(Jamie Filipow, Elena Silva-Leal, Tammy Russell, Kenisha Spears, Montra Rogers, Kiahndra Edwards, Brandon Brewton, Cindy Fairbanks, Lachardra McBride)
Montra Rogers, Secondary Social Studies Director
Dr. Montra L. Rogers, a native of Houston, Texas, completed her undergraduate degree at Texas Southern University and graduate degrees at Houston Baptist University and Nova Southeastern University. She has worked in the public/charter, private, and community college education arena for over twenty years.
Currently, Dr. Rogers is the Director of Curriculum and Development--Secondary Social Studies (Grades 6-12) for the Houston Independent School District. In this capacity, Dr. Rogers oversees the development of district wide-curriculum and assessments, the facilitation of professional development, and the coordination of personalized instructional support for secondary social studies teachers. In addition, she is responsible for initiatives such as the Houston Independent School District’s Secondary Social Studies Teacher Leader Corps Program. Her work also involves exploring and fostering community and university partnerships in order to facilitate the work of curriculum and course development as well as the professional growth of secondary social studies teachers.
As a result of her work with social studies teachers, Dr. Rogers’s doctoral research focused on the notion of improving middle school social studies teachers’ perceptions of the use of reflective practice as a means of assisting the transfer of strategies learned in professional development trainings into teaching practices. The title of this dissertation study is The Use of Reflective Practices in Applying Strategies Learned Through Professional Development in Social Studies Instruction. Dr. Rogers has authored Teaching Guides for Jarrett Publishing’s Mastering the TEKS series and she co-edited titles in the series as well.
So that she remains current in her profession, she attends and often presents at both state and national conferences; in addition, she has participated in numerous workshops, and summer institutes sponsored by organizations such as the American Educational Research Association, Scholastic, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the National Constitution Center, the National Endowment of Humanities, the Center for Civic Education, and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Dr. Rogers’s current research interest includes reflective practice and the professional growth of social studies teachers, literacy in the social studies, particularly the notion of using the writing process to facilitate social studies instruction, and developing teacher leaders.
Dr. Rogers is a long term participant in the Texas and National Councils of Social Studies. She is also a member of both the Texas and National Social Studies Supervisors Association. Currently, Dr. Rogers is President of the Texas Social Studies Supervisors Association. Previously, she served in the capacity of President-Elect, Treasurer, and Member At-Large. Dr. Rogers is a member of the Texas Southern University National Alumni Association and she is a Life Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
The Texas Social Studies Supervisors Association awarded Dr. Rogers the Dr. Rosemary Marrow Social Studies Supervisor of the Year Award. In addition, The Texas Southern University National Alumni Association awarded Dr. Rogers the Excellence in Achievement Award in Education in recognition of her contributions to public education. She has authored and managed a number of grants to include the Project GRAD Innovative Grant, the Department of Education’s Teaching American History Grant, and the Texas Social Studies Supervisors Association’s District Improvement Grant.
Her personal interests include history/popular culture, classic television/movies, reading, and event planning. She is the eldest of five sisters and a mother to one son.Email: MROGERSW@houstonisd.org
Cynthia Fairbanks, Curriculum Specialist
Cynthia Fairbanks is a native Houstonian and is completing her 32nd year in education, all in the Houston Independent School District. She graduated from Sharpstown High School in 1975, obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Houston Baptist University (1980) and her Masters of Education Degree from the University of Texas at Austin (1983). She has taught United States History, AP United States History, AP European History, and Model UN at Thomas Middle School, Fondren Middle School and Sharpstown High School. While at Sharpstown High School she was both SS Department Chairperson and Instructional Coach. Ms. Fairbanks performed additional duties at Sharpstown HS including G/T Coordinator and Title I Coordinator. She spent 26 years in the classroom before transitioning to instructional coaching. She was Manager of the Secondary Social Studies Teacher Development Specialist Team from 2012-2015 and is currently a Secondary Social Studies Curriculum Specialist. In this capacity, Ms. Fairbanks has written curriculum and professional development sessions as well as continuing instructional coaching duties. She is also responsible for leading the Social Studies Teacher Leader Corps and wrote two grants that help support the work of developing teacher leaders in HISD. Ms. Fairbanks is a member of the Texas Council for the Social Studies. She has presented at numerous conferences including TCSS, Texas Social Studies Supervisors’ Association (TSSSA), and Region IV. She was project manager for the Region IV Accelerated Instruction publication. She has attended institutes including the Liberty Fund Institute on “Liberty – from the Ancient World to the Present.” She was a teacher member and facilitator in HISD’s Teaching American History Grants. Her social studies areas of interest include U.S. History, Western Civilization, as well as all instructional practice including embedding literacy and creativity into social studies instruction.Email: CFAIRBAN@houstonisd.org
Brandon Brewton, Teacher Development Specialist
Brandon Brewton completed his undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Houston and his graduate degree in Education at Capella University. He has worked in the education profession for nearly a decade.Currently, Brandon is a Teacher Development Specialist in Secondary Curriculum and Development Social Studies. In this role, Brewton is responsible for creating and maintaining the development of standards-based assessments and lessons with a focus on 7th grade. He also supports several campuses with curriculum, sound instructional practices by modeling lessons, and facilitating professional development. He also assists teachers with implementing and maintaining best practices for classroom management. Mr. Brewton believes that true instruction cannot take place if routines and procedures are not clearly established.Prior to joining the Secondary Curriculum and Development Social Studies team under the leadership of Dr. Montra Rogers, Mr. Brewton worked at Navarro Middle School as a 7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher. During his time at that campus, he served as Social Studies Department Chair, Campus Induction Coordinator, and was honored as the 2016-17 Teacher of the Year.As a member of the Secondary Social Studies Curriculum and Development Teacher Leader Corps, he was given the opportunity to develop and facilitate several professional developments around the district. As well as present in front of his peers at the first ever For Teachers by Teachers Conference in January of 2017. Later that year, he along with several other HISD educators traveled to Colonial Williamsburg as part of the teacher institute. To continue his professional growth on his path to becoming a public intellectual, Mr. Brewton participated in the 2016 and 2017 Black Humanities Seminar at Rice University under the direction of Dr. Alex Byrd. During this professional development, he developed and presented a lesson to fellow educators over African diaspora.This year Mr. Brewton has presented at several conferences. In the fall, he presented at the Texas Council for the Social Studies on how to implement an Active Classroom Decision Making lesson in a middle school social studies classroom. He presented this activity to Houston ISD teachers at the 2nd For Teachers by Teachers Conference in January 2018. In February, Brewton once again took his skills on the road and presented on reflective practices using digital portfolios at the Texas Social Studies Supervisors Association conference in Austin, TX to an enthusiastic group of social studies professionals.Mr. Brewton has a love of history and learning that is contagious to those who crosses paths with him. With his high energy, love of Social Studies and dogged personality, his career future in education continues to shine brightly.Email: BBREWTON@houstonisd.org
Jamie Filipow, Teacher Development Specialist
Jamie Filipow began working with HISD in 2006. During her time with the district, she has worked as both a social studies teacher and teacher development specialist. Ms. Filipow started teaching at Burbank Middle School where she taught 6th, 7th, and 8thgrade Social Studies. She also served as the 8th grade level lead, a teacher mentor, and department chair. In 2011, Ms. Filipow accepted a position as a Secondary Social Studies Teacher Development Specialist. As a TDS, Ms. Filipow has coached teachers on numerous middle and high school campuses as well as partnered with administration to work towards common instructional goals. Ms. Filipow is also the primary author of the 7th and 8th grade Social Studies Master Courses which provide detailed lesson plans with activities that develop literacy skills. In addition to curriculum writing, Jamie has created and facilitated several professional development sessions both within and outside HISD including annual Region IV conferences and the Texas Council for Social Studies Conference. Jamie holds a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction focusing on Social Studies education. Ms. Filipow continues to stay informed and involved in the Social Studies community. For example, she has attended various state and national conferences such as Scholastic’s Literacy Leaders Institute and the National Council for the Social Studies. Ms. Filipow has also participated in several Teaching American History grants and recently received a scholarship to attend the George Washington Teacher Institute in Mount Vernon. Ms. Filipow is interested in early American history, particularly Westward Expansion.Email: JFILIPOW@houstonisd.org
Lachardra McBride, Teacher Development Specialist
LaChardra McBride is a native Houstonian and is completing her 10th year in education. She is a graduate of Sam Houston High School and obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Houston. She has taught 6th grade World Cultural Studies, 7th grade Texas History, and 8th grade U.S History at Lamar Fleming Middle School and Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy. During her time at Fleming Middle School, she served as both Social Studies Department Chairperson and a Teach Like a Champion (TLAC) Teacher Leader.
In 2016, LaChardra joined HISD’s Secondary Curriculum and Development team, serving as a Secondary Social Studies Teacher Development Specialist. As a Teacher Development Specialist, she is responsible for writing curriculum—particularly, 6th grade Master Course lessons—as well as continuing TDS duties. In partnership with Rice University’s Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance, she also co-developed a 12-hour professional development seminar geared towards increasing religious literacy amongst HISD Social Studies educators.
LaChardra is a member of the Texas Council for the Social Studies and has presented at the organization’s state conference as well as other state-based educational conferences. She has attended several history-based institutes such as The Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute and Glider Lehrman Summer Seminar on “Civil Rights.” She was a member in HISD’s Teachers Teaching American History (T3AH) grant cohort and her Social Studies area of interest include Cultural Studies, US History as well as best practices and strategies in the social studies classrooms.Email: LMCBRIDE@houstonisd.org
Elena Silva-Leal, Teacher Development Specialist
Elena Silva-Leal holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Houston. Elena began her education career in 2001 and her 10 years of service in HISD include teaching history at Stephen F. Austin High School, serving as Assistant Principal at Clifton Middle School, serving as teacher development specialist, and master course writer for the Economics and the Free Enterprise courses. Ms. Leal has presented at the Texas Council for Social Studies and Region 4 Conferences and has participated in the Texas Teachers Teaching American History Grant. Her social studies areas of interest are Mexican-American studies and social studies instruction in elementary classrooms.Email: ESILVALE@houstonisd.org