Teach Plus

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Teach Plus was founded in 2007 in Boston by Stanford Ph.D. Celine Coggins, a former teacher who wanted to give young educators incentives to make the classroom a career, primarily in urban centers with lower income students with greater needs and challenges. Her organization provides an alternative to the official views of unions like the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association and has been heavily funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is trying to reshape the teachers' unions as part of its campaign to mold American education in its own world-view.

She launched Teach Plus in 2007 as a subsidiary of the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy in Cambridge, MA and began working with teachers in Chicago and Indianapolis in 2008 with relatively small grants from foundations. Coggins. received Gates Foundation awards totaling $4 million in 2009, for expenditure over three years. She incorporated the group as an independent 501c3 in 2009. The millions allowed her to expand to Los Angeles and Memphis, build a Web site and move into new offices at the Boston headquarters.

Today the group has organizations in Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis, Memphis, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C..

In Chicago, union activists have accused Teach Plus of being an Astroturf grass-roots organization. In Indiana, some lawmakers accused the group of being part of a conspiracy by Gates and hedge fund managers to undermine the unions' influence, according to Ms. Sullivan, a Democrat who voted to end seniority-based layoffs, as Teach Plus wanted. [1]



  • Celine Coggins - Celine Coggins is the founder and CEO of Teach Plus. Coggins is a former teacher and current Mind Trust Education Entrepreneur Fellow. She has a background that includes research, policy and K-12 teaching. She has been a labor-management consultant in Providence, RI as well as Worcester and Springfield, MA and was formerly special assistant to the Massachusetts Commissioner of Education on teacher quality. She is the author of more than two dozen reports and journal articles and the editor of two books. She earned her Ph.D. in Education Policy Analysis from Stanford University. ccoggins@teachplus.org
  • Monique Burns Thompson Monique has been President of Teach Plus since its incorporation in 2009. She brings experience as a social entrepreneur, management and human capital consultant and reform-oriented district administrator to the Teach Plus team. She started her career in the business sector (Quaker Oat Co.) in marketing and brand management before moving to the education sector as a consultant for McKenzie Group, opening model middle schools in Washington, DC. After spending a year as the assistant principal of one of those schools, Monique then worked as Special Assistant to the Superintendent of the Philadelphia Public School District, which informed her understanding of the need for quality training of urban school teachers and leaders. This focus on human capital development lead her to co-found, and co-lead as President and Chief Curriculum Officer, New Leaders for New Schools. She later worked as a consultant for Building Excellent Schools, supporting the leadership capacity of some of Boston’s strongest charter schools. Monique earned her Bachelor's Degree from Dartmouth College, her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, and her Master’s in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is ABD for her doctorate in Education Administration and Social Policy. mburnsthompson@teachplus.org
  • Heather Peske - National Director of Programs - Heather has spent her career committed to transforming education in the United States, especially for low-income and minority students. Previously, Heather served as the Director of Teacher Quality at the Education Trust, a national non-profit organization dedicated to raising standards and closing achievement gaps in education. At Education Trust, she managed research, data and policy analysis; wrote nationally-released reports on teachers; conducted presentations across the country; and developed federal and state policy to ensure access to effective teachers. Heather earned her master's degree and doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. There, she was a founding member of the "Project on the Next Generation of Teachers," a research collaboration devoted to studying new teachers. Heather is a co-author of the award-winning book, "Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in Our Schools", as well as reports and articles on alternative certification programs, new teachers' experiences and conceptions of career. She has also worked as a School Director at Teach for America's Summer Institute, managing the preparation of several hundred new teachers. Heather launched her career in education as an elementary teacher and Teach for America corps member in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Heather graduated from Kenyon College with magna cum laude honors, earning a Bachelor's Degree in religion and South Asian studies. hpeske@teachplus.org
  • Alice Johnson Cain - National Director of Policy - Alice joined Teach Plus as National Director of Policy in October of 2011, bringing more than 20 years of state, national, and international public policy experience. She spent six years as Congressman George Miller’s chief advisor for K-12 education where she helped develop Race to the Top, the Investing in Innovation Fund, the Teacher Excellence for All Children Act, the RENEWAAL Act (to assist Gulf Coast schools after Hurricane Katrina) and revisions to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Alice also advised Senator Paul Simon on education policy and served on the education committee that advised then-Senator Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. She developed policy recommendations that were adopted by the New Zealand government through a fellowship awarded by Fulbright New Zealand. At the Children's Defense Fund, Alice helped build the national grassroots advocacy program that led to state and federal policy changes benefitting low-income children and families. At the National Institute for Literacy, she helped build a new national network of literacy providers that successfully advocated for state and federal policy changes on behalf of their students. Other experience includes several years teaching GED and ESOL classes to low-income and homeless adults and refugees. Alice currently co-chairs Hope Street Group’s Education Policy Council and serves on the Board of the Success for All Foundation.


Site and Program Leadership

  • Meghan O'Keefe National Director, T3 Initiative - Before joining Teach Plus to lead the T3 Initiative, Meghan was the Project Director for School Turnaround Strategies at Mass Insight, where she provided overall project management and partner development for programs in Mass Insight’s school turnaround focus area. Prior to Mass Insight, she held positions as the Director of Strategic Planning and the Director of Operations in the New York City Department of Education’s Student Enrollment office, and taught second grade for several years. She earned an M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management, a B.A. from Boston College, and an M.Ed. from Lesley College as part of the Lesley-Shady Hill School Teacher Training Program. - mokeefe@teachplus.org
  • Elisa MacDonald - Manager of Instructional Leadership, T3 Initiative - Elisa MacDonald has a strong background in developing district-wide professional learning communities, coaching teacher leaders, and leading school-based inquiry teams. As a consultant with Teachers21, she led professional learning, specializing in teacher leadership, in over fifteen Massachusetts school districts. She also co-taught action research to graduate students at Boston College. Elisa is committed to excellence in urban education and has been a teacher and lead mentor, literacy coach and assistant headmaster of instruction in the Boston Public Schools for 14 years. She has received numerous grants and awards, including the Calderwood Writing Fellowship and ESU Treadwell Scholarship, and was featured in Middle Ground Magazine (Volume 5, #3 Dec. 2001). Elisa has authored several texts, most recently, When Nice Won’t Suffice: Honest Discourse is Key to Shifting School Culture. (2011, June) JSD, 32 (3), and contributing author to Beyond Mentoring, 3rd edition (2010, Teachers21). Her forthcoming book, The Skillful Team Leader: Navigating Challenges in Professional Learning (Corwin Press, 2012) provides a research- based understanding of common roadblocks to team learning with practical strategies on how to overcome them in order to positively shape school culture. She earned a M.A. from UMass Boston, and a B.A. from Brandeis University.
  • Marisa Suescun - Eastern Massachusetts Program Manager, T3 Initiative - Prior to joining Teach Plus in February 2012, Marisa Suescun spent a dozen years working on behalf of public education equity through many avenues: she has taught students, trained teachers, coached youth leaders, facilitated organizations, and fostered community partnerships. A member of the first cohort of NYC Teaching Fellows, Marisa taught elementary school at PS 63 in the Bronx, then worked for the NYC Teaching Fellows, training and supporting new teachers and leading the organization’s first professional conference. In 2005-2006, Marisa completed the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs in Saint Louis. She then served as Assistant Director of the Exploring Leadership program at the Coro New York Leadership Center, where she trained high school students as they learned about education policy, developed civic leadership skills, and mobilized their peers to improve their schools. Marisa currently serves on the Founders Group and Curriculum Committee of Active Minds Institute (which will open a public charter school in Saint Louis), and the working board of Together We Can (which operates Las Vegas’ only community garden). Marisa has facilitated staff of Together We Can and other organizations in strategic planning processes. She has taught SAT preparation in New York, and ESL in Ecuador and Las Vegas. A published writer, Marisa has reported on education, film, food, art, and lifestyle for New York Family Magazine, Education Update, and other publications. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from Wesleyan University, and a Masters of Education from City College of New York.
  • Tamala Boyd Executive Director, Memphis, TN - Tamala has devoted fourteen years of enthusiastic work in urban schools as a teacher, assistant principal, and most recently middle school principal. As a classroom teacher, Tamala developed a passion for new teachers quickly realizing the need for supporting new teachers in an effort to retain them in urban education. This passion led to her creating a district recognized new teacher support program while serving as Assistant Principal at White Station High School (Memphis, TN) from 2003-2006. In April 2006, Tamala was appointed Principal of Wooddale Middle School to begin the 2007-2008 school year. Having served for four years, Tamala’s effective instructional leadership focused on team-building, new teacher support, and data-driven decision making moved this urban school from an NCLB status of Target to Good Standing. Most recently, Tamala was recognized by the TN Association of Middle Schools as the 2010 West TN Administrator of the Year. Tamala’s leadership training for urban education is attributed to her participation in The Memphis Leadership Fellows Program (2005-2006). Additionally, she is an April 2006 Fellow of The Leadership Academy, a highly respected program that gives emerging leaders the tools, experiences and exposure needed to drive community change in Memphis. Tamala earned a B.A. in English from Tougaloo College and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Jackson State University. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in Instruction Curriculum and Leadership from the University of Memphis where she is ABD. tboyd@teachplus.org


  • John Lee - Executive Director, Los Angeles, CA





National Team


National Network and Alumni Director lsobel@teachplus.org

Director of Finance and Operations npelsma@teachplus.org

Program Coordinator cguan@teachplus.org

National T+ Network Coordinator kmcgovern@teachplus.org

Technology Systems and Operations Associate kwinborn@teachplus.org

Program and Operations Associate eeckerson@teachplus.org Before coming to Teach Plus, Ellie worked in Washington, DC for Charter Board Partners, a non-profit that works to strengthen the boards of charter schools. She holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Women’s Studies from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where she graduated magna cum laude with honors.