Leader Interview Bios

LISTEN to Inspiring Leaders

I have been personally inspired by these ten former classroom teachers who contributed significantly to education in their new role outside of the classroom. That is why I invited them to share their journeys through the podcast series Inspiring Leaders. I believe former classroom teachers bring their expertise, wisdom, and practical knowledge to the table and they are critical to the success of the profession.

Each episode features a leader whose story relates to one of the Ten Lessons in Teaching With Light. I personally know all but one of the ten leaders. Many of them volunteered to be “extraordinary coaches” for my Mentoring in Action Leadership Academy so I can vouch for their authenticity and their passion for helping others.

As I reviewed the list prior to recording, I noticed that every one of these leaders was a woman. I didn’t plan the podcast to be all women, but as I see it now, these dynamic inspiring women had influenced my journey as a leader so it is right that their voices are heard.

Meet the inspiring WOMEN leaders who have influenced me personally and served so many teachers, students, and leaders in the field of education.

Episode 1 – Follow your heart.


Jaclyn Roster

Jaclyn lives and works in New York City. We met by phone when she reached out for some guidance when she was exploring dissertation questions. I was excited to support her and congratulate her on completing her program  

She is adjunct faculty at both Hunter College and Pace University where she supports education students through her teaching and  mentoring.

Her doctoral research was highlighted in the January 2021 Mentoring in Action newsletter. You can listen to our conversation and read her blog to learn more.

“What Do Teachers Need Right Now?" 

Learn more by reading
Jaclyn’s blog.

Listen to Jaclyn Roster's podcast episode here

Episode 2 – Bloom where you’re planted.


Ellyn Metcalf

I met Ellyn through a mutual colleague and we connected immediately. She was planning a conference for teachers and I was excited to collaborate with her. I admire Ellyn’s vision and commitment to supporting teachers as leaders.

As a career-changer from the military, Ellyn brought many of her leadership skills to both her middle school classroom, the school district, and the design of The Total Teacher Project.

Ellyn lives and works in Rhode Island where she is now on the staff of the Loy Institute where she develops programs to support cadets. She shared that what she learned in the classroom is now informing her work with the Coast Guard! She is blooming where she is planted!

To learn more about her work visit https://www.uscga.edu/loy-institute/

Listen to Ellyn Metcalf's podcast episode here

Episode 3- Be a lamp, not a mirror


April Frazier

April and I met at the Total Teacher Conference that Ellyn Metcalf (Episode 2) organized. Her mindfulness practices for teachers and her openness to sharing inspired me to explore mindfulness in new ways.

She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY where she continues to share, inspire, and embrace a life of caring and compassion. Her experience as a teacher contributes to her content and the ways she helps students and teachers succeed.

Learn more about April and her resources on her website.


These are resources she also shares.


Listen to April Frazier's podcast episode here

Episode 4- Face the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.


Tracey Smith

Tracey and I were introduced through a former student teacher who was now running for school board in Forsyth County, Georgia. Tracey was one of the principals who stood out to her as someone I should get to know.

What I loved about Tracey from the moment we connected was her energy and total commitment to the teachers in her school. As a former teacher herself, she brought that practical wisdom to her role as principal. She encouraged all of her teachers to become leaders and you can hear one of her teachers talk about her experience of Tracey’s school in Teachers’ Stories Episode 3.

Learn more about her work and her amazing book.



Listen to Tracey Smith's podcast episode here

Episode 5- Be a ripple


Kat Johnston

Kat and I met when she was assigned to oversee a grant I was leading for the Massachusetts Department of Education. She is smart, detail oriented, and insightful. Kat is the kind of leader who finds opportunities for others to shine, so when she decided to start her own non-profit, I wasn’t surprised that it was called The Teacher Collaborative.

She began her teaching journey in a North Carolina classroom where she learned from experience what it takes to be successful. Her commitment to helping teachers’ voices be heard is inspiring.

Learn more about her vision for teacher sharing in Massachusetts. Listen to the podcasts and be inspired!


Listen to Kat Johnston's podcast episode here

Episode 6 – It is what it is


Jennifer Abrams

Jennifer and I met at a professional conference in California many years ago. I attended her session titled, Having Hard Conversations, and was intrigued by her approach and her sense of humor!  Her experience as a teacher clearly contributed to her message.

Her monthly newsletter, Voice Lessons, shares her journey and also her many resources. I admire her authentic voice, her wit, and her practical advice. Jennifer lives in California and works online to support schools to be successful.

Learn more about Jennifer and subscribe to her newsletter.


Listen to Jennifer Abrams's podcast episode here

Episode 7 – Be the wave


Caitlin Krause

I first learned about Caitlin’s work when I was invited by Corwin to read a manuscript for a possible book. The opening chapter was titled, Mindfulness-Beyond the Buzzword. I was hooked. Caitlin took the vague use of the word and applied it to the classroom. Her experience as a teacher gave her the ideas and examples to put mindfulness into practice.

Caitlin has lived all over the world and brings varied perspectives to her work in schools and businesses. She lets the creativity wave guide her so she can stay in the flow of her ideas. Being the wave allows her to be creative and inspired.

To learn more about Caitlin’s mindfulness book and her other exciting projects visit her website.


Listen to Caitlin Krause's podcast episode here


Episode 8 – Always be brave


Tiffany Green

Tiffany and I met professionally when she reached out by email to ask about my mentoring books. She had newly stepped into a leadership role from the classroom and she wanted to inspire her lead mentors in practical ways. Tiffany was brave enough to leave the classroom and her students during the year to take on this leadership role.

We had an opportunity to meet in person in Delaware where she invited a group of lead mentors to attend a workshop.

I admire her commitment to developing novice teacher’s skills through effective mentoring. Her state-wide CIP Comprehensive Induction Program is a model of excellence. Her courage to leave the classroom has helped so many novice teachers and mentors in her state.

To learn more about the program and how you might replicate these ideas in your state visit  https://www.doe.k12.de.us/domain/185

Listen to Tiffany Green's podcast episode here

Lesson 9 – Dream out loud


Lily Sanabria

Lily and I met when she reached out to me to be a guest on her leadership podcast. A colleague had mentioned my work and Lily thought it worthy of a conversation. Her detailed questions prior to the interview took me on a journey that had me reflecting on why I became a leader. She clearly is a skilled interviewer.

The tables are now turned and Lily is being featured as an inspiring leader on the Teaching With Light podcast.

Lily’s background as a former teacher led her to creating her Master Leadership podcast because she had a dream to share leaders’ voices.

To listen to episodes from her podcast and learn more about Lily visit her website https://masterleadership.org/

Listen to Lily Sanabria's podcast episode here

Episode 10 – Pay it forward


Kathleen Dunne Gagne

When I took on the role at a university to develop a year-long practice based teacher preparation program – Kathy was assigned as my mentor. She was leading a program in Amherst, Massachusetts that we were using as a model. She taught me how to structure my program and what was most important. We worked closely, became friends, and are still friends to this day.

Kathy not only served on the development team to create the 180 Day Program, she continues to pay it forward by teaching a course, mentoring the new director, and staying in touch with graduates.

Listen to Jayla Watje in Teachers’ Stories (Episode 5) to hear one of the graduates share her teaching journey that began in this program.

To learn about the 180 Day Program visit


Listen to Kathleen Dunne Gagne's podcast episode here