The Educators' Cooperative is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit based in Nashville, TN. Our mission is to grow a professional collaborative network for educators to collaborate between public, private, and charter sectors. We believe when teachers collaborate, the future of education is greater than the sum of its parts.
Created for teachers, by teachers, EdCo originated in 2014 when educator Greg O'Loughlin attended the Klingenstein Summer Institute at Columbia University Teachers College. There, he experienced the power of facilitated teacher-to-teacher development. He returned to Nashville inspired to found a new initiative: The Educators' Cooperative.
EdCo began in 2016 as a cohort of 20 teachers, Grades 3-8. By 2022, we have grown into a collaborative organization of nearly 200 PreK-12 teachers.
Learn about the Board, our Advisory Committee, and more below.
Joel is a founding member of The Educators’ Cooperative. He has served on the Advisory Committee since its inception and was the director of EdCampNash from 2018-2021.
Joel Bezaire teaches 7th Grade Pre-Algebra and Middle School Statistics at the University School of Nashville. He has been awarded a Desmos Fellowship, a repeat national semifinalist for the Museum of Math’s Rosenthal Prize, and the inaugural winner of USN’s Bovender Family Faculty Chair for “modeling the best in innovative teaching practices and thorough involvement in the life of the school”.
Christiane Buggs is the District 5 Representative and the Chair of the Metro Nashville School Board. Her civil service experience spans the gamut of Nashville’s public education system. Christiane is a Nashville native and product of MNPS. As a student, teacher, and community member, she has experienced our schools in several different ways throughout the course of her life.
Christiane’s full-time role still keeps her heavily involved in the MNPS system, engaging with students. Currently, she serves as the Project Manager for the Blueprint for Early Childhood Success. Christiane is also a founding board member for The Equity Alliance. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and two Master’s in Education—one in Curriculum and Instruction from Tennessee State University and the other in Urban Education from Vanderbilt University.
Jenna Davis is an ELD Instructional Coach who serves four MNPS schools in Southeast Nashville. As both a part of cohort 3 and former Educators’ Cooperative advisory committee member, Jenna loves learning from other educators. She says, “I always leave our time together in EdCo recharged and energized due to our shared commitment to all students in Nashville.”
During her time as an elementary teacher, Jenna was a member of the MNPS Teacher Leadership Institute, as well as an inaugural member of the NPEF Teacher Cabinet. She also completed the TN Educator Fellowship with SCORE. Jenna is currently an M.Ed candidate in Vanderbilt’s Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies Master’s program where her focus is on equitable instruction for multilingual learners.
Conor Duggan is a Vice President in the Nashville, TN office at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. Prior to J.P. Morgan, Conor worked in law, at a university foundation, and as a corporate trustee. He serves on the Board of the Planned Giving Council of Middle Tennessee and the Advisory Board of Next Steps at Vanderbilt University.
Conor received his B.A. in Business Administration at Furman University, J.D. at the University of South Carolina School of Law, and LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Alabama School of Law. Conor is an alumnus of Nashville’s Young Leaders Council.
Jon Eisen is Vice President of Lending for Middle Tennessee at Pathway Lending, a local non-profit that provides capital and advisory services to small businesses across the State.
He received his BA in Economics and Political Science from Columbia University and his MBA from Vanderbilt University. After college, Jon played baseball professionally and served as Executive Director at Nashville RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), a nonprofit that runs youth baseball and softball leagues.
Dan Furbish is the Founder and Director of The Oasis Bike Workshop. He has served thousands of students through his Build-a-Bike program in Middle & High Schools all over MNPS. He teaches students the mechanics of bike maintenance while he empowers them with job-readiness skills, transportation, and support. Dan appeared on a Collaborates Call in 2020 to discuss STEM teaching and his Bike Workshop program where he met EdCo teachers who have since been partnering with the workshop.
Dan also led a recent collaboration between Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation, Nashville Parks Foundation, Metro Nashville Public Health Department, Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association, and the North Nashville community on a project that brought a BMX/Skatepark to Watkins Park. He was recently named a finalist for the Center for Nonprofit Management’s Salute to Excellence Frist Foundation Team Building Award for this work. He has been featured on CNN, NPR, and many other local outlets.
Ricki Gibbs II
Dr. Ricki Gibbs is principal of Warner Arts Magnet Elementary. He earned his B.S. in Elementary Education and M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision from Tennessee State University. He then went on to earn a Doctor of Education degree in Organizational Leadership and Strategic Change from Lipscomb University. He started his career teaching 3rd grade at Paragon Mills Elementary in Nashville, TN, and has served as both an assistant principal and principal in Metro Nashville Public Schools.
In 2020, Dr. Gibbs was named Elementary Principal of the Year for Metro Nashville Public Schools and his work at Warner was featured in the WPLN Podcast “The Promise Season 2”. The podcast focuses on racial segregation and Gibbs’ determination to transform his school by implementing an innovative curriculum designed to engage current students and recruit new families for enrollment.
Lemuel J. Holifield is the Manager of Resident Development at the Nashville Teacher Residency. He sits on the Board of Directors of The Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance (TECA), a nonprofit that works to increase teachers of color across the state of Tennessee with leadership, mentorship, and fellowship.
Lemuel has been a teacher in both public and private schools and was the Director of Student Life at Templeton Academy.
Lemuel comes to Nashville by way of Johnson City, Tennessee. His life goal is to empower students to successfully navigate through life as well-rounded individuals with a strong sense of cultural identity.
“I teach as an extension of living life itself. EdCo is an incubator for great educators and great ideas!” – Lemuel J. Holifield
Ashford currently serves as the Executive Officer for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for Metro Nashville Public Schools, where he focuses on designing and implementing system changing initiatives and policies that address historic inequities as well the academic and social and emotional needs of the district's diverse populations.
He is the former Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, for the city of Nashville and Davidson County. In this role he worked to implement the Mayor’s diversity and inclusion goals across Metro Government and lead the city’s efforts to attract, develop, promote, and retain a diverse government workforce at all levels.
Bela is a two time Brazilian National Golf Champion who competed in the junior and adult Brazilian National Golf Teams for 5 consecutive years prior to earning a full scholarship to compete and study in the United States at the age of 18 at a Division I level. While fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and English and having taught all ages from preschool to high school, Bela's passion lives in the heritage, language, history, music, culture and people of all Spanish speaking countries. Teaching at the high school level is Bela's highlight and her favorite place to be. When not engaged at Harpeth Hall in so many ways (teaching Spanish or Coaching the Varsity Golf Team), you will find Bela playing golf with her two teenage sons, on a hike, traveling, or simply quiet in reflection. Bela is also a Certified Mindfulness Educator with Mindful Schools in California who spends her time supporting our community in being more responsive, aware, and centered overall. Bela is the founder of The Mindful School of Nashville.
Ms. Lodygensky says, "I love opening the minds and connecting the hearts of students to a world, cultures and people that is beyond the one they experience everyday. I love seeing them grow in perspective, awareness, reflection, curiosity, and joy in so many different ways each week, be it on the golf course, away from campus, or in the classroom. My classroom is a dynamic, tangible, engaging, light, inclusive and connecting space for all."
Emily Masters currently serves as the elected representative for district three of the Metro Nashville Public Schools Board of Education.
An entrepreneur, a former PTO chair, and a mom of two kids in MNPS, she has a Master of Arts in English Literature. In 2009 she began work as a freelance fundraising consultant, working with many organizations, including Tennessee State Library and Archives, Fannie Battle Day Home for Children, Metro Arts, NashvilleHealth, The Porch Writers’ Collective, and The Educators’ Cooperative. In 2010 she attended a Peabody Professional Institute at Vanderbilt, where she learned fundraising techniques for educational institutions. Her first job in Nashville was as a Resolution Writer for the Tennessee General Assembly. She then spent 8 years as a Program Officer and Program Director for Humanities Tennessee.
Bo Daniel Parr
Bo Daniel Parr is a community organizer, boy scout troop leader, public and private school parent, and most recently, after hearing the call for more support in schools and classrooms, a substitute teacher with MNPS.
She is the organizer and founder at the heart of the creation of Lockeland Springs Park. The park-located in a dense residential district just three miles east of downtown—is home to the natural Springs that give the neighborhood its name. Bo was instrumental in cleaning out the Springs (a multi-year effort!) and acquiring a grant to build an outdoor classroom, trails, and educational signage in the park. These additions have allowed for nearby school children to have space to learn about ecology, history, biology, and how water flows out of the ground. The outdoor classroom is located just behind Lockeland Design Center and has been an excellent resource for teachers as they navigate ways to educate elementary age students during the pandemic.
Bo holds a doctoral degree in Physical Therapy and spent 20 years working with student athletes and taking care of all ages and ranges of orthopedic injuries, with a special interest in treating neck and back pain. Bo is also a former member of the board of the University School of Nashville Association. She enjoys spending time with her teenage kids, paddling on any body of water, and backpacking.
David Rutledge is an Assistant Business Manager for the Southeast Laborers' District Council, and an Executive Board member at LiUNA Local 386 in Nashville. As a union representative and as the son, grandson, and nephew of educators, he is dedicated to advocating for greater support for teachers as the building blocks of society and promoting their organizing for mutual aid and support.
David grew up in public schools in Gallatin, Tennessee before attending Vanderbilt, where he received his BA in History and Political Science. Prior to joining the labor movement, he was active in state and local politics for several years. He helped establish and currently serves as a board member for Music City Construction Careers, Inc., a non-profit Apprenticeship Readiness Program that introduces people to the construction industry and connects them with middle-class careers as union construction workers.
My name is Sydney Britt; I am a teacher, speaker, and activist from Fayetteville, Georgia. I currently teach English at McMurray Middle School in Nashville, TN and guest lecture at Belmont University. I graduated from Agnes Scott College with a degree in Music and Education. After moving to Nashville, I achieved a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree from Belmont University while teaching 3rd grade as a Metro Nashville Urban Teachers Residency program (MNUTR) resident. I was a keynote speaker at Tennessee State University’s 2018 ACES Conference.
I am privileged to be a Cohort 5 initiate member of The Educators’ Cooperative. Empowering young people to advocate for themselves and others drives both my teaching practice and my heart. For me, The Educator’s Cooperative is a space to engage fully with the educational challenges of our times. This alliance of excellent servant-leaders challenges and encourages me to teach bravely.
I am fortunate to have experienced a variety of schools as a parent and teacher. Originally, I set out to be a food scientist and worked at Pillsbury for 8 years. While there, I volunteered with a classroom program called KaPOW (Kids and the Power of Work). I loved sharing learning with others both at school and in the lab, so I resigned and enrolled at Peabody, graduating with an M.Ed. in elementary education.
Since then, I’ve taught at Jere Baxter, Meigs, East Literature and J. T. Moore Middle Schools. This variety of schooling experience has helped me be a compassionate teacher, while my interest in science points me at the latest research and what works. I’ve served on district level math committees and the Nashville Public Education Foundation (NPEF) Teacher Cabinet. I look forward to continuing to learn and grow with other Nashville teachers in the Educators’ Cooperative.
Virginia Henry is a teacher. Virginia started her career as a graduate instructor in the University of Mississippi's English Department and has since taught everything from "Advanced Poetry" and "Writing & Rhetoric on Power and Privilege" to 10th grade English and 7th grade ELA. Previously, Virginia served as Battle Ground Academy's first Curriculum Coordinator for the Humanities. She is now a proud Panther, teaching 8th graders early American history in Social Studies at Cameron Middle School. She has a BA in English Literature, an MFA in Creative Writing, and is currently working on her MAT in Social Studies.
I serve as the Kids on Stage Art Director for Mount Pleasant Schools in historically rural Mount Pleasant, TN. I work with all Dance, Music, Theatre, Visual Art, Audio/Video production programs across all three schools, and offer STEAM integration support to ALL 100 teachers across the only TSIN/TDOE certified model status STEM school clusters in Tennessee.
I am currently in my fifth year teaching 4th grade at Cole Elementary School in MNPS. I believe that education has the power to improve the lives of all students by connecting with them on a personal level. To best prepare students for the future world they will face, it’s imperative to teach the whole child academically, socially, and emotionally, so I strive to create strong classroom community. I teach because I love learning and want to pass this love on to future generations.
The Educator’s Cooperative allows me to connect with other teachers, where we can discuss best practices, identify common issues, and generate working solutions. As a lifelong learner, EdCo provides the space and opportunity to continue to push my thinking and further develop my skills as an educator. It provides for community, reflection, and a constant source of rejuvenation!
Now in my 11th year of teaching, I entered the classroom with the inaugural class of the New Teacher Project, Nashville Teaching Fellows. I taught 4th grade at Paragon Mills Elementary School for 3 years before moving to University School of Nashville to teach 3rd grade and then 6th grade English. I am currently teaching 9th and 10th grade Foundations at Templeton Academy.
My dream of a cooperative for teachers, by teachers became a reality in the summer of 2016 with the first cohort of the Educators’ Cooperative. I plan to grow EdCo over the next few years in an effort to bring Nashville’s extraordinary teachers together to collaborate, share, and learn together, regardless of the type of school in which they teach.
I’m a proud teacher of newcomer English language learners at LEAD Cameron, a zoned charter school in Nashville. I love my work because of the students I teach and the community we create together. As a reading and language teacher, my goals are to get to know my students, celebrate their assets, meet them where they are, and support them in developing their language and literacy skills.
I think instruction should always be meaningful and informed by the needs and interests of the current group of students sitting in the classroom. This requires a reflective practice that is always striving for new ideas and constructive feedback. Participating in the Educators’ Cooperative has connected me with phenomenal teachers throughout Nashville who have helped me to bring more energy, creativity, and positivity to my practice. I think every teacher needs the support system that is the Educators’ Cooperative.
I currently teach 8th grade Earth Science at Montgomery Bell Academy, where I enjoy sharing Earth’s complexity and diversity with students in a hands-on, engaging, and practical manner. Prior to MBA, I taught agronomy in the highland Andes to K-12 students and developed 4-F clubs as a Peace Corp volunteer. Following PC Ecuador, I taught bilingual science and math in NYC Public Schools and studied at Teachers College, Columbia University in the inaugural class of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Fellows program.
My challenge and passion involves keeping abreast of changes in Earth systems, technology in education, and best practices in pedagogy. Conferences help, but my endeavors are maximized when ongoing with local like-minded colleagues.
The Educator’s Cooperative allows me regular interaction with incredible colleagues from a variety of school models, all committed to best practices and sharing of “what works”.