Newsela Community Advisers

Newsela Community Advisers understand the power behind Newsela and have impressed us with their insight into what it can do. They are excited to collaborate with our team to continuously improve the Newsela Experience for all educators. During this process, we give them a sneak peek into our latest features and they have the opportunity to showcase the work they do in their own schools. To get to know them better check out their profiles below and start a conversation about #HowINewsela on Twitter or Facebook


Brett Baker

Brett brings 15 years of experience to his career in education within North Penn School District in Pennsylvania, after starting his career in the video rental business. Since transitioning to education in 1998, he has loved every minute of it. For 12 years, he worked as a sixth-grade English teacher and describes it as a fantastic experience. Now he is an e-learning coach and works in all Pre-K-12 classrooms. Brett believes that the integration of technology is of prime importance in our classrooms today. He truly loves learning, teaching and Newsela.


Will Bans 

A former sports journalist, Will is the literacy intervention teacher at the 65-student Captain Cooper Elementary School in Big Sur, California. He previously taught fifth and sixth grade in Greenfield, California, and Salinas, California. In Big Sur, he helps a student body mostly made up of English language learners. He also serves as the school’s English Language Development and Response To Intervention Coordinator and teaches after-school homework support. Before becoming a teacher, Will worked as sportswriter for the Odessa American in Texas. He still freelances, and occasionally covers the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants for


 David Barba

David is currently a film and English language arts teacher at Alliance College Ready-Middle Academy #4 in Los Angeles. He has been working in education for three years and sees how varying the day-to-day routine empowers students to do their best work. He also serves as the Blended Learning for Alliance School Transformation Facilitator at his school. This blended learning initiative across his district integrates technology into the classroom, making learning more relevant, personalized and dynamic. David is constantly keeping his students on the edge of their seats by connecting film and English in addition to presenting information in a new, high-tech way. @David_barba


 Melissa Barnett 

Melissa is currently the Curriculum Supervisor for Gloucester Township Public Schools in New Jersey. With 15 years of teaching experience, Melissa has seen all types of curricula implemented in the classroom and across districts. She works hard to make sure students reach their highest potential, even when they are presented with challenges like those within the Common Core. As a passionate educator, she is always looking for ways to keep the students energized and engaged with the work they are doing.


Laura Brill 

Laura is currently a high school English teacher at Greenwich High School in Connecticut. She launched her 14-year teaching career in New York and moved to Greenwich in 2006. Laura is a true lifelong learner: she is currently pursuing a degree in educational leadership to add to her previous accomplishment of a master’s degree in English Education from Columbia University’s Teacher College. She inspires her students to continuously push themselves and is always finding innovative ways to connect what her students are reading to what is happening in the world around them.


Dave Crumbine

Dave is vice principal and a fifth-grade English teacher at the original KIPP Academy in Houston, Texas. A two-time national Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award winner, Dave graduated from Claremont McKenna College before joining KIPP Academy in 1999. He taught for two years as a Teach For America Corps member where he was voted Teacher of the Year both years. His teaching was recently featured in Katrina Fried's book, “American Teacher: Heroes in the Classroom”. @dcrumbine


John Davenport

John currently plays many roles at Corte Madera School in the Portola Valley School District in California. When he is not applying his 16 years of experience to middle school students in his English and social studies classes, he is helping implement technology across his district. As a Teacher on Special Assignment for Technology, he is showing teachers how resources like Newsela can become a part of their classroom experience and help their students accelerate even more. John is always coming up with exciting new ways to make current events a part of his students’ day-to-day lives and was recently featured on the “College Ready” page of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. To check out his podcast, click here@j_cdavenport



Kathy DeBona 

Kathy is currently a fifth-grade teacher at Western Salisbury Elementary School in Allentown, Pennsylvania. As a veteran teacher with 18 years of experience, Kathy is always encouraging her students to think deeply about what they read. This year, Kathy’s students were inspired to take action. Upon reading a Newsela article about a doctor at Johns Hopkins Hospital who makes 3-D prosthetic hands, the students were reminded of their teacher from last school year who only had one hand. After discussing it as a class, they decided to write a letter to the doctor. They were not only promised a hand for their former teacher but were invited for a visit to Johns Hopkins. Kathy’s nurturing classroom environment has created a group of lifelong learners and activists.


   Sydney Fish 

Sydney is in her first year of teaching third grade at Joan Martin Elementary school in Hobart, Indiana. She has a passion for educating children. In addition to teaching third grade, she is a part-time Flight Director for the Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana, where she gets to feed her passion for helping children learn while doing it in a whole new way. She believes in the importance of students having access to a diverse set of nonfiction texts. Sydney feels that Newsela gives them great opportunity to enhance their reading skills. @Fish13F


Peg Grocki 

Peg is the Library and Media Specialist at Henry James Memorial School in Simsbury, Connecticut. During her 30 years in education, Peg has earned a bachelor's degree in early childhood education along with a master's degree in special education and a master's degree in educational technology. Peg works closely with the teachers at her school to ensure that they have access to everything they need to be successful. She can apply her versatile background to helping students at all levels, demonstrating how technology can change the way they learn. @pgrocki


  Amy McIntosh

Amy is the Secondary Learning Specialist for Littleton Public Schools in Colorado. She brings 24 years of experience to this role and supports all content areas at the middle and high school level except math. She has also taught 8th grade language arts, social studies and newspaper. Amy works hard to provide the very best resources to all of her teachers. She takes the time to fully understand how the resources work so that she can assist her teachers as they implement them in the classroom. Amy brings out the best in her teachers, and one of her teachers was recently featured on Newsela’s website for her submission to Newsela’s Write Challenge. @amymc37


  Karen McKinley 

Karen is an English Language Arts Teacher for Edgewood City Schools in Ohio. She has been teaching for 13 years and is passionate about the Blended Classroom model. She believes in the power of using technology as a differentiation tool and expanding students’ critical thinking skills. Karen holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership with emphasis in Curriculum and Gifted Education. She is also certified in K-12: Curriculum, Principalship, and as both an Administrative Specialist and Gifted Intervention Specialist. In her spare time, Karen is also a Lecturer at Sinclair Community College. @MrsMcKinleyEMS


Jessica Peters 

Jessica is the Instructional Technology Coach for KIPP DC, where she coaches teachers at all schools within the district on how to best use technology in the classroom. Jessica holds a master’s degree in peace education and is a Teach for America Delta alumna. She has been in education for more than five years but fell in love with learning long before that. Jessica says, “I would have loved Newsela as a kid. I was into politics and current events and spent time reading my parents' newspaper, but it would have been even better to have articles on my reading level from a young age. I remember having political discussions with my dad during the 1988 presidential election and being frustrated that I couldn't access what I needed to make a good argument.” @journeysofjess


 Kristine Scharaldi 

Kristine is an educational consultant and professional development provider based out of New Jersey. Kristine presents workshops and conference sessions to support educators and students in digital-age learning environments from preschool through higher education. Her areas of specialization include educational technology, global education and 21st-century skills. Kristine has worked Newsela into her trainings for almost two years now and loves to see how excited educators are when she presents about this resource. @kscharaldi


Marie Shimchick 

Marie is a Connecticut native, born in New Britain. She has been employed by the Greenwich Public Schools for her entire career, which includes teaching at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. During her 30 years of experience, she has become certified in music, theater, library media and as a reading consultant. In addition, she has been the varsity girls golf coach at Greenwich High for the past 11 years. In her spare time, she loves to travel, play golf and read.


  Mike Ward 

Mike has 23 years of teaching experience spanning U.S. history, psychology, sociology and economics. Currently, he works at Clintondale High School in Michigan. Throughout his career, he has interacted with students from all walks of life which has led him to craft a unique philosophy called TLC3 for E. His philosophy leverages technology, literacy, content, curriculum, and creativity for educators seeking to give all students every opportunity to be successful. It blends a standards-based approach with authentic learning experiences to engage students and encourage lifelong learning. Mike is always creating new resources and loves to share them through his websites or on Twitter. One of his favorite sayings is, “Teachers Rock!” @tlc34e


Kristina Valenzuela

Kristina is an English teacher at Canyon Ridge High School in Hesperia Unified School District in California. She has been teaching for 14 years and believes in the power of working together. On a recent Community Advisers brainstorming session, she shared innovative ideas about the ways teachers and students could chat with one another about what they were reading, share their opinions, and learn from one another. Kristina’s creative ideas make her a truly powerful teacher.



Profiles Coming Soon: Chris Crouch, Jennifer Hecht, John Klein-Collins, Debra Rook,                                      Kristen Walsh and Robert Walsh.   

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