About the 2017 Presenters
Learn valuable information on the latest reading research and
effective strategies that increase student success.
This page is updated frequently.
Robert Brooks, Ph.D., a psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, has lectured nationally and internationally and written extensively on topics pertaining to motivation, school climate, resilience, family relationships, the qualities of effective leaders, and balancing our personal and professional lives. He is the author of The Self-Esteem Teacher and co-author of Raising Resilient Children; Handbook of Resilience in Children; Raising a Self-Disciplined Child; and The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life. In addition, Bob completed a video and educational guide for PBS titled “Look What You’ve Done! Stories of Hope and Resilience” that focuses on children with learning problems. He has received numerous awards for his work on behalf of children and their families, including the Hall of Fame award from both CH.A.D.D. and the Connecticut Association for Children with Learning Disabilities, and the Outstanding Educator Award for Mental Health Education from the New England Educational Institute. In addition, Bob has served as a consultant to Sesame Street Parents Magazine. He is also a member of the Professional Advisory Board of the Center for Development and Learning.
Douglas Fisher, Ph.D. is professor of language and literacy education in the Department of Teacher Education at San Diego State University and a classroom teacher at Health Sciences High & Middle College. He is a member of the California Reading Hall of Fame and is the recipient of several awards including the International Reading Association Celebrate Literacy Award, the Farmer award for excellence in writing from the National Council of Teachers of English, and the Christa McAuliffe award for excellence in teacher education. He has published numerous articles and books on school-wide approaches to improving student achievement, reading and literacy, differentiated instruction, assessment, and curriculum design. He is a board member of the Literacy Research Association (formerly the National Reading Conference) and co-editor of NCTE’s middle level journal, Voices from the Middle. He is highly sought after for his dynamic and engaging professional development workshops.
Pedro Noguera, Ph.D., is the Distinguished Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. His research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions, as well as by demographic trends in local, regional and global contexts. He is the author of eleven books and over 200 articles and monographs. He serves on the boards of numerous national and local organizations and appears as a regular commentator on educational issues on CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio, and other national news outlets. Prior to joining the faculty at UCLA, he served as a tenured professor and holder of endowed chairs at New York University (2003 – 2015) Harvard University (2000 – 2003) and the University of California, Berkeley (1990 – 2000). From 2009 – 2012 he served as a Trustee for the State University of New York (SUNY) as an appointee of the Governor. In 2014 he was elected to the National Academy of Education. Pedro recently received awards from the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences, from the National Association of Secondary Principals, and from the McSilver Institute at NYU for his research and advocacy efforts aimed at fighting poverty.
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).
Nell K. Duke, Ed.D., is a professor in literacy, language, and culture, and in the combined program in education and psychology at the University of Michigan. Nell’s work focuses on early literacy development, particularly among children living in poverty. Her specific areas of expertise include development of informational reading and writing in young children, comprehension development and instruction in early schooling, and issues of equity in literacy education. She has served as Co-Principal Investigator of projects funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the George Lucas Educational Foundation, among others. In 2014, Nell was awarded the P. David Pearson Scholarly Influence Award from the Literacy Research Association. She has also received awards from the American Educational Research Association, the International Reading Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the National Reading Conference. Nell is author and co-author of numerous journal articles and book chapters. Her most recent book is Inside Information: Developing Powerful Readers and Writers of Informational Text through Project-based Instruction. She is editor of The Research-Informed Classroom series and co-editor of the Not This, But That book series. Nell has served as author or consultant on several educational programs.
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.
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.
Laura Justice, Ph.D., is a clinical speech-language pathologist and applied researcher in early childhood language and literacy development, communication disorders, and educational interventions. She directs the Preschool Language and Literacy Lab. Her research activities have been supported by grants from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the International Reading Association, the National Institutes of Health, and the U. S. Department of Education. Laura’s research on early language and literacy has received awards from the International Reading Association (Distinguished Finalist, Dissertation of the Year), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (Editor’s Award, American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology), and the Council for Exceptional Children (Early Career Publication Award). She is currently the Principal Investigator of three randomized clinical trials supported by the USDOE’s Institute for Education Sciences that focus on preschool literacy and language acquisition, to include a field-initiated research grant, a preschool curriculum evaluation research grant, and a reading scale-up grant.
Louisa C. Moats, Ed.D., has been a teacher, psychologist, researcher, graduate school faculty member, and author of scientific journal articles, books, and policy papers on the topics of reading, spelling, language, and teacher preparation. After a first job as a neuropsychology technician, she became a teacher of students with learning and reading difficulties, earning her Master’s degree at Peabody College of Vanderbilt. Later, after realizing how much more she needed to know about teaching, she earned a doctorate in Reading and Human Development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Louisa spent the next 15 years as a licensed psychologist, specializing in evaluation and consultation with individuals who experienced reading, writing, and language difficulties. Louisa was the site director of the NICHD Early Interventions Project in Washington, DC, where she was invited to testify to Congress three times on teacher preparation and reading instruction in high poverty schools. She recently concluded 10 years as research advisor and consultant with Sopris Learning. Louisa was a contributing writer of the Common Core State Standards, Foundational Reading Skills for grades K-5. In addition to the LETRS professional development series, her books include Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers, Spelling: Development, Disability, and Instruction, Straight Talk About Reading (with Susan Hall), and Basic Facts about Dyslexia. Louisa’s awards include the Samuel T. and June L. Orton award from the International Dyslexia Association for outstanding contributions to the field.
Joanne Quinn, MBA, consults internationally on whole system change, capacity building, leadership and professional learning, and is sought by professional organizations and institutions as a consultant, advisor, and speaker. Currently Joanne is director of Whole System Change and Capacity Building with Michael Fullan Enterprises where she leads the design of strategic whole system capacity building at the global, national, and district levels. As well, she serves as the director of Global Capacity Building for New Pedagogies for Deep Learning: A Global Partnership focused on transforming learning. Previously, Joanne provided leadership at all levels of education as a superintendent, implementation advisor to the Ontario Ministry of Education, director of Continuing Education at the University of Toronto, and as special advisor on International Projects. Coupled with her passion to improve learning for all, these diverse leadership roles give her a unique perspective on influencing positive change. Joanne is a member of the Professional Advisory Board of the Center for Development and Learning.
Mark Seidenberg, Ph.D., is a cognitive scientist/neuroscientist/psycholinguist who has studied language, reading and dyslexia since the disco era. He is the Vilas Research Professor and Donald O. Hebb Professor in the department of psychology at the University of Wisconsin. His reading research addresses the nature of skilled reading, how children learn to read, dyslexia, and the brain bases of reading, using the tools of modern cognitive neuroscience: behavioral experiments, computational models, and neuroimaging. Mark’s language research addresses what people know when they know a language, how this knowledge is represented in the brain, and how it is acquired and used. His book, Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, and What Can Be Done About It was published to acclaim and derision in January 2017. Mark attended Columbia University as an undergraduate, where, like many students, he worked part-time. He received a Ph.D. from Columbia, where he was a student of Tom Bever during the notorious Nim Chimpsky era. He did postdoctoral research at the Center for the Study of Reading splitting time between Bolt Beranek & Newman and the University of Illinois. His first academic appointment was at McGill University in Montreal, home of fantastic food and a very long winter. After 10 years in the cold, he moved to the University of Southern California, where he had appointments in psychology, linguistics, and in the neuroscience program. In 2001 he moved to the University of Wisconsin Madison, where he lives in a house on a hill and bikes to work when he can. He has published many scientific articles in fine journals such as Science, Psychological Review, Nature Neuroscience, Language, Psychological Science, and Semiotica (!), and was honored as one of the 250 most-cited researchers in the areas of psychology and psychiatry by those Web of Science citation-counting people.
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.
Concurrent Session Presenters
Larry Ainsworth, M.S., is an independent education consultant. Previously, he served as the executive director of professional development at the Leadership and Learning Center. He travels nationally and internationally to assist school systems in implementing best practices related to standards, assessment, curriculum, and instruction across all grades and content areas. Throughout his career, Larry has delivered keynote addresses and breakout sessions across North America and in Latin America and regularly worked on-site in school systems to assist leaders and educators in understanding and implementing powerful standards-based practices such as prioritizing and unwrapping state standards and Common Core standards, developing common formative assessments, designing performance tasks, and creating rigorous units of study in all content areas, PreK – 12. He is the author or coauthor of 15 published books, including Common Formative Assessments 2.0 (2015), “Unwrapping” the Common Core (2014), Prioritizing the Common Core (2013), Getting Started With Rigorous Curriculum Design: How School Districts Are Successfully Redesigning Their Curricula for the Common Core (2013), Rigorous Curriculum Design (2010), and Common Formative Assessments (2006).
Kristin Anderson is the Senior Director of Professional Learning at Corwin. 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 inspirational leader. She is a trainer for John Hattie’s Visible Learning and Jim Knight’s High Impact Professional Learning work. Kristin has authored three books, and travels internationally as a professional development consultant.
Donald Bear, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus in Literacy Studies at Iowa State University and University of Nevada, Reno where he directed reading centers and taught at all levels. He is an author and co-author of numerous articles, chapters, and 16 books, including the Words Their Way series. He has been a classroom teacher, and is an author on several instructional programs used throughout the United States. Donald is involved in innovative professional development activities and studies that examine literacy learning, particularly studies of orthographic development in different and second languages. The research explores the specific sequence students follow across the synchrony of literacy learning from beginning concept of word in prekindergarten to how morphology underlies academic vocabulary learning. He has received several awards for teaching and service, and is currently a board member of the International Literacy Association.
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.
Judie Caroleo is Director of Training and Development at 95 Percent Group Inc., a company that provides professional development and materials to support teachers in providing small-group intervention instruction in literacy. She has more than 20 years of experience in classroom instruction, program development, implementation, assessment, and professional development. Prior to her current position, she served as Director of Instruction at Reading ASSIST Institute. Before joining Reading ASSIST, Judie played a key role in implementing research-based instruction in elementary classrooms in New Jersey, where she served as an interventionist.
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.
Charles Corprew, III, Ph.D., is a transformational consultant, speaker, and leader. He dares to ask individuals and organizations, “What’s Your Revolution?” He is the founder and president of WYRevolution Consulting, a firm dedicated to help schools and organizations solve their diverse problems using a systems thinking framework with an equity lens. Prior to this, he was a fervent educator, spending 18 years teaching at the secondary and post-secondary levels. As a professor at Loyola University New Orleans, he devoted his time teaching and researching the development of adolescents and emerging adults in diverse contexts. His publications can be found in Urban Education and other journals, and he is frequently cited in local and national media. In 2014, he received a W. K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership fellowship. The fellowship has allowed him to receive high-level trainings in intersectional equity, the power of story telling, systems thinking, adaptive leadership, facilitative leadership, and project management. Knowledge gleaned from these experiences shapes how he helps individuals and organizations. Charles is sought after for his ability to incite audiences and provide innovative solutions that aid individuals and organizations.
Mary E. Dahlgren, Ed.D., is a national literacy consultant and child advocate from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mary is a National LETRS Trainer and the author of Fundamentals of Literacy Instruction (2016). She has been a classroom teacher, reading specialist, professional development provider, and consultant to numerous school districts, the Bureau of Indian Education Schools, several state departments of education, and the Virgin Islands. Mary’s longstanding interest in early childhood and elementary education has compelled her to spend much of her career working directly with classroom teachers to embrace the science behind reading. She provides training on how to provide the best first instruction along with implementation of effective interventions for struggling readers. She is the president and founder of Tools 4 Reading and recently developed a phonological awareness and articulation program called Kid Lips, a tool designed for all students that is especially effective in helping Spanish-speaking students understand the differences in phonemes between the two languages.
Joël Díaz, M.Ed., is an editor, educator, writer, and activist. Recently, he worked as an editor on products for Family and Community Engagement at Scholastic. Prior to his role at Scholastic, he served as the education associate at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York, working with schools and educators on incorporating culturally relevant pedagogy and integrated curricula for K-12 students. In 2016, Joël joined Artistic Noise’s board of directors, an arts-based organization for court-involved and incarcerated youth. He received his master’s degree in educational leadership from New York University.
Ana Dodson was born in the Andes Mountains of Cusco, Peru, and adopted by a Colorado family when she was an infant. When Ana was eleven years old she returned to Peru with her mother on a homeland trip for adoptees. While visiting an orphanage for girls, she was overwhelmed with the realization that she could have been one of those girls. When Ana returned home, she was determined to do something to help the girls she had met to dream and have the opportunity for better education. At the age of eleven she founded Peruvian Hearts. Peruvian Hearts works to end the cycle of poverty and gender inequality by educating young women and creating leaders in Peru, one girl at a time. Ana has been recognized as a CNN Young Hero, and in People Magazine’s “Heroes Among Us”, and was featured in a documentary film about the life of Desmond Tutu. Her work to empower young women has been nationally recognized by many organizations. Several books for children have been written about her, and she has spoken at the United Nations International Day of Peace. In addition to being a frequent speaker on behalf of global education for women, Ana is now a teacher.
Judi Dodson, M.A., consults with schools, state departments of education, and school districts on issues related to school change, teacher knowledge, and literacy achievement. She speaks at conferences and gives workshops on topics related to reading intervention and activities that support increasing student achievement, and is a National LETRS trainer. Judi believes that working to empower teachers with knowledge about literacy can make a real difference in their work and help them change and enrich the lives of the children they teach. Judi worked for 20 years as a special education teacher, working primarily with children with reading problems and, as an educational consultant, conducting diagnostic assessment of learning disabilities. She is the author of Fifty Nifty Activities: Five Components and Three Tiers of Instruction, and 50 Nifty Activities for Speaking and Listening for Oral Language and Comprehension. Judi is on the board of the Rocky Mountain Branch of the International Dyslexia Association.
Antonio A. Fierro
Antonio A. Fierro, Ed.D. is a certified National LETRS trainer and a former Texas State Teacher of the Year. He has over 25 years of experience in the field of education, having served as an early childhood ESL/Bilingual teacher, a district ESL/Bilingual specialist, a state master trainer of the Texas Reading Academies, and a reading director of a major urban Texas school district. His areas of interest include early childhood education and, because of his own experience as an English learner, research and practices that impact students who are learning English as a second language. Antonio is also dedicated to advancing the knowledge base and understanding of dyslexia and other reading disabilities, as his own teenage son is dyslexic.
Nancy Frey, Ph.D., is a professor of Educational Leadership at San Diego State University. She is a recipient of the Christa McAuliffe award for excellence in teacher education from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. She has co-authored several books on teaching and learning with Doug Fisher, and was a co-recipient (with Doug Fisher) of NCTE’s 2004 Kate and Paul Farmer award for outstanding writing for their article, “Using Graphic Novels, Anime, and The Internet In An Urban High School,” published in NCTE’s English Journal. In 2008, she received the Early Career Achievement Award from the Literacy Research Association. Nancy teaches a variety of courses in school improvement and literacy leadership. Her favorite place to be is Health Sciences High and Middle College, where she learns from teachers and students every day.
Vicki Gibson, Ph.D., is a national educational consultant, author, and speaker specializing in differentiating instruction and collaborative practice, classroom management, reading instruction, special education, and early childhood education. Vicki taught regular and special education classes in public schools for 10 years before owning and directing three private preschools that served children ages 2-12. She taught at Texas A&M University for 10 years, co-directed a summer skills program for 8 years that included students in grades 1-9, and supervised pre-service teachers’ field experiences. Vicki has authored numerous training manuals, administrators’ guides, and booklets used by administrators and instructional leaders to collaboratively develop a student-focused model for differentiating teaching to enhance instructional effectiveness and improve student achievement.
Susan Hall, Ed.D., is a nationally recognized leader in Response to Intervention (RtI), data analysis, and reading instruction. She is Founder and President of 95 Percent Group Inc. The company provides support, processes, and materials needed to take RtI and implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for reading to the next level. The company has developed a full series of instructional materials titled Linking CCSS to Your Curriculum, designed to help teachers unpack the standards and provide instruction on each standard using their current curriculum. Susan is a frequent speaker at national reading conferences on the topics of RtI, Literacy Instruction, and CCSS. She is a nationally certified trainer of DIBELS and LETRS and the author of several books including Jumpstart RtI: Using RtI in Your Elementary School Right Now and I’ve DIBEL’d, Now What? Her most recent book is I’ve DIBEL’d, Now What? Next Edition. She is coauthor with Louisa Moats of two books, Straight Talk About Reading and Parenting a Struggling Reader, as well as LETRS Module 7: Teaching Phonics, Word Study, and the Alphabetic Principle, Second Edition. Her most recent whitepaper is Getting Teachers Ready for the Common Core State Standards.
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.
Karin Hess, Ph.D., is a senior associate at the National Center for Assessment and is recognized nationally for applying cognitive rigor and learning progressions in designing formative, interim, and performance assessments. She has over 30 years of deep experience in curriculum, instruction, and assessment. She has distinguished herself as a content and curriculum and assessment expert in multiple content areas and has effectively guided more than a dozen states in the development of grade level expectations and test specifications for general education and for alternate assessments for significantly cognitively disabled students. Karin facilitated Maine’s early work in graduation exhibitions and Rhode Island’s development and implementation of proficiency-based graduation requirements. Karin was a classroom teacher in New Jersey for 15 years, a district curriculum director, building principal, Title I director, and NJ state director of gifted education. She has also worked as a program evaluator for the Vermont Mathematics Project; as a content specialist for development of the New England Common Assessment Program for ELA, math, and science; and as member of several Vermont state-level committees. With Linda Darling Hammond, she co-led development of the SBAC content specifications for assessment of the Common Core in ELA and mathematics.
Debbie Hunsaker, M.Ed., is the Instructional Innovations Unit Director for the Montana Office of Public Instruction, which is responsible for implementing Reading First, Early Reading First, School Improvement, and the Montana Striving Readers Project. Before being employed by the state of Montana, Debbie taught first, third, fourth, and fifth grades. She received her undergraduate degree from Southern Utah University where she minored in reading and language arts. She holds a master’s degree in literacy and curriculum with an emphasis in diversity. Debbie also provides consulting services across the nation in the areas of literacy, assessment, leadership, and coaching.
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.
Eric Jones, Ph.D., is an educator, community leader, child advocate, political consultant, and grassroots organizer. Eric’s inspiration to educate young people began when his life was saved by his high school principal who steadfastly believed in Eric’s potential, even with his record of over forty-two suspensions. Currently, he is the director of external affairs for Teach for America (TFA) Greater New Orleans. Previously, he has been a district administrator, instructional leader, turn-around principal, assistant principal, instructional coach, leadership coach, educational consultant, master teacher, and teacher in the New Orleans area. Eric attended public schools in New Orleans, earned his undergraduate degree from Southern University at New Orleans, and his doctorate from Tulane University. He completed educational leadership studies at Harvard University. His lifelong goal for New Orleans is to see that the educational landscape benefits all children, and that someday all schools will be great schools for every child.
Sylvia Linan-Thompson, Ph.D., is an associate professor at The University of Oregon and is associated with the Center on Teaching and Learning. Her interest in the education of English language learners began when she taught English learners (ELs) in elementary schools. As a researcher, her goal is to better understand the development of ELs’ literacy skills across languages. She has examined effective instructional practices and methods that accurately identify ELs with and without learning disabilities. Currently, Sylvia is examining the implementation of RtI in dual language schools. Through this project, she has been able to examine ELL’s writing samples to identify developmental patterns of ELs’ English writing and to use this information to track students’ English language development. In addition, she has identified assessments and instructional practices within RTI that lead to more accurate identification of ELs with and without learning disabilities.
Jennifer Smithers Marten is the Gifted and Talented Coordinator and Online School Coordinator for the Plymouth Joint School District in Plymouth, Wisconsin. She is part of the district’s Professional Development Council, helping to develop building and district level professional learning. In addition, she is an adjunct instructor for the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, Lakeland University, and Marian University. Jennifer has a BA in Education from the University of Dallas, a Master’s in Education and Teaching from the University of Texas at Arlington, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
Jenifer McCormick, M.Ed., is the director of literacy at Scholastic. Previously, she was the director of curriculum, instruction and professional learning for Jefferson Parish Public Schools in Louisiana. Jennifer has been a teacher; ELA department head; ELA instructional strategist; and library, information, and media consultant. She is affiliated with various educational organizations, including The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Louisiana Association of School Executives, and Greater New Orleans Council of Teachers of English.
Flint Mitchell, Ph.D., is a Program Officer at the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF). He leads the foundation’s programmatic work in the areas of Health, Education, and Child and Youth Development. Flint is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Undergraduate Studies program at Tulane University in the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He has nearly 20 years of combined health and education experience in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors. Flint is a 2014 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network Fellow. The fellowship targets individuals who can be transformative social change agents in their communities so that vulnerable children and their families can achieve optimal health and well-being, academic achievement, and financial security. Flint’s fellowship focuses on the Kellogg Foundation’s two embedded approaches of racial equity and healing, and community and civic engagement. Additionally, he completed a fellowship with the Oak Ridge Institute for Science Education at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2009 where he provided research and technical assistance support within the Division of Partnerships and Strategic Alliances, National Center for Health Marketing.
Pati Montgomery is a national consultant for Schools Cubed, an educational consulting firm specializing in improving the professional practices of school principals. Previously, she was the Executive Director of Literacy for the Colorado Department of Education where she was responsible for the implementation of the READ Act. A former teacher, principal and central administrator, Pati has worked with school principals across the country on effective school practices. Her work is steeped in the belief that in the rapidly changing world of education, administrators must use educational research to ensure they are using proven and evidence-based practices that will increase school effectiveness. Pati Montgomery co-authored a book with Melody Ilk and Dr. Louisa Moats called, The Principal’s Primer for Raising Reading Achievement. The book is a guide for principals and school leaders that highlight efficient systems and structures necessary for school-wide improvement in reading performance.
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.
Joan Sedita M.Ed., has been an educator and nationally recognized teacher trainer for over 35 years. She is the founding partner of Keys to Literacy, a literacy professional development organization based in MA. Joan is the author of four content literacy professional development programs (Key Comprehension Routine, Key Vocabulary Routine, Keys to Writing, The ANSWER Key Routine to for Extended Response) and a K-12 district literacy planning model (Keys to Literacy Planning). Beginning in 1975, she worked for 23 years at the Landmark School, a pioneer in the development of literacy intervention programs. As a teacher, principal, and director of the Outreach Teacher Training Program at Landmark, Joan developed expertise, methods, and instructional programs that address the literacy needs of students in grades K-12. Joan was one of the three lead trainers in MA for the Reading First Program. She was a national LETRS trainer and co-authored LETRS Module 11, Writing, A Road to Reading Comprehension with Louisa Moats. She also wrote the adolescent literacy chapter in Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills and the writing chapter in The Fundamentals of Literacy Instruction and Assessment, 6-12. Joan is an adjunct instructor at Endicott College and Fitchburg State University. She received her M.Ed. in Reading from Harvard University and her B.A. from Boston College.
Alan Sitomer, M.Ed., is a California Teacher of the Year award winner and the founder of The Writer’s Success Academy. In addition to having been an inner-city high school English teacher and former professor in the Graduate School of Education at Loyola Marymount University, Alan is a nationally renowned speaker who specializes in engaging underperforming students. He has authored 16 trade books with works ranging from hard-hitting YA novels to humorous and warm children’s picture books. He’s also the author of several professional books and curricular resources for educators, including his most recent book, Mastering Short-Response Writing: Claim It! Cite It! Cement It!
Libbie Sonnier-Netto, M.Ed., is focused on implementing evidence-based practices that improve the life chances of children and their families who are especially at risk due to low income and social gradient, education, physical environment, and health services. Libbie’s experience working at both local and state levels provides a broad scope of experience that includes delivering family support services as a primary service provider to children and families in community and hospital settings, establishing a model assessment team for Part C eligibility, coordinating statewide early childhood programs and pilots for children birth to five year olds, an directing an early hearing detection and intervention program. Along with Sharon Ramey and Craig Ramey, Libbie is the third author of the Four Diamonds Checklist and second author of The Quality System to Achieve Results for Young Children in all Settings (Q-STAR). Libbie is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Human Development at Virginia Tech under the mentorship of Sharon and Craig Ramey, with a focus in family and implementation science.
Laura Stewart, MFA, is an educator and organizational leader. She has served as a classroom teacher, building and district administrator, adjunct professor, and director of numerous professional development initiatives around the country. She also served as the Vice President of Professional Development for both Rowland Reading Foundation and Zaner-Bloser. Throughout all of her work, one constant has been a passion for and commitment to early literacy; her interest is in exploring “what’s possible” through collaborative and sustained professional development. In her current position as the Chief Academic Officer for the Highlights Education Group, she works across several companies to offer high-quality professional development which will empower educators and positively impact children’s lives. She presents nationally and internationally and has written for numerous organizations and publications; she recently co-authored The Everything Guide to Informational Text K-2; Best Texts, Best Practices. Laura was recently appointed to the advisory board of the International Foundation of Effective Reading Instruction. She is a certified LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) trainer.
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.
William Van Cleave
William Van Cleave, M.A., is in private practice as an educational consultant whose specialties include morphology and written expression. A nationally recognized speaker, he has presented on effective teaching practices at conferences and schools around the country since 1995. In 2004 William published the first edition of Everything You Want To Know & Exactly Where To Find It, an Orton-Gillingham based reference guide. Now in its fourth edition, this manual serves tutors and teachers of struggling readers and spellers around the country. In the spring of 2012, William completed Writing Matters: Developing Sentence Skills in Students of All Ages. Schools in the public and private arenas have adopted his methodology, and both one-on-one tutors and classroom teachers use his writing approach. Recently, he has been part of the professional development component of a S.I.G. Grant with a charter school for last chance students in Oklahoma City. There, he has trained, observed, and mentored faculty; model instructed; and designed and implemented curricula. During his career William has tutored; taught literature, writing, and math; and held several administrative posts. He received his B.A. in English and Women’s Studies from The College of Wooster and earned his M.A. in English from S.U.N.Y. New Paltz.