Our School Leaders

Rickie Yudin, Principal

Rickie Yudin became Namaste’s principal in July 2014 after previously serving as the school’s Director of School Culture & Wellness and Elementary School Instructional Leader. Prior to coming to Namaste, Mr. Yudin was an Assistant Principal and fifth grade writing and sixth grade science teacher at KIPP Austin College Prep. Mr. Yudin received his B.A. in Economics and History with a minor in Spanish from Vanderbilt University. Mr. Yudin began his teaching career as a Teach for America Corps Member in Las Vegas, where he taught first and second grades and third and fourth grade reading intervention. He received his Master of Education degree in Elementary Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Mr. Yudin’s leadership experiences include: Project Leader for Wiki-Teacher.com, a website for teachers to share their collective intelligence through their resources, insights, and practices; Member of the New Teacher Induction Program Cadre; and Co-founder of EdTogether.org, a community-based education interest group serving as an advocate for students in the Las Vegas Valley.

Allison Slade, Founder and Executive Director

Over the past two decades, Allison Slade has served as a teacher, professional developer, mentor and curriculum designer in urban and suburban settings. She is a certified teacher and administrator and prior to opening Namaste, worked as a literacy specialist, providing professional development workshops and in-classroom coaching and mentoring for Chicago Public Schools teachers. Ms. Slade began her career teaching Kindergarten in inner city Houston as a Teach for America corps member, a challenging and rewarding experience that set her on the path to founding Namaste Charter School. Ms. Slade has consulted and presented for the Illinois State Multicultural and Diversity Conference, Boundless Readers (formerly The Rochelle Lee Fund), and National Louis University and served as an assessor for the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Washington University in St. Louis and Master’s degree in Education Policy from the University of Chicago’s Harris School as a McCormick Tribune Fellow. She completed her Type 75 administrative credential through Loyola University Chicago. Ms. Slade currently serves as one of 38 nationwide ambassadors for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Kecia Franklin Clark, Middle School Instructional Leader

Kecia Clark joined the Namaste team in summer 2012. Mrs. Clark earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of the District of Columbia and completed her graduate course work at Trinity University specializing in Special Education. Mrs. Clark discovered a love for teaching, specifically in urban areas, while volunteering at an elementary school during college. Mrs. Clark has been an educator for over 10 years with extensive experience in Special Education settings, as well as middle school and high school math, and adult education. Mrs. Clark began her teaching career in SE Washington, D.C. and then taught in her hometown of Miami, Florida. Prior to joining the Namaste family, she worked for six years at KIPP Schools in Houston, Texas and the Chicago metropolitan area. In addition to teaching, Mrs. Clark has served in many leadership roles including Saturday School Coordinator, Learning Specialist, Mentor Teacher, and Math Coach.

John Paul Arellano, Elementary Instructional Leader

John Paul Arellano joined the Namaste staff in the summer of 2013. Mr. Arellano earned his Bachelor’s degree in Chicano Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles and received his bilingual credential from San Diego State’s BCLAD program. He comes from San Diego, California, where he taught elementary school for six years in a dual language setting at a progressive charter school.   In addition to his experience as a dual language teacher, he spent his time as a member of the Instructional Leadership Team, where he organized and implemented school-wide and district-wide professional development sessions focusing on the Common Core Standards and student discourse. Mr. Arellano’s work focuses on a student-centered humanistic approach to instruction and the power of student voice and dialogue in reaching clarity of thought. His work in this area was published in the 2012 edition of Teaching to Change the World and his videos of student dialogue have been used as examples of best practices in the area of language acquisition in the State of California.

Allison Isaacson Lipsman, Director of Development

Allison Lipsman oversees Namaste Charter School’s fundraising and communications initiatives as Director of Development, a position she has held since June 2009. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and her Master’s degree in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago. Ms. Lipsman was a Teach for America corps member in the Chicago Public Schools.