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.

Julie Anderson, Pathways 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. 

Maria Hagopian, Business Manager

Maria supports all TWM business operations including procurement, human resources, and financial operations. Prior to joining the Teach Western Mass team, Maria provided bookkeeping services to TWM as a contractor. Before becoming a bookkeeper she worked for five years as an English/Language Arts Teacher in a private, junior high school, then four years as a Literacy Teacher in a public charter school and two years in education administration as an Academic Data Specialist. Maria believes the opportunity to receive a high-quality education is a basic right and the key to a better life for everyone. She enjoys being by the ocean, studying, and spending time with friends and family. Maria lives in Springfield with her husband and daughter.  

Michael Taylor, Recruitment Manager

Michael supports educator recruitment efforts for TWM network partner schools including recruiting for the TWM Residency. 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 Springfield with his wife, a local principal, and began working in local educator recruitment before joining Teach Western Mass.

Neal Teague, Director of Instruction

Neal leads the TWM Residency program of study. Prior to joining the Teach Western Mass team, Neal was the Director of Humanities Training at the Sposato Graduate School of Education. While at Match Education, he led the Teacher Launch Project and was the Director of Workshops. He started his career teaching history at Charlestown High School in Boston and later served as history teacher and Dean of Students at Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School in Brooklyn, N.Y. He also taught history and led the History Department at UP Academy Boston. Neal lives in South Hadley with his lovely wife and three children. 

Iesha Townsend, Program Manager-Communication & Resident Experience

Iesha supports communication and resident experience 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 support 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.

Board of Directors

Matthew Matera (Empower Schools)- Board President & Chair

Nicole Christoforo (Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership)

Beth Gage (Holyoke Public Schools)

Pema Latshang (Teach Western Mass)

Joretha Lewis (Baystate Academy Public Charter School)

Ali Mathias (MassMutual Foundation)