Q&A with Zack Charette

  1. Describe the work you’ll be doing with Highlander Institute:

At Highlander, I will be researching two areas of development within the agency. The first will be the strategies and tools we use to support teachers in blended and personalized learning implementation through classroom walkthroughs and observations. My research into the online platform we use and the techniques employed to deliver the best feedback for teachers will be centered around the goal of optimizing the performance of the agency in substantively supporting teachers’ practice. I will also conduct research around the Rhode Island process to access alternative teacher certification pathways. While my research questions around this topic are evolving the more I explore, they consider fundamentally how Highlander Institute can best position itself as a facilitator of quality, non-traditional preparation options to diversify and bolster the RI teacher force.

 

  1. What’s your background?

Prior to joining Highlander, I completed a traditional teacher preparation program in Rhode Island and taught Grade 6 Geography and History Enrichment in a Massachusetts urban public school. During this time, the quality and diversity of the teacher preparation portfolio became a research interest of mine. I also worked in a semi-administrative capacity in the summer programming office at BMC Durfee High School, where I helped oversee a collection of grant-funded OST programs targeting different subgroups of the Fall River student population, including early learners, secondary students, students in credit recovery, and students transitioning to employment in the community.

 

  1. What are you most looking forward to with this new position?

In my new role at Highlander, I most look forward to tracking the translation of research to practice regarding my contributions to the agency’s knowledge growth. I am most excited about watching how brainstorming, research, and thought partnerships within the agency and our partners can lead to substantive support for teachers, and tangible, positive outcomes for all of the students they reach.

 

  1. What’s your self professed superpower?

I would say listening is my “superpower,” both because it has allowed me to access the ways my colleagues process and reproduce information, and has made me a better teammate and thought partner. I also have absolute pitch, which is a rare listening skill that allows you differentiate and identify music notes categorically, like colors.

 

  1. Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

Let us all remember to take History into account in our daily decision-making. In doing this, we come to realize that History is much more about now than it is about then.

Also, I’m your go-to-guy for tips for guitar-players and obscure facts.

Q&A with Charlie Thompson

 Describe the work you’ll be doing with Highlander Institute:

I will support Kara’s work with the Walkthrough tool and Cathy’s production of the Blended and Personalized Learning Conference. For my work with Kara, I will be helping to find and aggregate resources that support teachers’ professional development in the areas specified by the Walkthrough tool and in working with Cathy, I will contribute to the BPLC website, assist in project management, and collect data on emerging technologies.

 

What’s your background?
For the past three years, I taught 7th grade English Language Arts and Just Words at a school in the Bay Area for students with language-based learning disabilities, specifically Dyslexia. Our technology coordinator sought out the best emerging technologies for our students, and she ignited my passion for the possibilities presented by Ed Tech. Before working with that school, I taught English and History at public high school that worked within the education-option framework, and had a partnership with the Gilder-Lehrman Institute. While there, I merged traditional educational frameworks with emerging tech to support holistic learning for students from all over Queens.

 

What are you most looking forward to with this new position?
I am excited to immerse myself in Highlander’s thoughtful, innovative culture, to contribute to the research on and resources available for tech in education, and to learn all that I can from each opportunity.

 

What’s your self professed super-power?
Using every word available to say what I mean to say, except for the most succinct one.

 

Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

If you have any questions for me, don’t be afraid to ask!


Q&A with Jennifer Polexi

1. Describe the work you’ll be doing with Highlander Institute:
I will be working with Karina on the Fuse Architect Project centered around transforming the way 7 high schools use the blending learning model in their classrooms. Furthermore, I will keep The Highlander Institute abreast of policy issues that run through our local state house and the federal level.
2. What’s your background?
Graduating with a degree in English from the University of Florida, I used the background of my culturally themed literature classes to inform my work on social equity. Once I moved to Rhode Island, I commenced service in education where I worked as a College Adviser in a large urban high school in Pawtucket, named after former principal Charles E. Shea. The final days of my service years overlapped with the first days of my education in Urban Education Policy at Brown University.
3. What are you most looking forward to with this new position?
In this position, I look forward to being back in the schools, spending time quietly observing each layer of the school system. I hope to discover new truths that will further inform the direction I take in my work behind advocacy.
4. What’s your self professed super-power?
My self professed super-power is small talk and asking questions.
5. Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
In my perfect world, offices would be open and outdoors.

Q&A with Danielle Blasczak

 

 

1. Describe the work you’ll be doing with Highlander Institute:
I am the Research and Evaluation Manager in the Impact Office.  I hope to create an accessible data narrative for the Institute by coordinating analytic and reporting processes.
2. What’s your background?
Previous to this position I was the Assistant Director of Data and Research at the Center for Leadership and Educational Equity and worked as the TSLP Data Coach in the Providence Public School District. Previous to my career in educational data systems I worked in fundraising at Brown University and Rhode Island Public Radio.
3. What are you most looking forward to with this new position?
I am looking forward to helping Highlander improve upon the measurement systems and data collection systems that are in place, as well as organize and validate the information that has already been gathered.
4. What’s your self professed super-power?
Streamlining and Brevity!
5. Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
Stop by and say hello!

 

Q&A with Karina Rodruiguez

1. Describe the work you’ll be doing with Highlander Institute:
As part of the impact team, we aim to support, monitor, and learn from the different programs led by Highlander in order to strengthen our team’s influence and impact on our schools and teachers.
2. What’s your background?
Born and raised in New York City, I graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Anthropology and received my masters from Brown University in Urban Education Policy. I have had great opportunities working and teaching students from the south side of Chicago and my hometown in Brooklyn. I previously interned at PPSD and the Ethnic Studies program assisting with the development of the program and its curriculum during their pilot year. I also worked with the New York office of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform as their Data and Research Analyst and worked alongside community organizations across the United States on projects around equity and culturally responsive education.
3. What are you most looking forward to with this new position?
With this position I hope to learn and grow with the educators in Rhode Island and support the different programs and efforts led by Highlander to support the teaching work force while promoting blended and personalized learning.
4. What’s your self professed super-power?
I have the innate ability to watch Netflix for hours on end. (Please don’t post that.)

Q&A with Malika Ali

1. Describe the work you’ll be doing with Highlander Institute:
As an Educational Strategies Specialist, I will be collaborating on project implementation and coaching support for Fuse Architect schools.
2. What’s your background?
Most recently, I was an innovation specialist for academic programs for the Providence Public School District. Prior to that, I was a founding science teacher at one of Rhode Island’s first blended learning high schools where I learned a great deal about the opportunities and challenges associated with school-wide and network-wide implementation. And in another life I was involved in public health/biology research. I’ve lived in Rhode Island for 13 years but was born and raised in Oklahoma where my parents immigrated to from Eritrea.
3. What are you most looking forward to with this new position?
I believe the most important lever of change is at the classroom level so I’m really looking forward to getting back into schools and working with teachers and school teams to put their plans into action.
 
4. What’s your self professed super-power?
I can easily make chocolate disappear
5. Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
My people invented coffee. You’re welcome.

Q&A with Vera De Jesus

Describe the work you’ll be doing with Highlander Institute:
As an Educational Strategies Specialist, I support teachers and school leaders in achieving their blended and personalized learning goals.

 

What’s your background?
Most recently, I taught 8th grade math at a public charter school in Central Falls, where I was previously an AmeriCorps Education Fellow. In between the fellowship and teaching, I pursued my MAT at Brown University. Prior to starting a career in education, I studied journalism and psychology in Boston and worked in corporate communications.

 

What are you most looking forward to with this new position?
I’m really looking forward to collaborating with educators across Rhode Island as we work together to create classroom experiences that serve and engage all learners. I’m excited to be working with passionate people who truly believe in educational equity, and I’m eager to learn from my new team!

 

What’s your self professed super-power?
I can describe food with impeccable precision.

 

Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
 Nothing in mind right now, but feel free to strike up a conversation anytime!

International Workers Day

International Worker’s Day

Today – and every day – we stand up proudly and in solidarity for the working families of the students we serve.

May Day has always been tied to immigrant communities because of the population’s contributions to the US economy. In Providence alone, 25 % of our student population are English language learners.

At Highlander Institute, we understand the challenge of our district partners to serve and serve well our rapidly changing, diverse student population. We believe in the power of our teachers, students and families to honor these diverse backgrounds in order to create a more globally-minded community. Our immigrant roots as a city and state are vital to our community’s success.

This year, we support International Worker’s Day. We are committed to an equitable education system that meets the needs all students. Our work is based on creating opportunities for students to reach their full potential despite socioeconomic barriers. We share this vision for all communities and our country. The communities and students we serve are achieving great things!

Join us today at Burnside Park to celebrate working class solidarity. For more information on locally sponsored events, check out this page.

International Women's Day/A Day Without A Woman

On March 8, 2017, Highlander Institute is working in limited capacity due to our support and participation in the Day Without A Women/ International Women’s Strike.

 

This day is a recognition of the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system — and the pervasive and systemic gender-based inequalities that still exist within our society, from the wage gap, to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity.

 

In education, women face persistent wage differentials. Varied concentrations of women in leadership roles across schools and districts have resulted in earnings that are consistently 20% lower than that of men in the educational sector. In higher education especially, women accounted for just 26% of college presidencies, with people of color accounting for only 14%.  

 

This differential plays out in many forms- what is valued, taught and measured within the educational system is directly tied to power and privilege.  

 

We work each day to create equitable, just educational systems that meet the needs of all students in this complex world.  To this end, educational systems must be representative of all genders, races, ethnicities, religions, and orientations at all roles of leadership.  We believe that you can’t be what you can’t see.
We realize that as a nonprofit organization, we have tremendous privilege in terms of scheduling and supporting events like today. Women across many sectors (including education) and those in our most vulnerable communities will not have the ability to join the strike today.

 

We strike for them.

Economic Development Through Educational Technology

With the generous support of Commerce RI, Highlander Institute recently enlisted the support of Fourth Economy Consulting to conduct a feasibility study of the RI EdTech landscape. Based on numerous interviews and focus groups, economic analysis and research, this study analyzes the strategy for economic growth in RI through education technology. As executive agents of EduvateRI, RI’s Education Innovation Cluster, and in partnership with the RI Office of Innovation and Digital Promise, this report will assist in the growth of this sector across the state, looking at educational technology as an economic driver. For more information, visit the EduvateRI website and read the full study here:

[embeddoc url=”https://highlanderinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/FINAL-DRAFT-RI-EDTech-Report.pdf”]