LaTeesa AllenSuperintendent, Innovative School District
LaTeesa A. Allen is a passionate and results-driven educational leader with more than 20 years of experience in the field of education. She has a proven record of success in developing and executing strategic plans to build organizational capacity and develop community partnerships while cultivating environments of academic excellence. LaTeesa has dedicated her life as an instructional leader with an unwavering commitment to high quality education for all students. She is a performance-driven educational leader focused on maximizing educational program effectiveness to consistently deliver results that exceed expectations.
Prior to accepting the appointment to lead the Innovative School District (ISD), LaTeesa was the Chief Program Officer for Communities In Schools of North Carolina (CISNC), a statewide non-profit dedicated to providing evidence-based Integrated Student Supports to over 300 schools in North Carolina. As a member of the Senior Leadership Team, LaTeesa oversaw the development, strategic planning, service delivery and management of a significant portfolio of programs while leading the statewide Program Services Network. During her tenure at CISNC, LaTeesa has successfully launched Jobs For North Carolina’s Graduates (JNCG), a statewide College and Career Readiness program; Reentry to Resilience (R2R), a statewide Juvenile Justice Reentry Program; the AVID/CISNC Blended Model; and has raised the profile of CISNC direct programming in schools across North Carolina. LaTeesa also collaborated with local school district leaders, community partners, business leaders, and national student-focused organization leaders to improve student outcomes for many of our most vulnerable students in the state.
Before joining CISNC, Lateesa was Regional Director of Educational Services for a national non-profit organization, AMIkids, Inc. where she was responsible for providing high-caliber leadership to schools across eight states and building and maintaining effective relationships and partnerships with local school districts and state agencies. In this role, her focus was on developing systems and processes that advanced organizational goals, improved education outcomes and increased student academic achievement.
LaTeesa began her career as a public school teacher and has taught at all levels from elementary school to high school. She is an accomplished educator and received Teacher of the Year honors from Florida’s Governor and Commissioner of Education for her innovation in educational strategies with low-performing students and leading a school to becoming one of the highest performing alternative education schools in its district.
After many rewarding experiences as a classroom educator, LaTeesa Allen became an Executive Director for several schools throughout the state of Florida. As the Executive Director, she was recognized for promoting strategic initiatives and revitalizing programs and schools statewide. LaTeesa played a pivotal role in education reform by improving services at historically low-performing schools.
LaTeesa Allen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the Florida State University and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from the Florida State University. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with a focus on the sustainability of successful School Turnaround practices.
DeShawna GoochChief Operating Officer
DeShawna Gooch joined the Innovative School District (ISD) team as Chief Operating Officer (COO) in November 2018. In this role, she collaborates extensively with school operators and local school districts to develop and deploy innovative strategies to create conditions for improving student growth and achievement in ISD’s portfolio of schools.
DeShawna has over 18 years of experience as a public-school educator; included are 13 years in leadership positions at both the school and district levels. She’s had increasing level of responsibility, first as a teacher, then as an assistant principal, principal and district director. She knows that education is the pathway to success and works with a sense of urgency to ensure every student reaches their potential.
During her most recent tenure in Durham Public Schools, DeShawna partnered with low-performing schools to develop and implement various programs to address student success. The programs included a principal coaching model, a high school intervention initiative called DPS Back on Track Senior Graduation, and various summer credit-recovery initiatives that helped students catch up and prepare for the next steps in their lives.
During the 2017-18 school year, DeShawna provided operational support to five schools that received School Improvement Grants to help improve student grade-level proficiency in reading and math. Under her direction, all five schools met or exceeded expected growth in these areas and student proficiency rates increased by two to 14 points. Additionally, for two consecutive years, 100% of the high school students enrolled in a summer school program facilitated by DeShawna graduated with a diploma.
DeShawna holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Middle Grades Mathematics from North Carolina Central University and a Masters of School Administration degree from North Carolina State University. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Educational Leadership at High Point University.
Debbie BrownHuman Resources Manager
Debbie joined the Innovative School District (ISD) team in April 2018. Educators and support staff at schools transferred into the ISD are employees of the ISD, so she fills a critical role in building a qualified and talented school staff that is driven to maximize student achievement and success.
Debbie was born and raised in Monroe, NC. As a child, she enjoyed playing school and watching her friends learn and grow. This started a life-long interest in education.
After high school, Debbie enrolled at East Carolina University majoring in music education. While there, she discovered that teaching was a natural fit for her and she loved working with young people.
After spending a decade teaching music in the public school system, Debbie was driven to expand her role in education, so she enrolled at Pembroke State University and obtained a Master of Arts in Education degree. This enabled her to move into Assistant Principal and Principal roles that she held for 12 years. After that, Debbie spent eight years serving employees in Hoke and Cumberland County Schools through the Human Resources Department, including five years as the Director of Human Resources with Cumberland County Schools.
Just prior to joining the ISD team, Debbie worked in the Cumberland County community assisting with efforts to decrease the homeless population. Throughout her career, she has dedicated her time and talent to serving others. Debbie continues that pursuit in her newest role with the ISD.
Anita HolbrookOperations Specialist
As the Operations Specialist for the Innovative School District (ISD), Anita manages all aspects of office administration for the ISD, including scheduling, purchasing, contracting, communications and providing administrative support to the ISD team.
Anita has more than 12 years of professional experience in the areas of human resources and office administration. Prior to joining the ISD in May 2018, she was an administrative specialist with the North Carolina State Retirement System. Anita has also held HR and operations specialist positions at various organizations, including Fidelity Investments and ABB.
Anita holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and is currently a doctoral candidate with Walden University. In her spare time, Anita speaks to groups of women on health and wellness.
A native of Statesville, NC, Anita currently resides in Cary. NC. She believes her experience growing up in a small town instilled in her the values that inspired her to pursue advanced degrees and to excel in her life and career. She passed those essential values onto her son who is currently a scholar and an athlete at UNC Charlotte.
Robin RobersonFinance Manager
Robin joined the Innovative School District (ISD) team in June 2018 as Finance Manager. She brings valuable budget management experience to the ISD as well as expertise in the areas of employee benefits, leave and salaries.
The majority of Robin’s career was spent in public education. She has 15 years of experience in an administrative capacity with Lenoir County Public Schools in North Carolina. While there, she served three years as the Career Technical Education (CTE) Director and 12 years as Human Resources Director. In 2011, Robin was named Administrator of the Year for Lenoir County Public Schools.
Prior to working in an administrative capacity, Robin was a business education teacher and technology specialist at Kinston High School, in Kinston NC, and a CTE testing coordinator for Lenoir County Schools. Before choosing a career in education, Robin worked in private industry for several years. Additionally, since 2012, Robin has served as a North Carolina Farm Bureau Women’s Committee Member.
Robin holds a Bachelor’s of Science and Master’s degree in Business Education from East Carolina University. Born and raised in eastern North Carolina, Robin resides with her husband on the family farm in Lenoir County. They have six children and seven grandchildren.
David PrickettCommunications & External Affairs
David has over 30 years of experience successfully leading communications, marketing and change management efforts in various industries, including manufacturing, engineering, healthcare, education and state and federal government. He joined the Innovative School District (ISD) in October 2016. In this role, he is responsible for developing and implementing communications and stakeholder outreach strategies to support the ISD’s mission to partner with local communities to improve student academic growth and achievement in low-performing schools in North Carolina.
Prior to joining the ISD, David was the Communications Director for the North Carolina Office of State Human Resources. While there, he led agency-wide communications efforts, including change management initiatives, stakeholder outreach and awareness-building campaigns, collateral development and dissemination, media relations, employee recognition programs, events, website content, video production, and social media channels.
Additionally, David has over 10 years of experience working for a government consulting firm providing communications, project management and technical assistance expertise to numerous state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Labor (Office of Apprenticeship, Office of National Response, Business Relations Group, Job Corps), U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy, NC Department of Public Instruction and North Carolina Partnership for Children.
David holds a bachelor’s degree in Art from East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN. In 2015, David conceptualized, designed and published an award-winning statewide employee newsletter entitled The Resource. In 2016, this publication won the Eva N. Santos Communications Award for excellence in HR communications from the National Association of State Personnel Executives (NASPE) and an Excellence in Communications Award from the North Carolina Association of Government Information Officers (NCAGIO).
Born in Kentucky and raised in Ohio, David has called North Carolina home for the past 35 years. He currently resides with his wife and son in Wake Forest, NC.