With an educational background in psychology, Dana began her career in elementary education as a Title I classroom teacher where she was able to explore her passion for providing opportunities to all communities. After working in public education, Dana began to research other avenues in which she could assist members in the community. She began studying occupational therapy and became COTA certified in 2012. After 6 years, she was offered a position to teach adult learners through a non-profit, nationally accredited medical college. Through her role as a professor and COTA she has been able to help her students and clients reach their maximum potential. She is looking forward to working with Elevate Learning Project and having a positive impact on the community through this new venture.
Sustainability, Outdoor Education
Brian Wheat is a lifelong educator and naturalist with a penchant for connecting himself and members of the community to the land through plants, fungi, food, and agriculture. Wheat has a masters degree in Biology education, an undergraduate degree in Botany, and has been an educator for 12+ years in both the K-12 and continuing education arenas. He has also served in various leadership roles surrounding schoolyard garden education and interdisciplinary curriculum development. Building a schoolyard garden program that was integrated into food safety and biology courses and the school cafeteria at an alternative school in Minneapolis, Minnesota launched him into the world of sustainable agriculture, which he then pursued in Charleston.
Wheat’s work in the Lowcountry includes being the Director of Community Engagement at Amplified Ag, Inc./Vertical Roots, a hydroponic lettuce farm company revolutionizing the way communities grow, distribute, and consume food and serving as the former Director of Sustainable Agriculture at non-profit Lowcountry Local First, where he trained over 75 new and beginning farmers in production and business development in a certificate program with the College of Charleston’s School of Professional Studies. He also recently established Common Joy, a company that focuses on production of plant-based natural products grown using regenerative agriculture.
Recognizing that nature is the greatest teacher of all, making the forest and field his home has been a natural inclination and constantly evolving passion. Brian is involved in a broad spectrum of agriculture-related boards and advisory committees representing the sustainable agriculture and small farm community, and through those efforts, has committed to being an advocate for a more diverse and robust local food system that is rooted in place.
Foraging, writing and performing music, and spending quality time with his wonderful family are some of his favourite ways to fill the in-between times, along with helping the Elevate Learning Project grow!
Diversity, Program Funding, ESL
Claudia Newbern is a native of Colombia, South America. She completed her Bachelor's Degree in Spanish-English-French Translation in Colombia where she started her teaching career 20 years ago. She was given the opportunity to travel and teach Spanish in the United States in 2002 through the Visiting International Faculty (VIF) Program. The VIF Program's goal was to offer students in the United States the opportunity to interact and learn from Cultural Exchange Ambassadors so they could familiarize themselves with other cultures. Claudia taught Spanish at at middle school in Greenville, NC while teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages to adults at the Pitt County Community College in the evenings. Claudia moved to Virginia Beach in 2005 and taught Spanish for 5 years while teaching ESOL to adults at the Virginia Beach Adult Learning Center. While teaching Spanish for Norfolk Public School in Virginia, she noticed the needs of ESOL students in her school. She decided to enroll in a TESOL program at Virginia Wesleyan University with the goal of becoming an ESOL teacher and helping K-12 students. In 2011, Claudia moved to Charleston, SC and taught Spanish at the Charleston Charter for Math and Science while finishing her TESOL Degree. In 2012, she started working as an ESOL teacher at R.B. Stall HS in North Charleston, a Title 1 school. Claudia built strong relationships with her students and their families and has contributed to many changes in the ESOL department. Every year, the ESOL population has increased at the school so Claudia felt the need to be involved beyond the classroom. She decided to complete her Master's in Secondary Administration and became an Assistant Principal at R.B. Stall HS in 2015. She oversees the ESOL department and the Special Education Department at R.B. Stall. Claudia is a huge advocate for students' needs and believes that every student has the ability to succeed if the appropriate resources are available for the students and their families.
Alison Harding is a Technical Project Manager at Bank of America with a Bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems and a mother to three amazing children. In 2013, her son was diagnosed with the severest form of Spinal Muscular Atrophy with no hope of survival. Thanks to clinical trials and the “Never Give Up” encouragement from the SMA community, her son made historical improvement and is a beacon of hope for many around the world. Today, her passion is fueled on hope for so many families and children like her own, who struggle daily with medical complexities, to receive equal opportunities. Recently, Alison was one of few chosen through Bank of America’s “What would you like the power to do?” employee grant program. Her chosen grant recipient is an All Inclusive Playground in Charleston, SC and she hopes to make her dream of an accessible playground a reality one day soon. As an advocate for individuals and families living with disabilities, she is honored to provide valuable contributions that focus on accessibility and safety for the Elevate Learning Project