Brenton Shavers - Executive Director

As a student at Simpson College in Iowa, I initially planned on going into law enforcement and spending my down time going into schools to work with young people who were struggling academically and behaviorally. After a football injury left me temporarily paralyzed and with permanent damage in my right arm, I pivoted to a career in education. After graduation, I began that career as a 3rd grade teacher at Dayton’s Bluff Elementary School in St. Paul. A few years into that experience, I wanted to explore career possibilities in juvenile corrections and moved to South Mountain, PA and began working with adjudicated youth from the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas.
After gaining valuable experience in Pennsylvania and gaining a deeper understanding of our correctional system, I moved back to Minneasota and began working for Catholic Charities at St. Joseph’s Home for Children as the Program Manager for Correctional Programming and later assuming the role of Director of Emergency Shelter, Residential Treatment, and Correctional Programming. During these experiences, it sparked a desire to begin working with teachers to address concerns surrounding issues of race and equity in regards to institutional and societal structures that were not being addressed and having a negative impact on our youth. I then decided to move back to Iowa and began coursework toward obtaining my Educational Leadership//Principalship Degree at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa. After earning that degree, I served as an administrator in the Kansas City, Kansas School District, Waterloo, IA Community School District, and the Owatonna, MN Public School District and I look forward to working with our student’s, their families, and staff as we continue to seek out ways to partner with the community to provide opportunities for our youth to thrive and become our future.

Jelani Mbalia— Principal

Laura Pastor — Director of Curriculum & Instruction

  • B.A. in Psychology and Dance from Barnard College
  • Master of Arts in Teaching from Webster University
  • 4 years experience teaching middle school ELA in St. Louis, MO
  • 10 years experience teaching elementary school in Minnesota
  • 2 years experience as an instructional coach
  • Trained in Responsive Classroom 1 and 2 and ENVoY
  • Trained in RELAY and Coaching for Equity

Erika Sass — Director of Operations and Community Engagement

Erika is a co-founder of Northeast College Prep.  Prior to opening Northeast College Prep, Erika has served as a classroom teacher, academic after-school program director, youth worker, professional development coordinator, mentor teacher and board member. In 2013, she was a recipient of Teach For America’s National Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award. She was also a national finalist for Teaching Tolerance’s Culturally Responsive Teaching Award.  Erika is a Certified Facilitator for Welcoming Schools, training educators to create safe and welcoming schools for all students and families.

Erika is passionate about helping all students exceed their expectations and has experience teaching students ages four through adult learners. She has a Masters Degree in Education with an emphasis on teaching English to non-native speakers. Her teaching experience includes classroom teaching, partner teaching, experiential education and instructing as a specialist teacher.  She has presented at regional and national education conferences around the country; most recently at the national Responsive Classroom conference for School Leaders.

Erika has three Minnesota teaching licenses:  Elementary Education, English Language Development, and Technology. Additionally, Erika finished her K-12 Administrative License at the University of Minnesota and is a licensed K-12 Principal in Minnesota.

Click Here to Apply for the 2022-2023 School Year

Click Here to Apply for the 2022-2023 School Year