Our team is student-centered, equity-driven, authentic, and bold.
We bring an asset-based approach to each partnership with the goal of ensuring that all students engage in liberated learning - learning that is not only academically rigorous, but also affirms student identity, prepares students socially and emotionally, and creates meaningful opportunities for students to explore their interests and shape their communities.
We are hiring! Contact us if you're interested in joining our team.
Students deserve liberated learning experiences.
Authentic partnerships with families and communities are essential.
Leaders and teachers must have a roadmap and robust structures to support their growth.
To engage students in liberated learning that draws on the assets and uniqueness of each school community.
To fundamentally change the way leaders partner with school communities to reimagine and implement liberated student learning experiences.
How It All Started
LiberatED Way emerged from Academy for Urban School Leadership's learnings from over 15 years of transforming neighborhood public schools in Chicago. Our work began as a pilot within the AUSL network to embrace innovation in school improvement.
How We Developed
We have leveraged our learning to develop our LiberatED Way model, a school revitalization partnership approach tailored by and for each school community. Our LiberatED Way team serves as a strategic partner to schools and districts nationally who believe in the power and potential of a community-driven approach to school improvement.
What We Can Do For Your School or District
Our experienced team of current and former school and systems-level leaders works arm in arm with your leadership team to:
Inclusively design an equity-centered vision for the student experience
Establish and sharpen foundational structures for culture and instruction
Foster authentic family and community partnerships
Create robust leader and teacher development systems aligned to the desired student experience
OUR CORE TEAM
Martin’s ultimate goal and aspiration in life is helping others, especially young people, unlock the self-efficacy and courage they need to live their purpose. He hopes to make the most out of every day, whether that’s by helping to unearth a critical insight with a client, enjoying a cocktail or two with his wife, or driving home the game-winning run on the softball field.
Prior to LiberatED Way, Martin led an array of strategic teaching and learning priorities at Tulsa Public Schools. Key projects included the design and implementation of the Tulsa Way for Teaching & Learning and associated teacher development roadmap, revamping the district’s novice teacher experience, redesigning report cards to drive more meaningful engagement with students and families in their academic and social-emotional learning progress, and implementing the district’s first learning management system. Prior to his work at Tulsa Public Schools, Martin was a Manager at Deloitte Consulting, leading projects across a variety of industries including higher education. Martin is a proud graduate of the Broad Residency in Urban Education, received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, and graduated with a BA in Comparative Literature from Williams College.
Martin has a unique affinity for karaoke (specifically early 90s R&B) and the New York Yankees. He’s also a superfan of TV series’ The Wire and Sopranos.
Ulric Shannon believes that school can be a transformational experience where educating is the practice of freedom and schools are hubs for healing. As a product of Chicago Public Schools, he attests his professional and personal success as a Black man to the adults, in and out of school, that provided meaningful moments that enabled him to show up complete and whole. Ulric dreams of the day that we redefine student success that allows all students to gain the confidence needed to instinctually believe that they are enough in every space.
Ulric began his career in education with Chicago Public Schools as a 3rd-grade teacher. His experience in the classroom is when he realized his calling was to disrupt the current way of educating students and provide them with an 11-star educational experience that enabled all students to thrive. His leadership and passion took him to Chicago Public School's Office of Local School Council, where Ulric developed and led the family and community engagement strategy for over 90 schools. In this role, he recruited, trained, advised, and coached Local School Councils, Parent Advisory Councils, and school & district leaders in making sure that all decisions are made in the best interest of children and representative of the communities' voices. Before joining AUSL, Director of External Affairs at Civitas Education Partners. served as the Managing Director of Recruitment for Teach For America.
Ulric volunteers on the Chicago Scholars and Chicago Debates Associate Boards. He is a Surge Institute Alum, Chicago Urban League/ University of Chicago Booth School of Business Impact Fellow, Posse Scholar, and University of Illinois Civic Leadership Fellow. Chicago Scholars recognized Ulric as one of Chicago's 35 under 35 making an impact in Chicago. And he is a proud University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Alum, where he received his bachelor's and master's degree in Political Science. He has two additional master's degrees in Teaching and Business Administration.
Like a true Chicagoan, he loves deep dish pizza, and you will never find ketchup on his hot dog. As a kid, he wanted to be the President of the United States, and now, as an adult, he realizes that even as a kid, all he wanted to do was work that would change the world, and working in education, he is allowed to do just that - every day! So, when he finds some free time, he enjoys traveling the world, cooking, and watching Law and Order: Special Victims Unit marathons.
Director of Partner Engagement
Molly Leger is the Manager of Strategic Initiatives for the LiberatED Way team. Her work is energized by a mission to ensure all students have access to high-quality, identify-affirming educational experiences that set them to successfully navigate and change the world. As a former teacher, she believes in the power of teachers, leaders, students, and community members to lead their schools towards equity and a holistic definition of excellence. She knows all students deserve nothing less.
As the Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives, Molly works across projects to support program leads, continuous programmatic improvement, and business development. Prior to joining the LiberatED Way team, Molly served as a researcher, non-profit director, educational program evaluator, and a school improvement specialist. In these roles, she’s supported non-profits, philanthropic foundations, schools, and districts in vision-building, strategy-alignment, and organizational capacity-building. But, to date, her most challenging and rewarding role was her work as a middle school educator. She holds a Master’s in Education Policy from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master’s in Instruction, and professional certificate from the University of Michigan in Leading Educational Improvement & Innovation.
Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives
Shelby works tirelessly to ensure that all students are able to unlock their potential. Shelby works with educators around the country to help schools, leaders, teachers, and parents to grow practice, make connections, and create sustainable systems designed to guarantee student success.
Shelby leads the design, rollout, and ongoing refinement of LiberatED Way content leveraged in the team’s district and school partnerships. Shelby began her education career as a special education teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools. After the death of Freddie Gray, the importance of educational equity was cemented for her as a critical component to any education work. She realized that without true honesty about the education system and the role we all play, students in Baltimore would never have an opportunity to chart their own path forward. After leaving the classroom Shelby led teacher and leader development and high quality curriculum implementation work at TNTP. Her partner districts included Baltimore City Public Schools, Guilford County Public Schools, Tulsa Public Schools, and Chicago Public Schools. In addition to bringing a depth of expertise in establishing structures to catalyze rigorous, equitable instruction in schools, Shelby is also adept at leading research-based diversity, equity, and inclusion work across schools and organizations. Shelby is a graduate of Judson University in Elgin, IL and graduated with a BA in Human Services and Walden University where she received a Master’s of Science in education with a focus on Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. Shelby is also a proud Fellow of the 2020 Surge Institute - Chicago Cohort, The Disruptors.
Shelby is an avid sports watcher and Baltimore Ravens super fan! She started singing before she could talk and frequently leads the congregation at her church in song, and loves to spend quality time with her family - especially her partner and college-age daughter.
Director of Program Design
Rick believes that teachers truly can unlock the potential in students that will make them change the world. As a first year teacher Rick lacked the support that he needed to be successful which is why he is so passionate about supporting teachers in this work. Rick has been a founding teacher at 2 high performing charter schools in Chicago where he served in a variety of instructional leadership roles such as Department Chair, Resident Principal, Testing Coordinator, etc.
Before transitioning to the Advisory Services team in 2018, Rick spent several years working for AUSL as an instructional coach and curriculum and development coach. In this work Rick has been instrumental in supporting teachers and school leaders across the AUSL Network with the implementation of a Common Core curriculum and data driven instruction. He has also designed professional development for teacher and school leaders across the network. Rick holds two Master's Degrees. One in School Leadership from Concordia University and another as a Masters of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University in Chicago.
When he is not busy trying to support teachers who are trying to change the world, Rick spends his time living in Las Vegas where he likes to get outside and enjoy Las Vegas by hiking and attending as many live music events as he can.
Teacher Development Partner
Dina McReynolds Everage believes and is committed to the belief that birth does not dictate destiny. Education enhances the “life chances” of an individual. She feels it is her moral responsibility to provide all children she is privileged to serve the same quality of education she was afforded and demands for her own children. One of her most memorable experiences was teaching a third-grade class full of students that the school had deemed low achievers. By the end of the semester, all of the students were on grade level and six of those children were on the “gifted” spectrum. Her students out scored all of the third grade students in the district on the standardized test and were asked to retest... only to perform better! This early moment in her career ignited a passion that grew like wildfire and has yet to be extinguished. There is very little you can tell her about what children cannot do when the conditions are right.
Dina has spent her entire career creating those conditions and proving that all children, when given the correct opportunities, experiences and exposure can achieve their life’s goals. After graduating college, Dina’s first job was working with the Boys and Girls Club in Chicago’s inner city providing social and emotional support for her team of children. From there she began working as a third grade teacher in District 160 in Country Club Hills. She then transitioned into Chicago Public Schools holding positions as a Middle School teacher, Math Coach, Assistant Principal and Principal in two of the most challenging communities in Chicago. Throughout her career, not only did she create unmatched school communities for her students, she created dynamic work experiences for her teachers. As a result, she has had the opportunity to watch them flourish and become high level school leaders in CPS and across the state.
Dina holds a Masters Degree and multiple certifications in Education. This career educator entered her first classroom at 21 and has spent the last 30 years doing her “life’s work!” Now, this rewired educator is fully committed to developing the next generation of school leaders to continue championing the work for children who “need” school.
When Dina is not managing programs for AUSL, she continues to immerse herself in the culture of youth by helping many of her “old” students become great parents, productive entrepreneurs and community leaders. But greater than any accomplishment, although widowed unexpectedly, her young adult children have become Amazing Humans who are fully contributing to their chosen professions. Khylah, a recent graduate of Howard University (‘21) with a BA in Strategic and Legal Communications, is a Development Officer and Khalil is a working actor who has already had significant roles. And that, to her, is her greatest work!
"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." -John Quincy Adams
Leadership Development Partner
Christine Diaz, School Systems Leadership Subject Matter Advisor- Christine is a Leadership Development Partner on the LiberatED Way team. As part of her role, she supports and builds capacity among school leaders and teachers across various schools and school districts. She brings a wealth of experience and expertise in systemic leadership, change management, data driven leadership and is passionate about educational equity. Christine brings 19 years of K-12 educational leadership experience in traditional district, charter schools, and alternative schools with a strong record of results. Prior to joining LiberatED Way, Christine has served in a variety of roles: Principal, Assistant Principal, Chief Education Officer for one of the largest K-12 Charter networks in Chicago and most recently, as VP of Schools for IDEA Public Schools in Ft. Worth, TX. Christine holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology, a Masters in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. In addition, she is a proud alumn of both New Leaders for New Schools and the Surge Institute.
Leadership Development Partner
Sara is passionate about creating equitable spaces for young people to play and learn in a way that empowers them to build the life that they aspire to live. Sara is the Partnership Growth Manager at LiberatED Way. In this role they support the growth and sustainability of LiberatED Way partnerships.
Prior to joining LiberatED Way, Sara pursued their mission in the sports-based youth development field, primarily in the out of school time space. Their focus in this work was gender equity and social-emotional learning. Sara is excited to use the knowledge and skills that they learned while collaborating with schools in Denver, Aurora, Rwanda and Chicago and as an anti-racist educator and life long learner learner to support LiberatED Way.
Sara lives in Chicago with her partner, their 14 year old dog Bentley, Maggie the Mastiff, and cat, Whizz. In their free time, Sara enjoys playing basketball, touch rugby, reading, hiking , cooking and spending time with friends.
Manager of Partner Engagement
Dr. Huff is a Leadership Development Partner on the LiberatED Way team. In her role, she supports and builds capacity among school leaders and teachers across various schools and school districts. She believes that equitable outcomes for all students can be realized through proper alignment of policy, curriculum, instruction, data, research, and resources. She leads successful teams by leveraging individual expertise, identifying solutions for adaptive or technical problems, and providing support to build capacity within teams.
She brings 13 years of experience in leadership, coaching, and instructional capacities at the school and district level. She began her career in education as a tutor for the 21st Century Learning Program and then became a Science Teacher in East St. Louis, Illinois. Following several school closures, she went on to become a Physics and Biology Teacher at Confluence Preparatory Academy in St. Louis, Missouri where she started her first administration position as Dean of Students. Dr. Huff returned to East St. Louis School District as the District Science Content Specialist, leading the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards and curricular development for the district. She participated in several competitive leadership development programs with the American Institute for Research and New Leaders. She then served as an Assistant Principal for several years at both the middle school and high school level before leading as Principal at a middle school during the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr. Huff teaches as an Adjunct Instructor at Southern Illinois University and previously taught at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Dr. Huff holds a doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching and her Education Specialist in Education Administration from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She was recognized as the 2015 SUIE School Leader of the Year. She served on the Illinois State Board of Education Assessment Content & Bias Review Team and the Diversity in Teacher Pipeline Task Force funded by the McCormick Foundation and National Center for Urban Education. She was an Organizer of the 2015 “St. Louis Student Summit on Race” following the death of Michael Brown and she was a panelist at the Illinois Association of School Board Members Joint Annual Conference.
DR. DANIELLE HUFF
Leadership Development Partner
Jessica is excited to serve on the LiberatED Way team as a Strategy and Implementation Partner, working to realize our team’s vision of fundamentally changing the ways leaders engage school communities to reimagine and implement liberated learning experiences for all students. In her role, she directs the contextualized implementation of the LiberatED Way model in multiple geographies by identifying core challenges, establishing project goals, milestones, and activities, managing towards goals adaptively, designing and facilitating high-quality professional learning and coaching experiences, and leveraging data for continuous improvement.
In her nearly fifteen years of nonprofit and education experience prior to joining the LiberatED Way team, Jessica has worked as a district leader and nonprofit director to design and implement district-wide strategies and project plans, manage multi-million dollar budgets, facilitate professional learning and continuous improvement cycles, and lead teams to provide high-quality learning experiences in and out of the classroom. She considers herself to be a compassionate questioner, a strategic connector, and a steady supporter- always looking for ways to improve practices, tools, and systems to better meet the needs of the individuals, families, organizations, and communities she serves. A deeply Hopeful person, she grounds her work in the power of community and believes it takes all of us- youth, educators, families, community organizations- to create and sustain the conditions in which young people are able to find their purpose, set and achieve goals, develop, grow, and thrive. Jessica is a proud Social Worker, having earned her MSW from the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work at the University of Oklahoma, and graduated with a bachelors in Educational Psychology from Oklahoma State University. Additionally, she holds several DEI, continuous improvement, and emotional intelligence facilitation and process certifications.
Jessica is a proud citizen of the unconquerable Chickasaw Nation- Chikasha poyakat iláyya’sha katihma!- and is dedicated to finding ways to honor indigenous wisdom in her life and work. In her free time, you can find Jessica reading, illustrating, listening to podcasts, planning trips, spending time with her husband and their two dogs, or enjoying an outdoor patio with friends!