Who We Are

Changing real-world problems by developing unique, democratic spaces focused on meaningful relationships, and creative, dynamic educational experiences that challenge notions of difference.

The Ed Factory is powered by real on-the-ground educators, true intellectual workers who have comprehensive knowledge and practical experience in both education and their field of expertise. This group of specialists is supplemented by the local, national, and global scholars, artists, and cultural workers with whom we work, especially in our Teaching Institutes. Below are the specialists in education, literature, science, and mathematics available to work with classrooms, whole schools, and youth-based organizations.  


LISA ARRASTIA

FOUNDER, Director, + SENIOR CONSULTANT

Originally from New York City, Lisa teaches in the Writing and Critical Inquiry program at University of Albany, State University of New York, and she has an M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision from New Leaders through National Louis University as well as an M.A. in Education from Antioch University. Lisa's fields of concentration are critical childhood studies, critical education studies, critical ethnic studies, and cultural studies, and her research examines the intersections of race, social class, and education policy. Lisa has worked as a middle and high school principal, a consultant, and a teacher in independent, public, charter, and international schools. She is the winner of the Coordinating Council for Women in History Fellowship, the American Association of University Women Fellowship, a Big Picture Learning Principal Fellowship, and a Cohort II New Leaders Principal Fellowship among other awards and honors.


Lisa is the editor with Marvin Hoffman of Starting Up: Critical Lessons from 10 New Schools (Teachers College Press, 2012), and her articles have appeared in several journals including Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, Antipode, Exposure, and the Huffington Post. Lisa is a consulting editor for the journal Schools; an assistant editor for the journal XCP: Cross-Cultural Poetics; President of the Board of Directors at Kite's Nest, a youth-centered social change organization; an advisory board member of New York University’s PACH (Project for the Advancement of our Common Humanity), and the founder of, designer and lead facilitator for the Ed Factory's Teachers Institute, a fellowship program for practicing teachers that has built a network of critical educators committed to creative, democratic classrooms. 

In all of her work with schools, Lisa focuses on the development of empathic communities where young people have the freedom to think, question, and innovate as they wrestle with the tangled complexities of self, other, and difference. 

Lisa is available to facilitate discussions and workshops as well as provide consultation to teachers, student groups, schools, and organizations working with young people in the following areas: 

  • Professional development design
  • School culture
  • Organizational development
  • Democratic learning communities 
  • Creative education
  • Critical literacy and pedagogy
  • Writing and critical inquiry
  • Notions of difference (race, gender, social class, and sexuality)

Read Lisa's recent article in the Huffington Post"Love Pedagogy."

 

Fadwa Abbas

Consultant

Fadwa Abbas

Originally from Khartoum, Sudan, Fadwa has a B.A. in English from Columbia University with a minor in education at Barnard College, and an M.A. in Post-Colonial studies from University of Sussex in Brighton, United Kingdom. Fadwa has taught language arts and English in public, independent and international middle and high schools in addition to adult ESL (English as a Second Language). Fadwa is fluent in Arabic.

Fadwa is available to facilitate discussions and workshops as well as provide guidance for teachers and young people in the following areas:

  • Writing and critical inquiry
  • Project-based learning
  • Interdisciplinary and thematic learning
  • 3-D assessments
  • Notions of difference (race, language, and immigration)
 

Morgan Fierst

Consultant + Teachers Institute Mentor

Morgan Fierst

Morgan is the winner of a Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, and an alumna of the Ed Factory's Teachers Institute. She was a part of the Teachers Institute @Minneapolis inaugural cohort in 2011. Morgan has a B.A. in Economics from University of Chicago, and she is a candidate for the M.A. in Education from Hamline University. Morgan is a seventh-year mathematics teacher at South High School in Minneapolis. She is dedicated to building mathematics communities in which students understand the ways in which mathematical ideas, formulas, and relationships can help them to investigate, interpret, and engage in the social, economic, and political aspects of their world. 

Morgan is an advocate for social change and encourages students to use a critical lens at all times; she continues to be a leader nationally in developing culturally relevant mathematics curriculum. As an active teacher and former Ed Factory Teachers Institute fellow, Morgan comes to the position of mentor with a deep understanding of the difficult daily impact of current education reforms on the lives of teachers and their students. 

Morgan is available to facilitate discussions and workshops as well as provide guidance for teachers and young people in the following areas:

  • Mathematics and critical pedagogy
  • Using the city as classroom
  • Real-world mathematics
  • Curriculum and instruction for high school cross-curricular mathematics <–> humanities classrooms

Read about Morgan's work in the classroom in the Star Tribune's "South High Teachers Illustrate Inequalities Through Math."

 

MARK NOWAK

CONSULTANT

©Lisa Arrastia MarkNowak

Mark is the recipient of the 2015 Lannan Literary Fellowship, the 2015 Freedom Plow Award for Poetry and Activismand a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry. Mark is the author of Coal Mountain Elementary (Coffee House Press, 2009), Shut Up Shut Down (Coffee House Press, 2004), and Revenants (2000), a New York Times "Editor’s Choice." Mark designs and facilitates worker writer workshops across the United States, European Union, and South Africa. A native of Buffalo, currently Mark is Professor of Creative Writing at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, and he is the founding director of the Worker Writers School in collaboration with the PEN American Center.

Mark is available to read from his work as well as facilitate discussions and workshops with college and university instructors, administrators, undergraduates, graduate students, and workers (domestic workers, taxi drivers, migrant farm workers, street vendors).

 

POOJA PATEL

LITERACY CONSULTANT + LEARNING SPECIALIST

©Dan Love-Pooja Patel

Originally from New Jersey, Pooja Patel is a learning specialist who teaches middle school English and humanities at United Nations International School in New York City. Pooja earned her MA from Teachers College, Columbia University in the Reading Specialist program, where she is currently an adjunct instructor. 

Pooja has worked in both public and private schools using a variety of systematic and explicit instruction to build literacy and critical thinking skills. She is the author with Leslie Laud of Using Formative Assessment to Differentiate Middle School Literacy Instruction (Corwin, 2012). Pooja has gained national and international recognition for her action research in literacy, flipped classrooms, and formative assessment, and she is the founder and director of Teachers 4 Student Success, a not-for-profit dedicated to improving literacy skills for all people regardless of socio-economic status.

Pooja is available to facilitate discussions, workshops, and tutoring sessions for teachers, young people, and administrators in the following areas:

  • Assessing, evaluating, and working with students with learning differences, either one-to-one or in small groups 
  • Explicit literacy instruction (decoding,  spelling, fluency, comprehension, writing, and organization)
  • Self Regulated Strategy Development
 

KEVIN TOLEDO

MATH COMMUNITIES CONSULTANT

©Dan Love-Kevin Toledo

Originally from the Bronx, New York, Kevin has taught for 13 years in public elementary and middle schools in New york City. He is a graduate of Bank Street College of Education in New York City where he received his M.A. in Mathematics Leadership. He currently teaches mathematics and science and serves as a grade level coordinator at United Nations International School in New York City.

Kevin is available to facilitate discussions and workshops for teachers, young people, and administrators in the following areas: 

  • Designing and developing "math communities"
  • Integrated mathematics
  • Content-focused coaching
  • Democratic learning communities
  • Curriculum and instruction in elementary/middle level mathematics and science
 

GINA VOSKOV

CONSULTANT

©Dan Love-Gina Voskov

Originally from rural Vermont, Gina is a middle school English teacher at United Nations International School in New York City. Gina has taught at the high school and middle school levels, in classrooms of both public and private institutions, and in the United States and Brazil. She holds a B.A. in Creative and Professional Writing from University of Rhode Island and an M.A.T. in Secondary English from Brown University, and she serves as the secretary of the board for the not-for-profit Teachers 4 Student Success. 

In 2012, Gina was invited to participate in the Folger Shakespeare Library's Teaching Shakespeare Institute in Washington D.C, and in 2014 she was selected to be a founding member of the Folger Library's National Teacher Corps. Her area of interest is performance-based learning using rigorous texts, a pedagogy she presents at national conferences along side the Folger Library and Brown University. Gina maintains a profound belief that Shakespeare is for everyone, especially young students. 

Gina is available to facilitate discussions, workshops, and provide curriculum consultation in the following areas: 

  • Performance-based learning
  • Teaching Shakespeare in elementary, middle, and high school
  • Student-centered teaching and learning
  • Curriculum and instruction for middle level English classrooms
  • Curriculum and instruction for middle level cross-curricular humanities classrooms

Read Gina's recent article in the Huffington Post"Children's Voices Matter."


Stephanie Woldum

Consultant + Teaching Institute Mentor

Stephanie Woldum

Stephanie is a finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, and an alumna of the Ed Factory's Teachers Institute who was a part of the Teachers Institute @ Minneapolis' ("MTI") inaugural cohort in 2011.  Stephanie is a mathematics teacher at' South High School in Minneapolis. She received her M.A. in Mathematics Education from University of Minnesota. Her thesis, “Critical Inquiry Math,” is a reflection of the methodologies that shape her work in the classroom and with teachers. Critical Inquiry Math is a framework for integrating critical pedagogy into the mathematics classroom. She has presented this framework along with her colleague, Morgan Fierst, at several national conferences, most notably the 2013 National Summit for Courageous Conversations. Stephanie comes to the Ed Factory with a profound commitment to teacher education and professional development. As an Teachers Institute mentor and active public school teacher, Stephanie provides our fellows with the creative experience and support necessary to ensure their success. Stephanie lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two daughters. 

Stephanie is available to facilitate discussions, workshops, and provide curriculum consultation in the following areas; she also acts as a mentor to the Ed Factory's Teachers Institute fellows: 

  • Critical inquiry in mathematics focusing on critical pedagogy
  • Student-centered teaching and learning
  • Curriculum and instruction for high school mathematics classrooms
  • Curriculum and instruction for high school cross-curricular mathematics <–> humanities classrooms

Read about Stephanie's work in the classroom in the Star Tribune's "South High Teachers Illustrate Inequalities Through Math."