Meet Our Academic Coaches

Academic Coaches provide peer coaching and they support teachers rated Needs Improvement as well as second year teachers who were recommended for additional support by the PAR Panel. 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. Academic Coaches engage with a variety of school-based stakeholders to support development of teachers on their caseload. Additionally, Academic Coaches are responsible for creating and designing data-driven Performance Improvement Plans (PIP).


Wendy Howell

Wendy has been an educator for the past thirty-four years. She has spent the last twenty-two years in the School District of Philadelphia. Wendy has been coaching in the district for over fifteen years.

Lynette Johnson

Lynette began in the District as a substitute teacher, then transitioned on to serve as an elementary, middle and high school English teacher.

Rasheeda W. King

Rasheeda King has been an educator for twenty-one years and has served in several capacities within the School District of Philadelphia as a building, regional and central office level employee. Over the past ten years she has served as a: School Growth Teacher, Regional Data Instructional Specialist, School Improvement Specialist and Professional Development Facilitator/Coach for our District’s School-Based Teacher Leaders and Instructional Specialists. Rasheeda has helped to develop and work on many school improvement initiatives within the District and brings extensive coaching experience to her role as an academic coach.

Jennifer Melendez

A Philadelphia native, Jennifer began her career as a bilingual grade teacher in her hometown. She has worked many years as a teacher, Academic Coach, School Based Teacher Leader, ESOL Coach , and Professional Development & Induction Facilitator, as well as a local college Adjunct Professor. Jennifer looks forward to collaborating with her colleagues and supporting them in improving their craft as it impacts student achievement. Jennifer’s certifications include: Elementary Education K-6, Middle Years Math 7-9, ESOL K-12, and Administration.

Marlene Mermelstein

Marlene has been with the School District of Philadelphia 24 years which includes being a Regional Mathematics Coach, Data Specialist and Consulting Teacher, in addition to teaching in grades 7 – 12. As a product of the Philadelphia public school system Marlene is dedicated to giving back what was given to her in those years – an opportunity to make a difference.

Brian Pavlovic

Brian has been teaching for 10 years and coaching for 10 years here in the School District of Philadelphia across all content areas, grade levels and certifications. As a coach, teachers and their students come first while Brian’s work is transparent, consistent and confidential.  Brian’s certifications include: English 7-12, Math 7-12, Spec Ed K-12, and  Principal K-12.

Yolanda Philmore

Yolanda Philmore has been teaching with the Philadelphia School District for 19 years. Her current role as a teacher coach gives her the flexibility to support teachers throughout the district in developing and reaching professional goals.

April Tomarelli

April serves as an Academic Coach, supporting the Teacher Leader Academy.  This is April’s 5th year working as an Academic Coach, and third specifically working in Teacher Leader Development  Before working in Teacher Leadership, she previously coached the district’s highest performing DEEP teachers.  Prior to that, April worked for two years as an Early Literacy Specialist for CLI, and as a classroom teacher for 6 years for a charter school in Center City.  April earned Masters Degrees in PreK-12 Educational Leadership and Elementary Curriculum and Instruction and holds an Administrative Certification, as well as a K-6 Teaching Certification.  As a resident of Philadelphia, April is proud to serve and support her community in their education.

Tawana Reynolds

Tawana has been teaching for 25. She’s been a teacher coach for 12 years and enjoys supporting all teachers. Tawana certifications include: Elementary and Administration.

Ginger Smith

As a second generation teacher and a product of the Philadelphia school system, Ginger Smith has dedicated her professional career to the uplift of children in urban schools. She has been providing service to children and teachers for over twenty years, with her tenure as an Academic Coach lasting fourteen years. Ginger has completed baccalaureate and graduate degree programs from accredited universities.

Gara Speight

Gara currently serves as an Academic Coach with the Office of Teaching and Learning. Her experience spans over sixteen years in various capacities including elementary school teacher, teacher mentor for local universities, committee member on school based teacher leadership teams, and Consulting Teacher. As a native Philadelphian and product of Philadelphia public schools, Gara exudes a deep passion for her work with the teachers and students she serves. Gara is a graduate of Temple University and earned her Masters of Science in Education from Drexel University. Gara’s certifications include: Elementary K-6, Early Childhood N-3, and Principal PreK-12.

Brenee’ M. Waters, M. Ed.

Brenee’ entered the teaching profession in 1997. She started her career with the School District of Philadelphia in 2001 and has served as a Special Education Teacher and an Academic Coach. She has worked in the Office of Teaching and Learning, supporting many schools and teachers districtwide for the past 10 years. Brenee’ earned a B.S. in Secondary Education, as well as a M.E. in Special Education from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.  She earned her Administrative Certification from Arcadia University. Brenee’ is passionate about urban education and has made a commitment to teaching for social justice. Outside of work, Brenee’ loves all things Philly, especially the Eagles and Sixers! She also enjoys spending time with her sons and reading.