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).


Trina Dean

Trina is a proud Philadelphia native and proud product of Philadelphia Public Schools. She has served as an educator in the School District of Philadelphia since 2009. Trina is passionate about serving the students of Philadelphia and couldn’t imagine working anywhere else! She knows that great teachers can make all the difference in a child’s life, and that all students can achieve at high levels if provided with the right opportunities.

Lynette Johnson

Lynette began her career in the School District of Philadelphia over twenty years ago, after serving as a substitute teacher for one year while earning one of her Masters Degrees. She served as a classroom teacher for both middle and high school English, a school-based new teacher coach, served on the school-based leadership team and a committee member on the Office of Teacher Leadership Advisory team. A proud product of the Philadelphia Public School system, Lynette holds several graduate degrees as well as an Administrative Certificate (Pre K-12). She is passionate about supporting teachers in developing their craft so that students may have a positive and high-level learning experience.

Rasheeda W. King

Rasheeda King has been an educator for twenty-five years and has served in several capacities within the School District of Philadelphia as a school-based, regional and central office level employee. Rasheeda matriculated at Millersville University of Pennsylvania where she earned both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s of Education degrees. She later attended The University of Scranton, where she earned a Masters in Educational Leadership. Over the past twelve 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 professional coaching experience to her role as an Academic Coach.

Marlene Mermelstein

Marlene is a proud Philadelphia native and product of Philadelphia public schools. She has been with the School District of Philadelphia for more than 25 years. Her previous roles include being a classroom teacher, a Regional Mathematics Coach, Data Specialist, School Growth and Instructional Specialist, School Improvement Specialist, Professional Development Developer, Facilitator and Coach, as well as a Consulting Teacher, prior to joining the ranks of an Academic Coach. As a product of the Philadelphia public school system, Marlene is dedicated to giving back what was given to her in those early 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.

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.

Michelle Shields

Michelle has been coaching and delivering professional development to teachers for many years. She is passionate about both and loves having the ability to follow up with teachers, through practice and feedback within the classroom. Michelle’s certifications include: K-6 ESOL, Principal, and Professional Development.

Ginger Smith

Ginger counts her background as a second generation teacher and a product of the Philadelphia school system as driving forces for dedicating her professional career to urban schools. She takes pride in providing service, uplift and partnership to children and teachers for over twenty years. Appointments as a teacher and in leadership roles at the school and district levels within the School District of Philadelphia have also shaped her path in her endeavor to grow educational excellence in schools. Significant and diverse experiences in instructional coaching are among the many talents she brings to the Academic Coach position. Ginger has completed baccalaureate and graduate degree programs from accredited universities, and lists Administrative Certification (PreK-12) among the numerous instructional certifications she currently holds.

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.

Wendy Stewart-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.

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.