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Innovations in Family Engagement Fellowship

Helping DC Teachers Design Innovative Family Engagement Solutions

The Innovations in Family Engagement Fellowship was designed to help DC teachers pilot impactful and scalable strategies that can serve ALL students – particularly those most impacted by inequity

During its inaugural cohort, Flamboyan selected 11 public school teachers in DC – from early childhood to high school – to design and implement innovative family engagement strategies at their schools. During the 15-month fellowship, fellows received coaching, professional development, and collaborated with one another as they worked to create solutions tailored to the meet the unique needs of their school community.

Context-centered Design

Fellows explore family engagement their specific school environment

To design solutions that meet students and families where they are, Fellows first conduct a landscape assessment of their school community to better understand barriers to family engagement and what already works well as they begin their work.

Equity-Minded Peer Collaboration

Innovation Fellows focus on traditionally underserved populations

In addition to joining a local network of family engagement practitioners, Fellows are paired with cohort peers who are serving similar groups of students like English language learners, students determined to be at-risk of academic failure, and students at transition grades.

Focused Pilots, Shared Practices

Fellows implement family engagement projects and share what they've learned

Fellows pilot a family engagement project that addresses a key barrier to family engagement based on what they learned in their school community landscape assessment. Reflections on their pilot project and useful tools are then made available to educators across the city to implement use.

Support & Resources Throughout the Journey

Flamboyan provides intense support along the way

Our team helps Fellows remove barriers and support pilot implementation throughout the Fellowship. Each Fellow receives coaching and is eligible for up to $2,000 in funding for their pilots. Fellows also receive a stipend upon the successful completion of their Fellowship.

Meet the Inaugural Class of Innovation Fellows

Celeste Brown is the school social worker for the fifth and sixth grade students at KIPP DC: AIM Academy in Southeast Washington, D.C. Immediately following college, she joined Teach for America and taught special education in Baltimore, Maryland.

Celeste’s social work training has allowed her to work with individuals of all ages and with diverse needs and experiences. She uses this training to help her connect with her students, their families, and community partners. As a school social worker, Celeste provides counseling, develops individualized behavior plans, provides crisis support, facilitates conflict resolution discussions, helps families connect with community resources, and partners with local organizations to provide diverse services. She wants her students and their families to feel empowered to make decisions about their education, and Celeste teaches her students about self-advocacy and uses innovative, collaborative approaches.

Celeste holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Duke University and a Master of Arts in Elementary and Special Education from The University of Notre Dame of Maryland. She later pursued her Master’s in Social Work degree from Boston University in order to shift her focus toward addressing social justice issues and providing social and emotional support for students. In her personal time, Celeste enjoys traveling, meeting new people, and learning about diverse cultures. Celeste hopes to inspire her students to have similar curiosities about the world.

Eleanor Davis is the middle school ELL Specialist at Capital City Public Charter School. Prior to this position she served as ELL coordinator at Paul Public Charter School, taught 7th and 8th grade Humanities at Capital City, worked adult ELLs in the Family
Literacy program at Carlos Rosario, and served as the Dean of Student at Thornton Friends Middle School. She has been teaching for 17 years.

Eleanor received her undergraduate degree in Education at Brown University and completed graduate coursework in TESOL at American University. Eleanor grew up in Washington, D.C. and graduated from Wilson High School, where she was a student
activist. She has traveled and worked across Latin America and is fluent in Spanish.

Madra Harden is a kindergarten teacher at Plummer Elementary School in southeast D.C. She always knew that she wanted to work with children who were disenfranchised not by their abilities but by their socioeconomic status and/or racial backgrounds. Madra believes that every child should be given comparable, quality education despite their zip code.

She began her education career as a school guidance counselor. Afterwards, she spent a semester in China teaching English. Returning to the states, she knew she wanted to be in the classroom. She found her niche in relating to families. In her experience, building relationships with her students’ caregivers has been extremely beneficial. She has participated in a district wide initiative for family engagement for the last three years. Through this experience, she participates in home visits, presents to other staff members, and creates workshops for parents.

Prior to becoming an educator, Madra received her BA in Legal Communications from Howard University and her JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law. When she is not in the classroom, she loves spending time with her family, singing, and traveling. She loves being from Little Rock, AR and encourages everyone to visit one day!

Tiffany Kaijage is an 8th grade Inclusion teacher at Stuart Hobson Middle School. She has dedicated the past 12 years to teaching
children of exceptional abilities how to read.

Tiffany has partnered with a local human rights and youth leadership organization called Global Kids, which provides opportunities for students to construct projects that address social change in their communities and beyond. Tiffany believes family engagement is the missing piece of the puzzle on her search for closing the education gap between racial and class groups and increasing the academic success of all her students.

Among other responsibilities, Tiffany provides instructional support to new teachers to help guide and encourage teacher reflection and collaboration. She created a professional development workshop to educate teachers on how to integrate more African American history in math, reading, science and social studies. In 2016, she was a U.S. Department of State Teacher For A Global Classroom Ambassador, where she taught for three weeks in the Philippines and conducted a comparative study of education between the US and the Philippines on her education blog.

Tiffany graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2003 with a B.A. in International Affairs. She earned her Masters of Teaching from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005 with a concentration in Social Studies Education.

Shannon Kelley is an 8th grade Inclusion Specialist at Two Rivers Public Charter School. She is a committed and passionate educator with seven years of experience working in the challenging, but rewarding transition between 8th and 9th grade. She has served in a variety of capacities as an 8th and 9th grade teacher including as a 9th Grade Level Chair responsible for engaging and investing parents in students’ high school experiences. Through this work, Shannon learned the importance of partnership, flexibility, and transparency with parents.

In her current role, Shannon is responsible for supporting 8th grade students in both their academic and social learning through transition programming and the My High School Search process. Throughout the fall and winter, Shannon partners with students and families in the all important and difficult work of researching and applying to best fit high schools across the District. During the spring, Shannon continues this transition work with parents and students as she develops transition plans and communicates with high schools to ensure students are set up for success as they enter high school.

Kelly Krepelka is a 9th and 10th graded ESL ELA teacher at the Roosevelt High School International Academy. In this role, she recognizes the diverse academic, social and emotional needs of immigrant teens that communities must acknowledge in order to ensure student success.

Prior to joining D.C. Public Schools, she served as an English and Journalism teacher in North Carolina for ten years, where she enjoyed helping kids investigate life and their unique voices through literature. Her own investigations she conducts through music, reading and writing, interests that led her to pursue a She obtained additional training through fellowships with the National Writing Project and American Society of News Editors. These studies are a part of Ms. Krepelka’s focus on authentic learning through arts exploration and student-led, project-based learning that pushes students to solve problems by employing talents and course concepts.

Kelly has a B.A. in Music and English from UNC-Greensboro. Her passion for students, families, communities and education inspired her to earn a masters in Public Administration and certificate in Nonprofit Management from NC State University.

Lakisha Scarlett is a PS‐PK communication education support special education teacher at Browne Education Campus. She has 15 years of experience in special education, beginning her career at the National Children’s Center as a Transition Coordinator. She also served as an Autism Waiver Program Coordinator for the Montgomery County Health Department Division of Health and Human Services.

Lakisha began her teaching career in Prince George’s County Public Schools where she served as an autism teacher and teacher mentor at a regional school. She later joined D.C. Public Schools teaching middle school inclusion for grades 5-8, early learning support for grades K-2, and PS-PK communication education support. Alongside teaching for DCPS, she served as a D.C. Leading Educator and Flamboyan Foundation Special Education Fellow.

She earned her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and received her Master’s in Special Education from Bowie State University. She is a wife and the mother of two girls, Kendall and Taylor.

Jennifer Snodgrass is an early childhood teacher who has spent her entire career serving the same Washington, DC Ward 8 neighborhood school. Throughout her 8-year career at Malcolm X Elementary School, she has been a paraprofessional, after school coordinator, PK3 teacher, and grade level chair.

Throughout her various roles at her school, she has been able to form countless long lasting relationships with the families she serves. These relationships have been formed through relationship building home visits, goal-setting meetings to establish academic goals, and constant communication. With the passion for family engagement she found at her school, she has begun to support the District of Columbia Public Schools’ Family Engagement Collaborative (FEC) by training and leading professional development to support teachers in developing their own views and beliefs about family engagement. Through her work with the FEC, she has trained over 20 teachers to complete home visits, maintain positive relationships with families, and supporting learning at home. “It takes everyone working together – student, family, and school – for a child to get the best education possible.”

Laurine Kennedy is a Primary (K-2) Communication Education Support Teacher at Plummer Elementary School in Southeast, DC. She began her college career at Howard University, believing that she wanted to be a Chemical Engineer and was pursuing such a degree. However, with some soul searching and considerable thought, she realized that she wanted to be a special education teacher; because she believes that every child should be equipped for, but also inspired to strive to be his/her best. Upon switching her major and completing her undergraduate degree, she also began working in an after school program as well as a Teacher’s Assistant to gain experience. She has also earned a Master of Special Education: Non-Categorical degree from Grand Canyon University.

She began her teaching career with the Fairfax County Public Schools teaching students with emotional disabilities. She later moved to the District of Columbia Schools where she began teaching children with autism. Teaching children with autism has taught her a great deal about communicating with families and has also made her truly understand the benefit that comes from viewing families as integral partners in the education of children. Outside of the classroom, Laurine enjoys being a part of her church, spending time with family, watching TV and going movies, listening to music, reading and traveling. The beauty of nature as it is across the lands is inspiring and centering for her. It is her ambition to travel to all seven continents at some point in her life.

LaTia Walker believes she was born to serve those whom society has pushed to the margins. She grounds her mission for equity and justice within the U.S. education system for traditionally marginalized peoples as it is said to be the “great equalizer”. LaTia believes the opportunity gap cannot be mitigated by extraordinary instruction alone, but educators must simultaneously work to dismantle the systems of oppression which incubates inequity within our schools.

Currently, LaTia is in her 7th year teaching and serves as a Pre-Kindergarten 3 Lead Teacher and grade level chair at KIPP DC: Grow Academy in Washington, DC. Prior to joining the teaching profession, she served as a Program Director for Sustained Dialogue Campus Network where she trained college communities to use dialogue to build relationships and address race and other social identity issues within their campus communities. LaTia graduated Cum Laude from The Colorado College in 2009 with a BA in History/Political Science and minors in Urban Studies and Race & Ethnic Studies. She earned a Masters in Education in Curriculum and Instruction: Educational Policy and Leadership from American University in 2013.

Application News

The application cycle for the Innovation Fellowship is currently closed. If you are interested in applying for a future cohort, join our recruitment news alert below.

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