2022 Featured Speakers

    Dr. Tessie Bailey Headshot


    Tessie Rose Bailey, Ph.D.

    Dr. Tessie Rose Bailey is Principal Technical Assistance Consultant at American Institutes for Research. Her primary responsibility is providing high quality technical assistance and professional development in data-based individualization (DBI) within MTSS/RTI to states, districts, and institutions of higher education though several national centers: National Center on Intensive Interventions (NCII), Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR) Center, National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI), and College and Career Readiness and Success Center (CCRS).

    Dr. Bailey has worked with the Wyoming Department of Education for the last four years to support implementation of DBI and MTSS in targeted sites. She is a former special education teacher, professional development provider, and faculty member with extensive experience in special education law and policy, data-based individualization, data-analysis for program improvement, and MTSS/RTI implementation. She has provided special education and MTSS/RTI support and professional development to practitioners and leaders in 43 states.

    She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Utah in special education curriculum and assessment and post-doctoral work in RTI/MTSS and transition at Lehigh University’s Center for Promoting Research to Practice.  

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    George M. Batsche, Ed.D.

    Dr. George M. Batsche is a Professor and Co-Director of the Institute for School Reform at the University of South Florida. He is Co-Director of the Florida Statewide Problem-Solving/Response to Intervention Project for the Florida Department of Education. In addition, Dr. Batsche co-directs the Student Support Services, Shared Services Network and Coordinated Student Health Projects for the Florida Department of Education.

    In the past 15 years, Dr. Batsche has received more than $30 million dollars in grants from the U.S. Department of Education, Florida Department of Education and private foundations. The majority of his work has focused on systems of implementing academic and behavior interventions for at-risk students.

    Dr. Batsche's experience includes work as a university professor and researcher, school psychologist, district-level administrator, building principal and consultant to school districts and state agencies regarding implementation of problem-solving/response to intervention. Dr. Batsche is a co-author of the book, Response to Intervention: Policy Considerations and Implementation (2005), "Response to Intervention: Competing Views" in the journal, Assessment for Effective Intervention (2006), and "Statewide Implementation of Problem-Solving/Response to Intervention: The Florida Initiative" in the book The Handbook of Response to Intervention: The Science and Practice of Assessment and Intervention (2007).

    Meet our Session Presenters

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    Amanda Hook

    Reading Specialist, Lakota Local Schools

    Amanda Hook is a Reading Specialist at Freedom Elementary in Lakota Local Schools. This is her 7th year as a Reading Specialist and her 24th year as an educator. She previously taught students in grades three and four.

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    Angela Pastizzo

    Director of Pupil Personnel Services, Berlin Central School District

    Angela’s passion for becoming an educator was ignited during her many years of experience working in residential programs with at-risk youth and families. Angela fell in love with the field of education during her first year as a school social worker at an all girls charter school in Albany, NY. She immediately enrolled to begin a School Building Leadership certificate program, certain that she wanted to share her passion, and affect positive change, by leading others. Five years later, Angela had obtained her School Building and School District Leadership certifications, while continuing to gain invaluable experience as a school administrator. As the Director of Pupil Personnel Services at Berlin Central School District, in Cherry Plain, New York, Angela leads her department in fostering a culture of care within the school community that not only supports the whole student, but also the whole family.

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    Catherine Shanahan

    Principal, Jackson Avenue Elementary School, Mineola Unified School District

    Catherine Shanahan is the Principal at Jackson Avenue School and was a Building Leader and District Instructional Leader for six years before this role. Through her work with building, refining, and implementing Mineola’s integrated curriculum and the district’s RTI/MTSS framework, Catherine has helped develop teachers’ capacity for problem-solving around how to improve student performance deliberately. Through this work, Catherine facilitates and collaborates with teacher teams to design lessons grounded in concepts and essential questions; analyze student assessment data, and integrate specific academic and behavioral interventions for struggling learners. Furthermore, as part of the district’s efforts to meet the specific needs of all learners, Catherine has also led the special education departments across the district in developing a district-wide system for creating and progress monitoring students’ personalized learning goals. As a member and facilitator of these diverse teams, Catherine has supported teachers in considering how language, cognitive functions, and emotional regulation impact the success of all learners, especially Multilingual Learners and Students with Disabilities. Along with her work with department and grade level teams, Catherine has also provided professional development courses on the topics of designing coherent instruction, growth mindset, advanced literacy, collaborative instruction for inclusive classrooms, and the RTI/MTSS Framework. A former middle school teacher for the New York City Department of Education, Mrs. Shanahan received her BA in English and Spanish from Fordham University, her EdM in Elementary Education and in Special Education from Boston University, and an Advanced Certificate in School Building and District Leadership from Hunter College.

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    Chicago Public Schools

    Presenters coming soon!

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    Chrissy Jones - headshot forthcoming

    Chrissy Jones

    Chief Academic Officer and Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative
    Chrissy Jones - headshot forthcoming

    Chrissy Jones

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    Clark McKown, PhD

    President and Founder, xSEL Labs and Associate Professor, Rush University Medical Center

    Clark McKown, Ph.D. is an award-winning social scientist and a leading expert on SEL assessments. In his role as a university faculty member, Clark has been the lead scientist on several large grants supporting the development and validation of SELweb, Networker, and other assessment systems. Clark is passionate about creating usable, feasible, and scientifically sound tools that help educators and their students. xSEL Labs is the embodiment of that passion.

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    Danielle Aliano

    MTSS Coordinator, Southwest Independent School District

    I graduated from UTSA with a Kinesiology degree and later became a 5th grade teacher. I taught 5th grade for 5 years and during that time I earned my Masters Degree in Educational Leadership from UTSA. I was an administrator for 2 years in Northside ISD and one year in Southwest ISD prior to becoming the Southwest ISD MTSS Coordinator. I have recently finished my coursework for my Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at UTSA. All I have left is to complete my dissertation and then you can call me Dr. Aliano!

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    Donna Cross

    Director of MTSS and SEL, Evanston/Skokie District 65

    Donna Cross has been the Director of MTSS and SEL in Evanston/Skokie District 65 for the past 5 years. She is a former teacher and school leader. She began her teaching career in Chicago Public Schools and also taught in Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Florida. Donna received her Masters in Teaching from Dominican University and her Masters in School Leadership from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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    Elle Essenmacher

    Strategic Account Advisor, Harmony SEL @ National University

    Elle Essenmacher is a Strategic Accounts Advisor for Harmony SEL and Inspire Teaching & Learning at National University. She has decades of experience leading curriculum, instruction and assessment initiatives at the state, district, and school levels. Elle has worked in inner city and rural schools and at all levels of education from preschool to high school alternative programs. Ms. Essenmacher draws on a wealth of experience and skill to be an adept facilitator in leading initiatives. Her goal is to put the “fun” in engaging professional development.

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    Emily Arkfeld

    SEBL Specialist, NeMTSS

    Emily Arkfeld is a Social-Emotional and Behavioral Learning (SEBL) Specialist with Nebraska's Multi-Tiered System of Support (NeMTSS) project. She provides professional development, technical assistance and coaching to educators regarding the social-emotional and behavioral learning needs of educators and students across the state. Arkfeld has spent nearly a decade as a school social worker and training new Child and Family Services Specialists for the State of Nebraska. She is a licensed clinical social worker and licensed mental health professional, and earned a master's degree in social work at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

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    Emily Parker

    Research Assistant, Aperture Education

    Emily Parker is a research assistant at Aperture Education, where she develops social and emotional learning tools for schools. To read more about Aperture Education, visit ApertureEd.com.

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    Emily Walz

    Social Emotional Learning Specialist, The Zones of Regulation

    Emily Walz is a licensed Special Education Teacher (M.S.Ed) with 15+ years of teaching experience working with unique learners and leading social emotional learning (SEL) initiatives in New York City, the Minneapolis/St Paul metro area. She is deeply passionate about the impact of high-quality SEL instruction on equity and inclusion in schools. In her role as Trainer and Implementation Specialist at The Zones of Regulation, Emily provides training, develops resources, and consults with schools, districts, and organizations in the U.S and abroad. She lives on a sunny corner in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and two children.​

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    Erica Ilcyn

    Sales Development Representative, Branching Minds

    Erica (aka Babs) was born and raised in New Jersey for the majority of her childhood until she moved to Michigan during her high school years to live with her father. Despite having a high ACE score of 8, with the support of adults, family and mentors she fostered resilience and proudly got accepted into Western Michigan University’s Pre-Medicine program. After 5 semesters of intensive study, she began asking herself why she was studying medicine and began a journey of self-discovery. She soon found her passion working with and educating youth, providing them with opportunities to better their future through fostering characteristics of resilience in the midst of adversity. Working as a Special Education teacher and as an English teacher during  her early career had her inspired and motivated to forge her legacy and impact her community, one student at a time. She is passionate about helping others and truly believes in the power of voice, being heard, and seen. This is her philosophy and approach as she providing training and professional learning to others as a Certified Trauma Practitioner & Trainer. Through various professional experiences in the public school classrooms, residential treatment facilities and alternative education settings,  she continued to follow her commitment to ensure all students have an equitable opportunity to flourish within their environments. Leading an urban school district's vision to implement a Trauma Responsive & District-wide  SEL MTSS system as the Student Services Coordinator, allowed her the opportunity to help families and their students access behavioral and mental health services to meet their needs, deconstruct and redesign systems that create barriers to success. As a new mama to a beautiful baby boy, she has continued to pursue her calling in a different way.  Serving Branching Minds in the role as a Sales Development Representative, she  is committed to helping all schools gain access to the tools and products they need for creating equitable learning experiences for all youth!

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    Evelyn Johnson, EdD

    Vice President of Research and Development, Aperture Education

    Dr. Evelyn Johnson is a researcher and educator dedicated to ensuring equitable SEL outcomes for every child. Evelyn is the Vice President of Research and Development at Aperture Education, a mom of 2 adult children, a marathon runner, and an Army veteran. She lives in Boise with her husband and old English sheepdog, Ezra.

    Janicka Newbill

    Dr. Janicka Newbill

    Director of Special Projects, School District of Philadelphia
    Janicka Newbill

    Dr. Janicka Newbill

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    Jennifer Maichin

    District Level Instructional Leader, SEL Coordinator, Mineola Unified School District

    2023 marks Jenn’s 27th year as an educator in the Mineola (NY) School District. Beginning her career as a middle school special education teacher and learning specialist, Jenn currently serves as an administrator in Mineola and is responsible for integrating and aligning learner-centered instructional practices and pedagogy K-12. Jenn believes that self-efficacy, agency, and resilience can be cultivated in ALL learners when provided the environment and experiences in which they can believe themselves to be learners. As a result, Jenn has formulated mutual relationships with many of the leading academic research teams (including Mindsetworks, PERTS, Stanford, and the University of Chicago), for the purpose of learning together to turn research into practice. Throughout her journey in Mineola, Jenn has been provided the opportunity to contribute to the development and growth of many of the innovative systems that support teacher and student agency and a "learner identity" across the district.

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    Jill Dunlap Brown, PhD

    Co-Founder CALE Education and Company

    Jill began her career as a 2nd and 3rd grade teacher. She then went on to spend time as a literacy coach, a principal, and an assistant superintendent. She is now co-founder of CALE Education and Company. This education firm focuses work in four main areas. The first being consultation with school districts. This work includes partnering with districts and schools to assist with implementation of structured literacy using a science of reading approach-including assessment and data analysis and implementing RTI/MTSS as a system. The second area focuses on offering quality workshops for educators across a wide range of topics and needs. Three, we provide ongoing professional development for all educators across private, public, faith-based schools, and individuals who homeschool. Finally, we have a lab school, Columbia Academy for Learning and Enrichment, where we utilize these best practices with students in our school. This lab school is intended to provide an excellent education for all students who attend our academy, give us the opportunity to perfect our craft as educators, and provide a space for all educators to see the work in action. Jill has worked in small rural schools and large urban districts. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and an EdS and PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.

    Jill has worked in the field of education for 24 years. In 2019, she co-authored the book, Matching Reading Data to Intervention: A simple tool for elementary educators. She has worked with students, teachers, administrators, universities, state departments, and large businesses. Her expertise is in structured literacy and implementing systems of support for school improvement.

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    Jill Guenther

    SEBL Specialist, NeMTSS

    Jill Guenther is a Social-Emotional and Behavioral Learning (SEBL) Specialist with Nebraska’s Multi-Tiered System of Support (NeMTSS) project. She provides professional development and coaching focusing on social-emotional and behavioral learning needs to support educators and students across the state. Guenther earned a master’s degree in speech-language pathology from the University of South Dakota and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Nebraska Kearney. She has spent the last 15 years — first as speech-language pathologist, then in special education leadership — providing training, support and services to students and staff at the secondary level.

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    Katharine Bonasera

    Manager of Educational Partnerships, Center for the Collaborative Classroom

    Katharine Bonasera is a Manager of Educational Partnerships with Collaborative Classroom. She has over 14 years of teaching and leadership experience in urban school environments, serving as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, and principal. In addition to her school-based experience, she has coached early career Teach For America teachers and serves as an advisor with Relay Graduate School of Education’s National Principals Academy Fellowship. She is passionate about cultivating school environments that foster connection, equitable practices, and the opportunity for all community members to thrive.

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    Kaytee Jones

    Co-Founder CALE Education and Company

    Kaytee began her career as a classroom teacher. She then moved into literacy coaching, and this is where she found her passion. Kaytee is a Co-Founder for CALE Education & Company. This education firm focuses work in four main areas. The first being consultation with school districts. This work includes partnering with districts and schools to assist with implementation of structured literacy using a science of reading approach-including assessment and data analysis and implementing RTI/MTSS as a system. The second area focuses on offering quality workshops for educators across a wide range of topics and needs. Three, we provide ongoing professional development for all educators across private, public, faith-based schools, and individuals who homeschool. Finally, we have a lab school, Columbia Academy for Learning and Enrichment, where we utilize these best practices with students in our school. This lab school is intended to provide an excellent education for all students who attend our academy, give us the opportunity to perfect our craft as educators, and provide a space for all educators to see the work in action.

    Kaytee holds a Master's degree in Curriuclum and Instruction and is a certified dysleixia practitioner through Wilson Language Company.

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    Kelly Justice

    Learning & Development Facilitator, University of South Florida

    Kelly Justice has served as a Learning and Development Facilitator for the University of South Florida since 2007. She provides technical assistance, training and support to school districts throughout the Southern Region of Florida and has presented at the state and national level on problem solving, multi-tiered systems of support and related topics. Prior to joining the Project, Kelly was a general education teacher for ten years. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education and Master of Educational Leadership degree, both from the University of South Florida. Kelly is the co-author of the books, RTI and the Classroom Teacher: A Guide for Fostering Teacher Buy-In and Supporting the Intervention Process (LRP Publications, 2006) and Fidelity and RtI: Strategies to Ensure Intervention Integrity in Your Schools (LRP Publications, 2010) and the chapter, “Integrity of Intervention Implementation”, in What Do I Do When…The Answer Book on RTI (LRP Publications, 2007).

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    Larue M. Fitch, MEd

    Educational Consultant , LM Fitch Consultants, LLC

    Larue Fitch graduated from Saint Xavier University with a BS in Elementary Education and received his M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Administration from Chicago State University. His passion for education was supported through a strong foundation of advocating for diversity and ensuring all students are successful.

    Beginning his educational journey as an elementary school teacher he continued to plant the seed of purpose and passion. For seven years, he worked with students in grades 4 through 8, teaching science, literacy, and math. During his time in the classroom, he was fortunate to develop relationships with students while providing a safe environment, which fostered growth and academic development.

    As the years progressed, leadership opportunities began to open within his school, and he became the Science Lead Teacher. One of the most rewarding aspects of this role was the ability to work with his peers. This one experience sparked his desire to seek additional leadership opportunities. Seven years later, he entered the role of Assistant Principal and Resident Principal in Chicago Public Schools.

    Currently, Mr. Fitch is serving as an educator for Chicago Public Schools and an Adjunct Professor at National Louis University. He is also pursuing his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Chicago State University. While embarking on this journey, he’s a member of Chicago Public Schools Transformative Teaching Cohort, Teach Plus, and Democratic Classrooms. He’s also a member of the New Leaders Council and Pulitzer 2021-22 Cohort.

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    Mackenzie Riedel

    SEBL Specialist, NeMTSS

    Mackenzie Riedel is a Social-Emotional and Behavioral Learning (SEBL) Specialist with Nebraska’s Multi-Tiered System of Support (NeMTSS). She provides professional development, technical assistance and coaching to educators regarding the social-emotional and behavioral learning needs of educators and students across the state. Riedel earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a master’s and specialist degree in school psychology from Appalachian State University. The Lincoln native returned to Nebraska and worked as a school psychologist prior to joining the CYFS team.

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    Megan West

    Manager of Educational Partnerships, Center for the Collaborative Classroom

    Megan West joined the Collaborative Classroom team in 2021 as a Manager of Educational Partnerships after completing 12 years as a teacher and curriculum supervisor for Broward County Public Schools, the sixth largest school district in the United States. Megan holds an M.A. in Communication from California State University Long Beach and has over 15 years of teaching, coaching, and speaking experience. She has presented at local, state, and national conferences and is passionate about creating learner-centered classrooms where all students thrive. Megan also serves as an adjunct public speaking instructor at Broward College and currently lives in sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with her husband and two kids.

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    Melissa Saenz

    Principal, Montwood Middle School, Socorro Independent School District

    Melissa Saenz currently serves as a middle school principal in the Socorro Independent School District in the border city of El Paso, Texas. She has supported the implementation of multi-Tiered systems related to attendance, PBIS, RTI, and recently Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Melissa Saenz has been an educator for over 16 years and has experience in the roles of teacher, mentor teacher, instructional coach, assistant principal, and principal. She is currently a Doctoral Candidate at Northcentral University at the dissertation research stage for a Doctorate in Education with a specialization in Organizational Leadership. She received a bachelor’s in science and master’s in education from the University of Texas at El Paso-her hometown. Mrs. Saenz also studied medicine/public health abroad in Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico at la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara for two years and earned a leadership certificate from Lamar University. She currently works as the proud principal of Montwood Middle School and is the mother two daughters, Mia and Alyssa. She is the wife to Adrian, a High School Teacher, and proud daughter to retired teacher Juan Martinez.

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    Melissa Wainwright, EdD

    MTSS Coordinator, Kentucky Department of Education

    Dr. Melissa E. Wainwright serves as the Kentucky Department of Education's MTSS Coordinator. Prior to the work at the department, Dr. Wainwright served as the Regional Director of Professional Learning where she facilitated MTSS implementation for 15 school districts. Her professional involvement spans over 20 years as a P-16 teacher and administrator. She received her doctorate in educational leadership studies from the University of Kentucky in 2016 with a research focus on the collective leadership practices of highly effective multi-tiered systems. She is passionate about promoting effective and efficient system support to school, district, and other agency leaders. Most importantly, Dr. Wainwright strives to partner with educators as they meet the many needs of each and every student academically, behaviorally, and emotionally. When not engaged in MTSS work, Melissa might be found streaming a reality series, spending time with family, or working to close her Apple Watch rings.

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    Rachel Howard

    Reading Specialist, Learning Prep School

    Rachel Howard, M.Ed, in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Language-Based Learning Disorders and Dyslexia, is a Reading Specialist at Learning Prep School in West Newton, MA, and a private Educational Consultant and founder of The Collective IEP. For over a decade, she has supported special education students and families in many different educational settings from large public schools, small charter schools, non-profit educational placements, and now a small private school for students with complex learning profiles. Rachel also works closely with families to support them through the special education space.

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    Susan Robertson, EdS

    Director of Professional Learning and Support, Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative
    Susan Robertson - headshot forthcoming

    Susan Robertson, EdS

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    Tiffany Eudy

    Lead Navigator, In Bloom Advocacy, LLC; Sales Development Representative, Branching Minds

    Tiffany Eudy is an educator, advocate, and mom. She is the lead Navigator for In Bloom Advocacy LLC and a Sales Development Representative at Branching Minds. She is also an NC licensed Special Education teacher and school administrator. In addition, she is a proud UNC Charlotte Alumni; Go Niners! She is passionate about providing equitable resources to students with special needs, and supporting education teachers and families on how to advocate for those individualized accommodations.

    Tiffany Moyer - headshot forthcoming

    Tiffany Moyer

    Professional Learning Specialist, School District of Philadelphia
    Tiffany Moyer, headshot forthcoming

    Tiffany Moyer

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    Todd Hartman

    MTSS Supervisor, Lakota Local Schools

    Todd Hartman is currently serving as an MTSS Supervisor for Lakota Local Schools in southwest Ohio. Prior to this position, he served for eight years as a Principal/Assistant Principal for schools with students in Pre-Kindergarten through sixth grade, as well as ten years of teaching. As an MTSS Supervisor, Mr. Hartman supports teams of teachers and building administrators in fourteen Lakota buildings as they work together to help each Lakota student grow academically, socially, and behaviorally.

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    Trudy Bender

    MTSS Content Marketing Manager, Branching Minds

    Trudy Bender is the MTSS Marketing Content Manager at Branching Minds. She previously served as the Coordinator of District Behavior Intervention at Waco ISD, where she facilitated the implementation of a multi-tiered system of supports for behavior along with initiatives to improve school climate and to build teacher capacity in classroom management through peer coaching. She is passionate about helping teachers and administrators to develop a positive, restorative, instructional approach to behavior that reduces disproportionality in discipline while improving social-emotional and academic outcomes for all students. Trudy holds an Ed.S. in School Psychology from Baylor University.

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    Wendy Radcliffe

    Reading Specialist, Lakota Local Schools

    Wendy Radcliffe is a Reading Specialist at Independence Elementary in Lakota Local Schools. Prior to being a Reading Specialist, she was a third grade classroom teacher. This is her 25th year teaching in Lakota and the 28th year in her career thus far.

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