Diana Laufenberg-Executive Director
For over 16 years, she was a secondary social studies teacher in Wisconsin, Kansas, Arizona and Pennsylvania. She most recently taught at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, an inquiry-driven, project-based high school focused on modern learning. More...
Kristin Hokanson- Director of Professional Learning
Kristin spent over 20 years in public education as an elementary teacher, technology integration specialist and High School business teacher. Her passion is in helping students and teachers to leverage web-based tools and emerging technologies to increase rigor, student engagement and deeper learning. In her role as an educational consultant, Kristin has five years experience supporting school and district professional development and redesign towards inquiry driven, project based, technology enhanced learning environments. She has worked with hundreds of schools, helping teachers and administrators refine their vision for their schools and classrooms and develop systems to enable that vision.
Caitlin Thompson- Director of Operations
Caitlin completed her undergraduate degree at Tufts University in Boston and started her teaching career as a Philadelphia Teaching Fellow. She earned her degree in engineering science and geology and enjoys exposing students to the wide range of mathematical applications in the world. Caitlin came to SLA in 2008 and has taught students Algebra 1, Geometry and Statistics. She finished her Masters of Arts in Adventure Education from Prescott College and continues to enjoy sharing her love for cycling and the outdoors with Philadelphia's finest youth. She chose to leave the classroom in 2016 and is pursuing a range of interests that include her work with Inquiry Schools, Little Bellas and Gearing Up.
Tim Best- Summer Institute Co-Director and Educational Consultant
Tim has been teaching students at SLA since 2007. Before SLA, he was a high school technology integration specialist and middle school science teacher in the Boston area. In 2011, Tim was named a National Board Certified Teacher. He loves being able to tie together project-based learning and inquiry-driven pedagogy into SLA’s science curriculum.
Josh Block- Summer Institute Co-Director and Educational Consultant
Joshua has taught students in public schools since 2001. He received his B.A. and M.S. in Education from the University of Pennsylvania and received additional education while living in Jerusalem and Cameroon and working as a cabinetmaker. His work with students integrates inquiry, project-based learning, technology, student performance, and public art. He has extensive experience with teacher education and teacher leadership, and has established multiple successful, ongoing collaborations with outside organizations. He is a National Board Certified Teacher, an Edutopia blogger, and has won multiple teaching awards. Joshua is passionate about his belief that education should be a tool that allows people to both understand and transform their individual and collective realities. You can find Joshua’s work and writing about education at mrjblock.com.
Zac Chase - Educational Consultant
Zac Chase loves learning and teaching. A classroom teacher of middle and high school students for nearly a decade, Zac’s pedagogy and practice are deeply rooted in building schools that are project-based and inquiry-driven. He has worked with schools and teachers nationally and internationally and is the co-author of Building School 2.0: Creating the Schools We Need. Zac is the preK-12 English Languages Arts Coordinator for St. Vrain Valley Schools, based in Longmont, CO. He returned to the district after completing a two year fellowship at the U.S. Department of Education where he worked in the Office of Educational Technology as the lead author on the 2016 National Education Technology Plan. Zac has worked with teachers, schools, and school systems across the U.S. as well as Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, Kenya, and Pakistan to consider how to shift their educational practice to better leverage the active use of technology to support teaching and learning. He is @MrChase on twitter and blogs regularly at autodizactic.com.
Rosalind Echols- Educational Consultant
Project(s): Henry County Schools
Rosalind taught physics at SLA for eight years, during which time she has worked with her science colleagues to design a real-world based physics curriculum accessible to all of the students at SLA. Her teaching has been greatly influenced by her work with the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation in the Teaching Fellowship Program, which allowed her to collaborate with science teachers all over the country and participate in exceptional professional development, including workshops at the University of Washington and Arizona State University. She recently earned her National Board Certification in Physics.
Erin Giorgio- Educational Consultant
After teaching a year in England and in New York for a few years, Erin moved to Philadelphia in 2008 where she earned her Masters Degree in Secondary Education (Mathematics) from the University of Pennsylvania. She joined the SLA faculty in 2009 where she enjoys teaching students mathematics and personal fitness. Erin also coaches the SLA girls’ varsity basketball team and is hopeful that she will be able to start a lacrosse team in the upcoming years! In 2014, Erin earned her National Board Certification in Mathematics.
Amal Giknis- Educational Consultant
Project(s): Henry County Schools
Amal teaches students English and Creative Writing. She began her teaching career in New York City’s public schools, and is happy to have landed at SLA, where she helps students see the value and power of words and literature. Outside of the classroom, Amal coaches the SLA Cross Country team and serves as the co-chair for EduCon. In her non-teaching time she can be found exploring Philadelphia on her bicycle, playing with a camera, or taking arts and crafts pretty seriously. Sometimes she writes about these things on her blog .
Mary Beth Hertz-Educational Consultant
Mary Beth has been teaching in Philadelphia since 2003. She holds a Masters Degree in Instructional Technology from St Joseph’s University and she currently holds PA certificates in K-6 Elementary Education, K-12 Business/Technology, K-12 Art as well as an Instructional Technology Specialist certificate. She teaches her students Technology and Art and is the Technology Coordinator at Science Leadership Academy at Beeber. Mary Beth was named an ISTE Emerging Leader in 2009, PAECT’s 2013 Outstanding Teacher of the Year and is a member the 2013 class of ASCD’s Emerging Leaders. Outside of teaching, Mary Beth was a co-organizer of the Philly EdTech Meetup, sat on the board of the Edcamp Foundation, is a founding organizer of Edcamp Philly, and, in May 2013, organized WebSLAM, Philadelphia’s first hackathon for high school students. She has also presented at ISTE, the #140 Character Conference as well as a number of edcamps and Educon. Mary Beth blogs at Philly Teacher (http://mbteach.com), maintains a blog on Edutopia.org and can be found on Twitter as @mbteach.
Marcie Hull- Educational Consultant
Before becoming SLA’s founding Technology Coordinator, Marcie spent five years at Shoemaker Middle School in SDP. She brings a powerful understanding of both the fine and digital arts and their role in schools. She has established a reputation as one of the top digital arts educators in the city. Marcie has presented at the National Educational Computing Conference, PETE&C, the NY Tech Forum and has worked training teachers all over the School District of Philadelphia.
Brad Latimer- Educational Consultant
Brad was born and raised in the Philadelphia area, and returned to Philly to complete graduate coursework at the University of Pennsylvania in 2006. In 2008, after earning his Masters Degree in Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum, Brad joined the faculty of SLA. He currently serves as the Mathematics Department Chair, teaches students Algebra 2 and Calculus, and chairs the Academic Standards Committee. Additionally, he teaches Secondary Math Methods at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education for Teach for America Corps members. Brad recently earned his Level II Certification for Mathematics, and won the Linback Distinguished Teaching Award in 2010. In his free time, he enjoys sports (basketball and football), music, and spending time with his kids.
Larissa Pahomov- Educational Consultant
Larissa teaches students English and Journalism. In addition to her classroom duties, she helps coordinate SLA’s alumni relations, community events, and diversity programs, as well as advise the student literary magazine and journalism group. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and the author of the book “Authentic Learning in the Digital Age,” which describes the practices of SLA and provides a framework for teachers interested in adopting the model. She earned her Master’s degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania and her Bachelor’s in English from Vassar College. Before that, she worked as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant for English in a high school in Germany. In the classroom, Larissa is dedicated to helping her students learn to read both the word and the world. She writes about all this semi-regularly on her blog.