NHli Team

Ellen Hume-Howard, Executive Director

Ellen Hume-Howard joined The New Hampshire Learning Initiative (NHLI) in August of 2017 as its Executive Director. In this role, she supports NHLI’s vision to assist New Hampshire schools and districts to deepen their innovative practices in education and improve learning for all students.

Before joining NHLI, Ellen worked as the director of curriculum for the Sanborn Regional School District, and for the past decade, has guided the district’s research, design, and implementation of a nationally-recognized K-12 competency-based learning system.

Since 2014, Ellen has also worked with state and national experts to design a competency assessment program using performance assessment for state accountability. This project, New Hampshire Performance Assessment of Competency Education, is a first-of-its-kind accountability and assessment waiver granted by the U.S. Department of Education. Ellen currently serves as the Curriculum Director for the project.  

Ellen has served on the Advisory Council for the Center for Innovation in Education at the University of Kentucky. Ellen was also recognized in 2012 by the NH Association of School Administrators and received the prestigious Outstanding Service Award. 

Ellen received her undergraduate degree from the University of New Hampshire. She also has a master’s degree in Education and CAGS degree in Educational Leadership.

Jon Vander Els, Director of Innovative Projects

Jonathan G. Vander Els is Director of Innovative Projects for NHli. In this role, Jonathan works directly in schools to support teachers and administrators as they integrate personalized approaches to learning in a competency-based system.

Formerly, Jonathan was principal of Memorial Elementary School in Sanborn Regional School District in New Hampshire. Under his leadership, Memorial became a nationally recognized model professional learning community (PLC) on All Things PLC (allthingsplc.info) and competency-based learning elementary school.  Jonathan is a Solution Tree PLC Associate and Author, and his book, Breaking With Tradition: The Shift to Competency-Based Learning in PLCs, co-written with Brian Stack, is scheduled for release in late September.

Jonathan has consulted, coached, and presented throughout the United States on building highly effective PLCs, implementing competency-based learning, and developing rigorous performance assessments. He is involved in the New Hampshire Performance Assessment of Competency Education, a first-of-its-kind accountability and assessment waiver granted by the U.S. Department of Education. Jonathan has also led the State of New Hampshire’s efforts around integrating skills and dispositions into classroom curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

Jonathan has an education specialist degree from the University of New Hampshire in educational administration and supervision, a master’s in elementary education, a bachelor’s in history, and is certified as a superintendent, principal, and teacher. Jonathan is currently enrolled at the University of New Hampshire in their Ph. D. program.  Jonathan lives with his wife and three children on the New Hampshire Seacoast. You can follow Jon via Twitter @jvanderels.