SWIFT Community Schools Fellowship Program


New Mexico Community School Principals: Earn a Micro-Credential in Collaborative Leadership

This SWIFT Community Schools Fellowship is now underway and is no longer accepting applications. Please read on for more information and biographies of our coaches.

The SWIFT Community Schools Fellowship is comprised of two, 10-week courses led by the Institute for Educational Leadership, in partnership with Swift Community Schools, and designed in conjunction with principals who work throughout the state of New Mexico.

Gain the skills and tools needed to develop and sustain a collaborative leadership model.

Each 10-week course will be led by a pair of coaches, and include group sessions along with independent practice time at each principal's school.

Coach Bios

Wendy was a lead teacher at the UCLA Community School in Los Angeles. As a teacher-powered specialist and coach, she supports teams to transform their schools for collaborative leadership and student-centered learning. She is a member of California’s State Transformational Assistance Center, where she supports the implementation of the Statewide Initiative for California’s Community Schools. Wendy is driven by social justice and a passion to democratize schools.

The professional career of Shawn Morris spans 25 years in the K-12 education field, which includes ten years as a community schools administrator. Shawn Morris currently serves as the Executive Director of Mark Armijo Academy in the South Valley of Albuquerque, NM. Prior to joining Mark Armijo Academy, Mr. Morris served as the principal at Robert F. Kennedy Charter High School, Van Buren Middle School and the vice-principal and then principal at Jefferson Middle School in the Albuquerque Public Schools system. He has served in the United States Navy as an Intelligence Officer and Yeoman 3rd Class. Shawn has earned a Bachelor of Science and a Masters of Arts from the University of New Mexico and received his administration license from the Public Education Department of New Mexico in 2013.

Paula is an educator and community leader who has lived in Taos since 2007. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Mar del Plata, Argentina and a Master’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Tandil, Argentina. As a Community Schools Consultant for the National Education Association, Paula supports the development and implementation of Community Schools across the country. She is a co-founder of the Rural Network for Community Schools, a member of the NM Coalition for Community Schools, and a board member of SWIFT Community Schools. Paula has firsthand experience in transforming schools through the Community School model. She led the Community School initiative at Enos Garcia Elementary School in Taos, NM, for four years, where she witnessed the positive impact of this model on families, students and the community at large. This experience strengthened Paula’s commitment to equity and social justice in education. Paula is passionate about supporting families and students to grow and thrive. In her free time, she enjoys baking, hiking, sewing gift bags and making crafts with her family.

Lessie Anderson has over 23 years of experience in public school education as a math teacher/adjunct instructor, education consultant, instructional coach, and school improvement coach in NC, SC, AL, and NY.  She currently serves as an assistant principal in NC. Ms. Anderson was on the original content management team that rolled out the NCDPI Homebase/Schoolnet system. Serving as a coach, she has helped lead multi-state projects funded by the Gates Foundation, the Mathematics Design Collaborative, and Network Improvement Communities, both focusing on the achievement of students in mathematics and instructional practices that lead to student success.  Ms. Anderson holds a BA in Mathematics and a MAT in Secondary Mathematics Education both from UNC-Chapel Hill, an MBA from East Carolina University, and a Post-Masters Certificate in School Leadership/Cultural Foundations from UNC-Greensboro.  She leads with the belief that all students deserve a quality education. Ms. Anderson is proud to be named a finalist, two years in a row, for Assistant Principal of the Year in Wake County Public Schools.

Born a Texan but raised in Roswell, New Mexico, Kristen knew from an early age her life’s calling would be advocating for children and families. She returned to Texas for college and then traveled all over Mexico, Canada and the US with Continental Singers.  After spending a year teaching in Thailand, Kristen returned to Roswell to non-profit work for 13 years, including directing the Children’s Advocacy Center and being lead forensic interviewer.  She has been married for 17 years to her husband, Jeff, who is the x-ray guy at an Orthopedic Clinic. Every day is filled with laughter and challenges raising their 8-year-old son Cason and 6-year-old daughter Carli. The Salyards family are huge football fans of the Roswell High Coyotes, UNM Lobos and Denver Broncos. Kristen is a pianist and vocalist and enjoys serving on the worship team at her church. Moving into Community Schools work two years ago found a revitalized passion to meet students and families where they are. Leading the district’s Community Schools team pushes her to fulfill her belief that we can work together to make tomorrow a better day than today.

Jeff Austin started his career in education in 2001 as a high school resource teacher. He most recently served as principal of the Social Justice Humanitas Academy, a pilot school in Los Angeles USD that he helped design and open in 2011. As a social studies teacher Jeff earned National Board Certification and was named a 2012-13 LA County Teacher of the Year. Jeff is also a coach and ambassador for Teacher Powered Schools. Jeff lives in Altadena, CA with his wife and two daughters and spends his free time watching as much soccer as possible.

James is entering year 21 as a public educator. He has served at the high school and middle school level--and currently serves as an elementary school principal in Durham, North Carolina. From custodian, teacher, academic advisor, administrator, and inclusive leadership mentor--his experiences across the K-12 setting are grounded in his core values of Gratitude, Feedback, and Collaboration.

As the Community Schools Development Specialist (CSDS) for Albuquerque Public Schools, Bryan serves as the district’s primary point of contact who is responsible for facilitating the strategic development, alignment, and integration of the Community School strategy district-wide.  In collaboration with many departments in the district and through a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) that formed the ABC Community School Partnership, Bryan partners with ABC team to support 61 Community Schools in working with district, county, and city leaders to empower community assets towards improvement in child well-being and improved student outcomes.  As a 25 year educator as a teacher leader and principal, Bryan has extensive experience in transformational leadership with many opportunities for sharing, mentoring, coaching, and showcasing best practices. 

Dr. Anne Marie Strangio is the director of the Alliance for Leading and Learning, a collaborative program between Albuquerque Public Schools and the University of New Mexico that supports and develops new and aspiring principals within the district. She was a school principal of a beautiful little community school in downtown Albuquerque for over a decade, and her doctoral thesis focused on the intersectionality of community schools and social justice practices. Prior to that she taught for 20 years in Oregon and New Mexico: Middle school music, language arts, and ESL, and elementary school K, 1st, 4th, and 5th grades, and elementary music. She is also the executive director of the Festival de Bellas Artes, a K-12 multicultural music and dance festival in Albuquerque. When not working, she can be found out in the wilderness in her camper with her wife and dog.

Dr. Gloria Woods-Weeks is an experienced National Blue-Ribbon Award-winning principal who is committed to the continuous improvement of schools through strengthening whole child wellness as a primary component of education and schooling. She is a strong community builder, and communicator, and is an advocate for equity. She has elevated expectations and a record of mobilizing support for students, teachers, and staff.

Dr. Woods-Weeks, a Durham native, began her Durham Public School administrative career in 2009 as principal of Holton Career and Resource Center, coming back to the district from Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools as an Assistant Principal. She earned her Doctor of Education degree from East Carolina University, a master’s degree in School Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master’s degree in Public Administration from North Carolina Central University, and a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from North Carolina Central University. Currently, she is the very proud Principal of Riverside High School of Durham Public Schools, appointed by the Superintendent since November 1, 2021. Prior to this appointment, in 2012 the Superintendent appointed her to serve as principal of Josephine Dobbs Clement Early College located on the campus of North Carolina Central University. Dr. Gloria Woods-Weeks led the National Blue Ribbon Award-winning J.D. Clement Early College High School for 10 years. Under her leadership, Early College earned the U.S. Department of Education’s National Blue-Ribbon Award in 2019, the first of three DPS schools to claim the prestigious award since the city and county schools merged.

Have more questions?