• Meet Our Presenters

    • Anita Rosso

      Anita Rosso has more than 15 years of experience working and teaching in the communities of South Chicago, Pilsen, Little Village and Cicero with city, state, and national grant programming. She is currently retired but has most recently served as the director of TRIO Student Support Services for 22 years providing holistic academic support for first-generation and low-income undergraduates at DePaul University.

      Anita holds a BA in English and an MS in Public Services, Non-Profit Administration Concentration, both from DePaul University.

    • Citlaly Gonzalez, Psy. D.
      Happy Hearts & Healthy Habits

      Dr. Citlaly Gonzalez is a licensed clinical psychologist whose specialties include autism, Latino mental health and adolescent identity development. Since joining United Stand in 2011 she has worked at several elementary and high schools all over Chicago. Currently, she serves as Director for United Stand’s Bilingual Center for Inclusive Education and head of counseling and academic coaching at Our Lady of Tepeyac Elementary and High Schools. She is also a mom and enjoys exploring the city with her family and finding natural opportunities for discovering, connecting, and learning wherever they go!

    • Corinne Durrette
      Free Digital Tools to Support Your Child at Home

      Corinne Durrette has 8 years of experience teaching high school science (primarily Chemistry and Physics) in the General Education and Diverse Learner setting. Additionally, she teaches a post secondary prep course through a program called Embarc, which focuses on individual student development through experiential learning. She received her B.A from Temple University in Psychology and African American Studies, and her M.Ed in Curriculum Design and Instruction. In her quest to diversify and add meaning and rigour curriculum, she has collaborated with education professionals across the US and abroad through the Stanford Hollyhock Fellowship Program and the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classroom Program.

    • Devonia Reed
      Pearls of Wisdom: Accessing the Power of Being a Girl

      Devonia Reed is a motivational speaker, author, and educator. Devonia has served as an educator for over 20 years in various capacities. She is also the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Welcome 2 the Queendom, a non-profit organization that aims to empower young women.

      Devonia has dedicated her life to making a positive impact on the lives of youth and women. She speaks publicly to adults and children alike on topics such as bullying, leadership, and purpose. She holds a BA in Education, an MA in Reading as well as a certificate in Educational Leadership.

    • Gabrielle Benoit
      Free Digital Tools to Support Your Child at Home

      In addition to teaching, Gabrielle Benoit also coaches students through community advocacy projects and student-led social justice movements. She leads her students through mindfulness routines and often writes grants to support mindfulness in the classroom. Gabrielle is an alumnus of the Stanford University Hollyhock Fellowship, an Engagement Specialist for The Academy Group, and a member of the Board of Directors for the National Youth Advocate Program, a foster care and social services non-profit organization.

    • Jasmine Wardlaw
      Making Math and Reading Fun Outside of the Classroom

      Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Jasmine Wardlaw has 9 years of youth experience as a lead teacher, assistant teacher, substitute teacher and student culture lead. Jasmine now serves the community as a reading specialist for K-7th grade at Holy Family Lutheran School. As a reading intervention specialist, Jasmine is dedicated to raising academic achievement, and committed to providing individualized learning to students with a wide range of academic needs.

    • Kristen Darr
      Social Media/Cyber Safety with Your Youth

      Kristen is currently serving Chicago’s youth as an academic coach at St. Thomas the Apostle School and provides counseling services to adolescents at By the Hand Kids Club. As an academic coach, Kristen helps to develop students’ executive functioning skills, helps students to navigate life’s challenges as a young person and makes the connection between mental health and performance in school. Serving students, Kristen is aware of the impact that social media has on youth and is educated on how to address it. Along with working with youth, Kristen works as a clinical intern serving the adult population at Cornerstone. Prior to working at Cornerstone, Kristen earned her MBA and has over 5 years of experience working in various business settings which helped her to further understand social media and technology today.

    • Jessica Slavik
      Mapping Out Your Course to Being a Great Parent

      Jessica Slavik currently serves as an Academic Coach with Cornerstone Counseling Center of Chicago specializing in a number of issues including life transitions, anxiety, self-esteem, purpose in life and academic related problems. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Arts at Cleveland State University and is now pursuing an advanced degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Adler University. Jessica is a compassionate and thoughtful person; her interests in children, impacted by life transitions and anxiety stem from her love of children and desire to bring out the best in people. Jessica uses her compassion and training to partner with parents when working with children and eases fears, shame, and stress associated with difficult and stressful aspects of parenting. She believes it is important to search for strengths in people and helps to find the individual strengths that each parent can harness and use for their parenting journey.

    • Jewan Garner
      How to Help Your Child be Test Ready

      As the Director of School Partnerships, Jewan collaborates with Academic Approach’s School Programs team to develop customized and effective test preparation solutions to school partners across the country. Jewan seeks to build relationships with district and school leaders to support the academic goals they set for their students. Prior to joining Academic Approach, Jewan spent 15 years serving in various roles in the non-profit sector. He has worked with school districts in major cities such as New York, Orlando, and Chicago to bring support services to high-need urban education settings. Jewan Garner holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.), Business Administration and Management from Baruch College in New York City.

    • Kwame Anthony Scott, Ed.D
      Parent Power – Working with Middle School Math

      Dr. Scott is a fierce proponent of mathematics as a vehicle for problem solving for individuals, groups, and communities. He currently does consultant work with K-12 mathematics teachers for Pearson and for his own company, Djehuti Mathematics, LTD, but he has worked many years as a math teacher and school administrator as well as an adjunct professor at Harold Washington Community College and National Louis University.

      His academic achievements include a BS and MS in Mathematics, MS in Inner City Studies, and MS in Educational Administration and an Ed.D in Education Leadership.

    • Kaeley Doyle
      Social Media/Cyber Safety with Your Youth

      As an academic coach, Kaeley works with children and adolescent students in Chicago schools to enhance their executive functioning skills and social emotional learning. Kaeley also works as a clinical intern where she works with clients and helps them heal and transform their lives. Prior to joining Cornerstone Counseling Center of Chicago, Kaeley worked in digital advertising as an account manager for five years. She learned the ins and outs of the digital world including social media.

    • Kenyon Douglass

      Ms. Kenyon Douglass is a state certified Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) who is committed to assisting individuals reach their full potential. A strong proponent of “education” be it short or long, traditional or nontraditional, she believes students success is driven by the collective efforts of a student’s support system and their access to opportunities as well as resources.

    • Laura Caballero
      School Anxiety: Relaxation Techniques

      Laura Caballero is a bilingual therapist with Catholic Charities and received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from The School of Social Service Administration (SSA) at the University of Chicago last June. Laura completed her clinical practicum in grad school at the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), a community health clinic on Chicago’s Southside where she provided individual and family therapy. Laura has 6 years of experience in the mental health field; previously volunteering as a grief support group facilitator in Texas and trained in ABA therapy for kids living with autism. Laura enjoys working with youth and their families and is passionate about serving Spanish speaking families who might not have access to mental health services. In her free time, Laura enjoys working out and exploring the city of Chicago.

    • Lynn Gilbertsen
      Career Assistance for Parents

      Lynn Gilbertsen is a native Chicagoan who has worked with students for over 15 years. As a long-time classroom teacher, she has taught and coached students in Chicago Public Schools, suburban school districts, tutoring centers, and private schools. Prior to entering the classroom, she worked in an adult learning center providing resume and cover letter assistance and job coaching for those entering or reentering the workforce.

      Her passion is helping students of all ages feel excited and positive about educational growth by providing literacy, math, and executive functioning support to help achieve their goals. Lynn is also an avid traveler, hiker, and citizen scientist. Whenever there is an open weekend, she takes her two young children on trips in their 1974 Volkswagen Camper Van!

    • Pamela Butts

      Pamela Denise Butts, as the Director of Non-Public Programs for Chicago Public Schools, her job is to monitor all the federal funds for program services under Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for the elementary and high schools in Chicago, Illinois which includes Catholic, Christian, Independent, Islamic, Jewish, Lutheran schools and Neglected residential sites. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management, a Master of Arts degree in Education, Counseling and Human Services/Human Resource Development from Roosevelt University, and is currently working toward a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. Pamela is a true professional, visionary, motivator and team player with exceptional leadership, relationship building, communication and interpersonal skills. She has worked in industries such as banking, real estate development, information systems, telecommunications, trading and higher education where she served as Associate Director of Student Support Services/Project Prime and Counseling and Careers Coordinator of the Veterans Upward Bound program. Pamela is a true advocate and encourager for all youth, the elderly and veterans; especially for those who seem to have “no voice”, the underrepresented and underserved.

    • Quddus Akinlusi
      Mathematical Success

      Quddus Akinlusi is currently a middle school teacher who has worked extensively with at-risk youth. He has been successful with building solid foundations for struggling math learners and improving their confidence through engaging instruction. His goal is to cultivate critical thinkers with the necessary skills to navigate through college and beyond.

      Prior to joining the University of Chicago Charter School, Quddus worked for several educational institutions including Catapult Learning, Leo High School, and the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago. Quddus holds a BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign.

    • Rodney Harris, MA, PsyD
      Executive Functioning Skills in the Classroom and at Home

      Dr. Rodney Harris is a clinical therapist who is passionate about helping others heal from the inside out and strives to give clients hope for a healthier life in the immediate future. He uses an array of therapeutic approaches to help clients identify and move beyond unhelpful or unwanted thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that keep them from living life to its fullest.

      Dr. Harris holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan and an MA and PsyD in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago. He has acquired valuable experience by training in a variety of clinical settings such as a community mental health center, residential facility, psychiatric hospital, Chicago Public Schools, and within a faith-based counseling center.

      Dr. Harris is passionate about conducting therapy with individuals, children, adolescents, families, and groups. He also provides marital and premarital therapy and is certified in the PICK a partner and marriage LINKS curricula which are designed to build and strengthen relationships before and after marriage. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, serving his church, and playing sports.

    • Sandra Gorney
      Learning Differences – Discovering Creativity

      Sandra has 20 years of teaching experience working with special needs students in diverse communities and currently teaches reading and math intervention with Catapult Learning. She is dedicated to teaching creative thought processes using differentiated learning strategies to reach students who struggle in the traditional classroom setting. Using positive motivation and reinforcement, Sandra has been successful at improving student performance by increasing her students’ self-esteem and raising standardized test scores.

      Sandra Gorney holds an MA in Education and is a certified Learning Behavior Specialist (LBS1).

    • Sarah Moses, MA, Psy.D.
      The Impact of Stress on Learning

      Sarah Moses is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist specializing in child and adolescent psychology, parenting, trauma, and behavior disorders in the classroom. Prior to becoming a Clinical Psychologist she worked as a high school teacher, department chair and mentor teacher. She currently teaches psychology courses at Oakton Community College and regularly conducts workshops throughout the Chicagoland area on a wide range of topics including Positive Discipline and Trauma Informed Classroom Management. Sarah also serves as a consultant for academic coaches at United Stand Counseling Services.

    • Schreece Jones
      Literacy is LIT!

      Schreece Jones is currently a reading interventionist with Innovative Scholars and a literacy coach at Legacy Charter School. She has taught preschool through fourth grade over a span of 16 years, but her favorite years are kindergarten and first. She holds an MA in Teaching from National Louis University.

      Schreece is the second of five children and now a mother to five of her own. As an avid reader and children’s book collector, she has passed on her passion for literature to her children and works to instill a love of reading and writing in every student she has the opportunity to teach. Her goal is to enlighten, captivate, inspire, and engage audiences of all ages.

    • Shaka Rawls
      Self Esteem Development for Boys

      Shaka Rawls has worked in urban education for more than 18 years as a teacher, assistant principal, and now principal of Leo High School. Before coming to Leo, he worked for Chicago Public Schools where his efforts focused on the challenges facing public and charter high schools in some of Chicago’s most disadvantaged urban communities.

      Shaka received a BA in History from Aurora University and an MA in Educational Leadership from the University of Illinois. He is currently completing his PhD in Educational Policy Analysis, also at the University of Illinois.

      His research focuses on the intersection of Chicago’s turnaround school improvement efforts and its impact on high-risk communities. Shaka is also the founder of Inspiring, Motivating Positive Actions for City Teens (I.M.P.A.C.T.), a non-profit that seeks to keep students engaged in school by addressing student-teacher interactions, community development initiatives, mentoring, restorative justice, and conflict resolution strategies.

    • Sharon Ramski
      A Parent’s Guide to Reading Comprehension

      Sharon Ramski is a certified reading specialist and has worked with schools to develop RTI programs and helped align math, reading, and language arts programs to the Common Core State Standards. A former teacher with the Archdiocese of Chicago, she uses her experiences, resources, and knowledge to conduct professional development trainings, seminars, and workshops for administrators, teachers, and parents. She strongly believes that with the right tools and guidance every child can be successful in school.

    • Vanesa Trejo
      Estresado? Planeando su Curso Para Ser un Gran Padre o Madre

      Vanessa E. Trejo currently serves as a bilingual Academic Coach with Cornerstone Counseling Center of Chicago at the St. Barbara Campus and New Life Academy. She is currently attending North Park University and is in the process of earning her Master’s in Counseling Psychology. Before joining Cornerstone, Vanessa worked as a Teacher and Classroom Assistant for over 5 years. Vanessa enjoys working with children and adolescents impacted by anxiety and depression. Additionally, as a mother of two, Vanessa knows firsthand the importance of self-care practices for parents and enjoys partnering with parents to make the real life challenges of parenting feel more possible to manage. With any of her clients, whether young or adult, it is important for her to build positive relationships and create a safe and comfortable environment.

  • Student Workshop Artists

    • Avery Young
      Theatre Workshop

      Avery Young is a 3Arts Award winning multidisciplinary teaching-artist, composer and producer with work that spans the genres of music, performance, visual arts, and literature. Examining and celebrating Black American history and culture, Avery’s work also focuses in the areas of social justice, equity, queer identity, body consciousness and misogyny. As a writer, this Cave Canem alum has had his work featured by The BreakBeat Poets, Coon Bidness, to be left with the body and Make Magazine. He has also written curriculum and essays on arts education which appear in Teaching Artist Journal and A.I.M. Print. Dubbed ‘Sunday Mornin’ Jook Joint,’ Avery’s performance and work in sound design merges spiritual and secular aesthetics with dramatic and comedic sensibilities. He has performed in the Hip Hop Theater Festival, Wordstock and Lollapalooza. Avery has recorded with house producers Anthony Nicholson and Charlie Dark, and is featured on recordings such as New World Reveal-A-Solution, Audio Truism, Catfish Haven’s Devastator and New Skool Poetiks.

    • Michael Riendau
      Drumming Workshop

      A celebrated performer and instructor, Michael Riendeau is a Teaching Artist for the Negaunee Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), Ravinia’s REACH* TEACH* PLAY * Educational Programs, and Urban Gateways. He also works privately with students throughout Chicago’s north shore. Michael collaborates with The Irene Taylor Trust ‘Music in Prisons’ program in partnership with the CSO, bringing creative music projects to incarcerated youth. Michael studied percussion at Lawrence University Conservatory, receiving his B.A. double-majoring in Music and French. His studies took him to the Akanga Music School in France and to Dakar, Senegal, where he immersed himself in the music and culture of West Africa. Since then, Michael has made three trips to West Africa, most recently accompanying legendary djembefola and folklorist Bolokada Conde to the artist’s home in the Sankaran region of Guinea. Michael has performed at the Pritzker Pavilion, where he shared the stage with the members of the CSO, the Silk Road Ensemble, and Yo-Yo Ma, at Summerfest in Milwaukee and Lollapalooza Chicago, as well as the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and various other venues around the world.

    • Raivyn Jenkins
      Dance Workshop

      Raivyn Jenkins, a dancer, artist, social media specialist and graduate of Illinois Media School. She currently works as a dance teacher and choreographer for DancExcel Champion Center, and as a teaching artist for Urban Gateways. Raivyn specializes in choreography, cultural dance, hip hop, tap dance, and creative movement and her artistry has taken her to New York City with Alvin Ailey’s Summer Intensive, performances at the Stellar Awards, and choreographing for the 2016 NAACP Theatre Awards in Los Angeles.
      “Vulnerability and strength are great ways to describe me as a teaching artist,” Raivyn says. “I love being able to relate to anyone I teach and reach them on a personal level. It feels good being able to boost someone’s confidence through dance. As a teacher, it isn’t always about getting the student to get the step. It’s about how they feel doing it and what life lessons they gain from the experience. My goal is to give my students lessons they can carry with them forever. I aim to build up my students in every way possible.”

    • Zahra Glenda Baker
      Multidisciplinary Arts Workshop

      Zahra Glenda Baker gained in-depth experience when she became a Creative Dramatics Teaching Artist for eta Creative Arts Foundation in 2000. In 2006 she was invited to join their administrative team to serve as Arts in Education Coordinator. She was involved in projects that would create opportunities with which students could progress from learning about theater, storytelling, and music to both performing and analyzing the art forms. She coordinated eta’s Arts in Education programs in the Chicago Public Schools and also developed programs for the South Shore community’s Elementary and High School Afterschool programs until 2012. She was in constant communication with the teaching artists and the school staff regarding the development, progress, and evaluation of each program. She assisted eta’s President in furthering the organization’s efforts to strategically implement its Arts in Education Programs. She was responsible for selecting and training Teaching Artists, developing age appropriate lesson plans, and documenting outcomes. She was also the coordinator for eta’s Storytelling Workshop Series for Chicago Public School Teachers.