The HILL Team
Darci Burns, Ph.D.
Darci Burns, Ph.D., is the executive director of HILL for Literacy. The HILL partners with schools and districts to shape and guide the process of deploying evidence-based whole school change through leadership development and teacher training. Darci has a PhD from the University of Oregon with a specialization in instructional design, research methodology, and English-Language learners. Darci has consulted with national, state and local agencies on effective reading instruction, leadership practices, and assessment. Darci also served as a Regional Professional Development Provider in six urban school systems for the Massachusetts Reading First Program. She is the author of the Intergenerational Literacy Tutoring Program (ILTP) manual and co-author of Leading Literacy Change.
Laurie LaVallee manages the day-to-day operations of the HILL including accounts payable, accounts receivable, financial reporting, customer service, and a variety of office-related tasks. She comes from a small business management background with extensive experience working with school administrators, having spent 15 years in the school picture business.
MarcyKate Connolly is an author and nonprofit administrator, currently the Marketing Director at HILL for Literacy. She has a B.A. from Hampshire College in Music & Literature, and a M.S. in Arts Administration from Boston University. Her past experience includes marketing roles at the Phoenix Symphony, ArtsEmerson, and the Palace Theatre, and as executive director of Opera NH. MarcyKate is also an author and her middle grade fantasy novels, MONSTROUS and RAVENOUS, were recently published by HarperCollins Children’s Books. Her next series begins with SHADOW WEAVER in 2018. You can learn more on her website, MarcyKate.com.
Jen McAlpine is the Director of Development at HILL for Literacy and provides coordination and program management around the organization’s fundraising and grant process including identifying and cultivating new philanthropic relationships. She holds an B.A. from Boston College and an M.S. from Suffolk University as well as certifications in SAS programming and Raiser’s Edge. Prior to joining HILL for Literacy, she spent time in data analysis and Advancement and Development program management in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors.
Wendy Buckley, M.S.
Wendy Buckley, M.Ed received a BS in Education from Bridgewater State College and a Masters of Education in Reading with a Reading Specialist Certification from Salem State College. Wendy has served as an expert literacy coach for an IES Grant, Enhancing Core Reading Instruction (ECRI) for the University of Oregon. She currently is serving as an instructional coach for an IES Grant, ROOTS, Foundations for Early Learning in Mathematics for the University of Oregon. Prior to joining the staff at HILL for Literacy, Wendy had been a Kindergarten teacher and a Reading Specialist and was actively involved in the RTI model used widely in the school district. She worked extensively with Scott Foresman Reading Street, ERI, Sidewalks and Fundations. Her research interests include facilitating effective explicit routines and bringing about whole school change for the benefit of all students.
Shira M. Cohen-Goldberg , Ed.M.
Director of Product Development
Shira M. Cohen-Goldberg, Ed.M. is currently the Director of Product Development at the HILL for Literacy, Inc. She received a BA from Barnard College, Columbia University in English and Education, a certificate in Program Planning, Management, Monitoring and Evaluation from Boston University and an Ed.M. in Language and Literacy from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Prior to working at the HILL, she was a Literacy Coach in Chelsea, MA. She also served as a Reading First Implementation Facilitator for the Massachusetts Department of Education, and a classroom teacher in New York City and California. Ms. Cohen-Goldberg’s interests include facilitating vocabulary development, working with English Language Learners, and the whole-school change process.
Cara Dellaterra is currently a facilitator at HILL for Literacy, Inc. She received a BA from Merrimack College, in Elementary Education and Psychology. Currently she is serving as the Boston-based Data Collection Manager for a Goal 3 IES Grant-Enhancing Core Reading Instruction (ECRI) for the University of Oregon. Prior to working at the HILL, she was a second grade teacher in a school system with diverse needs. She has also held positions incorporating technology into education and working with high needs students. Cara’s research interests include facilitating effective literacy instruction, working with English Language Learners, and the whole-school change process.
Beth Goodwin, M.Ed.
Beth Goodwin, M.Ed., CAS is a facilitator at HILL for Literacy, Inc. She earned a Bachelor of Art’s Degree in English from Providence College. Beth also earned a Master’s of Education Degree from Providence College through the Providence Alliance for Catholic Teachers program (PACT). While earning her Master’s, she taught at St. Mary’s Junior-Senior High School in Worcester, MA. Since then, she has worked as an English teacher in the Carver Public School System for ten years where she was a member of the School Council, organized and implemented after school MCAS tutoring, and served as the middle school’s Literacy Coach. While teaching in Carver, Beth earned a Reading Specialist Certificate from The Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions. Beth also has her certification in the practices of Orton-Gillingham, a multi-sensory phonemic approach to reading. She enjoys working with students and being involved in effecting positive school change.
Diana Malkin, M.Ed./CAGS
Diana Malkin, M.Ed. has worked in public education for over 20 years, with experience at all levels, from Kindergarten through Post-secondary settings. She earned a BA in Visual Arts from UC San Diego, an M.Ed. in Bilingual Special Education with a concentration in Learning Disabilities from the University of Texas at Austin, and an M.Ed./CAGS in School Psychology from Worcester State University. She has been a general educator, special educator, school leader, and school psychologist at various grade levels. Diana has taught graduate level courses in Literacy and Assessment. For many years, Diana led a team of educators that designed implementation models, provided PD to teachers and administrators, and monitored the implementation of schoolwide programs in special education and student support for urban, suburban, and rural school change projects across the country and in the UK. She also worked with school systems in MA, CT, and NY to design, execute, and sustain research-based models of continuous literacy improvement through a multi-tiered system of support. She is also a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. Diana currently resides in MA with her husband and two children.
Cynthia Pirani-McGurl, Ph.D., NCSP
Cynthia Pirani-McGurl, Ph.D., NCSP is a Facilitator at HILL for Literacy and Adjunct Professor in the Special Education and Reading Specialist Programs at Fitchburg State University. Cynthia received her MA/CAGS from Assumption College and her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Prior to, and during this time, Cynthia worked as an interventionist and school psychologist with Pre-K-8 students. For over a decade, Cynthia has served as a consultant and coach on state, district, and school initiated projects including implementing whole district/school literacy change models, using data to drive instruction, adopting instructional practices that support diverse learners, and program evaluation.
Eleni Steadman, M.S., CCC-SLP
Director of Training
Eleni Steadman is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Certified Reading Specialist, and currently the Director of Training at the HILL. She earned a B.S. in Communication Disorders from Boston University and an M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the Institute of Health Professions, an academic affiliate of the Massachusetts General Hospital. She also earned Certification in Reading from the IHP. Eleni worked in the North Andover Public Schools for five years, where she serviced a variety of students with oral and written language disabilities. She co-taught during literacy blocks, providing explicit instruction to students and modeling reading lessons for teachers. Eleni has been trained in several multi-sensory reading programs including LiPS, Project Read, RAVE-O, Fundations, and ECRI. She has also received training in all 12 LETRS modules, the Key Comprehension Routine, and is a DIBELS Mentor. Eleni has been a facilitator for the HILL for ten years and has worked on a variety of school change projects. Eleni stays involved with children’s diverse learning needs with her own children, Will (11) and Estella (7), and her many nieces and nephews.
Cynthia Curtis, Ed.M.
Cynthia Curtis earned a BS in Psychology from Union College, a Masters in elementary education from Simmons College, and a Certificate of Advance Studies in Reading from MGH Institute of Health Professions. Cynthia has over 15 years experience teaching in urban and suburban settings as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, and coach. She started her career as a bilingual teacher and has worked in a variety of settings since. Previously, Cynthia was a reading specialist for the North Andover Public Schools where she implemented and managed a 3-Tiered Response to Intervention Model approach that involved administering benchmark assessments, managing data, creating reports, and leading data meetings with teachers, in addition to serving over 50 students daily. Cynthia is trained in all 12 LETRS Modules and Wilson Fundations. Additional work includes: Research Associate for the NE Comprehensive Assistance Center at EDC, inc., ELA Content Specialist for Boston Public Schools, and Manager of Instructional Support for EdVestors.
Carol Dissen, M.S.
Carol Dissen works for the Center on Teaching and Learning at the University of Oregon coordinating the delivery and implementation of federally funded literacy and math grants. She works directly with elementary schools providing professional development and in-building coaching to support evidence-based practices. Ms. Dissen works as part of the Enhanced Core Reading Intervention team that developed a Tier 2 small group reading curriculum that is directly aligned with Tier 1 curriculum. Prior to joining the team at the Center on Teaching and Learning, she worked in elementary schools as a literacy coach, Title 1 reading teacher, and a classroom teacher. Additionally, for the past seventeen years she has developed and delivered school, regional, state, national and international professional development classes on various literacy topics.
Devin Kearns, Ph.D.
Devin Kearns, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Special Education, Department of Educational Psychology, Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. He researches reading disabilities in children, with emphasis on developing and implementing programs to prevent and remediate reading problems. Prior to the University of Connecticut, he was an assistant professor of Special Education at Boston University. His current work includes developing a multi-tiered approach to improving content area literacy instruction in middle schools. Dr. Kearns has years of classroom experience as a general-education teacher, literacy coach, and reading specialist.
Kaitlin Leonard, M.Ed
Kaitlin Leonard, M.Ed. received a BA in elementary education and special education from Providence College. She also received a Masters of Education from Fitchburg State University. Currently, she is serving as an external literacy coach for Connecticut Kindergarten through grade 3 Literacy Initiative (CK3LI). The initiative is part of the CT Education Reform that supports schools in implementing research-grounded practices to improve the reading abilities of children in kindergarten through third grade. In addition, Kaitlin served as an expert literacy coach for an IES Grant, Enhancing Core Reading Instruction, for the University of Oregon. She is presently one of the HILL trainers for the Enhanced Core Reading Instruction Workshop. Previously, Kaitlin worked as a special education teacher and classroom teacher in a school district that served as a model for RTI and the Scott Foresman Reading Street Program. She was also involved in the HILL school-wide literacy change first-hand as a teacher and witnessed the benefits. Her interests include aiding schools to implement effective core literacy programs and instruction, and facilitating a school-wide literacy change.
Judith Loughlin, Ph.D.
Judy Loughlin, Ph.D., trained at University of Massachusetts at Amherst in the School Psychology program. She has used her teaching and school psychology background to provide training and support to numerous schools and districts seeking to improve student academic and behavioral outcomes, particularly in the area of literacy. She has received training in numerous reading remediation programs and in the school wide reading improvement model developed at the University of Oregon. Her interests include intensifying reading instruction for students who struggle, the whole-school change process, and managing the classroom for differentiated instruction.
Ashley Oldham, Ph.D.
Dr. Ashley Oldham received her Ph.D. in special education from the University of Connecticut in 2013. While at UConn, Dr. Oldham’s research examined early vocabulary instruction and assessment within a multi-tier system of supports. She has worked on multiple IES funded grants, evaluating beginning reading practices for students with diverse learning needs. She currently serves as a Research Associate with the Center for Behavioral Education and Research (CBER) in the Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut where she is a project coordinator for the Connecticut K-3 Literacy Initiative (CK-3LI) project. CK-3LI supports the implementation of scientifically based reading instruction within a multitier system of support. Dr. Oldham has expertise in effective instructional practices for at-risk learners, beginning reading and early vocabulary intervention. Dr. Oldham is a former elementary and middle school special educator.
Jade Wexler, Ph.D.
Jade Wexler, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor in Department of Special Education, Counseling, & Higher Education at the University of Maryland. She teaches courses on adolescent reading instruction and special education assessment. Formerly a high school special education reading teacher, Dr. Wexler’s research interests include investigating effective RTI for adolescents with reading difficulties including those in the juvenile justice system. She has extensive experience providing professional development regarding RTI implementation to secondary public schools in several states. Previously she was a Research Assistant Professor and Dropout Institute Director at The University of Texas at Austin Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk.
How Can I Help My Community?
We don’t take the challenge of teaching kids to read lightly: according the 2013 NAEP results, 66% of 4th graders fail to read at grade level each year and we know that we can help them. How? Working with leadership-oriented principals and superintendents, and supported by the highest-quality literacy professionals in the nation, HILL for Literacy helps schools transform into efficient, systemic platforms for literacy excellence. Contact us to find out how we can help your school or district today, or click below to learn more about how you can support our programs in your community!