Our History

The West Michigan Leadership Academy (WMLA) works to build the capacity of school and system leaders in West Michigan to envision and enact the structures, systems, and practices necessary to realize equitable outcomes for all students.

WMLA was established in 2017 as a partnership of the The Leadership Academy, Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, Godwin Heights Public Schools, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Kentwood Public Schools, Wyoming Public Schools, and the Kent Intermediate School District in the Greater Grand Rapids area. The partnership is generously funded and supported through the philanthropy of the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation and the Steelcase Foundation.

The first WMLA School Leader Fellowship cohort launched in June 2018 with 20 School Leader Fellows from across the WMLA partner districts. The second cohort of Fellows will be selected in early 2019.

Our Approach

School Leader Fellowship

The West Michigan Leadership Academy (WMLA) School Leader Fellowship is a three-year program of professional learning and leadership coaching for high-performing and high-potential school leaders. The WMLA cultivates leaders’ ability to confront systemic inequities and engage and inspire their school communities in envisioning and enacting the structures, systems, and practices required to achieve equitable outcomes for all students. There are two components of the WMLA School Leader Fellowship: the Professional Learning Network and one-on-one leadership coaching.

In the first year of the WMLA School Leader Fellowship, Fellows engage in a year-long professional learning series alongside peers from districts across West Michigan. The series develops and deepens Fellows’ skills in: using data to identify inequities and plan and track progress in closing gaps; identifying and supporting equitable instructional practice; and developing strong school-based leadership teams to maximize impact.

Each WMLA Fellow is matched with an expert leadership coach who works alongside them to provide support, challenge, and growth opportunities for three years. The leadership coaching is a confidential though partnership that is job-embedded, collaborative, and immediately applicable to both the day-to-day work and long-term vision of the school leader.

Customized District Services

The West Michigan Leadership Academy works with its partner districts to connect them to the resources and expertise of the full The Leadership Academy (The Leadership Academy). In addition to supporting principals in the WMLA School Leader Fellowship, each WMLA partner district engages in equity-focused professional learning experiences developed and provided in collaboration with The Leadership Academy and based on their own district approach to leadership development and support.

These services have included workshops such as Coaching for Equitable Practice and Equity SIMS; the New Principal Institute, an intensive professional learning series for first-year principals; and Executive Coaching for central office leaders.

In the News

The Leadership Academy launches leadership program in 5 West Michigan school districts

A program to support and develop school leaders in five urban West Michigan school districts was launched this week in an effort to improve student outcomes in Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Wyoming in the years to come.

Read full article

Meet The Fellows

Abbie Marr

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

School: Ken-O-Sha Park Elementary

Abbie Marr grew up and graduated high school in the small southwest Michigan town of Allegan. During college, she became proficient in Spanish and traveled to Spain and Mexico. Eighteen years ago, she joined Grand Rapids Public Schools as an ESL teacher at Brookside Elementary and is currently the principal at Ken O Sha Park Elementary. Outside of education, she enjoys hot yoga, kickboxing, and spending time at the beach with her wonderful husband and her Boston Terriers.

Abby Wiseman

District: Kenowa Hills Public Schools

School: Kenowa Hills Middle School

Abby is in her fifth year as the principal of a middle school serving grades 6-8. Prior to that, she has served as an assistant principal for two years and a high school teacher for eight years. During her tenure as a teacher, she served as a class advisor and coached Debate, Forensics, softball, and basketball. Simply stated, she wanted to be involved in all opportunities that allowed her to work with youth – this is her passion. Helping them grow as young people academically and socially, supporting them through tough times, celebrating their successes, empowering them to use their voice, and increasing their agency brings her great joy.

Prior to teaching, Abby served as a collegiate assistant basketball coach at Division I and II levels. Coaching collegiately at three different institutions provided her with valuable skills and expertise. What all these opportunities affirmed for her was that she wanted to work in the educational sector. Now, 16 years later, through multiple different assignments, position changes, and promotions, she still feels this calling. In fact, it was each experience that deepened her passion and affirmed her predilection for working in the education field.

Abby is excited to be a part of this community because she is passionate about personalized learning. She believes it is what is best for students and philosophically it aligns to her vision of what education should look like. She is hopeful that this community provides a support system. One where ideas can be shared, struggles can be examined through thoughtful feedback, brainstorming, and collaboration.

 

Allison Woodside

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

School: Burton Elementary

Allison has been in education for the past 10 years, 5 of those years while in Ecuador. She has served as a teacher (K-12), college professor, assistant principal and is now going on her fifth year as Principal at Burton Elementary in Grand Rapids, MI. She holds endorsements in TESOL, a Masters in Administration, and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Educational Technology. Allison strives to create a welcoming environment for the Burton community and has a passion for technology integration in both the classroom & curriculum that gives students and teachers the freedom to explore their learning, itching, and the world in a way that wouldn’t have been possible without it. 

Amarena Nelson

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

School: Alger Middle School

The smell of chalk dust brings back memories of sitting in her dad’s classroom at the end of the school year, helping him take down his US government posters in preparation for summer. Growing up a teacher’s daughter in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Amarena Nelson loved everything about school. Her peers did not always experience school in the same way.

A substitute teacher in fourth grade told her that she ‘looked like a good student’, being one of the only white students in the classroom, the racialized privileges and inequities of the US education system started to reveal themselves.

Amarena graduated from the University of Michigan before joining Teach for America in Baltimore, MD. The polarized experiences of attending an elite public college and then teaching in west Baltimore continued to show Amarena how inequitable education can be for students and how privileged her experiences had been.

After teaching and leading in Baltimore for ten years, Amarena returned to Grand Rapids, MI to be closer to her family. She is working with staff and students at Alger Middle
School; leading change as a School Improvement Facilitator. Amarena is working to make schools more equitable for current and future students so more children can share her love for
education.

Andrew Semanson

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

School: North Park Montessori

Andrew Semanson has been in education for ten years, all with the Grand Rapid Public School District. He was born and raised in the metro Detroit area but has lived in Grand Rapids since 2006. He graduated with his Bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University in 2011 and a Master’s in Education Leadership in 2020. He spent 8 years as a high school mathematics teacher before transitioning to school administration. He spent two seasons as a high school varsity soccer coach at Ottawa Hills High School and athletics has always been important to him. He is currently the Assitant Principal of North Park Montessori which is a PK-8 building on the northeast side of Grand Rapids which serves about 650 total. 

Angelia Coleman

District: Kentwood Public Schools

School: Endeavor Elementary

April Stevens

District: Cedar Springs Public Schools

April has been serving the Cedar Springs School community for the past 19 years.  She has served in the roles of teacher, assistant principal, principal and Assistant Director of Student Services.  April received her undergraduate degree from Calvin College (now Calvin University) and her master’s degree in Educational Administration from Michigan State University.  Outside of the school setting, she loves to travel with her husband and two children as well as enjoy “all things water” during the Michigan summertime.

Aquan Grant

District: Michigan Prep Virtual School

School: Michigan Prep Virtual School

Aquan Grant serves as one of the Directors of School Quality for National Heritage Academy Schools. With over 15 years in education, Aquan specializes in leadership development and
professional development creation. She is seen as an impactful leader, with the ability to create positive community change through team building and structures. Born and raised in Detroit,
Aquan actively looks for opportunities to provide access and equity to students by means of strong leadership teams. Aquan defines her leadership with one quote by Sir Francis, Bacon, “If
we are to achieve results never before accomplished, we must expect to employ methods never before attempted.” She is a leader who is open to change, challenge, and collaboration.

 

Degrees

  • M.Ed in Educational Leadership – Wayne State University
  • B.A. in Education – Wayne State University

Carol Franz

District: Cedar Springs Public Schools

School: Cedar View Elementary

Carol Franz is the principal of Cedar View Elementary a fourth and fifth grade school in Cedar Springs.  She has a passion for doing what is best for kids, and knows this comes from working collaboratively with both staff and families!  

She started her career teaching first grade, moved on to teaching high school, both AP and Alternative, then ended up teaching in the middle level.  She moved on to serve as middle school discipline coordinator/attendance monitor, then district RTI Coordinator, then Middle School Principal in Mid-Michigan.  She returned to working at the elementary level in Cedar Springs as an elementary principal in 2017.  

She earned her BA from MSU, (Go Green!) and her EdS from Oakland University (Go Grizzlies!).  Carol loves learning and continues to work to develop her knowledge and understanding of researched based best practices to support her school community academically, socially and emotionally.

Duane Kiley

District: Kent ISD

School: Kent Transition Center & Tech Center

Jim Jensen

District: Godfrey-Lee Public Schools

School: Godfrey-Lee Middle School

Jim Jensen currently serves as Principal of Godfrey-Lee Middle School. He has been in the Godfrey Lee School District for 16 years in a variety of roles. He has coached multiple team sports, subbed in the district, taught P.E and Health at the alternative school, and became the Director of Community and Alternative Education for Godfrey-Lee until his current role at Lee Middle. 

Jim is married with five daughters and seven grandchildren. His work career began in the military at 17 and he worked in various private businesses for 20 years before he quit his job to return to school for his Bachelor’s Degree. In 2005, he graduated and started teaching at Godfrey-Lee. He feels that his life experiences have provided him with the philosophy that it is never too late to grow and everyone has the potential to achieve their goals. He also believes in the capacity of others and his purpose in life is to build confidence in others by being a positive role model who is relentless in helping others achieve their goals.

Jodi LaFeldt

District: Comstock Park Public Schools

Previous to being the Preschool and Special Education Director for Comstock Park Public Schools, Jodi has spent over two decades in Montcalm County, serving as a special education teacher at Lakeview Community Schools and a teacher consultant for 5 local districts and non-public schools in Montcalm County. Also, within Montcalm County, she served as the Tri-County Area School’s Special Education Director and the Montcalm Area Intermediate School District Associate Superintendent for Special Education. Jodi recently moved to Kent County and has been with Comstock Park for almost 2 years. She feels blessed by having moved to a diversified community and working more closely with students, staff, and families. 

 

In life, she always knew she wanted to work in education. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from Central Michigan University. Her passion for special education led her to attend Grand Valley State University where she obtained her Master’s Degree in Elementary Administration and a certification as a Special Education Director. Because of her love for learning, she attended East Carolina’s International Doctorate Program where she obtained her Doctorate in Educational Leadership with a focus on equity. While she’s devoted her life’s work to education, her family is what makes my heart happy. She and her husband Michael are the proud parents of 4 children and 3 grandchildren. They currently live in Rockford, Michigan where they enjoy boating and hosting for friends and family.

Jonathan Haga

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

School: Burton Elementary

Jon has been in the education field for 14 years. He has a Master’s in Early Childhood Education as well as endorsements in ESL and Educational Leadership. Jon started his career in Chicago Public Schools as a PreK teacher and graduated to being a Kindergarten teacher before he Moved to Grand Rapids. When he arrived in Grand Rapids, he taught 2nd and 4th grade. Jon is currently an Assistant Principal at Burton Elementary in Grand Rapids Public Schools. His passion is diving deep into instruction and working with his teachers to build capacity, empathy, and knowledge around best practices for all students.

Jordan Stuhan

District: Kent City Public Schools

School: Kent City Middle and High School

Jordan Stuhan grew up in Muskegon, Michigan and graduated from Oakridge High School.  He then attended Ferris State University and earned a degree in secondary education with certifications in Mathematics and Physics.  Jordan joined the teaching staff at Kent City Community Schools in January of 2007 and was a classroom teacher for 11.5 years.  While in the classroom, Jordan earned a Master’s degree in Mathematics Education and an Ed.S. in Educational Leadership both from Grand Valley State University.  In August of 2018, Jordan joined the administrative team at KCCS as a secondary assistant principal.  In June of 2020, Jordan accepted the position of Secondary Principal at Kent City Middle School and High School.

Kelli Arnold-Wegner

District: Thornapple Kellogg Schools

School: Thornapple Kellogg Middle School

Kelli Arnold-Wegner is in her third year as principal of Thornapple Kellogg Middle School. Her prior experience includes Assistant Principal at both the middle school and high school levels as well as overseeing building level Alternative Education Programs within her current district. She has a total of ten years of experience in administration. 

She is most proud of assisting with the establishment of the TK MTSS district-wide program. This included the task of establishing building-wide initiatives such as attendance policies, behavioral expectations, and Tier 1 interventions. She also helped with establishing their Tier 2 and Tier 3 teams including the hiring of three Interventionists and establishing caseloads of students to support. 

As a junk food-aholic, she loves to motivate her staff with fun-themed treats such as the “Woot Woot Wagon” and the “Orange You Glad We Made It” as the end-of-quarter celebrations.

Kelli has had the pleasure of being an administrator for the last ten years. She never wants to stop learning and growing. She hopes to continue to be a role model for my students, staff, and future administrators within and outside of her district. 

Lisa Nuyens Heyne

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

School: Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center

Lisa Nuyens Heyne, Executive Director and Superintendent of the Grand Rapids Child Discovery
Center, began her career as a teacher in the small but diverse town of Albion, Michigan. Lisa
earned her B.A. in English with a secondary teaching certification at Michigan State University.
After teaching in Albion Public Schools for 5 years (and earning the district’s Teacher of the Year
honor), she felt called to join with others who were specifically working to end educational
inequity. Lisa joined the Teach for America corps in St. Louis, MO in 2005 and taught at Fanning

Middle School for four years. During this time, she earned her M.A. in Teaching and Learning-
Special Education and Saint Louis Public Schools’ Superintendent Scholars award, which enabled her to earn her M.A. in Educational Leadership with a focus in Urban Leadership. Lisa became a principal of a L’Ouverture Middle Academy in 2009 and remained in that position until 2013.

After returning to her home state of Michigan in 2013, Lisa joined Teach for America’s national
School and Systems Leadership team where she worked to develop and support aspiring and
current principals. In 2017, she was called by the community at the Grand Rapids Child
Discovery Center to serve as the Executive Director. As a current consumer of public education
as a parent and a school leader in Grand Rapids, Lisa has a new understanding of the
transformative impact that a school has on each child’s life and the life of a family and
community.

Nick Orlowski

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

Nick Orlowski is the Director of Professional Learning and Early Warning Systems for Grand Rapids Public Schools. Prior to joining the team in Grand Rapids, Nick served as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for CS Partners, a charter management company in Brighton, MI. While at CS Partners, Nick completed his doctorate in Teaching and Teacher Education at the University of Michigan. His dissertation research focused on teacher retention by investigating thriving – the extent to which teachers experience vitality and learning in the workplace – among teachers in high poverty middle schools. Before enrolling in graduate school, Nick was a middle school teacher in Naples, FL where he served as mathematics chair, 7th grade team leader, and athletic director. A proud GRPS alum, Nick lives in Grand Rapids with his wife Lauran and two kids, Marc and Jack.

Rhonda Varney

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

School: Burton Middle School

Rhonda Varney is an assistant principal at Burton Middle School, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Rhonda has recently relocated to Grand Rapids, her hometown, from Chicago, where she served as an administrator since 2011. Her work with Chicago Public Schools has focused on building strong systems and structures, positive school culture, and increasing student access to rigorous courses. Rhonda began her career in Chicago Public Schools as an English teacher and Department Chair at Percy L. Julian High School on the city’s southside. Rhonda holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Secondary Education from Michigan State University and a Masters in Education in Educational Leadership from DePaul University.   

Sara Larkin

District: Kentwood Public Schools

Sara Larkin has been a supervisor of special education for eight years.  She began her career in 2004 as a bilingual speech-language pathologist.  She gained experience working in the Chicagoland area in Illinois, Honduras, Grand Rapids Public Schools, and is currently in her second year working in Kentwood Public Schools.  While originally from the Grand Rapids area, Sara obtained her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University with a major in speech and hearing sciences and minors in Spanish and psychology, a master’s degree from Western Michigan University in speech pathology and audiology, and in 2015 received her school administrator certificate from Grand Valley State University.  In Kentwood Public Schools, Sara’s focus has been supervising Early On and Early Childhood Special Education programs.  Sara values inclusion, diversity, access, communication, and supporting the growth of staff and students.  Sara’s husband, Garry, is from Scotland.  Garry has two sons, Andrew (23) who is working as a welder in Norway and Craig (20) who is a student at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland studying physics.  Sara and Garry also have a three-year-old son named Graham who just started school this year.  Sara enjoys going on bike rides, listening to podcasts, and spending time with her family.

Sara Van

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

Sara Van is a Supervisor of Special Education for Grand Rapids Public Schools. Sara attended Grand Rapids Public Schools as a child and graduated from City High School. She earned her Bachelors from Michigan State University, her Masters from PACE University, New York City Campus, and her Building and District Leadership certifications through CUNY Hunter College. 

Sara began her career in education in New York City Public Schools as a teacher of students with autism. Throughout her 8 years with the district, she worked in multiple special education and general education settings; as a teacher, a mentor for new teachers, a lead teacher, a department chair, and a coach for the autism department. She also worked with aspiring teachers through the New York City Teaching Fellows program. Sara returned to Grand Rapids and joined the GRPS team in the 2017-2018 school year. She currently works with Special Education programming in 12 buildings throughout the district.

Aaron Roussey

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

School: Union High School

Arnaldo Meléndez

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

School: Dickinson Academic Cultural Center

Arnaldo Meléndez received a B.S. in Psychology/Special Education and Elementary Education with dual endorsements in emotional and cognitive impairments, from Grand Valley State University; A Master of Education with an Emphasis in Urban Education from Davenport University; and an Educational Leadership Certification in Administration, with emphasis in Special Education, at Grand Valley State University. He is currently a Instructional Administrator at Dickinson Academy Cultural Center, for Grand Rapids Public Schools. He is an Adjunct Professor at Davenport University for the College of Urban Education, teaching at both, the Master of Urban Education Program and the Teacher Certification Program, as well as designing curriculum for the College of Urban Education.

Carrie Tellerico

District: Kentwood Public Schools

School: Explorer Elementary School

Carrie Tellerico is the Principal at Explorer Elementary School in Kentwood Public Schools.  She has served as the proud Principal at Explorer for ten years.  Prior to her work in Kentwood Public Schools she was a teacher for nine-year and a principal for four years for Grand Rapids Public Schools. 

Carrie earned her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University. She also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Western Michigan University.  Carrie holds both a Professional Teaching Certificate in Elementary Education (K-8), Early Childhood and Science along with her Administration (K-12) Certification. 

Her passion for putting children first does not go unrecognized.  Carrie is a dedicated educator and ensures that all children have what they need to be successful both academically and emotionally.  If you ever visit Carrie during a day at school you will more and likely find her with students in class or on the playground.  She believes that no matter what children truly come first. 

Casey Kroll

District: Godwin Heights Public Schools

School: West Godwin Elementary

Casey Kroll obtained her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from Hope College in 2001, emphasizing in K-12 Physical Education and Psychology with an additional endorsement in health education from Grand Valley State University. She continued her education, by completing her Master’s Degree in the Art of Teaching with an emphasis in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in 2016, followed by a K12 Administrative Certification in 2018, both from Marygrove College. Professionally, she has served as a teacher, athletic director, and coach for nine years at Lighthouse Academy. Additional time was spent serving as a behavior specialist and interim principal. In 2018, she became Principal at Lighthouse South Campus serving court-ordered, IEP placed, long-term suspended, expelled, adjudicated, refugee, and residential students.  She joined the Godwin Team in November of 2019 as Assistant Principal of West Godwin Elementary focusing on behavioral data collection and implementation of restorative justice practices.

Erika Vann

District: Kentwood Public Schools

School: East Kentwood Freshman Campus

Erika taught Computer Systems at Butterworth Hospital for ten years before deciding to take her gift of teaching to the next level. While working full-time for the hospital, she went back to school and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2005 from Aquinas College. After graduation, Erika received her first teaching assignment with Kentwood Public Schools that same year. She taught fifth grade for five years at Bowen Elementary before moving to her favorite age group; middle school!  

While working at Crestwood Middle School, Erika led Team Summit, was the Summer School Principal every year, assisted with state-mandated testing, and was the lead teacher of all lead teachers for ten years before looking into a permanent leadership role. She attended Western Michigan University and graduated with a Master’s in Educational Leadership in  2012.  With degree in hand, Erika applied and accepted an Assistant Principalship at the East Kentwood Freshman Campus in August of 2018. 

Erika enjoys spending time with her family, reading, cooking, and spoiling her two beautiful children and four spectacular grandchildren.

Lametria Johnson-Eaddy

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

School: CA Frost Environmental Science

Lametria is a wife and mother of four. She has been an educator for 24 1/2 years: nine and a half years as an English Language Arts teacher, and four years as a high school English teacher. Her educational track includes attending Delta College, Howard University, Saginaw Valley State University, and Western Michigan University, where she obtained an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts, a Bachelor’s in English, a Master’s in Educational Leadership, an Educational Specialist degree in Directorship of Curriculum & Instruction, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership Research & Technology. 

Previously, she has worked in the City of Saginaw School District for 17 years and one year in the District of Columbia. Currently, Lametria is working in Grand Rapids Public School District where she has been for the last six years in the roles of a Middle School Lead Principal of a Cultural Center, and Assistant Principal of Environmental Science middle/high school.

Melissa Wozniak

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

School: Brookside Elementary

Michael Thomasma

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

School: Stocking Elementary

Veola Nelson

District: Godwin Heights Public Schools

School: Godwin Heights Middle School

Lorenzo Bradshaw

District: Kentwood Public Schools

School: Brookwood Elementary

Lorenzo A. Bradshaw is the principal of Brookwood Elementary.  He has devoted the past 18 years of his career as a teacher, trainer, mentor, child advocate and administrator.  His life has been committed to serving youth, families and the community. 

He received his undergraduate degree from Johnson C. Smith University, a historically black college in Charlotte, North Carolina and pursued his M.A. from Western Michigan University. Lorenzo spends his leisure time studying educational practice all over the world.  Recently, Lorenzo participated in a Fellowship that afforded him to study in several Asian countries. He has visited the Caribbean Islands, Canada, China, Africa, Koreas and 41 of the 50 states in the U.S. He also enjoys collecting art from across the world, cooking, reading, and working out.

He loves God and has served at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church as a youth leader.  He serves as a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters. He is also a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Grand Rapids Alumni Chapter.

Maureen Capillo

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

School: North Park Montessori

Maureen Capillo is a lifelong learner who grew up in the foothills of Eastern Kentucky and just outside of Berea, Kentucky. She learned early about caring for her environment and has spent her life striving to impart the same lessons on future generations. She attended Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana on a full scholarship, graduating in 2001 with a major in
English and a minor in Justice Studies. She spent her first years as a professional in Boston working for a nonprofit that taught peace and conflict resolution in under resourced schools. Her
life changed when one of her colleagues got hired at a public Montessori school in the area. After a brief visit in 2005, she knew she would one day become a Montessorian.

She left Boston to study Spanish in Ecuador, but in 2009 earned a prestigious spot in Shady Hill’s Teacher Training Cohort (TTC) and returned to Boston to attended Lesley University, earning a Masters in Elementary Education and a Massachusetts teaching license. She earned her Montessori Certification at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education (CMTE) in New Rochelle, NY and
worked briefly at The Montessori School in Wilton, Connecticut, before finding a lead teaching position in Washington, D.C. Her tenure as a lower elementary guide at Latin American
Montessori Bilingual (LAMB), a public bilingual Montessori school, was a tremendous learning experience. In the summer of 2016, Maureen made the decision to pursue a degree and career in school administration. She worked for two years in Frederick, Maryland, attending Hood College and earning her Maryland administrative certificate, before taking the Head of School
position at North Park Montessori in Grand Rapids. She is currently a strong GRPS servant leader. As a writer, peace educator, and environmental advocate, Maureen cares deeply about the growth of high-fidelity bilingual Montessori schools in the public sector. She is a proud Episcopalian and enjoys biking to work. Reading is one of her favorite past times. She also
loves to quilt, swim, run, and knit. As a competitive swimmer and an accomplished ½ marathon runner, she has a goal of one day completing a triathlon.

Danielle Hendry

District: Kent ISD

School: MySchool@Kent

Danielle Hendry currently works as an administrator for the Kent ISD.  She serves as the principal of MySchool@Kent which is a non-traditional blended learning secondary school and she oversees several Kent Career Technical Center (KCTC) programs. She began her teaching career as a high school and middle school teacher teaching English, Drama, and AVID in California, Washington, and Florida. She has presented at conferences across the county on instructional technology integration, educational best practices, and elevating successful teaching. 

Danielle holds two masters degrees in secondary education and educational leadership. Before coming to KISD, she worked for South Haven Public Schools serving as their K-12 Curriculum Director and Principal of their alternative blended-learning secondary school. She is passionate about helping ALL students reach their potential. Having grown up in Caledonia, Ms. Hendry was excited to return to her roots in Kent County. She comes from a family of educators with her mom service as a special education teacher in Kent County before retiring. She and her husband enjoy spending time outside with the kids including biking, hiking, and beachcombing.

Mary Lang

District: Godwin Heights

School: West Godwin Elementary

Mary Lang is the principal of West Godwin Elementary School. She’s worked in the Godwin Heights district since 1998, first as a teacher at West Godwin Elementary and then as the principal of South Godwin Elementary before it closed in June of 2010. Lang spent 9 years as the principal at North Godwin Elementary and has since come full circle back to where she began at West Godwin. She enjoys building relationships and connecting with students and families! She’s passionate about meeting the needs of her students. She currently lives in Grandville with her husband, Dave and her 3 children.

Brad Lundvick

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

School: CA Frost Environmental Science

Brad Lundvick is Principal at CA Frost Environmental Science, Middle/High School and Zoo School for Grand Rapids Public Schools. Prior to joining CA Frost, Brad worked in education for 13 years as a restorative practice coordinator, intervention teacher, data support specialist, school improvement facilitator and assistant principal. 

Brad has also coached high school basketball and soccer for more than 10 years. He’s a member of MASSP, a Junior Achievement Leadership Board Member and was on the West Michigan Officials Association as a soccer official.

Brad received his undergraduate degree in Group Social Studies as well as his masters in Education Leadership from Grand Valley State University.

Steve Minard

District: Godwin Heights Public Schools

School: North Godwin Elementary

Mr. Minard holds a Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership, as well as a B.S. degree in Physical Education and Elementary Education from Grand Valley State University. He has worked as an administrator at Godwin Heights Public Schools since 2011, currently serving as the principal of North Godwin Elementary. Steve began his academic career as a teacher, Athletic Director, and coach at Walker Charter Academy, followed by five years as the Assistant Principal at Vanguard Charter Academy. Steve is a dedicated and effective leader who strives each day to build strong academic foundations for all students.

Antonette Moore

District: Grand Rapids Public Schools

Antonette (Toni) Moore has been in education for 20 years. She has served in the capacity of paraprofessional, teacher, transition coordinator, assistant principal, principal, and currently as director within the Special Education Department for Grand Rapids Public Schools. She has worked as a teacher and an administrator within center-based programming, and worked with students in all divisions; elementary, secondary, and post-secondary. 

Toni has also stepped into leadership roles with Instructional Rounds facilitation through Harvard Graduate School of Education training, and Crisis Prevention Institute trainer certification. She’s had extensive Cambridge training teacher evaluation processes and educational leadership. Affiliation with CEC (Council for Exceptional Children) and MAASE (Michigan Association for Administrators in Special Education) professional organizations has afforded her many opportunities to advance her learning and connections.

She received her BA in elementary education with special education endorsements in Cognitive Impairment and Emotional Impairment from Grand Valley State University and her MA in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University.

Her passion for seeing children and young adults thrive in a system that is accessible and equitable gives her the drive and motivation to tackle the barriers within the education system. 

Jeff Overkleeft

District: Kentwood Public Schools

School: Southwood Elementary

Jeff is beginning his 14th year as principal at Southwood Elementary where he also taught 5th grade.  He taught at Emmons Lake as a 5th grade teacher in Caledonia Community Schools before accepting the principal position back in Kentwood.  Jeff is the district science leader for the elementary in Kentwood and continues to help teachers engage their students through interactive science instruction following the NGSS.  He holds a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University and a Master’s Degree in Education Leadership from Western Michigan University.     

Brad Tarrance

District: Godwin Heights Public Schools

School: Godwin Heights Middle School

Brad Tarrance hails from Flint, Michigan. Flint is where his journey in education began and continues to drive him in his daily work for creating a more just society. He is a passionate Social Justice Educator with 18 years experience in Urban Education. Brad’s experience in public, private, and charter schools along with experience in African American communities and Hispanic communities allows him a unique perspective into educational equity. 

Prior to joining Godwin Heights, Brad worked in education for 17 years as a school leader, assistant school leader, associate director, basketball coach, leadership coach, dean, and teacher.

Brad received his B.A. from the University of Michigan- Flint and his M.A. from Trinity University in San Antonio.

Jon Blackburn

District: Wyoming

School: Wyoming Junior High

Jon Blackburn is the Principal at Wyoming Junior High. He has been in this role for five years and prior to Wyoming Junior High he served as the principal at Newhall Middle School for three years. His experience as principal extends far beyond Newhall Middle School as he also served as the principal at Taft Elementary for six years. Blackburn is not a stranger to the classroom, he taught 4th grade at Taft Elementary for 5 years.

 

Blackburn received his bachelor’s degree in science for elementary education from Grand Valley State University and has a master’s degree in Education Leadership. He is currently working on his ED Specialist degree from Grand Valley State University.

Kirk Bloomquist

District: Wyoming

School: Wyoming Intermediate

Kirk Bloomquist currently serves as the Principal at Wyoming Intermediate School which is the district 5th and 6th grade building. He has been a Principal in the Wyoming School District for 15 years. Prior to that Bloomquist was the Middle School Principal in Fruitport for six years. He has taught Biology and Physical Education at the high school level in Zeeland, Michigan.

Dennis Branson

District: Grand Rapids

School: Westwood Middle School

Dennis Branson began teaching for Grand Rapids Public Schools in 1995 and taught Social Studies for 17 years. He became an assistant principal at Creston High School and followed the Creston cohort of students to Innovation Central High School (ICHS) after Creston closed. After three years at ICHS, Branson became the head principal of Westwood Middle School and he is finishing his second year. He has two children, one who graduated from CMU and another entering her junior year, also at CMU.

Monte Cross

District: Wyoming

School: Wyoming Junior High

Monte’ Cross is in his 11th year in education. He has spent time as a 7th grade social studies teacher as well as a dean of students in an urban middle school and high school setting. In addition, Cross has served a large majority of his professional career as an assistant principal at the secondary level.

 

During his short stent as a teacher, he has enjoyed leading student council, coaching middle school track and assisting with the boys’ varsity football and basketball teams. After becoming an administrator, he no longer had the time to engage in coaching athletics, so in an effort of staying involved in athletics, he began officiating boys and girls high school basketball games ten years ago for the MHSAA.

 

He has a passion for working for at risk students and believes that the biggest reward in education is serving this population of students. His purpose as an educator is to simply give back to students what a few great teachers gave to him when he was a young man; “Hope, Faith and the Belief that I could do and be anything that I wanted as long as I was willing to work hard for it!”

Peter Geerling

District: Godfrey- Lee

School: Godfrey- Lee Early Childhood Center (K-2)

Peter Geerling has been in education for 14 years.  He started his career as a title I para professional assisting with literacy groups and assessments.  After a year as a paraprofessional Geerling began his teaching career in 2nd grade.  He taught 2nd grade for two years then took on the challenge of kindergarten for one year.  After his year in Kindergarten he returned to 2nd grade for six more years.  After spending 10 years in the classroom Geerling began a new adventure in administration.  He recently finished his 4th year as principal of the Early Childhood Center (K-2).  Peter has a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State Universityin Kinesiology, a Bachelor of Arts from Aquinas College in Elementary Education and a Masters in Ed. from Grand Valley State University in Ed. Leadership.

Gary Harmon

District: Kentwood

School: Pinewood Middle School

Gary M. Harmon, Jr. is Principal at Pinewood Middle School located in Kentwood, MI. He has held this position for the past 5 years. Prior to becoming the principal of Pinewood, Harmon served as an Assistant Principal at East Kentwood High School. He has also had the privilege of working for Grand Rapids Public Schools as a teacher, Special Education Supervisor, and Principal. He has 19 years of experience in public education that spans from elementary to high school.

 

Gary acquired his Masters degree in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University. He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Jackson State University in Special Education.

 

He prides himself on being a hands-on leader. Under his leadership he continues to push staff and students to improve and not to become complacent with success. Harmon believes that he must equip his staff with the necessary tools and strategies to meet both academic and emotional needs of the student. As school leader, he is excited to provide opportunities and creative solutions to the challenges our students face.

Jacquie Harris

District: Kentwood

School: Crestwood Middle School

Jacquie Harris is the Dean of Academic Affairs/Assistant Principal at Crestwood Middle School in Kentwood Public Schools. She has been in this position for six years. Prior to moving to Kentwood, Jacquie served as a Supervisor for Special Education for four years, and a special education teacher for 7 years in Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Jacquie earned a Master of Education degree in Administration with Special Education Supervisor approval, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology/Special Education from Grand Valley State University. Her professional teaching certifications include elementary education (K-5), with K-12 special education endorsements for students with Cognitive Impairments and Emotional impairments.

Since beginning her tenure at Crestwood, Jacquie has been an integral part of the overall growth of the school. As the Dean of Academic Affairs, Jacquie has been directly involved in the school improvement process, implementation of School-Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Capturing Kids’ Hearts, professional development and teacher growth, and coordination of the state assessment (M-STEP). She is also very committed to her own professional growth as an instructional leader. This past year, Jacquie worked alongside three math teacher leaders as they began a journey with Leading Educators to transform professional learning for teachers. This work continues into next year. In addition, she is excited to be a part of the first cohort for the West Michigan Leadership Academy Professional Learning Network.

Andrew Kolzow

District: Kentwood

School: East Kentwood Freshman Campus

Andrew Kolzow graduated from Western Michigan University with his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physical education in 2003. Kolzow received his first job teaching 8th grade mathematics and coaching baseball at Ross Beatty Jr/Sr High School in Cassopolis, Michigan. He taught for one year in Cassopolis before getting a job at Valleywood Middle School in Kentwood, Michigan where he taught 8th grade mathematics, algebra and geometry. He also coached middle school boys and girls basketball for six years. In 2009, Kolzow earned his master’s degree from Grand Valley State University. In 2010, he became the Assistant Principal at the East Kentwood Freshman Campus. He has been here for eight years and has enjoyed every minute of it.

Leanne Lange

District: Grand Rapids

School: Palmer Elementary

Leanne Lange received her Bachelor of Science from Michigan State University and then went to Grand Valley State University to earn her Masters in Educational Leadership. Her 20 year career in education has been with Grand Rapids Public Schools. She has worked in the classroom as a teacher, has been an assistant principal at the middle school level, spent time in central office as a School Reform Facilitator, and is now in her third year as the building principal at Palmer Elementary.

Timothy Mabin

District: Grand Rapids

School: Shawmut Hills

Dr. Timothy Mabin joined Grand Rapids Public Schools during the 2005-2006 school year.  He served as a secondary math teacher for six years at Grand Rapids Montessori High School.  He then taught math at Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy for four years before becoming the assistant principal there in the fall of 2015.  After two years as an assistant principal Dr. Mabin was named the head principal of Shawmut Hills Pk-8 in the fall of 2017.

Dr. Mabin grew up on the southeast side of Grand Rapids and was a student in Grand Rapids Public Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.  He received his undergraduate degree from Cornerstone University with certifications in secondary mathematics and history.  He also received his master’s degree in Education from Cornerstone University and his Ph.D. in K-12 Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University with his dissertation focus on student-teacher connection and its impact on academic achievement.

Dr. Mabin believes that relationships are the foundation of K-12 education.  Relationships between students and teachers, parents and teachers, and the overall involvement of all stakeholders of the school working to improve the lives of students are vital for their success.

During his free time, Dr. Mabin enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, exercising, reading, and playing Clash of Clans.

Bill Martin

District: Grand Rapids

School: Riverside Middle School

Graduate of Grand Valley State University and Olivet College, Bill Martin has been in school administration for over 10 years at both the high and middle school levels. He found his calling being a middle school principal.

 

Martin sees himself as a lighthearted person who believes that education is the most powerful tool anyone will ever possess and that every student has the right to an equal opportunity to all educational resources. He believes that to be good at your job you must be able to laugh and joke while you are there. He believes in always doing the right thing and that it is never too late to make things right.

 

Riverside Middle School operates based on one major moto, ‘Handle all situations as if the student sitting in front of you was your relative and if you can say you handled the situation that way then we are doing the right thing’. In his spare time, he loves to travel with family and hang out on his boat.

Jamie Masco

District: Grand Rapids

School: Aberdeen

In 1992, Jamie Masco began her teaching career in Schaumburg, Illinois (District #54) where she taught 1st and 2nd grade. In 1999, Masco moved from Illinois to Kalamazoo, Michigan. She began working for Vicksburg Community Schools, and remained in Vicksburg for 16 years. In Vicksburg she taught BK, K, 5th,6th,7th, and 8th grade. When the state changed kindergarten programs from half day to full day, Masco lead Vicksburg’s full-day kindergarten transition. During her final years in Vicksburg, she served as an Instructional Consultant. She worked with the most at risk students in reading and in math.

 

In 2015, Masco moved to Grand Rapids and began working for Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS). She is currently the principal of Aberdeen School in GRPS. Aberdeen School services students in Prek-8th grade. In addition, Aberdeen School supports students with Autism.

 

Masco received her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Drake University. She also received his Master’s degree in Educational Administration for Northern Illinois University.

Benjamin Rodgers

District: Grand Rapids

School: Kent Hills Elementary

Benjamin Rodgers began his teaching career in Battle Creek Public School teaching 5th grade after graduating from Western Michigan University.

After teaching 5th grade for 15 years, he took an assistant principal position at Springfield Middle School in Battle Creek Public Schools. After spending 3 years at the building, Rodgers went back to elementary school as principal of LaMora Park in Battle Creek Public Schools.

Looking to expand his experiences, Rodgers is currently the principal at Kent Hills Elementary in Grand Rapids Public Schools. This is his third year in the district. Kent Hills is a PreK – 5 building with moderately cognitively impaired classrooms.  

Andrew Steketee

District: Godfrey-Lee

School: Godfrey Elementary

Andew Steketee comes from a background of educators, his mother was a preschool teacher for 30 years in the Grand Rapids area. He grew up in Jenison, MI and attended Aquinas College where he received his undergraduate degree in 2004.

 

Steketee began working for Godfrey Lee Public Schools as a paraprofessional in the elementary building in 2005, then transferred over to the middle school in the winter of that school year. He continued as a paraprofessional for 2.5 years then received his first teaching job at Lee Middle School in 2008 as a 6th grade social studies teacher. Steketee taught in that capacity for seven years and in 2015 became principal of Godfrey Elementary.

 

In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife of eleven years and his three young children; two of which are a set of twins who will start kindergarten this fall.

Mike Sturm

District: Wyoming

School: Wyoming Intermediate

 

Mike Sturm attended Wyoming Public School (WPS) from 1968-1981 as a K-12 student.  He began coaching wrestling in WPS in 1981 and began teaching in 1986.  He as his master’s degree from WMU and an Administrative certification from Grand Valley State University.  Sturm has taught 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades until taking an administrative position in 2001 at a K-5 building.  He’s currently at the Intermediate building as an Assistant Principal.

Bernard Varnesdeel

District: Wyoming

School: Wyoming Junior High

Bernard Varnesdeel began working in public education in 2005 when he accepted a position to be a student advocate at Kalamazoo Central High School. For four years, he served as a student advocate working with at risk students and managing the buildings 504 plans. In 2010, Varnesdeel transitioned to Wyoming Rogers High School at the HS Athletic Director and remained in that position until Wyoming Public Schools merged Park and Rogers High School into one high school. At this time he was moved to the Junior High building where he became the Junior High athletic director and the Dean of Students. He remained in this position from 2012 until the start of the 2017 school year where he transitioned into the Dean of Students with a primary focus of 7th grade students.

Troy Wilbon

District: Grand Rapids

School: Harrison Park (K-8)

Troy Wilbon grew up and attended high school in Gary, Indiana and moved to Grand Rapids after high school. Wilbon earned his BA from Aquinas College and received his maters degree from Grand Valley State in Educational Leadership where he also earned his Administrator’s Certificate.

Wilbon played basketball at GRCC and Aquinas College, and coached basketball at Aquinas College, GRCC and Grand Rapids Central High School, for a total of 11 years combined. Troy also worked at Bethany Christian Services for ten years and was a former high school dean and high school principal. Wilbon is currently a pre-kindergarten through 8th grade principal in Grand Rapids Public. Academically, he likes to read educational articles and compare the research to his biases and assumptions.

Meet The Team

Abbie Groff-Blaszak

Director, West Michigan Leadership Academy

Abbie Groff-Blaszak joined the The Leadership Academy in 2017 as Director of the West Michigan Leadership Academy in Grand Rapids, MI. In this role, Abbie directs a program of support for five districts in Greater Grand Rapids that focuses on professional learning networks and individualized coaching for principals, personalized district leadership support, and the collaborative development of local capacity to support and sustain a strong principal pipeline.

Abbie is passionate about building and supporting a healthy and diverse educator workforce as the foundation for achieving equitable student outcomes. She has a rich background and expertise in programs and policy to support the development, retention, and growth of strong educators at the local, state, and national levels. Prior to joining The Leadership Academy, Abbie served in various roles at the Michigan Department of Education, including Manager of Curriculum and Instruction, Senior Policy Advisor, and most recently, Director of the Office of Educator Talent. In her time at the MDE, Abbie led a number of major initiatives, including Michigan’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards, the development and implementation of Michigan’s ESEA Flexibility and State Equity Plans, implementation of Michigan’s educator evaluation law, and development of Michigan’s ESSA plan focusing on educator effectiveness.

Abbie began her career in education as a Teach for America corps member, teaching third and fourth grades in the Greenville Public Schools in Greenville, Mississippi. Following her two-year commitment, Abbie remained in Greenville for several more years, serving as a teacher leader, curriculum coach, and assistant principal before heading back to the Midwest as founding principal of a start-up public charter school in Indianapolis, IN.

Abbie holds a BA in History and Political Science from Indiana University and a Ed.M. from Harvard University in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy.

Lauren McElrath

Assistant Director, West Michigan Leadership Academy

Lauren McElrath joined the The Leadership Academy in 2018 as Program Manager for the West Michigan Leadership Academy in Grand Rapids, MI. In this role, Lauren supports the design and logistics for the professional learning network and coaching program for five districts in Greater Grand Rapids. Before joining the Leadership Academy, Lauren was Associate Director for Scholarships for Grand Valley State University, for which she managed over 400 scholarships, collaborated with faculty and staff to ensure student success, and designed and implemented programming for increased student involvement. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Science in Broadcasting and a Master of Public Administration from Grand Valley State University.

Annalise Kontras

Coach Team Lead

Prior to joining WMLA as a Leadership Coach, Annalise served as an Assistant Headmaster at a 7-12th grade school in Boston Public Schools. There, she facilitated the Instructional Leadership Team and Professional Development, led the Special Education and World Language departments, coached and evaluated educators, coordinated student supports, and oversaw standardized testing. 

She began her career in education as a founding teacher and English Department chair of a Grand Rapids charter high school, where she also developed the school’s foundational 9th-12th grade Advisory curriculum. 

Annalise holds a B.A. in English and Secondary Education from Calvin College and a M.Ed in School Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Lisa Minnella

Coach

Lisa graduated from Grand Valley State University in 1988 and started her career path in GRPS.  Throughout her 23 years as a special education teacher, she taught in self-contained, resource and co-teaching environments. She received her masters in Learning Disabilities and Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Special Education administration certification from Grand Valley State University, as well. In 2010, she accepted a principal position at Mulick Park Elementary, a recently named Priority School. Within the next 5 years, the school was removed from the Priority School list.  Lisa retired in 2018 and joined WMLA in August 2018. She enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her family.

Steve Hoelscher

Coach

Steve Hoelscher has been a teacher, counselor, assistant high school principal and a middle school principal in the Battle Creek School System.  As a middle school principal, Steve successfully provided leadership in transitioning the school from a junior high to a true middle school that provided academic excellence, met the developmental needs of adolescents and provided equity for all students. 

Steve has served as coordinator of the Michigan Middle Start initiative, a leadership coach for Benton Harbor Area Schools, Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, and Kalamazoo Public Schools.  He has also been a member of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, a school board member and co-author of an article in Educational Leadership.

Kathryn J. Curry, M.Ed

Coach

Kathryn, a native of Chicago, Illinois is a career educator.

Her love of children and the educational barriers she faced in a substandard school system prompted her to become an educator. She began singing, playing in the church,
and training choirs at a very early age.

Kathryn was one of the first African-American students to be accepted to the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. Despite the challenges of attending a previously
segregated institution, she received a BA in Music Education with a concentration invoice. Kathryn has performed in theatre, and many other entertainment venues. She later obtained a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership (Administration) from Grand
Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan.

Kathryn’s classroom teaching experience in education include Music teacher K-12, Choral Director, and Middle School all subjects. Kathryn’s administrative experience
includes: Youth Home Director, Program Director, Assistant Principal, Principal, Leadership Coach, and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Trainer.

Through her consulting business, Kathryn facilitates DEI workshops at schools and at conferences and continues to give voice to the need to understand, reach, and provide
equitable educational access to ALL students. Kathryn also enjoys performing, traveling, and gardening in her spare time.

Kathryn is married and the mother of four children.

Stephen McClain

Coach

Dr. Stephen McClain coaches and advises high-performing leaders looking to maximize their impact and advance equity in their organizations. Prior to joining WMLA, Stephen served as Chief of Schools at one of Chicago’s largest charter school networks, supporting fourteen campuses and leading innovation, community engagement, and policy teams. Stephen was a Principal and Assistant Principal in Chicago Public Schools, elevating each school to Level 1 or Level 1+ with impressive student academic growth and substantial improvement in attainment. Dr. McClain started his career teaching middle grades reading in the KIPP Chicago network. Stephen earned a B.A in Elementary Education from Michigan State University, Ed. M from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and an Ed.D in Urban School Leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Michael McIntosh

Coach

Michael McIntosh is an Assistant Professor – Educational Leadership at Virginia State University. His area of research expertise is the development of a Social Justice Framework in Educational Leadership by addressing equity within marginalized populations. He also develops professional development that leads to Culturally Responsive Leadership in schools. He is uniquely qualified and was recently selected to serve on the Fulbright Specialist Roster by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and World Learning. Michael has served in the role of School Improvement Facilitator (Pennsylvania State Department of Education) offering targeted technical assistance to five (5) High-Need High Schools in the School District of Philadelphia.

Michael McIntosh has direct experience leading both urban and rural schools on all academic levels as well as over fifteen years of experience supervising teachers and other school-based personnel within the context of school improvement. He has fourteen (14) years school administrator experience having also served as a Principal/Director of three (3) Alternative Schools and his focus in School Leadership has been on meeting the needs of minority and at-risk youth.

McIntosh has served as the Principal Investigator/Director (HULA) for the 2010 awarded School Leadership Program grant ($2.7 million) from the US Department of Education which funds the Hampton University Leadership Academy. The focus of the Leadership Academy was the development of effective leadership skills in school administrators in all stages of their professional career. As the Coordinator his duties included teaching in the classroom, admissions process, supervision in clinical settings, planning, development, budgeting, fund-raising and implementation of the overall graduate program in educational leadership. He is an experienced school administrator and has completed professional development programs like the Principals Institute at Harvard University and Principal Mentor Training Program designed by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Michael has offered both expert technical assistance on a site-based level and my area of expertise lies in leadership development, professional development and training to lead to individual and program improvement.

Kristy Newman

Coach

Kristy Newman is a lifelong learner and educator. As a coach and consultant, Kristy equips educational leaders with the mindsets, skills and resources necessary to establish and sustain systems that empower all learners to succeed and thrive. Throughout her career, Kristy has served in multiple different roles as an innovative leader in education. She was one of the founding teachers and instructional coaches at El Sol Elementary, Kalamazoo’s dual language immersion program. She also served as a transformational building principal, leading a team to increase student growth and achievement at such an impressive rate that its State ranking nearly doubled three years in a row. Kristy earned a B.S. in biomedical sciences and Spanish from Western Michigan University and a M.Ed from the University of Michigan.

Tina Murua

Coach

Tina Murua is an attorney, Restorative Practices (RP) professional, and licensed RP trainer. She has a keen interest in challenging dominant narratives around curriculum, achievement, and school climate and culture, and capitalizing on the lived experiences of students of diverse ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds to harness learning and engagement.

Prior to joining WMLA in 2021, Tina worked with the Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan’s (DRCWM) Restorative Practices Program as a middle school facilitator where she implemented strengths-based resolutions to conflict among students and between students and teachers. In that role, she also coached teachers and administration on the proactive and responsive use of restorative practices to build a healthy classroom and school environment. Additionally, Tina served as the Juvenile Restorative Conferencing Coordinator and as a trainer at the DRCWM. She has worked with diverse stakeholders, including school administrators, teachers, students, parents, community members, and business owners, helping them usher in a new cultural paradigm in their spheres of influence that focuses on building community and repairing harm rather than assessing blame and imposing punishment. An aspiring change agent, Tina is passionate about listening for and capitalizing on successes leaders have had in developing an equity and restorative mindset, and gently challenging them to explore biases and assumptions to be more effective leaders.

Tina holds a BA and JD from University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MS in Restorative Practices from the International Institute for Restorative Practices.