RLTA Facilitators: Class of 2021

Erin ToalePrograms, Teachers

For the second consecutive year, the Rochelle Lee Teacher Award Summer Institute took place online. The 19 workshops, 4 sessions of Becoming Readers Institute, 4 sessions of RLTA Orientation, 4 sessions of Study Group Member Orientation, and 2 sessions of Study Group Leader Training were facilitated by an amazing cast of educators. Meet them below!

Yalila Assria-Herrera is a fifth-grade teacher at Inter-American Magnet School and former RLTA recipient.

Laurie Brooks is the curriculum manager at WITS. She is also a former RLTA Summer Institute facilitator and current study group coach.

Jen Ceisel is a third grade ELL teacher at Euclid Elementary School. Jen believes in embracing each student’s funds of knowledge, prior experiences, frames of reference, and performance style. She continues to educate herself on best practices in multilingual education. She strives to create a teaching and learning environment that is relevant, effective, validating, and affirming for all students. Jen holds a BA in International Development from Illinois Wesleyan, an MA in English to Speakers of Other Languages from Concordia and earned an MS in Literacy Instruction from Northern Illinois.

Kimiko Cowley-Pettis is a sixth to eighth grade ELA teacher at Avalon Park Elementary School. She is also a CPS Framework specialist, CPS Opportunity Schools Literacy EIT, Teachers Supporting Teachers coach, and Project LIT chapter leader. Kimiko is a former RLTA recipient.

Daniel Dwyer is Director of Middle School Literacy, Data, and Assessment at Montessori School of Englewood. He is also a seventh grade ELA/writing teacher and former RLTA recipient.

Sean Eichenser is an eighth grade ELA teacher at Smyser Elementary. He is also a former RLTA recipient and RLTA Summer Institute facilitator.

Ashley Kahn is a high school self-contained special education teacher and former RLTA recipient.

Jarrett King is an actor, writer, and educator based in Chicago, Illinois. He has held a variety of administrative and educational positions with several Chicago organizations, including Vagabond School of the Arts, Auditorium Theater, Hearts to Art, Silk Road Rising, Unsilence, Bravo Performing Arts Academy, and American Theater Company, where he oversaw the in-school residency program American Mosaic. As a teaching artist with Silk Road Rising, he has taught over 400 students and older adults from ages 12 to 102, and most recently directed Black Teen Lives Matter, a four-part virtual showcase of plays written by Black teens in SRR’s EPIC program.

Michael Kudia is HEART (Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers) Chicago program manager and RLTA Summer Institute facilitator.

Leanne Morris has a master’s degree in library science and was a CPS librarian for 16 years. She is currently a second grade, general education teacher at McAuliffe Elementary and former RLTA recipient.

Hannah Nolan-Spohn is a special education teacher, sixth through eighth grade, at Pulaski International School of Chicago. She is a former RLTA recipient and RLTA Summer Institute facilitator.

Rogelia Peña is a fifth-grade dual language teacher at Carson Elementary and former RLTA recipient.

Christopher Riggs is a fourth grade ELA and social science teacher at Wadsworth Elementary and former RLTA recipient.

Jessica Uzoh is a learning and behavior specialist for sixth through eighth grade. She has been a RLTA study group coach the last five years and is former RLTA recipient and RLTA Summer Institute facilitator.

Heather vonOesen Dean, M.Ed., NBPT, is a five-time RLTA recipient and has over twenty years of teaching experience. She currently works with all types of educators and leaders to develop and improve learning experiences for their students, clients, or teams. She specifically trains preK-12 content area teachers to integrate the arts into their classrooms. This approach supports deeper content understanding, increased creative thinking skills, and enrichment of the culture to value deep analysis of complex topics. She lives with her family in Madison, WI.

These facilitators did an outstanding job creating dynamic programming for our teachers. Their commitment to the Rochelle Lee Teacher Award program meant that teachers were able to convene, problem-solve, and grow together as educators.