Screen_Shot_2015-04-03_at_11.01.56_AMNyree Dawn Dixon is currently the Principal of Dr. Jacqueline Peek-Davis Elementary School,  P.S.12 located in Oceanhill, Brownsville in Brooklyn, New York.   Ms. Dixon intended to study law and teach students while attending law school but she fell in love with “our children” “this work” and “our community”.  Ms. Dixon and her team worked collaboratively to transform a School Under Registration Review in less than three years.  She and her team brought hope, life and high expectation to a school that was said to have “no hope and no expectation”.  She led a team to redesign the school before a 14 person state panel in less than one year which prevented school closure.  Dr. Jacqueline Peek-Davis Elementary School has transformed academically and culturally in her tenure.  Ms. Dixon believes in building capacity and working collaboratively with colleagues and small teams to improve any organization.  Ms. Dixon has been in administration for 12 years.  However, she considers herself a teacher first as well as an instructional leader.  

She began her career at the age of 20 in Ditmas Park.  She taught kindergarten, second and fourth grade for several years before she ventured to Beijing, China to teach High School English.  Upon her return she pursued her administration and supervision degree.  Ms. Dixon is mentioned in Creating the Opportunity to Learn: Moving from Research to Practice to Close the Achievement Gap in Dr. Pedro Noguera’s latest book.  Ms. Dixon’s leadership was mentioned in (, 2010) during an interview with Dr. Pedro Noguera entitled “The Do’s and Dont's of Educational Leadership” and “How Data and Technology Improve Schools”.  In addition, she has been featured in WNYC Schoolbook, The New York Daily News, and several other publications.   Ms. Dixon attributes her accomplishments to her family’s high expectation and unwavering support as well as her experience in an all-girls private school.  Ms. Dixon is a graduate of Saint Francis College, Hunter College and attended several leadership opportunities at Harvard University.  She has received several awards from educational organizations, community organizations, religious groups and parent groups for her leadership.  She is currently attending The University of Pennsylvania for her doctorate in leadership.  Ms. Dixon will graduate from UPENN in May 2016.  

Ms. Dixon enjoys professional learning, walking, reading, movies, travel and spending time with loved ones. In her spare time she cooks, gardens and enjoys volunteering with American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity and Foodbank. Connect with Nyree on Voxer at ndixon313 and by email here. 



Mary Yee is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education in literacy studies.  Born in Rutland, Vermont, Mary grew up in Boston as an immigrant child of a working class family—her father, a restaurant waiter, and her mother, a garment worker.  She attended the Josiah Quincy Elementary School in Chinatown, a segregated school with a student population, at the time, of 95% Chinese and 5% Lebanese.  

In Philadelphia, Ms. Yee has worked extensively with immigrant and refugee communities for over 35 years.  She was a founder of Asian Americans United and Yellow Seeds, the first Asian American organizing and advocacy organization in Philadelphia.  As a former officer and member of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, she has been involved in challenging the encroachment into Chinatown of public works projects, most notably the Vine Street Expressway, the Phillies baseball stadium, and the Foxwoods Casino.  More recently, her community work has included affiliations with Boat People SOS (BPSOS), a Vietnamese community-based organization; the Bhutanese Nepali refugee community; and the Sayre Health Center, a school-based Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).  She has also been a co-clerk and long-time member of the Third World Coalition of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).

For over a dozen years, Ms. Yee worked in various capacities at the School District of Philadelphia.  She has worked to remediate a civil rights class action lawsuit (Y.S. v. School District of Philadelphia, 1985) filed against the District on behalf of limited English proficient Asian students, who were also students with disabilities.  She has worked in ESOL and bilingual program administration, compliance and monitoring, and family engagement and language access.  As director of the Office of Family Engagement and Language Equity Services, she created the infrastructure for translation and interpretation services and partnered with community-based organizations across the city to engage families, including immigrant and refugee families, in their children’s education.

Ms. Yee holds degrees from Princeton University in East Asian Studies and the University of Pennsylvania in City Planning and TESOL.  She is currently continuing her commitment to educational equity and social justice by pursuing her research interests, which include educational issues in immigrant communities, university-community partnerships, and the interrelationship between health and educational disparities.  Her dissertation will investigate the trajectories of first generation Asian immigrant youth activists.  Connect on Voxer at myee02578 or email Mary here.

Anna_Carello@AnnaCarello (#pennlakota15 student organizer) serves as the Director of Professional Development and Programming for the School District of Philadelphia.  Her work with the District involves managing the professional development programs for over 17,000 employees.  An important focus of her work has been developing innovative and culturally relevant professional development programs for over 500 new teachers, as well as leadership programs for the District’s new and novice principals.


Prior to serving the principals, teachers, and students of Philadelphia, Carello served as Assistant Director of Educational Design and Innovation at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Her tenure at Pine Crest began as a 7th grade American Government teacher, and later 5th grade literacy and social studies teacher. 

Carello is an undergraduate of Marquette University where she earned a B.A. in both History and Spanish.  She received an MEd from Boston University in Educational




Administration, and an Ed.S from The Johns Hopkins University in Mind, Brain, and Teaching.  She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania.  Her primary research interests include educational design and innovation, information curation, and the teacher’s role in developing critical literacy primary classrooms.  


Connect on Voxer at acarel0028 or email Anna here.

002Dr. Robert Dillon (@ideaguy42) serves the students and community of the Affton School District as Director of Technology and Innovation. Prior to this position, he served as a teacher and administrator in public schools throughout the Saint Louis area.





Dr. Dillon has a passion to change the educational landscape by building excellent engaging schools for all students. He looks for ways to ignite positive risk taking in teachers and students and release trapped wisdom into the system by growing networks of inspired educators. Dr. Dillon serves Secretary of Innovation for Connected Learning, a Saint Louis based organization designed to reshape professional development to meet today's needs. Dr. Dillon has had the opportunity to speak throughout the country at local, state, and national conferences as well as share his thoughts and ideas in a variety of publications. His first book, Engage, Empower, Energize: Leading Tomorrow's Schools Today, is now available. He is supported by his wife and two daughters, and spends the remainder of his time running and cycling. Connect w/ Bob on Twitter at @ideaguy42 and on Voxer at rdillo961





Screen_Shot_2015-04-05_at_9.05.26_AM-1Sundai M. Riggins (@MABCPrincipal) is currently the principal of Monarch Academy Baltimore Campus, the largest public charter school in Baltimore City serving 1,000 students.

Before Sundai became the founding principal of Monarch Academy she was an assistant principal at Brightwood Education Campus in the District of Columbia Public School System. She has served as English Department chair and teacher at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg and began her career in teaching as a language arts and mathematics teacher at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School in Takoma Park in 2001. Sundai also has worked as an extended day and summer camp director of an after-school program operated by the Community Preservation and Development Corp., in Washington, D.C.



   While a teacher and department chair at Seton, she was nominated by her colleagues and won the High School Principals Association Teacher of the Year Award in 2007.  Sundai has had numerous opportunities to expand her instructional toolkit through local learning experiences as well as abroad.  She was a member of the 2006 Teaching Shakespeare Institute funded through the National Endowment for Humanities and also participated in the 2011-12 Thailand Educator Exchange Program through the American Councils for International Education through the United States Department of Education.

Sundai has a master’s degree in education administration from Trinity University in Washington, D.C., and a B.A. in English and a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Maryland College Park.  Ms. Riggins is currently pursuing her doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania. next with Sundai on Twitter at @MABCPrincipal and on Voxer at sriggi353. 





Screen_Shot_2015-04-05_at_9.10.29_AMDawn Hayes (@dhayesmcsd) was born in in Philadelphia, Pa and attended Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa where she earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Her love of the area and the outdoors led her to relocate to central Pennsylvania. Early in her career, she worked as an elementary classroom teacher, gifted and talented teacher, and adult educator. As she learned more about the needs of her students and community, she returned to school to earn two Master’s degrees from Wilkes University in curriculum and educational leadership. She went on to serve as a reading specialist and literacy coach. 


Her work in education continues to center on literacy and social justice issues in rural communities. She serves as the Director of Federal Programs for the Mifflin County School District and the President of Mifflin County Communities that Care in central Pennsylvania. 




She helps to facilitate data analysis, curriculum development, and professional development for teachers and leaders while bridging community and public education practices.



She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree at the University of Pennsylvania. You can contact Dawn by email here and on Voxer at dhayes2124.





Dr. @Joe_Mazza (@MDPEL organizer) serves as the Leadership Innovation Manager at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education working with Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership (@MCDPEL) faculty, students and alumni as well as supporting the Penn Center for Educational Leadership (PCEL). Joe also serves as a national family-community engagement advisor to the Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington, DC. Before moving to higher education, Joe served as K-12 Project Manager for Connected Teaching, Learning & Leadership in the North Penn School District in Lansdale PA. Joe served as lead learner at Knapp Elementary School since 2007 before taking on the district edtech role.  He has spent his career working with students, teachers & families as a 3rd grade teacher, bilingual assistant principal, middle school vice-principal, an elementary principal, while serving as a TV studio producer, webmaster and technology integration coach in each setting. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (MCDPEL) with a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership.



Joe writes to share ways educators can use innovative tools to complement face to face communications between home and school, and do this in a transparent and collaborative way. Since completing his dissertation, the blog is aimed to serve all things teaching, learning & leadership. It’s the relationships that matter, and Joe’s work is aimed at meeting stakeholders “where they are” with a focus on technology and social media tools to complement face to face interactions. Email Joe here. Connect on Twitter at @joe_mazza and on Voxer at joe_mazza. 



MARTIN_PHOTOVictor Martin (@vicmartinequity) is currently the Director of the Office of Equity for Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) in Northern Virginia. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Oswego State University where he majored in English and a Master’s degree from George Mason University in Education Leadership. In July of this year, Mr. Martin was a fellow in the National Institute for Urban School Leaders at Harvard University. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in Education Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania, and is focusing on the experiences of students in alternative education programs.

Victor began his teaching career in San Diego, California, as a classroom assistant, and later a classroom teacher at a school designated for students with emotional disabilities. He moved to Milpitas, California, where he taught grades K-6, while garnering experience in a multi-aged classroom for 4th, 5th and 6th grade students. 

Victor then taught fifth and 6th grade in Prince William County Public Schools in Northern Virginia, before becoming an administrator at Parkside Middle School. This was followed by serving as the Administrative Coordinator/Supervisor of the Office of Multicultural Education. Mr. Martin has international teaching experience, serving as a lead instructor for an English Acquisition Program in China. 


In his current position, he provides systemic leadership and articulation in the effort to eliminate the disparities in student achievement across racial, ethnic, socio-economic, and other identifiable student groups. The Office of Alternative Programs and Equity is responsible for guiding efforts to conceptualize, define, assess, nurture, and cultivate cultural competency as an institutional and educational resource, in addition to promoting a culture of inclusion and embracing differences as a strategic opportunity towards leading the District’s efforts to build a culture of equity and inclusion for all members of the ACPS community. 

During his career, Victor has conducted workshops at a wide range of conferences, including the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, National Association of Black School Educators, National Staff Development Council, Virginia Staff  Development Council, George Mason University: Make the Message Matter Conference,  Virginia ESL Conference, National Association for Multicultural Education, Virginia School Nurses Association, and most recently, at the Minority Student Achievement Network Conference. He was also a contributing author in Strategies in Action: A Collection of Classroom Applications, Volume 1 (2009).

Victor can be reached at, on twitter @vicmartinequity, voxer at mmarti13816.



Visitors to this site can take part in the #pennlakota15 experience virtually with the research team. Ask your question below and a member of the team will tweet out the response on the #pennlakota15 hashtag. Responses may also come in the form of Periscope, Youtube, Voxer or an email. If we cannot respond personally, we will reach out to someone who can provide more insight and an "on the ground" perspective. 

Share this opportunity with another student, educator, class, or member of your PLN.