Rebekah Shoaf is a New York City-based educational consultant and the founder and owner of Boogie Down Books, a bookstore-without-walls for kids, teens, families, and educators in the Bronx and beyond. After teaching high school English for ten years, she served as a Teacher Development Coach with the NYC Department of Education, where she supported educators at middle and high schools in promoting rigorous, student-centered instruction. She continues to work with a variety of clients to promote educational equity through transformative professional learning experiences as an instructional and teacher leadership coach, professional development facilitator, and curriculum designer for both adolescent and adult learning. A Miami native, Rebekah is a lifelong bookworm, a university instructor, a graduate of the Chef's Training Program at the Natural Gourmet Institute, and an aunt to six budding bibliophiles. She believes that teaching young people to read well and eat well can change the world.
Wesley Sanders is a passionate writer and a voracious reader. Wesley is currently obtaining his associate's degree in literature and creative writing from Borough of Manhattan Community College. After completing his studies at BMCC, Wesley will be attending NYU, where he will be working towards his bachelor's degree in individualized studies as part of the Gallatin Guide program. Wesley plans on becoming a teacher specializing in public school education and a writer who works primarily on fiction for young adults. He is currently working on his first novel about a black superhero growing up in a city that is filled with racism and segregation. Wesley, a Bronx native, loves reading. Some of his favorite books are Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and The Hate You Give. Wesley enjoys reading with children because he wants every child to develop a love for literacy.
Melissa Silvester is a college freshman who will be attending Hunter College in the fall. She will be majoring in Social Work. In the future she hopes to work as a school social worker. She recently graduated Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School. During her senior year she interned with Boogie Down Books due to her personal interest in literature. That internship lead to the first ever Boogie Down Books poetry slam. Now Melissa spends her Saturdays working at the South Bronx Farmers Market, where she gets to sell books and read with children.
Lydia Adegbola is the English Department chairperson at New Rochelle High School in Westchester County and seeks to use her role to redefine what it means to be literary. She believes in the tremendous impact of reading and will stop at nothing to help young people fall in love with the written word. Lydia is a graduate of New York University with a B.A. in Secondary English Education and a M. A. in School Building Leadership. She spent the first 15 years of her career as a high school English teacher and assistant principal in New York City and is delighted about the opportunity to spread her passion for reading with both teachers and students alike. When Lydia is not reading or “book clubbing”, she loves spending time with her amazing husband and rambunctious toddlers.
Cadence is a clothes-designing, ballet-dancing, homeschooled eleven-year- old who loves to read! She's been fascinated by books since she was really little. Reading is her passion, and it’s been a huge influence on how she views the world. Years of exploring and increasing her imagination through books have inspired her to start a book club and even write her own book. Books are part of who she is, and she's sure it will stay that way!
Eric Burnside is a life-long learner who loves to soak up knowledge about almost anything the world has to offer. As a career educator, it has been Eric's honor to work with and build relationships with some of New York City's greatest young people. Eric currently teaches middle school math in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx. He has also coached a variety of competitive sports including middle school girls' basketball and softball, winning a championship with the softball team. Eric enjoys reading non-fiction about American and African American history and books about the year 1968. He also enjoys YA novels and comic books, and Jason Reynolds is his favorite author. Working with young people brings Eric joy and hope for a loving world with a bright future.