About the 2018 Presenters
Learn valuable information on the latest reading research and effective strategies that increase student success.
This page is updated frequently.
Kristin Anderson is the director of professional learning at Corwin Press. Kristin began her career as a high school English teacher for students who were kicked out of Denver Public Schools. Since then, she has worked in multiple K–12 settings in various instructional and administrative roles, and has obtained advanced degrees from Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas, University of Denver, and University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. She is a longtime student of the field, a passionate educator, and an inspirational leader. She is a Visible Learning trainer for John Hattie. Kristin is the author of Data Teams Success Stories Volume 1, Real Time Decisions, and Getting Started with Rigorous Curriculum Design. She worked for several years delivering and designing professional development for Edison Schools and The Leadership and Learning Center.
Anita Archer, Ph.D., recipient of ten Outstanding Educator awards, serves as an educational consultant to state departments, county agencies, and school districts on explicit instruction and literacy instruction. She has taught elementary and middle school students and has served on the faculties of San Diego State University, the University of Washington, and the University of Oregon. She is nationally known for her presentations and publications on instructional procedures and literacy instruction and has co-authored numerous curriculum materials with Mary Gleason including REWARDS PLUS, REWARDS Writing and Skills for School Success. Most recently, Anita wrote a textbook on explicit instruction with Charles Hughes entitled Explicit Instruction: Effective and Efficient Teaching (Guilford, 2011).
Nancy Boyles, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita at Southern Connecticut State University where she was professor of reading and Graduate Reading Program coordinator. Prior to that, she was a classroom teacher for many years. Nancy currently consults with districts and other organizations and agencies, providing workshops, modeling best practices in classrooms, and assisting with curriculum development. She is the author of two books on close reading: Closer Reading, Grades 3-6: Better Prep, Smarter Lessons, Deeper Comprehension (Corwin 2014), and Lessons and Units for Closer Reading (Corwin 2015). Her book with close reading lessons and units for the primary grades will be released soon. Nancy has also written six other books: Teaching Written Response to Text, Constructing Meaning through Kid-Friendly Comprehension Strategy Instruction, Hands-On Literacy Coaching, That’s a GREAT Answer, Launching RTI Comprehension Instruction with Shared Reading, and Rethinking Small Group Instruction in the Intermediate Grades. In her spare time, Nancy enjoys spending time at her little beach house on Cape Cod.
Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan, Ph.D., is a bilingual speech language pathologist and a certified academic language therapist. She holds a doctorate degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She is the President of Valley Speech Language and Learning Center in Brownsville, Texas and is an Associate Research Professor for the Texas Institute for Measurement Evaluation and Statistics at the University of Houston. Elsa’s research interests include the development of early reading assessments for Spanish-speaking students in addition to the development of reading interventions for bilingual students. She was the co-principal investigator of a longitudinal study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Institute for Education Science, examining the oracy and literacy development in English and Spanish of Spanish-speaking children. Elsa currently serves as the Vice Chairperson of the International Dyslexia Association, Chairperson of the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities and was a past board member of the National Academic Language Therapy Association. She has authored curricular programs, book chapters, and journal articles related to oracy and literacy development for English language learners.
Hugh Catts, Ph.D., is director of the College of Communication and Information at Florida State University. His research interests include the early identification and prevention of language-based reading disabilities. He is currently a investigator on two projects funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. One project involves a five-year longitudinal study designed to increase our understanding of the role of language skills in reading comprehension, and knowledge on ways to effectively increase reading comprehension through systematic classroom-based instruction. The project involves a consortium of researchers from the Florida State University, University of Kansas, Ohio State University, University of Nebraska, Lancaster University (England), and Arizona State University. In the other project, Hugh and his research team are examining the effectiveness of Response to Intervention as a framework for the identification of kindergarten children at risk for reading disabilities.
Christie Cavanaugh, Ph.D., has been an educator for more than 3 decades, teaching in early childhood settings (including early intervention, early childhood special education, and child care), special education in elementary grades, and higher education as an assistant professor and researcher. She has spent much of her career preparing future teachers and providing ongoing professional development to educators in the areas of language and literacy, with a particular focus on at-risk children and families as well as high-need schools in various contexts. She continues this work currently as an educational consultant working with early childhood programs, schools, districts, and state departments to improve reading instruction, elevate student outcomes, and support schools in their efforts to implement research-based practice, which parallel her research interests. In addition, Christie has maintained involvement in projects through reading research centers and has written and presented nationally. Along with another colleague, she is currently engaged in the development of a streamlined set of reading intervention strategies for classroom teachers to implement.
Peter DeWitt, Ed.D., is a former K-5 teacher (11 years) and principal (8 years). He was the 2013 School Administrators Association of New York State’s Outstanding Educator of the Year, and the 2015 Education Blogger of the Year (Academy of Education Arts & Sciences). Currently, he provides professional development on creating inclusive school environments, collaborative leadership and student engagement. Working nationally and internationally, Peter is a Visible Learning trainer for John Hattie, instructional coach for Jim Knight, and is on the board of the Teacher Voice and Aspirations International Center (TVAIC). Peter is the author and co-author of several books, which include Dignity for All: Safeguarding LGBT Students (2012), School Climate Change (ASCD), Flipping Leadership Doesn’t Mean Reinventing the Wheel (Corwin Press), and Collaborative Leadership: 6 Influences That Matter Most (Corwin Press). He is the series editor for the Connected Educator Series (Corwin Press) and the Impact Series (Corwin Press).
Linda Diamond is president and founder of the Consortium for Reaching Excellence in Education (CORE, Inc.), a PReK-12 professional learning organization focusing on literacy with an emphasis on reading, and mathematics. Linda previously served as a public school teacher, a principal, and director of instruction, staff development, and assessment for a K–12 school district. After leaving public schools, she was a senior policy analyst in an educational think tank, with an emphasis on school to career, charter schools, and school reform. Linda is co-author of CORE’s Teaching Reading Sourcebook, Assessing Reading: Multiple Measures and CORE’s Vocabulary Handbook. She is known for her work in challenging school districts with vulnerable populations.
Steve Dykstra, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he has worked in public sector community mental health for more than 25 years. He is a founding member of the Wisconsin Reading Coalition, and vice president of the Coalition for Reading Excellence, but he has never tutored or taught a child to read. Except for parts of one or two courses in graduate school, he has no formal training on the topic. Instead, through the course of his work and life, he has come to see the role of reading, reading struggles, and reading failure in the lives of the thousands of children he has served, as well as in their families, schools, and communities. Building on knowledge and training he sought for himself, he brings together the science of reading he has discovered, with the lessons he has learned from the children he serves, and what he knows about people to understand how we got to where we are, and how we might change that. Steve is a member of the advisory board of the International Foundation of Effective Reading Instruction.
Linda Farrell, MBA, M.Ed., is a founding partner at Readsters, where she is immersed in the world of beginning and struggling readers. Linda designs and presents workshops, writes books, and develops instructional materials for effective reading instruction. She has coauthored several publications with her business partner, Michael Hunter, including Phonics Plug-In, Phonics Blitz, Phonics Boost, and the Diagnostic Decoding Surveys. She is also a coauthor of the Teaching Reading Essentials Program Guide and Coach’s Guide (coauthored with Louisa Moats), and DIBELS: the Practical Manual. Linda was a National LETRS Trainer for seven years. Linda has been presenting workshops and giving speeches on reading instruction throughout the country since 2000. She taught junior high English and was a high school and elementary school counselor. However, it was only when Linda volunteered to teach adults to read that she understood older struggling readers’ needs for explicit phonics and phonemic awareness instruction at the most basic levels. Linda keeps her skills fresh and innovative by working with struggling readers of all ages whenever she has time.
Enrique Hank Feldman
Enrique C. Feldman is the founder and director of education for the Global Learning Foundation, a foundation that helps learners of all ages reimagine learning through organic, play-based, and research-based strategies. A two-time Grammy nominated composer and artist, Enrique is known for his innovation in combining movement and music with literacy education. These rooted-in-research, play-based, and joy-filled approaches lead to students’ increased desire to learn, to read, and to explore their own curiosity. Enrique is regarded as an inventive educator, and co-created the children’s book Sam the Ant with his co-author and daughter Sam Sierra-Feldman. As a speaker, Enrique is known for his innovative and physically active style that ignites curiosity. He cares deeply about teachers and their work with young kids, and he provides teachers with real-time tools to use in their classrooms.
Jack M. Fletcher, Ph.D., is a Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Houston. For the past 30 years, Jack, a board-certified child neuropsychologist, has worked on issues related to child neuropsychology, including studies of children with spina bifida, traumatic brain injury, and other acquired disorders. In the area of developmental learning and attention disorders, Jack has addressed issues related to definition and classification, neurobiological correlates, and most recently, intervention. Jack directs a Learning Disability Research Center grant and a long-term study involving genetic, neuroimaging, and neuropsychological factors in spina bifida, both funded by the National Institute of Child health and Human Development. He served on the NICHD National Advisory Council, the Rand Reading Study Group, the National Research Council Committee on Scientific Principles in Education Research, and the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education. The author of 3 books and over 350 papers, Jack was the recipient of the Samuel T. Orton award from the International Dyslexia Association in 2003 and a co-recipient of the Albert J. Harris award from the International Reading Association in 2006. He is the Past President of the International Neuropsychological Society.
Howard Fuller, Ph.D., is a distinguished professor of education, and founder/director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University. The mission of the Institute is to support exemplary education options that transform learning for children, while empowering families, particularly low-income families, to choose the best options for their children. Immediately before his appointment at Marquette University, Howard served as the Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools. Prior positions include director of the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services, dean of general education at the Milwaukee Area Technical College, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Employment Relations, and associate director of the Educational Opportunity Program at Marquette University. He was also a senior fellow with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. Howard serves on the board of the Milwaukee Collegiate Academy, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, the Milwaukee Region Board of Teach for America, the Milwaukee Charter School Advocates, and Education Cities. He is an advisory board member of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the National Association for Charter School Authorizers, and the recipient of four honorary doctorate degrees.
Margie B. Gillis, Ed.D., is a research affiliate at Fairfield University and Haskins Laboratories, and a Certified Academic Language Therapist. She is also the founder and president of Literacy How, Inc. in North Haven, CT that provides professional development opportunities for teachers on how best to implement evidence-based reading practices in the classroom. Margie became interested in reading while at the University of Connecticut where she studied with Isabelle Liberman. She received her doctorate from the University of Louisville in Special Education where she began her work training teachers of reading. As president of Literacy How and as a Research Affiliate at both Fairfield University and Haskins Laboratories, she creates new opportunities to empower teaching excellence. In 2010, she founded the Anne E. Fowler Foundation to continue the work of her mentor Anne Fowler. The Foundation supports scholarships for teachers to earn their Masters or Sixth Year degree in Reading and Language Development at Fairfield University. Margie has also worked at the policy level with the CT state legislature and the Connecticut State Department of Education to pass bills that support evidence-based reading instruction and policies that support the identification and treatment of dyslexia. She is the co-founder and former president of Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, former president of the CT Branch of the International Dyslexia Society, a board member of the Dyslexia Society of CT and New Alliance Foundation, and an executive board member of the Academic Language Therapy Association.
Ross W. Greene, Ph.D., is the originator of the innovative, empirically-supported approach now known as Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS), as described in his influential books Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child (2016), The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated (2014, 1998), Lost at School (2014), Lost & Found (2016), and Chronically Inflexible Children (1998). Ross has worked with several thousand behaviorally challenging kids and their families, and he and his colleagues have overseen implementation and evaluation of the CPS model in hundreds of schools, inpatient psychiatry units, and residential and juvenile detention facilities, with dramatic effect: significant reductions in discipline referrals, detentions, suspensions, and use of restraint procedures and solitary confinement. He has infused the parenting and teaching of all kids with humanity, empathy, and compassion. Ross was on the faculty at Harvard Medical School for over 20 years, and is now Founding Director of the non-profit Lives in the Balance. He is also an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech and in the Faculty of Science at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. He lectures throughout the world and lives with his family in Portland, Maine.
Susan Hall, EdD, is co-founder and president of 95 Percent Group Inc., a company that helps educators identify and address the needs of struggling readers. 95 Percent Group specializes in the use of literacy assessment data to place students in groups for tiers of intervention, as well as instructional strategies to address specific skill deficits in a MTSS framework. Susan is a nationally certified trainer of DIBELS® and LETRS®. She is author of Implementing Response to Intervention, and Jumpstart RTI, and I’ve DIBEL’d, Now What?. Susan is coauthor with Louisa Moats of three publications, Straight Talk About Reading, Parenting a Struggling Reader, and LETRS Module 7, 2nd edition.
Edward M. Hallowell
Edward (Ned) Hallowell, M.D., is a child and adult psychiatrist, a NY Times bestselling author, and a leading authority in the field of ADHD. He was a faculty member at Harvard Medical School from 1983 to 2004, graduated from Harvard College and Tulane School of Medicine, and is the founder of The Hallowell Centers for Cognitive and Emotional Health in Boston MetroWest, New York City, San Francisco and Seattle. Ned is the host of host of Distraction, a weekly podcast offering insights for coping and thriving in this crazy-busy, 24/7, over-connected, modern world. He has authored twenty books on various psychological topics including attention deficit disorder, the childhood roots of happiness, dealing with worry, and managing excessive busyness. His most recent book, Driven to Distraction at Work, was published in 2015 by Harvard Business Review Press. Ned has been interviewed on Oprah, Dr. Oz, Good Morning America, Today, Dr. Phil, 60 Minutes and CNN, and in many leading publications including The New York Times, Newsweek, and Time.
Jan Hasbrouck, Ph.D., is an educational consultant, trainer and researcher. She served as the executive consultant to the Washington State Reading Initiative and as an advisor to the Texas Reading Initiative. Jan worked as a reading specialist and literacy coach for 15 years before becoming a professor at the University of Oregon and later Texas A&M University. She has provided educational consulting to individual schools across the United States as well as in Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, and Germany, helping teachers and administrators design and implement effective assessment and instructional programs targeted to help low-performing readers. Her research in areas of reading fluency, reading assessment, coaching, and second language learners has been published in numerous professional books and journals. She is the author and coauthor of several books including The Reading Coach: A How-to Manual for Success, The Reading Coach 2: More Tools and Strategies for Student-Focused Coaches, and Educators as Physicians: Using RtI Data for Effective Decision-Making as well as several assessment tools. In 2008, she and her colleague, Vicki Gibson, partnered to form Gibson Hasbrouck & Associates, with the mission to provide high quality professional development to educators nationally and internationally.
Nancy Hennessy, M.ED, LDT-C, educational consultant and past president of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), is an experienced teacher and administrator. While in public schools, she provided leadership in the development of curriculum development and innovative programming for special needs student, a statewide revision of special education code and an award winning professional development initiative. She has delivered keynote addresses, workshops and training to educators nationally and internationally. Nancy co-authored Module 6 of LETRS, Digging for Meaning: Teaching Text Comprehension (2nd edition) with Louisa Moats, the chapter, Word Learning and Vocabulary Instruction, in Multisensory Teaching of Basic Skills (3rd edition) and served as the editor of the Spring 2012 issue of Perspectives on Language and Literacy that focused on adolescent literacy. She is a former national trainer for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) and currently serves as the Director of Academic and Professional Practices for AIM Academy. Nancy is an honorary member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society and was the 2011 recipient of IDA’s Margaret Rawson Lifetime Achievement Award and NCIDA’s 2012 June Lyday Orton Award.
Michael Hunter, M.Ed., is a founding partner of Readsters. Michael found his passion for teaching struggling readers by volunteering to teach adults to read in Washington DC. In 2001, Michael left his job as president of a concrete construction company to pursue a career helping students learn to read using the most effective methods available. Michael is co-author with his business partner, Linda Farrell, of Phonics Plug-In ONE, the Practice Packets to Fix Common Confusions, Phonics Blitz and Phonics Boost lessons, and the Diagnostic Decoding Surveys. Michael presents professional development workshops nationally and advises schools and districts on implementation of effective reading instruction. He also continues to create assessments, lessons and other materials to help beginning and struggling readers. He enjoys working with and learning from struggling readers of all ages whenever he finds time. Michael’s work has even taken him to the Republic of Gambia and Rwanda in Africa to train and advise on early reading instruction for the Global Partnership for Education.
Jill Jackson , M.A., is the managing director and senior educational consultant at Jackson Consulting. Previously, she has been the professional program and educational services manager at Consortium on Reading Excellence (CORE). A former classroom teacher and administrator, whether she’s in the classroom demonstrating lessons, strategizing with the superintendent, or training veteran literacy coaches, Jill’s advice and assistance is deeply rooted in the reality of school life and focused on unambiguous next steps. Jill Jackson uses her humor and in-the-trenches experiences to support educators as they navigate the central issues in implementing the Common Core and reading programs and interventions. Jill has used her experience in 30+ states and with thousands of teachers, coaches, administrators, program directors and superintendents as inspiration for her down-to-earth and fun how-to books: Get a Backbone, Principal! and Get Some Guts, Coach!
Sam Johnson grew up in Washington, D.C. Although Sam graduated from high school, reading and writing were difficult for him. Both before and after graduating, he never told anyone about his reading difficulties. He found jobs that did not require reading. However, when he saw that his twin sister, Sandra, was improving her reading at the Washington Literacy Council, he called to sign up for their reading lessons. Sam’s life became much easier when his reading and writing skills improved. He still lives in the Washington, D.C. area where he works as a master barber and hair stylist. He is married and has two grown children whom he loved reading to when they were younger. Sam is excited to share his story to help teachers understand how much students want to learn to read, how well students hide their reading problems, and how much life improves when reading becomes easy.
Sandra Johnson grew up in Washington, D.C. She attended public schools until she dropped out of school at age 16. Sandra could memorize words quite successfully, but could not read any unfamiliar words. For example, she could easily read the word ‘job’, but had no idea how to read the word ‘jab’. She was in her early 30s when she learned that letters match sounds. This was the key to Sandra’s learning to read. Sandra hid her reading disability from everyone she knew, including her large family and many friends. But her secret was out after Laura Bush asked to meet Sandra because she had learned to read as an adult. Her story became public when an article and pictures of Sandra with the President and First Lady appeared on the front page of the Washington Times. Sandra works as a coach and tutor for children at her local recreation center in Washington, D.C. She speaks nationally about literacy to teachers, parents, and students.
George McCloskey, Ph.D., is a professor and Director of School Psychology Research in the Psychology Department of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He frequently presents at national, regional and state meetings on cognitive and neuropsychological assessment and intervention topics. He consults with a number of school districts and private schools in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California on issues related to improving students’ self-regulation capacities in the classroom, behavior management, assessment and intervention for executive functions, difficulties related to academic and behavior problems, balanced literacy reading and writing instruction, and implementation of RtI. George is the lead author of Assessment and Intervention for Executive Function Difficulties and author of Essentials of Executive Functions Assessment. He has also been involved in test development and publishing activities for more than 25 years. He directed the development of the WISC-IV Integrated and was a Senior Research Director and the Clinical Advisor to the Wechsler Test Development Group for The Psychological Corporation (now part of Pearson) and Associate Director of Test Development for AGS (now Pearson).
Monica McHale-Small, Ph.D., is currently the superintendent of Saucon Valley School District in Hellertown, PA. She has spent 25 years as a public educator in Pennsylvania. She started her career as a school psychologist and has spent the last eleven years in a variety of administrative positions. Monica became passionate about reading early in her career and has long advocated bringing sound research into practice in public schools. Recently, she has been an active member of the Pennsylvania Dyslexia Literacy Coalition, a grassroots group instrumental in the passage of House Bill 198 that establishes a Dyslexia Screening and Early Literacy Intervention Pilot in Pennsylvania. Monica is currently on the Board of the International Dyslexia Association and the Coalition for Reading Excellence. She earned her doctorate and masters degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.
Flint D. Mitchell, Ph.D., is CDL’s vice president. Flint has more than 20 years of combined health and education experience in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors. Prior to joining the CDL team, he was a program officer at the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) where he led programmatic work in the areas of health, education, and child and youth development. In 2017, Flint completed a 3-year W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) Community Leadership Network (CLN) Fellowship. The fellowship targeted individuals who could be transformative social change agents in their communities so that vulnerable children and their families could achieve optimal health and well-being, academic achievement, and financial security. Throughout the fellowship experience, Flint immersed himself into the study of the WKKF embedded approach of racial equity and healing as well as other concepts including facilitation, systems thinking, storytelling, and strategic communications. In addition to the WKKF CLN Fellowship, in 2009, Flint completed a fellowship with the Oak Ridge Institute for Science Education at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where he provided research and technical assistance support within the Division of Partnerships and Strategic Alliances, National Center for Health Marketing. Flint is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Undergraduate Studies program at Tulane University in the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine where he teaches Public Health Program Implementation and Management. In his leisure time, he enjoys exercising, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
Lucy Hart Paulson
Lucy Hart Paulson, Ed.D., CCC-SLP, is a speech and language pathologist and literacy specialist with years of experience working with young children and their families in public school, Head Start, private, and university settings. Currently, she is on the faculty of the Communicative Sciences and Disorders Department at The University of Montana sharing responsibilities for teaching, supervising, research, and service. Lucy presents a unique and broad-based perspective blending areas of language and literacy together resulting in effective and engaging language-based literacy interventions for children. She has provided professional development for a variety of audiences across the United States and internationally. Lucy is the lead author of LETRS for Early Childhood Educators, Building Early Literacy and Language Skills, a resource and activity guide for young children, and Good Talking Words, a social communication skills program for preschool and kindergarten.
Amy Poteet Poirier
Amy Poirier is an early childhood specialist at CDL. Amy has held multiple positions in the field of early childhood. Early in her career she worked as a teacher, center administrator, and a curriculum and training director. She has also worked as a program monitor, coach and trainer for several statewide programs and as an independent advisor, trainer and consultant. Additionally, Amy is an approved Child Development Associate (CDA) Professional Development Specialist and an endorsed trainer with Louisiana Pathways. Amy knows that children benefit the most from highly effective teachers, and that relevant, on-the-job coaching and mentoring support significantly increases their skills. As an early childhood specialist, she enjoys working side-by-side with early childhood professionals to provide support and thereby positively affect outcomes for young children.
Timothy Shanahan, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he was Founding Director of the UIC Center for Literacy. Previously, Tim was director of reading for the Chicago Public Schools. He is author or editor of more than 200 publications including the books, Teaching with the Common Core Standards for the English Language Arts, and Early Childhood Literacy. Tim is past president of the International Literacy Association. He received a presidential appointment to serve on the Advisory Board of the National Institute for Literacy. He took a leadership role on the National Reading Panel (the third most influential education policy document according to the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center). He chaired two other federal research review panels: the National Literacy Panel for Language Minority Children and Youth, and the National Early Literacy Panel, and helped author the Common Core State Standards. He is co-principal investigator of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Title I Study of Implementation and Outcomes: Early Childhood Language Development funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. Tim received the William S. Gray Citation for Lifetime Achievement and the Albert J. Harris Award for outstanding research on reading disability from the International Reading Association (IRA). He was inducted to the Reading Hall of Fame in 2007, and is a former first-grade teacher. For more information, visit his blog: www.shanahanonliteracy.com. He is a member of the Professional Advisory Board of the Center for Development and Learning.
Louise Spear-Swerling, Ph.D., is professor of special education and area coordinator of the graduate program in learning disabilities at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT. She prepares both general and special educators on how to teach reading. Her primary research interests include reading development and reading difficulties across the K-12 grade span, as well as teachers’ knowledge base for literacy assessment and instruction, and she has published widely on these topics. Linda’s most recent book is The power of RTI and Reading Profiles: A Blueprint for Solving Reading Problems. She serves on the editorial boards of Annals of Dyslexia, Reading Psychology, and TEACHING Exceptional Children, the premier research-to-practice journal of the Council for Exceptional Children. In 2009 she served on the working group for the International Dyslexia Association that helped to produce national IDA professional standards for teachers of reading. Louise was centrally involved in developing and writing Connecticut’s K-3 reading blueprint, Grade 4-12 reading blueprint, response-to-intervention guidelines; and Connecticut’s revision of guidelines on identification of learning disabilities. She consults regularly for Connecticut school districts, mostly on cases involving students with severe or persistent literacy difficulties.
Precious Symonette was named Miami-Dade’s 2017 Francisco R. Walker Teacher of the Year. She was also a 2016 National Education Association Superhero Educator. Precious teaches creative writing at Miami Norland Senior High School in Florida, where she serves a large population of disadvantaged teens. She is a certified Freedom Writer who trained under the famous California teacher who used writing to turn around the academics of her troubled students. She has been described as bringing “tenderness to teaching in an inner-city school where students often struggle — in their home lives, at school, and especially in writing.” With a passion for poetry, education, and community involvement, Precious lives by the principle she imparts to students: “Write yourself into existence.”
Alice Thomas, M.Ed., is the founder, president and CEO of the Center for Development and Learning (CDL). Alice’s work is guided by a steadfast belief that all children, regardless of how they look, where they come from or how they learn, can and will achieve school success when provided with highly effective teachers and positive, supportive learning environments. In addition to executive duties, she facilitates professional learning for school leaders, teachers, and related specialists. Alice previously served as a teacher, counselor, and intervention specialist. She has taught university graduate courses on differentiating instruction for struggling students. She is a Learning Forward Academy graduate. She is the creator and director of the annual evidence-based Plain Talk about Literacy and Learning Institute. Alice is coauthor of the Plain Talk about Learning professional learning curriculum, the Right from Birth parent/caregiver training curriculum, and the Teens & Tots curriculum; and editor of CDL’s online blog. Alice completed a fellowship in neurodevelopmental variations at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and doctoral level studies in change leadership at the University of Toronto. She is the recipient of the New Orleans Children’s Defense Fund’s Champions for Children award and the International Dyslexia Association’s 2013 Presidential Award for Excellence.
Paul Tough is a Canadian-American writer and broadcaster. He is the author, most recently, of Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why. His previous book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, was translated into 27 languages and spent more than a year on the New York Times hardcover and paperback best-seller lists. His first book, Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America, was published in 2008. Paul is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, where he has written extensively about education, parenting, poverty, and politics. His writing has also appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, GQ, and Esquire, and on the op-ed page of the New York Times. He has worked as an editor at the New York Times Magazine and Harper’s Magazine and as a reporter and producer for the public-radio program “This American Life.” He was the founding editor of Open Letters, an online magazine. He lives with his wife and two sons in Montauk, New York.
William Van Cleave
An internationally recognized consultant in structured literacy, William Van Cleave, M.A., is the Founder and President of W.V.C.ED, a company that provides professional development and effective teaching materials for instructors. He consults with districts and both private and public schools involving professional development, curriculum development and alignment, and model teaching, particularly in the areas of written expression and vocabulary instruction. With his interactive, hands-on presentation style, William has presented on effective teaching practices at conferences and schools both in the United States and abroad for over twenty years. Recent projects include providing the professional development component of a school improvement grant in Oklahoma City; participation on the RtII Writing Standards Committee for the State of Pennsylvania; development of ToT modules on writing for PaTTAN in Pennsylvania and Wichita Unified School District in Kansas; and implementation of a multi-year writing intensive for teachers in Franklin, TN. The author of three books, including Writing Matters and Everything You Want To Know & Exactly Where to Find It, as well as a number of educational tools and activities, William has served as a classroom teacher, tutor, and administrator at various points in his career.
Daniel Willingham, Ph.D., is currently Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1992. Until about 2000, his research focused solely on the brain basis of learning and memory. Today, all of his research concerns the application of cognitive psychology to K-16 education. He writes the “Ask the Cognitive Scientist” column for American Educator magazine, and is the author of Why Don’t Students Like School?, When Can You Trust the Experts?, and Raising Kids Who Read. His writing on education has appeared in thirteen languages. Dan earned his B.A. from Duke University in 1983 and his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Harvard University in 1990.