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MEET OUR STAFF

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BRANDON WALKER

President

Brandon Walker is an educator who specializes in math remediation and making STEM education
accessible to all learners. A product of both public and highly competitive private schools, he is
intimately attuned to how access to resources can impact a student’s trajectory. After being identified
as a talented student with significant gaps in his learning during middle school, he participated and was
forever changed by a program like The Summer Institute during high school. After securing an academic
scholarship to one of the most prestigious academic secondary schools in the nation, he was able to see
the disparity that existed between high and low-performing schools. From boarding school, he went on
to receive his undergraduate degree in Psychology, Statistics and African American Studies at Purdue
University and ultimately a Master’s in Clinical Psychology from the University of Detroit-Mercy. After
experiencing firsthand the benefits of academic enrichment programming in under-resourced
communities, his life work has been centered on the life changing power of putting education in the
hands of students that are hungry to make their dreams a reality. In addition to his capacity as Executive
Director of The Summer Institute, he is also the Algebra Teacher for Presbyterian School of Houston.

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DARNELL CLEARY

Vice President & Wellness Director

Darnell Cleary was first introduced to the benefit of academic enrichment and support beyond the
classroom through his experience with Horizons Upward Bound, a program he attended during high
school. This program afforded him the opportunity to step outside an environment lacking resources
and into one of abundance. Recognizing the impact of this program on the trajectory of his own life and
the need that still exists, Darnell is impassioned to invest his time, effort, and experience into
under-served and under-resourced Houston communities. Darnell serves as Treasurer and Wellness Director for The Summer Institute. A strong believer in the importance of comprehensive wellness, Darnell developed a wraparound program emphasizing physical, social, emotional, and spiritual wellness as necessary components to the success and development of each student. As a natural coach, he brings this mindset into the classroom to create an environment
that balances grace and truth to inspire his department and his students to reach their full potential. He
utilizes his experience as an entrepreneur, his economics degree and studies of finance and accounting
at the University of Michigan to add value to the financial position of The Summer Institute. Darnell also
works as a PE teacher and middle school coach and serves as a member of the Wellness Department at
Presbyterian School. He is active in his church community, serving as an elder and youth committee leader
at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church.

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KELSEY PEDERSEN

Board Secretary & Writing Department Chair

Kelsey Pedersen serves TSI as both the English Chair and Board Secretary. The program benefits from
her background as communications consultant, experience as an Admissions Director for Episcopal
School of Los Angeles and her love for helping students discover and refine their strengths and values
through writing. Kelsey graduated from Rice University cum laude, where she majored in English and
Sociology.

BRENTON SMITH

Spirituality Instructor

LESLIE UKANDU

Social-Emotional Learning Instructor

TRACI CALLENDER

Coding Instructor

  

GOLDEN CORNER

Physical Wellness Instructor

 

SUMMER PROGRAM