Innovate Public Schools launched the Start-up Schools Fellowship in fall 2013, our flagship program to prepare districts and charter school networks to successfully start excellent new public schools. Our second cohort kicked off in July 2014 with 18 leaders from Santa Clara Unified, San Jose Unified, and Redwood City school districts, and the following CMOs: Voices College-Bound Language Academy, Navigator Schools, ACE Charter Schools, and Alpha Public Schools.

Melissa Alatorre-Alnas, Santa Clara Unified School District

Melissa Alatorre-Alnas web_4Melissa Alatorre-Alnas has almost 20 years of experience in the field of education. She has held both in-classroom and out-of-classroom positions over the years. With a Bilingual-Cross-Cultural Teaching Credential, Melissa has had the opportunity to work with students of varying backgrounds, cultures, languages and experiences. Most of her work has been with students in Title I elementary schools. Currently, she is principal at Scott Lane Elementary School in the Santa Clara Unified School District. Scott Lane is a K-5 Title I school where 97% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch and 80% of the students are English Learners. It is a school with tremendous diversity, wonderful people and incredible challenges. Melissa is dedicated to the students, staff and families of Scott Lane School. It has been her life’s work to support students at the school in realizing their potential as individuals…and her vision to someday transform the place into a ‘dream school’. During her Fellowship year, Melissa will refine her vision for Scott Lane Elementary.

Lisa Aguerria Lewis, Burnett Middle School, San Jose Unified School District

Lisa Aguerria Lewis web_2Lisa Aguerria Lewis became Principal of Burnett Middle School in 2007 and is now completing her seventh year in that position. Lisa will be leading Burnett through a transition to become a blended learning school in fall 2015.

Lisa received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry from Santa Clara University in 1997. A couple of months after receiving her Bachelor’s degree, she left her insurance career and started teaching science at San Jose High School to students in grades 9 -12. Over the course of five years of teaching at San Jose High, Lisa taught general science, physics, and chemistry. In 2003, she received her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership coupled with an Administrative Credential. When not at Burnett Middle School, Lisa enjoys being at home in Gilroy with her husband of 10 years, Noah, and their three children.


Anthony Barajas, Burnett Middle School, San Jose Unified School District

Anthony Barajas web_2Anthony Barajas was born in San Francisco, California and was raised in San Jose where he attended William C. Overfelt High School in East San Jose. Anthony played football and wrestled in high school.  After Overfelt high School, he attended West Valley College and San Francisco State University where he also wrestled.   During his years in school, Anthony worked his way up the ranks.  He was a custodian, campus supervisor, instructional associate and finally a teacher.

Anthony taught history and coached soccer and wrestling for over six years at Silver Creek High School in San Jose.His first administrative position was in San Jose Unified School District, at John Muir Middle School as the Assistant Principal of Discipline. Anthony spent three years at John Muir before moving to his current assignment at Burnett Middle School.

James Dent, Navigator Schools

James Dent is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Navigator Schools. Navigator’s founding school, Gilroy Prep, launched in 2011 and the organization’s second school, Hollister Prep, launched in 2013. The schools have been incredibly successful in their early years, with Gilroy Prep earning an API of 978—likely the highest API of any first-year school in California’s history.

Navigator Schools create a culture built on the highest of expectations for all students and utilize effective instructional and intervention strategies to personalize learning and to make instruction incredibly data driven. Before launching Gilroy Prep, James was a principal and assistant principal in the Gilroy Unified School District.

Will Eden, Alpha Public Schools

Will Eden began his career in education as a Teach for America corps member in Washington, DC as an English teacher. This experience is where Will first discovered the power of great education technology tools. After teaching at KIPP Denver Collegiate, Will joined Education Elements where he worked as a consultant supporting schools as they transitioned to technology-based school models. Will is now preparing to lead Alpha Public Schools’ first high school, which he is currently planning, securing the charter petition for, and fundraising for.

Nikolaos Fanourgiakis, Redwood City School District

Nikolaos Fanourgiakis is currently Assistant Principal at McKinley Institute of Technology in Redwood City. He has been part of the Redwood City School District for the past eight years as a social studies teacher and administrator. Nikolaos has a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a M.A. in Educational Administration from San Francisco State University.

Nikolaos is a first-generation Greek American and the first college graduate in his family, experiences which allow him to relate to immigrants from various backgrounds that face various challenges. Nikolaos is part of a team that is redesigning and relaunching John Gill Elementary School which has been low-performing for many years.

Rupa Gupta, San Jose Unified School District

Rupa Gupta web_2Rupa currently works as the program manager of special projects in the San Jose Unified School District and will join the leadership team at Burnett Middle School in the fall of 2014. During the upcoming school year Rupa will work with teachers and school leaders at the school to ensure that the school effectively implements a blended learning model to personalize student learning. Prior to her work at Burnett, Rupa participated in the Broad Residency and worked at as a manager at Bain and Company. Rupa is a graduate of University of California at Berkeley.

Samantha Hanlon, Navigator Schools

Samantha Hanlon web_2Samantha is currently the principal at Hollister Prep, a Navigator School. Before becoming involved in school leadership, Samantha served as an elementary school teacher for eight years. During her time in the classroom, she taught kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 5th grades, working in schools that serve predominantly low-income students with high numbers of English Learners. As a school leader, Samantha is committed to and passionate about bringing high quality educational opportunities to this population of students.

As the Principal of Hollister Prep School, Samantha was given the unique opportunity to open a new school site.

Carl Keys, ACE Charter Schools

Carl Keys web_2Carl Keys has worked in K-12 education for 12 years. Carl has served as a school leader in various capacities: master teacher, department lead, school leadership teams, as a school and program administrator, and on district-wide committees. In higher education, Carl has taught in-service and pre-service teachers, coordinated a summer research program, coordinated a research lab and conceived of and developed a graduate student led research conference.

Carl has his BA in Social Science from San Francisco State; MA in Secondary Education from Stanford University; Administrative Credential from CSU-East Bay and PhD (ABD) in Administration and Supervision from the University of Virginia. He is the founding principal for ACE Creative Arts Academy in San Jose, opening in fall 2014.

Greg Lippman, ACE Charter Schools

Greg Lippman joined ACE in 2007 as Executive Director, after a long history of working with public schools in San Jose. He was the co-founder and original Principal of Downtown College Prep (DCP), a charter high school in San Jose Unified whose mission is to help low-achieving students become the first in their family to graduate from a four-year college. Greg has experience and expertise in many aspects of creating and sustaining new schools, especially standards-based academic program and school culture design, teacher and administrator development, and community outreach. Before joining DCP, he spent eight years in the classroom as an English and ESL teacher in San Jose and East Palo Alto.

Greg received his BA in English Literature from Princeton University and his Masters in the Arts of Teaching from Stanford University.

Charles Miller, Voices College Bound Language Academy

Charles Miller web_2Charles Miller is an educator who is passionate about social justice and activism. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in History from Boston College and a Master’s Degree in Urban Education Administration from Loyola Marymount University.

Prior to becoming a classroom teacher, Charles served as coordinator of various after-school, teen, and adult learning centers owned by the Cesar Chavez Foundation. The learning centers were located on affordable housing communities in Hollister, Gilroy, and San Francisco. As a classroom teacher, he has been teaching for Voices College-Bound Language Academy as one of the founding middle school teachers.

During the 2014-2015 school year, Charles will continue as a middle school teacher, but he will begin to assume certain administrative responsibilities. In 2015-2016 he will take over as principal at Voices’ flagship school.

Marcela Miranda, ACE Charter Schools

Marcela Miranda is currently the start-up principal for ACE Charter, San Jose. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a Bachelor’s Degree in English with focus in American Literature. Mrs. Miranda received her secondary teaching credential in the study of curriculum and practice of multi-ethnic urban education, early childhood development, and issues of access, equity, and quality in K-12 schools from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Masters of Art in Education Administration from San Jose State University where her emphasis was on Urban Education and Leadership.

Marcela has been an educator for 15 years, first as an elementary school principal and vice principal at a comprehensive high school. Marcela also has experience working in collaboration with corporations including Altera where she led the coordination and deployment of 1:1 tablet initiative for the entire student body. This school is now recognized as a Model Technology School where teachers and administrators visit to learn about integrating technology into the daily learning activities of students.

Katherine Rivera, Redwood City School District

Katherine Rivera web_2Katherine has eight years of experience working as an administrator in the Redwood City School District, most recently as assistant principal at Kennedy Middle School and three years prior at Hoover, a K-8 Title I School.

Katherine’s focus for the past 20 years as teacher and administrator in the Redwood City School District has been to provide the richest educational experience possible for each student regardless of language, immigration status, economic barriers and race.

Besides posting some of the highest test scores in Fair Oaks School in English while teaching in a Spanish bilingual classroom, Katherine also served as a BTSA mentor and teacher coach. She has also served as an English Learner Specialist in several Redwood City schools, coaching teachers who serve a large number of English Learners.

Juan Carlos Villaseñor, Voices College Bound Language Academy

Mr. Villaseñor received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of California Berkeley in 2010. As an undergrad, Mr. Villaseñor worked with various after school programs in the Berkeley and Oakland area. In the summer of 2010, he joined Teach for America and started his teaching career at Voices College Bound Language Academy.

During the 2010-2011 school year Mr. Villaseñor founded the 4th grade program at Voices, which he taught for three years, and is currently continuing to aid in the development of the Voices Middle School program. He is currently one of three middle school teachers at Voices, working to aid in the formation of a middle school vision, character development program, and Spanish and Social Studies curriculum.

Sharon Waller, Navigator Schools

Sharon Waller is currently the principal at Gilroy Prep School, a Navigator School where she was part of the team who founded the school in 2010. Shawn has worked in education for almost 30 years with a background is in special education, with speech pathology and RSP as specialties.

She first became interested in opening her own school after visiting a special magnet school in Seattle, called Morningside Academy, in 2000. Morningside not only serves special needs students in an inclusive environment, but also provide consultative services to other schools in Seattle. Their mission is to provide highly engaging, data driven instructional strategies to educators in order to close the achievement gap in between at-risk students and those students who perform despite mediocre education.

Jahsve Worthy, ACE Charter Schools

Jahsve is the Principal at ACE Charter High School. She comes to ACE after serving as an Assistant Principal in the Gilroy Unified School District. Jahsve’s particular areas of expertise are academic program development for English Learners.

Mrs. Worthy received her BA in Public Policy and Management from the University of Southern California and her MA in Educational Leadership from California State University East Bay.

Angelina Ramos, ACE Charter Schools

Angelina Ramos web_2Angelina Ramos will be the Assistant Principal – Dean of Students at ACE Charter High School for the 2014-2015 school year. Before coming to ACE, she spent most of her adult life in a different industry. However, being a first generation college student, Angelina never lost her passion for ensuring post-secondary education was achievable for all, not just a select few. She spent her free time mentoring students and became spokesperson for the national non-profit organization Education is Freedom.

Angelina began her career at ACE by joining ACE Charter Middle School in December of 2011 as the Community Outreach Manager in charge of Recruitment and Parent Engagement. When ACE Charter High School opened, she transitioned to a new role as the Leadership Teacher and eventually entered Administration as the Assistant Principal in charge of Discipline, Culture, Parent Engagement and Community Relations.



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