Hinduism 101: Teachers Advisory Council

The Teachers Advisory Council works to ensure that Hinduism 101 resources are vetted, credible, and appropriate for public school instruction. The council also advises HAF on best practices in teaching about Hinduism, particularly in an age appropriate manner; reviews and helping to development content, particularly lesson plans and assessment, that can be used in classrooms; and provides critical feedback in growing HAF's Hinduism 101 teacher training program - including the development of more advanced professional development. Through the council, HAF works to ensure that its materials are culturally competent and that teaching approaches are current with consensus scholarship. The council as a body supports HAF’s initiatives, but members bring a variety of unique perspectives that ensures a rich discussion on a range of issues.

Scott Abbott (Washington, DC) earned his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University, majoring in History with minors in Classical Studies and International Studies. He continued at Wake Forest for graduate school, earning a master’s degree in Social Studies Education and then taught social studies at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, NC. Since leaving the classroom, he has worked as an instructional coach, curriculum designer, and assessment writer and recently earned a master’s degree in Leadership from Georgetown University. He currently serves as the Director of Social Studies within the Office of Teaching and Learning at the District of Columbia Public Schools, overseeing K-12 support for social studies through curriculum development, professional learning, assessments, and managing partnerships.

Julia Berg (Maryland) graduated from Gettysburg College in 2005 with degrees in English and Philosophy. She obtained a master’s degree in English Literature from Chapman University in 2008. In 2011, she completed the Baltimore City Teaching Residency program and went on to teach 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts in Baltimore City Public Schools for three years. In 2014, she moved to her current position in Wicomico County Public Schools as a 6th grade Ancient History teacher, and rediscovered her passion for history. Julia coached her school’s debate team in Baltimore and continues to coach the debate team at Bennett Middle School in Wicomico County. She lives in Salisbury, Maryland, and enjoys hiking, traveling, and photography.

Seth Brady (Illinois) has been an educator at Naperville Central High School since 2004. His course load typically includes sections of Comparative Religions, World Cultures, Sociology, and occasionally Anthropology. In 2013, Seth was named a Teacher’s for Global Classrooms fellow by the U.S. Department of State and studied religion and culture in Indonesia. This fellowship led to the creation of Illinois Global Scholar, a statewide initiative to create a global education certificate for high school students that awards merit, on the state transcript, to students who demonstrate global competence. The initiative passed both houses of the Illinois General Assembly in the Spring of 2016, and is expected to be signed into law in August, 2016. Seth is co-founder of the Illinois Educators of Religion PLC, served on the Illinois Social Studies State Standards Writing Taskforce, and was a finalist for Illinois State Teacher of the Year in 2015. He is currently working on a religious literacy initiative supported by the Germancos Foundation and Newseum Institute and a professional development model to improve religious literacy and cultural responsiveness sponsored by ASCD and Teach to Lead. Mr. Brady has presented at national and international conferences on religion and global education and has had articles published in EdWeek and the Encyclopedia of Chicago History. Seth earned his graduate degree in Social Science from the University of Chicago and undergraduate degrees in Anthropology and Philosophy from the University of Illinois where he was awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor. He lives in Naperville, Illinois with his wife and three children.

John Camardella (Illinois) teaches World Religion at Prospect High School in Mount Prospect, IL and is very excited to work with the Hindu American Foundation. John graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2003 and completed graduate degrees at St. Xavier University in 2008 and 2011. Since 2006, John has developed his religion curriculum with college professors and is currently working with scholars from the Religious Freedom Center in Washington D.C. on modular lesson plans to increase religious literacy in public schools. John is an avid world traveler and has studied lived religion in over 20 countries during his career at Prospect. This past year, John designed and taught his first adult religion course and recently completed a program through the Interfaith Center of New York and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University. In addition to teaching, John is also the Head Boys Basketball Coach at Prospect and Director of Staff Development. John and his wife Lindy live outside Chicago with their two daughters, Peyton and Marley.

Fay Gore (North Carolina) serves as the Section Chief for K-12 Social Studies at the NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). In this role she helps to set the vision for social studies in the state, assists districts with developing their local curriculum frameworks, identifies and creates support tools for educators, and provides professional learning opportunities. Fay has been an educator for over 19 years. Prior to NCDPI she worked as a high school social studies teacher and an assessment consultant for NC State University. Mrs. Gore also served as Co-chair of the Editorial Committee for the College, Career & Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards that was published by the National Council for the Social Studies in 2013. Her main area of interest is developing curriculum frameworks that result in hands-on, minds-on learning.

Chris Murray (Maryland) is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda MD. He has been teaching Hinduism in schools since 2006 through both world history and world religions. Since 2015 Chris has taken on closer role with HAF presenting on how he uses media and primary sources to address misconceptions about Hinduism and in 2016 Chris created the nation’s first district level professional development course on religious literacy. He has a M.S. in Curriculum Design and M.Ed. in Special Education and is currently pursuing a certificate in Religious Liberty through the Religious Freedom Center.

Baba Olumiji (Maryland) is an 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher and 8th Grade Team Leader at Mount Royal Elementary/ Middle School in Baltimore City. He has been teaching Social Studies in the district for the past 10 years. He has participated in curriculum writing and facilitated systemic professional development for the district. His educational background includes a Bachelor's in Science from Towson University and a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University. He was awarded Teacher of the Year at Garrison Middle School in 2010 and was nominated for the Fishman Prize for excellence in Teaching in 2013. He currently serves on the board of the Literacy Design Collaborative and is excited to be member of the Teacher Advisory Council for the Hindu American Foundation.

Beth Patten (Pennsylvania) has been an ancient history and world cultures teacher at Kutztown Area Middle School, Kutztown Area School District since 2005. She devoted her early teaching career to National History Day where she served as the Kutztown Area Middle School advisor from 2005-2010, and 2013. She currently serves as a National History Day mentor for the program. She interned at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, and Independence National Park where she developed her love for artifacts and primary sources. As a passionate advocate for public schools and special education, Patten practices what she preaches. She has her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, and a B.A. in History and Communication Studies from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. She is a founding member of peace.love.kutztown a group that aims to stop hate by creating community unity through education, dialogue, and respect. Peace.love.Kutztown partners with Kutztown University, local businesses and the Kutztown Area School District to stop hate together. She is humbled by her participation in the University of Pennsylvania’s Global Summer Institute 2017 and the Hindu American Foundation's Teacher Advisory Council. She hopes to create global and cultural literacy workshops for educators and foster partnerships for rural school districts.

Craig Perrier (Virginia) has been an educator for 20 years in a variety of roles and locations. Presently, he is the High School Social Studies Specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools. Previously he worked for the Department of Defense Schools and the non-profit Virtual High School as their K-12 History/Social Studies Coordinator. He taught for 12 years in Massachusetts and in American Schools in Brazil. Craig is also an adjunct in history at Northeastern University and Educate VA. He has consulted on and led a variety of professional development and curriculum projects including IREX's Teacher for Global Classrooms program. His project in "Globalizing the US History Survey" was recently awarded a Longview Foundation grant. Craig is on the advisory board for the World Affairs Council and the Face to Faith Project and maintains a blog "The Global, History Educator."

Samantha Reynolds (Virginia) is a Comparative World Religions Teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools. She has an MAT in Secondary Education from James Madison University, a MA in Curriculum and Instruction from The George Washington University and a Graduate Certificate in Incorporating International Perspectives in Education from The George Washington University.

Roberto Valadez Jr. (California) is a social studies teacher at Wilmington STEAM Magnet School in Los Angeles. Roberto understands the value of learning of other cultures by being involved in multicultural organizations at the University of Minnesota. He began his teaching career at LearningWorks at Blake. After obtaining his B.A. in History, he returned to his home of Watts to continue his career as a teacher. He currently instructs Medieval history to junior high students. He has a Masters Degree in Secondary Education, as well as Masters in Child and Adolescent Literacy from Loyola Marymount University. He hopes that by instructing students them of world cultures, they will come to understand practice the virtue of respect.