Reimagining Education

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ST. LOUIS, August 8, 2011 — The Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri (CEAM), a non-profit organization that leads the state in education reform and support of policies that expand the number of quality learning opportunities for Missouri’s children, has appointed Kate Casas as state director and Chris Geden as community outreach director.

In her new role, Casas is responsible for overseeing CEAM’s major, statewide education policy initiatives. She also will oversee managing the Financial Assistance and Parent Advocacy Training Program for families with children with special educational needs.

As community outreach director, Geden’s responsibilities include building awareness about CEAM’s mission and engaging parents and the broader community in reform efforts. Geden’s work centers on helping parents understand what options are working in other states, what policy changes could work in our state and what policy resources are available to aid them and their children.

“We are thrilled to add professionals with the caliber of expertise which Kate and Chris bring with them to our organization,” said Laura Slay, president and executive director of CEAM. “As CEAM moves forward with a series of significant programs designed to help students throughout Missouri achieve their full potential, it is vitally important for us to utilize the foresight and vision that both Kate and Chris bring to CEAM in these new and strategic roles.”

Casas has spent more than 10 years establishing strategies, policies and objectives aimed at improving the state of education not only for Missouri families but families nationwide. In 2005 she was accepted into Teach for America, a highly competitive national teaching program in at-risk urban school districts. As part of the Teach for America Corps in St. Louis, Kate structured reading and math growth programs. She also evaluated and diagnosed student performance to adjust instruction to meet students’ needs.

Casas also helped open the first Big Picture Elementary School, where she taught 4th grade as well as developing individualized learning plans with an emphasis on literacy. She has held additional positions with Urban Strategies, Inc. in St. Louis.

Kate holds a master’s degree in teaching from Webster University as well as a bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in political science. She is an active member of the Educational Partnership Board, the Center of Creative Arts Junior Board and the Teach for America Political Working Group. She lives in the Tower Grove area of St. Louis with her husband and daughter.

Geden has worked for more than 14 years with youth in the St. Louis area. He has aided at-risk youth, many of whom suffered from abuse, trauma or mental illness. He also has provided direct services for middle schoolers, expanding operations from one school to four as Middle School Coordinator for the South City YMCA. In association with the St. Louis Dream Center, Chris helped to develop a successful middle-school sports program that grew to include more than 500 inner-city youths. The program spawned partnerships with the St. Louis Rams and St. Louis School District, leading to improved academic outcomes as well as character development.

Geden, who resides in south St. Louis, graduated from the Neighborhood Leadership Academy program offered to community leaders at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He has served on the board of directors for City Garden Montessori, the St. Louis Senior Center and Tower Grove Farmers Market. He also is the first person to win the YMCA’s mission advancement award, which honors an individual’s commitment to values, community, volunteerism and philanthropy.

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