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The Team
Joanna Lein
After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Joanna was selected as a 2007 Teach For America (TFA) Corps Member and was placed in the Glendale Elementary School District in Arizona. While in the corps, Joanna taught fifth and sixth grade and concurrently earned a Master’s of Education at Arizona State University.

After spending an additional year in the classroom as a seventh and eighth grade science teacher Joanna joined the Teach For America staff; on TFA staff she served as a Program Director, supporting and coaching thirty first and second year teachers. While serving as a Program Director, Joanna also took on additional responsibilities as a School Director for Teach For America’s summer institute and as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Missouri at St. Louis.

Joanna subsequently rose to become a Manager of Instructional Leadership and, ultimately, Director of Instructional Support. In this role, Joanna specifically supported teachers at five schools and developed a coaching model that included an emphasis on teacher practice that was implemented across 25 coaches.In 2015 Joanna joined Cleveland Public Schools (Cleveland, Oklahoma) as the Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction. During her time in Cleveland, she was responsible for creating a comprehensive vision for student learning in the district, supporting principals in developing instructional leadership skills through classroom observations, feedback, and professional development, and managing the implementation of a 5-year strategic plan for a 1,700 student district in rural Oklahoma. During this time, she also participated in the 2015 cohort of the Rural School Leadership Academy and the 2017 cohort of the School Systems Leader Fellowship and was an instructor for Johns Hopkins University’s teacher preparation programs. ‍Joanna earned her doctorate in Educational Administration and Curriculum Supervision from the University of Oklahoma in 2017 where she studied how instructional coaches build the psychological need for competence in beginning teachers. It was during this work that she developed a passion for ensuring that teachers enter the profession with high caliber professional learning experiences which has compelled her to become one of the TLI’s co-founders.
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Nina Fitzerman-Blue
Leadership Programs
Nina began her career in 2009 at Jefferson Middle School in Southwest Washington, D.C. As a Teach for America corps member, she taught seventh and eighth grade English for two years with D.C. Public Schools. In 2011, Nina moved to New York City to join the Uncommon Schools network.

While teaching sixth grade Writing at Brownsville Collegiate Charter School, she also served as Curriculum Specialist, designing Writing curriculum for eight schools across the network. In 2014, Nina joined Bushwick Ascend Lower School as Dean of Instruction. In this capacity, she supervised and led grade-level academies, designed and facilitated professional development, and supported teachers with weekly coaching cycles and lesson plan feedback. In 2016, Nina continued her work for the Ascend network, moving to the district office to serve as Associate Director of Curriculum. In this role, she created Literacy curricula for Grades K-8, designed and delivered professional development to schools, and supported school leaders in curriculum, assessment, and instructional implementation. Nina is thrilled to join TLI in tackling the work of novice teacher and leader development. She strongly believes building the capacity of educators to affect meaningful change for student achievement. As TLI’s Director of Leadership Programs, Nina will work to support school leaders in developing instructional leadership, creating a strong culture of feedback, and driving academic success. Nina holds a Master’s degree from American University and a Bachelor’s degree from Brown University.
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Marissa King
of Staff
Marissa’s teaching experience ranges from kindergarten to early college courses. Most recently, she taught 5th grade in Tulsa Public Schools. Prior, she taught in her Teach For America placement school for three years in Arizona and also taught English as a Second Language in Michigan.

In 2011, Marissa joined the Hesston College (Kansas) faculty where she taught pre-service teacher preparation courses and collaborated with the English department to re-design developmental composition support. She also directed the First-Year Experience program and spearheaded the first community-wide reading program featuring author visits and academic events. She was given the distinguished faculty award in 2015. During these years, Marissa also worked for the Teach For America summer institute where she trained and coached beginning teachers entering high poverty public school systems. ‍Marissa holds a Master’s of Education from Northcentral University. She is also a 2017 Yale National Fellow and an enthusiastic participant in the Tulsa Institute for Teachers at the University of Tulsa. Her research and writing has appeared in journals like Oklahoma English, Teaching English at the Two-Year College, and Language Arts in addition to popular press publications like Teachers & Writers Magazine, Education World, and Edutopia. ‍Given her passion for teaching, learning, and adult education, Marissa was compelled to join TLI as the founding Chief of Staff. Her role includes long-range strategic planning, professional design and implementation, data analysis and reporting, and much more.
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Angie Cline
Teacher Leader Development
Angie Cline has been serving educational communities in Oklahoma for over nine years. Angie has an undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University and a graduate degree in educational leadership from Columbia University Teachers College. In 2010, Angie moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma from Pennsylvania, with Teach For America. There, she taught pre-kindergarten with the CAP HeadStart program, leading her school’s guided reading program with the belief that literacy is the core of education. After working on the start-up team for Tulsa Lighthouse Charter School, Angie became a founding first grade teacher at the school. Upon moving to Oklahoma City, Angie began her tenure at KIPP Reach College Preparatory, teaching sixth grade writing and fifth grade reading. Under Angie’s leadership, fifth grade posted the highest number of students passing the reading Oklahoma Core Curriculum Test in Reach’s history (89%). In 2016 Angie was selected as a Miles Family Fellow, and led the fifth and sixth grade teams as the Assistant Principal. She continued in the same role for the 2017-18 school year by supporting new leaders and coaching teachers. During the 2018-19 school year Angie was acting Principal, where she continued to coach leaders and teachers to drive student achievement. Angie is excited to join the TLI team, and looks forward to working with the broader Oklahoma City community to increase student achievement.
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TLI Advisory Board

The TLI Advisory Board is committed to serving students, teachers, and school leaders across Oklahoma. The board provides guidance on organizational growth and strategy, network connections, and more. The following are current members of the TLI Advisory Board:

Tera Carr
Principal, Tulsa Public Schools
Tera Carr is the principal of Hamilton Elementary, which serves 550 students in the North Tulsa community. Under her leadership, Hamilton has made double-digit gains in student proficiency and growth in reading and math. Tera believes in equity and opportunities for all children, and has dedicated her life to coaching teachers and school leaders to equip them to create the greatest outcomes for children. Tera has taught Pre-K, elementary, high school math, and special education. She has led at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Tera currently holds a bachelor’s degree from Ball State University and a Masters from the University of Oklahoma.
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Danielle Neves
Executive Director of Curriculum & Instruction, Tulsa Public Schools
Danielle Neves is the Executive Director of Curriculum & Instruction for Tulsa Public Schools. Danielle most recently served as Director of Curriculum for Friendship Public Charter Schools in Washington, D.C. Prior to this role, Danielle served as principal of Woodridge Elementary and Middle Campus (part of Friendship Public Charter Schools). Danielle was also the founding principal of Sankofa Academy in Oakland Unified School District and a New Leaders for New Schools Resident principal at Westlake Middle School in Oakland, CA. Danielle holds a B.S. in Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University and an M.Ed. in Leadership from California State University.
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Rob Miller
Superintendent, Bixby Public Schools
Rob Miller is in his first year as Superintendent of Bixby Public Schools. Mr. Miller has been in public education for 25 years, following ten years as an artillery officer in the United States Marine Corps. He spent three years as Assistant Superintendent for Personnel and Administration in Sand Springs and eleven years as the site principal of Jenks Middle School. Mr. Miller has received several awards in his career including Teacher of the Year (twice), Cooperative Council of Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA) Oklahoma Assistant Superintendent of the Year, CCOSA’s 2015 Oklahoma Middle School Principal of the Year and was one of six national finalists for the National Association of Secondary School Principal (NASSP) Principal of the Year. Rob was also selected as the 2014 Recipient of the Advocate for Academic Freedom Award from the Oklahoma Education Association. He has an M.S. degree in Education Leadership and a B.S. degree in Geology.
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Nick Cains
Leadership Coach, Leading Educators-Tulsa
Nick Cains is currently the Instructional Leadership Coach for Leading Educators-Tulsa, which partners with Tulsa Public Schools to empower teachers to lead in their buildings. Nick is an enthusiastic educator with a passion for coaching teachers to positively impact classroom results. Nick has been an elementary school teacher, a a Corp Member Adviser, a Teacher Educator Facilitator, and most recently, a Manager, of Teacher Leadership Development with Teacher for America- Greater Tulsa. He has a Bachelors from Southern Methodist University and can be found taking in the arts scene in Tulsa when he’s working with teachers.
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Jamila McArthur
Director of Teaching & Learning, Oklahoma Public Schools Resource Center
Jamila MacArthur began her career in education in 2005 as a Teach For America Corps Member with the Los Angeles Unified School District. After teaching several years, she began coaching teachers with the Mayor’s Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. She then joined KIPP Los Angeles Schools and served as an Intervention Teacher, Instructional Support Coordinator, and Assistant Principal. In January of 2012, she returned to Oklahoma to found Tulsa Lighthouse Charter School, now Tulsa Legacy Charter School, where she served as the Founding Principal and the Chief Academic Officer as the school expanded into multiple sites. Now, Jamila serves school leaders and teachers across the state as the Director of Teaching and Learning with the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center, which provides over 200 public schools across the state the resources they need to unburden administrators, support teachers, and engage students.
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Kirsten Wright
Fellowship Director, NACA Inspired Schools Network of Oklahoma
Kirsten is the Fellowship Director with NACA Inspired Schools Network in Oklahoma. In this position she’s worked with each of the five Oklahoma based NISN fellows as they engage with their communities. In this role she supports school designers in learning more about their communities, what parents and families want for their children and translate those hopes and dreams into an action plan for a school in their community. Prior to joining the NISN team, Kirsten worked in multiple organizations including Teach For America and New Leaders. Her career has been focused on helping future leaders develop the skills necessary to have the resilience to lead their schools for the long run. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Penn State University, an MBA from Argosy University and is pursuing an EdD at Southern Methodist University in K-12 Educational Leadership. Her research focuses on understanding the set of professional experiences impacting leadership styles of school leaders who are currently leading schools in high need settings to academic outcomes.
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Dr. Aaron Espolt
Superintendent, Cleveland Public Schools
Dr. Espolt is the current superintendent in Cleveland Public Schools, which serves approximately 1,700 students outside of Tulsa in a rural area. Dr. Espolt is a strong advocate for rural education and believes in equal access for students regardless of the proximity to major cities. Dr. Espolt started his career as a teacher and coach in a variety of schools, including Little Axe, Luther, Edmond, and Olive. He has a Bachelors from S. Gregory’s University, a Masters from Southwestern Oklahoma State, and a Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa.
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Dr. Keith Ballard
Professor and George Kaiser Family Foundation Chair in Leadership, University of Oklahoma
Dr Keith E Ballard brings a long history of Education Leadership practice to his work at OU/Tulsa. He has served as superintendent at Oologah, Claremore, and Tulsa Public Schools. He also served as Executive Director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association for 8 years before becoming superintendent in Tulsa. He also brings a long history of community involvement, currently serving on the Board of Directors of Tulsa Reading Partners.
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Billie Jordan
Executive Director, Oklahoma Schools Advisory Council
Billie Jordan is a lifelong resident of rural Oklahoma who taught high school English before serving as Curriculum Director, Principal, Assistant Superintendent of Grants and Federal Programs and Superintendent. She currently serves as Executive Director of the Oklahoma Schools Advisory Council (OSAC), based out of Muskogee, and the Oklahoma Association Serving Impacted Schools (OASIS).
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Sarah Jane Gillett
CEO, Gillett Consulting
Ms. Gillett is the CEO of Gillett Consulting and a shareholder in the Tulsa office of Hall Estill and has nearly 20 years of experience in all phases of commercial litigation, including alternative dispute resolution. She developed and currently heads the firm’s electronic discovery practice group. In that role, she regularly counsels clients on the development of records retention policies; litigation readiness strategies; the preservation, collection, and production of electronic evidence; and obtaining electronic evidence from opposing parties. She also attends and speaks at conferences on a range of electronic discovery issues. She holds a Juris Doctor from Boston College and a Bachelor of Arts from Wellesley.
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Lindsay Benefield
Lindsay’s love of community relations and coaching began during her early career in higher education. Working with Tulsa Community College and Oklahoma State University- Tulsa she could share opportunities to grow through education and this became both her passion and her purpose. Her industry experience includes higher education, recruiting, marketing, technology and holistic human resources. In her position at QuikTrip she develops and delivers training and acts as an employee advocate. Lindsay stays actively involved in the community and has been selected to take on 2018 United Way Day of Caring Co-Lead this year on behalf of QuikTrip, organizing over 350 volunteers and 35 projects. In addition to this she Co-Chairs the Volunteer Committee which helps facilitate QuikTrip’s participation in Partners in Education, United Way, Reading Partners and Tulsa Stem Alliance Math Mentors. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in History from Oklahoma State University.
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