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Education Policy and Leadership | Recent Alumni

Caroline Decaire-Goldin

Caroline Decaire-Goldin

Current Position: Legislative Fellow in the office of Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH) (managing education portfolio) and 2015-16 Teach For America Capital Hill Fellow 

Undergraduate Degree: Florida Gulf Coast University, BA in Political Science and minor in Global Studies and Philosophy

Past Experience: 2nd-Grade Teacher, Prince George's County Public Schools (TFA Alum)

What did you learn from the program at AU?

Having knowledge of the landmark cases that affect education today is extremely helpful in my current work. Also, the level of analysis expected from all teachers in the program set the bar high, which is critical in any field relating to policy. I also learned how to consider differing viewpoints, confront racial biases, examine underlying nuances, and work with politically diverse groups of people. Education is a "hot-button" issue, but the program does a great job of both peeling back the layers to expose the socio-historical framework, while challenging your beliefs to make sure you are steadfast and logical in your conclusions.

What skills or knowledge should a person in your field know?

Learn the policy! Be an expert in your field. Read as much as you can as often as you can and try to stay up to speed on developments. Be introspective and always look for ways to improve - its important to have thick skin in this game. Be ready to work in fast-paced environments with really smart people. Be collaborative;learn how to work and communicate with people that are different or opposite from you. But above all - be nice. Be considerate, stay grounded, humble and remember why our government exists - for the people.

Christopher Hoyt

Christopher Hoyt Ed Policy Alum

Current Position: Math Teacher, McKinley Technology High School

Undergraduate Degree: University of Arkansas, BS in Electrical Engineering

Past Experience: Math Teacher and Department Chair, Dunbar High School (TNTP alumus); Station Design Engineer, Burns & McDonnell

What did you learn from the program?

I was attracted to the program because I wanted to get a MEd from a credible university; the partnership American University has with TNTP helped accomplish that. Even though I love being in the classroom, the program focus created potential to open doors down the road if I ever want to move out of the classroom teacher role. 

I learned all sorts of important things, such as (but not limited to) how effective school leadership looks; what it takes to manage an educational body; how financing public education systems takes place; education policy details and how those are implemented; how to conduct, review, and report on educational research; and legal precedents and ramifications for educational systems. 

What skills and knowledge should a person in your field know? 

Patience, patience, patience, flexibility, situational awareness, strong content knowledge for your subject, strong organizational and communication skills.

Gloria Molina-Estolano

Gloria Molina-Estolano Ed Policy Alum
Current Position: Government Affairs Assistant, Teach for America

Undergraduate Degree: University of California, San Diego, Communication and International Migration Studies

Past Experience: Spanish Teacher, Phelps ACE Senior High School (TFA alumus)

What did you learn from the program?

The Education Policy and Leadership program helped me understand how federal policies play out in a classroom setting, and the MPA solidified my desire to work in public service in order to help solve pressing social problems, especially for underrepresented students.

What is your current role?

After three years in the classroom, I joined the Government Affairs team at TFA, working to build and sustain relationships with Members of Congress and key decision makers in the Executive Branch to ensure educational opportunity for all children.

Katie Pak

Katie Pak Ed Policy Alum

Current Position: Graduate Student, Doctor of Education (Ed.D) in Educational Leadership, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

Undergraduate Degree: Georgetown University, BA in Political Science and Government

Past Experience: Special Education Teacher, Eastern High School; KIPP DC

What did you learn from the program?

As a DC teacher at the time, I was drawn by the partnership AU had with DC teachers. I was also able to do a hybrid program so I could take courses in Special Education. My education law class was such an applicable class to everything relating to education. I took so much away from that course and am now able to understand the policies of education that come up repeatedly in the field. It is so important to have a grasp on understanding the legal side of education policy.

What skills and knowledge should a person in your field know?

Be open minded to new and different ideas. It is important not to be stubborn about your own ideas and to continually educate yourself to have a more informed perspective. Another important skill is relationship building. It is good to create strong relationships with your school, parents, organizations, and the community. Finally, be solution oriented as well as creative in finding solutions. Do not be afraid to think outside the box. 

Liana Ponce

Liana Ponce Ed Policy Alum

Current Position: Teacher and Math Teacher Leader, H.D. Cooke Elementary

Undergraduate Degree: New York University, Journalism and Political Science 

Past Experience: Teacher, H.D. Cooke Elementary; Program Manager for Heros Program and Civic Engagement, City Year 

What did you learn from the program?

The Policy and Leadership program at American was an incredible experience that connected me to other passionate educators and provided me with experiences that led me to pursue my current position as a teacher leader. 

What is your current role?

I am currently a teacher and math teacher leader in the District of Columbia Public Schools through the Teacher Leadership Innovation program. I spend half the day teaching 3rd grade math and science and the other half of the day coaching other teachers. 

LiaFaith Reed

LiaFaith Reed Alum Ed Policy

Current Position: Director of Strategy and Logistics, DC Public Schools 

Undergraduate Degree: Washington University, St. Louis, Political Science and Psychology

Past Experience: Middle School English Teacher, Kelly Miller Middle School (TFA Alumna)

What did you learn from the program?

I wanted to really influence the field of education; I wanted to know if I was making a difference. This lead me to the Master of Education program where I learned leadership models and policy evaluation skills, which helped me attain a position where I knew I was making an impact in the field. One of the most valuable aspects of the program was learning to look at legal issues and policies of education through a critical and evaluative lens. The importance of understanding both the strengths and the problems of education policies was brought to light.

What is your current role?

While remaining in the DC Public School system, I moved from being in the classroom to working in a leadership role beyond the classroom. I currently manage just about everything that is not in the classroom, including budget procurement, working with community partners, hiring and recruitment, and general upkeep of the school facility. It requires a large amount of analytical and strategic thinking as well as reliance on my knowledge of implementation.