PBIS Coach Team


Steven Rufe, M.A.,M.Ed
Director of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

Steven supports, coaches, trains, and supervises SDP’s team of PBIS coaches and leads all PBIS initiatives throughout the district. His interests in the field of PBIS include culturally responsive and equitable application of PBIS, and the translation of PBIS principles into classroom-level practices. He is currently conducting a research study to explore the impacts of Classroom PBIS Coaching on teachers’ praise-to-correction ratios, use of behavior-specific praise, and effectiveness with facilitating student transitions throughout the school day. Steven is a B.S. graduate of Gwynedd-Mercy University, an M.A. graduate of Columbia University’s Teachers College, and holds an M.Ed in Educational Leadership from American College of Education. Prior to his roles in Philadelphia, he worked on the San Carlos Apache Native American Reservation in Arizona as a Middle School Teacher, Special Education Teacher, and Dean of Students. Steven enjoys the beach, getting away to the mountains and being in nature, reading, writing, music, and movies.


Tynara Blount, M.S.
Assistant Director, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Coach (PBIS)

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Hasana Ahmad, M.S.

“Give the children love, more love and still more love–and the common sense will come by itself.” –Astrid Lindgren

Hasana spent more than 15 years as a classroom teacher in both Camden, NJ and Philadelphia. She has always been a passionate advocate for “city kids”, as she is a former “city kid” herself. She was born and raised in the Francisville section of North Philadelphia until the age of 12.
A graduate of Rutgers University-Camden, Hasana furthered her education by earning a master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) from Capella University in 2015. After earning her degree, she began working with children with autism for several years as an ABA therapist, then returned to the general education classroom as a reading and math support teacher.
Hasana became enthusiastic about combining ABA and general education when, during her coursework, she learned evidence-based strategies to decrease inappropriate behavior, and increase positive, pro-social behavior among students. She is passionate about using PBIS and ABA to reduce punitive practices in schools, particularly as these harmful practices disproportionately affect students of color.

As a PBIS Coach, Hasana supports schools in their implementation of school-wide PBIS. Her favorite part of the job is training teachers on behavioral principles to improve classroom management and academic outcomes.

In her spare time, Hasana likes to take day trips with her family, and watch interior design shows. She often loses track of time in IKEA and HomeGoods and enjoys sharing pictures of her latest home decor projects on social media.

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Aubrey Depa

Before joining the team as a PBIS Coach, Aubrey spent the majority of her career as an elementary classroom teacher, most recently teaching Kindergarten here in the School District of Philadelphia. Aubrey is passionate about supporting our students, staff, and families in developing and sustaining positive relationships and safe, welcoming environments for all.

In addition to supporting various schools across the district in planning, implementing, and sustaining PBIS, Aubrey is the coach of one of four schools on the National Institute for Justice Trauma-Informed PBIS Project. She is especially interested in both using and supporting the use of technology and digital tools such as ClassDojo, PBIS Rewards, and Google Suite to enhance PBIS initiatives. Aubrey is also a member of various committees including the team’s Data, SIS, and Technology Committee and the Office’s Equity Collaboration.
She enjoys spending time outdoors, sipping a hot cup of black coffee, and playing with her two ferrets, Winnie and Murphy.

Lateefah Ellison-Metcalfe, M.S, M.Ed

Lateefah has been with the School District of Philadelphia for 10 years. She has worked in the Office of Empowerment, the Office of The Board of Education and she is currently with the Office of Climate and Culture. Over the past 10 years she has acquired a masters degree in Clinical Psychology and a Masters degree in Education. Her interests lie in child development, education, and school psychology. Each department has provided her with the opportunity to strengthen my interest and grow her skill set both clinically and educationally. She is currently working on her Doctorate in Psychology with an emphasis on school psychology.

Lateefah supports nine schools across all learning networks as a PBIS coach. She is currently researching ways to bridge the gap between school psychology and PBIS.

Lateefah recently published a chapter in Social Justice and Putting Theory Into Practice in Schools and Communities titled, “Culturally Relevant and Meeting Academic Standards at the Same Time: Teaching Math to African American Students as a Matter of Social Justice.” In the future she hopes to continue her research.

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John Papiano
Youth Court Specialist

John is a Youth Court Specialist. Youth court is a student run restorative justice program that gives students a second chance without using traditional discipline. The program is designed as an alternative to suspension, but also has a significant impact on the leadership, public speaking, and problem solving skills of all court members. Youth court has many similarities to any courtroom but also has adaptations to make the process restorative rather than punitive. Youth court is very flexible a can be adjusted to work in any school. The Philadelphia School District suport youth courts in grade 5 to 12.

Rashida Alexander
Lead PBIS Coach

Rashida Alexander has worked in the field of Juvenile Behavior Health for over 10 years in various roles, from Support Staff to Program Manager. Currently working as a Lead Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) coach for the Office of School Climate and Culture, Rashida began her career with the School District of Philadelphia as a Coordinator for the Office of Family and Community Engagement (FACE). As a PBIS Coach Rashida works to support schools in developing frameworks around implementing evidence-based behavioral interventions; her experience with FACE drives a special interest in engaging families to enhance behavioral interventions work, particularly through interdepartmental collaborative efforts.

In addition to serving as a PBIS Coach, Rashida is a part of the Family Engagement Project Prevent steering committee, and Equity Collaborative. Rashida has had the privilege of piloting Culturally Responsive (CR) work within PBIS, in which she has been invited to share the work with other districts throughout the Keystone State of Pennsylvania. Now Rashida serves on the CR-PBIS steering committee that is making strides to have CR-PBIS fully implemented in all SDP PBIS schools.

Kristina Popkin M.Ed.
Lead PBIS Coach for Check-In/ Check-Out

Kristina organizes and manages work on Project Prevent and with Check-In/ Check-Out including collecting and using data, providing training and materials and meeting regularly with teams and partners. She was a PBIS Coach for 4 years and in that role she developed a passion for the tier II PBIS intervention Check-In/ Check-Out which provides a preventative approach for students at risk for chronic behavior challenges. Prior to that she taught in the School District of Philadelphia in Kindergarten, 1st grade and Autistic Support 4th-6th grades.

Anything else you would like to add (ex: personal interests, hobbies, etc)
Her personal interests include animals and the outdoors. She has a fuzz family that consists of a dog and two cats and she feels most in her element when she is outside either hiking, kayaking, snowboarding or soaking up the sun.

Sean Kelly, M.S.,LBS.

Sean holds a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies and a minor in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University. He furthered his education by earning a M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis from Saint Joseph’s University. Sean has been working in the educational field for over 10 years. He has held various roles such as Mental Health Professional, School-Based Behavior Specialist, Director of a Therapeutic Extended School Year Program, and is currently working as a Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) Coach with the Office of School Climate and Culture. Sean has a passion for how behavioral systems and initiatives can help improve school-wide climate/culture and supporting schools with sustaining PBIS implementation.

He supports 8 schools across various learning networks as a PBIS Coach. Sean works with school PBIS teams, administrators, and various stakeholders with a heavy focus on PBIS implementation and using school-wide data to problem solve and develop appropriate interventions. In addition, he provides professional development opportunities focused on PBIS implementation and practices.

Sean currently resides in Montgomery County with his wife and two children.

Dave Monico, M.P.H

Dave has worked in behavioral health in schools and community settings throughout his career. The need for positive systems to support all students and families is vital to increase success later in life. He likes to see schools and communities grow together and support each other.

As a Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Coach, Dave assists schools in developing and encouraging school-wide norms. He has had the privilege of combining his past behavioral health work with PBIS through a connection of trauma-informed practices and PBIS.

Dave is a wannabe farmer, lover of nature, and avid weekend warrior of hockey and softball.

Jason Harrigan

Jason has worked in Philadelphia high schools for 12 years, beginning his career as a high school math teacher. Aside from education, Jason has also served as a varsity boys basketball head coach for 12 years. Jason recently became a licensed real estate agent. Jason started at the School District of Philadelphia in January 2019 as a PBIS Coach for High Schools.

Karen Newsome, M.Ed

Ms. Newsome has provided contracted services for the School District of Philadelphia for the OSIS department. Ms. Newsome has served the Emotional Support population in grades K-12 throughout the School District of Philadelphia. The role of a PBIS coach is a new interest. Her focus is geared towards establishing, building and maintaining strong relationships with key stakeholders to bridge the gap to better provide positive outcomes for students academically, socially and emotionally.

In her spare time she enjoys, cooking, fine dining, travel and professional sports.

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Keera Stanton, M.S. PSYCH

Keera’s goal is to become a well versed PBIS coach while incorporating racial equality, diversity and academic equity throughout the district.

Keera has been in the mental and behavioral health field for over 20yrs with work in Juvenile Justice, Residential treatment facilities, Autism therapy, ABA therapy, Outpatient therapy and School Based therapeutic supports. Keera holds a BS in Criminal Justice and a Masters in general Psychology. Keera has brought her prior experience to the district as she embarks on her first year as a PBIS coach with the Phila school district.

Anne McKendry, M.Ed

Before joining the team as a PBIS Coach, Anne worked as an 8th grade ELA teacher and School Based Teacher Lead at a middle school in the School District of Philadelphia. While there, Anne found her passion for classroom PBIS, creating effective learning environments, and developing the whole teacher. Anne received her Bachelors from THE Duquesne University, her Masters from Holy Family, and is currently working on her Ed.D at the University of Tennessee.

Currently, Anne’s work includes supporting a caseload of schools and working to support classroom PBIS throughout the district. Her favorite part of this job is still being able to interact with students and supporting their teachers in creating a safe, effective climate!

When Anne isn’t working or studying, she is watching SEC and Steelers football with her dog Murphy!

John Brennan, Ed.D.

John has held roles in K-12 education and higher education. He is passionate
about Student Support Services and utilizing interventions and techniques to scaffold with students while creating a better environment for their learning and social development.

John’s work at SDP will include:

-Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports
-Project Prevent
-Provision of information to school staff about PBIS efforts, and problem-solving around systemic behavioral issues.

John lives in Pennsport with his wife, Steph. He is an avid 4 for 4 Philadelphia sports fan. He coaches boy’s basketball at Neumann-Goretti High School in South Philly.

Tania Aponte, M.S.

Tania has spent the last 12 years advocating and supporting students in the Philadelphia school system. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Bloomsburg University and her Master’s degree in School Counseling at Gwynedd Mercy University. She has worked with providing students with direct support through case management, counseling, and behavioral management. She has served as a School Social Worker, Truancy Liaison, School Counselor, and Dean of Students in the high setting.

Tania’s passions include establishing, fostering, and creating positive relationships within a school community to maximize student success and overall school culture. As a PBIS Coach, Tania will be supporting schools on the Tier II level through the Check In/Check Out intervention. Tania was heavily impacted by the supportive teams she received as a young child and has committed to continue to share that experience and knowledge with the youth and educators of today.