EdSurge Voices of Change Writing Fellowship

katie wills evans

Role: Humanities teacher
School: The Living School NOLA
City, State: New Orleans, Louisiana
Years in Education: 12 years

katie wills evans (she/they) is a humanities teacher at The Living School NOLA with 12 years of teaching experience in New Orleans public schools. Committed to abolition as a lifelong practice, evans refracts where we are into explorations of what we could become through essays, poetry, curriculum and their novel-in-progress. Their work is published in The Progressive, Variable West, Q/A Poetry and Art+Design Magazine. Their favorite place is their classroom.

Michael Paul Ida

Role: Math and computer science teacher
School: Kalani High School
City, State: Honolulu, Hawaii
Years in Education: 27 years

Michael Ida (he/him) is a mathematics and computer science teacher at Kalani High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. Ida has taught mathematics and computer science for 27 years. In that time, he has served as the mathematics department chairperson, academic review team member and a student club advisor. Ida has been a National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescent/Young Adulthood Mathematics since 2004 and in 2023, he was named Hawaii State Teacher of the Year.

Serving on various leadership teams including the Hawaii Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Hawaii chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association and the Hawaii National Board Certified Teachers Collective, Ida embraces servant leadership as a core professional and personal value. As a Hawaii State Teacher Fellow and a Hawaii Teacher Leader Academy alumnus, Ida seeks to uplift all teachers in the work that they do and support them as leaders and agents of change.

Sachin Pandya

Role: Fifth grade teacher
District: Lake Bluff Elementary School
City, State: Shorewood, Wisconsin
Years in Education: 18 years

Sachin Pandya (he/him) is a fifth grade teacher at Lake Bluff Elementary in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He has 18 years of experience teaching fifth and sixth grade in public schools. He earned a Master of Science degree in Museum and Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education in New York. He has taken on various leadership roles in his school and in his teacher's union, advocating for authentic learning, equity and teacher leadership. A dad of three, Pandya enjoys spending time with his family, being outdoors and coaching his children’s soccer teams.

James Parra

Role: Paraprofessional
School: Brooklyn Arbor Elementary School
City, State: Brooklyn, New York
Years in Education: Eight years

James Parra (he/him) is a paraprofessional at Brooklyn Arbor Elementary School (BAES) in Brooklyn, New York. Parra has been working in schools for eight years. He is an advocate for anti-bias and anti-racist pedagogy and liberating education that benefits students and educators. Working on the equity team at BAES, he collaborates with the administration and his colleagues to ensure that all student voices, experiences and identities are reflected across school celebrations and curriculum. Parra is currently finishing up his bachelor’s degree in political science, Africana and Puerto Rican studies and English at Hunter College and plans to pursue his master's degree in childhood education at the same institution.

Amanda Marie Rosas

Role: Teacher of Spanish and Women’s Studies
School: Visitation High School
City, State: Mendota Heights, Minnesota
Years in Education: 20 years

Amanda Marie Rosas (she/her) teaches high school Spanish and Women’s Studies at Visitation School, a Catholic institution in Mendota Heights, Minnesota. She is a mama, a poet and has been a teacher for two decades. Rosas draws beauty, strength and creativity from her Mexican American roots and from her husband and three daughters. Originally from San Antonio, she now lives in Golden Valley, Minnesota.

In addition to teaching, Rosas recently took on another role as the diversity coordinator for the upper school to advance racial equity and justice work with students and faculty. She also designed the online Activism Seminar, Advanced Spanish and Latine Identity courses for One Schoolhouse, an online educational organization that offers innovative course offerings to high school students that want to take asynchronous courses during their academic career. In writing and curriculum, Rosas infuses justice, storytelling and BIPOC histories and experiences to emphasize shared humanity as the birthplace of unity and hope.

Damen Scott

Role: Principal
School: Achievement First Brooklyn High School
City, State: Brooklyn, New York
Years in Education: 11 years

Damen Scott (he/him) is the principal of Achievement First Brooklyn High School in Brooklyn, New York. Before stepping into school leadership, Scott taught high school English language arts for nine years and achieved the title of Distinguished Teacher for his excellence in teaching and consistent breakthrough student results. He is also a member of the National Fellowship for Black and Latino Male Educators, having additional opportunities to learn, lead and strengthen his love for education and equity. Damen received a bachelor’s degree in English from Morehouse College and a master’s degree in developmental psychology from Columbia University.

Keely J. Sutton

Role: School and community engagement manager
School: Luther J. Price Middle School
City, State: Atlanta, Georgia
Years in Education: 23 years

Keely Sutton (she/her) is the school and community engagement manager at Luther J. Price Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia. Sutton has 23 years of educational experience including middle school ELA teacher, instructional coach, assistant principal and college professor and has been named ELA Teacher of the Year three times.

Deaunna Dee Watson

Role: Director of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging
School: Mercy Montessori School
City, State: Cincinnati, Ohio
Years in Education: 9 years

Deaunna Watson (she/her) is the director of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging at Mercy Montessori School, where she facilitates learning and designs experiences to help her staff reimagine a world that brings the margins to the center.

Watson believes that it’s necessary to collaborate with communities through the lens of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging to truly achieve the outcomes all people deserve in order to thrive in today’s society. Honoring and centering the human experience is the heartbeat of her work. Watson holds a bachelor's degree in adolescent and young adult education and a master's degree in community and cultural wellness.


Kelli Kauakanilehua Adams is an English teacher at Kealakehe High School in Kailua-Kona, Hawai'i.
Geoff Carlisle is an eighth grade science teacher at KIPP Austin College Prep in Austin, Texas.
Deitra Colquitt is co-principal at Pershing Elementary School in University City, Missouri.
Aisha Douglas is an academic dean at Achievement First Brooklyn High School in Brooklyn, New York.
César Martín Moreno is a science teacher at San Francisco International High School in San Francisco, California.
Helen Thomas is the Office of Indian Education's professional learning specialist for the Arizona Department of Education in Phoenix, Arizona.
Jennifer Yoo-Brannon is an instructional coach at El Monte Union High School District in El Monte, California.

Fellowship Editors

Marisa Busch (she/her) is an editor at EdSurge, where she works with fellows, contributors, columnists and reporters. Previously she was a research manager at EdSurge and before that, she was a teacher, coach and curriculum developer in schools for over a decade. Busch holds a Bachelor of Arts in music composition and creative writing from New York University and a Master of Science in learning disabilities from Hunter College.

Cobretti D. Williams, Ph.D., (he/they) is a fellowship editor for the Voices of Change Fellowship at EdSurge. Cobretti has nearly 10 years of experience in higher education administration, research and editorial production for academic journals and higher education media sites. He received his doctoral degree in higher education from Loyola University of Chicago.

The Voices of Change fellowship is supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. EdSurge maintains editorial independence over all of our journalism, in keeping with our ethics statement. This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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