Meet Our Consulting Teachers

Consulting Teachers work in the Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) program, a joint program with the District and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and mainly provide a full year of peer coaching for all new, non-tenured teachers within the district. Coaching support is customized to meet the needs of the teacher and may include modeling, co-teaching, co-planning, data collection, and real-time feedback in the classroom. Consulting Teachers engage with a variety of school-based stakeholders to support development of teachers on their caseload. Additionally, Consulting Teachers are responsible for creating and designing data-driven Performance Improvement Plans (PIP).

Elementary Consulting Teachers

Christy Ashaba

With nine years of teaching experience, Christy Ashaba brings a wealth of knowledge, pedagogy, and practical skills to her role in the Office of Teaching and Learning.  Christy is passionate about living and working in the beautiful city of Philadelphia. She believes good teachers are not born but developed over time with practice and persistence. Christy’s certifications include: K-6 Elementary, PK-12 Special Education, and PK-12 Administration.

Alisa Baldwin

Alisa has been a Philadelphia Educator for over twenty-five years. Her experiences include Grade Teacher, Reading First Coach, Reading Recovery Teacher, Teacher Induction Facilitator, National Board Teacher Mentor, and School-Based Teacher Leader. As a servant leader, Alisa’s passion is to support and serve the students, teachers, and families in the Philadelphia School District. Alisa’s certifications include: Elementary Education (K-6) , Reading Specialist (K-12), Administrative I Principal (PK-12), and National Board Certification-Literacy: Reading-Language Arts-Early and Middle Childhood.

Katty Fernandez

Katty is a veteran teacher who has taught in a variety of contexts, including ESL friendly and dual language classrooms. She is deeply passionate about issues related to education and equity. Her hobbies include reading, walking, traveling, cooking and eating.

Andrea Gray

Andrea is a proud School District of Philadelphia educator who has served the district’s students for over 30 years. Prior to joining the Office of Teaching and Learning, she spent 18 years as a classroom teacher before transitioning to a to a leadership role supporting teachers as a School Based Teacher Leader, Reading First Coach, Reading Recovery Teacher, and a Reading Specialist. Andrea has supported teacher growth through the district’s Teacher Induction program as well as by providing professional development for teachers and school leaders in the area of literacy. Andrea is a graduate of Rutgers University and earned her Masters of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Andrea’s certifications include: Elementary K-6, Reading Specialist K-12, and Principal Pre-K – 12.

Jamila Hankinson

Celebrating over twenty years of experience as an Educator, with a decade in the School District of Philadelphia, Jamila’s areas of certification are Elementary K-6, and ESOL. Her years of experience extend beyond the classroom where she wears many hats: Teacher Mentor, Curriculum Writer, Adjunct Professor, School Leader and Professional Development facilitator/Author. She has experience working in both Charter and Public schools and has had the opportunity to work in several elementary schools throughout the district. She has had the added benefit of participating in “ initiatives” that support both teacher and student growth and considers herself to be a forever learner.

Patty Lee

Patty’s experience in the district expands over thirty years. She has served the district as a Grade Teacher, Reading Recovery Teacher, School Based Teacher Leader, PFT Building Representative, and Leadership Team Member. As a Philadelphia native, Patty is committed to supporting teachers and students within the School District of Philadelphia’s community. Patty’s certifications include: Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, and Reading Recovery Certificate.

Shakeeha Saunders

Shakeeha has been at the Philadelphia School District for ten years. She has taught various grades. She is certified in K-6 Elementary Education, N-12 Special Education, and has her Principal certification. She is excited to collaborate with teachers and help support the students of SDP.

Michelle Shields

Michelle has served the district as a teacher, school based leader, regional literacy coach, school growth teacher, teacher coach, consulting teacher, professional learning specialist and New Teacher Induction Coordinator. She has supported and delivered professional development to teachers of all grade levels from elementary to high school. Michelle says, “I never cease to be amazed at the impact and change that the coaching process brings to teachers, students and schools.”  Michelle’s certifications include:  Elementary, Administration, Certified Professional Developer, and ESOL K-12.

Jenn Schneider

As a proud product of Philadelphia Public Schools, Jenn brings over 15 years of teaching & leadership experience in urban education. In her current role as a Consulting Teacher, Jenn is passionate about collaborating to best meet the needs of students and teachers within the School District. As she continues to serve & support the Office of Teaching & Learning team and School District community in various leadership roles, she looks forward with enthusiasm, passion, and gratitude.

Sara Turley DiGiorgio

Sara has been an educator with the School District of Philadelphia for 15 years. She taught first, second, and third grades before taking a more active role in school leadership. Sara has worked extensively supporting Grades K-3 in literacy instruction and served as the Technology Teacher Leader. Sara attended Drexel University and Rosemont College, where she received her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

Sofia Vega

Sofia has been proudly serving the School District of Philadelphia’s students and families for 15 years. In her current role as a Consulting Teacher on the elementary team, Sofia is passionate about collaborating with teachers to accelerate student learning and to create equitable classrooms.

Mykeeya Walker

20 years prior to joining the Office of Teaching and Learning, Mykeeya was an Elementary and ESOL teacher. Mykeeya’s experience outside of the SDP includes instructional coach, mentor teacher and member of a leadership team. She enjoys facilitating professional developments to boost teacher, and ultimately student engagement, retention and matriculation within the Philadelphia community and beyond. Mykeeya holds a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education (West Chester University), Master of Science in Mathematics (Cambridge College), ESL Certification (Pennsylvania State University) and Administrative Certification (Point Park University).

Nyree Williams

Nyree currently holds a Degree in Elementary/Early Childhood Education and Educational Administration. For the last 20 years, she has enjoyed working as an elementary school teacher, an instructional specialist, a new teacher mentor, and a coach for several student teachers. Currently, she is enthusiastic and prepared to contribute her knowledge by supporting teachers with helping students reach their “world class” potential. Nyree’s certifications include: Elementary Certification, Principal Certification, and Instructional Coach Endorsement Certification.

Janell Wright

Janell has been teaching in the School District of Philadelphia as an Elementary Education teacher for the past eight years. She brings over 15 years of experience working in urban education, which includes Early Childhood Education and Special Education. A New York City native, Janell is passionate about serving underrepresented communities and families. Janell’s certifications include: Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, and Special Education.

Middle School Consulting Teachers

Anastasia Austin

Anastasia is a proud Philadelphia native, graduating from The Philadelphia High School for Girls. Throughout her 14 years working as a Philly Educator, she has served as a Middle Years ELA Teacher, Literacy Lead, PBIS Team Lead, Dean of Climate & Culture, and an Adjunct Professor. She has a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education (Drexel University), a Master’s of Science in Reading Instruction (Lincoln University), a Master’s of Education in Instructional Coaching (La Salle University), and a K-12 Administration certification (Point Park University). Additionally, Anastasia spends time giving back to the community as a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. and the Director of Community Outreach for the Mount Carmel Baptist Church.

Carmella Granger

Carmella is a proud educator at the School District of Philadelphia and has served the district for over 20 years. She is committed to the growth and support of teachers, and student achievement. Prior to becoming a Consulting Teacher, Carmella was a Middle School Social Studies Teacher, Teacher Mentor, and Leadership Team member. She currently holds positions as a Professional Development Leader for PFT Health & Welfare, and an active member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Carmella is a graduate of Millersville University and received her Masters of Education in Educational Administration at Grand Canyon University. Carmella’s certifications include: Elementary K-6, Middle Level English, Middle Level Citizenship Education, and Educational Research and Development Issues from the American Federations of Teachers. She also holds her Principal PreK-12 certification.

Daninia Jordan

Daninia has been an educator in the city of Philadelphia for nearly 20 years. She is also a proud graduate of the John Bartram High School located in Southwest Philadelphia. Daninia holds steadfast to the belief that ALL children can claim victory in our classrooms, and realize their fullest potential. With that being said, she is very passionate about collaborating with her fellow teachers toward working to close the achievement gap, and foster positive learning outcomes for all young people. Daninia’s certifications include: Middle Year English 7-9 and Early Childhood/ Elementary K-6.

Kelly Judge

Kelly has served as a proud middle school educator within the city of Philadelphia for seven years. She is a Teach for America 2014 Philadelphia alumna and has held multiple leadership opportunities throughout her teaching career. Kelly has a Bachelors Degree in Middle Level Education from the University of Scranton and a Master of Science Degree in Special Education from West Chester University. Kelly’s certifications include Elementary PreK-6, Middle Years Social Studies, and Special Education K-8.

Laurie McLean

Laurie came to the School District of Philadelphia with 18 years of experience in education. She has served in various leadership roles but is most passionate about working with teachers to improve their craft and, ultimately, positively impact our students. Laurie centers her coaching around collaboration, growth mindset and equity. She also facilitates professional development with #teachPHL. Laurie’s certifications include: Reading Specialist K-12 and Administration K-12.

Kathy Rhodes

Kathy is a lifelong resident of Philadelphia and has taught in the School District of Philadelphia for 27 years. She has had the fortune of teaching every grade K-12. Kathy has also fulfilled leadership roles as a School Based Teacher Leader and Testing Coordinator. She holds a graduate degree from Holy Family University in Educational Leadership. Kathy’s certificates include: Elementary Education K-6, Middle Years Science, and Secondary English.

Thinh Thach

Thinh Thach was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of 9. He attended the School District of Philadelphia (Webster Elementary, Harding Junior High, and Frankford High School). He has taught for 15 years in the School District of Philadelphia in various teaching roles: Middle School Mathematics, 2nd Grade, Computer Science, Math Specialist and School Based Teacher Leader. His dedication to the school district led him to become part of the math curriculum writing team and the social-emotional learning team. He received his K-6 Elementary Education and PK-12 Special Education certifications at La Salle University. He also holds a 6-9 mathematics certification, and a PK-12 Administrative Certification from Cabrini University. He is grateful for the opportunity to be a teacher coach to support teachers’ growth and development; while also helping to cultivate the minds of children throughout the great city of Philadelphia.

Yasmeen Tyler

Yasmeen currently serves in the Office of Teaching and Learning as a Middle School Consulting Teacher. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Yasmeen is a product of the Philadelphia public school system and a graduate of The Philadelphia High School for Girls’. With 15+ years experience as an educator, Yasmeen has taught various content and grade areas. She was a member of the Leadership Team at Duckrey Elementary where she also held Literacy and Math Lead Teacher positions. Yasmeen has also held the position as a Teacher Mentor to novice and newly hired teachers in the School District of Philadelphia. Yasmeen’s collaborative approach to coaching helps support teachers in providing rigorous instructional practices in the classroom. Yasmeen earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from West Chester University and Masters in Elementary Education from Arcadia University.

Ashón Washington

Ashón is a native of Philadelphia and a proud product of the School District of Philadelphia, graduating from George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science. Entering her 11th year with the district, she has served as an Elementary Teacher, Middle School Math Teacher, and Middle School Girls’ Basketball Coach. Ashón received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Drexel University and Master of Education and Master of Educational Administration from Gwynedd Mercy University.

High School Consulting Teachers

Carl Ackerman

For the past 19 years, Carl Ackerman has served in the School District of Philadelphia as a classroom teacher and currently as a Consulting Teacher. He has taught both History and English classes at Constitution High School and W.B. Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences. A 2005 James Madison Fellow, Mr. Ackerman earned a master’s degree in Secondary Education at the University of Pennsylvania in 2001 and a master’s degree in Early American History at Temple University in 2007. Additionally, Mr. Ackerman was a 2014 Lindback Teacher of the Year award winner. He serves as a Teacher Facilitator designing lessons and leading professional development sessions for the School District of Philadelphia, the National Constitution Center, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Calvin A Austin II

Calvin is a proud product of the Philadelphia school system, graduating from Central high School. He is entering his 20th year as an educator in the city of Philadelphia, having served as a Teaching Assistant, Middle Years ELA Teacher, and Middle Years Athletic Coach. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education (St. Joseph’s University), a Master of Human Services Degree (Lincoln University), a Master of Education in Athletic Coaching and Administration (Point Park University). He holds Level II Certifications in Elementary (K-6) and English (7-12). In addition, Calvin is a Certified Commercial Drone Pilot and spends time giving back to the community as the Minister to Youth for the Mount Carmel Baptist Church.

Meenu Bhutani

Meenu Bhutani began her teaching career with the School District of Philadelphia in 1998 as a high school Biology teacher, and currently serves as a 4th year Consulting Teacher. Before joining the Office of Teaching and Learning in 2018, she taught Biology and several STEM electives at the High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA). During her time at CAPA, she served as Science Department Chair, a supervising cooperative teacher to student teachers from the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel, and Temple Universities, and PFT building committee member. Meenu is a graduate of the University of Delhi in India where she received her M.Sc. in Zoology. Additionally, she earned an M.S. in Educational Leadership from St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia. In addition to coaching new teachers, Meenu has supported teacher growth through the district’s Teacher Induction program. A National Board-certified teacher and a 2013 Lindback Teacher of the Year award winner, Meenu is passionate about her work and the opportunities it provides to help new teachers navigate their first year in the district. She is also excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with educators who are committed to providing equal educational opportunities for students throughout the city. Meenu’s certifications include: Biology, Physical Science and NBCT: AYA-Science.

Emily Day

Prior to joining the Office of Teaching and Learning, Emily taught in Philadelphia public schools for over 18 years. Emily is passionate about working with Philadelphia educators to improve their craft and increase outcomes for all students. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Temple University in Elementary and Special Education and a master’s degree as a Reading Specialist from Gwynedd Mercy University. Emily’s’ certifications include: Elementary K-6, Special Education K-12, Middle Years Math, and Middle Years Science, Middle Years English Language Arts, and Middle Years Social Studies.

Michelle Riccobono

Michelle Riccobono began her career as a High School English Language Arts teacher in 2001 and joined the Office of Teaching and Learning in 2021. Over the course of her career, she has taught all levels of ELA including Advanced Placement English Literature, and several electives including Journalism and Film and Literature. She served as a School-Based Teacher Leader for ELA and an Academy Coordinator for several years at Edison High School before transferring to Samuel Fels High School, where she was an School-Based Teacher Leader for a year. She has also served as a mentor teacher for the Philadelphia Urban Seminar and the Philadelphia Teaching Fellows program. In 2018 she was invited to participate in the DEEP Teacher program and became interested in coaching. Michelle has a B.S.Ed. in Secondary English Education from Temple University (Go OWLS!!) and a M.Ed. in Education in the Reading Specialist Concentration from Cabrini University. She is excited to join the OTL team and support teachers.

Alexandra Volin Avelin

Alex Volin Avelin has taught high school and middle school English in Philadelphia public schools for twenty-two years, as well as electives in drama, gender studies, and college-essay writing. Her students and colleagues at Parkway Gamma (now Parkway West), University City High School, and Julia R. Masterman have supported and challenged Alex to stretch and evolve as a teacher. Alex studied at Swarthmore College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Master’s in Curriculum & Instruction), with bonus content from the amazing professional community of the Philadelphia Writing Project. She is a recipient of the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award and a National Board Certified Teacher. Having benefited from outstanding coaching and mentored many student teachers, Alex looks forward to partnering with new teachers to help them create the best classrooms they can envision.

Daneen Webster-Gackou

Daneen Webster-Gackou has been a public school educator for over twenty years. She has served students and families in both the Philadelphia and South Jersey area as a certified ELA teacher for grades 7-12. Daneen holds a Masters in teaching English as a second language and works tirelessly to promote culturally competent and trauma informed teaching practices.