We offer highly interactive virtual professional development opportunities to educators beyond our traditional programs.
About Professional Education
The Professional Education team works to share Relay’s accumulated knowledge and best practices in teacher development to a broader audience across the education and non-profit landscape. Our work focuses on serving teachers, schools and aligned organizations in order to support skill building for teachers across a range of content needs and experience levels.
Current Professional Development Opportunities
Teaching and Learning Online: Relay Professional Education has created a set of two-hour interactive trainings designed to provide teachers and school leaders with the tools and resources needed to lead effective and engaging online learning experiences. Using Zoom, Nearpod and Google Suite, we model virtual best practices, share helpful tips, and provide opportunities to practice and discuss online teaching solutions.
Accelerating Student Success: Relay Professional Education has developed a series of virtual workshops to support educators in addressing learning interrupted by the pandemic. In this series, educators will learn to create inclusive and supportive learning environments through culturally responsive practices, accelerate learning by maintaining grade-level rigor, and drive responsive instruction through intentional student work analysis.
All aspects of this session directly addressed everything that has been swimming in my head -- especially how to keep kids engaged throughout a session and how to utilize tools to maximize thinking!
- Kate Ring, Principal, Lead Public Schools
Meet Our Team
Get acquainted with the leaders behind Professional Education at Relay.
Zach BlattnerSenior Director of Professional Education, Teacher Programs
Before joining Relay Professional Education, Zach joined Relay Online as founding faculty where he taught graduate-level coursework to teachers across the country. In that role, he honed his skills in online teaching through combining his expertise in adult facilitation with digital technologies.
Zach has also recently served as a consultant to organizations striving to strengthen the quality and impact of their synchronous online offerings, including Next Gen Personal Finance and The Together Group. Prior to Relay, Zach served as an Assistant Principal in Southwest Philadelphia, helping lead his school to increased achievement results each year. Zach started his career as an AP English teacher in the Rio Grande Valley. His students became the first in school history to pass the AP Language and Composition exam.
Zach holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the George Washington University, a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, and a principal certification through the National Principal Academy at Relay GSE.
Chanel Ward BiddleSenior Director of Professional Education, Teacher Programs
Prior to joining Professional Education, Chanel served as Director of Residency for Relay Online, partnering with numerous schools and networks nationally to build innovative support systems for teachers in residence. While serving as Director of Residency, Chanel also taught graduate courses in core pedagogy and elementary methods and supervised clinical practice.
Before joining the Relay faculty, Chanel was an Assistant Principal in South Philadelphia. During her time as Assistant Principal, the School District of Philadelphia ranked her school first within its peer group and second citywide for academic growth. Chanel began her career in education as an elementary school teacher in Philadelphia.
Chanel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies from Barnard College of Columbia University, a Master’s in Education from University of Pennsylvania, and a principal certification through the National Principal Academy at Relay GSE. Chanel currently lives in her hometown of Philadelphia and serves as a proud board member of Philadelphia Hebrew Public, the city’s first racially and linguistically diverse-by-design public school, and member of Fleisher Art Memorial’s programs impact committee.
Dr. Sarah Marder-EppsteinManaging Director of Professional Education, Teacher Programs
As Managing Director of Professional Education, Teacher Programs, Dr. Sarah Marder-Eppstein oversees all aspects of professional learning opportunities for teachers at Relay. Prior to joining professional education, Dr. Marder-Eppstein co-led degree-granting programming for over 1,500 teachers in Relay’s online campus and taught elementary methods and general pedagogy coursework. Dr. Marder-Eppstein also ran the annual Educator Summit conference for six years in partnership with the Character Lab, serving thousands of educators from around the world.
Before joining Relay in 2013, Dr. Marder-Eppstein taught third grade at Achievement First Brownsville in Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Marder-Eppstein holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish Literature from Washington University in St. Louis, a Master’s in Teaching from the Relay Graduate School of Education, and a Doctorate in Education from the Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California. Her research interests include new teacher retention strategies, culturally responsive teaching, and character development.
James VerrilliExecutive Director for the Relay GSE Hollyhock Humanities Fellowship
James Verrilli is the Executive Director for the Relay GSE Hollyhock Humanities Fellowship. He sees himself as having the soul of a teacher. His long career began in 1984 as a part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. In 1985, he found his calling as a history teacher in Newark, NJ, at the Link Community School. After graduate work at Brown University, he became Link’s principal until 1997, significantly improving students’ high school graduation rates and student achievement. Then, he co-founded North Star Academy Charter School of Newark with Norman Atkins. During his 14-year tenure as the middle school principal, he helped North Star grow to multiple campuses and become a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon School and one of the highest-performing urban schools in New Jersey.
In 2011, after 25 years of teaching and leading schools, Verrilli joined the new Relay Graduate School of Education and launched the Newark campus as the founding Dean. Over his ten years at Relay, he has been the Dean of the Newark Campus, a Senior Dean managing deans across Relay’s many campuses, and in charge of faculty development. All the while, James was still teaching as a professor for Relay’s master’s level core pedagogy and residency courses. In addition, James has dedicated his professional career to working for social justice through teaching, school leadership, and fighting for educational equity.
The workshop made me assess and reflect on my teaching to find new ways to enhance the engagement opportunities for my students.
- Christina Kavaja, Woodbridge High School