TEAM

Our team brings decades of experience reframing education discussions, developing leaders, and building technological solutions and tools.  We solve education’s most complex problems by building strategic partnerships with agencies, foundations, business leaders and associations.
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Ashley Jenkins

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Ashley received her undergraduate degree in History from The University of Texas at Austin, where she participated in UTeach, a secondary teacher preparation program. In 2012, she began working for UT Austin in the Office of Accounting, specifically on University and State travel procedures and compliance. She currently serves as the Administrative Associate for IPSI’s College Access Division as a part of the Texas GEAR UP State Grant. In her position, she assists the program staff in daily business operations and the planning of their annual conference.

Bertha Rodriguez

Bertha Rodriguez

Bertha D. Rodríguez brings experience as a public school bilingual/ESL teacher, an elementary campus administrator, and an instructor at the University of Texas at El Paso and the El Paso Community College.  She obtained her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction and Mid-Management certification from the University of Texas at El Paso.  As a Senior Field Analyst for the Texas Literacy Initiative, she delivers and supports professional development, as well as works collaboratively with school and district leadership teams and instructional coaches to support literacy across all grade levels.

Brandon Cornell

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Brandon is a web developer for the OnTRACK for College Readiness project in Project Share, providing the interactive development for the project. The youngest member of the team, Brandon has shown remarkable talent and growth, teaching himself JavaScript and JQuery from scratch, leading the initiative to make all content available to mobile users, and serving as the first point of contact for any technical conundrums that arise. He has created over 30 templates that allow first-time developers to easily create rich interactive learning content for the web, and recreated hundreds of web applications as mobile-friendly interactives.

Brandon specializes in programming in JavaScript, JQuery, CSS,  HTML.  He is a master in web template design and technical troubleshooting.

Chelsea Roser

Chelsea Roser

Chelsea Roser received her undergraduate degree in Sociology from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2011 and since has been working in college access. She began her work in college access with the Advise TX program serving underserved high schools in Dallas and Austin, TX. Currently, Chelsea works with the GEAR UP program at Manor Middle School preparing 8th grade students for their post-secondary options. She is working on her Master’s of Education in Higher Education Administration at Angelo State University with the intention to graduate in May 2014. Chelsea hopes to continue her journey through college access and eventually shift from working with grade school students to focusing on the retention of college students.

Christi Garza

Christi Garza

Christi Garza is a College Preparation Advisor for the Texas GEAR UP State Grant program in the Edgewood Independent School District at E.T. Wrenn Middle School in San Antonio. Prior to joining the Institute of Public School Initiatives, Christi worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters where she cultivated an interest in the GEAR UP program through a partnership with the San Antonio Independent School District. Christi also served a year of service with AmeriCorps in Baytown, TX where she assisted with a non-profit college access program, College Forward, serving economically disadvantaged first-generation students. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Texas A&M University-San Antonio. She has a strong interest in working with first-generation students, assisting them toward their future educational goals, and how college access programs play a role in their success.

She is currently pursuing a Master of Education with an emphasis in Student Services in Higher Education from the University of the Incarnate Word with the intent to graduate in May 2014.

Curtis Griffin

Curtis Griffin

Curtis Griffin has designed and developed the web for the past 10 years and specializes in interactive development and instructional design utilizing HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, and jQuery. He has worked at The Institute for Public School Initiatives for the past 3 years as a Media Coordinator, and has had the opportunity to work on several projects along the way including OnTRACK for College Readiness, the Texas Literacy Initiative, and the Project Share Support Center. Curtis received his Bachelors of Fine Art from Temple University and has several certifications including Webmaster and Online Course Facilitation.  When not on the web, you can find Curtis painting, producing music, or riding his bike.

Darvin M. Winick Ph.D.

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Dr. Winick has been active in the creation of educational policy for assessment, accountability and restructuring for over forty years. He served as Chair of the National Assessment Governing Board from 2002 to 2009 and in currently an Advisor to the Governing Board’s 12th Grade Preparedness Commission. He has served as an adviser to the U.S.Secretary of Education and to four Texas Governors. He served as a member of the Task Force on Education, Vice Chair of the Governor’s Focus on Reading Task Force, and as a member of the Education Commissioners Committee on Accountability. Dr. Winick has experience in corporate and financial institution management. He leads the Institute’s work in educational productivity.

Dr. Winick holds a doctorate in organizational psychology from Purdue University.

Dr. Darv Winick  |  dwinick@ipsi.utexas.edu  |  512-232-3962

Daryl Michel Ph.D.

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Dr. Michel brings a broad skill set to the Institute including school improvement initiatives, systemic change, and effective teaching practices. He led the development of the Texas Reading First evaluation, a compilation of materials that describes and highlights eight years of activities, and co-wrote reports on topics such as change, instructional leadership, and best practices in literacy instruction. He has experience in developing online courses and facilitating statewide collaborative groups with administrative teams and teachers. His current work at IPSI focuses on co-leading the Texas Literacy Initiative, leading multiple teams in the development of facilitated courses in Project Share and providing face-to-face and online professional development, and supporting districts across the state of Texas in literacy education and using data to guide instruction.  Dr. Michel’s research focuses on developing learning communities, effective meetings, and teacher and administrator development.

Daryl Michel  |  dmichel@ipsi.utexas.edu  |  210-380-8375

 

Dawn Filer

Dawn Filer

Dawn Filer, is a Senior Program Coordinator with the Academic Foundation Initiatives at the Institute for Public School Initiatives at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a certified secondary English teacher whose role is to provide technical assistance and support in literacy instruction, leadership and professional development.

Previously, Dawn was Program Specialist for the DATE grant, an AVID Elective teacher, a Business Academy Coordinator, and a high school English teacher. She earned her B.A. from Texas State University in San Marcos.

Debra Erhart

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Deb Erhart’s career mimics her strong desire and passion of ensuring struggling students have opportunities to have a successful educational experience. At IPSI, Deb presently is a Design Coach for Early College High Schools and has been an Executive Master Teacher for the Algebra Readiness grant and a lesson writer for OnTrack. Previously, she was the Director of a TRIO Upward Bound Program, a Fine Arts Integration Specialist, a Data Coordinator for GEARUP, a Math Consultant, a high school math teacher and a teacher for non-English speaking adults.  She continues to have a strong desire to learn and grow.

Debra White

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Ms. White oversees Human Resources and staffing for The Institute for Public School Initiatives (IPSI), as the Senior Human Resources Representative for the department.  She has worked with IPSI for almost 5 years and has a total of 7 years of HR experience with the University of Texas.  Debra works closely with the Institute’s Directors and Supervisors to make sure projects are fully staffed.  Also, she works closely with HR on main campus to ensure compliance with state, federal, and university regulations and policies.  She had played an essential role in developing departmental policies and procedures for personnel. Prior to joining IPSI, Debra had a 30 year career in real estate, which included owning her own real estate company for 12 years.  Debra graduated from the University of Nebraska with a BS in merchandising with a focus in business.

Diamond Torres

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Diamond Torres is a College Preparation Advisor with the Texas State GEAR UP Grant. Her work site is located in Lubbock, Texas at Dunbar College Preparatory Academy in Lubbock ISD.  As a college advisor, she provides direct services and support to middle school students related to high-school course planning, college preparation, academic success and career exploration. Prior to GEAR UP, Diamond served two years with Advise TX College Advising Corps as a college advisor working with high school students. Diamond earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Business from The University of Texas at Austin. Diamond plans to obtain her Master’s degree in Student Affairs and utilize the experience she is gaining in her current position to ultimately lead a non-profit organization. 

DK Murphy

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David Keith “DK” Murphy began his career with The University of Texas at Austin as a Research Associate and Editor at the Linguistics Research Center, where he worked on the journal Computers and Translation. He taught English for seven years at the American University of Paris, before returning to the U.S. in 1998, and taking a position as an Editor, and then Systems Analyst in the Research and Evaluation Division of the Texas Education Agency. He returned to UT Austin as an Electronic Publishing Specialist for the K-16 Education Center, and began working with UT’s Institute for Public School Initiatives in 2012 as a Media Coordinator.

Dolores Tovar

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Dolores Tovar has been an educator for thirty-eight years. She has twenty three years of experience as an elementary public school teacher, and twelve years of experience as a Teacher Leader for Curriculum and Instruction and Early Childhood. Dolores brings experience as a Teacher Reading Academy trainer for Kindergarten through grade four and as a trainer for the Texas Adolescent and Literacy Academy (TALA).  Throughout her two years as a Senior Field Trainer Analyst for the Texas Literacy Initiative, she has lead training sessions, provided guidance to school and district leadership teams as well as Community Partners and instructional coaches.  Dolores holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at El Paso and a Masters of Arts degree from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Faith Stevens

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Faith Stevens is a national consultant for federal and state literacy programs and has worked as a content expert to advise advocacy groups, including the Council of Chief State School Officers.  She served as the Reading First director for the Michigan Department of Education and has also worked as a district coordinator, specialist and teacher.  At the Institute, she has managed the online development of OnTRACK English courses, End of Course Success trainings, and the Texas ReadSource website, a collection of research articles, best practices, and teaching tools to assist educators statewide.  She is experienced in the creation of large scale training initiatives and led the Texas Reading Institutes.  Faith specializes in the planning of large teacher conferences and project management.  Faith holds a bachelor of arts in English and Education and a master of arts in K-12 Reading Instruction from Michigan State University.

Genise Henry Ph.D.

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Dr. Genise Henry has served in various roles as an instructional leader with a focus in the areas of language and literacy. She has provided professional development and technical assistance to school districts at the national level and currently supports districts funded through the Texas Literacy Initiative as a senior field trainer/analyst at the Institute for Public School Initiatives. Her experience, at the elementary and secondary level, is foundational for her work in implementing research-based and data-driven best practices for school improvement. She earned her Ph.D. and M.Ed. at Texas State University in San Marcos, and a B.A. at Huston Tillotson University in Austin, Texas.

Geoffry Treital

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Geoffrey Treitel is a software developer at ISPI.  Mr. Treitel maintains the web application http://www.texasreadsource.org, the Online Texas Reading Academy for grades K-4. Duties include monitoring J2EE web applications, software upgrades, system administration, and customer support.

Ingrid Taylor

Ingrid Taylor

Ingrid Taylor is a results-driven professional with over 15 years experience in delivering, evaluating and creating educational programs, support strategic planning practices and offering leadership and governance training to community and school leaders. She’s worked with school board-superintendent teams across Texas to improve good governance practices, and facilitated strategic planning meetings and retreats for a variety of non-profit organizations. Taylor has worked at the federal, state and local level on budget, policy and programs and has served on a number of community boards in Austin. She currently manages work with four school districts as part of the Texas GEAR UP State Grant.

Ingrid holds a masters of public affairs degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Jennifer Freeman

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Jennifer Freeman has over 15 years of instructional design and course development experience. As an instructional designer and course developer with the University of Texas since 1999, she has been responsible for the design, development, and implementation of hundreds of internet-based courses, interactive multimedia projects, and training programs for the faculty, staff, and students of K-12 and higher education institutions in Texas. Freeman specializes in educational technology, graphic design, and multimedia development.

Ms. Freeman holds a masters degree in education, focusing on instructional design from Western Governors University.  She specializes in the design of interactive learning objects for K-16 and online course facilitation.

Joanna Oliver

Joanna Oliver

Joanna Oliver is a Senior Field Trainer Analyst for the Texas Literacy Initiative.  She provides support and professional development to public school districts across the state and their associated early childhood education providers.  Joanna holds a Master of Education: Leadership of Learning in Curriculum and Instruction degree from Abilene Christian University with an emphasis in Digital Learning and a Principal Certification, and a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Education with an emphasis in Reading.  Joanna began her career as an elementary public school teacher, transitioning into a literacy coach, and then a Reading Technical Assistant for the Texas Reading First Initiative.  Joanna also brings experience from Region 6 Education Service Center as a Literacy Specialist and a Technology Integration Specialist as well as her practices as a Learning Assistant at Texas A&M University.

John Ezzell

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John is a senior field trainer and analyst for The Institute for Public School Initiatives where he creates training materials and leads training sessions for Texas educators through the Project Share Support Center. He started his educational career as a high school social studies teacher at Westchester Academy for International Studies in Houston. Since moving to Austin, he has worked as an editor for Harcourt Houghton-Mifflin and an editor-in-chief of an educational non-profit publisher.  John holds a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in Communication from The University of Texas at Austin.

Joy Whitney

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Ms. Whtiney manages the Operations Team, her division oversees the financial, human resources, and reporting functions for the Institute.  She has over 25 years of university experience , managing and maintaining the fiscal activities related to grants and contracts.  She has played a key role in developing policies and procedures and establishing a manual for grants and contracts management, regarding the monitoring/oversight of process activities for all grants and contracts received to ensure compliance with  federal, state, and university’s rules and regulations.  She works closely with the university’s Office of Sponsored Projects during the proposal and implementation phases of grants.

Joy specializes in the development of contracts, grant proposals and financial audits.

Joy Whitney   |   jwhitney@ipsi.utexas.edu   |  512-232-4547

Judd Faulkner

Judd Faulkner

Judd Faulkner serves as a College Preparation Advisor at Decker Middle School in Manor Independent School District.  As a middle school college advisor, he provides high school, college and career preparation for the entire 8th grade class at his school. Previously he served a term as an Americorps State and National  member with the college access program College Forward, focusing on high achieving underserved students at Connally High school in Austin. Through cooperation with multiple college preparation/educational resources Judd hopes to motivate and provide services for the next generation of college graduates.

Julie Koepke

Julie Koepke

Julie Koepke brings experience as a public school teacher, as well as university adjunct faculty instructor.  She holds a Master of Arts degree from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame.  She has served as a committee chair and committee member for accreditation reviews of public and private high schools and has been a leader in professional development. As a Senior Field Trainer Analyst for the Texas Literacy Initiative, she leads training sessions, provides guidance to school and district leadership teams, and works with instructional coaches to support teachers and administrators.

Karen Nelson

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Ms. Nelson is a national leader in literacy with over fifteen years of experience in the design and implementation of effective instruction and intervention.  She managed the professional development and technical assistance for the 700 Reading First schools in Texas from 2007-2011. She is a member of the State Leadership Team for the Texas Literacy Initiative which supports implementation of the new Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy federal grant program and integrates the state literacy resources for educators across Texas.  She is experienced in working with district and campus leaders, delivering professional development in face-to-face and online environments and building consensus among district, state, and national leaders. Her team supports statewide literacy initiatives for PK-12th grade through Project Share, the Texas Education Agency online platform supporting over 3 million users.

Ms. Nelson earned a Master’s degree in speech and language pathology from Texas Woman’s University.

Karen Nelson |  knelson@ipsi.utexas.edu  |  512-232-4217

Karina Silva Schulte

Karina Silva Schulte

Karina Schulte is a Senior Field Trainer Analyst for the Texas Literacy Initiative at the Institute for Public School Initiatives. She provides support to high school campuses through training sessions and guidance during leadership team meetings. Her educational background includes co-owning and operating a child development center, teaching in two-way dual language programs, leading an elementary and middle charter school as a campus principal, teaching a graduate course at the University of Texas at El Paso, and coordinating regional bilingual conferences. Being an English Language Learner, Mrs. Schulte understands the need for all students to successfully learn and receive a first class education.

Kathy Adamec

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Kathy Adamec has contributed to the growth of college and career readiness programs at The University of Texas at Austin since 2010.  Prior to joining the Institute for Public School Initiatives, Kathy spent several years serving as a community liaison for the U.S. Department of State in China and Mexico and taught middle school in Central Texas.  For the Texas Center for Student Success project at IPSI, she leveraged her background in education and community relations to identify and collaborate with exemplar teachers, administrators, and students throughout the state to create professional development videos and other artifacts for educators highlighting best practices in intervention and acceleration being successfully executed on public school campuses.  Kathy currently develops the Kid2Kid video series for the OnTRACK for College Readiness project.  These student-to-student video lessons are widely available to Texas educators and students and have become the most accessed items on the Texas Education Agency’s iTunes U site.

 

Kathy specializes in video production and project management.  She is currently pursuing a masters in business administration from Western Governors University.

Kristie Hotchkiss

Kristie Hotchkiss

Kristie Hotchkiss is a Senior Field Trainer for the Institute for Public School Initiatives. Kristie is a content specialist working with writers to develop English Language Arts lessons for Project Share.  She also provides professional development for the Texas Literacy Institutes.  Hotchkiss earned her B.A. from the University of Northern Colorado and her M.S. from Oregon State University in secondary education. She has 32 years of teaching experience with at-risk populations as a reading specialist.  At the University of Texas at Austin, she worked for the Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts on the Texas Adolescent Literacy Academies project and as the Project Coordinator for the College and Career Readiness Initiative.

Linda Cranmer

Linda Cranmer

Linda Cranmer is a Senior Field Trainer Analyst for The University of Texas at Austin.  She has experience supporting statewide literacy initiatives as well as experience as a teacher, a literacy coach, and an adjunct professor in the area of literacy.  She has been a leader in professional development, online course development, and literacy education for teachers across Texas.  She holds a Master of Education degree in Educational Administration.  Working with the Texas Literacy Initiative, she leads professional development sessions, provides support for campus and district leadership teams, and works with instructional coaches to provide support and knowledge for teachers and administrators.

Maggie Sheppard

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Ms. Sheppard is a Project Manager for the OnTRACK for College Readiness project in Project Share, overseeing the technology team in online course development.  She has held a variety of Systems Analyst positions in public education, higher education and national laboratories.  She has also held teaching positions at both the community college and university level.  While at Iowa State she designed, developed, and facilitated their largest online course with over 800 students.  She was a course developer at the UT TeleCampus where she oversaw the development of online courses for two large universities.

Maggie’s doctoral work is in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on instructional design from Iowa State University.  Ms. Sheppard specializes in instructional design and online course facilitation.

Margaret McCaughtry

Margaret McCaughtry

Margaret McCaughtry brings experience as a public school teacher and campus and district administrator.  She holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Education degree from Southwest Texas State University.  Her certifications are in Elementary Self-Contained, Kindergarten, Teacher of Young Children, and Mid-Management Administrator.  She has served as Project Manager and a Senior Field Trainer Analyst for the Texas Literacy Initiative.  As a Senior Field Trainer Analyst, she provides guidance to school and district leadership teams, and works with instructional coaches to support teachers and administrators.

Margie Harris

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Margie serves as a project specialist for the OnTRACK for College Readiness project.  She is responsible for the development of lessons created for Project Share.  She manages the edit process between the Texas Education Agency and content writers. During her employment with the University of Texas System, she was a student service representative supporting over 10,000 students enrolled in online courses.   Ms. Harris managed a learning system which offered over a hundred professional development courses.

 

Margie specializes in the development of learning management systems.

Maria Carlsen

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Maria Carlsen has extensive experience in the development of products for bilingual students.  She managed the development of over 100 Kid2Kid videos in two languages and has made them available through Creative Commons Licensing for use worldwide.  She manages all business related functions for the College Readiness team at the Institute.

Maria holds a masters of business administration from St. Edwards University.

 

 

Maria Portillo

Maria Portillo

Marie Cataldi Portillo, M.Ed., is a Senior Field Trainer Analyst with the Academic Foundation Initiatives at the Institute for Public School Initiatives at the University of Texas at Austin. She supports the implementation of the Texas Literacy Initiative with elementary campuses in the El Paso Independent School District. She is a certified reading specialist and master reading teacher whose role is to provide technical assistance and support in literacy instruction, leadership and professional development.

Previously, Marie was a campus coach with the Texas Reading First Initiative, a Texas Beginning Educator Support System (TxBESS) Trainer, a mentor for classroom teachers and literacy coaches, as well as an adjunct faculty instructor at the University of Texas at El Paso. She earned her M.Ed. and B.S. from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Martha Lee

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Martha Lee has over 17 years of instructional design, curriculum writing, professional development, and classroom teaching experience.  She has taught both middle school and high school science and worked as a district curriculum writer.  Martha has also served as a district secondary science specialist for Austin Independent School District and was an instructor in an alternative certification program for individuals wishing to become Math and Science teachers. Martha presented professional development  sessions for the educational community on the topics of science content  and instructional design as well as using technology in the classroom at several national and state conferences such as NSTA, CAST, ASCD and the National Middle School Conference.

Martha holds masters degree in educational administration from the University of North Texas.  She specializes in the development of interactive science content at the middle and high school level.

Martha Santana

Martha Santana

Martha Santana, Senior Field Trainer Analyst for the Texas Literacy Initiative (TLI), currently provides direct support to middle schools by providing data informed professional development; supporting instructional coaches, teachers, and administrators in literacy instruction; and collaborating with district and campus leadership teams.  Prior to joining the TLI team, she served as a district English Language Arts and Reading/Bilingual Education Instructional Specialist in which her focus was supporting grades 6-12 and supported grades K-3 as a Reading Technical Assistant Specialist (RTA) for the Texas Reading First Initiative.  She brings experience as a bilingual teacher, holds a Bachelor of Education degree with a bilingual/ESL certification, and has a Master of Arts in Education/Administration and Supervision.

Matt Orem

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Matt Orem has lead public relations, philanthropy, outreach, and service programs for The University of Texas for 16 years. He secured grants from Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation, Bank of America, Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and Association of Public Land Grant Colleges and Universities, to incubate and implement programs that assist low-income students complete high school, attend college and obtain a degree or credential. Orem’s initiatives to organize community groups that demystify the college-going process have been replicated across Texas. His web-based programs to increase college awareness, financial aid and literacy have been used statewide. His team currently supports four districts through the Texas GEAR UP State Grant.

Matt holds a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Texas at Austin.

Matt Orem  | morem@ipsi.utexas.edu  |  512-232-2563

 

 

Meg Birk

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Margaret Birk has been an educator for thirty-eight years bringing experience as an elementary public school teacher, as well as a teacher leader working with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.   She was instrumental in the design and implementation of an intensive Reading Intervention Institute developed to meet the needs of new and novice teachers in her district and has been a leader in the area of professional development.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas at El Paso with a special endorsement in Early Childhood Education.  As a Senior Field Trainer Analyst for the Texas Literacy Initiative, she works directly with district and campus instructional teams to provide support and training.

Michael King

Michael King

Michael King has nearly 10 years of program management, community outreach, marketing, and public relations experience. He has coordinated programs with Communities in Schools – San Antonio, Family Service Association, The University of Texas at San Antonio P-20 Initiatives, The Harris Foundation, and Public Allies, to assist and empower students in low-income communities. King’s ability to connect with people has been showcased through his personal blog, entertainment company, TV, and radio shows appearances. He currently supports outreach initiatives for districts served in the Texas GEAR UP State Grant. 

Michael specializes in community outreach, special events and public speaking.

Michelle Sims

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Michelle Sims is a Senior Program Coordinator with the Academic Foundations Initiative. She oversees more than 20 state and local grant budgets, managing all finances for the team. Michelle is responsible for preparing and submitting grant applications, amendments, and financial reports to funding sources. She also manages time & effort for more than 30 employees on the Academic Foundations team.

Prior to joining the Institute in 2010, Michelle worked as a project manager for the Texas Community Development Block Grant program and as a grant writer for the Texas Planning and Capacity Building Fund. She earned a B.S. in Journalism from Texas A&M University.

Miles Smith

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Miles Smith has experience as an elementary classroom teacher, a high school English teacher, a curriculum writer, and, currently, a Senior Field Trainer Analyst with IPSI. He holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in literature from Texas State University at San Marcos. In his current position working with the Texas Literacy Initiative in San Antonio ISD he provides training and support to campuses and districts in literacy instruction.

Natalya White

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Natalya White is the Project Specialist for the College Readiness Project at the Institute for Public School Initiatives. Graduated from Oral Roberts University with a Bachelors degree in Mass Media Communications and Print Journalism, Natalya has over 7 years of writing and editing experience. Her primary focus is editing and proofreading all print and online material including lessons and interactives for the OnTrack project, contracts and grant reports. In addition to editing lessons, Natalya was tasked with creating an online professional development and training course providing guidance to public school teachers in Texas on how to effectively and properly teach Bible Literacy in the classroom. In her spare time you can find Natalya with a cup of coffee in hand writing for Created Woman Magazine.

Noe Benavidez

Noe Benavidez

Noe Benavidez has worked in college access since he graduated from UT Austin in May 2011.  He served a two year term with the Advise TX-UT Austin Chapter as a college advisor at Memorial High School, a part of the Edgewood Independent School District in San Antonio.  Advise TX is a college access program that hires, trains, and places recent college graduates into high schools across the state to serve as full time college advisors.  As an advisor, Noe collaborated with district staff and coordinated different projects and events in Edgewood that aimed to develop and maintain a college going culture at Memorial HS and in the Edgewood community.  He also partnered with different college access programs and community leaders in San Antonio on initiatives that sought to build a city wide college going culture.  Noe is currently a College Preparation Advisor with the Texas GEAR UP State Project.  He is serving the Class of 2018 cohort at Gus Garcia Middle School, a part of Edgewood ISD in San Antonio.

Olga Martinez-Hickman

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Olga Martinez Hickman is a Senior Field Trainer for the University of Texas. Her work promotes school improvement and success in the area of language and literacy. She has  numerous years of experience that include supporting statewide literacy initiatives across the state of Texas. Her background includes knowledge in leadership, literacy, and second language acquisition for diverse learners. She holds two Master of Arts degrees, one in Reading and one in Educational Leadership. She is currently a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Arlington, with a focus on  communities of color, which will support her aim to ensure that all students receive a fair and equitable high quality education.

Paul Gray Ed.D.

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Dr. Gray has led curriculum development projects for over 10 years, including programs at The University of Texas at Austin for 2 years.  He has also authored mathematics textbooks, taught college mathematics courses, and serves as a national mathematics consultant. He taught middle and high school mathematics and science, worked as a mathematics specialist at the regional level, and as the director of mathematics and science for a high performing school district.  He serves on the board of directors for the Texas Association of Supervisors of Mathematics, Texas Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching. Currently, he provides leadership for the OnTRACK for College Readiness mathematics courses provided through the Texas Education Agency’s Project Share portal, a system serving over 3 million users.

Paul holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction, with an emphasis on teacher education from the University of Houston.

Paula Moeller Ed.D.

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Dr. Moeller is an experienced leader in education with over twenty years of experience in the development of curriculum and educational programs and products using technology.  Her team’s initiatives have focused on developing academic preparedness with first-generation college students without the need for remedial coursework at the university level.  She currently manages the development of online courses for students that accelerate content knowledge and develop college readiness in mathematics, science and social studies.  Her team produced over 2000 interactive learning objects and over 200 Kid2Kid student-led learning videos in two languages. Dr. Moeller leads statewide teams that advise campuses on the implementation of models that allow students to earn university credits while in high school.  She has extensive experience working with low performing campuses to increase student achievement and increase future career opportunities for students.

Paula holds a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin.

Paula Steffen Moeller  | pmoeller@ipsi.utexas.edu  |  512-232-2559   |  @psmoeller

Pratik Mhatre Ph.D.

Pratik Mhatre

Pratik has extensive experience in program evaluation, data analysis & research, needs assessment, and survey methodology. He is proficient in data analysis and statistical research using SAS, SPSS, and R, GIS mapping, modeling, and programming using ArcGIS, spatial statistics using ArcGIS, R and GeoDa for analyzing social and economic change. He has previously worked with the Enterprise Foundation, Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University, and Department of Homeland Security in analyzing the relationship of public policy and the built environment especially the intersection of public education & health policies and their impact on socio-economic characteristics of the neighborhood/community. He has publications, reports, and conference presentations to his credit covering issues in E-Government, performance measures, housing policy, and neighborhood revitalization. His current work involves designing and managing data systems for the Texas GEAR UP State Grant and intends to examine academic outcomes of target school districts within the context of neighborhood change.

Pratik holds a doctorate in urban and regional science from Texas A&M University.

Romey Imam

Romey Imam

Romey Imam serves as College Preparation Advisor at Brentwood Middle School in San Antonio as a part of the Texas State GEAR UP Project. He has worked in college access and advising since he graduated from the University of Texas in 2011. He previously worked with the Advise TX College Advising Corps at Ray High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he facilitated higher-education discussions among  parents and students, and aided college-bound seniors with the application process. He maintains a healthy interest is all things technology, and enjoys tinkering regularly on computers, televisions, mobile devices, watches, and cars.

Sonia Mercado-Dones

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Sonia Mercado has been a graphic and web designer for over 15 years.  She specializes in typography, logo and icon design and web design.  While working at IPSI for the last five years, she’s had the opportunity to work on the design and launch of the Texas ReadSource website, online course development for OnTRACK for College Readiness, and Project Share Support Center.

She has a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and has a Business Certificate form The Wharton School.

Stephanie Edwards-Hunt

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Stephanie Edwards-Hunt is the social studies Executive Master Teacher in College Readiness with the Institute for Public School Initiatives. Stephanie taught social studies in public schools in Austin and Houston for more than 15 years. She served as a Title I Coordinator form more than 10 years. Stephanie was selected as a Lead Teacher for Global Classrooms USA.  Stephanie has a passion for mentoring teachers and providing professional development to educators. She has a B.A. in Social Studies Composite from Huston-Tillotson University and has earned an M.Ed in Educational Administration from Prairie View A&M University.

Suzanne McIntyre

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Suzanne has worked at the University of Texas for 22 years.  She specializes in procurement, travel and administration.  She has been with The Institute since 2013.  Suzanne enjoys photography, sign language, religious studies and dancing.  She has worked with various non-profit and educational organizations.

smcintyre@ipsi.utexas.edu

Terri Perez

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Terri Pérez  has over ten years of experience in education and leads her team in providing high quality services to schools, supporting districts, campuses, and teachers with statewide initiatives through the Project Share Support Center and the Texas Literacy Initiative. She specializes in authentic the integration of technology tools for 21st century teaching and learning.

Terri holds a masters degree in education University of Saint Thomas.

Toni Baxter

Toni Baxter

Toni graduated from the University of Houston with a BA in English Education. She has a MA in English from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, and she is currently working on a master’s degree in Public School Administration with a principal certification at Texas A & M. Before coming to work for IPSI in 2010, Toni taught AP and IB English at Odessa High School in Odessa, Texas, serving also as Academic Decathlon coach and English Department Chair for many years.  Toni and her husband William have three sons, four granddaughters, and two half Catahoula, half Great Dane puppies, Blanchie and Maggie.

Victoria Salguero

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Victoria became part of UT Austin in the Summer of 2009.  She began working at the Bursar’s Office helping the students and staff with payments and deposits. Later in 2010 she transferred over to LBJ School of Public Affairs working 2 years as an Administrative Assistant for 12 distinguished faculty members.  She received a promotion as an Administrative Associate at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese in the Spring of 2012.  She now is working with the Institute for Public School Initiatives in the Business Office.

Virginia Avina

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Virginia Avina, M.Ed., is a district literacy liaison with the Academic Foundation Initiatives at the Institute for Public School Initiatives at the University of Texas at Austin. She supports the El Paso Independent School District with the implementation of the Texas Literacy Initiative. She provides technical assistance and support to elementary campuses in the area of literacy instruction, leadership and professional development. Previously, Virginia was a Reading Technical Assistant with the Reading First Initiative and supported campuses in El Paso as well as provided technical support and training to various districts across Texas. She was a State Trainer for Tejas Lee, TPRI and the Texas Adolescent Literacy Academies.

She earned her M.Ed. and B. A. from the University of Texas at El Paso and has over 20 years of experience in Education.

Willie Castrejon

Willie Castrejon

Willie Castrejon currently serves as a GEAR UP Advisor at The Institute of Public School Initiatives (IPSI) at The University of Texas.  Castrejon began work with IPSI in 2010 as an Advise TX College Adviser at Milby High School in Houston, Texas.  As a first-generation college graduate, he is very enthusiastic when it comes to assisting students in their college degree journey. In his spare time you can find Willie catching up with friends and former advisees and mentees, or at sport events in the Texas area. Castrejon holds a bachelor of science in Kinesiology from The University of Texas at Austin and a master’s in higher education administration from the University of Houston.