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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program
February 4, 2020
educational success of all the students we serve.
Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership & PolicyCollege of Public ServiceUniversity of Houston-Downtown
Laura J. Link, Ed.D., is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership & Policy in the College of Public Service at the University of Houston-Downtown. She is the co-author of Cornerstones of Strong Schools: Practices for Purposeful Leadership and author of several articles and professional papers on school leaders, grading, and assessments. Laura also leads K-16 research-practice partnerships and has won several awards for her community engagement.
Laura served in many K-12 central office and school-based leadership roles and has taught elementary, middle, high school and college students. While Laura was Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning in Memphis, TN, she was 1 of 7 administrators charged with leading the largest school district merger in United States’ history.
Follow Laura on Twitter @laurajlink or contact her at email@example.com
Assistant Principal, Bussey Elementary Aldine ISD
Miriam Acosta is currently an Assistant Principal at Bussey Elementary in Aldine ISD. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Bilingual Education from Texas A&M University in 2005. In 2010 she received her Master of Education Degree in Administration from Sam Houston State University.
For the past 14 years in the field of Education, Ms. Acosta has served as an Elementary Bilingual teacher, a 3-4th grade Math Skills Specialist and an Assistant Principal at the Intermediate and Elementary level. Her experience in Education has allowed for her to gain further knowledge of curriculum and special population groups. It has also helped her develop collaborative relationships with former and current colleagues and has allowed her to expand her leadership skills through professional development, trainings and presentations.
Ms. Acosta believes that what we do today for our students should be reflective of what we want them to achieve not only in the present, but also what we wish for them to achieve in the future. It should be the goal of campus administrators to build teachers that understand the importance of growing students academically and socially in and out of the classroom.
AlumniUniversity of Houston-Downtown
Valerie Baza has 10+years of experience working in Early Childhood education. She worked as a Pre-K Teacher for Harris County Department of Education serving At-Risk neighborhoods. She also worked as an Assistant Director for a Montessori School housed in a non-profit community center. She received her CDA training, Director’s License, and Associate of Arts in Early Child Development from San Jacinto College. Later, she transferred to the University of Houston- Downtown, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. At the University of Houston- Downtown she earned the title of Commencement Ambassador and now serves on our board representing Alumni.
“Growing up I didn’t have a role model to encourage me to pursue my education, but I remember the impact my teachers had on me. That’s what I want to be for my students. I want to have an everlasting impact on them by being their biggest supporter. I want my students to know that no matter where you grew up or hardships you may have faced, it does not define your future. You have the power to rewrite your own story and the possibilities are endless. - Valerie Baza
Head of SchoolThe Village School
Katherine Brewer is originally from Nashville, Tennessee in the United States. Her career in education began in her hometown as a high school English teacher before joining the Carol Morgan School in the Dominican Republic, which started her journey as an international educator. After four years as a teacher and High School Assistant Principal, she moved to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where she served the International Community School of Addis Ababa as the Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment and later became the Deputy Head of School. She joined Shanghai Community International School as the Head of School in 2014 where she ran and operated a school of 1,300 students on two campuses. Most recently, Katherine moved back to the United States in 2018 after accepting the Head of School position at The Village School. Her experience as an international educator continues to serve her well as Village ranks as the #1 Most Diverse Private High School (Niche Rankings) in Houston, Texas, with over 1,700 students from over 60 different countries.
Not only is Katherine an accomplished educational leader in her career, but she has also earned her BA from Middle Tennessee State University, her MA from Belmont University, and is currently working on her EdD at Lehigh University. She believes that the primary goal of education today should be to equip students to answer the question, “What problems in the world do you want to solve?” and then to provide them the tools to successfully do just that.
Executive Director of AcademicsSpring Branch ISD
Rebecca Brown serves as Executive Director of Student Instructional Services in Spring Branch ISD. Dr. Brown oversees and supports Curriculum and Instruction in K-12. Previously, she served as the West Area Superintendent in Houston ISD and as School Support Officer for the Secondary Transformation team. While serving as School Support Officer and West Area Superintendent. Dr. Brown has successfully led multiple school improvement initiatives and strategic planning at ‘Improvement Required’ campuses while improving campus success rates to meet State Accountability Standards.
Dr. Brown earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in ESL Education from the University of Houston, a Master and Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Prairie View A&M University. She is committed to instructional excellence and believes in high expectations for all students in kindergarten through grade 12.
Assistant Superintendent of Human ResourcesCleveland ISD
Associate Professor and ChairCollege of Public ServiceUniversity of Houston-Downtown
My academic and research interests include topics related to the improvement of the educational experiences and opportunities of minoritized individuals. Of particular interest is the educational experiences of bilingual learners and Latinos, and family involvement in education.
RecruiterSpring Branch ISD
Chief Human Resources OfficerHouston ISD
Julia Dimmitt is a longtime member of Team Houston ISD, currently serving as the district’s Chief Human Resources Officer. She began her career as an English teacher at Ryan Middle School in 1991, where she was named Rookie Teacher of the Year. She also taught at Madison High School and the Harris County Juvenile Detention Center before moving into school administration. Under Dimmitt’s leadership as principal, Ed White Elementary and Lanier Middle School both were consistently named to the Texas Business and Education Coalition Honor Roll for student achievement. Dimmitt joined central administration in 2008 as an executive principal for the Yates and Lamar feeder pattern schools, during which time all 13 schools met state standards and Yates High School moved from unacceptable to academically acceptable. She continued supporting HISD’s schools as a school improvement officer and school support officer. In July 2013, she was tapped to lead the transition of the former North Forest School District into HISD, following a state-ordered closure and annexation. In the six weeks before school started, she oversaw the hiring of more than 500 new staff, including teachers and school leaders. Through her coaching and support, five of the seven North Forest feeder pattern campuses received a “met standard” rating with distinctions. She served as the North Area Superintendent prior to moving into her current role in May of 2018.
Follow Julia on twitter @HISDWorkWithUs.
Assistant ProfessorCollege of Public ServiceUniversity of Houston-Downtown
C. Matthew Fugate is Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology, and Assistant Chair of Urban Education at the University of Houston-Downtown. He received his doctorate in Gifted, Creative, and Talented Studies at Purdue University. Prior to this, he worked as an elementary teacher in the Houston Independent School District where he also served as a Gifted Coordinator and Magnet Coordinator. During this time, he received his Master’s degree in Educational Psychology, Gifted Education from the University of Connecticut. His research has examined the relationship between working memory and levels of creativity in gifted students who also have characteristics related to ADHD. He has also examined the coping mechanisms of twice-exceptional girls in secondary school as they navigate both their academic studies and interpersonal relationships.
Matthew is part of a team looking at the benefits of the Total School Cluster Grouping model, a federally funded Javits Grant project. He has presented to parents, teachers, and schools across the United States and internationally on topics such as creativity, curriculum compacting, identification, twice exceptionality, underserved populations, and Total School Cluster Grouping. Matthew currently serves as Secretary on the Executive Board for the Texas Association for Gifted and Talented and as Chair-elect for the Special Populations Network for the National Association for Gifted Children. Additionally, he serves as the Associate Editor of Teaching for High Potential and is a reviewer for several research journals. Matthew has numerous publications related to his work including journal articles, book chapters, instruments, and books.
Director, Talent & Support ServicesSpring Branch ISD
Assistant PrincipalGrantha Middle SchoolAldine ISD
M.Ed. in Administration, Sam Houston State University
Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences and Teacher Certification in Chemistry, Texas A&M University
Principal, Instructional Leadership Development, Chemistry 8-12, Science 4-8, ESL Supplement 4-12
Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction - July 2016- Present
Grantham Academy & Hill Intermediate, Aldine I.S.D., Houston, TX
Academic Assessment and Data Specialist - July 2012- July 2016
Hill Intermediate, Aldine I.S.D., Houston, TX
Science Skills Specialist - July 2009- July 2012
Stovall Middle School, Aldine I.S.D., Houston, TX
Curriculum Consultant - December 2011
Community Partners in Education
Chemistry Teacher - August 2007- July 2009
Teacher Induction DirectorAlief ISD
PD DirectorAlief ISD
Principal, Woodview ESSpring Branch ISD
I am honored to be the Principal of Woodview Elementary where we build excellence and grow leaders every day. I have served our district for over 22 years and have had different roles in our system including Principal, Assistant Principal, District Improvement Specialist, School Improvement Specialist, Instructional Coach, and Teacher. During my career I have had the amazing opportunity to train teachers and principals at a national, state, and district level.
My passion is to find ways to ensure all of our students and teachers are successful. Our campus is 97% economically disadvantaged and we are finding ways to help our students overcome the challenges of poverty. We believe in a balanced approach at our campus and embrace the arts, STEAM, and give our students ways to showcase their talents. I enjoy working together with our students, staff, parents, and community partners to ensure our children at Woodview are successful.
Executive Director of TalentSpring Branch ISD
Assistant Principal, Springwoods High SchoolSpring Branch ISD
Katie Kavanagh serves as a grade level principal at Spring Woods High School in Spring Branch ISD. She has served SBISD for the past 15 years in the capacity of elementary and middle school teacher, Teacher Recruiter and assistant principal.
She is honored to work with such amazing teachers and students and is extremely passionate about building relationships and empowering students and staff to find their strengths.
Principal, Black ElementaryAldine ISD firstname.lastname@example.org
Since 2013, Dr. Kirk has served as principal at Black Elementary in Aldine I.S.D. Dr. Kirk received his bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Houston and earned his Master’s in Educational Administration and Doctorate in Ethical Leadership from the University of St. Thomas. From 2000-2005 he was a part-time paraprofessional at Thompson Elementary while attending the University of Houston as part of Aldine’s “Grow-Your-Own-Teacher” program. He began his teaching career in Aldine I.S.D. and served as a bilingual teacher at Thompson Elementary from 2005-2010. From 2010-2013, Dr. Kirk was an assistant principal at Marcella Intermediate. Dr. Kirk is grateful to the Aldine district for providing him with exceptional training and support throughout his professional career.
PD2 StudentUniversity of Houston-Downtown email@example.com
Angela López Pedrana
Associate Professor and Assistant ChairUniversity of Houston-Downtown firstname.lastname@example.org
Angela López Pedrana, Ed.D. is Interim Chair and an Associate Professor in Bilingual Education/ESL in the Department of Urban Education, College of Public Service. Her teaching career started in the midst of the Civil Rights of the 1960s, which has guided her approach to working with future teachers. Her passion for working with students learning English stems from her parents' ability to instill the will to speak English while still maintaining her strong roots to her Mexican ancestry.
She has authored journal articles, book chapters and made presentations in international as well as in regional venues. Her work centers on her belief that teachers' narrative authority informs practice. As such, taking stock and valuing those experiences we have lived, really matter when it comes to working with children. She joined UHD in 2005 and is fond of saying "I am living my dream".
Her email is email@example.com
PD2 StudentUniversity of Houston-Downtown firstname.lastname@example.org
Angela Prado, was born in Venezuela in a Colombian family. In 1996, Angela and her parents immigrated to the USA. Angela has resided in the city of Houston, TX since then. Today she is an entrepreneur with vast experience in financial operations due to her previous experience in the banking field. Angela has also served as a school registrar for the Alief School District.
Angela is currently a student at University of Houston-Downtown where she is working to obtain her bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.
Angela's personal goal is to become an active part of change in the education field, focusing on helping improve or create programs that help current and future students be successful. Furthermore, Angela not only wants academic advances but professional advances as well.
Finally, Angela believes in an education system in which students’ success is not measured through their scores, but instead measured in what they give back to their community.
Interim Chief Academic OfficerHouston ISD email@example.com
Yolanda Rodríguez serves as the Interim Chief Academic Officer for the Houston Independent School District. She is a 25-year veteran of Team HISD and has served in the capacity of Area Superintendent, School Support Officer, Principal, Assistant Principal and Bilingual Teacher. Over the last four years, Ms. Rodriguez was instrumental in improving academics in 18 schools to the point where they are no longer improvement required schools. She has an extreme passion for instructional excellence, in cultivating effective school cultures, and in building the capacity of school leaders. Ms. Rodríguez holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Houston.
Follow Yolanda on Twitter @HISD_Academics or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dean, College of Public ServiceUniversity of Houston-Downtown email@example.com
Jonathan Schwartz is the Dean of the College of Public Service at the University of Houston-Downtown. He brings a strong background of both national and academic leadership previously serving as President of an American Psychological Association Division and as Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Houston, College of Education and Associate Dean of Research at New Mexico State University. Dr. Schwartz is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and an award winning scholar in the area of men and masculinity and prevention. He was recently awarded a lifetime achievement award by the American Psychological Association for his work in Prevention. Dr. Schwartz also strongly values community engagement, having served previously as the co-founder an executive director of the Advancing Community Engagement and Service Institute and lead for the University of Houston’s Educational Third Ward Initiative.
Follow Dean Schwartz on Twitter @UHDCPSDEAN
Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum & InstructionCleveland ISD firstname.lastname@example.org
Academic DeanThe Emery Weiner School email@example.com
Michelle Spoonemore is the Academic Dean at The Emery/Weiner School in Houston. Her work centers around curriculum and instruction practices that support and engage all students. Michelle’s career in education began as a high school mathematics teacher and over the last 20 years she has served in a variety of leadership and administrative roles in public and private schools. She is a doctoral student at Texas Tech University in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, with a research emphasis on teacher education.
Principal, Aldine High SchoolAldine ISD firstname.lastname@example.org
Walter Stewart is a native of Greensburg, Louisiana. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary Mathematics Education in May of 1991 from Southern University A & M University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he returned to his hometown to teach secondary mathematics for four years. In August of 1995, Mr. Stewart was hired to teach high school mathematics at Plaquemine Senior High School in Iberville Parish School System in Plaquemine, Louisiana. In the fall of 1996, he moved to Houston, Texas and started teaching at MacArthur Senior High School. During his nine years teaching at MacArthur Senior High School, he served as Geometry Level Leader, Mathematics Department Chairperson, and was selected by his teaching peers in 2004 as Teacher of the Year.
Mr. Stewart received his Master of Education in Administration and Supervision at Southern University in the summer of 2001 and has served as a campus administrator since 2005. He has had the pleasure of serving as an assistant principal for three years at Aldine Middle School, five years as principal at Aldine Ninth Grade, and currently as principal of Aldine Senior High School. Mr. Stewart he has been selected Aldine ISD Secondary Principal of the Year in 2012 and 2017.
For the past 29 years in the field of education, Mr. Stewart has served on various educational committees at the campus, district, and state levels. His educational experience has afforded him the opportunity to empower professional colleagues through formal collaborations, presentations, and trainings.
Chief Human Resources OfficerAldine ISD email@example.com
Dr. Javier Villarreal was named Chief Human Resource Officer for the Aldine Independent School District in November 2018. In this role, he oversees all aspects of human resources, including talent management, organizational development, and leadership and management coaching. Dr. Villarreal also serves on the superintendent’s executive leadership team, using over 21 years’ experience in public education to support strategic planning efforts, change management, and organizational design initiatives.
Previously, Dr. Villarreal served as an assistant superintendent for the Fort Bend Independent School District. During his tenure in Fort Bend, he was a strong supporter of his campuses and principals, providing instructional leadership and support with an emphasis on student achievement and school improvement.
Dr. Villarreal’s experience prior to joining Fort Bend ISD in 2012 includes fourteen years in the Houston Independent School District, where he held several positions including elementary teacher, middle school counselor, middle school assistant principal, elementary principal, and middle school principal.
Dr. Villarreal earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology from the University of Houston, a Master’s in School Counseling from the University of St. Thomas and a Doctorate of Education in Professional Leadership from the University of Houston.
PD2 StudentUniversity of Houston-Downtown firstname.lastname@example.org
Dacora Walker is an Education Major at the University of Houston-Downtown. She is also worked as a Kindergarten assistant for 3 years. Besides working and learning, Dacora enjoys travelling and is the youngest of three siblings. She aspires to many things like becoming a Kindergarten or 1st grade teacher and a principal one day.
3/1/2021 10:13 AM
University of Houston-Downtown
One Main Street
Houston, TX 77002
Visitor Parking and Uber/Lyft Stop
201 Girard Street
Houston, TX 77002
Mission and Vision