Presenters and Facilitators
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Elaine Allensworth, PhD, is chief research officer at the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. She conducts research on the structural factors that affect high school students’ educational attainment, including graduation and dropout rates and college readiness. Dr. Allensworth is one of the primary researchers of a seven-year longitudinal school improvement study and has co-authored the book, Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago. The book provides a detailed analysis of why students in 100 public elementary schools in Chicago were able to improve substantially in reading and mathematics over a seven-year period and students in another 100 schools were not. Using massive longitudinal evidence, the study yields a comprehensive set of school practices and school and community conditions that promotes improvement, showing that the absence of these spells stagnation.
Diane August, PhD, is currently a senior research scientist at the Center for Applied Linguistics as well as a consultant located in Washington, DC. At the center, she is the principal investigator or coinvestigator for a number of large, federally funded studies that investigate the development of literacy in high-poverty elementary school children. Dr. August was staff director for the National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth. She has been a senior program officer at the National Academy of Sciences where she was study director for the Committee on Developing a Research Agenda on the Education of Limited English Proficient and Bilingual Students. Dr. August has worked as a teacher, school administrator, legislative assistant, grants officer for the Carnegie Corporation, and was director of Education for the Children's Defense Fund. In 1981, she received her PhD in education from Stanford University and in 1982 completed a postdoctoral fellowship in psychology also at Stanford. Dr. August has published widely in journals and books.
Stacy Avery serves as the program manager for the Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (T-STEM) Initiative at the Texas Education Agency. Prior to joining the agency in January 2009, she served as the director of the Transformation 2013 T-STEM Center housed at Education Service Center, Region XIII. As director, Ms. Avery coordinated the day-to-day operations overseeing the development and implementation of programs to support STEM education. In her current role, she provides policy and leadership for the T-STEM Initiative, overseeing multiple grantees including T-STEM; Academies, Centers, Robotics, Network/Exemplars, and Technical Assistance providers. In addition, Ms. Avery works with the Standards and Programs department to coordinate special projects such as Middle-School Students in Texas: Algebra Ready (M-STAR) program, M-STAR Pilot grants, and Algebra Readiness grants.
Marion Baldwin, MEd, is a program associate with SEDL’s Improving School Performance (ISP) program and works with both the Texas and Southeast Comprehensive Centers, planning and delivering technical assistance and professional development to help state department staff and service providers increase family and community engagement in students’ education. Ms. Baldwin has more than 15 years of experience working with expanded learning, community education, and family and community engagement programs. Before joining SEDL, she was an administrator with the National Center for Community Education and director of community education for the Little Rock School District. Ms. Baldwin earned her master’s degree in educational administration and bachelor’s degree in interpersonal/ organizational communications from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.
Tod Beers, MAE, currently serves as a state coordinator for the development and implementation of the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI). The initiative serves one-half of the students in Alabama and provides over 16,000 administrators and teachers with sustained professional development, on-site mentoring, and all of the materials and equipment needed to teach math and science using inquiry-based, hands-on instruction. AMSTI has been acknowledged as one of only 35 programs that work from across the nation by Fortune 500 CEOs and praised by the National Council of State Legislatures, the National Governor’s Association, the National Science Resource Center of the National Academies of Science, the Smithsonian Institution, and many others as a statewide STEM initiative. Mr. Beers works most closely with the mathematics component of the program and oversees the operation of 11 AMSTI sites that cover all the education regions of the state. Each AMSTI site supports the fieldwork with local education agencies (LEAs), administrators, and teachers through a director, content specialists, and a materials operation center. Other responsibilities at the state level have included being a team leader over a region of the state with work in curriculum and instruction, field services, leadership, and school improvement. Mr. Beers received bachelor's degrees—a BFA and a BAE—from the University of Montevallo and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), respectively, as well as a master of arts in education degree from UAB.
Stella Bell, EdD, is a program associate with SEDL's ISP program and works with the Texas Comprehensive Center (TXCC) to build the capacity of state department of education (SDE) staff in Texas to implement the goals and programs of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Prior to joining SEDL in 2002, Dr. Bell spent 29 years in an urban school district serving as a teacher, principal, and central office administrator. She served as a principal of both high- and low-performing schools, and a highlight was opening a new elementary school. Dr. Bell focuses on balanced literacy in reading and writing, culturally relevant pedagogy, professional learning communities, and school leadership and improvement. Dr. Bell holds a BS in elementary education from the University of North Texas in Denton, an MEd in curriculum and instruction and educational administration from Texas State University (formerly Southwest Texas State University) in San Marcos, and an EdD in educational administration from Texas A&M University at College Station. Her research interest includes examining school organization and leadership: diversity in embedded intergroup theory and properties of intergroup conflicts.
Jackie Burniske, MA, is a program associate with SEDL's Improving School Performance program. Her current work includes leading the planning and design of webinars and publications to support the work of TXCC. Ms. Burniske also provides technical assistance and professional development to build the capacity of SDE staff and regional education service staff in Texas to meet the goals and purposes of NCLB and other federal mandates. Prior to returning to SEDL in 2009, Ms. Burniske worked with Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) in Honolulu, Hawaii, for 6.5 years, where she served as the director of communications, associate director of the Stars Schools Grant, and professional development team leader. From 1997–2002, she worked at SEDL providing professional development, technical assistance, and resource dissemination in the area of technology integration. Prior to this, she was a secondary school classroom teacher for 15 years and taught in international schools in Egypt, Ecuador, and Malaysia, as well as in a Massachusetts high school. Ms. Burniske holds a BA in political science from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MA in curriculum and teaching from Michigan State University. She is a certified secondary school social studies teacher.
Ann E. Chafin
Ann Chafin, MEd, received a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1971 from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She taught fifth grade for 5 years in a Title I targeted classroom, in a Title I targeted school in Stafford. She received her master’s in reading research from the University of Virginia and began her career in Maryland in 1980. Since then, Ms. Chafin has directed the development of the Maryland Functional Testing Program (1980–1987), managed the fiscal data review from the Council of Chief State School Officers (1987), was assessment director for the Governor’s Commission on School Performance (1987–1989) and spent 15 years as director of research and assessment for the Charles County School System. Ms. Chafin has been the Maryland state director for Title I where she oversaw in excess of $200 million in federal and state aid to students at risk of failure and to schools and districts that are in improvement status for NCLB. Currently, she serves as assistant state superintendent of the Division of Student, Family, and School Support, overseeing Title I, master planning, school improvement, student services, youth development, charter schools, and the SEED Project.
Camille Chapman, MEd, is a program associate in the ISP program at SEDL. As an SECC staff member, Ms. Chapman provides technical assistance to and collaborates with staff at SDEs in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina with a focus on mathematics and on schools in need of improvement. Prior to joining SEDL in 2008, she served over 8 years in the Mississippi Department of Education as a division director working in the areas of student assessment, curriculum and instruction, and federal programs, including Titles I and III. She also has over 18 years of classroom experience as a teacher in middle grades mathematics. Ms. Chapman holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Louisville, Kentucky, and a master’s degree in elementary education with a focus in mathematics from Mississippi College.
Ramona Chauvin, PhD, is a program associate in the Improving School Performance program at SEDL. Prior to joining SEDL in 2008, she was a Region II Reading First regional coordinator for the Louisiana Department of Education and a program director of Western Washington University's K–8 Teacher Education Program in Everett, Washington. Dr. Chauvin also has more than 25 years of classroom experience as a teacher in grades 5–12 and 13 years of experience in higher education institutions in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Washington. In 2000, she was the senior writer/researcher for Reading Links, a preK–6 collaborative project that was part of the federal program Linking Educational Reform and Educational Technology, the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Education, and the Washington Alliance for Better Schools. Dr. Chauvin also served as a lead writer with the Washington Alliance for Better Schools for the creation of Secondary Reading Strategies: Tools and Strategies for Improving Reading in Content Areas, a set of teacher handbooks (i.e., general reading, mathematics, science, and social studies) to be used as part of staff development for middle and high school teachers, coaches, and administrators. She has had a lead role in conducting train-the-trainer sessions as well as intensive professional development with individual schools, school districts, district consortiums, and annual state department conferences and summer institutes in K–12 reading/literacy. Dr. Chauvin holds a PhD from the University of New Orleans (UNO) in curriculum and instruction with a focus on teacher development, adult learning, narrative inquiry, and educational administration. Her master's degree is in curriculum and instruction with a focus on reading from UNO, and her BA in English education is from Nicholls State University.
Glenda Copeland, MA, is a program associate with the ISP program at SEDL. As an SECC state liaison, she oversees the planning and delivery of technical assistance and professional development in the state of Georgia and assists in providing similar services to other states that SEDL serves. In her previous work with SEDL, Ms. Copeland was a member of the Regional Laboratory Network Program, the Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Consortia, and the National Model Professional Development Award Program, helping plan the selection process and managing the site visit process for the U.S. Department of Education. Ms. Copeland led the development and production of A Flashlight and Compass: A Collection of Tools to Promote Instructional Coherence for SEDL's Promoting Instructional Coherence project. As project director of a national comprehensive middle and high school improvement program, she focused on leadership development and building collaborative relationships. Prior to joining SEDL in 1992, Ms. Copeland coordinated district gifted programs in social studies, language arts, and mathematics for the Austin Independent School District and was a classroom teacher (K–12) for 12 years. Her degrees are in secondary education, mental retardation, and gifted education.
D'Ette Cowan, EdD, is a project director with SEDL's Improving School Performance program. Dr. Cowan works with TXCC to build the capacity of state and regional education agencies in accomplishing the goals of NCLB. She leads TXCC efforts to assist state agencies in providing high-needs districts and schools with resources and technical assistance for school improvement. Dr. Cowan also oversees school support team training on systemic improvement for the Texas education service centers. Her previous work includes developing webinars on school support team training, comprehensive needs assessments, effective professional development, improvement plans, and other topics related to systemic improvement. Prior to joining SEDL in 1997, Dr. Cowan served as an elementary school principal and a junior high school teacher. She has also facilitated Title I school improvement efforts through the Region 12 Education Service Center in Waco. Dr. Cowan holds a BS in secondary education from The University of Texas at Austin (UT), an MS in reading from Baylor University in Waco, and a certification in mid-management and supervision from UT. She also completed her EdD in the Educational Administration Department's Public School Executive Leadership Program at UT.
Melody J. Crabb
Melody Crabb, MEd, is the assistant director of the STEM Ram Academy, a magnet program located at North East Independent School District in San Antonio. She has been in education for 14 years and earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) as an honors student and her master’s degree in educational administration from Trinity University. Prior to joining the STEM RAM Academy, Ms. Crabb served in leadership roles for 9 years at both middle and high school campuses. Her experiences include teaching in special and general education settings; supervising as a special education coordinator at the elementary, middle, and high school levels; conducting various staff development sessions in differentiated instruction, best teaching practices, CPI, and 4-Mat; as well as serving as a student advocate. She has also sat on several state, district, and campus educational committees. While at the STEM RAM Academy, she has developed and implemented numerous new programs and has presented on these programs at local and state conferences. Her edu¬cational goal is to continuously pass on her enthusiasm and desire for learning to the students that she serves.
Edwin Darden, Esq., is director of education law and policy for Appleseed, a national, nonprofit legal organization that focuses on equity and social justice. Mr. Darden previously served as senior staff attorney at the National School Boards Association, director of the Center for Urban Schools Program at the New York State School Boards Association, and most recently as managing partner of his own K–12 education law and policy firm, called EdAdvocacy. Mr. Darden is a contributing editor and author of the “School Law” column in American School Board Journal and speaks frequently at national conferences. He holds a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and is president-elect of the board of directors of the Education Law Association.
Vicki Dimock, PhD, is program director of SEDL's Improving School Performance program. In this role, she coordinates and directs SEDL's efforts to build the capacity of state education agencies in Texas and the Southeast to implement the programs and goals of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Prior to this position, she served as program manager of the Science, Technology, and Mathematics Program at SEDL, which assisted educational entities in improving mathematics and science education and in implementing technology to support improved teaching and learning outcomes for students. Dr. Dimock coauthored the book Technology as a Catalyst for School Communities: Beyond Boxes and Bandwidth. She also applied her research, development, and dissemination skills as project director of SEDL's Arkansas AdVentures in Networking project and in SEDL's Leadership for Change project. Dr. Dimock has over 30 years of experience working with educators to improve educational experiences and outcomes for children and youth. Before coming to SEDL, she served as an education specialist at the Region IX Education Service Center providing technical assistance to low-performing schools and for mathematics teachers across the region and state. She was also coordinator of a program for gifted students and a K–12 teacher in mathematics and social sciences. Dr. Dimock holds a bachelor of science in education and a master’s degree in educational administration. Her PhD in curriculum and instruction was earned at The University of Texas at Austin.
Joy Eichelberger, EdD, currently serves as a school improvement and response to instruction and intervention (RtII) expert on assignment from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to the Harrisburg School District in Harrisburg. Prior to this assignment, Dr. Eichelberger served as director of school intervention services and statewide lead for RtII with the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network, PDE. In this role, she provided leadership for the statewide response to instruction and intervention initiative, school improvement efforts, and professional development. Areas of expertise include response to instruction and intervention, leadership, effective instruction, organizational development, and data based decision making. Dr. Eichelberger presents at local, state, and national conferences and meetings and has several professional publications to her credit. She has received numerous professional awards; her most treasured being Teacher of the Year and a Leadership Service Award for School Improvement and Response to Instruction and Intervention. Dr. Eichelberger is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, The Johns Hopkins University, and Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, from which she holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s in special education, and a doctorate in educational leadership, respectively.
Celina Estrada-Thomas, PhD, is the principal at Bastrop High School in Bastrop Independent School District in Bastrop, Texas. Prior to this assignment, she served as the principal of Dobie Middle School and Albert S. Johnston High School in Austin Independent School District where she implemented effective strategies of the turnaround model. During Dr. Estrada-Thomas’ tenure at both schools, 50% of the staff was removed, and job-embedded professional development was designed to build capacity for staff. Increased learning time for staff and students and greater flexibility for school leaders were part of the early preliminary strategies implemented to turn the schools around. Dr. Estrada-Thomas received her doctorate from The University of Texas at Austin.
Deborah Fletcher, MEd, is the principal of St. Elmo Elementary School in Mobile, Alabama. Ms. Fletcher has worked as a teacher, district science resource teacher, and administrator for the Mobile County Public School System for 18 years. She holds a BS and MEd from the University of South Alabama. The Alabama State Department of Education has recognized St. Elmo Elementary as an Alabama Torchbearer School. In addition, St. Elmo is a Renaissance Master School, Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI), and Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) site.
Laura Goe, PhD, is a research scientist in the Learning & Teaching Research Center at ETS in Princeton, New Jersey. Dr. Goe is the principal investigator for research and dissemination for the federally funded National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality and recently completed a three-year term as coeditor of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. She received her doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley, where she was the research director for the Bay Area Consortium for Urban Education, working to improve teacher quality and supply in urban schools. Prior to Berkeley, Dr. Goe taught at-risk middle school students in Mississippi and Memphis. Her current focus is on advising states, districts, and teachers’ unions on the design and implementation of comprehensive teacher evaluation systems that include multiple measures and prioritize student learning growth. Dr. Goe’s research interests include teacher qualifications, measuring teacher quality, and teacher effectiveness.
Julia Gwynne, PhD, is a senior research analyst at the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. Her research includes work on student mobility, school closings, and students with disabilities. Dr. Gwynne is currently investigating how different dimensions of classroom instructional environment are related to student outcomes. She received her PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago.
Carl Harris, EdD, is the deputy assistant secretary for policy and strategic initiatives for the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC. Dr. Harris previously served as superintendent of Durham Public Schools. He began leading the North Carolina district with its 46 schools and nearly 32,000 students in July 2006. Prior to becoming superintendent, Dr. Harris served the district as deputy superintendent and as assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. A native of Franklin County, NC, he also served as superintendent of that public school system, where he was responsible for 13 schools, more than 7,700 students, 965 employees, and an operating budget of more than $1 million. During his education career, Dr. Harris has served in a variety of roles including classroom teacher, coach, and district office administrator. He has a BA in health and physical education from Southwest State University in Marshall, Minnesota, an MA in education and an MA in administration from East Carolina University in Greenville, as well as a doctorate in education administration from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Dr. Harris is a graduate of 2002 class of The Broad Superintendents Academy.
Margaret Heritage is assistant director for professional development at the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Her current work focuses on the development of academic language for English language students and on data use for school improvement, including the use of longitudinal data systems, formative assessment, and teachers’ use of formative assessment evidence. Dr. Heritage has made numerous presentations on these topics all over the United States and in Europe. Prior to joining CRESST, she had many years of teaching and leadership experience at schools in the United Kingdom and the U.S., including a period as a county inspector of education in the U.K. She has also taught graduate classes in education at the Department of Education at the University of Warwick, England, UCLA, and at Stanford University. Her most recent publications include the paper, Assessment to Support Teaching and Learning, published by ETS (2010), a paper in Education Measurement: Issues and Practice on teachers’ use of formative assessment evidence (2009) and a contribution on student self-assessment to a special issue of the National Middle School Association Journal (2009). Her latest book is Formative Assessment: Making It Happen in the Classroom, published by Corwin Press.
Wesley A. Hoover
Wesley Hoover, PhD, has served as SEDL's president and CEO since 1996. In this role, Dr. Hoover is responsible to the board of directors for the overall management and operation of SEDL. Prior to being named president, Dr. Hoover was a senior vice-president leading the Eisenhower Southwest Consortium for the Improvement of Mathematics and Science Teaching and the Office of Institutional Assessment and Evaluation. He joined SEDL in 1980 as a programmer/analyst in the Division of Bilingual and International Education, working on research in bilingual reading acquisition. Dr. Hoover has published numerous articles and presented papers at regional, national, and international conferences based on his research in early reading, bilingual reading, and language acquisition. Throughout his career, he has held administrative and advisory positions with a variety of research and service organizations, including the American Educational Research Association, the ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Science and Mathematics Education, and the National Center for Community Education. Dr. Hoover holds a BA in psychology from Trinity University in San Antonio and a PhD in human experimental psychology (with a specialization in reading and psycholinguistics) from The University of Texas at Austin.
Robin Jarvis, PhD, is program manager of SEDL's Improving School Performance program. She serves as the director of SECC and oversees the work of SEDL's satellite offices for the comprehensive center. Prior to coming to SEDL, Dr. Jarvis served as the acting superintendent of the Recovery School District in New Orleans from 2006 to 2007 and was responsible for the initial establishment of the district and the opening of 34 schools, including 17 charters, in the district following Hurricane Katrina and the state’s intervention with the Orleans Parish School System. Previous positions with the Louisiana Department of Education include program manager with the Distinguished Educator Program; director of the Division of Professional Development; director of the Division of School Standards, Accountability, and Assistance; and assistant superintendent of the Office of Student and School Performance. In these roles, Dr. Jarvis worked with accountability, curriculum, assessment, special education, leadership, and professional development issues in Louisiana and served as state director for various federal programs, including Title I. She has 13 years' experience in K–12 public education as an elementary school principal and as a K–3 classroom teacher in East Baton Rouge Parish. Dr. Jarvis holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's in elementary education with a focus in early childhood education. She received her PhD in educational leadership and research with a research emphasis on school effectiveness and school improvement.
Kandace Jones, MBA, serves as special assistant in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) for the U.S. Department of Education. Her major responsibilities include coordinating support to states and districts in implementing their school improvement grants and leading the Assistant Secretary's Technical Assistance Initiative, which focuses on providing states and districts with the support they need to implement reforms, manage change across their systems and, ultimately, impact teaching and learning. Prior to this role, Ms. Jones led the school turnaround and reconfiguration efforts for the Pomona Unified School District (PUSD) in Los Angeles County, California. Prior to PUSD, Ms. Jones cofounded Global Elevation, a nonprofit whose mission was to stimulate economic growth in underserved communities through youth entrepreneurial development and cross-cultural exchange. Prior to launching Global Elevation, Ms. Jones served as director of school partnerships for The Gallup Organization’s Education Division, where she worked with school districts to implement selection tools to aid in hiring the most effective teachers and principals. Ms. Jones also served as regional director for both Rocket Learning and Platform Learning Inc., implementing and overseeing academic after-school programs in urban school districts across the nation. Prior to entering the education field, she gained experience in marketing, sales, operations and brand management at Procter & Gamble, AOL Time Warner, and Forbes magazine. Ms. Jones received her BA and MBA from Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. She also is a member of the 2008–2010 class of the Broad Residency in Urban Education.
Jane Arnold Lincove
Jane Lincove, PhD, is assistant professor of public affairs at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at UT. Her research focuses on education policy and economics of education in the U.S. and in developing countries. Her research has been published in Public Administration and Development, Journal of Developing Areas, and Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Prior to joining the LBJ School, Dr. Lincove served as a policy consultant for the Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles, as an evaluator for several southern California public school districts, and as development coordinator for Para Los Niños, a nonprofit children's agency serving the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. She holds a master's in public policy from UCLA and a PhD in public administration from the University of Southern California.
Sandra R. Lindsay
Sandra Lindsay, EdD, is currently serving as a clinical professor in the Education Leadership and Policies Department of the College of Education at the University of South Carolina. From 1999–2004, Dr. Lindsay served as the deputy state superintendent for curriculum services and assessment at the South Carolina Department of Education. At the local school district level, she served for 27 years in leadership roles in Dorchester School District Two, including assistant superintendent for instruction for 16 years. Dr. Lindsay has assumed numerous statewide leadership roles including the presidency of both the South Carolina Association of School Superintendents and the South Carolina Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Teaching about leadership and helping leaders improve their skills and knowledge are ongoing commitments for Dr. Lindsay. She has received numerous awards and honors for her work with public schools and has served at the national level as president of the Deputies Leadership Commission of the Council of Chief State School Officers. Dr. Lindsay has a bachelor’s degree in history from Winthrop College, a master’s degree in education from The Citadel, and a doctorate in education in curriculum and instruction from the University of South Carolina.
Jan Lindsey, MPAff, is currently the senior director for the Division of Dropout Prevention and College and Career Readiness Initiatives at the Texas Education Agency, a division responsible for the development and management of a portfolio of secondary school reform initiatives designed to prepare students for postsecondary success. These initiatives are supported by a biennial budget of over $100 million. Initiatives include the Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (T-STEM) Initiative, which is comprised of T-STEM academies and centers. Ms. Lindsey previously served as a policy manager for the Texas Workforce Commission and as a policy analyst for both the Texas Youth Commission and the Texas Governor’s Office. She taught high school social studies for 8 years while serving as department chair and campus gifted and talented coordinator. Ms. Lindsey received both her bachelor of arts in sociology and master’s of public affairs from The University of Texas at Austin.
Robyn Madison-Harris, EdD, is a program associate with SEDL's ISP program. Her work includes assisting with school improvement and turnaround efforts in the states served by SECC. She also is the SECC liaison to the Assessment and Accountability Comprehensive Center. Dr. Madison-Harris has assisted clients with educational leadership development, leadership program review, accreditation rubric development, statewide system of support work, alternative education policy development, school improvement process revision, and standards alignment. She has several years of experience working with state and local education agencies to develop policy, training materials, and calculation tools related to accountability requirements in NCLB. Prior to joining SEDL, Dr. Madison-Harris worked with the Louisiana Department of Education as a research analyst, focusing on policy analysis and accountability data. In addition, she has served as a school and district assessment coordinator. She also has provided district-level academic leadership in a state-operated school district for students with exceptionalities and school-level leadership at an alternative school for adjudicated adolescents in Louisiana. She taught high school English, African American literature and history, and publications. Dr. Madison-Harris has a BS in secondary education, an MEd in administration and supervision from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, and an EdD in organizational leadership with an educational leadership specialization from Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida.
Diana Garcia Marion
Diana Marion, MEd, has been involved in all aspects of the education of English language learners for 40 years. Ms. Marion has a bachelor’s of arts in elementary education and Spanish, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, supervision certification, and bilingual/English as a second language (ESL) certification. She has worked in the classroom for 11 years, 1 year at the university level and the majority of her career as the bilingual/ESL coordinator in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District in Houston. Throughout her tenure, she has made positive contributions to the growing ELL population at the state level by serving on various bilingual textbook review committees, assessment review committees, state-level committees regarding identification and placement of special education ELL students, and she has been trained for numerous state required “trainer of trainer” programs. Ms. Marion has cowritten and been awarded various Title VII grants to enhance the educational program for ELL students. She has been an active member of state and local organizations supporting the bilingual/ESL teacher and student, and she has supervised more than 30 alternative certification candidates who presently work in the field of bilingual education. As the population has grown, Ms. Marion has been directly responsible for maintaining compliance in the identification, placement, and exit of thousands of students. Her dedication and commitment to the program is also recognized by many parents of ELL students who have benefited from English classes and trainings provided by her department.
Rayne Martin was recently hired as the chief of innovation for the Louisiana Department of Education, where she will be leading the LA Education Reform Plan Implementation, building a statewide system to increase district capacity and managing school turnarounds and human capital initiatives. For the last 3 years, she served as the chief of staff for the Recovery School District in New Orleans under the leadership of Superintendent Paul Vallas, where she was responsible for the daily operations of the district and facilitated the development and implementation of the strategies that resulted in the largest academic gains in New Orleans history. Most recently, she also oversaw the development of the state's Race to the Top application. Her expertise lies in serving public organizations during times of reform and transition, which includes a previous role as a director for the Chicago Housing Authority during its implementation of the Plan for Transformation, the largest and most ambitious redevelopment effort of public housing in the history of the United States.
Danny Martinez, MA, is a project director/program associate with SEDL's ISP program. Through his work on a variety of projects at SEDL, Mr. Martinez promotes the use of technology to improve teaching and learning. His current work includes the development and delivery of professional development for schools participating in the New Mexico Rural Partnership for Technology. Using videoconferencing, e-mail, and a project Ning site, he provides ongoing support for teachers in these schools. Mr. Martinez also provides professional development in technology integration and 21st century skills for SEDL’s Center for Professional Learning and leads SEDL’s Connecting Kids to Math, Science, and Technology project. In his work for SEDL’s Southeast Comprehensive Center, Mr. Martinez serves as the liaison to the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality. He holds a BS in radio, television, and film from UT and an MA in experiential education from Mankato State University (now Minnesota State University).
Debra Meibaum, MAT, is a program associate with SEDL's ISP program. As an SECC state liaison, Ms. Meibaum oversees the planning and delivery of technical assistance and professional development in Mississippi and assists in providing similar services to other states served by SEDL. Her specialty area is NCLB. Prior to joining SEDL in 1996, Ms. Meibaum worked at the Mississippi Department of Education for 13 years—10 years in desegregation and bilingual education/ESL programs and 3 years in special education/speech pathology. She also worked for 7.5 years in the public school systems of Mississippi and Louisiana. Ms. Meibaum has a master’s degree in speech pathology from Tulane University of New Orleans, and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and speech correction from Southeastern Louisiana University. She also has earned Mississippi certification in elementary administration and special subject supervisor.
Como Molina, EdD, is a program associate with SEDL's Improving School Performance program. In addition to being involved with systemic reform efforts in mathematics, Dr. Molina collaborates with other comprehensive center staff members to deliver regional and state-level forums and professional development training. Prior to joining SEDL in 1998, Dr. Molina was a high school mathematics instructor for 14 years. He also has prior experience in higher education through his duties as a college representative and minority recruiter with Texas A&M University-College Station. Dr. Molina earned a BS in educational curriculum and instruction from Texas A&M University-College Station, an MS in educational administration from Corpus Christi State University, and an EdD from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
Ada Muoneke, PhD, is a program associate with SEDL's ISP program. Dr. Muoneke provides technical assistance and professional development to build the capacity of state departments of education staff and intermediary agencies to meet the goals and provisions of NCLB and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Her current work includes supporting Texas and five states in the southeastern region with response to intervention (RtI) and special education efforts. Dr. Muoneke holds a PhD in special education from The University of Texas at Austin.
Ann Neeley, EdD, is a program associate with SEDL's Improving School Performance program. Her current work includes coaching and modeling the SEDL school improvement approach, Working Systemically. In addition, she has presented on numerous topics, including small learning communities, reducing the high school dropout rate, professional learning communities, and increasing the impact of school leadership on student achievement. Dr. Neeley’s extensive transformation work with very low-performing secondary schools has resulted in their recognition for significant improvement. In addition, she has worked with high schools in the Small Learning Communities grant. Dr. Neeley focuses on the implementation of turnaround research for school leaders and uses her numerous years of public school leadership experience to add the element of practical knowledge to the work. Dr. Neeley spent more than 30 years in the public school system. For part of this time, she served as principal in an urban Texas school district for both elementary and secondary schools. During her tenure, the elementary school was recognized as a Best of Texas campus and a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School. She also served as a district-level reading coordinator for grades K–12. Dr. Neeley holds a BS, MA, and MEd from UT, and an EdD from Texas A&M University at College Station. She also holds Texas certifications for superintendent, supervisor, mid-management, reading specialist, and teacher for grades K–12.
Mindee O’Cummings, PhD, is a senior research analyst at American Institutes for Research (AIR) and has worked in the field of education for over 16 years. Her experiences include teaching in special and general education settings; serving as an elementary and middle school vice-principal; conducting research and program evaluations; providing technical assistance to educators, researchers, and developers; and working with families whose children have disabilities. Dr. O’Cummings currently serves as the collaboration and coordination task leader for the National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk (NDTAC) and special education coordinator and technical assistance liaison for the National High School Center. In both of these positions, Dr. O’Cummings has been able to blend her professional expertise with her personal passion of preventing students from dropping out of school through national conference presentations and the coauthoring of an Early Warning System Tool that enables schools to use readily available data to identify students with a high likelihood of dropping out. Dr. O’Cummings holds a BS and MS in special education from the University of New Mexico and a PhD in curriculum and instruction from Arizona State University. She has also served as adjunct faculty at both Arizona State University and George Mason University, where she has taught classes in the areas of education and research methodologies. She is the author of numerous reports and articles and has presented at local, state, and national conferences.
Blanca Quiroz, PhD, is a program associate with SEDL's Improving School Performance program and works with both the TXCC and SECC. Her duties include identifying and documenting evidence-based practices and programs to improve educational outcomes for English language learners (ELLs) in Texas and the Southeast. Dr. Quiroz also leads SEDL’s effort to adapt and develop materials and resources for improving educational outcomes for ELLS, particularly in early language acquisition and literacy. Currently, Dr. Quiroz is supporting the development of the early childhood migrant curriculum for the Texas Education Agency. Prior to joining SEDL in June 2010, Dr. Quiroz worked as an assistant professor at Texas A&M University, College of Education and Human Development, Department of Teaching Learning and Culture. Dr. Quiroz received a BA in psychology in the area of developmental and cross-cultural studies from UCLA. She completed an interdisciplinary master’s degree in applied linguistics, sociology, and education from UCLA’s Center for Latin American Studies. She also holds a master’s degree in education and a doctorate in human development and psychology from the Graduate School of Education, Harvard University.
Tony Recasner, PhD, a psychologist and native New Orleanian, has been involved in public education reform efforts for almost 20 years. He is president of FirstLine Schools Inc., a charter school management organization committed to creating great public schools for every child in New Orleans. In the 2010–2011 school year, FirstLine will operate four K–8 public charter schools, serving approximately 1,500 students. The majority of students enrolled in FirstLine Schools are African American and qualify for free/reduced cost lunch. Dr. Recasner is also cofounder of the former New Orleans Charter Middle School, which was the highest performing open-enrollment public middle school in the city, from its opening in 1998 until its campus was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Under Dr. Recasner’s leadership, the organization’s schools are widely recognized for their innovative educational practices, i.e., ability to offer a challenging and engaging academic curriculum, while effectively addressing students’ social and emotional needs. Dr. Recasner is active in a variety of charitable, philanthropic, and nonprofit organizations that focus on education, mental health, and children’s health care. He has served on the governing boards of the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (now known as SEDL) and the Institute of Mental Hygiene. He has also served on the Scholastic National Advisory Council and on the board of Metairie Park Country Day School. In January 2009 at President George W. Bush’s farewell address to the nation, Dr. Recasner was recognized by the president as an “American Hero” for his contributions to the charter school movement and to reshaping the public education system in New Orleans.
Roderick Sams, EdD, is currently the principal of Newton High School in Covington, Georgia. Dr. Sams attended Morehouse College, majoring in history pre-law. He began his career in education in 1990 as a paraprofessional at Blakeney Elementary School before attending Georgia Southern University. He earned his BS in early childhood education in 1993 and was hired as a fifth grade teacher at Blakeney that same year. Dr. Sams was promoted to assistant principal at Burke County High School in 1997 and served as principal at Sardis Girard Alexander (SGA) Elementary School from 2001–2006, when he was named principal at Blakeney, the very school where he was once a paraprofessional. Dr. Sams has been involved in several leadership programs, including the Governor’s School Leadership Institute, Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement, Georgia Superintendent’s Association District Office Professional Development Program, Leadership Georgia, and Leadership Burke. Dr. Sams has also won several prominent awards during his career, including the Cora Lee Fanning Leadership Georgia Award, the WRDW News 12 Time to Care about Education Award, and the Georgia Retired Educator Association Outstanding Educator Award. In addition, SGA Elementary School was named a Distinguished Title I School for 4 consecutive years and Blakeney Elementary School for 2 years during his tenures as principal. Newton High School won the Bronze Award for making the greatest academic gains on the Georgia High School Graduation Test for the 2008–2009 school year.
Elizabeth Shaw is the assistant superintendent for the Office of Educator Support at the Louisiana Department of Education (LDE). A graduate of Columbia University, she became a teacher in South Texas first with Teach For America (TFA) and then continued teaching after completing the program. During her tenure as a classroom teacher, she taught ninth- and tenth-grade students at both traditional public and public charter schools, serving in a variety of different capacities. Ms. Shaw began working in teacher support and development with TFA as a curriculum specialist, preparing new teachers to enter the classroom. She then served as the director of professional development and district strategy, planning professional development activities for the 400 TFA teachers in the Greater Philadelphia region and also managing district relations between TFA and partner districts. Through her work with TFA, she became deeply committed to improving teacher effectiveness through strong human resources (HR) and human capital (HC) practices. From 2007–2010, she worked to transform HR and HC practices at the Louisiana Recovery School District (RSD) as the deputy director of HR and eventually as the assistant superintendent for HR/HC. In late 2009, while still at RSD, Ms. Shaw began serving as an advisor to the superintendent of LDE on human capital strategy, including crafting the human capital strategy in the Louisiana Reform Plan and Race to the Top application. She joined LDE as the assistant superintendent for the Office of Educator Support in June 2010 and now manages all human capital programs for the state department, including certification, preparation, leadership, educator pipelines, performance management and support, educator evaluation, and TAP (The System for Teacher and Student Advancement).
Linda Simpson-Jones, MA, currently directs the Bilingual, ESL, and Migrant Education Program for Bryan Independent School District in Bryan, Texas. She has dedicated 32 years of her life to the field of education and considers it an honor and a privilege to have served parents, teachers, and students. Prior to becoming the director of this program, she worked as a bilingual teacher, special education high school teacher, school counselor, magnet school math and science program director, adult ESL teacher, and a principal of a year-round school. Ms. Simpson-Jones has served on national, state, and local education committees as well as various community organizations. Her personal and initial school experiences spearheaded her interest and passion in bilingual, ESL, and migrant education. Since then, she has advocated for the linguistically and culturally diverse and for children living in poverty. Ms. Simpson-Jones holds a master’s in counseling from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa and a master’s in educational administration from Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas.
Annesa Thompson, MEd, is currently the superintendent, at Marked Tree School District in Marked Tree, Arkansas. Presently, she is working on her EdS at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas. As teacher, principal, and superintendent in Marked Tree School District, Mrs. Thompson has worked with all systems of the district to incorporate a systemic approach to school improvement. During her tenure at the district, Marked Tree High School has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of its “America’s Best” high schools for 3 years consecutively. In analyzing their reading and math results and then factoring in the 75% of economically disadvantaged students, Marked Tree High School was performing better than “their statistical expectations.” Marked Tree High school performance was in the top 15% in the state of Arkansas.
Punita Dani Thurman
Punita Thurman, MBA, is the executive director of Strategic Initiatives in Fort Worth Independent School District’s Policy, Planning, and Governmental Affairs Division. In this role, Ms. Thurman oversees the district’s strategic performance plan and assists in planning and implementation of the district’s priority initiatives. She joined the district in 2006 as a Broad Resident through the Broad Foundation. Prior to joining the district, Ms. Thurman worked in the private sector for over 12 years as a management consultant. She has consulted for a number of Fortune 500 firms and federal governmental agencies on human capital strategy, change management, and organizational effectiveness. She holds a BBA in finance and management from the University of Michigan and an MBA focused on organizations and strategy from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
Sally M. Wade
Sally Wade, EdD, is a program associate with SEDL’s Improving School Performance program. She works with SEDL’s Southeast Comprehensive Center to build state and local capacity to improve outcomes for children. Dr. Wade’s current work includes designing and delivering professional development on promoting family involvement in education, contributing to SEDL publications, facilitating policy development groups, supporting RtI efforts, and addressing the needs of students with disabilities. Prior to joining SEDL, Dr. Wade was the founder and director of the Florida Partnership for Family Involvement in Education at the University of South Florida (USF). As a faculty member at USF, she served as the principal investigator on state, federal, and private grants aimed at supporting student achievement, increasing parent involvement, preparing quality teachers, and providing effective services for children with disabilities and their families. Dr. Wade’s previous experience includes working at the state, postsecondary, hospital, juvenile court and K–12 level as both a teacher and administrator. She holds a master’s degree in exceptional student education and a doctorate in educational leadership.
Marilyn O. Watson
Marilyn Watson, MEd, is the Safe and Drug-Free School (SDFS) education specialist at the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE). In this position, she manages all aspects of the SDFS program including the Needs Assessment, Georgia Student Health Survey II. She provides technical assistance and professional development for regional, district, and school level personnel. Ms. Watson conducts school safety assessments, reviews and monitors discipline and USCO data, and leads the development of the state School Climate Improvement Model. She is the state department’s representative on all SDFS-related committees including the School Climate Improvement Leadership Team. Prior to holding this position, she had many years of leadership experience in the state department and in Valdosta City Schools. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Silver Award of Merit for School Safety Plan. Ms. Watson earned a BS in medical technology from North Georgia College and worked in the medical field before deciding to become an educator. She received her master’s degree in educational leadership from Valdosta State University.
Haidee Williams, MS, is a project director with SEDL’s ISP program. She provides consultations, training, and technical assistance addressing standards-based science instruction and assessment as part of SEDL’s Texas Comprehensive Center. She also serves as SEDL’s primary liaison to the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Ms. Williams provides technical assistance and professional development to build the capacity of state department of education staff in Texas to meet the goals and purposes of NCLB and other federal mandates. These efforts are part of the TXCC project, which provides technical assistance and support to TEA to ensure that Texas has an education system with the capacity and commitment to eliminate achievement gaps and enable all students to achieve at high levels. Ms. Williams’ areas of expertise include implementation of the requirements of NCLB, ELLs, mathematics and science curriculum and instruction, and turning around schools. Prior to joining SEDL, Ms. Williams worked as a science specialist for the Region XIII Education Service Center, where she managed the Title II cooperative and provided professional development addressing the needs of science education for grades preK–12. She has also worked as a curriculum coordinator and classroom teacher at Channelview Independent School District in Texas. Ms. Williams received a BS in health and physical education from Lamar University and an MS in science curriculum and instruction from the University of Houston. She also received her biology teaching certification from the University of Houston, her mid-management certification from Texas Southern University, and her ESL certification from the Region XIII Education Service Center in Austin.