Texas Tech University

Meet the 2020-2021 Texas Education Policy Fellowship Program cohort

Phillip M. Anaya

Phillip M. Anaya has been leading the instructional materials reform at Alamo Colleges District in San Antonio, TX for over 5 years. Phillip has been in education for over 20 years ranging from elementary to higher education. He has served in the classroom as an instructor, as well as in institutional advancement and now in administration. He is a dedicated and passionate life long learner who believes in advocating and prioritizing students needs. Under Phillip's guidance the Alamo Colleges District has improved their traditional instructional material process, established and implemented IM Direct, Alamo's inclusive access program (negotiating with vendors to reduce the cost and rolling that cost into a course fee) and AlamoOPEN, Alamo's branded true zero cost OER (open educational resources) program. This has resulted in these two programs saving over 250,000 students over $15 million dollars in instructional material costs since 2015.

Phillip as served on various committees for Alamo Colleges District, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and The Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER). He has presented all over the United States highlighting Alamo's accomplishments under his supervision.

If not advocating for universal access to educational materials Phillip enjoys spending time with his son visiting national park and Major League Baseball stadiums. You can also find him "in between the hashes", officiating college football throughout the year.

Leadership statement: I strive to be a lifelong learner and educator. My goal is to inspire others to be more than they envision they are and what they can do. I aim to earn the trust of all I encounter through thoughtful and authentic interactions, building authentic relationships while setting high expectations and fostering true creativity in an environment that is safe, positive, socially and ethically responsible and forgiving.

Ramon Benavides

Ramon Benavides is the son of migrant farm-workers who dropped out to assist their families only to resume and become educators. He is originally from Brownsville, Texas, and was beckoned by a calling to follow in his parents' footsteps upon moving to El Paso with his wife and son. He has been teaching science for ten years at Ysleta Independent School District and El Paso Community College. He enjoys serving as a role model to youth from similar socioeconomic backgrounds and the same educational attainment obstacles, such as the ones he endured. He is in the progress of completing his third year of the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program at Texas Tech University. His policy research has focused on STEM opportunities or the lack thereof in socioeconomically disadvantaged students, specifically Latinx students. He hopes his research can spark a change, which can resonate among students, teachers, educational leaders, and policymakers.

Leadership statement: The Texas Education Policy Fellowship Program will allow me to step onto a platform where I can investigate and assess the impact of STEM Education policies on socioeconomically disadvantaged students of color in hopes of changing the current policy paradigm.

Kimberly Burks, M.Ed.

Kimberly Burks, M.Ed. has been an educator for 7 years, having taught elementary and middle school. Ms. Burks received her Bachelor of Science in Child Development and Family Living from Stephen F. Austin State University and her master's studies in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration on reading from Texas Southern University. She is a certified reading specialist and is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction.

Leadership statement: The future of education is diverse therefore it is important to provide equitable educational opportunities to our primarily minority students. As a future educational policy leader, I want to work toward making sure all students are able to receive quality education.

Edward Franklin

Edward L. Franklin has 30 years of experience in faith-based out-of-school-time programming in underserved, urban communities. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Temple University, a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Religious Counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary. He has had the privilege of leading Voice of Hope Ministries in Dallas, Texas for 16 years.

He is passionate about his work, the value of out- of- school time programming and dedicated to serving the children and families living in underserved communities in Texas.

Leadership statement: It is my desire as a participant in the Texas EPFP to familiarize myself with the policies that influence education at the level of the school, the district, and the state in order to become a better advocate for the importance of out-of-school-time programming in the academic career of the children and youth residing in the great state of Texas.

Kristine Harper

Kristine Harper Kristine Harper is a behavior specialist with Irving ISD in the Special Education department. Prior to this role she spent 10 years in the classroom as a special education teacher. During her time in the classroom, worked to begin a new campus-based behavior unit and implement the co-teaching model of. Kristine's passion in the classroom is to work with students that demonstrate behavior challenges, while helping teachers develop tools to helps these students become successful. Her teaching experiences in southern Mississippi in the years following Hurricane Katrina, helped her obtain greater insights on working with students with trauma induced behaviors and the unique challenges they present.

Kristine is a first-generation college graduate, who holds multiple degrees in the area of special education from the University of Southern Mississippi, including her PhD in school administration. She was also part of Leadership ISD's Campus Voices advocacy cohort in 2019.

Leadership statement: Educating students today is about more than just academic achievement. Today's students have experienced a different world than what we have at their age, we need to address social and emotional needs of the whole child before we can place academic expectations on them. I hope to continue advocating for changes that address the unique learning challenges that our students face today.

Lisa Low

Lisa Du Bois Low has been writing, speaking and consulting about social and owned media since 2007 and is well known for her expertise on the intersection of technology, social media and strategic communications. In addition to the creation and execution of Texas Tech's first institutional-level digital marketing strategy to align earned media efforts with social and owned media platforms in 2007, Low led the both Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech University Alumni Association in the research, planning and execution of various emerging media and user-generated content strategies. She joined the Public Relations Department in the College of Media & Communication as Professor of Practice in 2015. Currently in her sixth year of fulltime teaching, Low is passionate about excellence and inclusion in teaching and learning.

Leadership statement: Although my interests in the fellowship are multifaceted, my focus on digital and social media lands me squarely in issues surrounding the Digital Divide. The pandemic has disrupted higher education perhaps forever. Policy changes are needed to address equitable access to education for students who have access to the internet as well as those who don't. I can't think of a more important time to become immersed in state and national education policy and I can't wait to get started.

Four Faces Scuplture - unity

David Mapps is a Special Education Coordinator in Spring ISD. He has worked in various school districts in the State of Texas throughout his career as a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology (LSSP). He is also a current doctoral candidate at the University of Houston, completing his Ed. D. in Special Education Educational Leadership.

David has taught General Psychology at Houston Community College and enjoys teaching and working with young people. He obtained his bachelors degree from the University of Houston and masters from Texas A&M - Corpus Christi. He also attended Our Lady of the Lake University to specialize in school psychology as well as the University of Houston - Victoria to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Leadership statement: My goal as a leader is to work with various entities to ensure that special education and minority students are not lost in broad policies that do not always include them. I am looking to help shape a future where all of our students receive an equitable education.

Viet Nguyen

Viet Nguyen (she/her/hers) is a graduate student within the Higher Education Administration at Texas Tech University. She is a graduate student assistant for the Teaching, Learning and Professional Development Center at Texas Tech helping develop resources rooted in current research of diversity, equity and inclusive teaching practices and strategies. Viet is a visionary of being a thought and practice leader for marginalized students. Viet has experiences in advocacy work for the Texas Tech student body within Student Government Association and leadership roles with local and statewide non-profit organizations such as the Lubbock Chapter for Parents, Friends, of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG) and Texas Nondiscrimination Summit. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Human Development and Family Studies from Texas Tech University with minors in Political Science and Mathematics. Viet hopes to further her knowledge of educational policy, and explore ways in which that knowledge may be applied to a career in human services.

Leadership statement: As part of my graduate education and opportunities to come within this fellowship, I am hopeful to work closely with other scholars and practictioners to answer questions and affirm my experiences in how the systems of institutionalized oppression play a role in the lives of pre-college and college age students; and how different policies have improved the experiences of marginalized populations. By addressing questions such as these, I hope gain the knowledge and work to develop resources that address future inequities.

Kayla Northcutt

Kayla Northcutt has always loved working with children, from a young age, she set her sights on becoming a teacher. Since 2017, she has been a teacher within the Frenship ISD in Wolfforth, Texas, with certifications in Early Childhood Education and English as a Second Language. Ms. Northcutt finds great reward in her career and aims to make a positive impact in the beginning of children's education, which she believes is the most important stage of a student's educational development.

Backed by a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Texas Tech University, Ms. Northcutt also holds a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from Texas Tech.

Ms. Northcutt has received awards and recognition from Kappa Delta Phi, Phi Kappa Phi, the Aspiring Administrators Leadership Academy, experience teaching abroad and presenting at educational conferences.

Leadership statement: Through this program, I am eager to expand my knowledge and experience in educational policy and leadership. I look forward to networking with educational advocates and learning ways that I can better myself as an educational leader.

Kyle Penn

Dr. Kyle Penn serves as the Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations for Sunnyvale ISD and an adjunct professor teaching Public School Finance for the University of Texas at Tyler. He also has experience as a teacher, an instructional technology coordinator, and a campus administrator at elementary and secondary levels. Dr. Penn has presented at state and national conferences, including for the Texas Association of School Administrators.

He earned his Bachelor's Degree and Master's Degree in Arts and Technology from the University of Texas at Dallas. He received his Master's Degree in Education Administration from Texas A & M at Commerce. His doctorate was earned in Educational Leadership from Dallas Baptist University. In addition, he has recently completed work to earn his Registered Texas School Business Administrator (RTSBA).

Dr. Penn's primary policy interests are sustained funding for schools, teacher recruitment, preparation and retention, and the assessment and accountability system.

Leadership statement: Educational policy has a direct impact on local schools and their classrooms. Through the EPFP program, I hope to increase my knowledge-base and abilities to better advocate for the students and staff of my district, and across the state and nation, by better collaboration and communication with policymakers.

Deidra Perry

Deidra Perry, a native of New Orleans, LA, moved to Houston, TX following Hurricane Katrina, serves as a Department Business Administrator in the Provost Business Office at University of Houston. In this role, she oversees and manages the administrative, financial, and human resources of several departments. Deidra has an extensive background in leadership, finance, human resource, and administrative experience in various industries and organizations. As a first generation student, Perry attended Southern University A&M in Baton Rouge, LA, Texas Southern University in Houston, TX, and University of Phoenix where she earned an A.A. in Elementary Education and a B.S. in Management with a minor in Human Resource Management. She received a M.S. in Human Resource Development from University of Houston. Perry is in the dissertation phase of an educational leadership Ed.D. program at University of Houston. Her policy interests include educational policy, school safety, financial literacy, and college/career readiness of special populations.

Leadership statement: As a compassionate and empathetic leader, I am an advocate for equity in education. Through the Texas Education Policy Fellowship Program, I hope to gain insight on education policy and implementation, enhance leadership skills and collaborate with other professionals.

Sherrilyn Smith

Sherrilyn Smith is currently a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology. She works for Bryan Independent School District. She is pursuing her doctoral degree at the University of Houston - Professional Leadership - Special Populations program. She plans on graduating in December 2020.She is a past Lonestar Lend fellow participant who had an opportunity to network with professionals in the Houston community as well as leaders in Washington D.C. whose focus are on families in the autism community.

Leadership statement: My purpose and intent as a future education policy leader in the state of Texas and/or through the Texas EPFP is to provide a strong voice on behalf of parents who seek guidance and understanding of their individual children needs on the autism spectrum.

Kaley Stringfellow

Kaley Stringfellow is currently employed as a special education assessment specialist in the Houston area while concurrently enrolled as a part-time law student at The University of Houston's Law Center. She has work experience as a general education teacher, special education teacher, and educational diagnostician with most of her experience being based in rural school districts. She recently completed coursework in the Ph.D. program in Special Education and graduated in 2015 with her Master's in Education from Texas Tech University. Previously, she completed her Bachelor's in Science in Business Administration from Texas A&M University at Commerce in 2012. Kaley is passionate about ensuring all students have access to quality instruction and services in the school system and plans on continuing this passion in all of her future endeavors.

Leadership statement: Being an advocate for enabling ALL children in Texas to have access to opportunities and high quality instruction is my lifelong mission.

Amberly Walker

Amberly Walker is a Coordinator for Federal Programs at Education Service Center Region 12 in Waco, Texas specializing in Title III: Bilingual/ESL Programs, McKinney-Vento, and Foster Care Liaison policy. She is an international presenter in the field of second language learning. Amberly is a PhD Candidate at Texas Tech University in the area of Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Language and Literacy. Research interests include professional development, teacher narratives, language acquisition, school reform, and curriculum design. Additionally, she serves on the Board for Texas TESOL III, Heart of Texas Homeless Coalition Steering Committee, Prosper Waco Education Committee and is the former Director of Advocacy for Texas Association for Literacy Education. Some of the best experiences in her life were working as a classroom teacher.

Leadership statement: Quality guidance and education policy can help shape programs; conversely, policy that results in compliance without innovation can suffocate the school system. As a policy leader in Texas, I hope to further understand and respect the current processes with an eye toward a proactive and critically reflexive practice of education policy reform and development.