Director, Educa Learning Story Academy Julia Koumbassa

Julia Koumbassa joins Educa after eight years as Center Director at University of Michigan. All told, Julia has been working in the field of Early Childhood Education for almost 25 years - as a leader, teacher, trainer and parent educator.

Julia has a passion for bringing new understandings and perspectives to the work and finds joy in helping educators grow and thrive.

More recently, Julia has developed a keen interest in Learning Stories. She has visited Aotearoa New Zealand twice.

ECE Consultant Nicole Talarico

Melbourne, Australia
As the Principal Facilitator at Talarico Consulting, Nicole has been active in the early childhood sector for over 20 years.

Best known as an advocate for professionalism and children’s rights. Nicole has worked in tertiary supervision, managing local government children’s services teams, and as an ECE consultant and trainer at Gowrie Victoria. Nicole is currently a mentor for Semann & Slattery, and she specialises in helping teams create and maintain a positive workplace culture and community engagement.

Nicole’s coaching strategies have been outlined in a range of early childhood publications, with particular reference to educational leadership, managing teams to value ethical decision-making in curricula, environmental education, and sustainability.

Nicole is a mother of four, and also the founding Director of Medical Action Bag, supporting first aid and environmental practices in Australia and New Zealand.

Learn more at her website here.

Senior Instructor Allyson Montana

New York, United States
Allyson has a Masters in Education and is currently working on her PhD. She has spent many years in the classroom and the last two years as the PD Director at Educa.

Allyson has presented on Learning Stories and other ECE PD at a number of conferences, including the McCormick Institute's Leadership Conference, the SALSA Learning Story Conference, and Head Start and Hilltop.

Allyson has two children, and is a fierce advocate for quality early childhood education.

Associate Professor Annie White, PhD

California, United States
Dr. Annie White is an Assistant Professor with the Early Childhood Studies program at California State University, Channel Islands where she teaches early childhood courses.

Dr. White has conducted research in the USA on Learning Stories with Head Start programs, homeless shelter child care centers, infant and toddler programs, and diverse family child care homes.

Senior Instructor Ali Porteous

Wellington, New Zealand
With 18 years of Early Childhood teaching experience, Ali is now a teacher and trainer at Ngaio Childspace, where she has lots of fun with getting to know the interests and passions of her tamariki. She also does research, trains teachers, and facilitates courses in Peaceful Curriculum design. Among her many educational interests are the importance of nature, curriculum planning, and writing Learning Stories.

When she is not teaching or looking after her two small children, she loves travelling the country and helping other teachers learn about what can make assessments great.

Senior Instructor Dr. Isauro Escamilla

Dr. Isauro M. Escamilla, born and raised in Veracruz, Mexico, is an experienced Spanish/English dual language public school teacher in San Francisco. He is co-author of Learning Stories and Teacher Inquiry Groups: Reimagining Teaching and Assessment in Early Childhood Education (NAEYC, 2021) and a Lecturer at San Francisco State University. He is also a SALSA board member.

Senior Instructor Zachary Bernstein

My name is Zachary J. Bernstein, and I love to make unheard voices heard. This statement is my life’s purpose.

The bulk of my teaching experience over the last 21 years has been in Early Childhood Education and at a community college. I love writing stories because stories ask questions and these questions make connections.

My adventures in ECE show me that the more we bring Learning Stories to life, the more we make our children’s voices, our families’ voices, our communities voices, and our (educators’) voices heard.

Head Start Coach Lindsey Shafer

Lindsey Shafer is an early childhood educator in northern California, working for 12+ years as a teacher, specialist and coach.

Lindsey was a board member for Supporting the Advancement of Learning Stories in America (SALSA) and continues to support teachers and directors in writing Learning Stories. She facilitates inquiry groups, and presents online webinars and at conferences.

Lindsey is passionate about using Learning Stories to strengthen relationships, foster reflective teaching practices, inspire discovery, and encourage play. She writes Learning Stories to educators that she works with and has been writing Learning Stories as a mom.