Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber [staging] Learn · Create · Lead

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Faculty and Staff

Co-Founder: Chris Lehmann -

Principal: Christopher Johnson -

Christopher Johnson became the founding principal of Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber during the 2012 – 2013 school year. Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber is the second campus to the original Science Leadership Academy, an Inquiry School, founded by Christopher Lehmann.

Mr. Johnson has served at many levels of public education in Philadelphia. Starting as a substitute teacher, he has risen through the ranks as an elementary, middle and high school teacher; Regional Office Director; Assistant Principal at the elementary and middle school levels; High School Principal, Central Office Special assignments and Deputy of Climate, Culture and Safety.

Working in conjunction with founder Mr. Lehmann, Inquiry Schools consultant Ms. Diana Laufenburg and the entire SLA staff, Mr. Johnson leads a very ambitious and progressive attempt to duplicate the SLA model and its core values.

Director of Operations: Eileen Moderski -

Science Department

Physics/Algebra: Leroy Gray -

Leroy Gray received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State University in 2008.  For a couple of years thereafter he taught a Mechanical Engineering lab in Penn State's Mechanical & Nuclear Engineering Department and tutored students at the Penn State Learning Center. After that he obtained a B.A. in Spanish in 2011, also from Penn State University.  He then worked as a freelance translator, before pursuing an M.S. in Education from the University of Pennsylvania, which he received in 2013.  During this time he worked with students from Overbrook HS and University City HS in the Upward Bound Math & Science Program.  In 2012, he did a teacher residency at Science Leadership Academy in Center City teaching juniors Physics.  He is ecstatic to be working with the SLA community and teaching students science and math at Science Leadership Academy at Beeber.

Biology-Chemistry: Stephanie Reed -

Biology-Chemistry: Tasnim Aziz -

Tasnim Aziz was born in Philly but grew up in various parts of America and Bangladesh, her family's country of origin. Tasnim received a B.A. in Biology with Honors and instructional certifications in Biology and Chemistry from Bryn Mawr College. Tasnim is also a Noyce Scholar, a National Science Foundation award for Math and Science majors who are pursuing a career in urban education. Tasnim's goal as a science teacher is to nurture young scientists (AKA students) to make meaningful connections between the field of science and their own lives. Tasnim is also a superhero nerd who encourages her young scientists to explore their own superpowers to make responsible choices and take thoughtful risks to solve problems. Additionally, Tasnim is currently working towards a Master of Environmental Studies with a Concentration in Environmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania. When Tasnim is not partaking in school work, she enjoys swimming, yoga, mediTEAtion, hiking, ethnobotany, the food network, bollywood movies...and did she mention superheroes?

Math Department

Math: Marina Isakowitz -

A Philadelphia native, Marina Isakowitz has been teaching students mathematics in Philadelphia since graduating from Swarthmore College in 2009. She is an avid marathon runner, soccer player, and hiker. When she's not running around, she loves to read, cook delicious food, and read about cooking

Math/Health: Karen Guarino -

Karen Guarino was born and raised in Malvern, PA.  For her undergraduate studies, she attended Boston College where she received degrees in Mathematics and Sociology.  Here, she was inspired by her Jesuit education and participated in a volunteer program, 4Boston. In this program, she taught Adult Education courses to individuals studying for their GEDs and her passion for teaching was born. After graduating, she enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania’s Teacher Education Program where she received her Masters in Secondary Mathematics Education and spent a year at the Science Leadership Academy @ Center City.  She began teaching mathematics and health at the Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber in 2014 and has loved becoming a part of this amazing community. When she isn’t teaching, Karen enjoys running, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends.  

Math: Elizabeth Houwen -

World Language Department

Spanish: Max Rosen-Long -

Max Rosen-Long is originally from Brooklyn, NYC, and moved to the Philadelphia area to attend Haverford College. He has worked in a variety of roles in the non-profit and education sector in Philly, and recently completed a Masters in Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Max has lived, studied, and taught in Chile and Honduras (and hopes to keep travelling!). He is passionate about service-learning and utilizing education to make our city a better place.

Spanish: Melissa Moran -

Melissa Moran is a native New Yorker, born and raised in the Bronx. She is an enthusiastic and proud product of the New York City public education system. She moved to Philadelphia to pursue her post-secondary education and fell in love with this wonderful city and all of the amazing opportunities it awarded her. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology & Spanish from Rosemont College, a Masters of Science in K-12 Foreign Language Education from Saint Joseph's University and just recently attended the School Leadership Graduate Program at the University of Pennsylvania and received a principal certification. She has been a part of the School District of Philadelphia for 7 years. She began as an International Baccalaureate Intern and later became a full-time teacher. She loves animals and currently has an incredible fluffy family which includes; 4 cats, 2 turtles and 1 bunny. When she is not working rigorously to entertain and challenge her students, she is traveling and spending time with loved ones and friends.

English Department

English: Luke Zeller-

Luke began studying Education at Penn State, and has taught in a variety of contexts that include State College, Sweden, and South Korea, before starting in Philadelphia. He taught English at both Overbrook and Frankford High Schools before SLA@Beeber. While teaching, he completed his Masters in Literacy Education and becoming a Teacher Consultant for the Philadelphia Writing Project. With his background in literacy theory, he is passionate about enhancing the capacity of his students to read, write, and think with meaning and purpose in a complex world. As a Philly local, Luke enjoys following Philly sports in addition to soccer, reading, and art. Please check out for more.

English: Ann Leaness -

Ann has been in the field of education for 27 years. She has taught at the elementary, secondary and graduate level. Ann taught in both the private and public sectors. Her experience in education has been both in the classroom and at the administrative level. She received her BA in Secondary Education/English at Holy Family University, and her MS in Educational Leadership at St Joseph’s University. Ann was a co-founder for Edcamp and served for two years on the Edcamp Foundation Board of directors. Ann has presented at ASCD, PAECT and several other educational conferences.

English: Bonnee Bentum -

Bonnee did her undergraduate work at Wilkes University and her post graduate degree work at Chestnut Hill College. Currently, she is matriculating at Fort Hays State University as a graduate student, majoring in Instructional Technology. Bonnee helps few grassroots organizations; supports summer journalism programming for high school students at Temple University through Prime Movers Media, links students to athletic programming with Village of Champions and much more. Bonnee also has her own business, A Matter of Xpression that has grown globally serving young people in Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania ( Bonnee serves public school teachers as a Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Executive Board member at-large. Bonnee served students at Overbrook High School since 2001. Bonnee has been active professionally through her participation in the Philadelphia Writing Project, Teachers Institute of Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania (, and served as a National Steering Committee member for Yale University National Initiative Teachers Institute ( From her participation in these professional development organizations, she has committed herself to widening her global information classroom horizons by creating diverse curriculum units that speak to students and for teachers’ use in any country. Most recently, Bonnee successfully completed the US Department of States’ Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC) program, where she spent two weeks in Ghana, Africa. That experience gave way to Overbrook High School students participating in the first ever global read with students in Ghana and Minnesota. Bonnee is a wife and mother of her daughter and son.

Electives Department

Art / Technology: Mary Beth Hertz -

Mary Beth has been teaching in Philadelphia since 2003. She holds a Masters Degree in Instructional Technology from St Joseph's University and she currently holds PA certificates in K-6 Elementary Education, K-12 Business/Technology, K-12 Art as well as an Instructional Technology Specialist certificate. She teaches her students Technology and Art and is the Technology Coordinator at Science Leadership Academy at Beeber. Mary Beth was named an ISTE Emerging Leader in 2009, PAECT's 2013 Outstanding Teacher of the Year and is a member the 2013 class of ASCD’s Emerging Leaders. Outside of teaching, Mary Beth was a co-organizer of the Philly EdTech Meetup, sat on the board of the Edcamp Foundation, is a founding organizer of Edcamp Philly, and, in May 2013, organized WebSLAM, Philadelphia's first hackathon for high school students. She has also presented at ISTE, the #140 Character Conference as well as a number of edcamps and Educon. Mary Beth blogs at Philly Teacher (, maintains a blog on and can be found on Twitter as @mbteach. When she is not tweeting, blogging or teaching she likes to read science fiction, make things, watch movies and explore her South Philadelphia neighborhood.

Engineering: Tucker Rae-Grant -

Tucker Rae-Grant was born in London, Ontario, and grew up in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Yale University in 2009, where he studied art and architecture. In 2014, he received his Masters in Fine Art from the University of Chicago. He is a working artist who is interested in furniture, science fiction, and making the world better.

HIstory Department

History: Matthew Roy -

Though originally from Massachusetts, Matthew Roy has been associated with Philadelphia since 1994 when he attended the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his B.A. in Political Science, Matt returned to New England and received his M.A.T. in Social Studies Education from Boston University. He began teaching in 2001 and since then has spent time in a wide variety of school settings, urban and suburban, public and private. He moved back the Philadelphia area in 2005, and in 2007 he received a James Madison Fellowship which funded his pursuit of an M.A. in Political Science at Villanova University. Shortly after finishing this degree, Matt began teaching in the School District of Philadelphia. He joined the faculty at University City High School in order to help UCHS make its transition to a Promise Academy. After UCHS was slated for closure, Matt had the good fortune to become the founding history teacher at SLA@Beeber. Just as he made the move to SLA@Beeber, Matt completed the ESOL Certificate program at Penn State-Abington. Matt is greatly interested in the inquiry approach to learning and has incorporated this model into the many different social studies and English courses that he has led over the years. He sees education as a strong force for positive change in the world and is grateful that he has the opportunity to play a part in this process.  In addition to teaching, Matt enjoys running, reading, and songwriting. Perhaps most of all, he values the time he spends with his wife and three children.

History: Brian Hussey -

Brian Hussey has worked in history education in a variety of contexts including museums, historic sites, and secondary schools. He received his BA in History from Temple University, and went on to work at the National Constitution Center and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology where he created and delivered educational content including walking tours, audio tours, and classroom resources. A 2013 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Fellow, Brian received his M.S. Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania. Brian uses his professional experiences to make social studies education relevant and engaging for students through designing project-based learning units, visiting historic sites and museums, and exposing students to careers which emphasize the skills developed by the study of history. When not in the classroom, Brian enjoys exploring the obscure and wonderful in Philadelphia with his fiancé, as well as cooking, reading, and watching baseball.

History: Mary Connaghan -

Special Education: Sara Turoff (Landman)

Director of Partnerships: Adrienne Williams -

Adrienne Williams is a native of Denver, Colorado. She began her career as a Public Relations entrepreneur after graduating from Clark Atlanta University with a B.A. in Public Relations. In 2008, Adrienne Co-Founded local Philadelphia non-profit, Elements Organization. Most recently, she earned a Dual Master’s in Social Work and Human Sexuality Education at Widener University. In 2013, Adrienne was the Widener University Oskin Leadership Institute Graduate Fellow where her research focused on leadership within the context of gender. To date, Adrienne has stayed true to her entrepreneurial roots, she is a birth Doula and a founding member of the Society of Black Scholars in Human Sexuality. Currently, she is a doctoral student at Widener University and a Lecturer at Columbia University in the School of Social Work. She is happily married and recently moved to West Mt. Airy. She enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, reading, laughing, and traveling.

Counseling: Melissa Lawson -

Melissa Lawson is a native of Philadelphia but attended high school in Fayetteville, NC and is an alumnus of North Carolina Central University where she received her BA in Political Science in 1998.  She returned to Philadelphia to pursue a dual MBA and MSIT degree at Philadelphia University.  She came to the School District in September 2003 as an Education to Career Coordinator with the Office of College and Career Awareness at John Bartram High School.  After six years as an ETC Coordinator, she decided to become a school counselor because students naturally gravitated to her for advice with their educational future and personal struggles.  She went back to school and received her M.Ed. in Secondary School Counseling in 2009 from Wilmington University.  She has been a Secondary School Counselor for the School District of Philadelphia for five years (John Bartram 2009-2011, Overbrook High school 2011-2014).  In 2014 she was Awarded “Counselor of the Year” by Phi Delta Kappa, University of Pennsylvania chapter.  In addition to being a school counselor she has been involved in the sport of Competitive Cheerleading for over 24 years.  For the past seven years, Melissa has been the Competitive Spirit Chairperson for the School District of Philadelphia and was awarded “Sports Chairperson of the Year” for the School District of Philadelphia in 2013.  She currently sits on the Competitive Spirit steering committee for the PIAA as the District XII representative.  She is head cheerleading coach at Cheyney University.  She is currently finishing up her M.Ed. in School Leadership from Wilmington University with an expected principal’s certification June 2015.  When she is not in school, she enjoys spending time with her children, watching sports and doing creative writing.