The Center’s Core Steering Council guides the direction and activities of the Center, acting as ambassadors for its purpose and connecting resources to support it.

Steering Council

Dr. Robert Andrzejewski

Dr. Robert J. Andrzejewski is President and CEO of Innovative Educational Associates (IEA), a consulting firm that specializes in providing school, school district and legislative support in a variety of educational areas including school-business partnerships and workforce development strategies.

Dr. Andrzejewski had previously served as the Acting Superintendent for the Christina School District in Wilmington Delaware (2015 – 2016). Christina is Delaware’s second largest public school district with 31 schools and an annual operating budget of approximately $260 million. He also served as a Program Associate for the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce and its Superstars in Education program (2014).

Dr. Andrzejewski served as the Executive Director of the Delaware Mentoring Council (2010 – 2014) after his retirement as Superintendent of the Red Clay Consolidated School District in 2009. During his tenure in Red Clay, the largest public school district in Delaware, he was responsible for overseeing14 elementary schools, six middle schools, four high schools, five special schools and 4 charter schools.

Dr. Andrzejewski holds three degrees, all from the University of Delaware: Ed.D. in Education Leadership, M.Ed in Special Education and a B.A. in Psychology. He spent 31years as an educator and educational leader in Red Clay, beginning his career as a special education teacher in 1978. Before assuming his role as Superintendent, he served as an Educational Diagnostician, Middle and High School Assistant Principal, Elementary and Middle School Principal, and Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services.

Highlights of his tenure as the Acting Superintendent in the Christina School District included leading a successful $16.2 million operating expense referendum, creating a vision call “A New Christina” to help shape emerging community energy around new magnet programs, new grade configurations, distance learning, dual college credit options and expanded vocational programs that align to the jobs of today and tomorrow.

Under his leadership with the Delaware Mentoring Council, the number of mentors serving youth in Delaware increased 20% from approximately 4000 to 5000 while the number of corporate and community mentoring partners increased approximately 21% from 72 to 95.

Highlights of his career as Superintendent of Red Clay Schools include his reputation for leading the most innovative school district in the state, a district with a system of schools that included traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools and one contract school; development of the top achieving high school in the state, the Charter School of Wilmington; development of a nationally recognized performing arts magnet school, Cab Calloway; development of a Strategic Plan that was acknowledged by the business community as an exemplar of how to use a performance driven business model to support best education practice; establishment of the first K – 8 public school in Delaware (Brandywine Springs School); transformation of a low achieving middle school into a grade 6 -12 magnet school supported by the business and higher education communities with an academic focus in allied health and biotechnology (Conrad Schools of Science); transformation of a low performing elementary school into a nationally recognized high performing Blue Ribbon School (Marbrook Elementary). Under his leadership, the district passed the largest capital bond issue in state history at that time, $195 million that provided funding to build a new school and renovate all Red Clay schools.

Dr. Andrzejewski’s expertise has been recognized at the local, regional and national levels. He has spoken to audiences on a variety of topics including “School Change – from theory to practice”: National Finance Academy Annual Conference; “How Do Charter Schools Coexist with Traditional Public Schools within a District”: National Association of Charter School Organizers; “Mentoring – School Business Partnerships”: National School Boards Association; and the “21st Century Leadership Academy”, a training model for school administrators and teacher leaders: National Education Computing Conference and the National School Boards Technology Conference. He has also served on numerous boards including the United Way of Delaware, the American Red Cross, Junior Achievement of Delaware, Communities in Schools, the Data Service Center and the SchoolNet Board of Advisors.

The recipient of many awards, Dr. Andrzejewski was named the Delaware State Superintendent of the Year in 2004; he received a Presidential Citation from the University of Delaware for being one of its Outstanding Alumni (2004); and was honored by the Delaware House of Representatives, the Delaware Secretary of Public Education and the Delaware State Board of Education for his service to students served in public education (2009).

Dr. Shelley Rouser

Dr. Shelley Rouser is the Chairperson for the Education Department at Delaware State University as well as an Associate Professor. Dr. Rouser is also a proud alumni of DSU. She has 25 years of experience in K-12 education, as a teacher and coach the first half of her career, and as an administrator at the district and state levels the second half of her career in public education. Prior to joining DSU in August 2018, she served as the Director of K-12 Initiatives and Educator Engagement at the Delaware Department of Education where she led the Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development workgroup overseeing up to nine content areas and leading the State’s college and career ready standards implementation efforts through statewide initiatives such as Common Ground for the Common Core, the NextGen Teacher Leader Project, and Reimagining Professional Learning Grants, to name a few. Prior to working with the Department of Education she was the Supervisor of Instruction in New Castle County Vocational Technical School district. As a former middle and high school teacher, teacher leader, content area specialist, and central office administrator, Dr. Rouser is experienced with the challenges of managing a major change effort as well as the systems work it takes to build capacity to navigate such adaptive changes. In her role of Education Department Chair, Dr. Rouser brings her extensive experience with curriculum, instruction and professional development as well as the relationships with educators across the state to enhance DSU programs. She professional mantra is captured in Gandhi’s quote, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” In her first year, Dr. Rouser has worked with DSU’s education faculty to develop a five year strategic plan focused on recruitment efforts (particularly males into teaching), strengthening the pipeline between regional high schools and DSU and from DSU into regional districts, meeting and exceeding accreditation expectations, and revitalizing graduate programming.

Jea P. Street

Jea P. Street is a graduate of Wilmington High School and the University of Delaware.

From 1974 to 1981 Mr. Street served as Executive Director of the Parent Educational Resource Center where he was charged with the responsibility of helping to prepare City parents and students for the implementation of court ordered school desegregation. During this period he became a well-established student advocate.

In 1988, Street became chairman of the Coalition to Save Our Children, representing City children in the school desegregation litigation and served in that capacity until 1996 when the court order was officially lifted.

In 2004, Street was elected as New Castle County Councilman for the 10th District and serves as Co-Chairman of Public Safety. As Councilman, he has continued his advocacy work on behalf of children. He has filed federal and state complaints against the Christina and Colonial School Districts and the State Board of Education. In 2007, he worked very closely with Wilmington City Council and the Mayor as the City and five parents successfully sued the Christina School district to ensure that city schools were not closed. Street fought vigorously for the Route 9 Library from 2005 to 2017 when the library was opened. Most recently, he sponsored legislation that limits the height of the Minquadale Landfill to 140 feet.

Councilman Street served as Executive Director of Hilltop Lutheran Neighborhood Center from 1981 to 1992 and from 1995 to 2017. In 2018, he served as Development Director until he retired in December. During his tenure as Executive Director, the center completed over $7 million in renovation and expansion projects, the budget increased from seventy thousand dollars annually to its current $2.1 million. In 2016, the center received the State of Delaware’s highest rating of five stars as a provider of early care and education and school age services.

From 1993 to 1995 he served as Director of Wilmington Parks and Recreation.

Street is currently the President of Delawareans for Educational Opportunity (DEO). On January 16, 2018, DEO in conjunction with the Delaware NAACP State Conference of Branches, sued the State of Delaware and all three of its counties to obtain appropriate funding for all students in the State of Delaware’s Public Schools. This lawsuit is currently pending in the Chancery Court.

Senator Elizabeth Lockman

Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman was elected to the State Senate in November 2018 and represents communities in and surrounding central and west Wilmington. Her district is one of the most diverse and densely populated in Delaware. She was raised in Wilmington’s Cool Spring neighborhood.

Sen. Lockman has long been an advocate for education reform, originally through her local Parent Teacher Association and then as a member of the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee (WEAC). When WEAC established the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC) – which focused on better serving Wilmington’s public school students through equity-focused funding – Lockman became the group’s Vice Chair.

Sen. Lockman entered community service through Public Allies Delaware in 2004, where she served as Program Manager for the Hearts & Minds Film Initiative of Serviam Media. When her daughter enrolled in kindergarten at Highlands Elementary School, Sen. Lockman joined the Parent Teacher Association and served as the group’s president from 2010-2013.

Sen. Lockman continues to fight for reforming public education, most recently leading a grassroots organizing effort to develop community leadership on this issue as the director of the Parent Advisory Council on Education (PACE) initiative at the Christina Cultural Arts Center. The initiative pursues a vision to improve effective participation in the public education system to strengthen it for students living in the city of Wilmington with a focus on building recognized parent leadership, driven by local outreach and a community-built advocacy agenda

Akilah Alleyne

Akilah Alleyne is a PhD student and researcher in the department of Sociology & Criminology at the University of Delaware. Her research interests focus on the impact of state-level education policies on students’ home-to-school commuting experience, and other education related outcomes. She engages in empirical research using multiple methods including participatory-action approaches, survey administration and data collection, individual interviews, focus group interviews, and policy analyses, to study all levels of socio-political influences related to education. Her empirical work aims to illuminate latent, or often hidden structural factors that may result in youth enduring stratified experiences by race, class, income, or social identity. These may include inequitable school funding systems, major school closings, and slow investments in local school building or rebuilding. In her work, Akilah continues to brand herself as an interdisciplinary scholar through her work drawing on the intersections between sociology, criminology, education, and social policy.

James Simmons

A Mount Pleasant High School graduate, James attended the University of Delaware on a full football scholarship. He earned a Bachelor of Science in earth science education. He later earned a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction from Delaware State University.

Before joining DDOE, James served as the executive director of secondary education at Brandywine School District. He also served as the district’s climate and culture leader as well as Brandywine High School’s principal. Prior to his time at Brandywine High, James assisted the principal at PS duPont Intermediate and Concord and Mt. Pleasant high schools before becoming Mt. Pleasant’s principal in 2008. Additionally, he has been a teacher, football coach and boys’ and girls’ basketball coach at St. Mark’s, Milford, Delcastle and Mt. Pleasant high schools. He has also coached football at Widener and West Chester universities.

Shannon Griffin

Shannon Griffin works with the ACLU of Delaware as a Policy Advocate and Community Organizer. Her works focuses on improving equity and ending disparate and excessive use of disciplinary actions in our schools. She also works as a Program Director with Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League managing the Achievement Matters initiative, a program designed increase academic and social achievement through a service learning approach. Prior to working with ACLU and the Urban League, she was the Executive Director with the Learning Link of Delaware, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing student achievement, college/career readiness and community engagement. Mrs. Griffin is a passionate advocate for parents and students; dedicating over 20 years supporting schools, community-based/faith-based organizations and assisting families understand their rights and responsibilities within the public education system. She holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Management & Leadership and a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services from Springfield College.

Representative Nnamdi Chukwuocha

Representative Chukwuocha is a lifelong Wilmingtonian. A former Wilmington City Councilman; where he served as President Pro Tempore and Chaired the Education, Youth and Families and was Vice Chair for the Finance and Economic Development Committees. Representative Chukwuocha is also a community-based master social worker with over 30 years of direct service and administrative experience working with and on behalf of youth, families and communities.

Representative Chukwuocha is a veteran who proudly served in the United States Army.

Representative Chukwuocha is one-half of the Twin Poets. The acclaimed spoken word duo was appointed as the State of Delaware 17th Poets Laureate.

Representative Chukwuocha mentors youth and coaches youth football and baseball.

Tamara N. Smith

Tamara is honored to serve as the Executive Director of Teach For America-Delaware.   She has dedicated her career to ensuring educational equity for all students and has pursued this mission in various capacities. After graduating from Spelman College, Tamara joined Teach For America as a 2003 Philadelphia corps member, teaching ELA in the School District of Philadelphia. Following her tenure as an educator and school administrator, Tamara joined the legislative team of former Congressman Robert Andrews, with a focus on economic development initiatives and education and immigration policy. Before accepting the opportunity to lead Teach For America-Delaware, she served as the Executive Director of Operations and Co-School Leader of Great Oaks Charter School in Bridgeport, Connecticut.


A New Jersey native with strong family ties to Delaware, Tamara is passionate about community centered advocacy and the holistic development and empowerment of BIPOC students.  She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College. Tamara also serves as a board member for Five Frogs, Inc., the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League and the Wilmington Center for Education Equity and Policy.