When schools succeed,
Meet the RACs
Chimaobi Amutah is the Data Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 4 Regional Achievement Center. In his role, he works with school-based personnel in Region 4 to develop data collection, analysis, and publishing procedures utilized in decision-making to improve students' academic performance. Prior to joining the RAC team, Mr. Amutah taught for a variety of public, charter, and private educational organizations, including the Humphreys County School District in Mississippi, KIPP Delta College Preparatory Schools in Arkansas, and Kaplan Test Prep in New Jersey. Mr. Amutah earned his BA in African and African American Studies with honors from Harvard University. He also holds a Master's Degree in Education with a specialization in Social Studies Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Mississippi where he was a part of the highly selective Mississippi Teacher Corps. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in education within the Education, Culture, and Society concentration from Rutgers University's Graduate School of Education where he is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar. As a native and resident of Trenton who attended Trenton Public Schools throughout his K-12 education, Mr. Amutah joined the NJDOE to improve the educational outcomes of students from his and similar communities.
Lois Braender, Ed.D.
Dr. Lois A. Braender is a Turnaround Coach for the NJDOE's Region 4 Regional Achievement Center. In her role, she works directly with Priority School principals to ensure that interventions to increase student achievement are cohesive and coordinated. Prior to joining the RAC 4 team, Dr. Braender served the Hamilton Township School District as a teacher, principal, Director of Elementary Education, and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Braender earned her Bachelor of Science and Master in Education degrees, along with her teacher, supervisor, and principal certificates, from Trenton State College. She earned an Educational Doctorate from Rutgers University and she also holds a Chief School Administrator certificate. In her leisure time, Dr. Braender enjoys traveling and spending time with friends and family, especially her four grandchildren.
Matt Carre is an Instructional Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 4 Regional Achievement Center. In his role, he and other specialists on the RAC team are responsible for working closely with NJDOE leadership, administrators, coaches and teachers to implement high-quality instructional practices. Prior to joining the department, Mr. Carre worked at a turnaround school in Delaware as a teacher-leader and grade-level chair. Under Mr. Carre's leadership, he and his team of teachers implemented Small Learning Communities and Professional Learning Communities which together improved the quality of their instruction and interventions. Their efforts helped students make double-digit gains in math and reading, surpassing the state average proficiency in both content areas. Mr. Carre earned his BA in Elementary Education from the University of Pennsylvania where he was an All-Ivy League Wide Receiver for the football team. He is currently earning his master's degree in reading at the University of Delaware. In his spare time, Mr. Carre enjoys helping coach football and baseball, reading, and, most importantly, spending time with friends and family.
Angeleah Doherty is the Project Manager for Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 4 Regional Achievement Center. In her role, she is responsible for managing projects, providing instructional coaching and supporting Priority and Focus schools to raise student achievement. Prior to joining the RAC team, Ms. Doherty worked for a turnaround school in a number of roles, including instructor, school leadership team member and technology support for staff and students. She earned her BS from Wilmington University and is currently working on her master's degree in school leadership. She joined the Regional Achievement Center because she wanted to ensure that students receive the education they deserve to reach and surpass their desired goals. She enjoys spending time with her children and anything that involves the outdoors.
Jimmy Hagedorn is a Project Support Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 4 Regional Achievement Center. In his role, he is responsible for producing information by transcribing, formatting, inputting, editing, retrieving, copying, and transmitting text, data, and graphics. He also maintains the executive disrector's appointment schedule, along with planning meetings and conferences. Mr. Hagedorn chose to join the RAC team because he wanted to support people who shared the common goal of helping students across the state. Mr. Hagedorn earned his B.A. from The Catholic University of America, where he was a member of the baseball team and the coaching staff. In his spare time, Mr. Hagedorn volunteers as a head coach for a travel baseball team. He also enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing baseball, and traveling.
Lashay Johnson is the Literacy Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 4 Regional Achievement Center. Prior to joining the RAC team, Ms. Johnson worked at The Village Charter School in Trenton NJ as an elementary teacher, middle school teacher, reading recovery teacher, and reading specialist. During her time there, she modeled exemplary instruction while being involved in a meaningful way. Ms. Johnson provided district-level professional development for teachers in grades K-8, administrators, board members, and she worked with the parents' academy making home reading an essential component to children's success. Ms. Johnson created and implemented an English/Language Arts (ELA) intervention curriculum that enabled 80% of low-performing first graders to reach grade-level reading by the end of first grade. Ms. Johnson started her teaching career at Mercer County Community College where she taught for 8 years a variety of courses ranging from basic reading, writing, and math to sociology of education. Ms. Johnson earned her M.A. in Educational Leadership from Rider University and her M.S. in Reading from Capella University. In her leisure time, she enjoys spending time with her two children, attending and supporting her church, reading, gardening, and having great meals with her family.
Petra Palmer is an Instructional Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 4 Regional Achievement Center. In her role she and her team are responsible for working closely with school instructional staff to implement high-quality instructional practices. Ms. Palmer works with school leaders and staff members to develop a common definition of effective teaching through classroom observation and feedback, professional development and research-based instructional best practices. Prior to this position, she worked in a high-needs, turnaround urban school as an English instructor/department chair and teacher-leader. Ms. Palmer received both her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Delaware. In her spare time, she enjoys pilates, traveling, cooking and spending time with family and friends.
Carlo Testa is the State Climate and Culture Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 4 Regional Achievement Center. In his role, he works with Focus and Priority Schools to enhance their school culture and classroom climate to create an environment where every student can always learn. Prior to joining the RAC team, Mr. Testa served as a classroom teacher at a successful turnaround high school in Wilmington, DE where he taught social studies, designed course curriculum, facilitated various after-school activities, served on the instructional leadership team, and was a department and grade-level chair. Mr. Testa earned his BA from Gettysburg College and his MA from West Chester University and served as the President of the Delaware Council for Social Studies. Mr. Testa is the recipient of multiple scholarships and awards and is a member of the Phi Alpha Theta and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies. Away from work Mr. Testa enjoys studying martial arts and volunteers at a local karate studio in his hometown. He joined the RAC team because he believes every student has a right to attend a school where they can learn and that nothing should come between a seeking student and the knowledge they hope to find.
Stephanie Washam is an Instructional Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 4 Regional Achievement Center. In her role, she provides observation and feedback, facilitates professional development, provides resources and best practices, and partners with embedded specialists and principals to raise student achievement. Prior to joining the RAC team, Ms Washam worked as an elementary director of curriculum and instruction in a Philadelphia renaissance school. She earned her BA in history and political science at the University of Pittsburgh. Afterwards, she became the founding early childhood Teach For America alumni in Camden, and earned her Master of Education degree at Drexel University concentrated on teaching, learning, and curriculum. She joined the RAC team because she strongly believes that every public school has the ability to provide students with an excellent education, and wanted to be a part of that change. She currently enjoys running after her one-year-old daughter, yoga, and reading.
Bio coming soon!