TEACHER LEADERSHIP BOARDThe Teacher Leadership Board serves as thought partners and education advisors for the organization and as ambassadors in advancing our mission.
Teacher Leadership Board Members Cohorts III & IV
The Teacher Leadership Board (TLB) is comprised of Generation Citizen program teachers representing GC’s regional program sites. The TLB elevates the vital voices of teachers in the growing movement to expand access to high-quality Action Civics across the country. GC’s value of Grassroots Change articulates the belief that those closest to the issue are best poised to create its solutions, and the TLB will help the organization honor that value and enhance its work.
Nicole Gangi | Robinson Middle School
Lowell, MA 2021-2023
Nicole joins the Generation Citizen Teacher Leadership Board with almost ten years of teaching experience in many different grade levels of Social Studies. From elementary through high school, she has taught every level of History and now finds herself enthralled in middle school Civics. She has been in her current position at the Robinson Middle School in Lowell for four years, actively engaging her students in real-world Action Civics while constantly striving to improve upon the year before. Having only two years of experience with Generation Citizen specifically, Nicole is excited to continue to grow as an instructor of Civics education and learn from the experiences of her students’ lives. Nicole has been impressed with the awareness and degree of concern that her students show when working on their Action Civics projects. Her students are always interested in tackling issues of violence and crime in their city, as well as drug use, mental illness, and homelessness. What Nicole enjoys most about working with younger students in an inner city setting is the passion that they exude once they get into the project. They come to understand that they CAN make a difference; they just need to speak up!
Nicole won the “Teacher Change Maker” award her first year working with Generation Citizen due to her energy and dedication to engaging her students. She works with six sections of classes which meet every other day and faces challenges that come with time and scheduling constraints. Nicole emphasizes with her students that success doesn’t always mean completing something 100% but rather acknowledging what you have learned and accomplished along the way. She strives to celebrate all successes with her students, no matter how big or small. One of her class’ greatest successes so far was earning the “Systemic Impact Award” for their work on mental health and depression in 2019.
During remote learning, Nicole experienced some setbacks while facilitating Action Civics. As most teachers will confirm, teaching via Zoom is not ideal, and many students were disengaged. However, once the project began to take off, Nicole noticed that many students who had not been engaged at all prior, found the inspiration they needed to engage in virtual learning. Nicole was also asked to help coordinate the curriculum for the teachers who were taking over the in-person classes, and became their de-facto GC leader. This was a great leadership experience for Nicole and led to her interest in the Teacher Leadership Board.
Outside of teaching History, Nicole loves to live the topics she teaches. One of her biggest passions is traveling. Specifically, Nicole enjoys re-visiting Germany where she lived for six months in college and later was fortunate enough to lead a week-long student trip across the country with her high school students. In the future, Nicole is hoping to lead an annual trip to Washington D.C with her 8th graders. In addition to this Nicole loves music, concerts, seeking new places to visit, camping, spending time with her friends and family, and inspiring her students to actively engage in their own passions, whatever they may be!
Christian Scott | The Patrick Lyndon K-8 School
Boston, MA 2021-2023
Christian Scott is a middle school Social Studies educator in the Boston Public Schools. Originally from Central Florida, Christian came to New England to study Culinary Arts and graduated from Johnson and Wales University. After over a decade of fine dining experience Christian enrolled at UMass Boston to pursue a teaching career. As a resident of Boston and a parent to three BPS students is committed to urban education and diversity. Mr. Scott is also active in local politics and is a building representative for the Boston Teachers Union. As an educator Christian strives to provide a dynamic and engaging experience for his students, many of whom he has for three years. This allows him to put an emphasis on building relationships and helping students to develop their potential. Christian use a mixture of art, technology and performance in the classroom to help middle schoolers explore their interests and talents. Field trips and guest speakers are also a big part of Mr. Scott’s middle school program. By cultivating partnerships with local museums, tech companies, universities and leaders Mr. Scott is able to expose his classes to all that the city has to offer and provides them with inspiration for their own career goals.
As a Civics educator Christian has led the Boston Public Schools in training teachers to launch Action Civics projects in their classrooms. He has been a frequent panelist with Generation Citizen, presented with iCivics and evaluated curriculum for PBS Digital Learning in support of Active Civics. His work on Civics has been profiled in the Boston Globe and he has been featured on WBUR and WGBH as a panelist on teaching current events with an eye toward inclusion.
David Edelman | Union Square Academy for Health Sciences
New York, NY 2021-2023
David Edelman is a Social Studies educator in NYC Public Schools and is staffed as a Peer Collaborative Teacher. David provides instructional coaching, mentoring and professional learning, in addition to teaching Government & Economics. His classroom serves as a learning lab and demonstration classroom to foster collaboration and elevate student voice. David teaches at Union Square Academy for Health Sciences (USA) a new, unscreened, public high school with a Career & Technical Education focus in NY, NY. Students at USA take hands-on lab classes in either dentistry or pharmacy technology. In addition to receiving a standard liberal arts education, all students have paid internships and professional mentors who expose students to careers.
It was David’s service in AmeriCorps NCCC, a yearlong national service program similar to the domestic Peace Corps that solidified David’s desire to follow in his mother’s footsteps and become a public school teacher. David was invited by Representative Carolyn McCarthy in 2007 to testify before Congress to reauthorize AmeriCorps and advocate for the GIVES Act. These experiences helped foster his desire to center learning on student led activism and civic engagement. Generation Citizen has played a major role in supporting David and his students in this endeavor.
His students’ recent activism aimed at improving access to clean, lead free drinking water has received international attention, was covered by WNYC and has led to the installation of new environmentally friendly fountains with bottle fillers and filtration systems. David’s students have been analyzing water quality in homes and at schools since their fountains first tested positive for elevated lead levels in 2017. David received the Alfred P Sloan Teaching Champion Award for Economics Education in 2019 for his teaching which has greatly enhanced students’ personal finance skills.
When David isn’t working, he is usually playing with his two daughters in various NYC parks, travelling, learning about tea, admiring street art and trying to identify wild edible plants. You can learn more about David, his teaching and see examples of his students’ civic action at his website www.cagebustingclassrooms.com.
Erin Brown | Pawnee High School
Erin Brown is a social studies teacher at Pawnee High School in Pawnee, Oklahoma. She teaches U.S. Government, AP Government and Politics, Oklahoma History, and World History. Erin first began using Generation Citizen in her classes in 2020 and became aware of the value of students learning the practice of active civic engagement. It became one of Erin’s goals as a teacher to incorporate project-based civics opportunities for her students in order for them to see government as something that they are, not something that happens to them. She enjoys seeing her students become passionate, involved learners who gain knowledge and skills to effectively participate in the democratic process.
Before teaching, Erin worked in the museum field for many years. She holds a B.A. with Honors from Oklahoma State University and an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction also from Oklahoma State. When not teaching, Erin loves spending time with her husband and three children, and her two dogs.
JONATHAN MANION | COLORADO RIVER COLLEGIATE ACADEMY
BASTROP, TEXAS 2021-2023
Jonathan Manion is a social studies teacher at Colorado River Collegiate Academy (CRCA), which is a public early-college high school in Bastrop, Texas. At CRCA, he teaches government, personal financial literacy, social studies research methods, world geography, and a human rights special elective.
Since 2019, Jonathan has led students through the Generation Citizen curriculum and has seen firsthand how students are transformed when given voice and agency to tackle problems in our community. Routinely, he has witnessed students, who otherwise may have not have seen many opportunities for leadership, use their voice to produce high levels of engagement and creativity in their civics work. Over the last three years, his students have engaged in a variety of civics projects ranging from promoting the implementation of net-metering in Bastrop to advocating for specific drug education curriculum to be taught in Bastrop ISD schools.
Jonathan is an alumnus of Texas State University, holding a B.A. in History and English and an M.A. in History. In 2021, he joined Generation Citizen’s Teacher Leadership Board to help advocate for project-based civics in Texas before and during the 2023 Texas Legislative Session, which will be needed to ensure the continuation of project-based civics in Texas.
Jonathan enjoys living in Bastrop, Texas with his wife and two dogs. He enjoys reading, DIY auto repair and home improvement, and day trips around central Texas.
Melanie Simas | Central Falls High School
Central Falls, Rhode Island 2019-2023
Melanie Simas is a Social Studies teacher at Central Falls High School in Central Falls, RI. She is a teacher of Self-Contained Special Education History/Civics and Mainstream Civics. She is currently the lead teacher in Central Falls for Generation Citizen.
Melanie is extremely passionate about Social Studies education and believes that it is important for ALL students to have access to a Social Studies curriculum to become active, informed citizens which led her to apply to the TLB. Rhode Island has recently passed and will implement more civics education requirements and Melanie will continue to advocate for the students in Central Falls so they can become the future leaders of the US. Melanie was awarded the Susan B Wilson Civics Award Jury Prize in 2020 for this continued work.
With a Bachelor of Arts in History from Assumption College and a Masters of Education in Special Education from Rhode Island College, Melanie continues to advocate for all students on the importance of active citizenship and advocacy in the community.
In her spare time, Melanie enjoys traveling, going to the beach, reading, baking, and hanging out with her nephew Xander! She is an avid New England Sports fan. She resides in Warwick, Rhode Island.
Lee Ann Sturm-Guidry | Harding Fine Arts Academy
Oklahoma City, OK
Lee Ann Sturm-Guidry is a secondary education social studies teacher from Harding Fine Arts Academy in Oklahoma City, OK. They received their BS in Secondary Education from Oklahoma State University and are certified in social studies and mathematics education. Lee Ann was awarded the 2021 HFAA Teacher of the Year Award, as well as Generation Citizen’s 2021 Oklahoma Teacher Changemaker Award. Prior to teaching, Lee Ann was an active member of the Cowboy Marching Band and president of Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity.
Lee Ann joined the Teacher Leadership Board after three years as a GC teacher, during which they became eager to learn more about Action Civics and loved the ability to give students real-world community experience in advocating for systemic change. A long-time advocate for student success, Lee Ann believes that providing spaces for youth voice is essential in building the next generation of community leaders.
Outside of school, Lee Ann’s hobbies include watching sports, spending time with their partner and pets, and playing board games with friends.
Kelly Preston | Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women
Kelly Preston is a social studies teacher at the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women in Brooklyn, New York. She received her B.A. in History with a concentration in Adolescent Education from SUNY Geneseo in 2016 and her Master of Arts in Teacher from Clarkson University in 2017. Kelly also earned her Advanced Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages in 2020 to help meet the diverse needs of students in her classroom.
Kelly joined the Teacher Leadership Board in 2022 after five years as a GC teacher, during which she observed students collaborating to dynamically solve issues within their own communities. Kelly joined the TLB to create connections with GC teachers across the country and to extend GC’s impact within her own city. She believes that through action civics and GC’s curriculum, youth across the county can gain the skills and confidence needed to be engaged citizens who advocate for themselves and their communities.
When Kelly isn’t teaching, she enjoys binge-watching reality TV with her dog, Miso, who she rescued in 2021.
Kerri Furtado | John J. Doran
Fall River, MA
Kerri Furtado is a social studies teacher at John J. Doran in Fall River, Massachusetts. She received her MAT in Education from the University of Massachusetts- Dartmouth and is pursuing a Master of Arts in American history through Gilder Lehrman at Gettysburg College.
Ms. Furtado joined the Teacher Leadership Board in 2022 after three years as a GC teacher, during which she became passionate about Action Civics and its ability to engage and equip students to advocate for meaningful, systemic change in their communities. As an advocate for youth in her community, she believes that intergenerational cooperation and student-led action are the keys to changing our world for the better.
A native of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, Ms. Ross loves traveling, reading, and listening to music, supporting her community, and spending time with her husband and two cats
Aaron Baker | Putnam City North High School
Oklahoma City, OK
Aaron Baker (he/him) has been teaching Social Studies in Oklahoma public schools for the last ten years. Subject areas that Aaron has taught include World Geography, U.S. History, World History, Oklahoma History, International Studies, Government, and African American History. Aaron was first introduced to Generation Citizen during the Oklahoma Teacher Walkout in 2018. Since then, Aaron has had the privilege of accompanying student representatives as they present at six Civics Day events. In three years of partnering with Generation Citizen, he has witnessed students excel in project-based civics both at the middle school (8th Grade) and the high school (12th Grade) level.
Aaron has been recognized for his classroom teaching, public education advocacy, and “on the ground” activism. Aaron was named Teacher of the Year at his middle school in 2017. He walked 110 miles as part of the March for Education from Tulsa to Oklahoma City in 2018. He won the “Teacher Changemaker Award” at Civics Day in 2018. He was a recipient of the “Award for Teaching Excellence” from the NEA Foundation and was a 2019 fellow in the NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellowship.
He is a husband, father of three, musician, Mennonite, and blogger. Aaron loves to camp, hike, bike to school, and look for any reason to be outside. When he is inside, Aaron likes to cook while listening to vinyl records. When he is at school and not teaching, Aaron can be found advising the thriving Gender and Sexuality Alliance and working with students to advocate for the 2SLGBTQ+ community at school and across Oklahoma.