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The FHI 360 PSO Team

The FHI 360 PSO team, led by the PSO director, is staffed by New York City educators with deep and varied experience in middle-grades and high school reform, youth development, postsecondary access and success, evaluation and accountability, adolescent health, and educational equity. Staff and consultants from FHI 360 ‘s New York City team are organizing the FHI 360 PSO, and they are supported by a range of other FHI 360 associates. Below is a brief snapshot of the team.

Calvin Hastings, AED PSO Director

Calvin Hastings is the Senior Director of the AED Middle Start National Center where he manages a portfolio of middle-grades improvement initiatives. He is the director of the AED Partnership Support Organization in NYC, where he manages the professional development and operational support for a network of twelve schools serving over three thousand children. An active part of the management team for AED Middle Start programs, he is responsible for integrating the work of AED programs into the PSO and disseminate the best-practice work being done with our network schools to other AED programs. He works closely with the AED PSO principals to regularly analyze school data and create focused plans for providing the support and services to help their schools accomplish articulated goals. Mr. Hastings also oversees the New School Development process and the USDOE funded Middle Start Leadership Program. Mr. Hastings manages the multiple teams working in each of these areas to ensure that all projects benefit from a unified vision and support structure.

Brian Kaplan, Ph.D., Deputy Network Leader

Brian Kaplan has moved from school psychologist to educational administrator at the NYC DOE. As Deputy Network Leader, Dr. Kaplan provides support to and works with FHI 360 PSO and CUNY PSO to unify the Children First Network (CFN). He is also the schools’ liaison for safety, suspensions, attendance, and facilities. Trained as a clinical psychologist, Dr. Kaplan organizes and supports all areas of our support work for schools.

Danish Adnan, Program Clerk

Danish Adnan started to work at AED/ FHI 360 as a PENCIL Fellow right after graduating from high school. Danish was introduced to the PSO project, learning about the project objectives and acquiring the skills to carry out various worktasks. Currently Danish provides clerical and administrative assistance to the PSO and other Middle Start Programs, including support for data collection and analysis.

Felicia Alvarez, Operations Analyst

Ms. Alvarez works as the network’s Data/IT liaison as well as the representative for youth development initiatives, health issues, and ACS related issues. She works tirelessly and seemingly effortlessly on behalf of our school’s needs in these areas including remedying any and all data and/or technological glitches, programming, working with community based organizations (CBOs), and guidance counselors. Felicia supports all network schools as well as the network team in all of these areas so that we in turn can support schools. She is the ultimate team player (and worker).

Judi Aronson, Senior Associate

Over the past 39 years, Ms. Aronson has worked in a diverse range of roles from principal, to curriculum specialist to District Superintendent. She has also worked in district offices, at the Central Board of Education, for the New York State Education Department and at the United Federation of Teachers, and most recently as a Network Leader for Empowerment Schools with New York City Public Schools. Ms. Aronson is currently on the faculty of Brooklyn College and teaches a course in Supervision and Administration. She is certified to perform School Quality Reviews by Cambridge Associates and was an evaluator of Principal candidates for the Department of Education. She also works as a consultant in numerous school districts, supporting school leaders to implement writer’s workshop in their schools. Ms. Aronson has a strong foundation in instruction with knowledge of current educational practices in all curriculum areas, and has worked with teachers in designing curriculum maps and using data to inform instruction. She has participated in the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project over 8 years, and has been trained at Project Zero at Harvard in using the Teaching for Understanding Framework to plan curriculum. Judi has also provided staff development programs to principals both locally and nationally in the areas of literacy, leadership, supervision and budgeting.

Susan Crossley, Business Director

As the director of business and administration at FHI 360, Ms. Crossley oversees all contractual and business aspects of the FHI 360 PSO.

Aurelia Enache, Senior Program Associate

Aurelia Enache joined AED/ FHI 360 in 1988. Currently she provides program and administrative support to the AED PSO, Middle School Leadership Program, and supports the Middle Start National Center at AED in activities and services related to educational reform. Ms. Enache has been an asset to the development of the Middle Start, which started in 1998 in Michigan and expanded to other states, including Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Wisconsin, and New York. Prior to joining the Middle Start team, Ms. Enache worked on a number of projects related to school-community collaboration, literacy education, afterschool programming, self-assessment, youth employment preparation, and other services for economically disadvantaged youth.

Gail Gaines, Senior Associate

Ms. Gaines has thirty-six years experience in the field of education, more specifically in roles of a teacher and an administrator (principal). Highly-qualified, Gail earned her Professional Diploma from the Queens College of the City of New York in Administration and Supervision and her Masters degree in Elementary Education from The City College of New York. Her administrative skills, ability to facilitate change, teaching experience, ability to relate to people, and understanding the needs of adolescent are Gail’s clear strengths which have gained her an excellent reputation in a field frequently criticized harshly by students, parents and governing agencies. Ms Gaines-Savage is also the founding Principal of The Essence School (middle school) which has been ranked by New York State Department of Education as meeting the state AYP goals in all of the academic areas each of the twelve years it has been in existence.

Onifa Hutchinson, FHI 360 Instructional Leader

Ms. Hutchinson began teaching in East Harlem, in the NYC Public School system. For the past 17 years, she loved teaching Mathematics with a focus on student engagement and implementing rigorous concepts with a more inquiry approach. Ms. Hutchinson provides support to FHI 360 PSO schools in using data systems such as Acuity and Aris to help inform instruction and individualize instruction for students. She also provides professional development to math teachers to develop more student centered classrooms and to make the transition from the current standards to the Common Core State Standards.

Cathy Mauro, Operations Specialist

Ms. Mauro is the link for all of our work supporting schools with schools and with each other. She is the centerpiece of our team. Cathy worked in schools and now is able to help all of us on the network team understand the underpinnings of school support work in areas including, and certainly not limited to, Human Resources, payroll, budgets, procurement, pupil accounting, ATS, and internal DOE operational systems that seemingly no one else understands or can maneuver successfully. Our team password is Cathy. We all turn to Cathy when we need anything…as do all our network schools. No one is indispensable, however it may be that Ms. Mauro fits that category.

Christine Newkirk, Program Officer

As Program Officer for FHI 360, Ms. Newkirk supports the development and integration of programs that champion and engage middle school students. With a background in youth media and youth leadership program development, Ms. Newkirk works closely with school administrators, coaches and teachers to build capacity for Middle Start initiatives including ISIS (Indicators for Success: Interventions and Supports) and the Youth Create Media Project. Ms. Newkirk collaborates with the Middle Start team to develop systems and structures that support middle schools as they seek to ensure that all of their students are on the path to successful and on-time high school graduation.

Sara Panag, Coordinated Early Intervening Services Coordinator

Sara Panag supports network schools in implementing and sustaining capacity for social and emotional learning to enhance academic instruction and create a healthy learning environment for children and adults through professional development and coaching. She also supports school implementation of FHI 360 PSO’s ISIS data to quantify interventions and supports for middle grades students. As a licensed special education teacher, Sara co-taught the high school humanities, math and science subjects, taught 9th grade English, and led resource room instruction. When not actively teaching, she was engaged with inquiry team work, workshopping special education in the mainstream setting, and as an adviser for the school academic TV quiz show team and the school newspaper.

Barbara Pryor, Operation Analyst

Barbara Pryor has been working with the NYC Department of Education since 1994. She has taken on many roles while enjoying helping out in other departments. Although payroll seems to be her longest role, she branches out to assist with other functions within FHI 360. As the Operation Analyst with FHI 360, Ms. Pryor’s daily functions are Payroll Support, Office School Food Operation, Pupil Transportation and the backup for Budget and Procurement.

Cynthia Rodriguez, Director of Student Services

Ms. Rodriguez has worked in the New York City public schools since 1981 and has extensive experience working with students with disabilities. She participated in numerous innovative, collaborative efforts as part of the Children First reforms. In 2006, she joined in the creation and implementation of services provided by the prototype Integrated Service Center (ISC), which offered her opportunities to embrace practices that foster advocacy, collaboration, empowerment, and teamwork. As a field expert in Special Education, Ms. Rodriguez also cultivated and supported the Network Teams designed to serve the Empowerment Schools. In 2007, Ms. Rodriguez embarked on another journey, the launch of the pilot Children First Network (CFN 1) with a group of unafraid pioneers whose guiding principles continued to be that of the Children First Reforms: leadership, empowerment and accountability. Today the network continues to be aligned to service the unique needs of the schools by streamlining operations; aligning resources to schools and building capacity with schools so principals can focus their time and resources on instruction thereby accelerating student achievement.

Risa Sackman, FHI 360 PSO Professional Development and Coach

Ms. Sackman is focused on unifying the PSO professional development under three agreed upon focus areas that help lead to successful middle grades schools: 1) Academic Rigor and Differentiated Instruction (focus on curriculum and instruction); 2) Young Adolescent Development (focus on climate and environment); 3) Effective Small Learning Communities (focus on collaborative instructional planning, assessment, and student management). Her years of experience as a Middle School teacher and administrator, curriculum developer, and national consultant in curriculum and instruction, assessment for learning, and teacher development informs and shapes this work. Ms. Sackman also provides direct coaching services to some of the schools in the PSO.

Viviane Verstandig, Literacy Achievement Coach and Assessment Liaison

Viviane Verstandig is the Literacy Achievement Coach and Assessment Liaison for FHI 360. She supports the schools in the Network as they implement the Common Core Learning Standards, strengthening best teaching practices for literacy instruction in ELA and content area classrooms. She has worked for over 20 years in New York City public schools and has experience teaching primary, upper elementary and middle school students. For the past 13 years she has worked primarily with teachers and administrators as a school based literacy coach and district-wide special education staff developer. She has presented at national conferences focusing on cognitive psychology, effective instruction and balanced literacy. In addition, Viviane is an adjunct professor for Queens College, teaching graduate courses in the Elementary Education department.

Middle Start Team — Supporting the PSO Work

FHI 360’s Middle Start program team has transformed many middle-grades schools, particularly those located in high-poverty areas, into high-performing environments that are academically challenging, responsive to the unique characteristics of young adolescents, and able to demonstrate social equity. They now bring their experience to the FHI 360 PSO in New York City.

Patrick Montesano, Vice-President and Director

Patrick Montesano is vice president and director of FHI 360’s New York office, which supports the FHI 360 PSO. He is also the director of FHI 360 Middle Start–a program for middle-grades schools that promotes the learning and healthy development of young adolescents and informs the services of the FHI 360 PSO. He works closely with the director and team of the FHI 360 PSO to ensure high-quality support for our network of schools in New York City and to apply lessons learned from other FHI 360 school transformation initiatives beyond our New York City network.

Maud Abeel, Senior Program Officer

As a program officer for FHI 360, Ms. Abeel supports the development and expansion of Middle Start to new areas and to new partner schools. Her prior work at New Visions for Public Schools and Carnegie Corporation of New York gave her the opportunity to work with a variety of school-wide improvement models. Maud is a contributing author, researcher, and editor to Turning Points 2000: Educating Adolescents in the 21st Century, a follow-up to Carnegie’s landmark Turning Points report. As a part of the FHI 360 PSO, she will help in the planning and implementation of programs in all network schools.

Adria Gallup-Black, Senior Program Officer

Dr. Gallup-Black is a senior program officer for research, evaluation, and accountability programs at FHI 360. For the PSO, she manages the collection of school and student performance data, administration of surveys, and the development of school data notebooks. Dr. Gallup-Black also works with the director to strengthen the work of the coaches as they guide schools in reviewing data in order to improve instruction and accelerate student learning and achievement. She also provides schools with protocols for conducting their own ongoing analysis of student performance data.