Early Childhood Education 

Learn more about the master educators working with early childhood teachers.


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Katherine Avery

Katherine Avery brings nearly ten years’ experience and a strong commitment to improving urban public education for young children to the DCPS Master Educator program. Her belief in the importance of high quality early childhood programs began during her time spent as a tutor with Heads Up! at Amidon Elementary in Southwest D.C. during her final year of college at The George Washington University. She was inspired by her students and began volunteering as a child advocate before completing her Montessori Primary training at the Barrie Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Maryland.

Ms. Avery began her formal teaching career at the Latin American Montessori Bilingual (LAMB), Public Charter School; one of only two public, dual-language immersion, Montessori programs in the country at that time. Ms. Avery spent several years working as a Primary English Teacher and eventually led the English curriculum development team to establish common practices and resources for teachers. Additionally, Ms. Avery directed an after-school immersion theatre program which focused on Spanish vocabulary, grammar, and provided children with an opportunity to write, perform, and spend additional time on creative academic tasks. Her observations of children in this environment fostered her understanding of the positive impact creative learning experiences may have on a child’s holistic development during his/her formative years.

Ms. Avery is also a founding member and former co-director of Shining Stars Montessori Academy (SSMA). She was instrumental in writing key portions of the charter application and secured a grant from the NewSchools Venture Fund to ensure that professional development and additional enrichment opportunities would be available in the early stages of establishing the school. She has also served as Director of Student & Family Services at SSMA where she designed positive behavior intervention plans, provided oversight to the English Language Learner (ELL) program, and coordinated valuable staff trainings with groups such as Teaching for Change, the Student Support Center and Brain Gym International.

Ms. Avery is trained in a variety of innovative educational practices including Montessori (Primary: ages three to six), Redirecting Children’s Behavior, Brain Gym, dual-language immersion instruction, anti-bias curriculum and multi-cultural education. She has a demonstrated record of successful early interventions, and working as a parent and family ally and is eager to bring her experiences to the DCPS Master Educator team.

Armandina Brown

Dr. Armandina M. Brown completed her MEd through George Mason University where she developed a passion for inclusive early childhood programs and a keen interest in professional development as a tool to improve student learning in the classroom. Her doctoral work at the University of North Texas allowed her to develop expertise through research in teacher quality and parental engagement in early childhood programs.

Armandina has served the Early Childhood community through a number of roles including teacher, mentor, researcher and advocate. She has taught in a wide range of preschool classrooms including general education programs, early childhood special education and preschool programs for English Language Learners. Armandina has been the recipient of several grants to support parent engagement through play-based workshops. In addition, she has maintained triple licensure in general, special and ELL certification as a reflection of her belief in inclusive practices for young children and families.

Most recently, Dr. Brown served as faculty within the College of Education at Northern Arizona University where she taught in an undergraduate degree program for pre-service early childhood teachers. She has had extensive experience mentoring and guiding pre-service and in-service teachers through observation, evaluation and feedback.

Armandina has served in leadership roles for preschool boards as well as state early childhood agencies and special education state licensure teams. Professionally, she presents locally and nationally to diverse audiences including Head Start, Tribal Head Start and Migrant Head Start programs on topics such as Behavior Guidance in Early Childhood, Early Math/Science and Literacy Development, Child Development, Parent Engagement and Methods/Foundations of Early Childhood Special Education.

Armandina proudly serves as an Early Childhood Master Educator for DCPS.

Camia Hoard

Prior to becoming a Master Educator, Camia Hoard was an elementary educator for fourteen years with experience ranging from kindergarten through fifth grade in many different public and charter schools across the nation. 

Camia’s academic studies began at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts where she graduated with a degree in elementary education and psychology.  Upon graduation, Camia became a second grade teacher in Houston, Texas.  After two years of novice teaching, she attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education and later received a Master’s Degree in Education with a concentration on the risk and prevention of failing students.

After graduation, Camia began teaching kindergarten.  Her teaching expertise remained in the early grades where she fueled her belief that a strong academic foundation is at the heart of a student’s successful academic career. 

After several years of teaching in public schools, Camia expanded her experience and became a founding teacher in a Chicago KIPP Charter School. At KIPP, Camia embraced the motto, “no shortcuts, no excuses” and she brings that attitude to her work in education. Following KIPP, Camia joined a team of educators and founded Frazier Preparatory Academy. At Frazier, she raised $60,000 to bring twenty-four students to the nation’s capital to witness the success of one man’s improbable dream, President Obama’s inauguration.

Because Camia Hoard exemplified the best practices of quality early childhood teaching, she was named a winner of the 2009 Kohl McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Award.  Camia and her family relocated to Washington, DC from Chicago in 2012.

Camia proudly serves as a Master Educator for Early Childhood and Elementary Education. 

Melani Lewis

Melani Lewis comes to the master educator program with over 10 years experience in early childhood education. She began her career as a prekindergarten teacher in several public charter schools in Washington, DC.  It was through this work that she developed a passion for high quality early childhood programs that promote excellence in both academics and character development.  Over the years she has served in a variety of roles including teacher, Academy Leader, Director of Early Childhood Curriculum, and most recently as Assistant Principal.

As an educational leader, Melani has extensive experience leading, coaching, and professionally developing teachers in early childhood settings.  Her expertise lies in diagnosing key areas of growth for teachers and developing action plans to support teachers in meeting key instructional goals leading to high student achievement.   She has designed and led countless professional development sessions on high quality instructional components including Morning Meeting, Shared Reading, and sound, letter and word play games.  Sessions have also included using data to design targeted lesson objectives, creating effective formative assessments, and perfecting classroom routines that support positive classroom culture. 

 As part of the curriculum development team, Melani has written a wide range of curricula and assessments for early childhood students.  She was responsible for aligning several curricula in order to maximize student learning and individual development, as well as meet state requirements.  Most recently, Melani led the creation of a developmentally appropriate early literacy screening designed to measure the alphabetic, phonological and print awareness knowledge of 3 year olds students.  She was also a key member of the design team which created and implemented a new character education program for preschool and prekindergarten students. 

Ms. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Science degree from American University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Virginia.

Melani proudly serves as an Early Childhood Master Educator.

Lisa Woodruff

Lisa Woodruff comes to DC Public Schools with 12 years’ experience working in Early Childhood Education and Special Education. 

She began her professional career in Prince William County, Virginia as an Inclusion Specialist within a Head Start classroom. During that time, she also served as a Resource Specialist and worked with children identified with special needs and their families within community child care centers and home settings.

In 2006, Lisa was selected to open a pilot 6-6 model classroom for students on the Autism Spectrum and their peer models. She served as the Instructional Team Leader during that time and under her mentoring and leadership, her team received the annual team award. The award recognized Ms. Woodruff and her teammates for their ability to contribute the highest standards of pedagogy and professionalism in various educational capacities.

In addition to Lisa’s classroom experiences, she has worked as a Child Find Specialist for Alexandria City Public Schools. In this position, she coordinated all aspects of the evaluation process for children suspected of having a developmental delay and provided auspices to Special Educators and Speech Pathologists as they pertained to the evaluation process. 

She also provided parents with insurmountable support and guidance as related to the Special Education process and the developmental milestones for young children. She conducted trainings and staff development for community Pre-K programs regarding best practices, differentiated instruction and classroom modifications. 

Ms. Woodruff presented at the Annual Children Together conference regarding collaborative classrooms and participated in a Strategic Planning group for Autism.

Lisa has a certification in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (Categories I: Making it Happen and Category II: Inquiry), and extensive experience in implementing the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scales, Functional Behavior Analysis and Behavior Intervention Plans.

Ms. Woodruff ‘s formal preparation includes a Bachelor of Science, Speech Pathology and Audiology and a Master of Art, Early Childhood Special Education both from West Virginia University.

Lisa proudly serves as a Master Educator for Early Childhood and Special Education.

Dr. Cheryl Ohlson

Dr. Cheryl Ohlson has more than two decades of experience in the fields of early childhood education and early childhood special education. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Boston College, and later completed graduate studies at The George Washington University, where she earned a Master’s degree in early childhood special education and a doctoral degree in child development and early childhood special education.

Cheryl began her career as an early childhood educator within the District of Columbia Public Schools, where she served as both a kindergarten and pre-kindergarten teacher. Cheryl also served on the faculty of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at The George Washington University and has more than ten years of experience teaching graduate-level courses in early intervention, child development, early childhood education, and early childhood special education. During her tenure at GWU, Cheryl was a recipient of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Head Start Research Fellowship, supporting her research related to the impact of Head Start services on young children and their families.

Cheryl has also worked as an educational consultant, providing training and consultation within public schools, charter schools, and early childhood development programs across Washington DC. She has worked closely with system and program administrators to create and implement systems-change plans that support the provision of best practices in early childhood programs, and provided coaching, mentoring, and professional development to teachers. She also recently worked with faculty at GWU to design an on-line teacher training system for early childhood teachers in Department of Defense early childhood centers across the country and abroad. This system will soon be used to train all Department of Defense early childhood educators in the provision of culturally and linguistically responsive practices. 

Cheryl proudly serves as a Master Educator for Early Childhood Education

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