A positive educator is any individual that co-values student wellbeing and student achievement. On this podcast, we define “educator” broadly. We define “wellbeing” broadly. And we define “achievement” broadly. As such, anyone proffering ideas, innovations, or interventions that serve the wellbeing and the intellectual development of our schools’ stakeholders represents a positive educator.
The individuals below are exemplars. Listen to their stories and find out how they are serving their community on the level of the head and heart.
Episode 1: Julia King
Julia King was recruited by Teach for America in 2008 and currently teaches middle school math for DC Public Schools. She was the 2013 District of Columbia Teacher of the Year, an award given annually to the best educator in every state across the nation. Julia was the founding Assistant Principal of DC Prep Benning Middle School and the founding Director of Democracy Prep Public Charter School. She completed her undergraduate work at George Washington University and received a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Dominican University. Julia is currently completing a second masters degree at the University of Pennsylvania in Applied Positive Psychology.
Episode 2: steve dobo
Steve Dobo is a nationally known practitioner, author, presenter and researcher in the field of education and dropout re-engagement. He is the Founder and CEO of Zero Dropouts, an educational social enterprise based in Denver and committed to all students succeeding in education and life. Steve consults with school districts across the country to improve high school graduation and dropout rates, and with colleges to increase post-secondary success rates. Steve blends his unique background in science, math, data and technology with his expertise in counseling to approach his work in both a research and relationship based way. Previously in 2005, Steve founded the nonprofit Colorado Youth for a Change to solve the high school dropout crisis in Colorado.
Steve has worked extensively with homeless teens and families in poverty and youth at risk of education failure across the country in various settings including municipal government, school districts and nonprofit organizations. He has also been published contributing chapters to two books on working with at-risk students and re-engaging students who have dropped out of high school. Steve earned his Bachelors Degree in Physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1979 and his Masters of Education in Counseling from Colorado State University in 1985. Steve currently resides in Denver, Colorado.
Episode 3: corie fogg
Corie Fogg has taught English, history, sociology, and social justice in both public and independent schools in Massachusetts and California for the past decade. She is currently the Director of Curriculum & Professional Development at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart. Corie has served as an Academic Dean and then Site Director for the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth in Seattle, WA. She has also served as Upper Level Question Writer for the SSAT. In 2014, Corie was a national semifinalist in the Facing History Together Teacher Recognition Contest. Corie holds a BA in English and Theater Arts and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Boston College. In her spare time, Corie enjoys climbing mountains, her faith, practicing the fine art of the hand-written note, and celebrating the blissful joy that is her goddaughter.
Episode 4: damian cohen
Damian Cohen is Chair of the History and Social Sciences Department at the Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley, California. He has worked in both public and private schools and taught a range of courses including World History, U.S. History, English, AP U.S. History, AP U.S. Government, Criminology, Global Issues, and Health. Damian has served as Dean of Residential Life at the Woodside Priory School and on committees exploring innovation, trimesters, and balance in schools. Outside of the classroom, Damian has coached boys and girls soccer at the club, high-school, and junior college level.
Damian earned bachelors degrees in Political Science and Sociology with an emphasis on law at the University of California, Davis. He received a California teaching credential with an emphasis on cross-cultural, language and academic development. Damian also has a masters degree in United States History with an emphasis on the 20th century from San Jose State University. In addition to his considerable academic training, Damian has backpacked through 40 countries.
Episode 5: dr. Amina tawasil
Amina Tawasil holds a PhD in anthropology and education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a master’s degree in social sciences in education from Stanford University. She is currently a Visiting Lecturer at the International Studies Institute, University of New Mexico. Previously, she was the inaugural Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Middle East and North African Studies at Northwestern University, with a courtesy appointment in the Department of Anthropology (2013-2015). Her current research focus is on the intersection of women, Islamic education and the state. She completed ethnographic research on seminarian women (zanan-e howzeh) in Tehran to examine the different ways agency and empowerment may be analyzed. As a Fellow, she co-organized a closed-workshop entitled “The Power of Women’s Islamic Education” for the Center of the Critical Study of Social Difference as part of the Women Creating Change project, Columbia University. Her research interests specific to the Middle East are women’s mobility, women’s Islamic education, and gender. Her general research interests are notions of slow work, apprenticeship as education, labor migration, mass incarceration and human trafficking.
Episode 6: Matthew Nelson
Matthew Nelson teaches world religions at the Menlo School in Atherton, California. He graduated from Harvard Divinity School and is currently pursuing a masters degree in liberal studies at Stanford University. Previously, Matthew was Chair of the Theology Department at the Woodside Priory School. He lives in Oakland, California with his partner.
Episode 7: jane doe
Jane Doe is a mindfulness and Hatha yoga teacher that leads the University of Virginia’s Contemplative Sciences Center (CSC) Mindfulness + Movement program in Albemarle County Public Schools. She began practicing yoga over fifteen years ago and received her degree in Social Science and Human Resource Management with Honors in 2002 from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. After teaching yoga, working on an organic farm and as an events planner in Charlottesville, Marian decided to venture into radio documentary, and attended the SALT Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine. She returned to South Africa to tell radio stories about the 2010 FIFA World Cup, andled her first yoga class for children in Khayelitsha township on the outskirts of Cape Town.
Jane returned to the United States in 2011 and taught Hatha yoga to teenagers at Common Ground Healing Arts in Charlottesville. In March of 2012, her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Through caring for her mother, Marian realized her gift as a caregiver, which led her to deepen her personal mindfulness and yoga practice. In November 2013, Jane began teaching mindfulness and movement in Charlottesville with Maria Kluge and the Holistic Life Foundation’s Ali & Atman Smith and Andy Gonzalez and transitioned into her work with Dr. Tish Jennings at the Center for Contemplative Sciences and Curry School of Education at UVA. Marian is filled with gratitude to be part of bringing self-awareness, compassion, and sense of happiness to her students.
Marian is interested in combining the practices taught in a Mindfulness + Movement class into the CARE Program for Teachers and is working on the Compassionate Schools Project, lead by Dr. Tish Jennings and Alexis Harris.
Episode 8: john doe
Dr. John Doe teaches at Bates College. His research interests include the intersection of race, state, and criminalization. Christopher earned a bachelors degree from Bates College, a masters degree from Harvard University, and a PhD in African-Diaspora Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. His work has been featured in the New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, The Nation, Mother Jones, Boston Review, VICE, USA TODAY, Bill Movers, Forbes, The Washington Post, The Tavis Smiley Show, Truthout, Alterner, and a variety of other venues. Christopher’s work has also appeared on NPR, BBC, and MTV.
From legislative testimony to community advocacy, Christopher has collaborated with organizations including the ACLU’s National Prison Project, Harvard Law School’s Institute for Race and Justice, Columbia’s Prison Divest Project, UC Berkeley’s Afrikan Black Coalition, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Prison Legal News.
Episode 9: jason and jenni doherty
After graduating from the University of San Diego, Jason Doherty moved to Maicambako, Tanzania where he lived and worked at a secondary school. Before starting Daraja in 2008, Jason returned to California to earn his teaching credentials, met his wife, and began his teaching career with Terra Linda High School in San Rafael and Hogan High School in Vallejo. As Founder and CEO of the Daraja Academy, Jason’s duties change on a daily basis, ranging from project development and implementation, fundraising, substitute teaching in History class, to chasing a mongoose out of the girl’s bathroom. To Jason, Daraja is a dream come true where each day he can witness individuals making the world a better place.
Jenni Doherty, Founder and Executive Director of the Daraja Academy, graduated from Sonoma State University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. From there she used her education as a Research Associate for WestEd, an educational consulting firm in San Francisco, California. In 2008, Jenni moved to Kenya with her husband, Jason, to start Daraja Academy. As the first woman in her family to graduate from university, she values her education and wants to share that opportunity with all the women that she encounters. This project is truly her life’s work and she looks forward to each day that she gets to work with the incredible Daraja girls, dedicated staff, and passionate supporters of this program.