EMU Bright Futures Admin Team
I am the director of Eastern Michigan University’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers Programs, Bright Futures, which are located in three districts along the Michigan Avenue Corridor – Wayne-Westland Community Schools District, Willow Run Community Schools, and Ypsilanti Community Schools. The project is centered at EMU’s Institute for the Study of Children, Families, and Communities. For 35 years, I served challenged youth in K-12 education as both a general and special education teacher. I have taught at all levels and developed grants and programs for at-risk youth with a focus on mentoring and service-learning. I received my doctorate in educational leadership from EMU where I studied the culture, history, and politics of local communities along the Michigan Avenue corridor in Southeastern Michigan. I continue to use my entrepreneurial skills and systems knowledge to build bridges between higher education, the K-12 schools, and the community. I am grateful to have a wonderful family with two grown sons, a husband, and two Shetland Sheepdogs. I am passionate about all things photography and culinary.
Thespina Agas is the assistant director for the EMU 21st CCLC Bright Futures program. She is no stranger to EMUBF though, having previously worked at Franklin Middle School several years ago. Born to Greek immigrant parents, she was the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. Understanding the various challenges along the way developed her passion for helping students navigate their educational journeys. Prior to taking on the role of Assistant Director, she worked in developing college access programs to support the transition for middle and high school students to postsecondary opportunities. Thespina earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Social Work from Eastern Michigan University and a Master of Arts in Higher Education with a concentration in Student Access and Success from the University of Michigan. In addition to this appointment, she also serves as the Project Coordinator for Washtenaw Futures, which is the Local College Access Network (LCAN) servicing Washtenaw County. When not working, Thespina enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, and traveling.
I am TRUEMU! Prior to working full-time for the university, I graduated from Eastern Michigan in 2004 with my bachelor in Secondary Education (Social Studies and Theatre). I’ve been with Bright Futures since its beginning – spending 11 years as a Site Coordinator at several different sites in the Wayne-Westland School District (Adams Middle, Stevenson Middle, and Marshall Upper Elementary Schools) before moving into an administrative role in April of 2018. While I’ll miss the daily program life of leading clubs and helping our young adults grow into strong leaders, I’m excited about helping all of our site’s staff to grow professionally. When not working, you’ll often find me cheering on my favorite local sports teams (Go Tigers!) and enjoying a long walk with my wife and our two dogs.
R.J. Quiambao has been serving the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts since 2010. A graduate of Michigan State (BA, Social Relations) and the University of Michigan (MA, Educational Studies), he strives to create a safe and supportive after school environment where students can investigate their passions, explore their interests, and realize their potential to change the world. In his spare time, RJ trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, teaches salsa dancing, and plays way too many board games.
Will Spotts has been with EMU Bright Futures for six years as both an assistant director and site coordinator. He is a Nationally Board Certified Science Teacher with eight years of classroom experience teaching science in Greenville, Mississippi and Chicago, IL. Prior to teaching, he worked as an aquatic biologist for the Kansas Biological Survey. Will is a certified trainer of Youth Methods and Youth Management with the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program quality and has also developed and delivered multiple workshops on topics such as embedding social emotional learning in classrooms, the intersections of grit and growth mindset, and using design thinking processes in student-centered projects, and project based learning.
Will and his family moved to Ann Arbor in 2012 and considers himself blessed to be working as a force for positive change in the lives of Michigan youth. In his spare time, he plays a mean harmonica and makes big messes in the kitchen. He’d like to be a better fisherman and a more patient husband and father.
I’ve been with Bright Futures since we won our first grant in 2007. Both as data manager and part of the local program evaluation team, I have witnessed our after-school gem evolve into the 25 sites which currently compose our program.
On a personal note, I still enjoy being exposed to new ideas and experiences, meaning-filled discussions, but also trivia, sports, and electronica, including some occasional video gaming.
Anna Gersh joined the EMU Bright Futures’ team in 2017. She comes to the program via the David P. Weikart Center where she provided evaluation and grant compliance support to 21st Century Community Learning Center programs in Flint, Michigan, and at the state level in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Anna received her doctorate in Educational Evaluation and Research from Wayne State in 2014. Prior to that, she worked for 17 years as a classroom English teacher in public alternative programs for 9-12+ grades in Washtenaw County. Anna’s main work interests include professional development and curriculum development especially focused on developing social and emotional learning skills for adults and youth. She enjoys cooking and film and has written and produced an experimental play about education.