bilingual educationPROGRAM MEMBERS


Krystal Clifton has been teaching in Kankakee School District for the past 20 years. She taught in a Montessori Magnet Program for the first 12 years of her career. Since then, she served one year as an instructional coach and has spent the past 7 years teaching a fourth grade gifted class. She serves on the District Leadership Team and School Leadership Team. She has worked continuously to improve her craft through the years. She worked to earn Montessori certification, gifted certification, and a master’s degree as well as achieve National Board Certification. Currently, she is a policy fellow for Teach Plus and a member of Teachers as Researchers. Her research interest is instructional strategy. She is working to analyze student outcomes depending on how instruction is received. During this time when students are accessing their educations in a variety of ways, she is hoping to glean some insight on best practices online as well as in person.


Mel Coryell teaches English and theory of knowledge and coordinates the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. Previously, she served in the same roles for over a decade at Lawrence North High School, worked in university faculty development, and was a founding board member of the Indiana Association of IB World Schools. Mel is a 2015 Milken Educator Award Recipient, a two-time Bezos Educator Scholar, and a Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Grant recipient. Social and emotional learning and equity in education are among her favorite subjects to teach.


Thomas Courtney is a fifth grade teacher, Fulbright Hays Fellow and Senior Fellow with Teach Plus, CA. He is a guide teacher with SDSU and UCSD and a member of several educational organizations in the community he serves. Thomas is the author of dozens of articles and commentaries in educational periodicals and a member of the CTC’s workgroup to update the CSTP for California teachers. Thomas holds a BA in Economics from UCSD, a teaching credential from USD and a master’s in education with an emphasis on literacy and assessment. He is currently researching how effective note taking strategies can be incorporated with sound pedagogy in upper grade elementary school classrooms both virtually and in physical classrooms.


Nicholas Dewald is a 2019-20 Teach Plus California Policy Fellow. Nicholas is a world history and Spanish teacher at San Clemente High School in San Clemente, California. He is a union site representative, Two Way Immersion coordinator, and advocate for the LGBTQIA community. Nicholas works with stakeholders, fellow teachers, and district officials to align and improve curriculum and Spanish instruction allowing for fair representation. He has helped facilitate LGBTQIA professional development through the district, improving access to information and understanding. Nicholas received BAs in Political Science and Spanish and his MFA in Teaching in conjunction with the teaching credential program from University of California, Irvine. He is pursuing his MS in Instructional Design and Technology at California State University, Fullerton. He is interested in studying the benefits of active reading strategies, in supporting language learners in content and language development.


Hanna Ferris is a proud Chicago Public Schools educator. She teaches 7th grade English/Language Arts and Social Studies on the South Side. She also serve as a member of her campus’s Instructional Leadership Team and a consulting writer for Thinking Core, a curriculum developer. Before moving to Chicago in 2017, she served students in Dallas, TX, as a Corps Member with Teach for America. Her interest in research and data; however, hails from her academic background: she studied Economics (BSc) and Social Policy (MSc) at the London School of Economics.
With the shift to remote learning, it’s been difficult to gauge her students’ motivation and to track their progress in critical reading comprehension skills, especially with standardized testing placed on hold. She has decided to leverage the use of online curricula to allow students to track their own progress. For her RCT, she will be studying her students’ use of IXL, a Common Core skills practice app, to determine whether the app’s monitoring tools improve students’ intrinsic motivation as they learn remotely.


Amanda Hope serves as a K-5th grade gifted/talented program teacher and coordinator at Nancy Moseley Elementary in the Dallas Independent School District. Before relocating to Dallas, Amanda served as a special education teacher in Chicago Public Schools. During her time in CPS, she was awarded several teaching grants including two grants from the Chicago Foundation for Education. She also had the opportunities to present at the 2014 Googlepalooza conference in Chicago and at the 2015 Council for Exceptional Children’s Division of International Special Education conference in Jerusalem, Israel-Palestine. During the 2019-2020 school year, she was invited to be a policy fellow for the Teach Plus DFW Teacher Policy Fellowship. She currently serves as a Teach Plus senior fellow for the 2020-2021 school year. In addition to her teaching practice and policy work, Amanda was recently awarded Southern Methodist University’s Project CONNECT scholarship to pursue an ESL certification. Her research interests focus on best practices in cultivating intrinsic motivation in students identified as gifted/talented. Amanda received her BA in Political Science from Whittier College and her MAT from National Louis University.


Kim Kelly has been in education for 19 years, spending most of it as a 7th grade math teacher and instructional coach. She has a PhD in Learning Sciences and technology and has been conducting research for the past 10 years. She is passionate about improving teaching and learning in mathematics. Her research has focused on how technology can enhance learning, specifically around homework practices. She has also explored self-regulated learning and attempted to develop self-efficacy and help-seeking behavior within an on-line learning platform.


​Jamey Olney teaches 7th and 8th grade English Language Development at Glick Middle School, a CA League of Middle Schools School to Watch. She serves as the English Language Development site coordinator, founded and coordinates the Young Men and Women Empowerment mentor program, and advises the Hispanic Youth Leadership Council. Jamey previously taught grades K-8 and has served as an instructional coach and school administrator in underserved communities throughout Northern California. She helped develop the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Literacy: Reading-Language Arts certificate and was a participant in the National Equity Project. In 2019-2020 she served as a California Teach Plus Policy Fellow and was recognized as a 2020 California League of Middle Schools Educator of the Year. Her research interests include English Learners, community and family engagement, and SEL. She is currently studying the effect the integration of SEL into content instruction has on student resilience.


Irene Post is a bilingual education teacher in Chicago, Illinois with 9 years of experience. She received her bachelor’s degree in education and psychology from Columbia University and holds a master’s degree in literacy from Bank Street College of Education. Currently, Irene is also working as an Illinois Teach Plus Policy Fellow and as an adjunct instructor in the Northeastern Illinois University College of Education. Irene is a fierce advocate of bilingual education and works to improve the bilingual program within her school. Her research interests include the effects of cognate instruction on vocabulary acquisition in bilingual learners. Irene is excited to participate in the Teacher Researcher Network!