Our Mission


The goal of Creative Minds International Public Charter School is to offer students a rigorous education plan that provides them with the skills required for successful participation in a global society.


To accomplish our mission, we have designed a highly-engaging program based on an international, project- and arts-based curriculum that includes foreign language instruction as well as standards-based literacy and mathematics.

Our Philosophy

 

Creative Minds International PCS embraces an inclusive philosophy of education.  We believe in the importance of meeting the educational requirements of students with a diversity of backgrounds and learning styles.  Every child has a unique way of processing information and expressing him- or herself.  To implement our inclusive vision of education, our curriculum and teachers' professional development are based on the latest research on child development and learning.

Our multifaceted program includes the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). The IPC’s units of instruction provide various modes of entry into learning (verbal, visual, and kinesthetic) that tap into students’ unique strengths. The IPC also integrates students’ emotions and interests in thematic curricular units designed to motivate deeper engagement. The curriculum’s inclusive approach encompasses personal, academic, and international learning goals. The program has proven effective for students with various learning styles and socioeconomic backgrounds in over 90 countries around the world.

We believe that children’s progress in key social and cognitive developmental milestones is a prerequisite to academic success. To implement this philosophy, our teachers receive training in Dr. Stanley Greenspan’s developmental approach to education presented in his book, The Learning Tree.

School Administration


Leadership Team
 

Golnar Abedin, Ph.D.
Founder/ Executive Director

Dr. Abedin is a Founder and the Executive Director at Creative Minds International PCS.  She designed the CMI education plan and curriculum components, with the goal of providing DC public school students an international, inclusive, and arts-based educational opportunity.

Dr. Abedin is a graduate of the doctoral studies program in Organizational Leadership and Education Policy at the University of Maryland. The recipient of the Dean’s Scholarship, she completed her Ph.D. in May 2010. Her doctoral dissertation research was on the impact of arts-based education on student engagement in a public charter school inclusion setting, within the context of the No Child Left Behind Act and the IDEA policy frameworks. Dr. Abedin holds an M.A. in Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University. 

During the last 20 years, Dr. Abedin has worked in the United States and abroad with students, teachers and school leadership teams in a variety of educational settings, as a teacher, an instructional coach, an inclusion specialist, special education director, academic researcher, and USAID consultant.

Golnar Abedin

Dillon Clark
Chief Operating Officer
Mr. Clark is a public education manager who has been deeply involved in the education and youth development sectors throughout his career.  

Mr. Clark has worked as a teacher, teacher leader, coach, administrator and social worker with the District of Columbia Public Schools, the Bellmore-Merrick Union Free School District and New York City Department of Education. He served as the Chief Financial Officer and Special Education Director for Breakthrough Montessori Public Charter School.  Prior to that, Mr. Clark served as a Behavior and Educational Supports Program Specialist for the Office of Teaching and Learning’s Division of Specialized Instruction in the District of Columbia Public Schools. He advised teachers, staff, and administrators on all aspects of school administration, operations, teaching and learning, special education compliance, and service delivery.  Also in Washington, D.C., Mr. Clark held multiple direct service and case management positions with the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.

Beyond his work, Mr. Clark is deeply involved in his community through various organizations and volunteer experiences.  He has served as the Chair of the Board of Directors of a New York-based non-profit organization in consultation with the United Nations, served on the Montgomery County Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs, and serves as a member of the OSSE State Title III Advisory Committee.

Mr. Clark received his Bachelors of Arts in Politics with a concentration in World Politics from The Catholic University of America and his Masters of Science in Social Work with a concentration in Social Enterprise Administration and a minor in Law from Columbia University in the City of New York.

Linda Kern, Ph.D.
Chief Academic Officer
Dr. Kern comes to CMI from the McLean School in Potomac, Maryland where she served as the Director of Academic Programs. She brings extensive experience with research-based teaching approaches and tools to individualize instruction, so that all students can develop their current abilities, achieve goals, and thrive.

As Math Department Chair and Math Specialist at McLean, as well as in her earlier position as Math Coordinator at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Dr. Kern worked closely with teachers to support a wide range of learners. She passionately believes that all students can achieve math success when we spark their curiosity, grow their confidence, and engage them with effective, brain-based learning opportunities.

Dr. Kern holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University and a B.S from Georgetown University. She has a professional fluency in French, and completed her Fulbright Doctoral Dissertation at the University of Paris as well as a postdoctoral Certificat at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. She has also lived and worked extensively in the Middle East and China. Her international living experience has given her a firsthand understanding of the importance of teaching global awareness.

Dr. Kern has also been recognized by students, families and schools for her many years of effective teaching on both the K-12 and university levels. Most recently, she received the Best of Bethesda Magazine Award for the “Best
[K-8] Summer Camp You Wish You Could Attend,” as well as numerous Certificates for Distinction in Teaching from Harvard, Georgetown, and Brown Universities.

 
   

Molly France
Director of Early Childhood and Data
Molly served as a preschool teacher with CMI PCS since the school opened in the fall of 2012 through 2015. In the fall of 2015, she became the full-time Early Childhood Education Program Manager. In this role, she supports the Early Childhood teachers and students through curriculum development as well as supporting, coaching, and providing professional development. Molly holds a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction for Diverse Young Learners from George Mason University, and completed the Emerging Leaders Fellowship through New Leaders for New Schools this past year. 

Molly France
 

Kathleen Fugle
Director of Communication and Technology
Kathleen is a communications and technology specialist who holds an MA in Communications from the University of Texas at Austin, a graduate diploma in International Relations from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, and a BA in Spanish and Economics from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Kathleen speaks Spanish and French, having spent 12 years in Bolivia, Guatemala, and Belgium. She has worked in education both in the US and abroad, serving as technology specialist in two arts-focus elementary schools, classroom teacher in a Spanish Immersion elementary school, and communications specialist in two K-12 international schools.  She has received formal training in arts integration, earning a certificate of study from the Kennedy Center’s CETA Program (Changing Education Through the Arts). As an active promoter of hands-on learning that meaningfully integrates the arts, technology, and a global perspective, Kathleen is delighted to be part of the team at CMI.

 Kathleen Fugle

Carlos Garcia
Operations Manager
Carlos joined the Operations team after several years working in the DC Charter school space. Before coming to Creative Minds, he was the Development & Marketing Manager for Eagle Academy PCS and alumnus of the ProInspire Fellowship Program. Before moving to DC as a Fellow, he working with local Los Angeles Unified students as a Literacy Intervention Tutor with Reading Partners LA.  He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, and earned his BA in International Relations in 2012.  Carlos is thrilled to support the school at this important moment of growth.

Carlos Garcia
   

James Lafferty-Furphy
Director of Operations 

James is the Director of Operations at Creative Minds International Public Charter School. His primary duties include ensuring PCSB, OSSE and DOE compliance, and overseeing all operational and administrative aspects of the school, including admissions, as well as museum outreach and classroom support.

James graduated from Glasgow University, Scotland, with a B.S. in Archaeology and an M.A. in Applied Social Sciences in Social and Urban Policy. Prior to joining Creative Minds International PCS, he worked for five years in the Washington, D.C. Public Charter School network as an educator and administrator. Before moving to the U.S., James was employed as Assistant to the Curator of Archaeology and Museum Educator at the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland. His work at the museum included educating K-12 grade students using the museum collections to develop and expand their knowledge of peoples and cultures.

James Lafferty-Furphy

Alexis Lassus
Director of Student Culture
Alexis is inspired by CMI's arts integrated inclusion model and looking forward to joining the team as Director of Student Culture. Alexis grew up in Houston before heading to the Midwest to attend Saint Louis University. At SLU she studied Anthropology and Theology, cultivating a passion for international mindedness and social justice work. She has previously worked in Prince George’s County Public Schools in various Elementary and Middle School positions, most recently as an Instructional Lead Teacher of Culture. She is currently working on her Masters in Educational Studies at Johns Hopkins University. She is excited to work with teachers and parents to establish a safe and fun school culture rooted in positive character development. She looks forward to utilizing Love & Logic and Restorative Justice practices at CMI. Alexis loves going to used bookstores, watching baseball, and attempting to visit every National Park.

Alexis Lassus 

Amita Lathigra
Director of Inclusion
Amita is a graduate of the Educational Leadership and Policy Master's program at American University. There, she developed a deep understanding of how to lead others in an educational organization. Amita holds a B.F.A. in Metalcrafts and Jewelry from Rochester Institute of Technology, New York. 

For the last five years, Amita has worked with students in District of Columbia charter schools. As a special educator and inclusion coordinator, she is an expert in differentiating instruction to meet the needs of students with different abilities and learning requirements. Amita has also served as a literacy coach and mentor to special educators and general educators in DC. She is excited to be a part of the Creative Minds team, serving our students and families.

Amita Lathigra
   

Nayamka Long
Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Nayamka holds an M.A. in Education and Human Development from The George Washington University, and a B.S. in Kinesiology from The College of William and Mary.  She has been teaching students from Pre-Kindergarten through elementary level for the past 12 years in a variety of educational settings, including public, private, and charter schools.  

Nayamka has extensive experience in general and special education curriculum and program implementation. She is an expert in designing instruction to meet a wide range of student abilities, maximizing students' learning potential by addressing  individual learning challenges and supporting  exceptional talents. She is able to differentiate instruction to help a class of diverse learners reach standards based curriculum objectives. She has received training as an IPC Coordinator and has been supporting the CMI leadership team as an Instructional Coach.  

Nayamka Long

Hannah Reed
Director of Communications
Hannah received her MFA in Creative Writing from Louisiana State University and her BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from University of California, Berkeley. She served as a youth and families Peace Corps volunteer with the Red Cross in Loja, Ecuador, where she helped launch the province’s first youth radio program, Dilo Sin Miedo. Hannah has led after school programs for many years in California and Louisiana.

 

Nate Ruby 
Director of Extra Curricular Activities

 

 Hannah Reed

 

Katrina Delaney Tomey
Special Education Coordinator
Katrina Delaney Tomey was born and raised on the South Shore of Massachusetts. She graduated from Bridgewater State University with honors in 2013, earning a bachelor's degree in Sociology with a concentration in Global Studies and a minor in Civic Education & Community Leadership.Katrina began her work in education as a Special Education Teacher’s Aid at a public school in Massachusetts. She then joined Teach For America as a Special Education DC Region Corps Member, teaching at Excel Academy PCS, an all-girl’s public charter school in Southeast Washington, DC. There, she provided instruction in both pull-out and inclusion settings for students ranging from grades K-4 for two years. She graduated from George Mason University in May of 2015, earning her M.Ed. in Special Education. Katrina is passionate about creating learning environments that are fun, accessible, and engaging for all students. During her free time, Katrina enjoys camping, reading, and doing yoga.

Administrative Support Staff

 
Aura Matias
Registrar/Parent Liaison 
Aura has worked for more than ten years in the DC Public Charter School system. She has held many positions, including receptionist, office manager, and parent liaison. She especially values her work with parents and families, helping them learn about the services provided by the school and the community, and assisting them in ensuring that their children have the best educational experience possible. Aura has two sons and one daughter, and in her free time she enjoys visiting her family in Los Angeles, where she lived for many years.

Aura Matias 
   

Staff


Our teachers are passionate, child-centered individuals dedicated to the social, emotional, and academic success of our students. They believe in the importance of creativity in the teaching and learning process and respect students’ individual differences.

Arts, Language, and Physical Education
Early Childhood/Elementary
Middle School

Board of Trustees

The Creative Minds International PCS Board of Trustees supervises and works closely with the Executive Director to implement the school’s mission. Our volunteer Board members have expertise in the fields of education policy, law, school finance, international relations, and marketing. Several are parents of D.C. public school students who are concerned about the lack of local public schools with an international perspective that can prepare students for participation in a global society. The Board members are aware of the need for inclusive educational environments that support students with various learning styles. All are fully committed to implementing Creative Minds International PCS’s mission of offering a comprehensive, inclusive, and rigorous education program to D.C. residents, including our own children.

Melanie Bowen (Board Chair)

Executive Director,
Education Advisory Board
(EAB)

Ornella Napolitano (Treasurer)

Financial Consultant

Patricia Talbert Smith 
(Secretary)

Independent School Consultant

 

 

Prita Patel 

Associate Vice Provost for Academic Administration, American University

Eric Reese

Senior Implementation Advisor,
Center for Government Excellence, Johns Hopkins University

Dionne Tyus Garvin

Manager, People Advisory Services,
Ernst & Young, LLP

 

 

Matt Walker

Vice President, Policy and
Public Partnerships Strategy,
Teach for America

 

Kelly Young
Parent

Operations Manager/
IT Coordinator,
Capitol Hill Day School


Jerry Zayets
Parent

Director of Multi Family Development,
Capital City Real Estate, LLC

 

Golnar Abedin
Golnar Abedin
(Ex-Officio)
Parent

Founder/ Executive Director
Creative Minds International
Public Charter School

 

Supporters

Donors

The Bancroft Foundation

Jerold J. and Marjorie N. Principato Foundation

Ronald McDonald House of Charities of Greater Washington, DC

Pro Bono Legal Counsel

Brett D. Orlove, Esq.
Grossberg, Yochelson, Fox & Beyda, LLP

Constantinos G. Panagopoulos, Esq.
Ballard Spahr LLP

Arturo Carrillo
Professor
George Washington University

Advisory Board

Jake Greenspan
Director
The Floortime Center

Location & Facilities

Creative Minds International PCS is located in the historic Sherman Building on the campus of the Armed Forces Retirement Home.  Our physical address is 3700 North Capitol Street NW, while our driving address (for GPS purposes) is 140 Rock Creek Church Road NW. 

Creative Minds International PCS

Creative Minds International hosted a Ribbon-cutting Ceremony on November 5, 2015 to celebrate its move to the historic Sherman Building on the campus of the Armed Forces Retirement Home.  

The ceremony featured remarks by Dr. Golnar Abedin, Founder and Head of School; Don Soifer, Vice Chair, DC Public Charter School Board; Scott Pearson, Executive Director, DC Public Charter School Board; Steven McManus, Chief Operating Officer, Armed Forces Retirement Home; Melanie Bowen, Chair, Creative Minds International Board of Trustees; Valerie Craig, Chair, Creative Families Association; as well as CMI students. The program also included singing by CMI students.  See the press release for more details.  Click here to listen to the children's song.