Meet Our Professional Learning Specialists
Professional Learning Specialists (PLS) design and deliver focused professional learning experiences for educators grounded in multiple opportunities for practice and feedback to support next-day implementation. Sessions integrate best practices of adult learning with follow up job-embedded coaching to support the application of the session’s content. These supports include individualized coaching, data collection, modeling, co-teaching, and co-planning. PLSs also co-lead a district-wide professional development initiative, which includes: Induction, Tune Up Tuesday, Exemplary Teaching Video Library, and teacher-led professional development events.
Nick began his education career in 2004 at J.D. Smith Middle School in Las Vegas, NV. In 2008 Nick came to Philadelphia to help found KIPP West Philadelphia Prep. Over his 10 years at KIPP West, Nick held the roles of Nonfiction Science Teacher, Director of Student Life, and most recently served as the school’s Dean of Students. Nick is experienced in building strong school culture as well as trained in the use of restorative practices to serve students experiencing behavioral challenges. Nick received his undergraduate degree from Saint Vincent College, a PA Teaching Certification from California University, and an M.S.Ed. in Education Administration from National-Louis University in Chicago, IL. Nick is excited to join the Office of Teaching and Learning and work to build excellent educational opportunities for all of our children.
Catherine is excited to join the Teaching and Learning team with fourteen years of educational experience in both district and charter schools. After initially teaching as a Teach for America corps member in Miami, she later moved to Washington, D.C. and then to Philadelphia to continue teaching elementary school. In her most recent leadership role, which incorporated teacher and leader coaching with curriculum design and implementation, she developed a passion for collaborative problem-solving in the service of students. Catherine received a Masters degree in Reading Instruction from the University of Maryland in 2011, and received her PA Principal certification (PK-12) through PhillyPLUS in 2015. As a Professional Learning Specialist, Catherine is looking forward to supporting teachers and leaders through professional development and tailored school-based supports.
Cristina has spent her career serving students in high needs schools/neighborhoods first in Newark and Camden, New Jersey, then in Philadelphia at University City and John Bartram High Schools. By moving from elementary school to middle school to high school, Cristina realized that students arrive at school, sometimes despite myriad challenges, excited and curious. Her passion is found in nurturing and sustaining that excitement and curiosity. As a result, Cristina served in a range of school-based leadership positions before joining the Office of Teaching and Learning, first as a Consulting Teacher and now as a PLS. She looks forward to collaborating with school leaders and teachers to provide rich, rewarding teaching and learning opportunities to feed the excitement and curiosity of all involved. Cristina has earned a B.A. in English Literature from NYU, a M.A.L.S. from Dartmouth College, and an M.Ed. from Cabrini College, and holds certification for English, grades 7-12, and an Administrative PK-12 certificate.
Rachel began her career as a 6th grade teacher at Munoz Marin Elementary in North Philadelphia. She is excited to be back at the School District of Philadelphia after over 10 years of work spanning instructional coaching and curriculum development at a number of educational nonprofits in Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Phoenix. She is a doctoral candidate in Teaching and Teacher Education at the University of Michigan and her research interests surround instructional coaching, teacher satisfaction and retention, project based learning, and improvement science. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Furman University and a Master’s in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.
Elizabeth Mc Anally
A Philadelphia educator since 1991, Elizabeth (Beth) has served as a general/choral music educator and teacher/leader at Fairhill Elementary and Wilson Middle School, and as a Consulting Teacher supporting new teachers in our district. She holds degrees from Nazareth College, Columbia University Teachers College, and Holy Family University. Her published work includes curriculum materials, articles in peer reviewed journals, and texts about middle school school general music and urban music education. In her “spare” time she consults for area arts organizations, and has been privileged to speak at a variety of state and national conferences. She is very passionate about providing the highest quality instruction for our city’s children and meaningful supports for teachers. Beth’s certifications include: Music K-12, Middle Years English, and Principal K-12.
Erina Pearlstein grew up in the Philadelphia area and began her career in Philadelphia as a music teacher after graduating from Westminster Choir College with a Bachelor’s of Music in Music Education. She worked as a K-8 music teacher in the School District of Philadelphia before moving to the charter world to teach high school. Through her experience in the charter world, she took on many teacher leader roles in her school. She also continued her studies, earning her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education in 2012 from Holy Family University as well as her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Gwynedd Mercy University in 2017 before becoming an Instructional Coach for two years. She is currently pursuing an Educational Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Gwynedd Mercy University. She is thrilled to be transitioning back to the School District of Philadelphia to bring her love of learning to the teachers and students of the great city of Philadelphia.
Dr. Lina Richardson
Dr. Lina Richardson comes to the Office of Teaching and Learning with 15 years of experience in the education sector and a passion for educational equity. An Arizona native, she began her career as a middle school English teacher at Henry C. Lea Elementary School by way of Teach for America (2005). After her third year, she spent one year living in Gifu, Japan and provided English language instruction to over 300 middle and high school students in a rural town through the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme. She subsequently returned to Philadelphia and continued teaching middle school English before matriculating into Temple University’s urban education doctoral program. Her dissertation centered around Black high school students’ experiences with the African American history curriculum in Philadelphia and specifically examined how teachers’ competing representations (framing) of the Black past shaped students’ understanding of the historical and contemporary Black experience. Upon earning her doctorate, Dr. Richardson joined the faculty at The College of New Jersey as an assistant professor of urban education, where she focused her efforts into developing equity minded, culturally responsive educators. She is excited to now join the OTL team as a Professional Learning Specialist and channel her energy into supporting schools and teachers as we work collectively to achieve the District’s mission of providing a quality education for all students. Dr. Richardson has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Arizona, a Masters in Education from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in Urban Education from Temple University.
Brooke is excited to join the Teaching and Learning team, co-leading the Teacher Leader Academy. Before the Professional Learning Specialist role, she most recently served as an Assistant Principal in Philadelphia. Prior to entering educational leadership, Brooke served as a teacher coach and classroom teacher in Philadelphia. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor for Harcum College, supporting adult learners. Brooke earned her M.Ed from Cabrini University and then joined a citywide network of school leaders in the Philadelphia Pathway to Leadership in Urban Schools (PhillyPLUS) to obtain her principal certification.
Brooke’s certifications include: PA Administrative – Principal Level I K-12 and PA Elementary K-6 Level II.
Katie Walsh is a proud Philadelphia native and a graduate of Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls. After completing a B.S. in Education from Temple University, Katie joined The School District of Philadelphia; moved to Fairmount; and taught K-6 and was a Reading Curriculum Coordinator in various school settings throughout her career. Katie later earned an Ed.M. in Education from Cabrini College. After receiving a second Ed. M. in School Leadership from The University of Pennsylvania Katie joined the Office of Teaching and Learning and is now co-leading the Teacher Resource Forum, Edcamp, and Teacher Symposium to support offices and teachers throughout the district. Katie’s certifications include: (1) PA Administrative Level I Certificate, PreK-12; (2) Instructional II Elementary K-6; (3) Instructional II Early Childhood N-3.
Emily began her career in education teaching English abroad before returning home to Philadelphia in 2007 as a Philadelphia Corps member. Emily taught middle school math and science for six years in Philadelphia public and charter schools before transitioning to school leadership as an Assistant Principal of Instruction. In this role, Emily supported students and teachers in grades K-8 across a variety of content areas. For the last two years, Emily has worked as a Math Counts Specialist with Carnegie Learning to support mathematics instruction in Philadelphia public schools. She is passionate about collaborating with school leaders and teachers to ensure high quality, engaging learning experiences for students and is excited to return to the School District of Philadelphia as a Professional Learning Specialist. Emily has a bachelor’s degree from Haverford College and a master’s degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Her certifications include: PA Administrative Level I – PreK-12, Instructional II – Mid-level Mathematics 6-9, Instructional II – General Science 7-12.