Florida A & M University College of Education - Developmental Research School Freedom School Program

Our Team

Our FAMU DRS Freedom School team consist of educators, researchers, college students, and community members focused on helping children fall in love with reading, increasing their self-esteem, and generating positive attitudes toward learning. We implement the model curriculum which supports children and families around five essential components: high quality academic enrichment; parent and family involvement; civic engagement and social action; intergenerational leadership development; and nutrition, health and mental health.


Sheila labissiere, m.ed. (Executive director)

Sheila Labissiere, earned her B.S. degree in Social Science from Florida State University in 2009 and began her teaching career as an elementary school teacher in 2010. Since then, she has earned two Master of Education degrees (Educational Leadership – 2013 & Curriculum and Instruction – 2015) from Florida A&M University, served on the FAMU College of Education Dean Search Committee, Faculty Senator, Steering Committee Member, Grades 3-5 Department Chair, and has recently been invited to participate on the Admissions Committee and the Curriculum Redesign Committee for the FAMU Educational Leadership program.

Currently, Ms. Labissiere serves as the Title I/ESOL Coordinator for FAMU DRS, is an active member of National Association of University Women & the Tallahassee Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and pursuing a doctoral degree in Education Policy and Evaluation from Florida State University.

This is her fourth year operating a Freedom School program at FAMU DRS.

janell massaline, co-site coordinator

Ms. Janell Massaline began her journey with the FAMU DRS Freedom School in 2016 as a Level 1 Servant Leader Intern and fell in love with the program, its purpose, and mission. She has returned every summer to dedicate her time to the program transitioning roles from a Servant Leader Intern to a Co-Site Coordinator. During the traditional school year Ms. Massaline is a Language Arts and Journalism Teacher at Young Middle Magnet School in Tampa, FL. Ms. Massaline is a proud 6th generation graduate of Florida A&M University where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in English Education. 



Marlon williams-clark, m.ed. co-site coordinator

Marlon Williams-Clark is a 2009 FAMU graduate with a B.S. in Public Relations. He holds a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Concordia University-Portland. Mr. Williams-Clark, whose students affectionately call him “Mr. WC,” is in his 7th year of teaching. He currently teaches middle school social studies Florida State University Schools. He is also the adviser the middle school SGA and Building Incredible Generations and the History Fair Coordinator. This is Mr. WC’s second year with Freedom Schools. He aspires to be a school administrator and obtain his Ph.D in education. His interests are in history especially in African American studies, performing arts, politics and religion.

cheron davis, ph.d. (co-research director)

Dr. Cheron H. Davis is an Assistant Professor of reading at Florida A&M University’s College of Education. She has had numerous teaching assignments at the undergraduate and graduate levels and has taught courses in various formats including online, hybrid, and face-to-face. Dr. Davis is a practitioner at heart and maintains healthy, robust relationships with classroom teachers throughout the region.

Dr. Davis earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education from Auburn University in Auburn, AL. She also holds an education specialist degree in elementary education and a master’s certification in school administration both from Troy University in Phoenix City, AL. Additionally, Dr. Davis holds a PhD in reading education from Auburn University. She is the co-editor of the volume Underserved Populations at HBCUs: The Pathway to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (Emerald Publishing). Her award-winning dissertation is titled It’s in Black and White: Preservice Teachers’ Perceived Abilities to Facilitate Literary Conversations About African-American Picture Books. In her spare time, Dr. Davis enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, Ava (6) and TJ (3).


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Alysia Roehrig, ph.d. (co-research director)

Dr. Alysia Roehrig, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology, joined the faculty at Florida State University in 2003 and serves as the Learning and Cognition Program Coordinator. She earned both her Ph.D. and M.A. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Notre Dame.

Dr. Roehrig is the co-Research Director for FAMU DRS Freedom Schools and the Principal Investigator and Director of PURPOSE: Partners United for Resarch Pathways Oriented to Social Justice in Education. PURPOSE is an Institute of Education Sciences funded Pathways to the Education Science Training Program intended to increase the diversity of the doctorate in education. She also teaches the following graduate level courses: Methods of Educational Research, Theories of Learning and Cognition in Instruction, and College Teaching.

Dr. Roehrig’s research interests focus on issues related to effective teaching, particularly exploring the successes of students labeled at risk for school failure. She primarily focuses on the literacy learning and motivation of students as well as the professional development of teachers for using texts by diverse authors. She has published articles in the Elementary School Journal, the Journal of Literacy ResearchScience, and The Teacher Educator.

erik rawls, purpose fellowship program coordinator

Erik Rawls is the program coordinator for the Partners United for Research Pathways Oriented to Social Justice in Education (PURPOSE) program at FSU and FAMU, as well as a doctoral candidate in the Learning and Cognition program at FSU.

Erik's research interests include teacher professional development, student writing and identity development, and anti-racist educational interventions using a critical race theoretical lens.

Erik enjoys spending time with family, namely wife Mallary and daughter Neko, and their herd of cats.



kotrish wright, m.sw. (social worker- summer volunteer)

Kotrish Wright was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. She is a Health and Wellness Specialist at Wakulla High School in Crawfordville, Florida. In this position, she serves as a prevention specialist addressing an array of adolescents' day to day concerns. She enjoys traveling, volunteering, and empowering others. Kotrish believes faith, support, and resilience can get you through any storm. 

2019 Servant Leader Interns (SLIs)


Joanna Atkinson

Joanna Atkinson was born in Annapolis, Maryland and was raised there until high school when she and her family moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida. Joanna is a graduating Interdisciplinary Studies student with a concentration in Education and Social Science and a minor in Juvenile Justice at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). Joanna’s plans after graduation include following her passion to be a change agent in the educational system as a middle school or high school English teacher. While attending FAMU, Joanna has served as an active member of the Beta Alpha Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the National Council of Negro Women, First Year Experience Peer Mentor Program and a plethora of other organizations. She is currently serving her third term as the President of the FAMU Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In her free time, Joanna enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends, and testing out new recipes in the kitchen. 

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Bryant Floyd

Bryant Floyd is a recent graduate of Florida A&M University where he studied Social Work and has served as a university peer mentor, which enabled him to provide guidance to underclassmen.

Prior to attending FAMU, he was very involved in the Broward County Community where he volunteered in various non-profit organizations geared towards assisting students with educational resources and mental health services. He lives by the quote, “be who you needed when you were younger.”

He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc and a first year SLI.


Victoria Hernandez-Perez

Victoria Hernández - Perez known as Miss. Hernández is a junior majoring in Elementary Education at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. She enjoys reading and playing music. Miss. Hernández is a strong believer in the quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world” and lives by this quote by pouring love into children teaching them that you can turn your dreams into reality. This is her second year serving as an SLI.


De’Keria Hunter

De’Keria Hunter is a fourth year Elementary Education student at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, from West Palm Beach, FL. Education has always been one of the most important aspects of her life. Since the age of seven, she knew that she wanted to make a difference in the lives of many. Thus, her goal as an educator is to aspire, educate, inspire, learn, and affect positive change in the lives of the students. This is her second year serving as an SLI and a current PURPOSE fellow.


Ja’norris Hunter

Ja’Norris Hunter is a graduating senior majoring in English at Florida A&M University from Ft. Myers, Florida. This will be Ja’Norris’ second year returning to Freedom Schools as an SLI, and he looks forward to another great year. 


Dorrian Roberson

Dorrian Roberson is a fourth year English major with a minor in Education from Jacksonville, FL. Her passion in life is to educate, mentor, and uplift the youth of this generation through her love for education and literacy. I strongly believe that education is suppose to inspire one's mind, rather than fill one's head. This is her second year serving as an SLI.


Naysa Smith

Naysa Smith who affectionately is known as “Miss Minnie”, is a junior majoring in Elementary Education at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Naysa is a native of Orlando, Florida and spends her free time as a pageant queen and model. Miss Minnie has had a passion for educating young children from a very young age and plans to spread the magic of education one tiny human at a time. This is her second year serving as an SLI.


Auriel Solomon

Auriel Marcia Solomon is a second-year pre-elementary education student hailing from the lovely city of Tampa, Florida. She has had the opportunity to become an exemplary student both inside and outside the classroom with the help from family, friends, professors, and the faith of God. Thus, her goal is to continue excelling academically which will then allow her to reach her long-term goal of becoming an educator, as she wants to be able to help mold our children and shape our future.

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Kristen Tellis

Kristen Tellis, a fourth-year Elementary Education student at Florida A & M University, is a native of Tallahassee, Florida and a 2016 graduate of FAMU DRS.

As a child, she developed an early love of reading and enjoys doing so on her spare time as well as watching movies, and spending time with her family and friends.

Her experiences as a mentor, Sunday school teacher, and an assistant at FAMU DRS Smart Academy has motivated her to go into teaching in order to make a difference in the lives of future students. One day, she hopes to be able to open up her own school that will cater to students with different learning styles, some of whom may even be deemed “unteachable.”