In this Education Week Teacher piece, Los Angeles Network Member Carl Finer writes about Common Core and why he believes the solve-poverty-first argument disenfranchises teachers.

Los Angeles Teaching Policy Fellow Neil Virani shares an inspiring story about one of his students with cerebral palsy and the life-changing impact the iPad had on the student's ability to communicate.

LA Teaching Policy Fellows propose new online voting system for the union. Read about their efforts here.

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The NEA encourages its members to use Assessment Advisor to rate the assessments they’ve used in their classrooms! 4,000 teachers in 40 states have checked out the site so far. Have you?

Read the NEA Today article.

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


Los Angeles Fellows

Hillary Anderson – Our Community Charter School

Hilary Anderson is currently teaching 2nd grade at Our Community Charter School in Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California. She has previously taught grades Kindergarten and 1st at Valley Community Charter School. A Los Angeles native, Hilary grew up attending public elementary schools and has an affinity for the urban educational experience. She has been a passionate member of her school community, serving on the OCS Board of Directors as well as a wide variety of government committees. She serves as a BTSA mentor through LACOE to teachers at her school and has trained many incoming 2nd grade teachers. She received her undergraduate degree in Sociology from UCLA and her Master of Arts in Education from Antioch University. Antioch helped to hone her belief that students learn best when receiving a balance of traditional and constructivist teaching.

Pearl Arredondo – San Fernando Institute for Applied Media

Pearl Arredondo, a sixth grade English and history teacher, attended Pepperdine University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and Psychology and a Master of Arts in Education and Instructional Leadership. In 2003, she began her teaching career at San Fernando Middle School, where she created the school’s Multimedia Academy. In 2010, she was part of a teacher-led team that founded San Fernando Institute for Applied Media (SFiAM), the first pilot school established in LAUSD at the middle school level. Currently, Pearl is pursuing a Master of Science in Educational Administration and is a 2013 National Board Certified Teacher candidate. She is passionate about increasing student access to technology and closing the achievement gap, and is a frequent speaker and panelist related to those key issues. Pearl’s goal is to make SFiAM a model of educational reform by preparing all students to be effective communicators in the 21st century.

Lauren Bochicchio – Camino Nuevo Charter Academy – Burlington

Lauren Bochicchio attended the University of Massachusetts – Amherst where she earned her Bachelor’s of Arts in Social Thought and Political Economy and History. After graduating, she moved to Los Angeles to begin her teaching career as a part of the Teach For America 2009 corps. She was a founding teacher at Santa Rosa Charter Academy for two years. While teaching, she earned her teaching credential and her Masters in Urban Education with a concentration in Administration and Policy from Loyola Marymount University. Lauren is currently teaching 6th grade humanities at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy – Burlington Campus. She has taken on many leadership roles to help the school transition to the Common Core and develop academic and behavioral identities in the scholars at CNCA. She is also an active member of Students Run LA and working towards running her 2nd marathon with the organization and 24 motivated and amazing middle school students.

Marisa Crabtree – Lincoln High School

Marisa Crabtree graduated from Tulane University with a degree in English and History. She has completed coursework for a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Guidance at Point Loma Nazarene University, where she also completed her teaching credential. Marisa is currently enrolled in Claremont Graduate University’s Urban Leadership program. While currently teaching ninth and twelfth grade English at Lincoln High School in Lincoln Heights, she also finds time to teach Choir and co-coach the competitive Academic Decathlon team. She helped to foster excellence at her school by serving on the English Department Leadership team, the SAIT planning team, the WASC accreditation team, and the Public School Choice writing team. She is a trained AVID teacher and has led professional development sessions on a wide variety of topics, mostly centered around technology and student engagement. She is also currently serving as the UTLA chapter chair and a newly-elected UTLA East Area representative.

Keith Dell’Aquila – California Academy for Liberal Studies Middle School

Keith Dell’Aquila began teaching Humanities at CALS Charter Middle School through Teach For America in 2007. In his six years at CALS, he has helped CALS become one of the highest achieving middle schools in LAUSD and a California Distinguished School. In addition to teaching full time, Keith is heavily involved in designing and implementing a new teacher development and evaluation system with The College Ready Promise. Keith also coaches beginning teachers as a Support Provider for the PUC Schools Induction Program, taught as a master teacher for PUC Schools’ New Teacher Institute, and coaches the CALS Softball team. During 2012, Keith worked with the Talent Management division of LAUSD as a TFA/LAUSD District Fellow. Prior to teaching Keith graduated with Honors from the University of Toronto.

Joseph Espinosa – First Street Elementary

Joseph Espinosa is a Title III Access to Core Instructional Coach at First Street Elementary in LAUSD, building teacher capacity through coaching and lesson study cycles. He is a founding writing and design team member of Central Region Elementary #21, a STEM elementary school in South Los Angeles. He is a National Board Certified Teacher and a UCLA Writing Project Fellow, who has taught third, fourth, and fifth grade in 10 years at Nevin Avenue Elementary and Hooper Avenue Elementary. While at Nevin he was part of a team that received the UCLA TIIP Grant and served in the roles of GATE Coordinator, establishing an afterschool engineering enrichment program for upper grade gifted students and as math lead teacher. At Hooper he served as a grade level chair and science lead teacher. He graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering in 2001.

Melissa Greene – Aspire Academy

Melissa Greene is a credentialed educator with more than five years of experience as a classroom teacher. She currently teaches third grade at Aspire Tate Academy, where she has dramatically increased student achievement. In addition to serving as a founding teacher for her site, she is a Lead Teacher, Induction Coach, and Mentor for the Aspire Residency Program. In these roles, she is able to model innovative teaching methodologies and equity principles, provides frequent feedback on lesson planning and implementation, and creates rigorous staff development opportunities. Before joining Aspire Tate Academy, Melissa worked as a founding third grade teacher for Aspire Firestone Academy and as a fifth grade teacher and Social/ Enrichment Committee Lead for The Accelerated School. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (2006) and her Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Southern California (2008).

Michael Hess – LAUSD Itinerant Special Education

Mike graduated from Arizona State University in 2005 with degrees in economics and history. After joining Teach For America, he was placed at Gompers Middle School in south Los Angeles, teaching a special day class math, science, and reading. In 2010 he began to work with the division of special education designing and implementing a research-based social skills program for students with high functioning autism. This program used a peer-moderated model with focus on group projects and role-playing to improve social and professional outcomes. Mike earned his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and his administrative credential in spring of 2012 at CSU Northridge. He is married, lives with two cats and likes to skateboard, play video games, and brew beer.

Lindsay Humphrey – Community Charter Early College High School

Lindsay Humphrey is in her third year of teaching 9th Grade English Language Arts at Community Charter Early College High School, a PUC School in the San Fernando Valley. Lindsay serves on the PUC-Wide Common Core Strategy Team, which focuses on the role of assessments during the organization's transition to Common Core State Standards. Lindsay also serves on the Board of Directors of SOAR Charter Academy, a K-8 charter school in San Bernardino, which she joined in the fall of 2012. She holds a California Clear Credential in Single Subject English, and did her credential coursework at California State University Northridge, with an award for "Student Teacher of the Year" in English. Lindsay earned both an MA in English Literature and a BA in English Literature with election to Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University.

Lacey Jung – Aldama Elementary School

Lacey Jung currently teaches kindergarten at Aldama Elementary School in a Spanish dual language program. Previously, Lacey has taught a K/1 combination class, 1st and 5th grade, and has engaged in many leadership roles. She has served as the School-Wide Safety Committee chairperson, PTA secretary, the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) coordinator and the Project-Based Learning grade-level lead. She is currently the kindergarten lead teacher, a Local School Leadership representative, co-advisor of the Student Government Association at Aldama and creates a school yearbook annually. Lacey received her B.A. in Liberal Studies and her M.S.T. from California State University, Fullerton. In 2012, she received her M.A.Ed, concentrating in Gifted & Talented Education, from Azusa Pacific University. Lacey is currently working on her Ed.M in educational leadership with a concentration in Public School Leadership from Columbia University, as well as her National Board Certification in Literacy: English Language Art/Early and Middle Childhood.

Mayra Lara – Aspire Pacific Academy

Mayra Lara is an English teacher at Aspire Pacific Academy, a charter high school in the greater Los Angeles area. Previously, Mayra taught high school English (9th-12th grades) at the Los Angeles Unified School District for five years. Mayra was presented with an award from the City of Los Angeles and the East Los Angeles Youth Film Festival for her outstanding achievement in the arts and dedication to the community. In 2012 Mayra worked with “Our Schools, Our Voice: Angelenos for Quality Teacher Evaluation”—a coalition of LAUSD teachers, parents, community members, and advocates—on a proposal for a new teacher evaluation system to LAUSD and UTLA. She holds a Master of Arts degree from California State University, Long Beach in Social and Cultural Analysis of Education as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature.

Guillermo Lopez – Marc & Eva Stern Math & Science School

Guillermo Lopez is a High School Math teacher, SAT Math Instructor, Math Mentor, Advisory Teacher, Rugby Coach, BTSA Support Provider and Math Department Chair at Marc & Eva Stern Math & Science School. From the classroom to the field, he is committed to making a difference in his students’ high school experience. This includes helping students achieve their potential and deconstruct perceptions not only of math, but of themselves as students from low socioeconomic status households and communities. His passion comes from his own personal experience as a student with the same background, and with similar low expectations of him. As a Math Mentor he's had the opportunity to guide graduate students working on their credentials to refine their teaching abilities and presence in the classroom. He holds a B.A. in Mathematics and a Minor in Chicano Studies from UCLA, and an M.A. from Stanford in Math Education.

Danielle Lukk – Endeavor College Preparatory Charter School

Danielle Lukk serves as the English Language Learner Coordinator and eighth-grade reading and social studies teacher at Endeavor College Preparatory Charter School. She coordinates and monitors CELDT results and growth of English learners. She also collaborates with and mentors teachers to ensure new teachers are being supported. By using data, she is able to monitor and accelerate growth in reading. Prior to joining Endeavor College Prep in 2010, Ms. Lukk served as the seventh and eighth grade English Learner Development teacher at Davis Middle School in Compton, California. She completed her Teach for America duty here. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Education at University of California, San Diego, as well as her masters in Urban Education with a literacy focus at Loyola Marymount University.

Megan Markevich – Luther Burbank Middle School

Megan earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in English and history and continued on to earn her Master’s Degree in Education from UCLA’s Teacher Education Program. Megan was a founding teacher at John Liechty Middle School and was a Learning Teams facilitator, 8th grade English team leader, UTLA chapter co-chair, SRLA coach, and guiding teacher. From these experiences, Megan was motivated to pursue her learning further by attending UCLA’s Principal Leadership Institute and earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. Megan now teaches 8th grade English at Luther Burbank Middle School, which had an one hundred point gain in its API score last year. She has led professional development on cooperative learning strategies, Understanding by Design, classroom management, and the Morning Meeting. She is devoted to discovering what makes urban schools “work” for all stakeholders.

Eric Mattsson – Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnet High School

Originally from Sweden, Eric Mattsson received his undergraduate degree in Marketing from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Master’s degree in Education with specialization in Biology from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. He began his teaching career as an Intern at Fox Technical High School in San Antonio before moving on to teach Environmental Science at Judson High School in Converse, Texas. Currently, he is a faculty member at Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnet High School in Los Angeles, California, where he teaches Chemistry and Honors Chemistry. His teaching career has been committed to cultivating self-confidence in students that have too often lost the belief in themselves and their ability to succeed in academics. He goes into work every day with the goal of optimizing his students’ academic and personal strengths so they can begin to see all paths and possibilities as open and available to themselves.

Lynda McCoy – John Adams Middle School

Lynda McCoy teaches Pre-Algebra at John Adams Middle School. Prior to that, she was a secondary mathematics instructional coach at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). After a lengthy career in the private sector, Lynda began teaching as a 6th Grade Math/Science teacher. She quickly became a demonstration teacher, and served as a BTSA support provider. She is currently the Math Department Chair at Adams and is a professional development facilitator for LAUSD. Lynda has a B.S in Business Management, an MBA, and recently earned an M.A. in Education with a concentration in Mathematics Education. She is a member of the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. She has traveled to China on two occasions to present research papers at international math education conferences, and once to South Korea to present at the ICME-12 Conference. She has also observed Chinese instructional practices in Algebra classes.

Isabel Morales – Los Angeles High School of the Arts

Isabel Morales is a proud product of Boyle Heights and LAUSD. She holds a B.A. and M.Ed. from UCLA and is in her ninth year of teaching social studies at Los Angeles High School of the Arts. Isabel has travelled to Brazil, Costa Rica, and Mexico as the recipient of various educator fellowships, and will embark on an educational delegation to Botswana this summer. She has presented her work at various professional conferences, and has published pieces on teacher effectiveness and professional development. Isabel is also part of the Council of Youth Researchers, a group of educators, scholars, and students engaged in participatory action research. She works to identify qualified teaching candidates as an application reviewer for MAT@USC. In an effort to further serve as a role model to low-income students of color, as well as expand her own knowledge base, she is currently pursuing an Ed.D. at USC.

Hector Perez-Roman – Arleta High School

Hector Perez-Roman is a National Board Certified teacher at Arleta High School. He teaches tenth grade World History, sponsors the Student Traveling Club, and partners with Smithsonian Student Travel and Education First to offer engaging learning opportunities for all his students. He has led educational trips to Spain, Italy, and France and most recently to Washington, D.C. for the 2013 Presidential Inauguration. Hector is also an instructor at Occidental College’s Upward Bound program. He served as a member of the School Site Council and Compensatory Education Advisory Committee at AHS. He was part of the LAUSD’s History/Social Studies focus group who designed the Instructional Guide for tenth grade World History curriculum. He taught at Nightingale MS and served as the History department co-chair. He received his B.A. in Public Policy from Occidental College, where he was a James Irvine Scholar, and his M.Ed. from UCLA Teacher Education Program.

Antoinette Pippin – Alexander Science Center School

Antoinette Pippin is in one of the founding dual immersion teachers at the Alexander Science Center Elementary School, an advocate for multi-lingual education, and she is currently on a team of teachers working with the LAUSD Dual Language office to develop guidelines and standards for those students learning Spanish as a second language. As a teacher at a science, math and technology school, she has worked on creating and implementing inquiry and project based learning curriculum in order to prepare students for future careers in science and engineering. Antoinette is both a parent and a teacher, and she strives to include parents as fully active participants in their child’s education. She also works on the Getty Teacher Advisory Committee and holds a seat on the UTLA House of Representatives. She graduated from UCLA with both a Bachelors degree in psychology and her Masters Degree in education.

Angelina Saenz – Aldama Elementary School

Angelina Sáenz, M.Ed. piloted the Aldama Elementary Dual Language program in 2008 and is currently the lead teacher of the program. She provides school based support in elementary writing as a Teacher Consultant for the UCLA Writing Project. Sáenz delivers workshops on the Common Core Standards for the UCLA Math Project. She has secured grants for every teacher in her Dual Language program to receive specialized training. Angelina was voted the “Highland Park-Mt. Washington Person of the Year of 2012” for her work at Aldama. Sáenz was a finalist for the Commitment to Excellence Award as a Champion of Change with President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. She currently serves on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council. Angelina graduated from Occidental College in 1998, with a B.A. in Theater and Anthropology and received her MA in Education in 2001 from Claremont Graduate University.

Sonia Salgado – Annandale Elementary School

Sonia Salgado is currently teaching the School Readiness Language Development (PreK) program at Annandale Elementary School. She started her teaching career 8 years ago in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Prior to teaching at Annandale, she worked at Carthay Center Elementary where she taught Kindergarten and the fourth grade. In 2011, she earned her national board certification. She has taken on various leadership roles both at the school site and within the district. Currently, she is the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) coordinator, Enrichment coordinator, B.E.S.T. student behavior coordinator, school garden coordinator, Nutrition Advisory Council (NAC) advisor, and is a member of the School Site Council and grant writing committee. She is also working with LAUSD’s Beginning Teacher Support Assessment program as a co-instructor evaluating and providing feedback to beginning teachers as they work towards a professional clear credential. Sonia earned her B.A. from Mount St. Mary’s College and her Ed.M. from Harvard University.

Abra Sussman – Endeavor College Preparatory Charter School

Abra Sussman is a founding 5th grade Reading and Social Studies teacher at Endeavor College Preparatory Charter where she began teaching in 2009. She serves as the Lead Reading teacher for the lower campus and works with colleagues to develop rigorous curricula, analyze student data, and improve teaching performance. Before joining ECP, Abra graduated with honors from Vassar College where she earned a BA in Media Studies and a minor in Women’s Studies. Upon graduating, she joined Teach for America as a Los Angeles corps member to pursue her teaching credential and graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Master’s in Urban Education.

Kimberly Vawter – Valor Academy

Kimberly Vawter, an Indiana native, attended Purdue University where she earned her Bachelors’ degree in Psychology & Photography. She moved to Los Angeles in 2008 as a Teach For America corps member. She taught 6th grade Math & Science at Johnnie Cochran Middle School for one year. In 2009, she was one of five founding teachers at Valor Academy Charter School. At Valor she taught 5th grade math for 2 years and then transitioned to teaching 7th grade math for one year. In 2012, 90% of her 7th grade scholars placed proficient/advanced on the Math CST. She is currently the Dean of Students at Valor Academy and teaches 7th and 8th grade Lifeskills. Kimberly earned her Masters in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University. She most recently was a fellow in the Building Excellent Schools LENS Program.

Neil Virani – William Mulholland Middle School

Neil Virani is a Special Education teacher at William Mulholland Middle School. He teaches a Special Day Class populated by students with moderate intellectual disabilities and multiple handicaps. Neil has developed a blended instructional learning model that infuses traditional teaching methods and tablet technology into every area of the curriculum. This learning model has allowed students to significantly improve test scores and potential for academic growth. In 2012, Neil received the LAUSD Board District 3 Technology award. He has won numerous grants that have improved access to learning at his school site, including a $35,000 classroom technology grant. Currently, Neil is developing a Writing curriculum for the LAUSD Special Education Alternate Curriculum department and continues to share his successes at education conferences all over North America. As a teacher who constantly strives to improve, Neil reaches out to educators around the world, sharing ideas and continuing to learn new things.

Ma’ayan Weinberg – KIPP Academy of Opportunity

Ma’ayan is in her 5th year of teaching middle school mathematics in South LA. She taught 7th and 8th grade math and math intervention for three years at Gompers Middle School and is currently a 7th grade math teacher, teacher coach, and team leader at KIPP Academy of Opportunity. She is excited to bring passion for math to her students and teaches an after school Math is Life enrichment program. She is a 2008 Teach for America corps member and worked as a Corps Member Advisor through Teach for America’s Summer Institute in 2011. Ma’ayan holds a Masters Degree in Urban Education Policy and Administration from Loyola Marymount University.

Marca Whitten – Ivanhoe Elementary School

Marca Whitten received her Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA and a Masters of Science in Counseling from California State University Los Angeles. For the last seven years, she has taught Kindergarten and First Grade at Ivanhoe Elementary School in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles. At Ivanhoe, she has served as a lead teacher and a member of the School Site Council. In addition to teaching in the elementary setting, Marca received training and taught classes for LAUSD’s Parent Education department. She has led numerous parent education workshops at Ivanhoe and has extensive experience supporting parents with children of all ages. Marca is also the mother of three teenagers.

Stephanie Widmer – Camino Nuevo Charter Academy – Harvard

Stephanie Widmer joined the teaching profession through Teach for America in 2007. She taught 6th grade English, ESL, and history at Nightingale Middle School, where she also co-coached the school’s Students Run LA team. She then taught at New Los Angeles Charter School, teaching 6th and 7th grade humanities. From there, she spent two years coaching and developing teachers as a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development for Teach for America. She continues to work with TFA as a Learning Team Leader and has spent several summers leading teams at the TFA Summer Institute as both a Corps Member Advisor and School Director. Stephanie currently teaches 8th grade humanities at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy – Harvard, where she is focusing on high-school readiness, rigor, and reader’s and writer’s workshop with her students. She received her B.A. in philosophy from Scripps College and her M.A. from Loyola Marymount University.

Sarah Williams – Luther Burbank Middle School

Sarah attended LAUSD schools and now has the privilege of working at one. After earning her BA at UCLA, she joined Teach for America in 2007, through which she also earned her master’s as an Education Specialist at LMU. Sarah began her career as a special education teacher at John Liechty Middle School, where she taught 6th and 7th grade self-contained classes, primarily to students with learning disabilities. Later on, she had the opportunity to teach students with autism. In 2011, she began working at Luther Burbank Middle School as a resource specialist (supporting 8th graders with disabilities in a general education setting). In 2012, she completed her master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from CSUN with a TFA alumni cohort. Sarah is a department chair and LA marathon coach for a student team at her school. When she isn’t teaching, she enjoys cooking and reading.

Linda Yaron – School for the Visual Arts and Humanities

Linda Yaron teaches English, Healthy Lifestyles, and Peer College Leadership at the School for the Visual Arts and Humanities, a Robert F. Kennedy Community School. She holds National Boards Certification in English-language arts, teaching credentials in physical education and health, and a California Tier 1 Administrative Services Credential from UCLA’s Principal’s Leadership Institute. She has participated in professional experiences that include a Teaching Ambassador Fellowship at the U.S. Department of Education, Fulbright Hays Seminar’s Abroad Project in Brazil on environmental sustainability and National Endowment for the Humanities workshops in Pearl Harbor and the Mississippi Delta. Most recently, she was part of the Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellowship in India. She is particularly interested in equity and access in education, community involvement in schools, teacher preparation, and how to meet the whole needs of the child through academic, emotional, and physical supports.