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Staff Bios

Thomas C. West

Senior Director, Strategic Analysis & Program Research

Chris has over eighteen years of professional experience working with and overseeing PreK-20 administrative longitudinal datasets, district student information systems, student, teacher, administrator and parent attitudinal and school climate surveys, Early Warning Indicator systems, and national education, health, justice and economic surveys. With a passion for data quality and expanding data ownership, Chris oversees a team of twelve researchers, analysts and programmers whose mission is to provide district leadership, school staff and community partners with strategic analyses to better understand the populations they serve and to determine if what they are doing is working.

Autumn Ortiz

Administrative Support, Title I

Brenda Martinez-Papponi, PhD

Manager, Strategic Analysis & Program Research, Research & Analysis

Dr. Martinez-Papponi is a researcher at Albuquerque Public Schools. Her work supports multiple projects, including the Indian Education Department’s yearly reports, postsecondary enrollment trends, and the facilitation of external research projects. While at APS, Brenda also serves on the Albuquerque Public Schools Research Review Board, which reviews, approves, and oversees research studies conducted in the district.   She received her B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. in psychology from the University of New Mexico. She also earned an M.A. from the College of Education at UNM. Before joining APS, Brenda worked on several grant-funded projects studying error and the effects of acute stress on cognitive processes.

Bryan Cockrell

Manager, Strategic Analysis & Program Research, Reporting Systems

Experienced Data System Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the primary/secondary education industry. Skilled in Computer Information Systems, Systems Integration, Educational Technology, Instructional Design, Curriculum Development, and Public Speaking. Strong information technology professional with a Associate of Applied Science focused in Networking Technology from Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute.

Bryan has worked for APS for fifteen years and has acquired wealth of knowledge in working with educational technology through his studies and experience on the job. His previous duties/positions held in APS include: Testing Services Technician, Reading First Technical Assistant, and System Administrator for the Assessment Team. His current assignment is Manager of Instructional Management and Data Systems in the Strategic Analysis and Program Research department.

Jessica Gross, PhD

Senior Data Analyst, Strategic Analysis & Program Research

Jessica received her PhD in evolutionary anthropology from the University of New Mexico in 2019, and a master’s degree in cultural anthropology from the University of California. She is a statistical geneticist with over nine years of experience in quantitative analysis and statistical modeling. Her published research has provided novel insights into the history of African Americans and how social and cultural pressures have affected the pattern of genetic diversity within that population. She also has eight years of teaching experience in higher education, a bachelor of fine arts degree, and is a practicing conceptual visual artist. She brings this combination of skills and experience to the Strategic Analysis & Program Research Team to help the district analyze data and convey information to both administrators and the general public in an accessible, informative, and visually appealing way. She also serves on the APS Research Review Board, which moderates research studies in the district.

John Clack

Senior Data Analyst, Strategic Analysis & Program Research

John is a data analyst, specializing in complex projects and analyses. Before joining the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS), he worked with the Santa Fe Public Schools (SFPS) community making key contributions to high-stakes interdepartmental projects such as SFPS’s teacher performance pay implementation and the Fair Student Funding initiative - a project designed to equitably disperse funds between schools based on their needs. He also has extensive experience creating live-updating data visualizations for use by teachers, principals and school district administration.

Karen Baehr

Manager, Performance Management, Strategic Analysis & Program Research

As Manager, Performance Management, Karen oversees the teacher evaluation system for Albuquerque Public Schools (APS). In this role, Karen utilizes both her background as a teacher within APS and her previous experience in corporate information technology (IT). Having attained an undergraduate degree in Business Information Systems, Karen began her career with a large consulting firm and worked for many years in corporate IT. She decided to transition her work to be in the K-12 education setting. After gaining her teaching certification and gifted endorsement, Karen taught elementary gifted education within APS for eight years. Recognizing the increasing role of technology within education, Karen sought an opportunity to be able to support Albuquerque Public Schools in a capacity that enables her to combine both an understanding of education and of information systems. She began working with the SAPR department in 2019.  Karen is the primary support contact within APS for the state teacher evaluation system, Frontline – Professional Growth.

Kate Rusk, PhD

Senior Data Analyst, Strategic Analysis & Program Research

Kate has more than eight years of applied research and teaching experience within higher education, specializing in anthropology, quantitative analysis, and survey methodology. Before joining APS, Kate completed a PhD in Evolutionary Anthropology from UNM, where she especially connected with the number-crunching component of conducting research. Additionally, as an instructor for several university courses in anthropology and statistics, Kate developed a passion for learning pedagogy and science communication, which she channeled into an interactive, educational live-stream on Twitch.

As a data analyst on the Strategic Analysis and Program Research team, Kate gets to continue to crunch numbers in an educational setting that suits her passions well. She is also a contributing member of the APS Research Review Board, facilitating research activities in the district that serve our community and the field of education.

Michelle Drummond, PhD

Manager, Strategic Analysis & Program Research, Title I, Research & Analysis

Michelle worked in residential mental health care, with adolescents and children, for the first 14 years of her career, most of which was spent working as a counselor or teacher in a classroom setting. In 2003 she enrolled in a Master’s program in Special Education and in 2014 she earned a PhD in Educational and Psychological Studies, with an emphasis in policy, at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Dr. Drummond’s areas of expertise include survey design and analysis, design-based implementation research (DBIR) methods, sociocultural theories of learning, and the intersection of learning theory, pedagogical practice, and learner identity development.

Michelle joined the research team at APS in September of 2014 and currently works specifically with the Title I department. In this role, she helps ensure that federal funds meant to support students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are distributed equitably, spent on effective interventions, and that major programmatic decisions are informed by accurate and thorough analyses of both qualitative and quantitative data. In 2015 she was asked to lead an ongoing effort to help Title I, as a department, move from using compliance as the primary metric of success to the more complex idea of demonstrating effectiveness. Toward this end, Michelle continues to work collaboratively with other Title I staff to create new analytical tools and facilitate professional development activities that emphasize the importance of continually evaluating the effectiveness of our educational programs and practices.

Rachel Kasper

Senior Data Analyst, Strategic Analysis & Program Research

Shelley Wang, PhD

Psychometrician, Strategic Analysis & Program Research

Dr. Wang is the psychometrician at the Office of Accountability & Reporting (OAR) of APS. She does quantitative analysis on students’ assessment data for guiding instruction and improving education quality. The projects Dr. Wang recently works on at APS are: Performance framework of Academic Master Plan, Advanced Placement Enrollments and Exam Performance Analysis Report, A study on 8th grade algebra program, 8th grade algebra placement data analysis, Statistical Peer Report, and others.

Before joining APS in 2014, Dr. Wang did statistical evaluation on the impact of Math Learning Lab for University of New Mexico (UNM), applying a novel statistical model she developed: Bayesian partial ordered multinomial probit/logit models. Dr. Wang has a Ph.D. in statistics from UNM, a MS in statistics, a MS in philosophy, and a Bachelor’s degree in Education. Dr. Wang also taught college-level statistics and mathematics for years at UNM and CNM, and she was an elementary teacher before earning her Bachelor’s, then taught high school before going to graduate school.

Sonya Montoya

Administrative Support, Strategic Analysis & Program Research

Sonya has been with Albuquerque Public Schools for over twelve years. Her first year with APS she worked at various locations as an hourly/temp employee. In March of 2007, she joined Office of Accountability and Reporting department and then in 2014 became a member of the Student Information Systems (SIS) department within OAR where she assisted with the STARS State Reporting processes. After a year with the STARS team, Sonya then transferred to the Functional Support Team within SIS. In this position, she assisted with technical support for our student information system (Synergy). In July of 2017, Sonya joined the newly formed Strategic Analysis & Program Research (SAPR). With the support of her new Senior Director and awesome team, Sonya is learning all about data collection and research and is looking forward to what the future has in store for her as a SAPR team member.

Before moving back to Albuquerque in 2004, Sonya and her two young sons lived on the Jicarilla Apache reservation in a small town called Dulce, NM. She worked with the Workforce Investment Act Program for ten years as a Summer Youth Supervisor/GED coordinator. When Sonya was in her early 20’s, she completed a Medical Secretary certificate program at Pima Medical Institute but unfortunately never utilized it. She also attended the Dental Hygienist program at Pima Medical Institute in 2005 but quickly realized that the dental field was not her professional calling.