DR. WALTER MILTON, JR.
Founder & CEO of BH365/Author
Dr. Walter Milton, Jr., is a native of Rochester, New York. He received his K-12 education from the Rochester City School District. He is a proud product of the State University of New York (SUNY) system. He earned a B.A. from the University of Albany and a M.S. from SUNY College at Brockport. He took post-graduate courses at the University of Rochester to receive his administrative certifications, including his superintendent’s license. He holds a Doctorate of Education degree in leadership and policy from the University of Buffalo.
Dr. Milton started his career in education in 1991 as a junior high school teacher for the Webster Central School District in Webster, New York and then Brighton Central School District a National Renowned School District in Brighton, New York. Dr. Milton has received numerous awards. Through the years, he moved from being a teacher, to principal, central administration and then to Superintendent of Fallsburg Central District, Fallsburg, New York. In 2005, he became Superintendent of Flint Community Schools, Flint, Michigan where he designed and implemented a district-wide education reform that has been recognized throughout the State of Michigan and other parts of the country. He is the former superintendent in Springfield, Illinois, where he served as superintendent for almost eight years.
Dr. Milton is an inventor who holds a patent in addition to his academic and professional pursuits. Through his vision, he has had the ability to motivate educational organizations and communities to develop and support initiatives/programs that encourage students to achieve at their highest potential. He is a focused and disciplined leader with great vision, effective communication skills and a passion for students in the midst of triumph or adversity.
Dr. Milton has also taught at several universities across the United States. He is also a published author of Parents Perception of Schools and Schools Perception of Parents, (2006), Me in the Making – One Man’s Journey to Becoming a School Superintendent (2008), Why Black Men Must Save Black Boys in America’s Public Schools (2014), Truth Be Told-Narratives from The Souls of Black Women (2018) and Black History 365-An Inclusive Account of American History (2020). Dr. Milton is currently CEO of Black History 365 (BH365) and From the Heart International Educational Services (FTH).
DR. JOEL FREEMAN
Co-Founder & Executive Director of BH365/Author & Publisher
For 20 NBA seasons, Dr. Freeman served as player development mentor and character coach for the Washington Bullets/Wizards - surviving six coaching changes (1978-1998). Having grown up in Canada, it was during his time - working with NBA players - that his rather unique interest in Black History first emerged.
In 1995 he co-authored the book, Return To Glory: The Powerful Stirring of the Black Race, with the foreword written by Julius "Dr. J" Erving. Eight years later he co-wrote the film version of the book, currently with Spanish, Portuguese, French and English subtitles.
With travels to over 55 countries, Joel has worked with the Association of
International Schools for Africa (AISA), traveling extensively throughout
the continent of Africa and conducting a number of training events for
educators, government and business leaders. He has also assisted in
addressing issues surrounding conflict resolution, tribal warfare and the
AIDS crisis in meetings with over 100 African kings and queens throughout
Benin, Togo, and Nigeria.
Genuine documents and artifacts from the Freeman Institute(r) Black History
Collection (over 3,000 items, oldest piece dated 1553) have been showcased in e xhibitions at the United Nations, White House, Clinton Presidential Library, Secret Service and many other venues. Many of the images from his collection are included in the BH365 curriculum. Audiences around the world have experienced his intriguing presentation, "A White Man's Journey Into Black History". It's an eye-opening experience that transcends race.
Chief Editor & Contributor
Shirley Freeman, a lifelong learner, with decades of teaching experience, has an educational background in sociology. She has spent 20 years as a classroom teacher -- focusing on high school English and journalism, as well as, tutoring young college students toward improved writing skills.
Shirley curated The Freeman Institute® Black History Collection of over 3,000 genuine documents and artifacts and serves as administrator of the collection. This comprehensive collection chronicles Black history from ancient Africa and the Transatlantic Slave Trade to Emancipation, Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement – as well as, Black accomplishments in science, social reform, athletics, arts and entertainment.
Her experience as a classroom teacher has informed and enhanced her desire for accurate and honest dialogue regarding history and the literature that shapes the conversation. Her interest in the sociological patterns of group behavior coupled with her deep faith have furnished Shirley with both curiosity and insight regarding issues of historical and social significance.
Lisa Joy Petros
Ms. Petros attended Loyola University in New Orleans, LA where she majored in Marketing and Management. She received an MBA from Fontbonne University, Lisa was very active in community service, joined a business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi and became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; in the Fall of 1989. Ms. Petros really loves DST!
Lisa has worked at prestigious organizations including Darcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Southwestern Bell, Junior Achievement (JA), and Louis Partners AmeriCorps, a domestic version of the Peace Corps.
Lisa served as the Director of Education at Mathews Dickey Boys and Girls Club.
She is also the proud CEO of One-L Group, which is a new, innovative publishing firm, which offers opportunities in the realm of consultation around organizational development, financial management, and professional editing.
Director of Media Relations
Empowered by passion and purpose, Carleen Elisa couples her vocation and calling with her love for media and education, creating an impactful life of service. Carleen holds a B.A. in broadcast journalism and an M.A. in education from Oral Roberts University. Her television career began in the newsroom at a CBS affiliate in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
An unyielding desire to work with youth, however, drew her from the newsroom to the classroom. She launched a teaching career in Atlanta, Georgia, where she gained experience as an elementary, middle and high school English teacher and crystalized her aspiration to advocate for experienced-based, lifelong learning and edutainment.
Clark Atlanta University provided the ideal environment for this creative professional, allowing her skill sets and talents in one area to enhance the other. Carleen served as Associate Director of Communications for Jazz 91.9 FM WCLK, an NPR station licensed to the University, and for the Division of Communication Arts. During her tenure, she worked as an adjunct professor, teaching media and journalism courses. Additionally, she served as station manager of Clark Atlanta University Television (CAU-TV) – one of two educational access television stations cablecast in the City of Atlanta on the Comcast cable system. Carleen and her staff provided hands-on training opportunities in television production to radio/television/film, mass media majors.
She also produced and hosted the public affairs show, ATL Insider. The weekly, 30-minute program was the result of a partnership with Atlanta's WB affiliate. For five years, Carleen led a production team of students to produce and host the show. Her guests included prominent local, state and national leaders, distinguished speakers, authors, and entertainers and received a regional Emmy nomination.
Carleen left the classroom to freelance as a production coordinator, writer and script supervisor and has worked on projects featured in theaters and on several networks including, TLC, Lifetime, TV One, BET, the Science Channel, and ESPNU. In 2015, she relocated to Washington D.C., to serve as Executive Assistant to Cathy Hughes, Founder and Chairwoman of Urban One, Inc., the largest, African American owned, integrated media company in the U.S. Carleen held that post for three years before accepting the position of Director of Special Projects for the company.
Currently, she is the owner of STEP Media Group and works as a media consultant, freelance writer and public speaker. She also co-hosts a weekly talk radio show in the DMV.
Vernon C. BlanD
BH365 Trainer-Southeast Region
Vernon C. Bland a retired Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) in the United States Army. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management from Paul Quinn, College, Dallas, TX and a Masters of Management degree from the University of Phoenix. He has done post graduate work at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, where he was certified as a Military Equal Opportunity (EO) Counselor.
As the National Training Manager for the Block Drug Company, he was charged with the development and execution of Block’s national training programs. As a result of Vernon’s training initiatives, he was transferred to Dallas, TX where he successfully trained and managed the Southwest Regional sales team.
Mr. Bland desire to inspire greatness in the next generation led him to serve as a Board Member: Foster Kidd Foundation, and Cardinal Ritter College Prep; Served on Role Model and Speaker Programs: St. Louis Public School District, Paul Quinn College, Frisco Independent School District, and Dr. Emmett Conrad Leadership Program. He is also a Charter Member 100 Black Men, Metropolitan Saint Louis.
vice president of Sales
Reginald Braxton was born and raised in Detroit, MI. He graduated from the Detroit Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in marketing and a minor in business management. Reginald’s early professional career included key positions in sales and marketing with two major companies before joining McGraw- Hill Education as a sales representative in 2000. At McGraw-Hill Reginald worked in collaboration with large Urban Markets to create solutions that helped to close the achievement gap for hundreds of thousands of students over the course of his more than two-decade career in educational publishing.
After a few years of honing his expertise in the education arena Reginald was promoted to Senior Account Manager and finally to National Strategic Accounts, VP at McGraw-Hill. Reginald has experience dealing in high level account management, intervention and acceleration, and has addressed the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse learner populations. His unique specialization in helping districts increase student outcomes has been integral in successful implementations.
Currently, Reginald is dedicated to a mission of promoting quality products and initiatives to assure equity and success for all students. His passion is clear….to deliver the best possible education for all students, it’s what keeps him going; As he would say, “keeps the fire burning”!
James Agbara Bryson
Coordinator of Professional Development
James Agbara Bryson is an award-winning educator, author, and national trainer. Mr. Bryson has a Bachelor and a Master’s Degree in Social Science. He is the founder of the New Millennium Institute and its Life Skills and Job Readiness Bootcamp and Illinois Central College’s, Harvesting Dreams African American Male Retention Program. His Harvesting Dreams program received a City Proclamation from Peoria’s Mayor, Jim Ardis. Mr. Bryson is also an inductee of Peoria’s African American Hall of Fame.
Mr. Bryson maintains training and workshops to numerous organizations, colleges, businesses and corporations. He recently presented at three Central Illinois HR Conference hosted by the SHRM Chapters of Bloomington, Champaign, Decatur, Peoria, Springfield, ATD Central Illinois Chapter, and AAIM Employers' Association. Mr. Bryson was a facilitator at the Greater Peoria Economic Council’s Big Table event and Illinois Central College’s Essential Skills Kickoff training. He is also an Implicit Bias trainer for Illinois Central College’s Police Academy and has trained over 100 police and community members.
He made presentations to the Illinois Association of Career & Technical Education conference, the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP) Youth Symposium in Chicago, IL, National TRIO Day at ISU, Teaching Academic Survival Skills, (TASS) conference, Fort Lauderdale, and teacher training for Peoria School District as well as workshops and trainings for Unity Point Healthcare and OSF. Mr. Bryson also has his Life Skills, College and Career Readiness Boot Camps in three local high schools as well as conducting staff trainings and workshops for the ELITE program.
He continues to serve on several committees such as: Greater Peoria Workforce Alliance, Peoria Area Diversity in Employment Action Team, (PADEAT,) Central Illinois Re-Entry Taskforce, and is a member of Heart of Illinois Human Resource Council, Illinois Association of Career & Technical Education (IACTE), National Association of Workforce Professionals and Illinois Diversity Council and received the 2017 Pride of Peoria Award.
Editor & Contributor
Constance Thurston-Buckner has been an educator for 44 years. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, she began her teaching career within the Decatur Public Schools teaching students with cognitive delays. She went on from there to join the workforce of the Chicago Public School (CPS) system. Nurturing her love for children and education, Ms. Thurston-Buckner embarked upon a challenging assignment working in an orphanage, teaching CPS children with serious behavioral and emotional concerns who were wards of the state.
Ms. Thurston-Buckner earned a Master of Science degree from Chicago State University. Subsequently, she accepted a position as a Chicago citywide master teacher where she provided practical and technical support to school principals and teachers in the delivery of services to students with disabilities. Ms. Thurston-Buckner worked as a staff conference facilitator in private schools where CPS students with severe physical and emotional disabilities were in therapeutic placements.
After matriculating at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Ms. Thurston-Buckner received certification in Educational Administration so she could pursue her next career goal. As an assistant principal for fourteen years, Ms. Thurston-Buckner gave effective leadership to instructional programs by supervising and mentoring teachers, facilitating professional development activities, guiding school policies and initiatives, and leading school improvement efforts such as the Illinois State Board of Education Quality Assurance Review, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation process, and other school improvement plans. She has engaged students in literacy initiatives including Socratic seminars, silent sustained reading, and Chicago Teaching Collaborative with DePaul University, Chicago, where best practices were developed and implemented in the classroom.
Charlene Burroughs, M.Ed.
Operations Director Professional Development
Charlene Burroughs is the Vice President of School House Excellence. An expert training designer, Charlene was a career educator who worked most of her professional life in the twelfth largest school district in the United States. Before leaving the classroom, she served children of the district for 22 years. Always aware of trends and innovations impacting teaching and learning, Charlene successfully taught kindergarten through eighth grades.
After retiring from the school district in 2011, Charlene worked six years as a departmental trainer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. She continued writing and delivering training until she answered a call to use her skills and her love of teaching and learning to start School House Excellence.
Director Music Education
Kevin “Khao” Cates, a native of Montgomery, Alabama, is a multi-platinum, Grammy nominated music producer, who lives by the motto, "Don’t just be successful, be significant."
Khao is also the founder and creator of KOOLriculum, Inc. , an innovative technology driven media company that delivers content using music to teach youth in grades Pre-K through12 academic competencies across subjects; he is also the founder of Bridge DA Gap , a non-profit social-emotional program and curriculum, combining Hip-Hop music, education and mentoring to reach students and teach life skills applicable in today’s socially challenged environment.
REV. OLIVIA M. CLOUD
Senior Project Manager
Olivia has been actively engaged in the Christian and inspirational publishing field since 1987. She has been a gender pioneer at all of her places of employment— the first African-American female hired in a professional denominational position at the Baptist Sunday School Board (now Lifeway Christian Resources); the first female senior editor at the historic R. H. Boyd Publishing Corporation; and the first woman to serve as director of publishing for the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
Olivia is currently associate editor of curriculum at the R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation. She also owns Guardian Angel Communications Services (GACS), a company she formed in 1997 to provide writing, editing, publishing and design services to authors, publishers and organizations. She has served on the board of several local public service organizations, including the Nashville Child Development Center, the Witness Project, Baptist Homes for Exceptional Persons, Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition (WOMEN) for women who are HIV positive or have AIDS, and the Nashville Coalition of 100 Black Women Foundation, Inc.
She is the president of the Minerva Foundation of Tennessee’s board of directors, a member of the Nashville Foundation for Women of Color board, and a subscribing Silver Life member of the NAACP. She is a volunteer minister at the Nashville Rescue Mission Hope Center and leads chapel services quarterly at the Rescue Mission’s Family Life Center for transitional women and children. Rev. Cloud was a member of the Southern Regional Chaplain’s Council of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. She is a past president of the Nashville Alumnae Chapter. She was awarded the chapter’s Presidential Spirit award in 2017 and the Soror of the Year award in 2018. She received the 2018 Tennessee Alumnae Member of the Year award for Delta Sigma Theta.
Olivia is author/editor of nine books. Additionally, she has made editorial contributions to several nationally and internationally distributed works and has been a ghostwriter for a number of New York Times bestselling authors. She has been a freelance writer and editor for more than a dozen Christian publishers.
Rev. Cloud is an assistant pastor at Berean Baptist Church in Nashville.
Jasmine Cole is a digital illustrator and graphic designer; an adjunct art professor at Mississippi College; and a freelance UX designer. Her appreciation for traveling, new perspectives and innovative thinking have led her to work in public relations, art direction, event planning, news reporting, radio production, photography, magazine editorial direction, and software development.
She is also a published children’s book illustrator (Dancing with Naima), has traveled around Europe and Central America to study painting, and has exhibited in multiple galleries and museums.
Jasmine holds a BA in both studio art and journalism from the University of Mississippi; and a MA and MFA in 2D visual arts from Mississippi College.
Storytelling has always held a prominent place in her life. Building visual narratives and promoting an appreciation for the arts often envelop her endeavors, and she hopes to expand on narrative traditions in every aspect of her career.
Gloria J. Davis
Coordinator of Professional Development – Midwest
Gloria J. Davis has an extensive background in education. Her professional career spans over 46 years primarily in the area of administration. She has served as Superintendent of Schools for the past 16 years in primarily urban and multi-cultural school districts, such as Decatur, Illinois and Dodge City, Kansas where academic achievement and graduation rates increased with an improved, systematic curriculum. She was also responsible for leading the education reform initiative as Superintendent of Schools for the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. She was asked to accept this position based on her experience as a change agent when the Juvenile Justice School district was under a Federal Consent Decree for a lack of quality education.
Ms. Davis has served as an elementary teacher, elementary and middle school principal and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction in University City, Missouri, which is an inner-ring suburb of St. Louis, Mo where she is from originally. Her background as a Superintendent of Schools who has a thorough knowledge of quality instruction has allowed her to dramatically improve academic success for students while providing guidance for staff to enhance their skills in providing excellent education for all students.
Ms. Davis has endeavored to promote the philosophy that all children can and will learn regardless of their circumstances when given the ingredients of high expectations, care and the adult belief that they are capable of achieving success. She has been able to display this philosophy in her presentations and workshops throughout the years to fellow educators. Her most recent presentations on the “School To Prison Pipeline” and “How To Achieve and Maintain the Superintendency” are examples of presentations that have been well received by audiences.
Ms. Davis is a graduate of Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, Illinois where she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education. She also attended Washington University, St. Louis Missouri where she received her Masters of Arts Degree in Education Administration. She also completed courses at the doctorate level in Education Leadership at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. Ms. Davis has been active in the education community and proved guidance while serving on the Advisory Board of the National Superintendents Roundtable and Chairperson of the Superintendents Commission of the National Alliance of Black School Educators.
She has received numerous awards for her education work over the years from organizations such as the NAACP Award for Most Influential African American Women In Decatur Illinois; Illinois Association of School Administrators – Excellence in Education Award; and Illinois State Board of Education – Administrator of Excellence Award.
Director of Professional Development
Dr. Brian DeVeaux served as an educator for 34 years in the 11th largest district in the country. During that time, Brian served as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, associate principal, and principal. While serving in those roles, he was instrumental in leading effective instructional programs.
As the principal of a historically underperforming Improvement Required high school, he increased the academic rigor and created a culture of excellence. His leadership allowed the school to build strong teams and create a robust school improvement plan which resulted in a consistent Met Standard rating.
Brian’s ability to develop effective instructional programs and build campus cultures that recognize the power educators have to change life’s circumstances is a rare commodity. As a result of these skills, Brian was recruited to serve as a specialist for The University of Texas at Arlington where he observes, coaches, and provides feedback to candidates in their Principal program.
Currently, he is the Vice President of Marketing for School House Excellence where he continues his quest to add value to students’ education. There is a quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt that resonates with him:
“ We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can always build our youth for the future”.
International Director of Professional Development
Lisa DeVeaux served as a teacher, principal and learning community executive director in the 11th largest district in the country for 33 years. As an elementary and high school principal, she designed and implemented Professional Learning Community (PLC) protocols that significantly increased teacher engagement and student achievement. The PLC cycles and protocols she developed continue to sustain the work of numerous campus leaders.
During her four years as the executive director responsible for 37 elementary schools, she recognized the role principals played in the equity and access equation. To support their work, she designed and delivered professional development that improved the leadership practices of the principals in her learning community.
As a certified coach, Lisa utilizes her expertise to support leaders and teams in effectively identifying school improvement leverage points. Focused on utilizing existing campus tools, she guides the design process to achieve organizational goals.
Lisa received her doctorate from The University of Texas at Austin’s Cooperative Superintendency Program. Her work entitled: Principal Leadership: Implementing RtI in Urban High Schools fills a research gap that supports student achievement efforts at the high school level.
As a founder of School House Excellence, Lisa is committed to ensuring leaders have access to expertly designed training and coaching services that produce results.
Barbara Spencer Dunn
Historian Professional Development /ASALH
Barbara Spencer Dunn (wife, mother, author, lay historian, scholar/activist), a native of Texas, is a servant whose legacy of service is exemplified as an advocate for youth and families not only in the Washington Metropolitan Area since 1974, but throughout the nation. Mrs. Dunn is a descendant of enslaved persons on the Monte Verdi Plantation in Rusk County Texas, the most complete record of any antebellum slave plantation in the State of Texas.
As an Executive Council member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the Founders of Black History Month, she presently serves as the Vice President for Membership, Co-Chair of both the Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site and the National Heritage Sites Research Committee guiding on behalf of ASALH a partnership between ASALH and the National Park Service. A graduate of Bowie State University, was selected as the alumni to unveil the historic marker acknowledging BSU as the oldest institution of higher learning in the State of Maryland while serving as a Governor appointed Commissioner on the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture (MCAAHC).
Her 2011 release, Before and Beyond the Niagara Movement: As the Youth See It was evaluated and approved by Prince George’s County Maryland Public Schools as a supplemental resource for filling in the missing pieces of American history with the African American historical account and the book was featured in the Journal of African American History, the oldest Journal by and about African Americans. Mrs. Dunn recruited and engaged a group of scholars/historians to develop and publish the first study guide for Dr. Woodson’s seminal work, The Mis-Education of the Negro, a free download on ASALH’s website, making this text available to youth as early as 8th grade and providing teachers, parents, mentors, and lovers of history access to an interpretative document for this important work by Dr. Woodson.
Director of Secondary Curriculum & Instruction
DeAndrea Fleming is an advocate of lifelong learning, with more than 18 years of professional educational experience. She began her educational career as a teacher before advancing to a Department Chair, Instructional Coach, Assistant Principal, Principal and a central staff professional. Fleming currently is the owner of Mark of Resilience where she offers educational consulting services to various school districts nationwide. Her company specializes in Gender Responsive Development addressing the adultification of girls of color in the education system.
Her passion for education led her to become more involved in educational advocacy at both the local and state level. She serves as Vice President of the DeSoto ISD School Board Trustees and a Regional Vice President of the Texas Caucus of Black School Board Members. Her personal agenda is to “Keep Children First” in every decision made. She believes deeply in the power of a great education by providing opportunities and the environment for students to thrive academically and socially.
Dr. Michele Hancock
Director of Elementary/Middle School Curriculum & Instruction
Dr. Hancock is the Professor of Practice in Education and Director of the Accelerated Certification for Teachers (ACT) Program at Carthage College, where she developed, launched, and leads the Urban Teacher Preparation Program. Dr. Hancock has devoted her career to address inequities in the U.S. educational school system. She joined the Carthage administration and faculty in 2014 and, during the same year, launched her private business, MH Educational Consulting, LLC that provides a series of professional development workshops to school districts, charter and parochial schools, and community organizations to help close access and opportunity gaps of underserved populations.
Dr. Hancock was an elementary and middle school classroom teacher for twenty-five years. In addition to her role as a classroom teacher, she served as an instructional leader in the areas of reading, curriculum design, and coaching and mentoring peers in teacher education and school administration. She also served numerous years in school administration as a vice-principal of curriculum and instruction in a middle school, as an elementary school principal, in various school central office district roles, and eventually served as Kenosha Unified School District school superintendent.
During her tenure in K-12 education, Dr. Hancock received many awards highlighting her dedication to students, families, and marginalized communities. A few were 2014 Phi Delta Kappa Distinguished Leadership in Education Award, 2012 eSchool News Superintendent Tech Savvy Award, 2010 National Principals Leadership Institute Change Leader Award, and 2008 St. John Fisher College Most Notable Dissertation Scholarship Award.
Professor Michele Hancock received her Ed.D. in Executive Leadership from St. John Fisher College (Rochester, N.Y), Education Administration license from Oswego State University (Oswego, N.Y.), her M.Ed. from National Louis University (Evanston, Illinois), and her B.A. in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois, (Urbana, IL).
Southwest Regional Director of Professional Development
Connie Isabell is a career educator who has a passion for educating children in non-conventional ways. Mrs. Isabell has a Masters of Art Degree in History from Stephen F. Austin State University as well as an Administrative Certification. Her career has covered various levels of educational leadership including high school and college history teacher; elementary, middle and high school principal; Director of Professional Learning and Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Mrs. Isabell has transformed low performing schools into exemplar schools by maintaining high expectations for all. She currently serves as Deputy Superintendent of Leadership and School Improvement.
Early in her career, her zeal to accelerate the academics of African American children led her to establish a non-profit organization called Scholastic Targeted Educational Programs, Inc. that specialized in boosting experiences for African American students in afterschool and summer enrichment programs. Operation S.T.E.P. focused on authentic learning through travel and first-hand experiences. Growing out of this organization was the African American History Bowl competition that has been successful for twenty plus years in educating children and their community in knowledge of their history and culture.
The annual bowl competitions have expanded to three unique Texas cities and also includes an annual Hispanic Heritage Bowl. Connie’s goal is to bring these unique competitions to state and national youth and communities. Mrs. Isabell believes that by working with FTH International Educational Services these efforts will be enhanced as we prepare 21st century citizens for success in the global market.
Earl A. Jones
Earl A. Jones is the Executive Pastor at Oasis Church at Lakeview in Rowlett, Texas. Mr. Jones spent 38 years in the 11th largest district in the country. During that he served as principal at the elementary, middle and high school levels. His accomplishments lead to his selection as Executive Director for the Carter Feeder Pattern. In this role, he was responsible for supporting principals with implementing the District Theory of Action.
Mr. Jones received his Master’s and Bachelors’ degrees from Kansas State University. He has completed course work toward his PhD at the University of North Texas. Mr. Jones currently serves as the Board President for the Turner Twelve and has been on the board since the Turner Twelve was founded. Serving on this board has been one of his most rewarding service opportunities.
Dr. Andrea B. Nelson
Director of Secondary Curriculum & Instruction
Dr. Andrea B. Nelson currently serves as the Executive Director of Professional Learning for From The Heart International Educational Services. She has a track record of being a transformational leader in urban school districts with over 25 + years of experience as an elementary, reading coach, curriculum/ professional development specialist, assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendent of instruction. The schools that she has led have consistently defied the low bar of expectation set for urban youth.
Whenever approached with the task of transforming a low-performing school, she immediately addresses the culture of low expectation by creating a climate for change and student expectation reset. Her standard of excellence with the belief that every child can learn at his/her core addresses all personnel in the building from maintenance teams to her leadership team. Increasing cultural sensitivity, addressing systemic social barriers, affirming each child as an individual, and applying a disciplined approach to research-based pedagogy have been the keys to her success.
Dr. Nelson is a third-generation educator with degrees from North Carolina Central University (BA), Louisiana Tech University (MA), and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (EdD). Her research and dissertation on school leadership competence and quality form the basis of her outlook and approach to transforming education institutions and achieving extraordinary results.
Ms. Vickie Mitchell has dedicated her life to educating and influencing the lives of young people. She earned a B.S. degree from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas and a Master of Science and Administrative Certification from Texas Woman’s University located in Denton, Texas. Ms. Mitchell taught at the elementary and middle school levels for ten years. She served as a campus administrator at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in the Dallas Independent School District.
Afterwards, she became an Area Superintendent - Senior Executive Director in the Dallas ISD for numerous years where she supervised campus principals in leading their campuses to academic excellence. She retired after 37 years of service.
For the past six years, Ms. Mitchell has served as a Professional Service Provider with Texas Education Agency to support low performing campuses with school improvement efforts. As a result of her work, the schools under her tutelage made significant academic progress.
Julia A. Puckett
Coordinator of Professional Development -Southeast
Julia A. Puckett is a native of Ilion, New York who has resided for the past 22 years in North Carolina. She earned a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and an M.S. from High Point University. She is a National Board-Certified Teacher and a licensed and practicing assistant principal at the high school level. Ms. Puckett has taught as an Exceptional Children’s teacher and has been an instructional facilitator at both the district and school level. She aspires to write books for children and young adults that reach out to help them connect with their world and to discover ways of being successful in it.
Ms. Puckett believes that in order to teach a young person they need to know you genuinely care about them, and that because you care you will work to get the very best out of them. A young person needs to have teachers that are passionate about the subject(s) they teach. By sharing that passion with their students teachers can energize their minds and create a curiosity that will drive them to have a true desire to learn for the sake of knowledge, rather than simply because they have to.
Andrae Rhyne is a creative educational leader who excels in growing leaders and teacher leaders. He has thirty four years in public education and served as a teacher, elementary principal, high school principal, curriculum director manager of the Dallas ISD Alternative Teacher Certification Program and manager of the Leadership Initiative for Teachers (LIFT), a principal’s certification program, Project Director for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs and Director of State and Federal Programs. He attended Southern Methodist University where he earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Music.
Andrae has many notable achievements. He was featured entertainer in Washington D.C. at the Congressional Black Caucus, Board of Directors of the Public Opera of Dallas and Board of Directors of the Texas Secondary School Principals Association. Among his most cherished is the Neiman March Downtown Renaissance Award, given to a select group of community leaders who shaped the rebirth of Downtown Dallas. Andrae was recently nominated to apply for the Global Forum in Education and Learning.
Andrae is passionate about excellence and is actively pursuing certification in Data Visualization using Microsoft Excel. He lives in Dallas where he is an active church organist and a devoted son to his parents.
JoAnn Scaife graduated with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from Belmont University in Religion and doubled minored in Psychology and Music. She is a candidate for Master of Divinity and a scholarship recipient for the Women Leadership Initiative program at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Her master’s emphasis is on ministry of education and finance.
Jo Anne Scaife has been in the ministry for twenty-plus years studying, teaching, and leading others to understand the Word of God on a daily basis. Jo Anne’s heartbeat is to impact others with the truths of the Bible through her personal and spiritual experiences. She is a highly sought-after inspirational speaker for religious, businesses, universities, and civic institutions. Jo Anne is the founder and CEO of Restorations Corner Ministry, a non-profit organization that focuses on collegiate ministry, training college students to become highly effective leaders on campus and in the community and Living Single in Faith, a business that focuses on inspiring singles.
A native of Fort Walton Beach, FL., she also serves as a collegiate minister of her non-profit. Her twenty-plus years working for numerous Christian publishing companies, churches, and music industry businesses has afforded her opportunity to study and to make history with a religion degree at Belmont in Nashville, TN, being one of the first African American and female to graduate from Belmont’s School of Religion.
She is a published author of a devotional book in a series of six volumes to be released. Numerous awards and recognition have followed Jo Anne throughout her journey. She has served in the capacity of product manager and developer, advisor, marketing director, publisher, producer, and more. Jo Anne currently resides in Nashville, TN where she serves as collegiate minister, entrepreneur, and businesswoman in the financial industry.
Gloria Hart Jackson
BH365 Trainer-Southeast Region
Gloria Hart Jackson, hails from Jackson Mississippi. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Alcorn State University and a Master’s in Sociology from Jackson State University. Gloria has dedicated herself to ensuring children and adults have the supports they need to achieve their full potential. Through her work as a Professor at Eastfield College, Gloria has prepared hundreds of students to serve as licensed chemical dependency counselors.
During her service in Dallas ISD, she trained thousands of teachers to ensure district initiative were effectively implemented. Her skills have been utilized by the National Basketball Association, Dallas Rotary Club and DEA/NABSE to name a few.
Gabriella Williams holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree from Texas A&M University Commerce as well as a Master of Science degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She served as an elementary teacher, assistant principal and principal in one of the largest urban Districts in the country. During her tenure as principal, she was successful in transforming a school rated Unacceptable to an Exemplary rating. She created a culture of excellence that continues to this day.
After 37 years of service, Gabriella retired and joined the Texas Education Agency where she supported campuses with school improvement efforts. Specifically, her work centered around collaborating with principals to strengthen structures, procedures, and protocols to optimize school success. As a member of the Professional Service Provider Cadre with the Texas Education Agency, seven of the nine schools she supported achieved Acceptable ratings with four of them earning Distinctions from the state.
Currently, Ms. Williams is a Language Arts Facilitator for a Charter school. Additionally, Gabriella serves as a School House Excellence Professional Learning Community Facilitator trainer.
Dr. Marjorie Williams
Dr. Marjorie Williams (lovingly known as Dr. Marj) became Hickman Mills School District’s Superintendent of Schools in July 2000, and immediately took an active role in education, community issues and organizations in the Greater Kansas City area. Prior to Hickman Mills, she worked in the Kansas City, Missouri School District, Columbia (Mo) and Ferguson Florissant School Districts. She has also served in Higher Education as an Adjunct Professor with Baker, Ottawa and Kansas State University.
After 37 years in the field and retiring as Superintendent of Schools in 2012, Williams founded The Marste Group, LLC, a consulting firm, serving school districts and businesses throughout the United States. The firm specializes in providing organizational management services; grant writing, constructing and implementing educational programming, strategic planning, mentoring and evaluation services.
Dr. Marj has and currently serves on various Community and Civic Boards. She has received notable recognitions throughout the country, most recently being recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals for her work in Philanthropy and named by Ingram’s Magazine as “One of the 50 People You Need To Know In The State of Missouri”, She is Co-Founder of the Sisters’ Circle GKC, which promotes Philanthropy among African American Women supporting the African American Community.
Additionally, Dr. Marj is a founding member of Societas Docta, Incorporated GKC. Their mission is to provide assistance by mentoring and providing scholarships to African American Women pursuing Doctorate Degrees. Her passion for children continues to be evidenced through her service as a member of the Jackson County (Mo) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, the Derrick Thomas/Neil Smith Third and Long Foundation, Crittenton, Local Investment Neighborhood Commission, Teach for America, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, The Black Archives of Mid America, The Kauffman Fellows, The Faith and Education Initiative and The Boys and Girls Club of Kansas City.
She continuously works as an advocate and educator, providing assistance and awareness to the needs of educating the community in the areas of voter rights, laws and legislation affecting communities of color, the need for more women of color to be represented on Boards and Commissions and affordable housing and health care for everyone.
Dr. Marj can be heard on the “PTK (Parents, Teachers, Kids) Report with Dr. Marj” weekly on KPRT 1590am/106.1fm. Additionally, she can be seen on the “Dr. Marj Show” and “On That Note with Mike, India and Dr. Marj” on the Internet and via Facebook.
Bernard C. Turner
Bernard Turner was born in Chicago and educated in the Chicago Public School system. He studied German as an undergraduate at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and attended graduate school at the University of Chicago. Mr. Turner has been a teacher of Language Arts (ELA), German and Spanish in the middle school and high school and worked in educational publishing in sales and marketing until December 2014. He has also served as a gallery interpreter and docent at the Chicago History Museum since 2000.
In 2002, Mr. Turner founded Highlights of Chicago Press with the publication of A View of Bronzeville, a neighborhood tour guide that focuses on the important institutions and people that made Bronzeville a great neighborhood. Other publications include The Windies’ City—Chicago’s Historical Hidden Treasures, Chicago Neighborhoods with Flavor—Getting Out of the Loop, and a social studies book for elementary grades called Our Chicago—People and Places. Bernard co-wrote and published Tate and His Historic Dream, a Phillis Wheatley Award Finalist.
Bernard’s tours step-on guided city and neighborhood tours, walking tours, special tours including the “Civil War in Chicago” and the “Great Migration and the Blues”.
Besides writing and giving tours Bernard works with the Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Commission, Camp Douglas Restoration Foundation, and the Chicago Black Authors Network.
Faith is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and a National Urban League, George Edmund Haynes Fellow. A graduate of Tuskegee University and the University Michigan at Ann Arbor, Faith is a dedicated advocate for human improvement and joyous living! She is a committed researcher of “best practices”, historically and currently, that empowers students to reach for the top.
A licensed clinician in Georgia and Tennessee, she has worked in a variety of settings, including schools and community based behavior health programs. Her greatest interest is in helping students to grow and overcome barriers. She understands that knowing your historical roots and the sacrifices of others, helps them see new possibilities and embrace their own glorious future. These uncovered truths become a beacon light for taking practical steps in building a positive life for themselves, their communities, and the nation as a whole. Teaching children their true history in a creative, inclusive manner uplifts the spirit and invigorates the soul. In essence, with new revelations they begin to know deep in their soul they “have what it takes”.
Carlvern Dunn was licensed to preach the gospel on November 01, 1998, by the late Pastor Emeritus Dr. Chester A. McDonald, Sr., of Maple Springs Baptist Church. He was ordained on July 17, 2004, by Bishop Ralph Dennis, of Kingdom Fellowship Covenant Ministries upon recommendation and request by Bishop Marc Crowley of Jehovah Jireh Christian Fellowship. He currently serves as Executive Minister of Maple Springs Baptist Church. A gifted preacher/ teacher, he ministers in many capacities across the United States.
As a certified family and marriage coach, he believes restoration of the family is paramount to addressing societies ails. As a mentor to many, Elder Dunn has been blessed with a talent for developing innovative training and programs focused on empowering families and marriages. He uses this gift to empower individuals who have not succeeded in public school environments and his training places an emphasis on personal accountability and positive social integration. Elder Dunn is co-author of the book Training with a Purpose.
He also serves as Deputy Director of the Kiamsha Youth Empowerment Organization and Special Assistant to the President of the National Alliance of Faith and Justice. Elder Dunn travels with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc. (ASALH) founded by Carter G. Woodson, where he ministers in each city of this association’s annual conference on the importance of knowing your history. Elder Dunn is married to Paula Dunn and they have a daughter, Tayona.