Meet The Charter Schools Office Team!

If you would like to contact us, please call 215-400-4090, or email us at charters@philasd.org.

LEADERSHIP

Peng works with the Board of Education to set the mission and vision for the Charter Schools Office, and ensures its strategic plan for the CSO team and charter sector is implemented with fidelity. Since joining the CSO team in 2013, Peng has managed projects across the authorizing spectrum including new charter applications, restarts, hearings, and operations. Prior to joining the Charter Schools Office, he taught middle school math at both charter and District schools in Philadelphia. Peng has a Master’s degree in Education Policy from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University.

Peng Chao | Acting Chief

Mariel leads critical projects that impact the Charter Schools Office’s core authorizing work including charter agreement management. Prior to joining the CSO, Mariel worked in multiple roles at a Philadelphia charter school network. These roles included being an elementary school teacher, instructional leader, and principal. Mariel was also a Teach for America Corps Member in Atlanta. She holds a Master’s degree in Education Administration and Supervision from the University of Houston and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from Franklin and Marshall College.

Mariel Ziegler | Assistant Director

ANALYTICS & EVALUATION

Dr. Gearhart leads the CSO’s evaluation, research, and analytics endeavors. Prior to joining the Charter Schools Office, she was a policy specialist at the New Jersey Department of Education, where she designed the accountability system for the state’s ESSA plan. She was recruited to this position as a Data Fellow with the Strategic Data Project, which is based out of the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University. Prior to completion of a Ph.D. in Urban Education at Temple University, Dr. Gearhart was a teacher in Philadelphia public schools and conducted program evaluations. Dr. Gearhart also holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Drexel University, and a Bachelor’s degree in History from Temple University.

Sarah R. Gearhart, Ph.D. | Director

DATA & REPORTING

Rebecca serves as Director of Data & Reporting. Prior to joining the Charter Schools Office, Rebecca worked as an operations leader at a charter school. Rebecca was also a Teach for America Corps Member in Oklahoma and taught kindergarten. Rebecca holds a Master’s degree in Statistics, Measurement, Assessment and Research Technology from the University of Pennsylvania where she conducted research on teacher evaluation rubrics and teacher retention. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art History and Chinese Studies from Wake Forest University.

Rebecca Dunn | Director

Britne’ serves as the Finance and Operations Manager for the data and reporting team for the Charter School Office. She leads and manages the ongoing assessment of financial health and sustainability of the charters school currently operating in the School District of Philadelphia. Prior to joining the CSO, she served as a financial planning analyst for Northwestern Mutual. She has worked in the finance industry for over 5 years. Britne’ holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Rowan University.

Britne' Jones | Finance and Operations Manager

Sonya works as a Strategy Analyst for the Charter School Office. Prior to joining the Charter Schools Office, Sonya was a teacher at a middle school and an alternative high school. She has also taught and volunteered internationally. Sonya values an intersectional approach to problem solving and is passionate about improving student outcomes. She holds a Master’s degree in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from the University of Delaware and a Bachelor’s degree in Community and Environmental Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Sonya Sedegui | Strategy Analyst II

Tom supports the Charter Schools Office’s Annual Charter Evaluation, renewal, and new charter application processes, which includes reviewing submitted materials and managing the tracking of charter execution documents. Prior to joining the Charter Schools Office, he served as a program coordinator for an arts non-profit organization in Buffalo, New York, where he taught poetry and also managed the program’s curriculum development framework and implementation. Tom holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and Communication from SUNY University at Buffalo.

Tom Dreitlein | Strategy Analyst I

ENGAGEMENT & OPERATIONS

April works as a Strategy Analyst for the Charter Schools Office, where she serves as a main point of contact for school operations and supports family engagement initiatives. Prior to joining the CSO, April worked in multiple roles at a Philadelphia-area private school, as a program coordinator, specialty camps director, and assistant in the admissions and athletics departments. She holds a Master’s degree in Strategic Communications from Arkansas State University, a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Drexel University, and she is currently pursuing her PhD in Educational Management at Hampton University.

Stephanie Waller | Director

Mela supports the Charter Schools Office’s engagement efforts with schools, families and other stakeholders. Prior to joining the Charter Schools Office, Mela worked for a best practice educational research firm serving leaders at independent schools and school districts throughout the United States. She also served as an AmeriCorps member supporting college access and success for students in the Philadelphia area. Mela holds a Master’s degree in Education Policy from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Educational Studies from Macalester College.

Mela Still | Senior Project Manager

April works as a Strategy Analyst for the Charter Schools Office, where she serves as a main point of contact for school operations and supports family engagement initiatives. Prior to joining the CSO, April worked in multiple roles at a Philadelphia-area private school, as a program coordinator, specialty camps director, and assistant in the admissions and athletics departments. She holds a Master’s degree in Strategic Communications from Arkansas State University, a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Drexel University, and she is currently pursuing her PhD in Educational Management at Hampton University.

April Witherspoon | Strategy Analyst I

Cherron leads the Charter Schools Office’s family and community engagement initiatives, and also supports with operational and logistic planning. Prior to joining the Charter Schools Office, she served as an elementary school teacher in Philadelphia for six years, worked at a local university in a student support role, and also worked with the Philadelphia International Airport for nine years in various capacities. Cherron has a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Eastern University, and a Bachelor’s degree from Chestnut Hill College.

Cherron McCutchen | Project Manager

QUALITY & ACCOUNTABILITY

Biridiana leads the new charter application, charter amendment, and comprehensive renewal processes, which includes the design of systems that review proposals to ensure alignment to Pennsylvania Charter School Law and national authorizing practices. Prior to joining the Charter Schools Office, she served as an elementary and middle school History teacher in North Carolina. She holds a Master’s degree in Education Policy from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Education, and Latino/a Studies from Duke University.

Biridiana Rodriguez | Director

Cameron focuses on renewals, new charter applications, and amendment processes, which includes reviewing requests and relevant performance data. Prior to joining the Charter Schools Office, Cameron coordinated a library community engagement training initiative. She also served as a program officer for a charter management organization, and the deputy director of a teacher professional development non-profit focused on early literacy. She holds a Master’s degree in Urban Studies from Temple University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Swarthmore College.

Cameron Voss | Senior Project Manager

Seun assists with the analysis of financial data that informs the understanding of the financial metrics of charter schools. Prior to joining the Charter Schools Office, he served as a financial management analyst with the Office of Transportation at the School District of Philadelphia. He was also a Teach for America Corps Member where he taught high school special education mathematics. Seun holds a Master’s degree in Urban Education from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Seton Hall University.

Seun Oke | Senior Project Manager