Donna Stone is the Chief Executive Officer for the Rhode Island Mayoral Academies & NE Basecamp. Donna supports Mayoral Academies through processes related to organizational growth, quality, and sustainability, ensuring that prospective academies are well prepared to open. She leads District-Charter collaboration work through NE Basecamp, a program sponsored by RIMA, which supports the implementation of personalized learning in both district and charter schools across the state. She has been instrumental in expanding the district-charter collaboration into urban and suburban schools throughout the state having brought district, school, and teacher leaders from all types of district, traditional charter and Mayoral Academies to the table for the sharing of best practices, professional development, and personalized learning model planning.
Donna spent twelve years as a classroom teacher, mentor, and technology trainer for the North Smithfield School District before taking the position of Director of Professional Development for Atarza, a New England-based educational technology company. She has also used her professional development expertise as an educator quality specialist for the RI Department of Education by developing and facilitating evaluation training for school and district leaders statewide. Donna has a BS in Human Development and Families Studies and a MA in Instructional Design and Technology. She holds an elementary education certification and an administrator of curriculum and instruction certification. She is also a board member of RISE Prep Mayoral Academy.
Wendy Espinoza Cotta is a former teacher and administrator with over 15 years experience in K-12 public and private education in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Her expertise, background and passion lie in supporting school communities that are interested in designing holistic educational experiences that integrate the strengths of online learning, the benefits of social learning, as well as the transformative value of experiential learning based on local and global community partnerships. She has presented at regional conferences on the topics of blended learning, global collaboration projects, design thinking, social media use in education, and grant writing.
Wendy holds a B.A. in Political Science from Barnard College, Columbia University, and an M.Ed in Educational Technology from Lesley College. She is currently pursuing an Ed.D. at Northeastern University in the area of Organizational Leadership. She has served as a Board member of MassCUE, and continues to be active in promoting blended and personalized learning models across New England. In July, 2016, she joined Rhode Island Mayoral Academies to support the implementation of the Summit model of personalized learning in education.
Dr. Shayna Fox-Norwitz began her career as an educator in Rhode Island with a science teaching position in Woonsocket at Beacon Charter High School for the Arts. She later went on to become the literacy specialist at the school where she succeeded in raising the school’s reading proficiency level to 98%. She notably served on the Rhode Island Literacy team and has also worked as a consultant for National Academic Educational Partners, working on projects ranging from full turnaround efforts to Common Core Aligned Professional Developments. Dr. Fox-Norwitz began working for RIMA as the Associate Director of Personalized Learning in July of 2016.
Dr. Fox-Norwitz holds a B.A. in Secondary Education and a B.S. in Biology from The University of Rhode Island, a M.A. in Literacy Education from Roger Williams University and an Ed.D. in Elementary and Secondary Educational Leadership from Johnson and Wales University. She also holds a certification in Secondary Biology with a Middle school endorsement, as well as a Reading Specialist certification for grades K-12.
Nicole Grant joined New England Basecamp after more than 12 years in public education. Her teaching career began in New Haven, CT at the Benjamin Jepson Magnet School where she was a teacher at the intermediate level. After moving to Massachusetts, she became part of the Milton, MA public school system where she was a Title One instructor before moving into the classroom as a second grade and fifth grade teacher. When her children began their own educational paths in Rhode Island, her career brought her to Scituate and Smithfield as a Child Outreach Screener.
Nicole holds a B.S. in Computer Information Systems from Westfield State University and a M.Ed in Elementary Education from Southern Connecticut State University.
Julie Maruska comes to NE Basecamp after having taught Middle School Science for 8 years in both public and charter urban schools. After graduating from Providence College with her B.S. in Biology, she taught for two years as a corps member with Teach For America in Phoenix, Arizona. Choosing to continue her career as an educator, she moved back to the East Coast to obtain her Master’s Degree in Education at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, during which time she focused specifically on urban education school reform and best practices for teaching Science. Afterwards, she worked at Neighborhood House Charter School (NHCS) in Boston, MA for five years, as both a Middle School Science Teacher and Science Department Chair. Under her leadership the Science program at NHCS expanded to focus on the Scientific Practices aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), creating vertical alignment in Grades K through 8 with scientific investigations and the CERC writing model.
Most recently, she joined the team at DelSesto Middle School in Providence as an 8th Grade Science Teacher and Department Teacher Leader. At this time, she was trained as part of the second Cohort Partner Schools of the Summit Learning Program and implemented Summit Learning in her classroom. Her love for Summit and desire to bring the program to more local students led her to working for NE Basecamp.
Peter Siner started his career in education at Highlander Charter School where he was a middle school History Teacher and Department Head. His time in the classroom was an eye opening experience, he quickly realized the need for a more inclusive style of education that would benefit all students. Peter was initially introduced to Summit Learning while at Highlander Charter and the implementation of a personalized learning model was a natural progression for Peter and his peers.
After transitioning to Summit in his classroom as part of the Cohort 2 schools, Peter became a Summit Learning Fellow to help schools across New England implement personalized learning in their classrooms. His passion for education and belief in Summit Learning has brought him to New England Basecamp as a coach. Peter attended the University of Rhode Island and holds a B.A. in Secondary Education from Rhode Island college.
Tricia Smeland is a former classroom teacher and school leader having served in schools across Rhode Island. Her passion for educational equity has evolved significantly over the years. After receiving her BA in Philosophy from Salve Regina University, she pursued the opportunity to serve as a AmeriCorps City Year volunteer in Providence Public Schools. This proved to be the catalyst in her decision to pursue a career in education. Being accepted into the Teach for America program fueled her passion and she invested in her own education receiving a M.Ed. in Diverse and Inclusive Teaching from Rhode Island College. Since then Tricia has been working to make high quality outcomes accessible for all of Rhode Island’s students.
Her 7 years of work in the education sector, serving both urban public and charter schools, has afforded her the opportunity to work directly with students in grades 1-12. Her experience working in a variety of schools and capacities including, but not limited to, classroom instruction, curriculum development, program management, instructional coaching, data analysis and school-wide support coordination has given Tricia a unique lens on the educational landscape.