Alicia Sparks, Director of Professional Development Services, has served as teacher, tutor, consultant, and coach for over 30 years. In each of these roles, she has worked with students, teachers, and administrators to improve reading instruction. Alicia has worked in regular and special education classrooms, at private and public schools, and at colleges and universities. She is a certified regional trainer for the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling program and has advanced training in the Orton-Gillingham instructional approach. She has presented nationally and regionally at conferences, training centers, and school districts. In addition, she has served as an adjunct professor and guest lecturer for college courses in reading science and as a reviewer for the International Dyslexia Association’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading. Alicia completed her master’s degree in special education at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Julie O’Steen, Director of Professional Development Strategic Initiatives, has been in education for 20 years serving as a teacher, literacy coach, consultant, leader of teacher and parent training programs, and member of statewide school accreditation teams. She holds a master’s degree in early childhood education from Florida State University.
Kathy H. Barclay, Ed.D., Manager of Professional Development Content, is professor emeritus of reading and early childhood and a former chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Western Illinois University. For the past 10 years she served as an editor of the Illinois Reading Council Journal. She also directed the Illinois Reading First professional development grant and was lead consultant for the Language and Literacy section of the 2013 Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards. Her elementary teaching experience was in Louisiana, where she also served as a supervisor of reading for the Louisiana Department of Education. A frequent presenter at national conferences and author of many professional publications, her newest book is The Everything Guide to Informational Texts, K–2: Best Texts, Best Practices.
Stacey Leitzel, Manager of Professional Development Services, has been in education for nearly 25 years. She has served as an elementary principal and director of elementary education responsible for curriculum, assessment, and professional development. As a district leader, she implemented Response to Intervention and division-wide professional learning communities. Stacey earned her undergraduate degree from Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. She completed master’s degrees in early childhood and school leadership at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The motto "Be the Change" has guided Stacey throughout her career..
Robyn Collins, Professional Development Specialist, received her degree from Georgia Southern University. She taught pre-K through second grade in Georgia public and private schools. She mentored new teachers and served as a cooperating teacher for student teachers. In addition, Robyn created and presented professional development workshops for teachers and administrators across the South in a variety of curricular areas, including language and literacy development, hands-on science and math teaching methods, and a course focusing on current brain research and brain-based teaching strategies. Robyn also has written and implemented curriculum for early childhood classrooms.
Ann Allen, Professional Development Lead Consultant has worked in education for more than 40 years. She taught K-12 and worked in special education and gifted programs. She served on academic teams to write, instruct, advise, and mentor educators on curriculum and literacy. Ann also worked as a consultant and regional director for classroom technology integration. She has presented locally, regionally, and nationally for school districts and administrators. Ann received a master’s degree in education from Clemson University, and has completed post-graduate coursework in literacy, guidance, and educational technology.
Brenda Crauder, Regional Coach, has been an educator for over thirty years. Her teaching experience spans preschool through sixth grade. She has served as a lead teacher and administrator at both elementary and middle school levels. Brenda has presented at local, state, and national conferences on curriculum development, reading research, and science notebooks. She has mentored new teachers and aspiring principals for over two decades. Brenda earned her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), master’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan University, and supervision and administration leadership degree from Indiana University.
Emily Larsen, Regional Coach, has been in education for 10 years, teaching kindergarten and second grade in Illinois as well as tutoring primary students in reading and writing. She has also served as a team differentiation coordinator, new teacher trainer, and the trainer of trainers for reading. Emily holds a master’s degree in educational administration from Governors State University in University Park, Illinois, and endorsements in gifted education and music theater. She also directs and choreographs musicals with children in her school and community.
Michelle Martinez, Regional Coach, worked in elementary education for 18 years as a kindergarten teacher and reading specialist in the primary grades. She taught Reading Recovery, Early Literacy, and Early Success at several Title I campuses. She managed a reading room library and trained staff on how to use the books and assess progress. Michelle earned a bachelor’s degree from Angelo State University and Reading Recovery certification from Abilene Christian University in Texas.
Elise Spang, Regional Coach, has worked in education for over 10 years. She recently served as a reading specialist in Reading, Massachusetts for six years. She has also been an elementary school teacher on a Navajo Reservation in New Mexico, a teacher in Harlem, New York City, and a volunteer teacher for high school students in the Marshall Islands. Elise has been trained in Orton-Gillingham-based programs, Wilson Reading, and the Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing Program. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a master’s degree in language and literacy with a reading specialist credential from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Suzanne Webb, Regional Coach, has been in elementary education for 28 years, and during that time taught the kindergarten levels of the Superkids Reading Program for more than two decades. She received her undergraduate degree in education with a reading concentration from the University of Texas and her master’s degree with an early childhood concentration from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Suzanne has completed training in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme and developed and implemented IB curricula for kindergarten students. She has been a recipient of the Fund for Teachers summer fellowship grant, which allowed her to travel to Ireland for curriculum research.
Tracie Telling Barzdukas holds a B.A. in English and Women’s Studies from The Ohio State University and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction/Literacy from Ashland University. For more than fifteen years, Tracie has developed curricula for Heinemann/Fountas amp;& Pinnell, McGraw Hill Education, National Geographic, Scholastic, Zaner-Bloser, and various other respected educational publishers. She has delivered professional development across the United States focusing on writing instruction, next generation assessments, differentiated instruction, close reading, and complex texts. Tracie has a deep knowledge of important literacy frameworks such as guided reading, project-based learning, and reading/writing workshop. She also has experience working with students in urban districts and as well as students who require special education and/or related services.
Kathy Bell has been a part of elementary education in Arizona for 30 years as a special education teacher and a Title I facilitator. Her teaching endorsements include Early Childhood Education and Structured English Immersion. She has served as adjunct professor and practicum supervisor for the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. Kathy earned her master’s degree in special education from the University of Arizona.
Michelle Bergman has worked in education for more than 40 years, most recently as an elementary school principal in New York City. For 16 years she taught in elementary classrooms, and she has extensive experience as a reading interventionist, mainly with middle school students. Michelle has also served as an educational consultant in the areas of staff development, peer coaching, and parent education, and she has worked for Houghton Mifflin as a consultant specializing in reading. She earned a master’s degree in reading diagnosis and remediation, with advanced certification in supervision and administration, from Brooklyn College.
Pat Bernheimer has been in early childhood education for over 36 years. The first 16 years were spent directing nursery schools and day care centers where she was also responsible for curriculum research, development, and implementation. For the past 26 years, Pat has been an educator in Philadelphia where she taught in Head Start and kindergarten classrooms, and held various administrative positions. She served as a Reading First coach for six years in public schools and was a Title I instructional specialist for four years in parochial schools. Pat obtained a bachelor’s degree from Temple University, a master’s degree in education from Gratz College, and a principal and reading certificate from Cheyney University.
Diana Brun received her bachelor’s degree from Northern Kentucky University and master’s degree in education from Christian Brothers University. Her grade level teaching experiences include preschool, kindergarten, and fifth grade, and she has been a reading specialist for third graders. While teaching kindergarten, she used the Superkids program. Diana’s training in SMILA (Simultaneous Multisensory Institute of Language Arts, an Orton-Gillingham classroom approach) has been helpful in working with beginning and struggling readers. She is also a certified trainer of teachers in SMILA and holds IMSLEC (International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council) certification. Diana is a current member of the Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA).
Ann Buis has worked in education for 40 years. A former principal and first-grade teacher in public and independent schools, Ann has most recently worked as the lower school division head of Fort Worth Country Day School in Texas. During her career, she has presented a variety of programs for parents, created professional development seminars, directed workshops for beginning teachers, and taught students in and out of the classroom. Ann received her master’s degree from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.
Patricia Campbell, Ed.D., has been in education for 35 years. She has served as an elementary principal, an instructional support teacher, and a reading specialist. She has presented nationally and at state-level conferences on various aspects of literacy. She taught Reading Recovery for several years to low achieving first grade students. She created and implemented programs aimed at giving parents the necessary tools to help their children with reading strategies at home. Dr. Campbell received her Bachelors degree from the University of Pittsburgh, her Masters from Lehigh University, and her Doctorate from Nova Southeastern University.
Lida Cook recently retired after 30 years of teaching. She taught grades K–3 and Reading Recovery. In addition, she served many years as a literacy specialist and coach for grades K–8, with the added duties of mentor teacher, Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Induction, and master teacher to student teachers. Lida received a master’s degree in elementary education, curriculum and instruction, and is a certified language development specialist.
Victoria Daniel recently retired after more than 36 years in elementary education in Warren County, Virginia. She has worked as a kindergarten and first-grade teacher, Title I reading specialist (K-5), and literacy coach. She has served as a team leader and curriculum leader. She was a member of the Leadership Literacy Planning Committee developing the language arts curriculum for the school district. Vickie has presented professional development and workshops on instruction and DIBELS assessments to K-5 teachers and paraprofessionals. She received a bachelor’s degree from North Georgia College and University and a master’s degree from Walden University.
Lisa Darling began her career as a K-4 teacher in California and Wisconsin. She served as a multigrade classroom teacher and academic dean for an academy in the Milwaukee area. In 2003, she developed and taught a first- through third-grade literacy support program for at-risk children. Lisa has spent many hours tutoring students and parents in multisensory approaches to reading, spelling, and handwriting. Lisa obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is a member of the International Dyslexia Association and the Wisconsin Reading Coalition.
Dr. Carl Ferguson is a professor at California State University-Monterey Bay (CSUMB) where he also directs the Center for Reading Diagnosis and Instruction, which provides services to K-12 students who struggle with reading and comprehension. He has taught students at all grade levels who were at risk for school failure. Dr. Ferguson enjoys working with teachers who are focused on improving general literacy skills and specific reading abilities. He specializes in early reading instruction, curricula, and assessment processes that improve overall reading ability.
Bonnie Francis most recently worked as an adjunct professor of elementary education and supervisor of student teachers at the State University of New York at Cortland. For 15 years, she delivered a broad range of educational services to more than a dozen school districts in the state of New York under the auspices of the Broome-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services, serving as elementary curriculum coordinator, coordinator of special-needs services, director of pre-K, and primary principal at the Chenango Valley Central School District. Bonnie’s teaching experience ranges from Head Start through grade six.
Johanna Harned began her career teaching in the elementary grades and presenting reading clinics across the Southeast. She moved into educational publishing, where she spent more than 30 years as a consultant for Scott Foresman, which became Pearson Education. Johanna has presented talks on literacy and other topics at local, state, regional, and national meetings. She has traveled across the United States and internationally training and learning from great teachers. Johanna earned a master’s degree from Murray State University in Kentucky.
Deb Hoesterey has been an educator for over 40 years serving as a classroom teacher, special educator, reading interventionist, instructional coach, assistant principal, and principal. For the last two years she has served as an educational consultant working with a literacy grant serving children in Title I schools. Deb is a certified trainer for the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) professional development program. She has provided professional development seminars on a host of subjects including instructional templates, literacy centers, student engagement, and the PARCC assessment. Deb completed her master’s degree in special education at the University of Northern Colorado.
Polly Hougham, Ed.D., has been an educator for 40 years serving as an elementary classroom teacher, special educator, reading coach, and media specialist. She has been recognized as the Inclusion Teacher of the Year and Teacher of the Year, presented the Crystal Apple Award, and nominated for Prism Science Teacher of the Year. She also was an adjunct professor for the University of Central Florida where she taught classes in Elementary Education and supervised and advised new teachers. She was the Director of Curriculum and Assessment for charter schools in Florida, owned a tutoring center, and facilitated professional development for Educational Research Foundation. She holds a National Board Certification, a doctorate in Child and Youth Studies from Nova Southeastern University, and a Master’s in Special Education and Bachelor’s in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from the University of Central Florida.
Cathy Isbell retired after teaching kindergarten for 26 years at Memphis City Schools. She was the coordinator for the K–3 summer school reading program at her school. In addition to being a classroom teacher, Cathy served as a cooperating teacher for many student teachers, mentored new teachers, and was a professional development presenter at her district in-service. Cathy also served as a literacy leader with Reading First in Tennessee for three years. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Memphis and earned her master's degree and a certificate of advanced graduate studies from Trevecca Nazarene University.
Debra Martin has worked in public and private education for over 25 years. She has served as an elementary teacher and Title I reading specialist, and provided supplemental reading instruction to at-risk students. She taught grades 2 and 3 in West Virginia and Missouri, and she has mentored high school students interested in becoming teachers, college students majoring in elementary education, and newly hired teachers. Debra also represented her schools at district meetings and partnered effectively with program and curriculum administrators in the planning of teaching and assessment strategies for the classroom.
Nancy McLaughlin has been a classroom teacher, reading consultant, language arts consultant, literacy trainer, international teacher trainer, portfolio scorer, and BEST mentor. She has advanced training in the Orton-Gillingham and Reading Recovery programs. A public school reading consultant for 11 years, Nancy has presented workshops and in-services; created, performed, and analyzed student and faculty assessments; and delivered remediation to teachers and students. She has collaborated with administrators and faculty to develop language art curricula, prepared students and teachers for standardized testing, performed assessments and training, and presented parent and teacher workshops. Nancy graduated from Iona College and earned her master's at Dowling College in New York State.
Risë Meyer has served as an English teacher, special educator, reading specialist, coach, and trainer. As a district-level reading specialist, Risë trained teachers in the Orton-Gillingham approach. She is a certified trainer for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS). Risë was instrumental in obtaining a million-dollar special education grant to improve reading and writing achievement and has trained K–3 teachers on reading skills and intervention through Colorado's READing Foundations Academy. Risë received her bachelor’s degree in English and master’s degree in special education at the University of Colorado and is passionate about helping all children become successful readers.
Judy Miranda has worked in education for forty years, beginning as an elementary teacher in Arizona. She then moved into educational publishing as a consultant focused on reading intervention and staff development. In this role, Judy has given presentations for state reading committees and conferences and has trained teachers and sales representatives across the country. She has co-authored professional resources and has served as president of the California Reading Association. Judy holds a bachelor's degree from Northern Arizona University.
Mike Moon has been in education for 33 years. He received his master's degree from West Texas State University. His classroom teaching experience includes pre-K through second grade. Mike has served as an elementary principal and district superintendent. He has presented professional development topics on early childhood, reading, curriculum development, inclusive practices, and differentiating instruction. Mike has also served as a mentor principal for the Stephen F. Austin State University principal preparation program.
Andrea Moyers-Bloss has been an educator for more than 20 years. She started her career as a third-grade teacher, then taught second grade before becoming an instructional support teacher, guidance counselor, and elementary principal. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and principal certification from Pennsylvania State University. Her dissertation research focused on phonemic awareness in the elementary classroom. Andrea has piloted curriculum, served on curriculum development committees, and presented workshops to elementary faculty.
Daria Myers has been in education for more than 30 years. She has taught pre-K, first grade, and reading, but her primary focus has been kindergarten. Daria has a master’s degree from National-Louis University in Illinois. Her thesis focused on thematic learning in early childhood classrooms. She has served on curriculum development committees at the district level and has presented workshops for kindergarten teachers, modeling new curriculum.
Kass Patterson recently retired after 20 years of teaching kindergarten in the Colorado independent school sector. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with a specialty in K–6 reading and writing from the University of Colorado at Denver. During the past 10 years, Kass has presented many professional development literacy workshops to intern teachers, classroom teachers, and parents of emergent readers. She has also created and facilitated summer literacy enrichment programs for children for 14 years. In 2010, Kass participated in an international teacher exchange in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Pamela Kling Peroutky, Ed.D., Independent Literacy Specialist, has been in education for nearly 30 years. She taught in elementary and middle school classrooms and served as a school principal and assistant superintendent responsible for curriculum, assessment, and professional development. Pam received a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University Chicago, where her research focused on the characteristics of effective professional development and its impact on teachers’ instructional practices. As an educational consultant, she has provided professional learning opportunities in a variety of curricular areas, including literacy, assessment, models of teaching, and effective mentoring techniques.
Jamie Rice has been in elementary education for over 12 years in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has led several professional development classes for classroom teachers, created and analyzed student assessments, and developed a review program for language arts and math. Through the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, she served as a team member creating cross-curricular lesson content. She has also mentored new teachers and served as a cooperating teacher for student teachers. She received a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University.
LaDawn Robinson has been an educator for over 12 years and has taught Superkids Kindergarten in South Florida. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee State University and completed her master’s degree in management and administration of educational programs at Nova Southeastern University. LaDawn also works with Educational Testing Services as a test rater and serves as a professional development specialist for the Council of Professional Recognition.
AnnMarie Sarbello began her career in the nonprofit world as a community educator for children and adults. After earning a master’s degree, she taught pre-K through fifth grade with the majority of her experience in first grade. In addition to being a classroom teacher, she has provided private tutoring and reading intervention services to elementary students. During the last five years, she has developed and sold her own educational products.
Alison Schmerler has been in education for 34 years. She taught kindergarten in the Summit, New Jersey, public school system for 18 years. During that time she received the New Jersey Governor’s Award for Teaching Excellence and worked with two of her colleagues to hold summer teacher training seminars. She moved to Florida and for the last 16 years has been a national teacher consultant for an early childhood educational publishing company. In this role, she traveled the country training teachers and sales representatives on various products, presenting at local and state education conferences, and assisting with editorial projects. Alison holds a bachelor’s degree from Nazareth College of Rochester and a master’s degree from Kean College of New Jersey.
Denise Seiler has been in public and private education for 36 years. She received her master’s degree from Oakland University in Michigan and her certificate of advanced studies in educational leadership from Michigan State University. Denise taught kindergarten through middle school for 18 years. She then served as an elementary principal, district curriculum director, and district superintendent. Denise has presented at state and national conferences on the topics of reading, curriculum development, assessment, classroom management, and differentiated instruction. Throughout her career, Denise has mentored numerous teachers to become effective educational leaders.
Jean Smith recently retired from over 30 years of service in two large Florida school districts. She obtained a bachelor’s degree from Troy University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. She was a reading specialist and classroom teacher in grades K, 1, 2, and 5. Her district-wide experiences included working with new teachers, supporting school initiatives, implementing federal magnet grants, and being a professional development trainer, magnet coordinator, and assistant principal. She has held office in several district and state professional teachers’ organizations, including the Florida Reading Association.
Martha (Marti) Spiess is retired from a career in public education that spanned more than 35 years. Since 2004 she has worked in educational publishing assisting teachers in implementing research-based English Language Arts programs. She has filled a variety of roles as teacher of primary through middle school, Title I reading instructor, instructional specialist, director of curriculum, instructor for the Ohio Literacy training classes, and mentor for primary teachers. Marti received a bachelor’s degree from the University of New York at Buffalo, a master’s degree in education from Xavier University, Ohio, and completed post-master’s work through Miami University, Ohio.
Linda Stacey is a reading specialist with more than 20 years’ experience with emergent readers. After Linda earned early childhood degrees from Cuyahoga Community College and Cleveland State University, she began her career as a preschool and kindergarten teacher and discovered her passion for early literacy development. Linda completed her master’s degree in reading at California State University and worked with preschool through college-aged students to improve literacy.
Samantha Stanley has been in education for over 15 years, teaching grades K–5 on Long Island, New York. During this time, she has been a mentor to new teachers, grade-level chairperson, and cooperating teacher for student teachers. Her classroom was a model classroom in which other teachers were coached on how to run their literacy blocks. She has also been a private tutor to elementary students in ELA. Samantha holds a master’s degree in elementary education from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York.
Jane Vallin has been in elementary education for 33 years, with experience as a classroom teacher and media specialist. She has presented early literacy workshops for teachers, administrators, and reading specialists, and she has written curricula for D.C. Heath and Company, now part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Jane has also served as an adjunct professor at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois. She received a master’s degree in instructional leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Ardas Wachter-Grene has been an educator for 37 years. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and teaching credential from the University of California, Berkeley, and her administrative credential from California State University, Hayward (now California State University, East Bay). In addition to teaching kindergarten through middle school, Ardas has served as a Title I program facilitator, designated principal, district curriculum K–5 literacy specialist, and an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley, CSU Hayward (East Bay), Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga, and Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona.
Deborah Wilkins worked for more than 30 years as a literacy coach, instructional specialist, and teacher in New York City, where she also served as a district coordinator and facilitator for the Success for All reading program. In addition, Deborah was a teacher of speech improvement and has worked extensively with special education and ESL students. She received a master’s degree in educational leadership from Bank Street College of Education in New York City. Deborah now lives in the Washington, D.C., area.