Office Staff

Dr. Kisha Tolbert Simmons, NBCT

Project Director, GEAR UP Birmingham

Phone: 205-231-4738

Twitter: @KTSimmons4AU

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Dr. Kisha Tolbert Simmons is a native of McIntosh, Alabama, but currently resides in Birmingham, AL area. Over the past decade, she has served as an educator in Auburn City Schools, Tarrant City Schools, and Birmingham City Schools. Over the duration of her professional education career, Dr. Simmons has served as an Elementary Classroom Teacher, Cluster Group Gifted and Talented Teacher, Reading Coach, Elementary and Secondary Instructional Partner (Coach), Regional Math and Science Specialist/Training Coordinator for AMSTI-UAB, Educator Effectiveness Specialist for the Alabama Department of Education, and Adjunct Professor for numerous in-state and out-of-state colleges & universities. In 2017, Dr. Simmons was hired as the Project Director for GEAR UP Birmingham, Birmingham City Schools where she manages a seven-year grant totaling $19.6 million dollars.

Dr. Simmons earned her Bachelor’s degree from Auburn University, Master’s degree from Lesley University, Education Specialist degree from Liberty University, and Doctor of Philosophy in Education with a specialization in Curriculum and Instructional Leadership from Capella University.

Dr. Simmons is a National Board Certified Teacher, passionate educator, and life-long learner.
Dr. Simmons enjoys reading, traveling, surfing the web, spending time with family and friends, and watching the Auburn Tigers play – WAR EAGLE! She is married to Willie and together they have four children. Follow her on Twitter @KTSimmons4AU

Ms. Mildred Funderburg

Administrative Assistant, GEAR UP Birmingham

Phone: 205-231-4738

Twitter: @mfunderburg2

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Ms. Funderburg is the Administrative Assistant for GEAR UP Birmingham. Her expertise in business communications provides technical and logistical support for projects, meetings, conferences, and workshops for GEAR UP Birmingham. She enjoys traveling, decorating, and spending time with her family. Ms. Funderburg received an Associates Degree in Business from Central Alabama Community College before matriculating to Faulkner University Executive Bachelor of Business Program.

Mr. Alberto Reid, MBA

Budget Analyst, GEAR UP Birmingham

Phone: 205-231-4671

Twitter: @adreid1911

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Alberto D. Reid is the Finance/Budget Technician for Gear Up Birmingham. He is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and attended Birmingham City Schools. He is a graduate of Alabama’s oldest Historically Black Institution, and believes that Birmingham City Schools was the cornerstone, that helped lay the foundation at Talladega College.

He has held the position as District Executive with the Greater Alabama Council Boy Scouts of America, for more than five years, as well as a Loaned Executive for Central Alabama’s United Way Pacesetters Campaigns, where he successfully, raised over $200,000.00 each year with the Boy Scouts and over $300,000.00 for the United Way Campaigns. Mr. Reid has been employed now with the Birmingham School District since 2002, where he worked as a Bookkeeper with the Community Education Department, Glen Iris Elementary School and within the district’s Finance Department as an Accountant/Accounts Payable Clerk. He holds an MBA with a concentration in Public Administration, certification from the State of Alabama Association of School Business Official Program, Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), and many other civic and professional organizations. An active member of Alabaster-Pelham Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated, where he has served as Vice-Polemarch and currently is a member of its Board of Directors.

Alberto, has considerable experience and knowledge in training, organizational leadership and school finances, but has always been interested in finding creative ways of finding funding for schools and community based programs that have a social as well as a long term economic impact on our students.

Site Staff

Ms. Tanzania Goldsmith

Central Region Site Facilitator, GEAR UP Birmingham

Phone: 205-266-9956

Twitter: @TanGoldsmith

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Tanzania Goldsmith has been in education for 19 years and has been with Birmingham City Schools for the last 10 years. Ms. Goldsmith has taught science at A.H. Parker High and Jackson-Olin High School. She has also been a Graduation Coach and worked with the Curriculum and Instruction Department.

Prior to coming to Birmingham City Schools, Ms. Goldsmith taught at Jess Lanier High School with the Bessemer City School district and Jacksonville High School with the Jacksonville City Schools district.

Ms. Goldsmith earned her second Master’s and Educational Specialists degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She earned her master’s in Secondary Education from Jacksonville State University in 1996 and Bachelor’s in Biology from Talladega College.

She is an active member of her church. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Willie and their three daughters: Tianna, Gabrielle, and Jessalyn.

Dr. Marsha Savage

Western Region Site Facilitator, GEAR UP Birmingham

Phone: 205-422-0480

Twitter: @drmysavage

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Dr. Marsha Hall Savage is a product of both Fairfield and Birmingham City School Systems. She began her teaching career in Birmingham City Schools in 1991 and has worked in various capacities during her tenure. These include seventh grade language arts teacher, Literacy Support Teacher K – 12, R.E.A.D.S. Support Teacher, and Reading/Language Arts Support for grades 6-8. Dr. Savage has also served as Alabama Reading Initiative Plan for Adolescent Literacy LEA Secondary Literacy Coach, Reading Intervention Specialist, and English teacher at the high school level. Additionally, she has worked as a consulting Mentor Teacher for the Center of Urban Education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Dr. Savage is a committed educator who is passionate about the success of students attending Birmingham City Schools and the teachers who work in urban school districts.

Dr. Savage holds a Bachelor of Science degree in language arts education from Miles College, a Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, an Educational Specialist degree and Doctor of Education degree in educational leadership from Samford University.

Dr. Savage is active in her church and many organizations including the Omicron Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She is married and has four children.

Ms. Waynetta Turner

Eastern Region Site Facilitator, GEAR UP Birmingham

Phone: 205-249-3173

Twitter: @WTurnerAAMU

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Waynetta L. Turner is a skilled facilitator with expertise in science education. She has had the pleasure of serving in the Birmingham City Schools at the middle and high school levels for over 15 years. Never a person for resting on her laurels, Ms. Turner has also served as an adjunct instructor at the post-secondary level. She is driven by the desire to prepare students to reach their greatest potential academically and become caring, responsible citizens.

Ms. Turner earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees at Alabama A & M University. Her lifelong love of learning lead Ms. Turner towards administrative pursuits. She earned her administrative certification and an Education Specialist degree in Education Leadership at UAB.

Ms. Turner is presently completing her doctoral studies at Samford University. She is a native of the Birmingham area. As a staunch believer in service to the community, Ms. Turner is an active member of the Birmingham Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta as well as the Junior League of Birmingham. She resides in the Birmingham area surrounded by the love of her proud parents, six siblings, and a large extended family. Her hobbies include music and world travels.


Dr. Donna Turner

External Evaluator, Spectrum Red

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Dr. Donna P. Turner is an External Evaluator with Spectrum Research, Evaluation, and Development (SpectrumRED) and she is the lead External Evaluator for the GEAR UP Alabama and GEAR UP Birmingham Projects– two multimillion dollar grants awarded to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the Birmingham City School System.  She is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and attended the Birmingham City School System. She taught science in the Birmingham City School System for 14 years before leaving in 2007 to complete her graduate studies.  She worked as an Assistant Professor through the SciTeach Grant at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Prior to this position, Dr. Turner worked as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at The University for the National Study of Education in Undergraduate Science, a six-million-dollar grant that focused on the critical needs in teaching undergraduate science to diverse majors with emphasis on the preparation and long-term development of pre-service, undergraduate, K-6 teachers of science.  Dr. Turner also served as a data collection specialist for the Alliance for Physics Excellence (APEX) grant for Alabama A&M University and The University of Alabama.  She has a published article in Research Based Undergraduate Science Teaching and has presented several times at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST).  Prior to her current position, she was the former Project Coordinator for GEAR UP Birmingham.

Dr. Turner earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) in December 2011 and her Ed.S. in Science Education from the University of Alabama (Birmingham) in 2000.  She earned her Master’s and Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Alabama A&M University.

Dr. Turner is a member of More Than Conquerors Faith Church under the leadership of Pastor Steve Green.  She is also serves as a Board Member for Girls, Inc. Dr. Turner is an active member of the Omicron Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.   She enjoys reading, art and jazz, and she loves spending quality time with her beautiful daughter, Genesis.

One of her favorite quotes:

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” John Dewey


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