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Meet Our Teacher Leaders

Melanie Abney
National Board Certified School Counselor
Hamilton Elementary School
School District of Lancaster

Melanie Abney is a 2020-21 Pennsylvania Policy Advisory Board Member who advocates for her students as the School Counselor at James Hamilton Elementary. Melanie has supported her students and school community for 12 years so far. She is trained in Restorative Practices and is committed to helping her teachers build positive relationships with students. She serves on her district’s Equity Design Team where she is currently working on developing a district-wide Equity Policy. Melanie is a member of Lancaster County School Counselor Association where she strives to stay abreast with the new research in the field of school counseling. Melanie graduated from West Chester University with BA in Psychology and MEd with a School Counseling Certification (K-6).

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Jamal Easley
9th Grade World History Teacher/Seminar Lead
Belmont Charter High School

Jamal Easley is a 2020-21 Pennsylvania Policy Advisory Board Member who teaches 9th grade World History at Belmont Charter High School. Jamal has over a decade of experience working with youth in Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia, particularly those who have experienced trauma or violence. Jamal is passionate about using Social-Emotional Learning as a tool to address social justice and equity and is the seminar/SEL lead for his grade team. As a Black male educator, Jamal feels called to this work and often tells his students, “Never forget who you are, or where you come from.” Jamal has a BA in Mass Communications/Cinema from Southern Illinois University and MA in Strategic Communications and Leadership from Seton Hall University.

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Michael Faccinetto
5th Grade Science & Social Studies Teacher
Central Elementary School
Allentown School District

Michael Faccinetto is a 2020-21 Pennsylvania Policy Advisory Board Member who teaches 5th grade science and social studies at Central Elementary School in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In addition to teaching, Michael has served as the president of the Bethlehem Area School District Board of School Directors for 10 years and was the president of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. In 2019, PSBA inducted Michael into the prestigious Allwein Society recognizing his exceptional advocacy efforts for public education. Michael’s school board service ignited his passion for education leading him to make the transition from a family business into the classroom. Michael earned a BS in insurance from Penn State University and a MEd in elementary education from Lehigh University.

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Michelle Gainer
4th grade math and science teacher
Bayard Taylor Elementary School
School District of Philadelphia

Michelle Gainer is a 2020-21 Pennsylvania Policy Advisory Board Member who teaches 4th grade math and science and manages after school programs and community partnerships at Bayard Taylor Elementary School in Philadelphia. She previously served as the Teach Plus Teacher Leader for the 5th grade team and has served as the chair for the fundraising and special events committee for the last five years. She is a Teach for America alumna who became a teacher after serving in Americorps in Alaska and being inspired by the young people she encountered there. She graduated from Temple University with a BA in sociology and received her MEd in education from the University of Pennsylvania. She is working toward her MEd in education policy and leadership at American University. 

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Jess Keys
10th grade English teacher
West Allegheny Senior High School
West Allegheny School District

Jess Keys is a 2020-21 Pennsylvania Policy Advisory Board Member who teaches 10th grade English at West Allegheny High School in Imperial, Pennsylvania. Jess is a College and Career Readiness Team leader, a member of the Optimizing Inclusive Practices Team, School Leadership Team, and part of the Technology Advisory Team on her campus. Jess has received several Framework for Excellence Awards and her students have consistently demonstrated significant growth and attainment on the state Keystone Literature Exams. Jess has presented College and Career Readiness Teaming at the secondary level at the PaTTan conference. She previously taught 10th grade English and has written a significant amount of ELA curriculum. She graduated from California University of PA with a BS in Secondary Education with a concentration in English and also received her MA in Advanced Teaching and Learning and her K-12 Administration Certification from California University of PA.

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Derek Long
9th Grade English Teacher
Pittsburgh Perry High School
Pittsburgh Public Schools

Derek Long is a 2020-21 Pennsylvania Policy Advisory Board Member who teaches 9th grade English at Pittsburgh Perry High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He serves as the English Department Head as well as the head boys’ basketball and volleyball coach. Derek has served on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations’ Teacher Advisory Council and helped to organize national and local Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers (ECET2) events that sought to empower teachers and elevate the teaching profession. He previously taught English at Pittsburgh Oliver High School, Valley High School, and Greater Works Academy. Derek is a second-generation English teacher and basketball coach. Derek graduated from Grove City College with a BA in English, received his MA in Teaching English from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and received his EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership from the University of Southern California.

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Holly Meade
7th grade English teacher
Northeast Intermediate School
Scranton School District

Holly Meade is a 2020-21 Pennsylvania Policy Advisory Board Member who teaches 7th grade English at Northeast Intermediate School in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where she also serves as the local site coordinator for the New Teacher Induction Program and the Education and Research Development program. She has worked extensively over the past 20 years with “at-risk” populations in Los Angeles, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and in Charleston, West Virginia. She has been an advocate for public school funding in Pennsylvania for the last 5 years. She graduated from Shippensburg University with a BA in English and received her MEd in Special Education from California State University Dominguez Hills.

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Sunada Roberts
Instructional Coach
John Harris High School
Harrisburg School District

Sunada Roberts is a 2020-21 Pennsylvania Policy Advisory Board Member and is an Instructional Coach at John Harris High School located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She’s previously taught biology and other science courses, both in New York and Pennsylvania. She has sponsored the National Society for Black Engineers and an epidemiology club to foster science fair growth on her campus. As a teacher leader, she was involved with Shippensburg’s Learning to Lead Program, Harrisburg’s Equity team, and Teacher Leadership Academy. She was the Harrisburg High School Teacher of the Year in 2017 and represented her district as a Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Finalist in 2019. She attended Stony Brook University where she earned a BS in biology and an MA in liberal arts with a concentration in science education.

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Aaron Taylor
6th - 8th Grade General Music/Band
East Middle School
Erie School District

Aaron Taylor is a 2020-21 Pennsylvania Policy Advisory Board Member who teaches 6th, 7th, and 8th grade general music and beginning band at East Middle School in Erie, Pennsylvania. He directs the Singing Ambassadors and the after-school guitar club at his school. He is also part of a council focusing on the retention and recruitment of African American teachers. Aaron became a teacher because he wanted to teach students about the power and impact of music. He graduated from Edinboro University with a BA in music education and an MEd with a concentration for middle and secondary curriculum instruction.

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Selenia Tello
Global Leadership teacher
Stewart Middle School
Norristown Area School District

Selenia Tello is a 2020-21 Pennsylvania Policy Advisory Board Member who teaches Global Leadership at Stewart Middle School in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Selenia is a member of the Cultural Proficiency team at her school and attends monthly meetings with district leaders who work to ensure that cultural proficiency is part of each classroom. Selenia previously taught 8th grade English in the Houston Independent School District, in Houston, Texas. Selenia knew she would be a teacher after learning of the educational injustices that her grandmothers suffered in Jalisco, Mexico. She graduated from West Chester University with a BSEd in middle grades preparation and special ed. K-12. She received her MEd in special education from West Chester University.

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