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Leadership Team

The leadership team at Tulsa Public Schools includes the superintendent's cabinet and our instructional leadership directors. The members of our leadership team have an average of 15 years in working in public education and hold a total of 15 graduate degrees, 20 post-graduate degrees, and 5 doctorates. Learn more about the talented men and women who serve and support Tulsa teachers, school leaders, students, and families.



Deborah A. Gist

Supt Deborah Gist

Joined Team Tulsa - July 2015 

I joined Team Tulsa because being a part of Tulsa Public Schools combines the things I love most—children, family, teachers, education, Tulsans, hard work, and opportunities to make a difference.

Experience: I have worked in public education for nearly 30 years at the school, district, and state levels. I started my career as an elementary school teacher in Texas, designed and implemented a literacy program at 108 schools in Florida, and served as a senior policy analyst for the U.S. Department of Education. I was also the first state superintendent of education for the District of Columbia; overseeing early childhood, elementary, secondary, adult, and higher education. Before coming back home to Tulsa, I served as education commissioner for the State of Rhode Island.

Education: B.S. early childhood education, University of Oklahoma; M.A. elementary education and curriculum, University of South Florida; M.P.A., Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government; Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania 

Favorite Teacher:  I've had many wonderful teachers including Mrs. White at Carnegie Elementary, Mr. Wiley at Grimes Elementary, Mrs. Gaddis (now Representative Gaddis) from Memorial High School, Mrs. Ratliff and Mrs. Trotter at Nimitz Junior High School. 

Favorite place in Tulsa: Other than being in any classroom with teachers and students, I honestly love just being at home with family or together at Harvard Avenue Christian Church. I also adore our museums, parks, libraries and restaurants. Tulsa is so full of great things to do that it would be hard to choose just one!


Paula Shannon

Deputy Superintendent
Deputy Supt. Paula Shannon

Joined Team Tulsa - July 2015 

In doing research on Tulsa, it was clear that there was something special underway in the city—and that Tulsans care a great deal about education. Tulsa captured my heart, and I'm committed to leading alongside many dedicated educators and staff to ensure that each young Tulsan is able to realize her full potential.

Experience: My career in education started as a Teach for America corps member in Houston, TX. Over the last 20 years, I’ve worked for Providence Public Schools, Syracuse City School District, and Achievement First serving as a teacher, literacy coach, curriculum director, and chief academic officer. I came to Tulsa as the district’s chief of staff in 2015 and took on the role of deputy superintendent in 2016.

Education: B.A., University of Notre Dame; M.Ed., Lesley University; M.A., University of Rhode Island

Favorite Teacher: Christophe Kougniazonde at Notre Dame challenged my thinking early in my post-secondary career. As I became a teacher, I realized the gift that Christophe gave to me—a deep belief in the power of transformative relationships and the role that we can play in creating connectedness and helping young people make meaning of the world around them.

Favorite place in Tulsa: I'm less into places and more into experiences. A current favorite is mountain biking in Turkey Mountain followed by a coffee at Double Shot or Hodges Bend.



Andrea Castaneda

Joined Team Tulsa - July 2017

Team Tulsa is a place where I believe I make a difference for schools and children and the City of Tulsa is a place that my family can call home. I believe that schools are, first and foremost, part of the fabric of a city; I wanted to join a school district that shares that belief.

Experience: I am fortunate to have spent my 15-year career in public education serving students, teachers, and families at the school, district, and state levels.

Education: B.A., Brown University; Ed.M., Harvard University

Leader for: Design and Innovation Lab

Favorite Teacher: My favorite teacher was Danny Duncan, my high school track coach. Danny expected more of us than we expected from ourselves, and we never wanted to disappoint him by failing to reach his high standards. 

Favorite place in Tulsa: Being new to Tulsa means constantly making new discoveries. Currently topping my list is Turkey Mountain (because it feels like I am on a hike but still in the city), Las Americas grocery store (because it feels like we are in Mexico) and the Boston Avenue Methodist Church (where I like to park and admire the deco details.) 


Jana Burk

General Counsel
Jana Burk

Joined Team Tulsa - Spring 2011

I wanted challenging work on a high-performing team that improves outcomes for children and families.

Experience: Prior to my current position, my most recent Tulsa Public Schools experience involved leading the design of our district strategic plan and co-developing our teacher evaluation system with the district's teachers. Before working at TPS, I spent many years as a school law attorney, and though I taught middle school for only a brief period of time, it is one of my career highlights.

Education: B.A., Plan I, at University of Texas, Austin; J.D. at University of Texas, Austin

Leader for: Legal

Favorite Teacher: My global economic geography teacher at UT Austin. He opened my world and changed my life course by introducing me to a field of study that connects economics, demography, culture, sociology, environment and location.

Favorite place in Tulsa: The renovated Tulsa City/County Library - it's beautiful, it's a place for everyone, and the possibilities are endless.



Nolberto Delgadillo

Joined Team Tulsa - August 2017

I joined Team Tulsa because of Destination Excellence. I was impressed with the leadership behind it and the mapped-out trajectory to achieve success and thus felt that this would be an excellent opportunity for not only me but also my wife, Lily, who is a teacher.

Experience: I joined Tulsa Public Schools after three years serving Los Angeles students, teachers, and families as chief operations officer at LA's Promise. I've also worked with Green Dot Public Schools supporting principals at seven sites with best practices in financial management and operations.

Education: B.A., University of Southern California; M.B.A., Loyola Marymount University; M.A., Broad Residency in Urban Education

Leader for: Financial services, accounting, federal programs and special projects, finance/treasurer's office, materials management, payroll

Favorite Teacher: My third grade teacher, Mr. Herschler, did a fantastic job of peaking my curiosity to further understand how things work, so much so that he asked for a parent conference to encourage my parents to buy me an encyclopedia since he couldn't keep up with all my questions.

Favorite place in Tulsa: As a native Southern Californian, I am in awe of the lushness of Green Country and the place where my family really first felt that was at the Philbrook Museum. We came away impressed with the architecture of the museum and how it was nestled within the trees along with that beautiful garden.

Interim Chief Information and Analytics Joe Jennings

Joe Jennings

Interim Chief Information and Analytics Officer
Joe Jennings

Joined Team Tulsa - 1991

Joe Jennings has been with the Tulsa Public Schools family for 28 years and has served in a number of roles including senior financial analyst, assistant treasurer, and director of business services.

Education: B.S.Oklahoma State University; M.B.A., Northeastern State University.

Leader for: Data, analytics, and IT



photo coming soon

Joined Team Tulsa - August 2016

Experience: I served as lead on curriculum and instruction, academic strategic planning, and standards adoption and implementation at Denver Public Schoos. I also worked in Detroit as managing director at New Urban Learning overseeing all agency operations.

Education: B.A. and M.B.A., University of Texas, Austin; M.Ed., The Broad Center 

Leader for: Talent management, teaching and learning, educator effectiveness, professional learning, personalized learning, language and cultural services, exceptional student services

Favorite place in Tulsa: I love people-watching in Brookside, especially from the patio at Cosmo Cafe!

Chief Operations Officer Jorge Robles

photo coming soon

Joined Team Tulsa - May 2018

I joined Team Tulsa for the opportunity to work with an amazing team of talented and committed professionals on realizing a vision of providing a positive, safe, healthy and engaging daily educational experience for every student, for every educator and for our community in the city of Tulsa.

Experience: I join Tulsa Public Schools after five years in Denver Public Schools where I led the district’s English language acquisition department and the bilingual and newcomer programs serving approximately 38,000 students whose native language was not English. Before moving into public education, I spent 15 years in the private sector working in financial services, marketing and business development.

Education: Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile (Agriculture Engineering), M.B.A., University of Texas, Austin; M.Ed., The Broad Center

Favorite Teacher: My American history teacher Dr. Morrison in high school taught me the value of learning history to understand the present and shape the future.

Favorite place in Tulsa: Riverparks trail and the Midland Valley trail. I also really like the lakes around Tulsa.

instructional leadership director Estella Bitson

Joined Team Tulsa - 2011

I joined Team Tulsa because I wanted the opportunity to serve in an urban district. As a successful product of Chicago Public Schools, I knew that I wanted to give back to an urban community, providing a good public education for all students centered around excellence and equity.

Experience: Prior to my current position as instructional leadership director, I was the principal at Hawthorne Elementary School where I enjoyed serving the students, families, and community for five years. I also served in school leadership roles in Missouri.

Education: B.S., Lincoln University; M.S., Lincoln University; specialist degree in administration, University of Missouri; Ed.D., University of Missouri

Leader for: Instructional leadership director for Bell, Celia Clinton, Disney, Unity, McKinley, Mitchell, Owen, John Hope Franklin, and Springdale elementary schools.

Favorite Teacher: Ms. D. Wooten, the freshman literature teacher at Curie High School for the Performing Arts, was my favorite teacher because she always made you accountable for your own learning through critical thinking, problem solving and debate. 

Favorite place in Tulsa: Tulsa Performing Arts Center is my favorite place in Tulsa because I enjoy watching Broadway shows.

instructional leadership director Jennifer Gripado