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Meet the Staff


Dr. Anatoli Rapoport – Program Director

Anatoli Rapoport is Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at Purdue University College of Education. Before he received Ph. D. in Social Studies Education, he had worked as classroom teacher and school administrator. Since 2003, Anatoli has been active in international educational programs. He organized and coordinated programs for teachers(Partners in Education, Civic Mosaics, Teachers to Teachers, Teaching Excellence and Achievement) and students (Educational Maymester in Russia, Educational Maymester in Northern Europe).

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Dr. Asta Balkute – Program Administrator

Dr. Balkute is an assistant director for the James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship. Her expertise is in civic education. Born and raised in Lithuania, Dr. Balkute is a former elementary school teacher with strong emphasis on social justice and education for democratic citizenship. At Purdue University, Dr. Balkute taught undergraduate courses in social studies methods and introductory course to education. She also has been involved in different international exchage programs at Purdue University and Europe. Prior to her Purdue experiences, she worked with teachers on civic education in Finland, Slovenia, Latvia and other European Countries. Today, she provides professional development on civic education, mentors Purdue Student Organization, and focuses on research examining construction of civic identity, technology use in social studies classrooms and integration of social studies within other content areas.  


Sarah Powley – Homestay Coordinator

Sarah Powley is an Instructional Coach with the Tippecanoe School Corporation. Formerly the English Department Chair at McCutcheon High School, Sarah was the founder and co-sponsor of the International Club, an extra-curricular organization that provides high school students with opportunities to learn about other countries and cultures and to carry out international service projects. For three years, Sarah led a student exchange program with a secondary school in Russia and has served frequently as the public school liaison for international educator exchanges at Purdue. She has traveled in Africa and Europe


Nastaran Karimi - Mentor

I am Nastaran Karimi (a.k.a Nassi) and I am currently doing my PH.D. in Curriculum Studies at Purdue University. I am originally from Iran but I have lived in multiple countries including the U.S., England, Australia, and Dubai. I have taught a variety of courses in different contexts. At Purdue University, I have taught Exploring Teaching as Career and Multicultural Education to undergraduate students in the College of Education, and Teaching and Pedagogy to visiting scholars from Afghanistan. My academic interests include, international education, islamophobia, and postcolonial theory. Besides academics, I love group sports (volleyball's my favorite). reading, and watching movies. Looking forward to meeting you all.


Erin Vaughn – Mentor

Erin comes from the University of Nevada, Reno with a B.S. in Elementary and Special Education and an M.A. in Literacy Studies.  She taught elementary school for six years in Reno, Nevada including special education resource K-6th grade, 2nd grade team teaching, and two years in 4thgrade.  Erin has a strong interest in social justice education research, plans to obtain her Ph.D. in 2016 and eventually teach pre-service teachers in the areas of literacy and social studies


Illeana Cortes Santiago - Mentor

Ileana is a Ph.D. student in Literacy and Language Education (strand: English Education) at Purdue University. Currently, she teaches multiculturalism at the undergraduate level and is a graduate assistant with the Butler Center for Leadership Excellence on campus. Her research interests include Latino/a family literacy, English Language Learning, English teacher preparation, and multiculturalism. A teacher at heart, she enjoys working with and developing literacy initiatives that bring together underrepresented families and educators.

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Crystal Schalliol  - Residence Assistant/Mentor

Crystal Schalliol is an Eight Grade Science Teacher, Middle School Girls Basketball Coach, and Middle School Track and Feld Coach on the Navajo Reservation in Ganado, Arizona. Crystal in an Elementary Education (Reading Specialist) 2012 Purdue Alumni. She worked as a summer camp counselor at Purdue University for 7 years. This is her second year with the BFTF program as the female residential assistant and looks forward to planning the daily dorm life, social, and free-time activities for the fellows. BOILER UP!

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Brian Schalliol - Residence Assistant/Mentor

Brian Schalliol is a Seventh Grade Social Studies Teacher and High School Varsity Football Coach on the Navajo Reservation in Ganado, Arizona. Brian is a Purdue Alumni in Social Studies Education 2012 and bleeds black and gold (Purdue colors)! Now he is an 8th grade social stduies teacher. Brian has worked at Purdue University in a viareity of student programs for 8 plus years. This will be his first year with the BFTF program and he will serve as athe male residential assistant. He lookds forward to meeting and working with all amazing young minds from around the worlds. Go Boilers!


Stephen Smith - Mentor

Stephen is currently working on his master's degree in English Education. His research centers around the value of young adult literature in education. He earned a B.A. in English Education from Purdue University in 2004 and then taught 8th grade at Tecumseh Junior High School in Lafayette before pursuing his master's degree full time in 2013. He is also the varsity boys tennis coach at Lafayette Jefferson High School and serves as the social media chair and the 5th vice president for the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association.

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 Mihai Sochirca - Mentor

My name is MIhai Sochirca, and I am a proud Modovan Alumnus of Purdue BFTF 2013. The 2013 experience has influenced my life-giving me guidance and confidence in a future, directing my enthusiasm and energy in creating and consolidating a community of friends back home with the goal of identifying and finding solutions to the problems of our society. Moldova is a relatively young country (getting it's independence from the USSR in 1991) and we are facing a lot of challenges. This is my motto for BFTF2013 WAS - "Be the citizen you want your country to have!" I strongly advice everybody to think about these words and try to understand what does being a citizen of a certain country mean to him.


Jay Rodriguez - Mentor

Hello! My name is Jay Rodriguez and Iam a fifth year senior studying Social Studies Education. I am student teaching in the fall and am really excited to be working with all the fellows this summer! My main interests are in Sociology and American History. I am also passionate and music lover. Can't wait to work with everyone.


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 Jeff Spanke - Mentor

Hello! My name is Jeff Spanke, and I just graduated with my Ph.D. in English Education. I'm a former High School English teacher who loves movies, sports, art, food, reading, exercising, and lists of all kinds! For the past three years, I have worked for Purdue's Gifted Education Resource Institute and now am seeking to light out for my own territory. I look forward to working with BFTF this summer, ad I have always loved learning about history, citizenship, cultural narratives, and human progress.