The Department of Personalized Learning is comprised of a group of talented and dedicated staff members and school-based instructional leads.
Our team members have on average, 11 years of experience in education, 7 years of teaching or counseling experience, and over 37 years of experience coaching educators. Collectively, we have served every grade and subject in PreK-12 education and been on staff at over 50 schools in Chicago and beyond.
Learn more about the members of our team or connect with them by clicking on their bio below.
Director of PL
Errika Baker is the Director of Personalized Learning for Chicago Public Schools. Prior to joining the PL Team, Errika served for nearly four years as the principal at University of Chicago Charter School - Donoghue Campus. During her tenure as principal, she led her school through a personalized learning redesign process and was a Breakthrough Schools Award Winner. In preparation for a principalship, Errika was a resident principal and received leadership training and certification through New Leaders for New Schools.
Prior to the becoming a school principal, Errika served for four years as the program director of Suder Montessori, one of three public Montessori schools in Chicago, where she was previously a founding staff member and preK-3rd grade instructor. Before beginning her teaching career at Poe Classical School, she worked as a HR consultant for PriceWaterhouse Coopers. Errika is a product of CPS as she graduated from the Murray Elementary and Kenwood High School magnet and gifted programs. She is a native Chicago South Side resident, where she was born and raised.
Manager of PL
Brittany Guy is the Manager of Personalized Learning for Chicago Public Schools. Most recently, she served as the Program Manager for Personalized Learning for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in North Carolina, leading the development and implementation of the program with a goal to leverage personalized learning to create equitable learning experiences across the district. In her years of experience teaching, coaching, and leading, Brittany has focused on building relationships and providing the individual support needed to grow each learner. As a teacher, she was selected for the NC Governor’s Teacher Network, spending a year engaged in action research focused on personalized professional learning. More recently, she served North Carolina as a PL Champion in the development of the state plan for scaling the personalized learning approach, providing support for districts across the state. She is excited to combine her previous experience with new learning in CPS to effectively support educators in Chicago.
PL instructional leader
An unfortunate educational experience as an elementary school student led Takia Barbee to become an educator. Since 2001, Takia has served in a variety of roles within Chicago Public Schools including cadre substitute teacher, 2nd and 3rd grade teacher, Assistant Principal, Resident Principal, Principal, and Instructional Coach. During her tenure as principal of Johnson School of Excellence in the North Lawndale Community is where she was introduced to personalized learning. Within two years, students in grades 3rd-8th grade were completing learner profiles, reflecting on their learning from choice menus and advocating for the preferred modality of learning. Takia is grateful for the opportunity to serve as an Instructional Leader within the Department of Personalized Learning. Here, her mission continues as she works to support school communities with creating students who are ready for college, career and beyond. Takia holds a BS in Physical Education from Lane College, an MA in Elementary Education from Chicago State University, an MA in Administrative Leadership from Governors State, and an MA in Literacy Education from Northeastern Illinois University.
PL Instructional Leader
Savannah began her career in education as a 4th grade math teacher at Bradwell School of Excellence in Chicago’s South Shore Neighborhood. She then taught both 4th and 5th grades at The University of Chicago Charter School - Donoghue Campus. During her time at Donoghue, Savannah had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of her school’s core design team, where she worked with administration to develop a whole school redesign blueprint and became a Full Implementation Grant Awardee as part of LEAP’s Breakthrough Schools Cohort II. Savannah transitioned into the role of multi-classroom leader (instructional coach) where she was charged with coaching and development of teachers, as well as facilitating the adoption of Personalized Learning from pilot classrooms to whole school at Donoghue. Savannah is excited to return to Chicago after spending a year in Boston studying School Leadership at Harvard Graduate School of Education and working as a resident principal at a fully inclusive elementary school in Boston’s West Roxbury Community. Savannah is extremely enthusiastic about Competency Based Learning at an elementary level and passionately believes that Personalized Learning is what will urgently transform America’s education system into one which provides equitable schools and opportunities for ALL children.
PL Data Strategist
Lydia DiSabatino is the Data Analyst for Personalized Learning (PL) at CPS. Prior to joining the team, she completed her PhD and MA in Sociology at Indiana University. The daughter and granddaughter of teachers, Lydia drew on this background to guide her focus on education policy during her graduate studies. Her research centered around two main areas: how top-down policies filter through large organizations, and the role of non-state actors in education policy development and promotion. While at IU, she worked on designing several research projects that gathered original nationwide data, honing her skills in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Lydia is excited to be working on PL and other programs in the district that will help empower and support both teachers and students.
PL instructional leader
Laura Massier began her career in education as a Golden Apple Scholar, shadowing and assisting in Chicago Public Schools immediately following her high school graduation. After earning her degree in Elementary Education at Illinois State University, Laura taught 4th grade for two years near her hometown of Machesney Park, IL. Missing Chicago, she applied to Walt Disney Magnet School where she taught a variety of grade levels, predominantly third grade, where she also served as a team leader. After earning a master’s degree in School Counseling, she accepted a position as case manager and school counselor at John C. Coonley Elementary. Laura has always been interested in how to best support individuals with disabilities, and during her time at Coonley, she chose to return to the classroom as an inclusion teacher while she finished her Ed.D. in Special Education. As an Instructional Leader for the Department of Personalized Learning, Laura is excited to work with schools in developing lifelong learners who have the necessary skills to take on 21st century challenges.
Pl instructional leader
Having come from a family of educators, Kevin Russell is acutely aware of the tremendous influence educators have upon their students and the need for excellent teachers in our schools. For that reason Kevin chose to pursue a degree in Social Studies Education from Purdue University. Upon graduation, instead of immediately going into the classroom, Kevin volunteered for 10 months with AmeriCorps; his focus was on restoring the Gulf Coast in the immediate post-Hurricane Katrina time period. This experience taught Kevin, amongst other things, how to more deeply empathize with people who are going through difficult times in their lives. Following his time with AmeriCorps, Kevin accepted a job in Chicago through Teach for America at Hirsch and then Austin High School, where he taught and served as department chair for the next 8 years. He is currently the Instructional Leader in the Personalized Learning Department at CPS, where he empowers teachers to be lifelong learners in their pursuit of innovative school models.
pl instructional leader
Emily Shores entered the field of education as a Pre-K teacher at Gresham School of Excellence in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood. During her first two years of teacher, she completed her Masters of Science in Early Childhood Education and English as a Second Language Endorsement through Dominican University in 2016. Emily spent the following summer as an LRTT (Limited Resource Teacher Training) fellow, coaching and providing high-quality teacher training to educators in Ghana. Emily then returned to Ghana as a LRTT team leader, recruiting, preparing, and supporting a team of 24 fellows to facilitate sustainable professional development for over 150 primary teachers in the Cape Coast area. Emily continues to advocate for educational equity as a Personalized Learning Instructional Leader for Chicago Public Schools.