Teach Western Mass

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Our Staff

Pema Latshang, Founding Executive Director

Pema brings over 15 years of teaching and leadership experience to her role at Teach Western Mass. A native of Western Massachusetts herself, she completed her undergraduate studies at The University of Chicago where she volunteered in Chicago Public School Classrooms. Beginning as a Teach For America Corps Member, Pema taught English, math and reading intervention at a Bronx middle school for 6 years before becoming an Academic Dean and then an Instructional Leader and Network Administrator. Prior to Teach Western Mass, Pema was the Director of Professional Learning and Educator Leadership at Holyoke Public Schools. Pema is the mother to two amazing girls, Zora and Athena.

Julie Anderson, Pathway Manager

Julie supports pathway programs at TWM which include the Urban Education Pathway, the TWM Graduate Fellowship and the Generation Teach Summer Fellowship. Her favorite part of her job is working directly with people who are hopeful and passionate about making a difference in the lives of children in Holyoke and her hometown of Springfield. A former English teacher at Holyoke High and Northampton High School, Julie brings classroom teaching experience and youth development/mentoring experience to her role at TWM. Prior to joining the TWM team, Julie served as the Sports Director for Project Coach, a youth-development and sport-coaching program in Springfield's North End which is coordinated by the Urban Education Initiative at Smith College. Julie is the head coach of the women's Ultimate frisbee team at UMass, and she enjoys cooking, reading books, and adventuring with her husband and three-year-old daughter. 

Iesha Townsend, Program Manager-Communication & Recruitment

Iesha supports communication and recruitment for the Teach Western Mass Residency. Iesha earned her MSc in Politics of Conflict, Rights and Justice from the School of Oriental African Studies, University of London after earning her BA in Psychology and Government from Smith College. Iesha has worked for several international non-profit organizations on various minority rights advocacy projects and youth empowerment initiatives as well as participated in social entrepreneurship programs. After spending several years advocating for diverse communities and supporting youth empowerment programs, Iesha recognizes the impact educators have on children’s overall success. Iesha is excited to recruit passionate teachers who will transform the lives of their students and communities across Western Mass. In her downtime, Iesha enjoys playing soccer and spending time with her German Shepherds, Max and Annie.

Michael Taylor, Recruitment Manager

Michael supports educator recruitment efforts for TWM network partner schools. Michael received a BA in both History and Psychology from Texas Tech University, and a MS in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. As a teacher for 10 years in Philadelphia district and charter schools, Michael worked to overcome crippling budget deficits and vast systemic inequalities in order to better serve students and families. Seeking to gain first-hand knowledge about education policy in order to affect change on a wider scale, Michael spent a year as a Capitol Hill Fellow working in Congress on the reauthorization of NCLB, improving college access, and federal child nutrition programs. Michael moved to Western Massachusetts with his wife, a local principal, and began working in local educator recruitment before joining Teach Western Mass.

Board of Directors

Nicole Christoforo (Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership)

Beth Gage (Holyoke Public Schools)

Pema Latshang (Teach Western Mass)

Joretha Lewis (Baystate Academy Public Charter School)

Matthew Matera (Empower Schools)

Ali Mathias (MassMutual Foundation)

Kwame Webster (Teach for America)