Ambika Dani began teaching when she was 14 years old, in Lagos, Nigeria, when she gathered a group of underserved children in the living room of her apartment to help supplement the education they were receiving. Since that summer of teaching children on mats in her living room, she has dedicated herself wholly to education and to ensuring that children everywhere have equal access to the quality education they deserve.
Ambika comes from a strong mathematics background. During her undergraduate years in college, she provided SAT tutoring and additional after-school support to low-income students of all ages on a volunteer basis. Following her graduation from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, she spent six years teaching math at the elementary, middle, and high-school levels in both charter and private schools. Two of the schools she taught at, THINK Global School and Saint Ann's School, have been recognized as two of the most innovative schools in the United States. These opportunities helped her recognize high-quality, effective instruction and made her further appreciate how rare it is. In 2015, Ambika returned to Columbia University to pursue a master’s degree in mathematics education from Teachers College in order to further improve her teaching practice.
As Ambika worked to found Promesa Academy, she was a fellow with Building Excellent Schools, a national nonprofit organization that supports leaders in founding high-performing charter schools in urban areas. She is also currently a New Schools Creation Fellow with the High-Tech High Graduate School of Education. Ambika continues to seek out opportunities to learn from schools around the country that are being truly innovative and student-centered to help inform the vision for Promesa Academy.
Mary has worked as a K-2 bilingual and dual language teacher on the Southeast side of San Antonio for four years. She grew passionate about education at a young age as she saw the many ways her parents shared their love of learning and passions with her and others. Her mother was a dancer and her father worked in the trades and both spent ample time teaching and learning from the community. As a result, Mary grew into a person who also felt called to share her passion with others and to support her community through public service. For her last four years as an educator, Mary became deeply invested in the community and families she served on the Southeast side of San Antonio and grew professionally to develop into a curriculum writer, mentor, and coach for new teachers.
Mary's deep connection to the communities she has taught in and her desire to change the inequities that persist in education also led her to co-found SA RISE in 2016. At SA RISE, she led grassroots community organizing efforts around education all across San Antonio.
Mary deeply believes in social-emotional development and wellness as a building block for the success of every learner and is dedicated to finding creative solutions to support every student and every teacher she encounters. Her strong linguistics background, having majored in Spanish with a minor in Latin American Studies and tutored English while living abroad, and her experience in the classroom has helped shaped how she envisions what excellent teaching, classrooms, schools, and support look like and feel like and deeply influence how she plans to support learners and teachers as Promesa Academy's Director of Curriculum and Instruction.
A native South Texan, Casandra Reyes was the first in her family to graduate from college. She comes from a family with a mother who worked incredibly hard to support her and her three siblings and who always instilled the value of a strong work ethic. Casandra has always fostered the belief that nothing is out of reach and anything is possible through education. She studied Fine Arts, Graphic Design, and English at Texas A&M University in Kingsville.
With a growth mindset, she was able to hone her skills and seek out opportunities to develop new ones. Casandra was able to expand her proficiency in the charter school world when she joined Austin Achieve, a start-up charter school. While at Austin Achieve, Casandra served in multiple roles, including Food Services and PEIMS Coordinator.
She has recently relocated to San Antonio, bringing with her a love for serving the community. Casandra believes that despite any socio-economic background or resources, all students deserve the right to quality education. At Promesa, Casandra hopes to help build an environment that cultivates the same love for learning that she was fortunate enough to experience growing up. When away from the office, you can find Casandra baking away or acting as an advocate for animal rights.