Meet Our Team of Coaches

Our coaches have helped train staff all across the nation. They are our secret weapon and seasoned professionals who have been working in the area of cultural responsiveness from first hand experience, in the classroom, and have shaped the way many teachers teach CLR in their classrooms.  



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Lars ericson

Lars Ericson is in his 5th year of teaching 7th grade English at Brooklyn Center Community Schools. A graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College in 2015, Lars is currently working on his Masters of Education at Hamline University. In education, Lars' passions are rooted in activating student voice and developing anti-racist curriculum. He has seen CLR radically transform his practice, and is proud to work as a CLR lead teacher with Brooklyn Center Schools, and now through the CLR Institute. 



Carrie Eicher

Carrie Eicher has been an educator and staff developer for the past 17 years, serving diverse communities of students and staff. She holds a K-6 teaching degree, a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in Arts Integration, as well as a K-12 principal license from Saint Mary's University. Carrie has taught all grade levels K-12 and worked extensively with adult learners. Carrie has served as an InstDean of Academics, and Instructional Coach and currently serves as the Assistant Principal at Skyview Middle school in the North Saint Paul school district, where she concentrates on building and developing district staff in Culturally and Linguistically Responsive teaching and learning. She is honored to co-facilitate the CLR Summer Institutes, and has successfully led multiple cadres through the Coach I and II process. Carrie's focus is on classroom implementation and consistent support and follow through as teachers dive deeper into the pool of responsiveness. Carrie is thrilled to be on this journey with The Center of Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning. 


Nicole Elliott

Nicole Lusiani Elliott serves as an instructional coach and professional development associate for the Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning. Nicole also works as at the Center to Support Excellence in Teaching at Stanford University, primarily in areas of history education and instructional equity, in the Hollyhock Fellowship, AP Success Research Project, and as a pedagogy partner with Stanford Global Studies. She previously spent 19 years teaching at an East Bay public high school. 

She can be found at or on her website below.


Patricia Greeley

Paddy has been on a journey to responsiveness for over twenty years as a teacher and a coach in education.  She is passionate about the validation and affirmation of students and families. After years as an elementary teacher, Paddy took on the role of instructional coach and now works as a coach for principals. She has a master’s degree in Education from the University of Minnesota and is currently seeking her Principal Licensure. She is grateful for all the leaders and mentors who supported her learning and growth over the years and appreciates being part of the creative group at CCRTL, working to make schools a better place for all.


Andrew Haaheim



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Felicia Homberger

Felicia received her Masters in Education from Harvard University, where she first developed her passion for equity and anti-racist education.  She has taught secondary Language Arts for over 20 years, and serves as a leader in the national AP English Language and Composition exam scoring.  As the staff development coordinator at Hopkins High School in Minnesota, she developed a CLR Sustainability Model (the CLR Swim Team) and inspired the creation of a CLR student group (HHS Responds). She is co-authoring a book with Dr. Hollie to help schools develop and sustain such models at their own sites  As a lead coach, consultant and trainer for the Center, she is passionate about supporting other teachers in their CLR infusion.  When she is not working for the Center, she is still in the classroom, infusing  CLR into her teaching of remedial, grade level, and AP level high school English. She brings her daily experience in the classroom to her work as a coach and trainer. She finds it a privilege to support other teachers who are committed to finding new ways to reach all students, especially the underserved.

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Tim Leistikow

Tim has been teaching IB Language and Literature for all students and IB Theory of Knowledge at Fridley High School (right outside of Minneapolis, MN) for the past 13 years.  He received a BA in Literature from the University of MN and a MA in Teaching from the University of St. Thomas.  In addition to teaching, he has served as an instructional coach, both observing and coaching teachers as well as creating staff development.  He is passionate about infusing CLR strategies into his classroom and into all aspects of staff development. 

Tim is a TED Innovative Educator and is constantly seeking opportunities to validate and affirm students home language and culture through his use of TED Ed clubs.  In addition to finding opportunities for students to BEYOU, he is developing a community engagement program, The Barbershop of Ideas, that brings current students, alumni, and community members together to celebrate the diverse and talented people that makeup Fridley Public Schools.

Tim's continued journey to responsiveness deepens his commitment to empowering all learners by creating a classroom that values all voices, especially those that need outrageous love in order to be heard.  He is honored and humbled to work as a consultant with CCRTL and relishes the opportunity to coach educators as they build their skillset and deepen their mindset.


Lydia McClanahan

Lydia McClanahan has been an educator for 20 + years, and earned her MLIS at San Jose State University. She began her journey in cultural and linguistic responsiveness  in 1998 as a facilitator for LAUSD's Academic English Mastery Program, and went on to become one of the founding middle school teachers at the Culture and Language Academy of Success(CLAS). During her time at CLAS, Lydia began serving as an instructional coach for the Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning. She has served as a lead instructional coach for the last 7 years, during which time she began to curate Responsive Reads, a newsletter, that illuminates diverse authors and  culturally authentic texts.  

You can find out more about Responsive Reads at her website. 


Emily Portle


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Bethany Pottratz-Ocar

Bethany received her Master’s in Education from University of Wisconsin and has taught Language Arts for over 30 years in every grade level from sixth to college. She serves as a teacher and peer coach for the Hopkins school district in Minnesota and brings her continued CLR journey from her classroom to her coaching. She has seen CLR make a significant difference in the lives of kindergarten to college students, and she is passionate about the power of responsiveness. She is honored and grateful for the opportunity to validate, affirm, build, and bridge with colleagues who are dedicated to making education inclusive, equitable, and effective for all students.



Daniel Russell has been an educator for over 24 years. He entered into public school education as a 1994 Teach for America corps member where he was placed in the Los Angeles area. In Los Angeles, he taught 3rd – 5th grade for 9 years at 99th Street Elementary School in the Watts community. At 99th, he was introduced to culturally and linguistically responsive (CLR) teaching via the Language Development Program for African American Students (LDPAAS) which later became the Academic English Mastery Program (AEMP). He served as a facilitator for LDPAAS/AEMP for 8 years before passing on the role to another teacher and taking on the role of EL Coordinator. While at 99th, his 5th grade class was featured in a segment about linguistics on the PBS special entitled Do You Speak American?

In 2003, he left 99th and became a founding teacher at Dr. Hollie’s charter school – Culture and Language Academy of Success (CLAS). At CLAS, he served for 10 years, first as a 5th grade teacher then as a history teacher for 6th – 8th grade. While serving at CLAS, he also took on the role of instructional coach for the Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning (CCRTL). As an instructional coach for CCRTL he specializes in culturally responsive classroom management and culturally responsive standardized test preparation.

In 2014, he shifted to teaching 6th grade Humanities at Aspire Slauson Academy in the south LA area. After 2 years in this role, he left the classroom for the first time in his career and took on the role of Dean of Culture and Climate. As dean, part of his role was coaching and supporting teachers with CLR. He also worked on a culturally responsive approach to PBIS and MTSS.

Currently, he is pursuing his doctorate in Organizational Change and Leadership at USC’s Rossier School of Education. He is particularly interested in exploring the connections between restorative justice and trauma informed practices, and culturally responsive pedagogy.



Gina Spoo earned her degree in Elementary Education from Augsburg University and a Masters in Literacy Education from Hamline University. She has worked in the education field for 19 years.  Currently, she serves as a Culturally Responsive Instructional Coach in the Hopkins School District and the Edina School District in Minnesota.  Through her coaching she can work with teachers k-12, administrators, and other educational staff.  She helps to support teachers and school sites with staff development, and creates sustainability plans that help enrich the lives of children, one classroom at a time.

In addition, Gina works for The Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning as a lead coach and consultant. At the Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning she authors the Skillset section of the monthly VABB Perspectives Newsletter along with authoring the monthly CLR-it emails.  Her expertise and passion for CLR work have most recently been demonstrated at the 2017 CLR Summer Institutes that The Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning hosts annually. Because of her continuous devotion to the work, she has been selected for two consecutive years to be the presenter. She finds it an honor to be able to work with so many educators across the Midwest to ignite their own passion for this very important work. 



Jennifer Terry has worked in the education field for over twenty years.  She has taught students in grades Pre K-8th grade and has served as an instructional leader in staff development.   Currently Jennifer works as an instructional coach for Skyview Middle School in addition to supporting her districts work around cultural responsiveness.  During the school year she works as a coach for the Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning and throughout the summer coordinates and leads the CLR Summer Institute.


Joel Weingart


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Deanna Wuotila earned her degree in Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls and a Masters in Education from Hamline University. She has worked in the education field for 20 years.  She has both middle school and elementary classroom experience.  Currently, she teaches fifth grade in Oakdale, MN.  In addition to her role as a classroom teacher, she serves on the leadership team for the school district's staff development and also serves as a leader at the building level.  She is a site leader with the district equity team, and participates in the Educational Equity Alliance.  Deanna works for the Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning as a consultant.  She also coaches teachers, administrators and other educational staff members at the CLR Summer Institutes.   


DR. GeNita Williams

Dr. GeNita Williams was born, raised, and educated in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Williams has been a teacher and school leader for 19 years, with five of those years being an urban middle school, turnaround principal. Dr. Williams earned her Bachelor’s degree from Harris-Stowe State University, her Master’s degree from the University of MO – St. Louis and her Doctorate degree from the University of Phoenix. Dr. Williams has been proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. for 22 years! Today, Dr. Williams is the General Education and Business Program Director for Vatterott College. Dr. Williams is also a practicing consultant in her own business, You+Me=WE Consulting Solutions, LLC and also with The Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning, Los Angeles, CA, under the direction of Dr. Sharroky Hollie. Dr. Williams is passionate about providing educational opportunity and access to children of color and believes the goal of every educator should be to ensure students are learning about themselves as well as being educated in an environment that shows appreciation and respect for the diverse needs and capabilities of each student.