Oregon Our Team Our Team Tara Debois Kristin Romano Jocelyn Bigay Ajai Huja Rynda Gregory Santha Cassell Deborah Odell Brian Flannery Brian grew up in Columbus, Ohio and after completing a B.S. in Communication from Ohio University, moved to Oregon to complete a Masters in Education at Oregon State. Brian is a former language arts and technology high school teacher. He has served as a career and technical education coordinator, of talented and gifted programs, and as an administrator at the middle, high school, and university levels. At the University of Oregon’s College of Education, Brian developed and delivered courses and professional development for professors, K-12 teachers and principals from every continent except Antarctica. Brian is completing his doctoral studies with an emphasis in equity leadership. On weekends Brian can be found kayaking with his wife and daughter, or working on his latest screenplay. Karen Green Karen is a licensed teacher leader, Business Education teacher, and Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher. She served on the Oregon Governor’s Council for Educator Advancement and the Deputy Superintendent’s Advisory Committee at the Oregon Department of Education. She taught classes Ashland High School for almost 20 years. She was also a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) supporting teachers and administrators in teacher leadership development, professional learning, collaboration, and goal setting. Karen retired from full-time teaching in 2017 and is now devoting her time to supporting teams of educators through her work with the Center for High School Success. Karen lives in Ashland with her husband Doug. They have two adult children and one precious grandson. In her spare time Karen loves to cook, preserve the garden produce that Doug grows, do yoga, hike, read, travel, and spend time with loved ones. Kristin Romano Before CHSS, Kristin was a high school Vice Principal in Southern California. She worked regionally on special projects related to attendance systems overhauls, equity and access. As an English teacher, she provided instructional coaching and served as a literacy trainer for teachers. Kristin believes in leadership through inspiration, collaboration and compassion. Having spent all of her teaching years with eighth grade students before moving into high school administration, she has an understanding of—and passion for—the unique challenges and opportunities that lie in the critical transition from middle school to 9th grade. Kristin and her husband, Josh, moved to Oregon in 2018. She enjoys hiking, sewing, gardening, house projects and is starting to pursue rock climbing. She has confessed a freakish love for spreadsheets and system and design thinking. Of course, these loves come second to her husband, their son Grady and dog Ryder. Jocelyn Bigay Jocelyn spent the last 16 years serving underrepresented populations, most recently as a School Partnership consultant with Inflexion. She was the Director of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support and the Reconnection Services for Portland Public School District in Oregon. Prior to her leadership role at the district office, she spent six years as a principal of two different culturally specific alternative high schools and 6 years in the classroom as a High School English teacher. Jocelyn has a Master’s Degree in Education in Administration and Supervision. HD Weddel HD has been in education for 40 years and has loved every year. In this time, he has worked at the middle school, high school, and post-secondary levels as a teacher, coach, activities director, and principal. Most recently, HD worked with a diverse population and, along with a great team, helped to raise the graduation rate specifically for Native Americans from 33% to 80%. HD has been married 37 years to his best friend Patty, a retired teacher. He has two adult daughters; Lacey, who is married and living in Delaware, and Lindy, who is a counselor at Sister’s High School in Central Oregon. HD loves living in Central Oregon for the skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, and fishing. Ajai Huja Born and raised in Charlottesville, Virginia as a First-Generation Punjabi-American. Ajai has worked in the field of education for 20 years, the last six as the Principal of the Centennial Park School, a public alternative high school in the Centennial School District. Ajai’s work in education is driven by a desire to fundamentally change an education system not designed to serve the needs of all students. During his career, he has worked to ensure Oregon’s education system holds high expectations and ensures equitable outcomes for all students. The bulk of that career has been spent working with students who have struggled in our traditional systems, ranging from separate programs to very inclusive settings. Ajai is grateful for what he has learned from students every day in his work. When not working, he can be found in SE Portland with his wife Christin, of 12 years, daughter Meera (8yrs old) and son Simran (4 years old), who happily occupy most of his time outside of school. They are often found on their bikes, exploring Oregon, cooking and eating delicious food, and spending time with family and friends. Rynda Gregory Born in southern California, raised in northern California (Redding - the real northern part of the state), and completing her undergraduate education at the University of California, Davis, Rynda has always been drawn to teaching - in some form or another. Swim lessons, dance lessons, then on to a formal teaching degree from Chapman University. First, a teacher of ‘gifted and talented’ classes, then at a dual immersion school in the Sacramento Valley for 10 years, Rynda found that to truly meet the needs of all students she must do two things - 1) build strong relationships with her students and their families, and 2) change her practices in the classroom as she kept expectations high. After to moving to Oregon in 2005, Rynda has served as an administrator for 13 years at the high school, elementary and K-8 school level, and as a district level coordinator - all within the Willamette Valley. In a leadership role, she focused her work on addressing systemic change and building capacity of the building staff to sustain equitable practices to support all students. In her free time, Rynda can be found in her garden, or hiking, kayaking or playing music with her husband and two boys. Santha Cassell Although her role as a high school educator has evolved since she began her career in 2000, in every position, student success has been Santha’s mission. Her deep belief in the power of education to transform lives, and certainty that every student must have access to excellent instruction, has informed her work as a classroom teacher, school leader, and instructional specialist. Prior to being a Ninth Grade Success Coach, Santha lead the instructional team at Portland’s Madison High School for 7 years, focusing on teacher collaboration, school-wide best practices, credit attainment and optimizing learning opportunities for all students. In her position at Madison, Santha coordinated, created, and presented professional development opportunities for staff. She has also loved teaching AVID, English Language Arts, Humanities, Culinary Arts, and Journalism. Her career in education has been marked by her passion for social justice and equity, and her position as a Ninth Grade Success Coach is an opportunity for her to employ those core beliefs in a larger arena, the North Willamette Valley. When she is not visiting ninth grade success teams and coaching educators, you will find Santha running trails in Forest Park, immersing in the natural beautify of the Portland area, reading books, and making delicious food. Tara Debois Tara is a native Oregonian of Egyptian descent whose experiences as a student and teacher in the education system fueled her drive to develop educational systems, structures and mindsets that ensure all students have guaranteed access to a high-quality education. Consequently, Tara has spent the last six years in instructional leadership in the Reynolds School District creating a data-centered culture and leading districtwide professional development in evidence-based instructional practices, culturally responsive teaching practices and neurologically-based mindset/engagement strategies. Most recently, Tara served as a district administrator who articulated the district’s Culture of Learning and Culture of Care (Multi-Tiered System of Support) and implemented collaborative processes, instructional materials and universal student supports needed to guarantee Reynolds’ students have access to well-designed instruction. Tara enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Bryan, and teenage sons, Tyler and Cole. The family can be found roaming the great outdoors – backpacking, hiking, boating, paddleboarding, skiing or relaxing on the Oregon Coast. Deborah Odell Deb Odell has served students, staff and families for the past 30 years as a federal program specialists in Titles I, II and III as, principal of K-8th, a teacher of 5-9th grades in both ESL and regular classroom settings and instructional coach for secondary programs. She is passionate about coaching high functioning teams and co-creating equitable access to culturally responsive, standards-based instruction. Drawing on her prior program development and sheltered language background, Deb facilitated data driven inquiry with an amazing team of administrators and teachers that resulted in powerful embedded staff development in the form of Lesson Study in all secondary programs in Reynolds School District. She was charged with creating a pathway to graduation for students recently excited from the ESL program and in two years worked with over 30 teachers capturing data demonstrating students’ increased access to curriculum and teachers increased deployment of high leverage strategies including those utilizing technology in an one on one roll out. She replicated this dynamic team approach to school culture in Morocco at American School of Casablanca. This work empowered both teachers and students to talk about what they were learning and why and increase their success. Deb was honored by her peers with two awards The “Hope” award for outstanding practice in Equity and Oregon Math Leaders Institute’s regional recognition for leadership both in 2018. She brings this wealth of experience to her new role with Stand as a 9th grade success coach. When she is not coaching teams or teaching strategic design, she can be found paddle boarding, riding her horse or hanging out with her husband and two daughters.