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Kai-Lewis Close-Up - 7 September

Abimbola Cole
Kai-Lewis, PhD

Award-Winning Ethnomusicologist & Educator

I’m a world-traveling, church choir-singing ethnomusicologist and educator who’s honed my skills at:


  • Harlem’s storied Apollo Theater in the Programming Department and as a member of the School Programs Advisory Committee.

  • The Philadelphia Folklore Project by coordinating Folk Arts Education initiatives and supporting organizational programs.

  • UCLA’s Department of Ethnomusicology, where I earned a PhD, through teaching undergraduate classes and digitizing archival collections as a bibliographer.

  • The New York City Department of Education as a classroom teacher and former Teaching Fellow in Brooklyn, New York, my beloved hometown.

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art through creating social justice art tours and units as part of  its Professional Learning Community.

Musical Interests

African American Music

African Popular Music

Hip Hop Culture


Fordham University

Liberty Partnerships Program

Summer Quest ELA Teacher

Bronx, NY

  • Designed curricula for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students

  • Developed grade-level reading and writing assignments

  • Taught two classes over the course of the two-month program

Park Place Community 

Middle School

Special Education Teacher

Brooklyn, NY

  • Partnered with co-teachers to innovate 6th, 7th, and 8th grade science instruction

  • Integrated experiential learning into the Humanities curricula for students in a 12:1+1 classroom setting

  • Co-facilitated the Lyric Lab hip-hop elective with Ray Ramirez, a community activist and lyricist

  • Coordinated IEP meetings and generated student data reports for analysis of student progress and performance

  • Scored the state ELA and Science assessments; Administer New York State Alternate Assessments

  • Planned virtual schoolwide social emotional activities with members of the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) team

Community Partnership Charter School

Special Education Coordinator

Brooklyn, NY

  • Collaborated with members of the Committee on Special Education (CSE) to prepare IEPs for students 

  • Facilitated SETSS sessions for students in Kindergarten through Fourth Grade based on academic curricula and data

  • Scheduled related services for students with 4 service providers (Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Social Worker, and Speech Pathologist) and 3 paraprofessionals

  • Administered assessments including NYSAA, NYSESLAT, and NYSITELL

  • Completed Per Pupil Billing spreadsheets identifying the specific services and budgetary allocations for each student with special needs

  • Responded to teacher inquiries about students with disabilities through e-mails, office hours, staff newsletter entries, and workshops

  • Arranged 504 accommodations for students for assessments in conjunction with the 504 Committee

University of California

Department of Ethnomusicology

Teaching Assistant

Los Angeles, CA

  • Developed curricula and assignments

  • Facilitated weekly class discussions

  • Supplemented lectures delivered by the professor

  • Administered and proctored examinations

  • Advised students during office hours

Public/Intermediate School 66

Special Education Teacher

Brooklyn, NY

  • Collaborated with General Education teachers in Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) classrooms; ensured lessons were properly modified to meet diverse needs

  • Led the Response to Intervention (RTI) team; identified students requiring additional academic support through appropriate Tier 1, 2, and 3 interventions; designed unit assessments based on the instructional content 

  • Facilitated professional development sessions about the arts, classroom instruction and personal ethnomusicological research 

Public/Middle School 4

Special Education Teacher

Bronx, NY

  • Collaborated with General Education teachers to develop assessments, curricula, and lesson plans for students

  • Analyzed student data from assessments to determine areas requiring further reinforcement through reteaching content

  • Provided differentiated small group instruction for students in ELA and Math

  • Partnered with members of the Special Education Team to create IEPs for students with special needs

  • Served as the Music and Vocal Director for the Broadway Junior afterschool program 

  • Administered NYSAA for students in 5th, 7th, and 8th grades

NYCDOE Department of Online & Blended Learning

WeTeachNYC Advisory Team Member

New York, NY

  • Analyzed features of the WeTeachNYC website and shared feedback during group meetings, phone conferences, and web conferences

  • Recommended components that enhanced the appearance, functionality and usability of the website 

  • Reviewed elements added to WeTeachNYC such as lesson plans, student activities, unit plans and videos

Online Learning Facilitator

New York, NY

  • Facilitated online trainings about Literacy and the Common Core Standards for middle school General Education and Special Education teachers

  • Evaluated participant involvement and progress through online postings and assignment completion 

  • Coached participants through the featured course modules, clarified content, and responded to questions

Arts Programming

Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc. 

Program Assistant

New York, NY

  • Maintained correspondence between the Director of Programming and various program participants 

  • Assisted in coordinating departmental events and programs

  • Organized administrative files

Archive Project Assistant

New York, NY

  • Inventoried collateral materials, colorized photographs, compact discs, DVDs, and miscellaneous ephemera

  • Worked with Apollo staff and archival consultants to arrange materials in the offsite and onsite storage spaces

  • Surveyed and inventoried audiovisual materials

  • Prepared signage for the Apollo Theater’s 75th Anniversary Open House

  • Coordinated meetings between archiving partners at The Winthrop Group and Apollo Theater Foundation staff members

Philadelphia Folklore Project

Program Associate

Philadelphia, PA

Folk Arts Education

  • Drafted contracts and invoices for teaching artists in the Folk Arts
    Education program


  • Observed classroom progress and met with teaching artists to discuss
    program development


  • Partnered with the Director and school staff to plan professional development sessions for teaching artists

  • Documented teaching artist residencies using digital photography
    and video recording


  • Organized school wide concerts and performances

Public Programs

  • Facilitated workshops for the African American Storytelling Workshop and Tatreez (Palestinian Needlework) Workshop

Technical Assistance

  • Drafted agendas for Community Folklife Documentation Workshop
    (CFDW) sessions


  • Advised CFDW participants about their research and projects


Written Works & 


Check out some of my written works, articles, and publications regarding ethnomusicology and social/cultural behavior

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