Who Are We?

Who Are We

Inquisitive, action-oriented, and engaged in constant improvement

At Envision Learning Partners we share the same goal of transforming the educational experience with our educational division, Envision Schools, but we seek to do so on a larger, national scale. Envision Schools has transformed the lives of a diverse range of students over the last decade – including most of whom will be the first in their family to graduate from college – by engaging them as learners and preparing them for their futures.

As educators ourselves, we’ve been in the trenches, developing and teaching the Envision model, and we’re driven to create the kind of excellent educational environments that support deeper learning, because we passionately believe, and have the results to show for it, that by engaging students today, they become lifelong learners capable of navigating the world around them for the rest of their lives. We’re committed to ensuring that all K-12 schools can prepare students adequately for success in the world that lies beyond their doors – in college, in careers, and in life and build this capacity in classrooms, schools and districts across the country.

While we may be separate from Envision Schools, Envision Learning Partners is not run as an entirely independent entity – our team not only has its roots in the Envision teaching and learning approach, we continue to collaborate closely and cross pollinate with Envision’s instructional leaders – and this is what contributes to our magic and keeps us actively learning right along with you. We’re genuinely excited about what we do, and the ongoing opportunities for transformation it brings–both to us, and the innovative educators we work with, at Envision, and beyond.

Learn more about our team, and what motivates us, by clicking on our pictures below.

Justin Wells

Abby Benedetto

Rachel Maida

Suzanne Malek

Sunny Zhang

Rachel Maida, Program and Operations Senior Manager

Rachel Maida embarked on her journey at Envision Schools in 2006 as a 9th and 10th grade English teacher at City Arts and Technology High School in San Francisco. Prior to joining the founding team of Envision Learning Partners she oversaw a highly successful reading intervention program at all three Envision Schools. She also served as an advisor, BTSA coach and testing coordinator.

Prior to coming to Envision, Rachel taught 9th and 11th grade Humanities and a mixed level film class at High Tech High Bayshore in Redwood City. Rachel has a CA teaching credential in English, is a certified Read Right trainer and received her BA in English and Film Studies at UC Santa Barbara.


Symon Hayes, Deeper Learning Coach

Symon Hayes has 20 years of experience as an educator, teacher educator and coach. He began his career as a freelance artist and moved into education after the collaboration with students and disabled young adults on art projects sparked his intrigue with the power of creativity and it’s impact on learning and development. After graduating from the University of West of England with a Bachelors Degree, he taught language arts, drama, and art within the Special Education Department of a secondary school in South Wales for seven years.

Symon moved to USA in 2000 to teach Middle School in Vail, Colorado and served as the building Instructional coach and then as district coach for secondary schools. In 2007 he joined Expeditionary Learning as a coach and facilitator of professional development. Symon moved to Oakland in June 2012 and joined Envision Learning Partners as Director of Professional Development. He coaches and supports teachers in the Bay Area and other districts as they implement performance based assessment.


Justin Wells, Executive Director

As the founding English teacher of Envision’s first school, Justin helped develop Envision’s graduation portfolio and defense system. For six years, he led teacher teams in the design and implementation of semester-long, multi-disciplinary projects that drew recognition, media coverage, and research attention from ABC News, KQED, Stanford University, the Oracle Education Foundation, and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Recently, Justin served as the associate research director for performance assessment at the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE), where, among other Common Core transition projects, he designed the prototype performance tasks for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). Justin recently co-authored, along with Bob Lenz and Sally Kingston, a new book about the Envision education model: Transforming Schools Using Project-Based Learning, Performance Assessment, and Common Core Standards (Wiley, January 2015).


Suzanne Malek, Deeper Learning Coach

Bio coming!


Ben Kornell, Executive Director

As of December 2015, Ben is the Executive Director of Envision Learning Partners and is in charge of overseeing our district and school partnerships around the country. He originally came to Envision in 2013, as the Chief Operating Officer. In that capacity, he led Envision’s business operations including finance, technology, HR, operations, and growth. Mr. Kornell previously worked as a strategist and operations director at DaVita, a Fortune 500 healthcare company. He taught for four years in San Jose as a Teach for America Corps member and alumnus and held operations positions at SFUSD and Leadership Public Schools. Mr. Kornell was recognized with Education Pioneer’s Action Award and DaVita’s National Service Excellence Award. He holds an A.B. in History and Literature with a Spanish minor from Harvard College, and both a Master’s in Education and an M.B.A. from Stanford University.


Sunny Zhang, Special Projects Coordinator

Bio coming soon!


Abby Benedetto, Deeper Learning Coach

In June of 2016, Abby once again joined Envision Learning Partners as a Deeper Learning Coach, coming to us after many years teaching English/Language Arts and Literature at both our Hayward and San Francisco schools. This is a return to ELP, as she was part of the original founding team in 2010 before moving over to Impact Academy’s English Department.

Abby shares her expertise, energy and enthusiasm with ELP partner districts and schools, and in particular, her focus on on strategic literacy instruction to help students build critical skills. She enjoys supporting teachers around the country who are interested in implementing performance assessment into their classrooms.