National News 


Survey: Today’s teaching force is less experienced, more open to change
By Jackie Mader
Hechinger Report, October 23, 2012

Teacher-Leader Corps Helps Turn Around Schools
By Stephen Sawchuck
Education Week, April 20, 2011

New Teachers are the New Majority 
By Celine Coggins & Heather Peske
Education Week, January 19, 2011

Lesson Plan in Boston Schools: Don’t Go It Alone
By Mike Winerip
New York Times, August 8, 2010


Indianapolis Fellows

Meet the Indianapolis Teaching Policy Fellows 2013 Cohort:

Carey Ciochina – Raymond Park Middle School

Carey Ciochina is currently in her fifth year of teaching the students of Raymond Park Middle School in Warren Township. Carey teaches 7th grade language arts and also serves as the school's language arts department chair. While studying Middle/Secondary Education and English at Butler University, Carey discovered her passion not only for teaching, but for teaching students living in urban areas. Her Butler experiences motivated her to continue to serve the children of Indianapolis after graduating. During her time as a Raymond Park Ranger, Carey has served on the School Improvement Committee, sponsored National Junior Honor Society, implemented events like the ISTEP Pep Rally and Literacy Night, and coached the school's cheerleading team. In addition to her commitments at RPMS, Carey is finishing her Master's Degree in Educational Leadership and Supervision from Ball State University.

Megan Cooper – Paramount School of Excellence

Megan Cooper currently teaches third grade at Paramount School of Excellence where she also serves at the Third Grade Team Lead. During the 2010-2011 school year, Megan’s third grade team achieved an 87% passing rate on the IREAD-3 test as well as, she lead her class to a 27% higher passage rate on the on the ISTEP+ assessment. Megan currently serves as the Lead Teacher at PSoE. She enjoys being a mentor to her fellow colleagues and sharing her passion for teaching with others. Before she taught at Paramount, Megan taught for 4 years at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has a B.A. from Hanover College.

Megan Danielle Kinsey – Indianapolis Lighthouse College Preparatory Academy

Megan Danielle Kinsey is a Secondary World History, Advanced Placement United States History Educator, and mentor teacher at Indianapolis Lighthouse College Preparatory Academy, a public K-12 charter school in Indianapolis. In addition to teaching, Megan is the head varsity cheerleading coach and is the chairperson for school dances. Megan earned her B.S. in Secondary Education with a concentration in Political Science, Historical Perspectives, and Geography from Ball State University, where she graduated in 2007. In her classroom she utilizes the Common Core Standards to ensure her students are transferring skills learned in the English Language Arts classroom into her classroom. Outside of the classroom Megan enjoys spending time with her husband, her dog Zeus, and reading.

Joe Gramelspacher – Crispus Attucks High School

Joe Gramelspacher graduated from Indiana University with bachelor's degrees in Finance and Economics. He joined the 2009 Corps of Teach For America and taught high school math for two years in Colorado Springs. After completing his two year commitment, Joe moved home to continue his career as an educator in his native Indianapolis. Joe currently teaches Algebra and Geometry at Indianapolis Public Schools' Crispus Attucks High School. Joe passionately believes in public education and is dedicated to expanding opportunities for all of the students he serves.

Emanuel Harper – Herron High School

Emanuel Harper is currently the French teacher at Herron High School, an adjunct faculty member at Marian University, and a Teach Plus Policy Fellow. Upon graduating from Wabash College with a degree in French and minor in Spanish, Emanuel pursued teaching in high-need urban settings through Indianapolis Teaching Fellows (ITF). Obtaining his Master of Arts in Teaching from Marian University in 2012, Emanuel became an Instructional Coach and Lead Instructor for language Fellows with ITF. A founding member of the Indianapolis chapter of Stand for Children—an innovative education advocacy organization that brings together parents, educators, and community members to improve education—Emanuel also serves as the instructor of Best Practices in Teaching World Languages at Marian University's MAT program for ITF and Teach for America transition-to-teach candidates. Emanuel’s commitment to student achievement stems from a deep personal understanding of the transformative nature of a high-quality education. From teaching students and teachers to testifying before the Indiana House Education Committees and Senate, Emanuel’s singular mission is to ensure all students are guaranteed and afforded the richest, most diverse and rigorous education in Indiana. He is excited to continue that journey with Teach Plus.

Kelly Hannon – George Washington Community High School

Kelly Hannon is the Learning Center Coordinator at George Washington Community High School in Indianapolis, IN. She has been with GW since the start of her teaching career and is currently in her fifth year. As a graduate of the Indiana University-Bloomington School of Education, Kelly initially used her Language Arts certification to teach middle school at George Washington, but soon transitioned into the Learning Center Coordinator role. As the Learning Center Coordinator, Kelly oversees the training and placement of over 100 tutors from a local university, IUPUI. She also runs the Learning Center on a daily basis, which is an in-school and after-school tutoring center for students who need one on one or small group assistance. During her time at George Washington, Kelly has directed a school play, run multiple clubs through the school’s after school HUB program, and aided students in writing a grant to fund and begin a Gay-Straight Alliance group. She also recently put together a flash mob with students, which was performed in the school cafeteria! In addition to her involvement at GWCHS, Kelly is currently working towards her Masters in Secondary Education with a Focus on Urban Education at IUPUI.

Ashley Hebda – George Washington Community High School

Ashley Hebda is a ninth grade English Language Arts and Reading teacher at George Washington Community High School in Indianapolis, where she has consistently helped her students achieve significant growth in reading and command of language. During her first two years at Washington, Ashley was a 2010 Teach For America corps member; taught eighth, ninth, and tenth grade; and helped to reinstate her school’s student council as a co-sponsor to the club. Throughout the past year, Ashley has served as the high school English representative for Washington’s Response to Intervention (RTI) initiative and the school’s Instructional Leadership Team. Ashley is a current member of Leadership for Educational Equity and completed a Policy and Advocacy Leadership Initiative (PALI) fellowship in 2012 with Stand for Children’s Indianapolis Policy Team. She grew up in Dyer, Indiana (near Chicago), and went on to earn a B.A. from Purdue University and a M.A.T. from Marian University.

Tony Homan – The Oaks Academy

Tony Homan is the Middle School Science teacher at The Oaks Academy, a private K-8 school in Indianapolis. Prior to working at The Oaks Academy, he was a Teach For America corps member teaching secondary mathematics at an urban charter school in Indianapolis. While teaching mathematics at his previous school, his 7th and 8th grade mathematics students passed ISTEP, the state standardized test in Indiana, at a dramatically increased rate. Additionally, Tony developed and implemented an Algebra 1 class for the high achieving 8th grade students in which 84% passed the Algebra 1 End of Course Assessment, an Indiana high school graduation requirement. Tony has a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Terre Haute, Indiana), a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio), and a M.A. in Teaching from Marian University (Indianapolis, Indiana).

Christina Lear – Herron High School

Christina Lear teaches English 10 and Journalism at Herron High School, a charter school in downtown Indianapolis. She has previously taught high school English in the Indianapolis Public Schools at both Arsenal Tech and T.C. Howe High School. She currently leads initiatives around literacy and Common Core implementation at Herron, and has previously served on school-wide instructional leadership teams. As a member of Stand for Children's Teacher Team, Christina works on a variety of local education policy and advocacy initiatives. She has a B.A. in English from Butler University and an M.A. in teaching from Marian University, where she often appears as a guest lecturer on the topic of literacy. Christina is an alumna of Teach for America Indianapolis, and continues to stay involved in TFA working with new teachers, building community alliances, and increasing the impact of alumni teachers in Indianapolis.

Tom Loughead – Indianapolis Metropolitan High School

Tom Loughead is a social studies and English teacher at Indianapolis Metropolitan High School, a public charter school in Indianapolis. Tom currently teaches American Studies, a multi-disciplinary course that combines U.S. History, American Literature, and Government. In addition to his instructional responsibilities, Tom also serves as a teacher of record for students with special needs and is the Met’s varsity soccer coach. Outside of the classroom, Tom advocates for educational equity in Indianapolis as a member of Stand for Children. Tom graduated magna cum laude from The College of Wooster and went on to earn his Master of Arts in Teaching from Marian University while serving as a Teach For America corps member.

Natalie Merz – Imagine Indiana Life Sciences Academy West (ILSAW)

Natalie Merz is currently a 1st grade teacher at Imagine Indiana Life Sciences Academy West (ILSAW). She was selected as a 2009 corps member for Teach For America: Indianapolis. Over the past 4 years at ILSAW, Natalie has led committees on High Ability students, Response to Intervention, reading curriculum, and incentive pay. She has also coached volleyball for 4th-8th grade girls. Natalie has served as the 1st Grade Team Leader for two years and last year was awarded Imagine School’s Midwest Regional Teacher of the Year. Natalie is actively involved in Teach For America and leads the Lower Elementary Learning Team for current corps members. Natalie grew up in Indianapolis and attended Cardinal Ritter High School. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education at Purdue University, and then obtained her Master of Arts in Teaching at Marian University.

Rachel Quinn– Harshman Magnet Middle School

Rachel Quinn is the 7th and 8th grade English Language Learner teacher at Harshman Magnet Middle School in IPS. Rachel advocates for her students, who represent 25% of the student population, by providing professional development opportunities for staff on best practices for ELL students. Furthermore, Rachel brought her passion for sports to her students by expanding the school’s athletic program through the addition of girls’ soccer and boys’ and girls’ tennis. She serves as head coach for each team. Last year, she co-planned an International Day at her school that celebrated the diversity of staff and students with native dress, dance, and food from a variety of countries. Rachel received her Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Biology from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. She obtained her Masters of the Arts in Teaching Degree at Marian University during her tenure with Teach For America.

Jacob Pactor – Speedway High School

Jacob Pactor is an English Teacher at Speedway High School, where he teaches English 9, English 11, and senior AP Literature & Composition. In addition to classroom instruction, Pactor leads Student Council and the Intervention Team, focusing on students with multiple failures. Prior to teaching at Speedway, Pactor lead civic engagement efforts for City Year Chicago, helped create the Cities of Service project for Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, edited his college newspaper to win 42 statewide awards, and taught at Northview High School in Brazil, Indiana and Lawrence North, Warren Central, and North Central High Schools (his alma mater) in Indianapolis. He is a member of both Democrats for Education Reform and Stand for Children. He holds an AB in Political Science from Wabash College and an MA in English from Butler University.

Jennifer Rogers – Creston Intermediate Academy in MSD Warren Township

Jennifer Rogers is a 5th & 6th grade reading interventionist at Creston Intermediate Academy in MSD Warren Township. Jennifer is a graduate of Indiana University where she received her B.S. in Elementary Education. She then went on to receive her M.S. from IUPUI in Language Education while also earning her Reading Specialist certification. Jennifer has led many different professional development sessions such as “Writing Workshop 101”, “The 8-Step Process at Work: Using Standards and Data to Drive Our Instruction”, “Literacy Teachers in Urban Classrooms”, and “Teachers as Writers: Using Our Own Writing to Strengthen Instruction.” Jennifer’s classroom was a model for school visitations in and out of district to showcase Autism Evidence Based Strategies used in a general education classroom. Jennifer has written many grants where her students have received supplemental resources to help them in math and reading workshop. Jennifer was also a recipient of a Wireless Laptop Cart Grant and an iPod Touch Grant. Jennifer is a member of the Indiana Partnership for Young Writers Young Leaders in Urban Education Group. Jennifer was awarded Super Bowl Super Learning XXIV Teacher of the Year in February 2012 and Creston Intermediate Academy Teacher of the Year in May 2012. She is eager to put her best practices to work to close the achievement gap in schools across the world.

Alyssa Starinsky

Alyssa Starinsky is a 6-12 Social Studies instructor at Carpe Diem charter school. She began her teaching career through Teach for America in Indianapolis Public Schools as a middle school history teacher. It was at the end of her second year she was presented with the school’s Teacher of the Year award. Although she no longer teaches in IPS, she still serves as the school’s varsity mock trail coach. Alyssa is a passionate advocate for service based learning, and truly believes it is through the power of service that all students can achieve exponential growth. Through service students grow and are empowered as problem solvers, leaders and collaborators. Her students have earned four gold medal Jefferson Awards for Service, and because of their projects they get to represent the state of Indiana in Washington DC at the national awards ceremony! Alyssa earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Entrepreneurship from The Ohio State University and her Masters degree in teaching from Marian University.

Joel Thomas – Indianapolis Lighthouse Charter School

Joel Thomas is a Master Teacher at Indianapolis Lighthouse Charter School. Beginning his teaching career through Teach for America, Joel has spent the past four years teaching English to high school students primarily in low-income communities. During that time, he pushed his students to achieve remarkable results on their state tests. Currently, Joel's work has broadened to include the development of the teachers in his building and the progress of their students. Working as a leader in his school, Joel is responsible for evaluating teacher lessons, observing their classrooms and coaching them in best practices. He further helps to develop his colleagues by leading weekly professional development for the staff. Joel earned his undergraduate degree in English and Political Science from Olivet Nazarene University and his Masters degree in teaching from Marian University.

John Ulbright – Ben Davis High School (Wayne Township)

John Ulbright is a math teacher at Ben Davis High School in Wayne Township. He has spent the past four years as a Teacher Leader, working as part of a small cohort within the school to deliver professional development on various teaching practices. He has been chair of the math department for the past two years and strives to bring rigor and engagement to every math classroom. He recently began a program to provide a free graphing calculator to students unable to afford one. Prior to teaching at Ben Davis, John taught at Mountain View High School in Mesa, Arizona. He holds a M.S.Ed from Indiana University and a B.S from Washington University in St. Louis.

Kimberly Williams – Christel House DORS

Kimberly Williams is a founding science teacher at Christel House DORS, a dropout recovery school in Indianapolis. Kimberly began her teaching career as a high school biology teacher at Boston Arts Academy, a pilot school for the visual and performing arts within the Boston Public Schools. During her four years there, she also developed the curriculum for a Current Issues in Science course, served as a university supervisor for an urban teacher training program for two years, and was the Science Department Chair for one year. In 2011, she returned to her hometown of Indy as a 7th grade science teacher and middle school girls’ basketball coach at the Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School. Kimberly has also spent two summers teaching youth and working with local teachers in Haiti. She has a B.S. in Biology from Purdue University and a M.A.T. from Tufts University.