YouthForce NOLA Awards First Soft Skills Teacher Fellowships

Soft skills are essential for doing well in school, work, and life. That’s why we’re emphasizing training in social, emotional, and cognitive skills as a core component of our work to prepare New Orleans public high school students for success in whichever post-secondary path they choose.

As a major milestone in this effort, YouthForce NOLA has launched the inaugural Soft Skills Teacher Fellowship for the 2017-18 school year. We awarded fellowships to 13 teachers to learn and spread soft skills instructional practices at their schools.

2017-18 Fellows

Veena Senra, Cohen College Prep

Veena Senra teaches Math Essentials at Cohen College Prep. She is co-chair of the math department and  specializes in instruction for students with math difficulties. Prior to working at Cohen she taught several different math courses, including Financial Math, 8th Grade Math, Algebra I, and Math Essentials at West St. John High School in Edgard, Louisiana. Veena holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Southern California and a MA in Secondary Mathematics Instruction from the Relay Graduate School of Education.

Alexis Dickie, Cohen College Prep
Alexis Dickie teaches World Geography and AP Human Geography at Cohen College Prep. She is the 9th grade team leader, Student Government Advisor, and Co-Founder of Cohen Cultural Exchange. She has been at Cohen for four years after graduating from the James Madison College at Michigan State University.  Alexis has an MA in Secondary English Instruction from Relay Graduate School of Education and has participated in teaching fellowships in Values Based Leadership, Personalized Learning, and Student Leadership.

Molly Claflin, George Washington Carver
Molly Claflin is the Program Lead and Teacher for Opportunities Academy at George Washington Carver High School, of Collegiate Academies in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this role, she is building a post-secondary program for students with mild to severe disabilities.  Opportunities Academy focuses on building independent soft skills in the areas of Community Access, Daily Living and Employability.  She also leads professional development for special education teachers, coaches, job coaches, and paraprofessionals across the Collegiate Academies network. Molly started her career in education within the Essential Skills program, which is a self-contained program for students with mild to severe disabilities in 9-12th grade. She created and implemented GWC’s Essential Skills curriculum, which focuses on basic skills needed in Reading, Math and Transition so that students are able to work towards their most independent academic and living opportunity.

Kristen Green, George Washington Carver
Kristen Green is the Dean of Transition at George Washington Carver High School, of Collegiate Academies in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this role, she is building a community-based, work-based learning program in the Upper Ninth Ward. She manages the English Program for Upward Bound out of Tulane University and was selected as a member of the 2017-2018 Louisiana Educator Voice Fellowship for 21st Century Learning, a partnership between America Achieves and the Louisiana Department of Education to provide innovative educators first-hand knowledge about the rapidly changing economy and workforce demands and their implications for career readiness education. Prior to moving home to NOLA, Kristen taught secondary English at Clinton High School in North Carolina. Beyond the classroom, Kristen has worked on state policy initiatives and was appointed to the Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee, advising on the implementation of statewide education policies affecting 1.5m students and 100,000 teachers.

Nathaniel Roche, George Washington Carver
Nathaniel Roche is the Transition Teacher at George Washington Carver High School, of Collegiate Academies in New Orleans, Louisiana. As the Transition Teacher, Nathaniel is educating scholars on the importance of building life skills while pushing them towards independence in the community and workplace. Beyond the classroom, Nathaniel is currently the Head Coach of the GWC Boys Basketball Team. Prior to returning home to New Orleans, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Administration at Belhaven University and spent five years playing professional basketball in South America and Europe. He is currently continuing his education in graduate school, completing his certification in Secondary Education.

Cobren Greer, Lake Area New Tech

Cobren Greer is a biology II teacher at Lake Area New Tech Early College High School in New Orleans where she has taught high school science for the past 4 years.  Previously, Ms. Greer worked with M.I.T. through their MOSTEC (M.I.T Online Science Technology Engineering Community) program which targets high achieving students from under-resourced communities and exposes them to STEM content and careers. As an educator, Ms. Greer realized there were only two fundamental differences between the students she serviced in MOSTEC and at Lake Area: soft skils and opportunity. As such, it has become her mission to prepare her students for success in 21st century STEM careers in Louisiana. Last year, Ms. Greer was one of five teachers in her network to be accepted into the NBSF Innovative Educator Cohort (IEC) and Technology Grant Program where she was awarded 25 chromebook computers to incorporate STEM technology and help students develop the computer skills necessary for today’s workforce. This year, she is excited to expand her work through the YouthForce fellowship and incorporate soft skills training to help her students even more.

Diane Anderson, Lake Area New Tech

Diane Anderson is a biology teacher at Lake Area New Tech Early College High School in New Orleans, where she has taught for the past three years.  Previously, Ms. Anderson taught in Jefferson Parish, and before that in her hometown of Louisville, KY.  She has been the senior PLC leader in her school, and she currently sponsors and edits the school newspaper and yearbook.  Diane holds degrees in nuclear medicine, biology, and education from the University of Kentucky, Indiana University, and Bellarmine University respectively.  She has a passion for working with underprivileged youth, and she longs to help bridge the gap between her students high school and college careers, and to help them become more successful in their ability to stay in school and persevere.

Geraldlyn Johnson, Edna Karr
Geraldlyn Johnson works as an instructor at Edna Karr High School as well as Delgado Community College.  She has always had a passion for business and instructs students in career and technical education on both campuses.  A six year veteran in the classroom, Geraldlyn prides herself on helping students build a bridge from their education career to their professional career.

Sade Nellum-Randall, Edna Karr

Sade Nellum-Randall is currently in her third year of teaching at Edna Karr High School where she serves as an integral part of the career and technical education (CTE) team.  As a proud graduate of Eleanor McMain Secondary school and then Southeastern Louisiana University, Sade believes ardently in providing quality educational and career opportunities in-state.  Through her work in the Soft Skills Teacher Fellowship, Sade plans to help students build the self-awareness and confidence to fulfill this year’s school theme, Mission: POSSIBLE.

Michael Herbers, ReNEW Accelerated
Mike Herbers is a lead teacher for ReNEW Accelerated High School where he has educated and guided young people for the last three years.  After graduating from Gonzaga University in 2014, Mike found his way to New Orleans, attracted by the opportunity to teach within the accelerated high school model.  He has since become an integral part of the staff at ReNEW, committing his time and talents to ensuring that his students graduate with the mindsets necessary to succeed in whatever path they may choose.  Mike is also committed to excellence outside of the classroom setting – he is a champion hurler who most recently brought home a championship in 2015.

Britney Debnam, ReNEW Accelerated

Britney Debnam is currently in her 4th year of working as a lead teacher.  She has been teaching math at various levels for the past 3 years in New Orleans, and in an effort to sharpen her teaching prowess, has begun co-teaching an English class this year.  Britney is most excited about becoming a soft skills teacher fellow because it is yet another opportunity for her to develop and grow as an educator.

Andrea Fullington, New Orleans Charter Science and Math
Andrea began working in education in 2007. She has taught English, Reading, and African-American history in various places including Colorado, Boston, and Philadelphia. In 2015 she relocated to New Orleans and worked for a local alternative school teaching Humanities. She joined Sci High during the 2016-2017 school year and currently teaches their Journey to Careers class, a class focused on college preparedness and career exploration. She earned her BA in Sociology and African-American Studies from the University of Southern California and an MS in Education from The University of Pennsylvania. She is passionate about anti-racism, social justice reform, and any dish that includes avocados.

Rae Goldman, New Orleans Charter Science and Math
Ms. Goldman teaches Makerspace and PLTW Engineering at Sci High. In the past 5 years she has also filled the roles of geometry, remedial math, and ACT prep teacher along with personalized learning coach. She specializes in integrating technology in order to have more 1-on-1 time to work with students. She shares a room with Pascal, a bearded dragon, who is a therapy pet.

Jasmine Henderson