Who We Are
As a brand new teacher in rural Mississippi, Kate Bishop organized a book drive to replace the fifty-year old basal readers in her classroom and implement readers’ workshop. It was spectacularly messy and the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the intricacies of literacy learning and teaching. In the years that followed, she has worked as a classroom teacher, a reading intervention specialist, and a coach in Baltimore, New York and New Jersey. Along the way, Kate earned a Masters degree in the Literacy Specialist program at Teachers College, during which time she studied under Lucy Calkins, interned with Jennifer Serravallo at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and worked with elementary teachers across New York City to create a critical reading unit of study. After nine years, Kate recently left her beloved job as a Literacy Coach at a progressive school in the Bronx to move with her family to her hometown of Oxford, MS. She currently consults with school districts around the country to provide teachers with professional development in balanced literacy. When she's not traveling, Kate enjoys exploring the woods with her two young sons and working with her husband to run a local food market, which serves as a hub for local farmers, food makers, and the community.
After completing her masters at Fordham University, Holly Chopack began her teaching career on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. As a new 3rd grade teacher Holly was given literacy staff development. She immediately felt she had been given an amazing set of tools to help her students become successful readers and writers. Holly set out to learn as much as she could about balanced literacy. She has participated in numerous workshops, summer institutes, and leadership groups at Teachers College. Holly brought her literacy knowledge back to her school to train teachers, and to lead workshops for parents. Holly has served as a new teacher mentor, and her classrooms have been lab sites for teachers from across the country. In addition, Holly has participated in a fellowship for struggling kindergarten and 1st grade readers at Fordham. Upon completion of the program, Holly was a coach for future participants. Holly has taught in Manhattan and Brooklyn for over 10 years. Holly lives in New Jersey with her husband and two little boys.
Jamie graduated from the Literacy Specialist program at Teachers College, where she was a Milman Fellow, working with New York City's renewal schools to learn how to implement Writing Workshop. While studying at TC, Jamie was a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. She led institutes, as well as developed curriculum and tools used by staff developers, principals, and teachers. Jamie's teaching journey began in Montgomery, New Jersey where she taught 1st and 2nd grade for several years. It was in these classrooms where she saw the powerful work that reading and writing workshop could have. Having also spent several summers in Guanxi, China teaching English to middle schoolers, she became deeply interested in working with English Language Learners. This led to Jamie spending two summers studying in Spain to receive her English as a Second Language Teaching Certificate. Jamie continues her teaching and coaching career at Far Brook School, a progressive school in Short Hills, New Jersey. She resides in New Jersey with her husband and son.
Melanie Brown began her teaching career at P.S. 307 in Brooklyn, where she taught fourth and fifth grades for more than five years. During her third year there her teaching life and classroom were transformed by professional development she received in balanced literacy instruction. Realizing this was the way she would want her own child to learn, she joined the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. For seven years at the Project, Melanie staff developed K-8 teachers, coaches and principals across the country and spent a year as a reading researcher for the Units of Study on the Teaching of Reading, Grades 3-5. Missing daily interactions with students and wanting to be in a school setting during the implementation of new literacy standards, Melanie became a K-5 Literacy Coach at a progressive charter school in the Bronx. Melanie also works as a literacy reform consultant for schools in New York and New Jersey. Her work in schools includes classroom demonstrations, planning sessions, curriculum writing, coaching, data analysis and an emphasis on studying student work. Melanie lives in New Jersey with her husband, daughter, son and dog in a house filled with books- the old-fashioned kind.
Jess Wontropski graduated from Bank Street College of Education with an M.S.Ed in Childhood General and Special Education. Her teaching career began at a progressive charter school in the Bronx in a 3rd grade, integrated, co-taught classroom. With Melanie Brown as her coach, Jess's love for teaching literacy grew! Sitting in the corners of the classroom and getting lost in stories with children immediately became her favorite part of classroom life. Jess quickly noticed that some students could access books easily and others could not, which privileged learners in inequitable ways. Finding ways to provide entry points and differentiate literacy instruction became a deep passion and area of inquiry for her. Jess spent years designing accessible curricula and teaching students in grades 3-5 before transitioning into higher education. Currently, Jess is a program director, instructor, and advisor at Bank Street College of Education, working alongside teachers as they develop their craft. Jess lives in a small apartment in New York City, just big enough for her and her collection of all-time favorite children's books.
Alby’s call to teaching began in 2008 in a small Special Education classroom in the South Bronx. During her eight years of service at M.S.302, Alby worked with a wide range of learners who both motivated and challenged her to deepen her understanding of literacy. Alby sought various professional development opportunities that allowed her to transform her practice and improve the instructional quality of her school. In 2013, Alby became a Peer Instructional Coach for the English Language Arts Department at M.S. 302 where she supported the development of her peers by creating professional learning opportunities, leading teacher teams, and facilitating coaching conversations with colleagues. Wanting to do more to improve educational inequities for students of color, Alby entered the Principal Institue at Bank Street College. She holds both her Ed.M and New York State school building leader certification. Currently, Alby works at Bronx Community Charter School, a progressive school in the Northwood section of Bronx. During her time at BxC, Alby has worked alongside her literacy coach as a teacher leader. Alby lives in the Bronx with her husband, two spirited young daughters and dog.