Innovate Public Schools launched the Start-up Schools Fellowship in 2013 with participants representing two school districts and three charter school networks.

Elena Luna, ACE Charter Schools

Elena is the Principal at ACE Empower Academy. She comes to ACE after serving as a national award-winning teacher and Principal at KIPP Adelante, a charter middle school in San Diego. Under her leadership, KIPP Adelante was awarded a National Excellence in Urban Education Award. Elena’s particular areas of expertise are academic program development for English Learners and teacher training, with an emphasis on best practices in language and reading development. Ms. Luna received her BA in Social Work from San Diego State University and her MA in Social Sciences in Education from Stanford University.

Elena planned the launch of a new ACE middle school that will be located in the Alum Rock school district and is opening in fall 2014.

Cesar Torrico, ACE Charter Schools

Cesar is a principal in residence with ACE Charter Schools. Before coming to ACE, Cesar was a principal in the Franklin-McKinley school district. Under his leadership, Franklin Elementary School boasted an 80-point gain in their API and met all AYP targets each year. Franklin was also the first school in the district to earn the Title I Academic Achievement Award from the state of California.   While at Franklin-McKinley, Cesar also led the Shirakawa School. During his time at Shirakawa the school saw an increase of 35 API points and Cesar led an effort to build systems to ensure that historically low-achieving students were supported to make significant academic gains.

During his fellowship year, Cesar designed and prepared for the launch of a new ACE middle school which will be located in the Franklin-McKinley school district and is opening in fall 2014.

Shawn Gerth, ACE Charter Schools

Shawn is currently the Director of Schools for ACE Charter Schools. In this role she is responsible for the organizational development of ACE. Shawn has been serving low-income students of color in San Jose for over 14 years. She began her career as a teacher and has held a variety of site administration and central office roles. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge related to teacher recruitment and hiring, school finance, and school-based operations. Additionally, Shawn manages and oversees the principals of ACE schools. In this role she has helped leaders within her organization develop programs to boost student achievement and to track student growth over time. She has also helped ACE develop organization-wide methods to help principals use data to inform their leadership of their schools.

Vince Iwasaki, Alum Rock School District

Vince is the academic dean at Renaissance Academy, a small school of choice in Alum Rock. In his role, he oversees the day-to-day instructional leadership of the school. Vince was also a founding teacher at Renaissance. During his time at Renaissance Vince has seen impressive student gains. Students in Vince’s algebra classes have typically demonstrated proficiency increases of 14 percent. School-wide scores at Renaissance are consistently among the highest in the Alum Rock School District and are competitive with schools in more affluent communities and surpass those schools in low socio-economic and Latino proficiency. Even with these impressive gains made, Vince has a strong vision for how the school will make even more dramatic gains for students in the near future.

Anna Nguyen, Alum Rock School District

Anna is a 6th grade English Language Arts teacher at Renaissance Academy at Mathson Middle School in Alum Rock. In this role, Anna collaborates with her colleagues to implement Common Core aligned instruction and assessments. Before joining the team at Renaissance, Anna taught fifth grade at Sylvia Cassell Elementary School within the same district and spent a year focusing on English Language Learner instruction by teaching English classes in Vietnam through Fulbright.   Anna is working with the team at Renaissance to plan the growth of new schools with a similar model. Anna believes that in order to lead a great school, one must understand and address the community’s needs. She brings with her experience in community organizing and advocacy that will help her develop her vision for her school.

Paula Boling, Franklin-McKinley School District

Paula is currently the director of human resources at the Franklin-McKinley School District. Prior to her work in the district office, Paula was a school principal in the district for 10 years. She has worked in California for nearly 30 years working to serve low-income students and students of color.

As the director of human resources, Paula has been instrumental in raising the academic achievement scores of students in her district. She has recruited qualified teachers and staff and has built a collaborative relationship with local institutions of higher learning to ensure that quality teaching candidates are placed in the district as student teachers. She has also served on the Franklin-McKinley negotiations team to develop the district’s teacher contract and evaluation systems.

Carlton Stice, Franklin-McKinley School District

Carlton is currently the principal of two small choice schools within the Franklin McKinley School District. These schools were developed by the district to help primarily underprivileged children gain access to college. Before coming to Franklin-McKinley, Carlton was a principal in Bakersfield for the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Alternative Education program. Carlton brings 14 years of experience working with at-risk students in alternative education.

Maricela Guerrero, Rocketship Schools

Maricela is currently a principal coach with Rocketship Education. Prior to this work, Maricela was the Principal at Rocketship Mateo Sheedy. Under her leadership students at Rocketship Mateo Sheedy earned a remarkable 925 API, securing their place as the top performing student body in San Jose for that academic year. In subsequent years Maricela has led her staff to continue making incredibly strong gains for the students at Rocketship Mateo Sheedy. Before becoming a Principal Maricela was a founding teacher leader at the L.U.C.H.A. school in Alum Rock.

Maricela is working this year to plan a new Rocketship elementary school which will launch in the fall of 2014.

Juan Mateos, Rocketship Schools

Juan is currently a lead teacher at Rocketship Mateo Sheedy. Over the past two years 89% of Juan’s students have reached proficient or advanced on the Math CST and 81% have earned proficient or advanced on the English CST. Juan credits these impressive results to the engagement of his students’ families and a classroom culture built on the principles of grit, persistence, and positive character. In addition to his leadership in the classroom, Juan has also fostered change in the larger educational community. In 2010, Juan cofounded the Bay Area Latino Association to foster deeper and more frequent collaboration among Latino Teach for America corps members and alumni.

David Herrera, Downtown College Prep

David is currently the Chief Academic Officer of Downtown College Prep. In this role, he oversees the schools within his organization and leads strategic planning efforts related to growth and development.

Before becoming Chief Academic Officer, David was the Principal at Cesar Chavez Academy in the Ravenswood School District. Under his leadership, the school boasted significant improvements including being the third highest growth school in the state in 2009. He also worked with his team to boost Algebra scores from the lowest to the highest in the district and reduced teacher turnover by 50%.

During his Fellowship year, David will planned the growth model for additional DCP schools in the region.