Learning Forward Academy Coaches
Academy Class of 2020 coaches
Joe McFarland is an Academy coach for the Learning Forward Academy Class of 2020. Joe’s passion for professional learning is influenced by his experience as an elementary teacher, building administrator, and central office administrator. In the Academy Class of 2015, he worked to develop a district culture and focus on job-embedded, on-going professional learning at all levels of the organization, including at the board level and has worked to promote a district-wide coaching model. Joe is a board member for the Learning Forward Pennsylvania Affiliate and is a strong advocate in championing and expanding the understanding of the power and impact on student achievement in the Standards for Professional Learning. He currently serves as the superintendent of schools in the Derry Township School District, Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Nikki Golar Mouton is a skilled educator with 20+ years of experience in the field. Nikki currently serves as the deputy chief academic officer for Dallas Independent Schools where she has the opportunity to effect change via several program areas including STEM, career and technical education, special education, visual and performing arts, and professional learning. Prior to moving to Dallas, Texas, she spent the bulk of her career (teacher, science director, executive director of staff development/curriculum and instruction) in the nation’s 12th largest school district – Gwinnett County Public Schools, Georgia. Throughout her tenure, she has supported efforts to transform teaching and learning for student achievement through a commitment to (a) continuous quality improvement, (b) leader and teacher development, (c) civic engagement, and (d) innovative practices.
Academy Class of 2019 coaches
Syeda L. Carter is serving in her eighth year as the principal of John Fenwick Academy (PK-2) in Salem, NJ. She is currently in her twenty-sixth year in the same district in which she held the following positions: 1st and 4th grades paraprofessional (two years), 6-8th grades ELA teacher (nine years) and elementary/middle school vice-principal (seven years). She has facilitated workshops in data and student achievement in her school district and presented “A Principal’s Playbook” at the LF Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. Syeda was featured inThe Learning Professional under Member Spotlight, February 2017. Syeda is a graduate of the Learning Forward Academy Class of 2015.
Anna Mary Smith
Anna Mary Smith is a committed professional learning leader and was an Academy graduate as part of the Class of 2015. In addition, she leads professional learning initiatives for Gwinnett County Public Schools as the Director of Staff Development. Over the past twenty years, she has been afforded a wide range of positions to support students, teachers, and leaders in urban and suburban schools in Atlanta, Georgia, and Birmingham, Alabama. Her opportunities include teaching second and seventh grades, supporting struggling readers and writers as a reading specialist, serving as a literacy coach for kindergarten through fifth grades, implementing critical initiatives as a district-based coach, and leading an alternative certification program. Extending her influence to others, she facilitates professional learning to various audiences at the local, regional, and national levels. Smith received her bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University double majoring in elementary and special education. She gained her master’s degree from Columbia University concentrating on literacy through the reading specialist program and earned her doctorate from the University of Georgia in educational leadership.
Academy coach mentor
Learner. Listener. Encourager. Advocate. Upholder. Dawn Wilson is a Learning Forward Academy coach and also mentors Academy coaches. She has served in a variety of roles including teacher, instructional coach, guidance counselor, school administrator, director of testing and evaluation, PreK-12 general director of curriculum and instruction, executive director of professional learning and university instructor. Dawn also coaches schools, districts and non-profits to improve instructional and leadership practices. These experiences, coupled with a passion for professional learning, ground her work of providing equity and excellence in teaching and learning to improve outcomes for educators and students. “My passion is helping educators do their important work better.”