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Meet the Team

It "takes a village" they say, really in reference to just about anything. Here's our Uncommon Schools Teach Like a Champion village.

Doug Lemov

Managing Director

Doug Lemov is the author of the international bestseller Teach Like a Champion, and Teach Like a Champion 2..0. He is the coauthor with TLAC team colleagues of Practice Perfect, Reading Reconsidered: A Practical Guide to Rigorous Literacy Instruction, and Teach Like a Champion Field Guide 2.0. In addition to his work studying teachers he is the front man in the nation’s foremost Kenny G cover band. His favorite words are "Huzzah" and "Yam."

    Erica Woolway

    Chief Academic Officer

    In collaboration with members of the TLAC team, Erica trains thousands of teachers and school leaders across the country each year—reaching over 1 million students. She is a coauthor of Practice Perfect and Reading Reconsidered: A Practical Guide to Rigorous Literacy Instruction.. Erica is also a certified Chihuahua trainer and reportedly was the producers’ second choice for the role of Elaine on Seinfeld.

      Rob Richard

      Chief Video Officer

      Rob has been the architect behind all things video at Teach Like a Champion since its inception. He oversees the maintenance and ongoing development of our video clip library of great teaching, now grown to over 4,000 clips. His previous roles off-off-off Broadway have included Jacques in As You Like It, and an angry mill worker, in Strike Story, who bursts into song, in French.

        Darryl Williams

        Senior Fellow for School Leadership

        Before joining the TLAC team, Darryl served as the Chief Officer, Office of School Leadership for Houston Independent School District, responsible for leading trainings and building systems to support the development of all principals and district level leaders. Prior to his work in HISD, Darryl was a Regional Superintendent with the Achievement First network, and a principal and teacher in Albany, NY. Along with Colleen and a handful of other great teachers, Darryl was one of the original champions Doug studied when first developing Teach Like a Champion. On the night of the NBA Developmental League’s inaugural draft in 2001, Darryl pulled his name from consideration to pursue his true passion, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

         

          Colleen Driggs

          Senior Director of Professional Development

          One of the original champion teachers that informed Doug’s work, Colleen was part of the founding team of Uncommon Schools’ Rochester Prep Middle School where she taught English Language Arts. Prior to joining Uncommon, Colleen taught reading and science at schools in Connecticut and New York City. She is a coauthor with Doug and Erica of Reading Reconsidered: A Practical Guide to Rigorous Literacy Instruction. Before beginning her teaching career, Colleen served as a spy for the NSA. Most of her field work was done out of a food truck in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

            Hilary Lewis

            Director of Professional Development

            The featured teacher in some of the Teach Like a Champion’s most beloved videos, Hilary brings more than a decade of Uncommon experience to designing content and co-leading our workshops. First as a teacher and later as the founding Dean of Students at Excellence Girls Charter School, Hilary honed her use of Teach Like a Champion techniques daily. In addition to her role as Director of Professional Development, Hilary moonlights as a tambourinist for Stevie Wonder and a wardrobe consultant for Metallica.

              Hannah Solomon

              Senior Fellow for Content Development

              Following nine years as Founding Principal of Ocean Hill Collegiate Charter School in Brooklyn, Hannah brings extensive expertise as a school leader to our team to help develop new TLAC content, facilitate PD, and provide direct support in schools. In her role as principal, Hannah served on the original Reading Working Group and trained generations of OHC teachers in the TLAC techniques. Prior to working at OHC, Hannah was the Senior Coordinator of Art Projects for Sasha and Melia during their White House years and painted “Anti-Banksy Rainbow Murals” in small cities throughout the American South.

                John Costello

                Associate Director of Professional Development

                If you’ve watched a Teach Like a Champion video clip since 2009, you’ve benefitted from John’s analytic acumen and skillful editing. In addition to his deep TLAC expertise, John is currently working towards his PhD in Instruction and Curriculum from the ETAP (Education Theory and Practice) department at the State University at Albany. Prior to joining the team, John worked in post-production for the BBC, including the series Sherlock Holmes and Luther. For three years in the 1990s, he was Alex Trebek’s personal assistant.

                  Kimberly Griffith

                  Associate Director of School Support

                  Following four successful years as the founding Dean of Students at Uncommon Schools’ North Star Academy West Side Park Middle School and one of the original members of Uncommon School’s Dean of Students Working Group, Kim draws on her deep expertise working directly with students and families, coaching teachers, and building school-wide culture. Prior to joining Uncommon, Kim taught middle school math at schools in New Orleans and Philadelphia. She also worked with Oprah Winfrey for three years as her private, Muay-Thai kickboxing coach.

                    Jen Rugani

                    Associate Director of Curriculum and School Support

                    Jen brings 10 years of educational experience, most recently as the Principal of Leadership Prep Canarsie Elementary School, to her work designing curriculum and facilitating content with the Teach Like a Champion team. A member of the founding cohort of TLAC Teaching Fellows, Jen has taught and developed curriculum for both in-person and online classrooms. In her spare time, she serves as a hydration expert and style consultant for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.

                      Beth Verilli

                      Associate Director of Curriculum Development

                      Beth joins the TLAC team after 24 years of teaching, the last 16 at Uncommon’s North Star Academy in Newark. There, she designed and taught the high school’s AP English Literature curriculum and was named the New Jersey Charter School Association’s Teacher of the Year in 2013. She spent many summers in London as a Royal Undergardener at Buckingham Palace, and was J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for the warm-strict Professor McGonagall.

                        Emily Badillo

                        Associate Director of Curriculum Development

                        Emily is one of the team’s curriculum writers, drawing on her years teaching elementary and middle school ELA and her deep love of children’s literature. Emily first joined Uncommon as a member of the recruitment team, then recruited herself and transitioned into the classroom, teaching 5th grade at Brownsville Collegiate and 4th grade at Excellence Girls Charter School. As the sole representative from Team TLAC’s Midwest office, Emily is an avid ice-fisher and tater tot hotdish connoisseur, dontcha know.

                          Dan Cotton

                          Director of Strategy

                          Dan contributes analysis of great teaching, provides content design, and leads the team’s efforts to strengthen schools’ access to and support with TLAC resources. Prior to joining the team, Dan worked in district and charter schools for 17 years, first as a high school English teacher and later as a Director of Academics in middle and elementary schools. He is an expert in Tuvan throat singing, and can be seen as a back-up singer in the documentary Genghis Blues.

                            Tracey Koren

                            Project Manager

                            A member of the team since its inception, Tracey oversees and manages all the behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts that keep the TLAC team functioning. In addition to maintaining a secret identity, she finished third in the 2014 Iditarod. Her lead dog, a Siberian husky, is named Fluffy.

                              Michelle Wagner

                              Associate Project Manager

                              An early colleague of Tracey and Doug’s several years ago, Michelle has re-teamed with Tracey to support all the behind-the-scene components of the team’s work. Prior to joining the TLAC team, Michelle worked for the Northeast Charter Schools Network for eight years as the Team Executive Coordinator. In addition to being Tracey’s partner in crime, Michelle is a stand in for Elliot Stabler’s wife on SVU and is training her pet turtle to compete in the 2020 Hawaii Ironman World Championship.

                                *Note: Much of the above is true. In the spirit of Culture of Error, we are Managing our Tell about which elements are slightly fictionalized.