Inaugural Cohort 2019-2020



The MECLP Advisory Committee is delighted to introduce its Inaugural Cohort Fellows:

Erin Bonzon: Erin is an Administrator in the Office of Children and Families, Department of Community Resources and Services, Howard County Government. New to Maryland, Erin’s passion is to improve the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable children, reduce inequity and improve early childhood outcomes. Erin has a B.S. in Psychology and a M.S. in Social Work/Public Health, Maternal and Child Health.

Stephanie Geddie: Stephanie is an Instructional Facilitator for Early Childhood Programs, Howard County Public School System. A 2015 Howard County Teacher of the Year and a 2016 Maryland State Teacher of the Year finalist, Stephanie wants to learn how to use data efficiently, learn about resources that support family engagement, and become knowledgeable about research and studies on the impact of early childhood to affect change through policy and the legislative process so that all children “achieve greatness” and “feel valued”. Stephanie has a B.A. in Early Childhood Education; a M.ED in Educational Studies, a Certificate in Administration/Supervision and in Leadership in Family, School and Collaboration.

Cheri Helmstetter: Cheri is the Birth – Age 4 Literacy Coach for the Allegany County Public Schools’ Striving Readers Grant. Through participation in MECLP, Cheri is eager to gain the skills to support all children using the KRA data more robustly, improve relationships with families, and play a role in advancing Maryland as a leader in early childhood. Cheri was a 2009 Teacher of the Year at Northeast Elementary School and a 2009 Teacher of the Year Finalist for Allegany Public Schools. Cheri has a B.S. in Early Childhood -Elementary Education; a M.S. in Administration and Supervision and is enrolled in a Doctorate of Education Program.

Candise Hill: Candise is a Literacy Coach at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore City.  She previously taught kindergarten, first grade and third grade. Candise is excited to be part of MECLP to have a greater impact on early learners and early childhood educators, gain further knowledge about early childhood and effective practices, current research, policy and advocacy. Ultimately, Candise aspires to become an Assistant Principal. She has been involved in Teach for America and the Emerging Leaders Program through BCPS. Candise holds a B.S in Education and Social Policy and a Urban Education.

Laura Hutton: Laura is an Associate Professor and Education Department Coordinator at Harford Community College. Laura hopes participation in MECLP will help leverage her skills to create a vision of better supports for children and parents, engage in actions to promote the welfare of at-risk young children, and establish a support structure for parents of young children with special needs. Laura would like to expand innovation and growth within HCC’s course offerings while establishing the college as a premier source of training for child care professionals. Laura holds a B.A. in Elementary Education/Special Education; a M.S in Special Education/Early Childhood Education and is pursuing her doctorate in Special Education with a special emphasis on cultural diversity.

Tiffany Jones: Tiffany is a Level 5 EXCELS family child care provider in Montgomery County. She is Vice Chair of the Head Start Parent Policy Council, serves as Vice-Chair on Montgomery County’s Community Action Board, and is the Head Start representative on the County’s 5-year Strategic Planning Committee. Tiffany is deeply committed to diversity and equity and wants to “raise the bar” for family child care providers by being recognized as a leader, a model and an inspiration for other child care providers. Tiffany has an Associate Degree and a B.A. in Early Childhood/Special Education.

Christina Lopez: Christina is an Early Childhood Instructional Resource Teacher for PreK classrooms in the Early Childhood Office in Prince George’s County Public Schools and the current President of MDAEYC. Christina hopes MECLP will help her gain core competencies to lead system level changes and to be part of creating a more equitable system that recognizes the value of the whole child and the role of community. Christina has a high level of commitment to early childhood and is interested in connecting theory to practice by designing high-quality professional development for teachers. Christina holds a B.S. in Child Development and Early Childhood Education; a M.S. in Education; a Certificate in Educational Leadership and Administration and is pursuing a doctorate in Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy.

Carolina Reyes: Carolina is the Owner/Director of the Arco Iris Bilingual Children’s Center (AIBCC) in Prince George’s County, a bi-lingual child care center that serves 61 children including part-time children. Carolina wants to acquire leadership skills in advocacy, public speaking and help in developing an “elevator” speech on the importance of education and to encourage immigrant leaders to speak out and build a leadership network. Carolina has a B.S. in Business Administration achieved through a heartwarming path illustrating a person’s commitment to the importance of education.

Naina Schneiderman: Naina is an Infant and Toddler Special Educator in Montgomery County’s Infant and Toddler Program. Naina wants to learn skills to make systemic changes to help diverse families through the early intervention process through collaboration, innovation and public policy and by increasing access to interpreters/translators for non-English speaking families. Naina has a diverse multi-cultural background and is passionate about helping disadvantaged families and their vulnerable children. Naina has a B.S. in Special Education; a Master’s in Education/Special Education and a Certificate in Early Childhood, Special Education – Infant and Severely/Profoundly Disabled children.

Rudi Zelman: Rudi is a Program Manager at the non-profit Literacy Lab, in Baltimore City. Rudi was previously a Kindergarten Teacher in Baltimore City Schools and a Professional Learning Community Specialist for Teach for America. Rudi wants to be a MECLP fellow to develop skills, knowledge and networks to create systems-level change to improve outcomes for young learners and their families. Rudi feels it is critical to develop a pipeline and meaningful development for the early childhood professional community. Rudi is a graduate of Teach for America’s (TFA) Propel leadership program. Rudi has a B.S. in Journalism and Political Science, and a M.S. in Urban Education and Early Childhood.