposes shipping containers into habitable living and working spaces with a focus on environmental stewardship and affordable and equitable housing.

Title: Navigating Race Talk and Racial Identity

Type: Case Study: (60 min) A focused presentation highlighting research findings from relevant initiatives and projects.

Description: We will present our findings from the 2016 Teachers and Race Talk Survey, focusing specifically on how teachers articulate their beliefs and perceptions about the importance of engaging in conversations of race with their students. Pedagogical frames include critical teacher education, the racial identity of teachers and students, and race talk.

Target Audience: Intermediate

Derric Heck

Derric Heck is a K. Leroy Irvis Fellow and second-year doctoral student at CUE. He is a native of Brunswick, Ga., and a graduate of the Florida A&M University School of Architecture. His introduction to Pittsburgh came via an Urban Design Fellowship (UDREAM) within the Remaking Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

Prior to his current doctoral studies, Heck was the director of an educational consulting firm focusing on organizational development and expansion. He is a member of the 100 Black Men of Western Pennsylvania and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, and continues to volunteer with several community organizations.

DaVonna Graham

DaVonna Graham is a second-year doctoral student in Language, Literacy and Culture, a K. Leroy Irvis Fellow, and Graduate Research and teaching associate at CUE. DaVonna earned a B.A. in Psychology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and a Master’s of Business Administration from Point Park University.

DaVonna is an experienced youth advocate and scholar activist. Prior to attending Pitt, she held dual leadership positions as the executive director of the Hill District Education Council, as well as director of programming for the Schenley Heights Community Development Program. She has also served as a facilitator/trainer of NEXT Neighborhood Leaders program with the Coro Center for Civic Leadership.

Title: Three Trains Running: The Intersectionality of Race-Based Trauma, African American Youth, & Race-Based Interventions

Type: Case Study: (60 min) A focused presentation highlighting research findings from relevant initiatives and projects.

Description: The session will detail the findings (via presentation and whole group discussion) from a phenomenological study that examined the lived experiences of 10 African-American emerging adults (18-25) who participated in race-based interventions during their secondary education and successfully integrated the interventions to mitigate race-based trauma academically, socially, and emotionally. During the session, the following key qualitative data findings the respondents valued will be revealed: 1) acute awareness of the needs of African-American youth 2) access to tools to address the needs of African American youth 3) exposure to various platforms that allow African American youth to witness, develop, practice, and activate the tools.

Target Audience: Beginning

Dr. Lisa Pickett

Dr. Pickett is a life-long learner. She embraces all aspects of her career as an educator by honoring what she knows, as well as what she is open to learning to better the environment and experiences of her students. By embarking on this journey to earning her education doctorate degree, Mrs. Pickett has made the commitment to grow her knowledge base by embracing current educational research, engaging in rich philosophical discussions and presenting new ideas to those around her. Her specialties include secondary education, communications, writing, creative project management, African American Literature, African American History, African American cultural awareness, race-based trauma, mediation, self-expression apparel and print product development. She currently serves as the English Department Director at the Pittsburgh School for the Creative and Performing Arts and has appeared in the movie, Fences.

Title: Diversifying Drone Technology: Using Drone Technology to Engage African American Youth in Computer Coding

Type: Show & Share: (60 min)An activity-based session that facilitates interactive and creative learning techniques.

Description: This session will provide an overview of the racial disparities in computer science and how we can use drone technology to attract African American youth to computer coding. Discussion will focus around the positive impacts a local, Pittsburgh based drone technology program had on African American youth and how this type of program can remove the racial differences in computer coding and prepare African American youth for the workforce.

Target Audience: Beginning

Dr. Lori Paluti

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Title: Helping school districts and families combat truancy: A collaboration of stakeholders

Type: Talk Backs: (60 min) A speaker-lead open conversation with attendees around a particular topic.

Description: We will review my dissertation manuscript Student perceptions of influences on truant behavior in a western Pennsylvania school: A Qualitative case study. We shall review and discuss the research findings and true best practices to address the epidemic of truancy. To truly address attendance barriers we should hear and speak with the students regarding why they chronically miss school.

Target Audience: Intermediate

Dr. Montaire Taylor, Ed.D

I have had the privilege of working with the Gateway school district for the last 17 years. The first 9 as the district social worker / home & school visitor. The last 8 as a school counselor at the high school and elementary level. During the years as the social worker one of my primary responsibilities was addressing truancy. This is where my passion for the issue was originated and inspired my work for my dissertation. I recognized there were many barriers to a student’s attendance. Very often the circumstances were not due to indifference to education. In speaking with students and working with families I recognized that school districts were taking punitive measures to address the epidemic. My passion in recent years has been advocating for students identified as truant and working with to address their identified barriers to school attendance. In order for districts to truly address we must look at each case of truancy independently.

Title: Working for Teens: Developing Decision-Making Skills in Adolescence

Type: Consult Session: (90 min) Indepth, instructional program with hands-on learning activities and specific takeaways.

Description: Participants will gain a basic understanding of adolescent brain development with respect to decision-making processes. Following, educators will have an opportunity to examine the curriculum materials and participate in hands-on activities which demonstrate how these resources can either be taught as separate, skill-focused concepts or as integrated content within traditional core coursework. Session leaders will demonstrate and model specific decision-making strategies, offering participants ample time to explore multiple techniques through applied examples. Further, participants will work in small groups to discuss practical ideas for implementation of the curriculum in both middle school and secondary classroom settings.

Target Audience: Intermediate

Dr. Tricia Shelton

Tricia Shelton has been an early childhood educator for 17 years. During that time, she taught first and third grades and served as an elementary school principal.
Considering herself a life-long learner, Dr. Shelton holds a Master’s Degree in Education and a doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Her research interests include teacher attitudes and inclusion of students with ASD.
She has a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Dr. Shelton is also skilled in Nonprofit Organizations, Early Childhood Education, Lesson Planning, Public Speaking, and Curriculum Development. She is a strong education professional with a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) focused in Curriculum and Instruction.

Title: Teach 2 Liberate! (Developing Culturally Responsive Tasks for All Content Areas)

Type: Show & Share: (60 min)An activity-based session that facilitates interactive and creative learning techniques.

Description: The purpose of this workshop is to provide Math teachers with instructional strategies that they can use to create lessons or tasks that are culturally responsive to the specific student populations they service in the classroom. As an example, I will be presenting the project I completed with my 7th grade class. In May 2018, the 7th grade students at Joseph Lee School engaged in a unit project focused on the intersection of racial profiling and law enforcement. The goal of the project was for students to use qualitative and quantitative data to construct arguments about the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color. These arguments will guide students in brainstorming solutions that will help to improve the effectiveness of America’s law enforcement agencies and, consequently, remedy the issue of racial profiling against communities of color.

Target Audience: Intermediate

Title: The Rise of Black Edupreneurship

Type: Power Talks: (15 min talk/15 min Q&A) A short solo presentation highlighting new and emerging ideas followed by

Description: For this presentation, I will share with participants the journey I have taken to build my educational consulting business (Identity Talk 4 Educators) and the valuable lessons I have learned (and continue to learn) about edupreneurship. I will also highlight some of the leading figures of the "Black Edupreneurship" movement. The main objective of this presentation is to highlight how edupreneurship brings out the activist spirit of Black educators and can be the key to creating a cycle of generational wealth, as well as combatting such as issues as gentrification and income inequality within our most vulnerable and marginalized communities.

Target Audience: Intermediate

Kwame Sarfo-Mensah

Kwame Sarfo-Mensah works as a 7th & 8th Grade Math Teacher at the Joseph Lee School in Boston Public Schools. He is also the founder of Identity Talk Consulting, an independent educational consulting firm that provides professional development and consulting services to educators all over the country who desire to enhance their instructional practices and reach their utmost potential in the classroom. A proud graduate of Temple University, Mr. Sarfo-Mensah holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and a Master’s Degree in Education.
On December 2018, Mr. Sarfo-Mensah published his first book, Shaping the Teacher Identity: 8 Lessons That Will Help Define the Teacher in You, which was his response to the many challenges and frustrations that come with being an educator within the public school system. The 173 pages in this book are meant to guide the reader through a self-exploration of their life and help them extract the inherent qualities that uniquely define who they are (or will be) as change agents within the classroom. The book centers around such issues as culturally responsive teaching, self-advocacy, professional development, and building a network of mentors. The content within the book represents a collection of the lessons, experiences, opinions, thoughts, and perspectives Mr. Sarfo-Mensah has acquired throughout his 13-year career in the education field. It also features interviews from educators with 110+ years of combined classroom experience.
Throughout his 13-year career in education, Mr. Sarfo-Mensah has dedicated his life to positively impacting and enriching the lives of young children who reside in the roughest neighborhoods in Philadelphia and Boston. Now, he is on a personal mission to uplift and empower educators who are committed to reversing the ills of the public education system in America and globally.

Title: The Return of The Authentic Educator: The Vital Role of Internal Energy Cultivation to Optimize Teacher Effectiveness and Student Learning

Type: Consult Session: (90 min) In-depth, instructional program with hands-on learning activities and specific takeaways.

Description: This session will examine many of the common errors in education, particularly within an urban setting. We will also look at how a retrieval of 'Old School" educational approaches and the concept of the Teacher-Initiate must make their way back into teaching spaces and teacher training. This consists of highly specialized training, character cultivation and energy enhancement for what is arguably the most formative profession in the world.

Target Audience: Intermediate

Malcolm Thomas

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Title: WITH not for: Using user centered design to improve student learning

Type: Consult Session: (90 min) Indepth, instructional program with hands-on learning activities and specific takeaways.

Description: This workshop will give participants an overview of the design thinking process and how it might used to reimagine how we engage our community. As a leader one must be ever evolving and improving on what you are doing/creating/imagining to serve your users. Building new ideas in education requires you to do two things: putting students and families at the center and a dedication to work that encompasses empathy.

Target Audience: Beginning

Malliron Hodge

Malliron has experience in higher ed, community engagement, nonprofit management, job placement, and user centered design, with Tulane University, Cafe Reconcile, ARISE Academy, 4.0 Schools, Digital Promise, and Malliron L Hodge Education Innovation Consulting LLC. She has a BS in Business Management from Winston-Salem State University an MPA from Indiana University with a concentration in Nonprofit Management.

Title: Culture Killing: The Death of Marginalized Cultures in Educational Curriculum

Type: Consults-90 Minutes: In-depth, instructional program with hands-on learning activities and specific takeaways.

Description: Molefe Kete Asante laments the fact that “an African-American in order to master the white cultural information-has had to experience the death of his or her own culture”. And on our best day, we as educators are yet unknowing participants in that cultural death as we stand in front of students to teach what we ourselves were once taught…but no more. Through partner activities, independent reflection, and critical group discussion spanning all core subjects, teachers in this session will learn to highlight student culture in daily lessons and create culturally empowering moments that students will never forget.

Target Audience: All

Mike Brown

Mike Brown, Chief Schools Officer
Freedom Prep Academy Charter Schools
Mike Brown, a native of New Jersey, studied Psychology at Hampton University and later earned his Master’s in Educational Leadership at Boston College. He has spent the last 18 years fighting for high quality education for racially and economically marginalized students. Brown relocated to Memphis as a turnaround Principal (moving his school from level 1 to level 5 with double digit gains in student achievement).

His continued desire to positively impact the life trajectories of black and brown students brought him to his current role as the Chief Schools Officer at the Freedom Prep Academy Charter School Network where he serves approximately 1,900 in Memphis, TN.

Sundiata Salaam

Sundiata Salaam, Chief People Officer
Freedom Preparatory Academy
Sundiata Salaam was born in Camden, AR to Robert and Linda Webb in 1982. He attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to fulfill his bachelor’s degree in English and completed his Master’s Degree in Pan-African Studies at Syracuse University. In the summer of 2007, Sundiata began teaching as a 6th Grade ELA teacher at Walker Mill Middle School in Capitol Heights, Maryland. After two years, Sundiata came to Memphis to serve as Freedom Prep’s founding Dean of Students.

As the Dean of Students, Sundiata helped to create a strong student culture that facilitated a rigorous academic component. Using the elements of a strong student culture, he moved into the role of Head of School in order to sustain student culture, achievement, and a strong adult culture. After two years as the Head of School, Sundiata became the Chief Schools Officer. In this role, he oversaw the culture of each Freedom Prep School and helped develop Heads of School at each location. Currently he serves as the Chief People Officer, where he is working to recruit and retain strong talent.

Title: Creating a Positive Learning Environment in High Needs Schools

Type: Consult Session: (90 min) Indepth, instructional program with hands-on learning activities and specific takeaways.

Description: The Power-Struggle in the classroom is real. When students are angry or upset, that student frequently will demonstrate poor judgement and make impulsive decisions. The person most likely to be targeted will be an adult or person in charge. It’s extremely important that teachers to know strategies to help a confrontational student to reduce their escalation and reestablish behavior that promotes a positive and safe learning environment. In order to fully grasp the magnitude of the current state of urban education while serving students, we must build a foundation of understanding the mindset of the teachers and students we serve. Developing a safe learning environment takes courage and the willingness to learn new ways of thinking and communicating with students and parents. When teachers develop habits that support a safe learning environment administrator will see a reduction in misconduct referrals, out of school suspensions, and loss of instructional time. This comprehensive paradigm shift will be the quintessential element in maintaining long term, healthy classroom systems for school excellence.

Target Audience: Beginning-Expert

Sean McCaskill

Mr. Sean L. McCaskill is one of America’s latest emerging voices in the early years of the 21st century focused on motivating people to believe that dreams come true. He is motivational speaker, educational consultant, leadership coach and entrepreneur. A product of the mean streets of the Pittsburgh Hill District, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he was molded by his experiences and learned that suffering does not destroy an individual. Ironically, his suffering revived him whereas he was able to overcome several obstacles and survive through it. Sean believes that “Everyone is born with greatness however; most people fail to discover it because of FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real).

Title: Capitalizing on Classroom Currency

Type: Talk Backs: (60 min) A speaker-lead open conversation with attendees around a particular topic.

Description: Participants can expect to be challenged to reconsider preconceived notions about power, discipline and what learning looks like. We will leave our comfort zones, because while they are beautiful places not much is growing there! Pedagogical frameworks incorporated included Universal Design Learning (UDL), Co-Teaching/Cosmopolitan/Content (Emdin) and Critical Examination.

Target Audience: Intermediate

Shallegra Moye

Shallegra Moye is an established, passionate educator with twenty years of experience. Her experience includes presenting at educational conferences, is currently a PTO president and is the recipient of the A Plus Schools Ella Baker Leadership award. Shallegra Moye has worked several school districts, including Pittsburgh Public, StoRox and local charter schools.

Title: Responding to Emotions Linked to Challenging Behavior

Type: Show & Share: (60 min)An activity-based session that facilitates interactive and creative learning techniques.

Description: Participants should expect to unpack assumptions adults often make about behavior and children’s reactions to redirection. Additionally, there will be coverage of some cause of adverse behavior and a not so deep dive into the developmental aspects of behavior. Small group sharing and interactive exercises will engage participants in understanding often overlooked causes of adverse behavior.

Target Audience: Beginning

Twila Simmons-Walker

Twila Simmons-Walker is a certified school counselor and seasoned out-of-school learning practitioner with more than 15 years experience working with children and youth of all ages.

Twila is a part-time doctoral student in the University of Pittsburgh’s school of education. She is the founder of Third Child Inc., a local nonprofit partnering with families, educators, and the general public, to understand and diminish the effects of challenging behavior on the lives of those directly impacted.

Twila resides in the Beechview neighborhood of Pittsburgh with her family.