Advancing Educators

Design Associates

AE Design Associates have a combined 23 years of full-time classroom teaching experience during which they have been recognized not only for their excellence in teaching but also for the leadership roles they readily assumed to support teaching and learning throughout their schools. It is this track record of skill and commitment to the craft of teaching that drives their design of substantive and relevant learning experiences for adults in schools.

Larisa Sharifi - Design Associate

Larisa Sharifi earned her B.A. in French from Columbia University and her M.S. in Reading from SUNY Albany. She also has certification in Educational Leadership from The College of New Jersey, with a focus on professional development and organizational culture. She has long been fascinated with what makes learning effective and is committed to building connections and helping educators feel confident in their work. Larisa taught primary grades for four years in New York City in a pilot district for the Teachers College Reading and Writing project. However, most of her twelve years in education have been spent abroad, in international schools in Turkey and Africa. She grew increasingly interested in how educators and organizations evolve and learn and in 2009 moved into coaching and educational leadership. She has led teams in many areas of professional inquiry and is particularly interested in how literacy instruction is reflected in unit design. Her background as a global nomad has contributed to an appreciation for intercultural dialogue, and her best measure of a job well done is promoting conversation that enlivens and inspires.

Grace Penn - Design Associate

Grace Penn earned her BA in Politics from Princeton University and her MA in International Educational Development from Columbia University.  She is currently working on a certification in Supervision and Administration at Johns Hopkins University.  Grace has worked as a classroom teacher and coach in grades K-8 in in public schools.  In her work as a coach, Grace successfully developed action plans for struggling teachers. She has also mentored student teacher cohorts for the last 4 years.  Through this work she became particularly interested in how teachers can make learning central to their classroom management approach. To this end, Grace has presented workshops on subjects ranging from  collaborative learning in elementary grades, to technology integration. She understands that the ever-changing education landscape that teachers face can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate. She is committed to working with educators to develop and nurture strategies to implement curriculum in a meaningful way. Above all, Grace hopes that educators see their role as facilitators of learning rather than givers of knowledge.