Who’s Next

Who’s Next Education: 14 people leading the charge in Philadelphia schools

They’re spending long hours teaching everything from social studies to social justice.

Photos: Ed Newton; Illustration: Jayna Wallace/Billy Penn

Philly’s education system is the one of the main keys to the city’s future. For future Philadelphians to be successful, they need good teachers, mentors and school administrators. So for the third time, Billy Penn is honoring teachers and education leaders as part of our Who’s Next series.

Every month, Billy Penn publishes an edition of Who’s Next, presented by the Knight Foundation, that focuses on a different industry or field. Over the last two and a half years, we’ve written about more than 400 of the city’s up-and-coming leaders through the Who’s Next feature, from community leaders to artists to musicians to chefs.

Below are this year’s 14 winners, presented in alphabetical order.

Honorees’ hair and makeup by House of Clarity.

Ed Newton

Jasmine D. Bullock

Manager of Youth Programs at The Franklin Institute
33 years old

On Saturdays, some 125 middle school students from all over Philadelphia come to the Franklin Institute for robotics, city architecture and various other science-related projects. Bullock is the one setting the curriculum and managing the high school students who act as mentors for the middle school students and guides at the museum. She was originally going to consider a career in nursing but kept coming back to how much she enjoyed leading science enrichment programs and has found a way to combine science with education in an ideal environment. “I don’t have to be behind a desk,” Bullock said. “I really love the informal science.”

Ed Newton

Ryan J. Carlin

Music Educator - School of the Future
29 years old

Carlin teaches the required general music course, but he’s morphed the curriculum into something else, something called Modern Band. The class teaches students the traditional music concepts through popular music, largely hip-hop and R&B because his students are primarily most interested in those genres. Kids learn bass, drums, keyboards and more. Carlin likes to think of learning music “as a language: You don’t learn to write before you speak. This program gets them playing.” He helped form the school’s first choir and directs a modern band called Future Jawn that plays at community events and concerts. Carlin also teaches an autistic support music class.

Ed Newton

Nikki Cohen

38 years old

Cohen has taught at 10 schools in the last eight years, having dealt with layoffs and closures and other complications of the Philadelphia School District and is now a second grade teacher at Lewis Elkin in Kensington. She's known by her colleagues as someone always willing to buy her own supplies and organize fundraising drives. When not teaching, she is a member of the City Year advisory associate board. City Year uses mentors to interact with students with the goal of lowering Philadelphia's dropout rate.

Ed Newton

Angela Daubert Shouler

Educator and Board Certified Behavior Analyst
33 years old

As a certified behavioral analyst, Daubert Shouler works with autistic children usually of preschool age and supervises and mentors teachers who are learning to be behavioral analysts. After starting out with the school district, she now works with Early Intervention Agencies, educating up to 20 children at a time. In the future, she’d like to serve in a clinical director role. A colleague who nominated her envisions Daubert Shouler starting her own agency or even school devoted to helping parents act early in their child's development.

Ed Newton

Deana Gamble

Chief of Staff at Mayor's Office of Education
38 years old

Mayor Jim Kenney’s Universal pre-K plan has been perhaps the most-discussed education initiative in the city, and Gamble is heavily involved. As chief of staff for the Mayor’s Office of Education for the last three months, she has provided direction not only to that program but for day-to-day operations in the Office of Education. Previously she was the office's communications director. One of her favorite parts about the job has been seeing the rollout of the pre-K programs. She often visits the schools with Kenney. "Anything I do I need to feel passionately about. So pre-K, that’s a no-brainer for me.”

Ed Newton

Brittany Nicole Holiday

Community & Youth Advocate
34 years old

For students and graduates of Hope Partnership for Education, Holiday is a connector, keeping in touch with them long after they leave. Her position entails tutoring and mentoring fifth- through eighth-grade students of various Philadelphia schools involved in the Hope program after their school day has ended. For the younger students, she offers advice about high school. For those who keep coming back, she educates them about college or trade school or other opportunities they can pursue in the future. Holiday is also a founding member of Rising Queens, an organization that provides after-school programming and mentorship to girls between the ages of 10 and 18 and is a board member for the McNamee Scholars Program and The Village of Arts and Humanities.

Ed Newton

Ismael Jimenez

Educator, Kensington Creative and Performing Arts
40 years old

Jimenez’s specialty is African-American history. He’s taught the subject at various schools in the district for the last eight years. As part of the curriculum he’s lately been teaching classes about social justice and structural racism. "Even when Obama got elected, we were having the critical discourse about that,” he said. I was telling my students when he got elected this isn’t post-racial America now.”Jimenez is also co-chair for the Caucus of Working Educators. Part of his role with them is building relationships with other organizations. As part of that, he helped form the Black History Collaborative, which helps provide resources to teachers trying to develop African-American history curricula.

Ed Newton

Jeremy Julien

Teacher, Dean, Coach at Central HS
39 years old

A graduate of Central High School, Julien returned to his alma mater as a Spanish teacher and later became dean of students and the wrestling coach. At the time when he took over, Central’s wresting program was struggling. The last five years, with Julien at the helm, the school has won three Public League championships. His days are packed —starting off with de-escalating issues as the dean of discipline, then teaching a basic and AP Spanish course and then during season handling the wrestling team —but he wouldn’t do it any other way. "I love watching new Spanish students get excited about the language," he said, "and use it in real world situations."

Ed Newton

Dana Martin

College Advisor and Author
38 years old

Martin remembers having little to no college advising when she was a student at Central High School. As a professional, she’s wanted to provide the advice she didn’t get. Her belief and strategy at Mastery Charter is telling parents and kids that college preparation must begin in early high school or middle school, so students can learn to prepare and parents can find ways to utilize every resource possible. Students at Mastery have had a 100 percent post-secondary acceptance rate since she's been there, for the classes of 2012 through 2016. She’s also the author of Creatively Closing the Gap: Unconventional Ways to Find Money for College and consults about college advising to individuals and organizations on the side.

Ed Newton

Richard McGovern

Philadelphia Coordinator, Twinn Palms Inc.
41 years old

The Philadelphia Archdiocese is a leader at recruiting students from abroad to attend Catholic high schools, and McGovern is heavily involved. As Philadelphia Coordinator for Twinn Palms, he develops recruiting strategies to bring students, largely from China, to Philadelphia and helps situate them in the area, either at dormitories or through home stays. Twinn Palms has helped bring hundreds of international students to Philadelphia. "I believe in next 10-12 years,” he said, "Philadelphia will be a model for how this is done.”

Ed Newton

Lauren J. Overton

Principal at William M. Meredith School
37 years old

Overton took over as principal at Meredith Elementary this year after years of working as a teacher at Meredith, Southwark and Julia de Burgos. She said she is "probably one of the few openly gay administrators in the city. There’s a tendency for many gay administrators to shy away from being out in the workplace.” At Meredith, she’s tried to create a progressive, accepting culture, introducing lessons around subjects like LGBT issues, white privilege and the effects of social media on students. "In this capacity I get to be a practitioner and an activist," Overton said. "None of this would be possible without leaning on the continuous support of my incredible leadership team and the teachers who work diligently to give children opportunities to grow." Overton is also a girl scout troop leader and has hosted workshops with the New Teacher Project.

Ed Newton

Kathleen Therese Radebaugh

Middle Years English Teacher and School Based Teacher Leader for Literacy
34 years old

For her job, Radebaugh not only teaches English at Lea Elementary but helps other teachers at the school implement new literacy standards and curriculum. She's always been heavily involved in extracurriculars, from helping students with the nationally-known Hybrid X team when she worked at West Philly Auto Academy to planning a Thanksgiving dinner the week of the holiday to ensure her students have a home-cooked meal at Lea to coaching the high school crew team at Friends Select. Radebaugh is a Yale National Initiative Fellow and Teachers Institute of Philadelphia Fellow. She's now been teaching for 10 years and said, "I cannot imagine a day without a classroom."

Ed Newton

Laura Schad

Social Studies Teacher
30 years old

Schad has been at Southwark Elementary for the last two years, teaching her seventh and eighth grade students about everything from ancient civilizations to American history, trying to get her students, some 40 percent of whom are English Language Learners, to be able to answer the question, "What is Democracy?" She’s increased student involvement by starting with teacher Lauren Szczesny a scholarly exchange quiz bowl type of program between Southwark and students of nearby Jackson Elementary. After school, the Philly native volunteers as a leader in Students Run Philly Style and a soccer coach for a co-ed team. "I think it’s really important for female students to see female athletes,” she said. "I wanted to make sure I picked something I could encourage my female students to do and feel successful at.”

Danya Henninger

Nicholas E. Wilson

Site Director at Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia
29 years old

At Breakthrough Philadelphia in Germantown, Wilson works with middle school and high school students, offering mentorship and college prep through after-school sessions and college programs. Wilson has been involved with initiating a Back to School Night and pop-up library as part of the program and designed a curriculum centered on social justice and another for the Constitution. One of his colleagues at Breakthrough explains that Wilson has "dramatically reshaped our programming to better meet the needs of our students."