Amy Polonchek serves as chief of staff at Tulsa Public Schools, driving collaboration, communication and alignment across the district. She works closely with Dr. Keith Ballard and his leadership team, and takes the reins of the district when he is away. She is a non-traditional educator trained as an economist with a background in economic development, municipal government, and career and technology education. She came to the district in 2010 to lead the teacher and leader effectiveness initiative, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and local civic donors.
Amy led the Oklahoma Department of Commerce under Secretary of Commerce and Tourism during Governor Brad Henry’s administration, after Kathy Taylor left that post to run for Mayor of Tulsa. She later became chief of staff for Kathy Taylor during her term as Mayor of Tulsa. After the Mayor’s term ended in December, 2009, Amy and Kathy joined Governor Brad Henry’s administration for a second time, to lead some innovative education initiatives during his last legislative session.
Previously, Amy has been principal of a consulting group, director of a high tech business incubator, executive director of a policy think tank, project manager in the telecommunications industry and served on the management team at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. Amy has published a variety of articles and papers, and served as visiting assistant professor for strategic management at Oklahoma State University. She holds a Bachelor of Science in economics from Michigan State University and a Master of Science in economics from Oklahoma State University. Amy is invigorated by public service, and believes that working to improve student outcomes at Tulsa Public Schools is her most rewarding role yet.
Kim Dyce Faucette joined Tulsa Public Schools from her position as superintendent of the North Syracuse Central School District in New York. Prior to that position, she served in several positions at the Rochester City School District including chief of staff, special assistant to the superintendent, lead principal at the Benjamin Franklin Educational Campus, principal at the Benjamin Franklin High School and house administrator at James Monroe Middle School.
Kim earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, Master’s Degree in Education, Master’s Degree in Educational Administration and Doctorate Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Rochester, Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development.
Trish Williams came to TPS in April of 2008. Before coming to the district she served as chief financial officer for Broken Arrow Public Schools for approximately 10 years. Prior to that appointment she served as vice president for finance and administration at Richland Community College in Decatur, Illinois.
Trish earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Master’s of business administration degree from Baylor University. In May 2014 she graduated from the Educational Administration, Curriculum and Supervision Ed.D. program at the University of Oklahoma Tulsa campus. In 2014, she was named the OASA District #5 Asst. Superintendent/Central Office Administrator of the Year.
As CFO, she supervises all district financial activities including budget, accounting, payroll, purchasing and treasury departments. She also supervises the federal programs and bond departments. Since joining TPS, she has led the financial services division to national recognition for financial reporting from the Association of School Business Officials International and the Government Finance Officers Association. Trish has made numerous presentations at state and national conferences, and teaaches graduate level strategic planning and school finance courses.
Talia Shaull joined Tulsa Public Schools in August 2010 as a TPS Fellow. This position, funded by the philanthropic community, is modeled after the Broad Residency in Education, which places non-education professionals in management positions at urban school districts. In this role, Talia has been assigned to two distinct projects: Coordination of ELL services under Curriculum and Instruction, and development of a performance management system for the Human Capital department.
Talia’s past experience includes working in profit-driven environments, both in small business and in large corporate settings, in the areas of business development, international sales and marketing. Her most recent experience at Community Service Council included developing and managing programs that promote Hispanic student success, and development of community coalitions to address the needs of children throughout the educational pipeline, as well as related research and policy analysis in these areas.
Talia has a bachelor’s degree in international business from Oral Roberts University and a master’s degree in organizational dynamics and project management from the University of Oklahoma. She is a member of Leadership Tulsa Class 40, serves on the Board of Regents of Tulsa Community College and is involved with several community organizations in the Tulsa area.
Jana Burk is a former middle school teacher, school law attorney and education planner, having represented Tulsa Public Schools and other school districts for close to seven years at the law firm of Rostentein, Fist and Ringold after practicing school and regulatory law in Austin, Texas at the firm of Bickerstaff, Heath and Smiley. She joined Tulsa Public Schools in early 2011, and has been instrumental in the design and development of the Tulsa Model for Teacher Evaluation, as well as the development of supports for principals in how to more consistently and accurately assess teacher performance. She graduated from the University of Texas School of Law and received her undergraduate degree from Texas as well in its Plan I Honors Program.
Tracy Bayles joined TPS as the executive director of Federal Programs and Special Projects (FPSP) in September 2010 and in September 2012 moved into her new role as chief academic officer. Her responsibilities include supervision and oversight of curriculum and instruction, federal programs and special projects and professional development for the district.
Bayles earned her bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University in Elementary Education, her master’s degree from Northeastern State University in Educational Administration, and is currently pursuing her doctoral degree from the University of Oklahoma in Educational Administration, Curriculum and Supervision. The focus of her current research is teacher and leader effectiveness, trust and organizational citizenship.
Bayles has 27 years of experience in education and has worked in rural, suburban and urban districts both in and out of Oklahoma. She began her career as a teacher and has spent the last 17 years in an administrative role.
Her experience includes working in curriculum, instruction, professional development and federal programs. She is a professional grant writer and program evaluator and has made more than 40 presentations at state and national conferences throughout her career.
[BIOGRAPHY COMING SOON]
Chris Payne joined TPS in 2011 after serving as a consultant on Project Schoolhouse. Payne has more than 20 years of public relations and strategic communications experience. He most recently served as vice president and general manager of the Tulsa office of Saxum, an integrated communications firm with offices in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Prior to joining Saxum, he served as senior manager of corporate communications for Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc. He previously lived in Dallas working for public relations and political consulting agencies, leading a number of regional and national accounts.
Payne has served in leadership positions for Susan G. Komen for the Cure (the Tulsa affiliate), the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa, the Hardesty Visual Arts Center and the Tulsa Chapter of PRSA where he was named PR Professional of the Year In 2002. A graduate of Leadership Tulsa (Class 44), he has a master’s degree in mass communications from the University of Oklahoma, and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Emporia State University.
The district has been working on a leadership sustainability plan that involves restructuring the organizational chart to improve support at the building level in order to drive high-quality instruction to increase student growth and achievement. These changes are based on recommendations and benchmarking that are included in a recent report.
Given our changing emphasis in principals as “instructional leaders,” the district is replacing the Associate Superintendent structure with eight Instructional Leadership Director (ILD) positions reporting to the Deputy Superintendent. Best practice suggests that there should be no more than 15 schools reporting to a single leader.
Dr. Phyllis Lovett is the lead elementary instructional leadership director. Prior to this position, Lovett served as associate superintendent for elementary schools and previously and also as executive assistant to the associate superintendent for elementary schools. She spent two years as principal at Gilcrease Middle School and 15 years as principal at Penn Elementary School. At Penn, she transformed the school from one of the lowest performing elementary schools in the state to one of the highest and earned the Oklahoma Academic Achievement Award in 2008. Lovett has also served as an adjunct professor for the School of Education for Northeastern (Oklahoma) State University's Broken Arrow campus and Langston University's Tulsa campus. She earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education from LaGrange College in Georgia and a doctorate in educational leadership from Oral Roberts University.
Prior to becoming an Instructional Leadership Director in 2013, Jessica served as principal at Robertson Elementary, where she maintained the belief that all students can achieve at high levels. She conducted daily walk-throughs focused on teacher effectiveness, and has been recognized by the Oklahoma State Department of Education for three years of successful test scores. Jessica led Robertson through the process of becoming a community school, and knows what it takes to improve school culture and to move the needle on student achievement.
Prior to becoming an Instructional Leadership Director in 2013, Kayla Robinson worked for 23 years as an elementary school principal with 19 of those years at Marshall Elementary, a community school. At Marshall, Kayla used research-based best practices to improve student achievement in a diverse urban setting. She has substantial experience collaborating with community partners, foundations, social service agencies and higher education institutions.
Kettisha Jones served as principal of Highland Heights Elementary School in the Houston Independent School District for seven years prior to joining Tulsa Public Schools in 2013. While there, she facilitated the merger of two schools during the 2009-10 school year and served as a turnaround principal under the Apollo 20 Program. Kettisha was also assistant principal of the Health Science Technology Academy at John H. Reagan High School in Houston for four years. She is well-versed in directing and managing instructional programs, developing teachers and staff with meaningful professional development and using data to improve student progress and teacher performance.
Dr. Oliver Wallace is the lead secondary instructional leadership director. Prior to this position, he served as associate superintendent for secondary schools. Previously, he was principal at Central Junior High and High School from July 2009 until July 2012. At Central, Wallace successfully implemented curriculum changes and achieved Adequate Yearly Progress, a federal requirement for all schools, in his second year. In 2012, he was selected as one of the Tulsa Business Journal's “Tulsa 40,” an annual list of the top 40 outstanding, up-and-coming professionals under age 40 in the Tulsa area. Wallace has also been principal at Wilson Middle School and assistant principal at Clinton Middle School and Booker T. Washington High School. Dr. Wallace has a bachelor’s degree in education from Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, a master’s in school administration from Northeastern State University and a doctorate in curriculum and leadership from Oklahoma State University.
Mr. Julio César Contreras joined TPS in the late summer of 2014. Mr. Contreras grew up in the Chicagoland area and is a child of immigrant parents. The first in his family to receive a college degree, he received his B.S. Ed of Bilingual/Bicultural Sequence with a minor in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Langauges (T.E.S.O.L.) from Illinois State University and his M.S. Ed from Aurora (Ill.) University. His teaching career began at the elementary school he attended in his youth. Prior to arriving at TPS, he worked in Chicago Public Schools for 11 years in various positions such as teacher, assistant principal, management support director, principal, and deputy chief of schools for the south side of Chicago. As deputy chief of schools, Mr. Contreras supported up to 35 elementary and secondary schools. As principal, he led a multi-track calendar school with over 1200 students to one unified calendar, implemented professional learning communities, increased math scores and received a recognition from First Lady Michelle Obama for meeting the Go For The Gold Challenge of a Healthy School. He is also fluent in Spanish and is learning American Sign Language.
Throughout his career, Mr. Contreras has participated in multiple leadership preparation programs and very gladly brings those lessons to TPS. His personal philosophy is that it takes three Arenas to ensure the success of children [who are our future leaders]: A Strong School, A Strong Home and A Strong Community. As a leader, it is his personal agenda to work with all three Arenas to build consistency and alignment of practices/supports.
Mr. Robert Schornick joined TPS in the summer of 2014. Mr. Schornick grew up in central Oklahoma and received his B.S.Ed. from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah and his M.S. Ed. from East Central University in Ada. He has worked in the education field for over 20 years as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, and principal. He comes to TPS from Oologah-Talala Public Schools where he served as high school principal for the last seven years. Under Mr. Schornick’s leadership, Oologah High School excelled in the educational arena by fostering strong teacher-student relationships, focusing on data literacy, promoting a positive school environment, and bridging the gap between school and home. Mr. Schornick has been acknowledged for his leadership skills, even earning the accolade of 2011 Oklahoma High School Principal of the Year, and for his contributions to the dramatic gains in student performance and students’ college and career readiness at the schools where he has worked.
Mr. Schornick has served as the president for the Oklahoma Association of Secondary Schools Principals and currently serves as the Chairperson for the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration. He is excited to be working alongside great educational leaders at TPS.
Before becoming an Instructional Leadership Director in 2013, Stacey Vinson was the principal of Will Rogers College Junior High and High School since its inception as an early college high school in 2011. She and her staff transformed Rogers’ culture into one of high expectations and success. Her passion for students and staff will work to make a meaningful change in the Kendall-Whittier and Eugene Field neighborhoods and to improve student achievement.