LEADERSHIP TEAM & FELLOWS
Passionate educators focused on improving the outcomes of students in
Puerto Rico and lead inspiring transformations in their school communities.
This pioneering cohort includes 19 FELLOWS from
private and public schools in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Marisol is the Vice Principal of the Escuela con Causa Rosalina C. Martínez secondary level school. She has a BA in Modern Language, from the University of Puerto Rico, and a MA Ed in Creative Arts in Learning, from the Graduate School of Art and Social Sciences at Lesley University. She has worked as a teacher trainer and has been a professor for over 10 years; at various moments, she has worked as a coordinator, a director, and an investigator, as well as a curriculum specialist. Marisol emphasizes on the importance of guidance and leadership among the schools’ leaders. She believes that by guiding the teachers and focusing on the students they can reach academic success. She is interested in developing leadership skills that can be beneficial for the school and for the educational experiences.
Aida I Portela
Aida I Portela leads the Parkville Campus for the Commonwealth-Parkville School in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. CPS has been her home for over twenty-four years and where she has professionally grown from the Early Childhood program as a teacher, to the Upper Elementary Reading program, and acting as the Elementary Director for the past three years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Portland and a Masters in Curriculum, Instruction and Technology from NOVA Southeastern University. At the core of Aida’s leadership principles is the focus on developing practices that cultivate faculty and staff as reflective practitioners. She strongly believes that school leaders should be collaborators, facilitating professional learning opportunities that lead to increased student achievement.
HEAD OF SCHOOL,
SAINT JOHN’S SCHOOL
A native of Ponce, Puerto Rico, she completed her BA at Harvard University and went on to finish a Masters Degree at Columbia University, Teachers College. She has worked in both private and public education settings and collaborated with universities and other non-profits in designing teacher and principal training programs. She has a strong sense of social responsibility and is a skilled strategist.
DEAN OF ACADEMICS,
SAINT JOHN’S SCHOOL
John has 11 years of experience in education as a Special Education Teacher, Instructional Coach, Administrator and Family Engagement Coach. He holds an MA in Transition Special Education from The George Washington University and a BA in Communications from the University of Iowa. He is a strong coach with expertise in curriculum and program design for students, teachers, and school leaders. John oversees content curation for residency and cohort support, oversees project coordinator, identifies potential external professional development resources
Maria is an experienced administrator and teacher with a demonstrated history of working in the public and private sectors in Puerto Rico and the mainland. She has worked as Undersecretary of Academic Affairs in Puerto Rico, Charter School Office Director and has over 15 years of teaching experience in the public and private school sector. She holds an MS in Elementary Education and Teaching from the University of Miami and a BA in Business Administration also, from the University of Miami. She has experience in policy development, establishing systems and structures along with a comprehensive context of the landscape of education in Puerto Rico.
Maria conducts research and policy analysis, coordinates interview and recruitment process, builds a relationship with collaborative members to ensure buy-in, coordinates monthly meetings, develops content for monthly meetings, designs programs, engages funders for the sustainability of the project.
Zaida Vélez Colón
Zaida is the Principal at the Juan Ponce de Leon High School in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
She has over 4 years of experience as a school administrator and 23 years of experience as a teacher in the public school system. She has a BA in Arts in Hispanic Studies from the University of Puerto Rico and an MA in Spanish Curriculum from Caribbean University. She has also completed a number of hours of doctoral work at NOVA Southeastern University. Zaida has a deep interest in collaborating and sharing her knowledge in the educational and administrative areas so that she can help others face the challenges of the world of work in modern society.
Yanay Sosa Negrón
Yanay Sosa Negrón is an English Teacher at Villa Granada Middle School in San Juan, PR. She has taught for 10 years in public and private schools across Puerto Rico. Over tenure as a teacher, she has also tutored students in private and public after school programs in urban and rural communities. She also has over 5 years of experience in teaching and working with high risk students in alternative education programs. Yanay is passionate about communicating the importance of education as a key to success and ensuring that students are prepared for the future as they find their individual success.
Beatrice has more than twenty years of experience in the public school and private school setting in Puerto Rico and New Jersey, addressing student needs and ensuring proper student development. She holds a Master of Science in Curriculum, Instruction, and Technology from NOVA Southeastern University and a Bachelor of Arts in Child Psychology from William Paterson University. Beatrice has a strong belief that promoting a culture of collaboration and learning begins by defining the culture of the institution and excited to be a pioneer Fellow with the hope to be a catalyst for improvement in Puerto Rico.
Carmen Iris Rivera
Carmen is a Spanish teacher at Juan Ponce de León High School in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She has more than 20 years of experience in the Puerto Rico school system. Since 2013, she has served as an Associate Professor at the University of Puerto Rico. She has a Doctorate in Curriculum and Teaching in the Spanish and a Master’s Degree in Humanities with a specialty in Linguistics from the University of Puerto Rico. Carmen values learning how other colleagues work to improve her educational practice day after day. Emphasizing the context of students from communities with low socioeconomic resources. She seeks to improve her students’ reading and writing skills because she recognizes that literacy is a human right for students in these communities.
Adniwill Luciano Ramírez
Adniwill is the principal at Villa Granada School in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She has more than seven years of administrative experience in the public school system of the Island and exerted over eighteen years as a Visual Arts teacher, receiving several awards for her performance. She completed her Ed.D in Curriculum with a specialty in Educational Technology and a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts Education from the University of Turabo after completing her Bachelor’s degree in pedagogy with a specialty in Visual Arts. She was one of 35 school directors selected to complete the AASA Superintendents and Leadership Academy in 2018. Adniwill values developing a professional culture within her team so that she can put the theory of action into practice and see it through to achieve established goals.
Lola is the Operations Director at Vimenti, the pioneer public-charter school in Puerto Rico. She holds a Master in Business Administration from the Universidad Metropolitana and a Bachelor in Arts from University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras campus. She has supported students in her work a Dean at Ana G. Mendez University for over 13 years. Lola developed, strengthened and grew hands-on experiential learning and social entrepreneurial platform among university students as the Executive Director at Enactus Puerto Rico. She has developed and led workshops on Building Relationships and Networking and Developing Entrepreneurial action in schools. Lola strives for differentiated and inclusive education in an environment where not only the needs of children are met, but also the family needs. In her words: ¨The school leader cannot attend only the child, if he wants academic success and the real change in the environment where he develops.
Vilmarie Font Rosario
Vilmarie completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Psychology, at Universidad Sagrado Corazón, and a Master’s Degree in Education at the University of Phoenix, specializing in administration and supervision. She was an elementary teacher for 10 years at the Department of Education and has been a Principal at the Jesús María Sanromá Elementary School in Carolina, Puerto Rico for the last 19 years. She believes in being present and being within reach for both her students and the school’s teachers. Vilmarie considers that in order to achieve a good education it is necessary to incorporate both teamwork and effective communication among the school’s leaders. She is interested in learning new ways to implement effective strategies that improve the quality of the education.
Consuelo is the Elementary Principal at Wesleyan Academy in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. She has 17 years of teaching experience as a teacher and has been participating as a member of the Admission Committee for 8 years. Consuelo has a Bachelor’s Degree of Art in Elementary Education from the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras Campus. She also completed a Master’s Degree of Science in Educational Administration at the University of Scranton. Consuelo believes that, in order to achieve academic success, students need various experiences that will help them be motivated, develop their self-confidence, and develop their sense of community. She is very passionate about creating enriching experiences that will work as guides for the school’s teachers and supporting them in developing multiple strategies to provide a better educational experience to their students. She is interested in learning new ways to implement differentiated instruction and provide meaningful professional development for her teachers; she is also searching for ways to promote a different mindset among the teachers, where they will work directly in providing their best practices and help students reach academic excellence.
Yolanda is the Upper Elementary Principal at Saint John’s School in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She has over 30 years experience in education in the private school sector of Puerto Rico. As a teacher and currently an administrator she focuses on a holistic approach to the education of students in order for them to be in a better position to adapt to any environment while cultivating individual talents. Yolanda holds a Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervision from la Universidad Metropolitana and a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from the Catholic University in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Ellena teaches AP English and AP Capstone at Saint John’s School in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and has been an educator for over 15 years. Additionally, she serves as the English Department Chair, Summer Program Director, and Senior Class Advisor. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts, specializing in Communicative Disorders and Hearing Science (Speech – Language Pathology), from the University of New Mexico. Ellena believes that creating a collective vision and end goal within a community is vital, and the role of a leader is to ensure that everyone is supported and assisted in working towards attaining that goal. She also believes that a collaborative culture in a school community is important and the way to achieve this and other desired results is to establish relationships built on foundations of trust. Ellena’s desire is to learn new solutions to current education issues in school communities.
Nicole M. Barroso
Nicole M. Barroso Marrero is a Magna Cum Laude graduate from the University of Puerto, Rio Piedras Campus. She majored in the teaching of English at the secondary and primary level. For the past two and a half years, Nicole has been the third grade Language Arts teacher at Wesleyan Academy in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Besides teaching, she is now the Department Chair for Language Arts at the elementary level. Nicole is currently enrolled in the TESOL Master’s Program from the same university. She is a dynamic teacher with aspirations in English curricular development.
Úrsula Tua Santiago
Úrsula has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras Campus. She has been a 1st-grade teacher at Vimenti School for over a year. Úrsula strongly believes that the participation of the community in the student’s educational processes influences on the student’s success. She emphasized on the creation of goals and the constant follow-up on those goals. She recalls the importance of teamwork and helping each other reach a higher level of academic success. Úrsula is interested in further developing the school’s social-emotional aspects, as well as the ambiance and social context of the school.
Jesús is the Principal of the Petra Román Vigo middle school, in Carolina, Puerto Rico. He has worked in the Department of Education for over 20 years, 11 of those working as an elementary teacher and 9 as a principal. He was also an academic coordinator for the ‘21 Century’ and ‘SES’ proposals, for over 2 years. Jesús has a Doctorate’s Degree in Education, specializing in Educational Administration and Management, from Atlantic International University. He has been recognized for being an excellent teacher (2004-05), as well as for achieving an increment of 20% in the school’s results of the PPAA and META-PR standardized tests (2015-17). Jesús strongly believes that the students need to be persistent, have tolerance and passion, be excited about their results, and value failure, in order to be successful. He promotes the use of strategies, such as teamwork and monthly meetings, to provide support for the teachers and to help them improve their instructional strategies.
Yesenia has worked in the Department of Education for the past 3 years, as an elementary level English teacher. Currently, she is one of three English teachers at the Jesús María Sanromá school in Carolina, Puerto Rico. She has a Bachelor of Education, with a concentration in Teaching English as a Second Language, at the elementary level, and a second concentration in K-3 education. Yesenia seeks to learn various strategies in which the quality of school education can be improved. She believes that by using new strategies that include teamwork, collaboration and goal setting, can improve school performance.
Nilmarie has a BA in Education from the University of Puerto Rico, Bayamón Campus. She has been an English teacher for over 5 years. Nilmarie is currently an English teacher at the Petra Román Vigo middle school. She has had multiple leadership experiences, including being a troop leader for the Girl Scouts of America, as well as being a camp leader. Nilmarie is a firm believer that parents should be involved in the students’ academic procedures. She believes that in order to achieve academic success parents must be a part of the students’ education. She considers that being a leader means having a combination of qualities, such as being dynamic, optimistic and passionate, as well as problem-solving efficiently and having good communication skills. She is interested in learning ways to improve students’ educational experiences and the parents’ involvement in school activities and academic processes.
Rosario is the middle school vice principal at Escuela con Causa Rosalina C. Martínez in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. She has over 25 years of experience as an educator, both as a teacher and as a university professor. She has been a collaborator in various editorial projects and has been an academic coordinator for various proposals of Puerto Rico’s Department of Education. Rosario has a BA in Elementary Education, specialized in the K-3 level, and an MA in Curriculum and Teaching, both from the Universidad del Turabo in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. She has had multiple experiences as a leader and with the use of teamwork for problem-solving.that have led to improvement of educational experiences and the development of learning communities.