About Us

Karali Pitzele

Director and Trainer

Karali’s recent consulting work includes creating teacher development and evaluation systems, and school evaluation systems and principal training materials for a franchise of 11 schools in Indonesia that focus on student-driven and project-based learning.  She has recently led trainings in curriculum design, project-based learning, feedback and reflection in the classroom, teacher supervision, and professional development loops the build community and mastery.

Prior to founding Transformative Schools, Karali was the founder and principal of The Green School, a public high school in Brooklyn, New York City.  She designed The Green School to prepare students for college and active citizenship through learning focused on community and global issues. Green School’s core structures included portfolio exhibitions, project-based instruction, real-world oriented curricula, team-based governance and student-centered school culture.

Before establishing The Green School, Karali taught Humanities at School of the Future, which is recognized as a model/mentor school within the Coalition of Essential Schools for its emphasis on thematic instruction, portfolio-based assessment, and a collaborative learning environment.

She also taught at two traditional public schools earlier in her career, and the alienation she observed both for students and for teachers in those institutions highlighted for her the importance of schools that function as communities.  Taking the industrial factory model out of schooling and re-introducing curiosity and initiative as major motivators in learning have been among her key goals as an educational leader.

Karali holds a Masters of Science in Teaching from The New School University, a Building Administrator license from The New York City Leadership Academy and Baruch College, and her Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and Languages from Antioch College.  She has lived in Latin America, Europe, and Asia, and has first-hand experience in a wide variety of educational models.

She has a deep appreciation of the role of different cultures and structures in shaping the human experience, which has led her to carefully analyze the importance of the choices teachers and school leaders make about learning experiences, communication and governance structures, and methods of assessment in schools.  She believes that these shape learning in many unacknowledged ways, and that bringing the structures of schooling to the foreground for analysis and mindful planning can have a powerful impact on the lives of young people, and on their development into the world’s next generation of problem-solvers and visionaries.

Karali Currently lives in  New York City.  She speaks fluent English, Spanish and French, as well as a little Mandarin Chinese, Thai and Indonesian.

Advisors and Collaborators

Transformative Schools has the benefit of the collaboration and advisement of a spectrum of educational professionals and leaders.

Raimi Ade-Salu

Raimi Ade-Salu

Teacher of 6th Grade Math and Science – Wheeler Middle School, Wahiawa, Hawaii

Raimi Ade-Salu currently teaches 6th grade math and science in Wahiawa, Hawaii as part of the Teach for America corps. He has deferred his acceptance to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where intends pursue masters and doctoral degrees in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership. Ade-Salu’s long-term goal is to work for state education agencies in order to help create and advocate for policies that build the success of students in low-income communities.  Ade-Salu is also interested in international education. He was awarded a fellowship go to Guatemala where he designed and executed a project focused on increasing students’ commitment to following through in their studies, by developing a school-centered sports program in a rural community. In summer 2014, he travelled to the Ramallah, in the West Bank, to teach a writing course to 7th graders in a summer skill-building program called “I Know I Can.” Ade-Salu met Karali Pitzele in 2001, when she was his middle-school teacher at School of the Future; and their collegial collaboration has bloomed as he has moved forward in his career with great passion and vision.

Jonah Canner

Jonah Canner

Jonah Canner

Founder – Fertile Grounds; Co-Founder/Consultant – Institute for Democratic Education in America

Jonah Canner is an Educator, Activist and Social Entrepreneur. He is a Co-Founder and the Director of Fertile Grounds Project, a non-profit organization that brings summer camp and other non-classroom based programs to marginalized youth from New York City. For seven years Fertile Grounds Project has been taking young people from New York City schools on camping trips where they develop leadership and problem solving skills, and build confidence and perseverance. While directing Fertile Grounds Project Canner joined with a group of educators across the United States and founded IDEA, the Institute for Democratic Education in America, a national organization that envisions a world where all young people are engaged in learning that nourishes vibrant democratic communities. Through his work as an Advisor and Consultant to IDEA, Canner recently spent a year engaging public schools, local business and community leaders, and the municipality of Caguas, Puerto Rico, in the Education City Initiative, an effort to transform the entire city into a learning community that works together to support the talents and dreams of its children. Jonah is currently writing a book on experiential education.

Yuet Chu

Yuet Chu

Yuet Chu

Network Leader – Childrens’ First Network Initiative, New York City Department of Education

Yuet Chu proudly leads a network of 28 public schools across the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York, that span pre-kindergarten to twelfth grade.  Prior to joining the Children First Network  initiative, she was the middle school director at School of the Future – a secondary school that serves a diverse population of sixth through twelfth grade students where graduation is not determined by standardized tests but rather by demonstrated mastery of essential ideas in every subject.  The heart of her work as a network leader is facilitating school improvement through support of school leaders and their staff.  She works to eliminate distractions and demands on principal time, to maximize their time with teachers and students. Chu believes that collaboration with like-minded folks is the most effective professional development and seeks out her network leader colleagues to engage in school visits together – instructional rounds, quality review simulations, sharing best practices, and to brainstorm together through consultancies and other structured conversations.  She supports her principals and teachers in cultivating the same commitment to growth through collaboration.

Walter Duncan

Walter Duncan

Teacher, Founder of Teachers’ Round Table, and Co-Founder of Design by Educators

A 14-year veteran K-12 teacher. Walter Duncan’s students are currently ranked in the top 15% of all Massachusetts Public School students on MCAS ELA. He has deep experience getting the best out of his kids in inner-city school districts such as Detroit, Washington DC, and Boston. Duncan is a full-time teacher, and also hosts the Teachers’ Round Table, an online forum for teachers committed to progressive practice and evidence-based, data-driven education. Additionally, he is the co-founder of Design By Educators, a social impact company that seeks to empower teachers to more effectively close the achievement gap. Duncan lives in Cambridge, MA with his wife Cara and Chihuahua Duggie Fresh.

Kathleen Cushman

Kathleen Cushman

Kathleen Kushman – Also Available as a Transformative Schools Trainer

Author, documentarian, speaker and coach

Kathleen Cushman collaborates with diverse youth in the U.S. and abroad, bringing their voices to bear on the complex challenges that affect their lives and learning, and working with educational institutions to connect the direct input of youth with promising practices in secondary schools and colleges.  Author of Fires in the Mind, Fires in the Bathroom, and First in the Family, among many other titles, Kathleen co-founded the nonprofit What Kids Can Do (WKCD) in 2001.  Through WKCD, Kathleen has traveled the U.S. and abroad collecting the voices of youth, and bringing their words into print and mixed-media forms. Kathleen aims to bring young people’s vivid experiences and insights to an even wider audience, by speaking, writing, and collaborating with those who share a commitment to equity, opportunity, and powerful learning for all.  Reporting on national high school change for the Coalition of Essential Schools from 1988 to 2001, Kathleen developed a solid grasp of educational issues and the progressive school reform movement. Teaching first-year writing at Harvard trained her to coach young people to think deeply and to free up and discipline their voices, and helping to start a progressive public secondary school in Massachusetts in 1995 gave her hands-on experience in setting the bar high for all students. Kathleen regularly delivers keynotes, presentations, and workshops for educators, designs mixed-media documentation of best-practices in education, and consults on book development and writing.

Pilar Lynch

Pilar Lynch

Marta del Pilar Lynch - Also Available as a Transformative Schools Trainer

Consultant, University Lecturer, Principal

Marta del Pilar Lynch has 20 years of national and international educational experience. She was a Dr. Martin Luther King scholar at New York University, traveling to Argentina, France, Greece, and Senegal as an ambassador for social change, and receiving a dual degree in African American Studies and Film. She also holds an MA from George Washington University in Special Education with a specialization in Emotional Disabilities. As an international educational consultant, Lynch was contracted to assist in Trinidad and Tobago’s educational redevelopment project. This project was charged with technical assistance for redevelopment, decentralization, and school development planning of over 300 schools with the support of the International Development Bank. As a Lecturer at the University of West Indies Pilar assisted the Ministry of Education, District initiatives, and private institutions to redesign their teacher training systems. In Washington DC, Lynch served as Principal, Special Education Director, and Learning Specialist, establishing an educational pedagogy and school culture of achievement, community service, and self-reflection.  In addition, Lynch has created arts-based international programs that support student achievement and help students to look beyond the parameters of the classroom and enter into an international dialogue with other youth.

Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith, PhD

Program Officer  - The International Development Research Center, Ottawa, Canada

Matthew Smith is a Senior Program Officer at Canada’s International Development Research Centre where he oversees research on how information networks can be used to promote open, inclusive and rights based information societies in the global south. Among other topics, his portfolio includes research networks on open educational resources in developing countries, and distance education in Asia. Matthew holds a PhD in information systems and an MSc in development studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science (England), as well as an MSc in artificial intelligence from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland).

Tracy Williams

Tracy Williams

Tracy Williams, PhD - Also Available as a Transformative Schools Trainer

Chair of Curriculum and Instruction and Teacher Leadership graduate degree programs – Seattle Pacific University

An award winning classroom teacher, Dr. Williams led the Walla Walla School District in induction practices that garnered national awards and recognition, before becoming a professor at Seattle Pacific University, in Washington State.  Dr. Williams taught in Title I schools, and later served as a district program director.  As district program director, twelve of her Title I schools were honored as Schools of Distinction for improved academic achievement in a partnership with principals and teacher leaders. Dr. WIlliams is an active member of the American Educational Research Association, and is president-elect of the Washington state chapter of Phi Delta Kappa.

Bios and Pics still coming:

Nathan Affield – Assistant Principal, The Green School, Brooklyn, NY

Pat Werner – Founder, The Manhattan New School, NY