We are people who care passionately about educational equity and site-based solutions.
We value collaboration and systems thinking--we know these are the key to meaningful, enduring change.
We show up with compassion, curiosity, and an unwavering commitment to supporting our partners’ success.
Founder & CEO
Shyam Kumar is the Founder of NorthStar Education Partners. Prior to founding NorthStar, Shyam served as the head of talent for KIPP Metro Atlanta where he led initiatives to develop teacher and leader career pathways, increase school leader bench depth, increase teacher retention, improve hiring and selection processes and re-design teacher and leader evaluations.
Prior to working with KIPP, Shyam served as the Executive Director of Teach For America Atlanta. In this role, Shyam was responsible for expanding the impact of 400 Teach For America teachers and 600 Teach For America alumni placed across four Metro Atlanta School Districts. While at Teach For America, Shyam led initiatives to increase teacher observation and feedback, improve teacher selection and hiring practices and broaden the impact of Teach For America's alumni in the Metro Atlanta community. Before beginning his career in public education, Shyam worked as an internal management consultant at GE. Working in GE business units across India, Ireland, the UK and United States, Shyam led global project teams to solve a wide range of strategic business challenges.
Shyam holds degrees in Management and Curriculum and Instruction. He lives with his wife, Gayathri and daughter Dhevna in Atlanta Georgia.
Dr. Kelly Gunn
Dr. Kelly Morgan Gunn began her career in education as a middle school English/Language Arts teacher in Dallas Independent School District. While a teacher in DISD, she also served as an Adult Basic Education Instructor and Alternative Certification Instructor for new teachers and paraprofessionals. Eventually, Kelly served as department chair and led her team to a 21 percentage point gain on the state assessment in writing. Kelly’s career in education has included teaching and learning in several states, including Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Georgia. Her background includes research and experience in curriculum and instruction, educational law, culturally relevant teaching, urban teacher development, and urban educational leadership. Kelly has taught courses in teacher education at the University of Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky University, and Mercer University.
Kelly has worked in instructional leadership positions in both traditional public and charter systems. She served as an administrator in Atlanta Public Schools and as the Founding Director of the Teacher Fellows Program at KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools, a residency program in which novice teachers are paired in the classroom with a mentor teacher for a year-long, paid internship. During her tenure with KIPP, Kelly provided new teacher development to those new to the profession and instructional coaching training to emerging leaders.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with certification to teach 6-12 from Tennessee State University, a Master’s in Education Administration and an Education Specialist in Curriculum and Instruction from Louisiana State University, and Doctorate in Urban Educational Leadership from the University of Cincinnati. Though teacher training and development is her passion and calling, Kelly’s greatest joy comes from quality time with family and her three favorite guys—–sons, Tre and Camden Jace, and husband, C.J.
Sara-Kate Roberts is an independent consultant whose work primarily focuses on strengthening the human capital strategies that educational organizations utilize to build, maintain, and grow their teams. Her consulting projects have spanned partners that include charter schools and networks, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations.
Prior to consulting, Sara-Kate oversaw strategic talent initiatives at KIPP New Orleans Schools and before that, helped to lead the roll-out of teacher evaluation in Jefferson Parish Public Schools, the largest district in the state of Louisiana. She previously worked at Teach For America in the San Francisco Bay Area, after teaching English and Leadership at Skyline High School in Oakland. More than twelve years after meeting her first students, they are still the driving force behind her work, and continuously propel her desire to build strong teams that will help students succeed.
Putting students at the heart of the work is a value that is shared by NorthStar Education Partners, and having a set of common values is something that makes working with NorthStar so appealing to Sara-Kate. When she takes on projects with NorthStar, she knows there will be a shared commitment to integrity and to delivering the highest-quality work. Sara-Kate also appreciates that working with NorthStar means we truly are partners with the organizations we support. We work hard to fully understand the unique needs of our clients and build customized solutions and strategies that will yield the desired results in that specific context.
Sara-Kate now lives in Atlanta with her husband and you can often find them enjoying time outside with their dog, Corduroy. You might also find her in a Dance Fitness class!
jessika rao mclaughlin
Jessika Rao McLaughlin has been committed to educational equity for 15 years, primarily in the Philadelphia region where she began her work as a teacher.
She has teamed up with NorthStar Education Partners because of the opportunity to influence the design process of teacher and leader selection, retention and development.
Jessika uses a data-driven and collaborative approach to her work and believes that teacher and leader development are paramount. She has been fortunate enough to serve as the School Director of Young Scholars Charter School, Mastery’s Teacher Residency Manager and a Program Director for Teach For America.
She has three daughters and enjoys spending time with her family.
Amara’s passion for educational equity can be traced back to her first teaching job in a 4th grade bilingual classroom on the Texas/Mexico border. As a consultant, Amara enjoys applying over a decade of work in education to the challenges and opportunities facing schools and districts. She loves NorthStar’s people-centered approach and strong focus on our partners’ core values and vision.
Amara has spent her career criss-crossing the United States, working in public and charter school settings and developing expertise in dual-immersion education, curriculum design, the International Baccalaureate programs, innovative school models, budget management, recruitment & hiring, and project management. Her current learning agenda is focused on coaching and deliberately developmental organizations.
Amara earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a master’s in K-12 Education with an International Baccalaureate certification. Amara is passionate about her family and loves spending time with her husband, Mike, and two young sons, Asher and Emmett. She lives in Atlanta, GA but doesn’t let anyone forget that she is a “Mainer” at heart.