The Lean Lab welcomes its second cohort of education innovators as they embark on a 4.5-week journey this summer to build innovative solutions to address problems in KC schools in the annual Incubator Fellowship housed at the Sprint Accelerator. And The Lean Lab is proud to announce that Fellows in Cohort 2 represent a diverse group for the startup world: 44% identify as people of color and all but one are women.
From June 17's start to July 17's Launch Day, these seven teams will build innovative solutions to address problems with teacher retention, school leadership development, targeted student intervention, and policy/advocacy work in public education in Kansas City. Along the way, they will be supported by mentors from diverse backgrounds and fields, all coming together to support community-led innovation in education. Notably, Steve McDowell of BNIM, Stuart Ludlow of RFP365, and Luann Feehan of Nonprofit Connect, will mentor fellows as they build their solutions.
On the new cohort of Lean Lab Fellows, CEO and co-founder Katie Boody says, “We are thrilled to welcome a fresh set of ideas and solutions into our lab. We learned a lot in our pilot program last summer and I think the fellows will benefit from a robust network of support that we’ve built over the past year.”
Cohort 2: Lean Lab Fellows
Katie Laird is going into her fifth year teaching English at Alta Vista Charter High School in Kansas City, Missouri, where she has served as department chair for the past two years and will be a Language Arts instructional coach for the 2015-16 school year. At Alta Vista, she spearheaded the design of an ELA curriculum that comprehensively explored the concepts of identity, community & society, and the individual's and group's role within them, driven by the value of empowerment through reading and writing. Katie earned her Master's in Education and taught at KU's Applied English Center from 2007-2009, was a 2009 Teach For America Houston corps member as a 5th grade bilingual teacher, a 2013 Leading Educators fellow, and last year, a 2014 Fund for Teachers fellow, where she traveled to Israel and Palestine with two colleagues to explore and develop her curriculum's components of identity, displacement, conflict, and narrative. In addition to innovation and literacy, she is interested in critical pedagogy, restorative justice, and school culture. When not at Lean Lab this summer, she'll be playing summer ultimate frisbee leagues and hiking a week of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Team: Leadership Development
Kirsten Brown is passionate about improving urban education. She has seven years of experience working in urban Kansas City schools. Ms. Brown is committed to equipping students through education with the tools necessary to pursue any path they desire. Ms. Brown graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Institute for Urban Education (IUE). Since graduating from the IUE, Ms. Brown has taught and led teams in Kansas City schools for the past three years. Additionally, Ms. Brown has led professional development sessions for UMKC, Teach For America, and the Kauffman Teacher-Leader Fellowship. Ms. Brown completed the Leading Educators Fellowship program and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Educational Leadership at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She is also an Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis Fellow at the University of Missouri-Colombia. Kirsten is looking forward to working with The Lean Lab to help develop solutions to help close the achievement gap.
Team: Leadership Development
Jay Pitts-Zevin has been teaching for five years since he began substitute teaching at Richmond Community Schools in Indiana in 2008. He then became a teaching assistant and writing intensive tutor at Earlham College, where he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology/ Anthropology. Jay was a Master Teacher in Cross County School District in Arizona before moving to Kansas City to teach writing at the Ewing Marion Kauffman School in 2012.
Team: Leadership Development
Eliana Hudson is a junior at the University of Missouri - Kansas City majoring in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. Her passions, however, are in education and social activism. She is currently interested in researching how to integrate "unschooling" principles, postmodern ideology, active learning, self-directed learning, and anti-oppressive education into the public school classroom.
Team: Strategic Student Intervention, Student Choice
Katie Gore grew up in Independence, Missouri. She graduated from the University of Central Missouri with a degree in elementary and early childhood education. She continued her education, graduating from MidAmerica Nazarene University with a Master’s in Educational Technology. Her first teaching job took her to Excelsior Springs, Missouri, where she taught both second grade and kindergarten. Katie currently teaches first grade at Genesis Promise Academy a charter school in Kansas City, Missouri.
Team: Strategic Student Intervention, STEM
Imani Malaika is the founder of STEMS on the VINES, a STEMS blended learning environment. Maria Montessori’s books are the foundation of her educational philosophy. Before starting STEMS on the VINES, Imani was the Before/After School Care and Summer Day Academy Director at Carver Christian Academy. She is also a member of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (INACOL).
Team: Strategic Student Intervention: STEMS on the VINES
Emily Grand is excited to be starting her third year in the classroom as a chemistry and biology teacher at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy. She began her career in education as a Kansas City Teach For America corps member in 2013 and has come to call Kansas City home. When she's not grading, she enjoys reading, running, and spending time with her friends and family.
Team: Teacher Retention, Curriculum Development & Support
Catina K. Taylor, Kansas City native, began her teaching career in July 2000, responding to the call to fill the teacher shortage that was occurring in the Kansas City Public Schools. Working in public and private schools for the last 13 years and parenting a charter high school student, she has a vast knowledge of the classroom and the administrative tasks necessary to help students excel. After leaving the classroom in 2011, Catina joined the staff of Doxey and Associates and served as a Parent Aide and FMAS worker. She supervised visits between biological parents and their children that had been placed in foster care and also provided training to parents seeking reconciliation with their children. In March of 2012, she was named the Education Coordinator/Chief Operations Officer of New Reflections East, Inc. In this role, Catina was responsible for the development and growth of the GED program, served as internal co-leader of the organization, and developed system tools that helped the organization function more effectively. Catina holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Paralegal Certificate from Avila University. In 1999, she received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Kansas School of Law. Catina has one child, her son Christopher. She recently became a grandmother to a handsome boy, Kyree Dean.
Team: Strategic Student Intervention + Policy/Advocacy, New School Design
Jeanella (Cummings) Clark started her professional career in the civil engineering field designing site plans, roadways, and municipal storm drain systems in Arizona. Through an opportunity facilitated by the engineering firm, she began mentoring middle school students at a local school. She enjoyed being with students so much she went back to school to earn degree teaching Secondary Mathematics in 2004. In 2006 she was approached to teach Project Lead the Way high school engineering curriculum and math. Jeanella continues to teach both curricula specializing in Geometry and Civil Engineering and Architecture. Jeanella strives for school leadership. She earned her Master's in Administration in 2010 and is an aspiring high school principal. Jeanella is active in her church and has traveled to Haiti four different times on mission trips to teach adolescent girls in Mole St. Nicolas, Haiti. She enjoys traveling with her husband and two daughters in their RV, traveling abroad, motor sports, and is currently training for a half marathon in the fall.
Team: Strategic Student Intervention, Project-Based Learning
Get your ticket to Launch Day now to witness the future of education on July 17. Fellows will pitch their solutions created during the Incubator Fellowship to community members like you.
The Lean Lab launched in October, 2013, and has since hosted 13 community events, launched 8 solutions, and built the capacity to impact 2,400 students in the 2014-15 school year. The Lean Lab has been featured in KCPT’s Show Me series, The Kansas City Star, and was one of 10 finalists for this year’s Teach For America national Social Innovation Award competition.