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Joe Feldman
Joe Feldman


Joe has worked in education for over 20 years as a teacher, principal, and district administrator, and is the founder and CEO of Crescendo Education Group (, which since 2013 has supported K-12 schools, districts, and colleges/universities nationwide to improve grading and assessment practices. He has presented at many education conferences, and his writings have been published in Education WeekKappanEducation LeadershipDistrict Administrator, and Black Press USA. His book, Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms (Corwin) was published in 2018. Crescendo Education Group has partnered with the National Education Association as well as the American Federation of Teachers, National Association of Independent Schools, and Stanford University’s Challenge Success. His online course for Grading for Equity launched this year. 

Joe earned his B.A. from Stanford University and a Master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum from the Harvard School of Education, and is also the author of Teaching Without Bells: What We Can Learn from Powerful Practice in Small Schools (Paradigm, 2010). He lives in Oakland with his wife and two children.

Dr. Shantha Smith
Director of Facilitation

Dr. Shantha Smith leads equitable grading workshops, provides coaching to leaders and teachers, develops curriculum, and supports talent development of our team. She was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She attended Virginia State University, where she received her BA in Special Education. Next, she obtained her Master’s of Education from Trinity College in Curriculum and Instruction, with a minor as a Reading Specialist. In 2015, She earned her PhD, in Special Education/Special Education Leadership from George Mason University.

Dr. Smith most recently was an instructional leader and Equity and Excellence Coordinator in Northern Virginia and the 2020 recipient of Virginia’s Mary Peake Award for Excellence in Education Equity. For over 20 years, she has served as an advocate for students of color to reimagine schools that support all learners. Her teaching and coaching experiences range from Pk-12. In addition to changing the world one educator at a time, she also enjoys traveling the world and is a Peloton enthusiast!

Christopher Love
Manager of Coaching

Chris Love supports our online and remote coaches in their work improving teachers’ equitable grading practices. Chris moved from the Science laboratories to the classroom to encourage and support students from his local community, and is a “people-first” educator, having served the Bay Area community as a Science educator and Department lead for nearly a decade in addition to working with a breadth of students from 6th to 12th grade in the general classroom, credit recovery and afterschool clubs. He is a dedicated equitable grading practitioner, first as a classroom teacher in a Crescendo Education Group workshop series, then graduated to coaching other teachers and, after a number of years of research into his own practice, now enjoys supporting teachers and coaches alike in the grading for equity movement. Chris strikes a unique balance of calm enthusiasm that engenders unity and growth in our organization.

Jen Brown, MBA
Operations Associate
Jen Brown, MBA is the Operations Associate at Crescendo Education Group with expertise in supporting high-level teams and getting things done efficiently yet thoughtfully. Prior to working at Crescendo Education Group, Jen worked in business administration and operations at various non-profits, charter schools, and international schools for over 10 years.
Jen is also a former TESOL/TEFL teacher in South Korea, China, and Kenya, and she also taught Pre-K for 3 years in Minneapolis, MN. Her diverse teaching experiences opened her eyes to advocating for educational equity, culturally-responsive teaching practices, and social-emotional learning in the classroom. Jen approaches her work at Crescendo Education Group with an open mind and global perspective.
Jen earned her MBA and M.A in Strategic Leadership in 2020 from Bethel University. She also holds a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology with a minor in Spanish and Italian from the University of Minnesota, Morris. Jen loves to travel; she has explored over 48 states in the U.S. and 32 countries to date. Jen is a MN native but currently lives in Longmont, CO. When she is not spending time on improving processes or working on logistics, Jen can be found hiking, camping, paddle boarding, and exploring the outdoors with her four-legged pal — Zoe.
Courtney Fenner

Courtney Fenner is a career educator with 19 years of experience across a breadth of schools where her roles have included classroom teacher, grade team leader, and Director of Equity & Inclusion. She holds an MA in English Education from Brooklyn College, an MFA in Creative Writing from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a BA in Studies in Women & Gender from the University of Virginia.

She is the author of the book, Kollege Knowledge: A Grrrl’s Guide to Surviving the First Year, and was the 2013 Young Women’s Leadership Network’s Teacher of the Year.

Courtney first joined Crescendo Education Group as a remote equitable grading coach. She has used equitable grading practices in her classrooms and has seen firsthand success with her students’ skill-building and confidence. When not facilitating and coaching, you can find her making homemade ice cream by hand, eating her way through new cities, and saving home design inspiration posts on Instagram.

Jamie Carota

Jamie Carota has been teaching middle school science in the Bay area for the past 10 years. She earned her BA in Biological Sciences and teaching credentials from San Jose University.

She has been a science department head and a member of her district’s instructional leadership team, and she also developed a next-generation science standards curriculum, all with a focus on equitable grading and social/emotional learning.

Last year Jamie became an equitable grading coach for Crescendo Education Group, supporting teachers all over the country, and has now transitioned into a full-time workshop facilitator. She has two young children and enjoys spending time at Lake Tahoe, gardening, and reading.

Nikole Joshi

Nikole Joshi holds a B.A. from Radford University in Middle School Education as well as an MAEd in Curriculum & Instruction from Virginia Tech, and she recently obtained her MEd in Education Leadership and Administration from George Mason University. Nikole served for 11 years in Arlington Public Schools in Arlington, VA, in various capacities. She joined the Gunston Middle School Community in 2011 as the second Middle School Montessori program teacher and worked to grow and develop authenticity within the program.

During the past several years in APS, Nikole worked with schools to transform their grading policies while supporting and coaching teachers in standards-based grading implementation. Nikole has experience teaching special education and holds an ESOL endorsement and a Secondary Montessori I-II credential.

 Nikole worked part-time with Crescendo Education Group as an equitable grading coach for the 21-22 school year before joining the team full-time. She is passionate about this work and wants all teachers to understand the power of equitable grading. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area with her 8-year-old son, eating sushi, and traveling to new places.

Candace Blaylock, PHR
Executive Assistant

Candace is the Executive Assistant to the CEO and founder, Joe Feldman. She has over 15 years of experience as an Executive Assistant and Human Resources Manager. For the last 10 years, she’s worked in the SAAS startup world. Candace currently helps with scheduling meetings, correspondence, supporting Executives, logistics, organization, and onboarding of employees at Crescendo Education Group.

Candace has helped scale companies from 8 employees to over 200 employees. She also has her PHR and PHRca in Human Resources.

When she’s not working, Candace is a full-time mom to amazing little girl. Candace’s hobbies include traveling, interior design, learning how to make her own wine, and cooking for family and friends.

Ashley Scott
Ashley Scott currently manages the Grading for Equity online course and supports external communication for Crescendo Education Group. Ashley has been working in the administrative field for 4 years now. She holds a seat on the Political Action Committee as a Political Assistant. Ashley earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Penn State University, where she also minored in African American Studies. She hopes to provide the administrative support needed to take Crescendo Education Group to the next level.