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Certified Facilitators

Facilitator Merideth Buzbee

Meredith Buzbee

Meredith became a teacher because she loved teaching even as a child. Her mom used to say that she had the smartest stuffed animals around. She currently works as a dyslexic interventionist. She has an administration degree but is currently seeking a degree in dyslexia therapy. 

In her spare time, she is a travel agent and enjoys watching her daughter play volleyball.

Facilitator Jessica Fenster

Jessica Fenster

Jessica Fenster is a 2009 graduate of Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, AL. She received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education; she also received her Masters of Education from the University of West Alabama. Jessica is currently employed with the Tuscaloosa County School System, where she is the Local Reading Specialist at Crestmont Elementary School. Before becoming a Reading Specialist, Jessica taught second to fifth grades. Learning how children learn to read and write has been Jessica’s passion since she first started teaching. She believes reading is an adventure that all students should fall in love with. 

When Jessica is not teaching, she enjoys traveling, reading, and cooking. Most of all, she loves to spend time with family and friends.

Facilitator Heather Price

Heather Price

Heather was a classroom teacher, interventionist, and instructional coach for twenty years in elementary education, teaching every grade level K–5. She was introduced to Reading Horizons as an interventionist and had the opportunity to teach it in her class for six years before coming on staff two years ago. She is one of the Lead Facilitators in her current role and is truly passionate about empowering teachers to teach students to read. She is also really enjoying mentoring new facilitators on training and coaching. Heather has coached hundreds of teachers in their classroom on teaching the Reading Horizons method. She believes it is the best thing that happened to her in her career. 

She is married with three daughters and a precious Yorkie-poo named Princess. They enjoy living on the lake and spending lazy family days on the water. 

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Alyson Robbins

Alyson Robbins has nine years of experience teaching English Language Arts in a Title I high school. During her tenure, she taught grades 9–12, including Honors 10 and AP Literature and Composition. For eight of those years, she served as the Onsite Coordinator and tutor for TRIO’s Upward Bound, preparing first-generation college students for post-secondary success. Alyson was named 2021–2022 District Secondary Teacher of the Year. Experiences in her early years of teaching led her to pursue a Master’s in School Counseling to better serve and reach learners. Alyson’s passion for literacy began at an early age, fostered by family educators and elementary teachers; she enjoys reviving and cultivating a love for reading at the secondary level. High school students’ deficits in decoding and reading comprehension led her to Reading Horizons.

Outside of supporting educators, she enjoys time outdoors with family, running, and raising her young children.

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Karen Scott

Karen was in public education for thirty-four years. She has served as a reading specialist for the past 18 years in a Title I school in Alabama, working with students and teachers in grades K–3 and mentoring coaches in her district. Before that position, Karen served as a classroom teacher in grades 2–6. During those years, Karen’s passion for metacognitive literacy learning developed. She loves it when children become aware of their thinking. One of her favorite successes as a reading specialist is helping students and teachers identify their strengths and supporting them as they grow in other areas of teaching and learning. She is trained in the science of reading in both LETRS and Neuhaus-Reading Readiness and Language Enrichment. She was a National Board Certified Teacher for the last twenty years of her career.  

Karen enjoys outdoor activities with her family and friends.

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Vicki Strampe

Vicki resides in Pell City, Alabama. She is happily married and is the mother of two beautiful children and two children by marriage; she has also raised her sister’s children for the past five years. She began her educational career in Talladega, Alabama, teaching first grade in 1992. In 2007, she moved to Pell City, Alabama, taught for one year, and then was selected to be the ARI Reading Specialist for her school and later for multiple elementary schools. Vicki retired in 2019 with 27 years of teaching experience. Teaching has always been her first love, so when the opportunity presented itself to work with Reading Horizons, it was like a dream come true. She has specialized in reading instruction, collecting data, coaching teachers, and providing professional development. She is passionate about literacy education and helping students “break the code” to our English language while making it fun and engaging for all learning abilities. Touching the lives of so many children and watching their excitement for learning has always been such an inspiration. 

Vicki loves to read, cook, and enjoy the great outdoors. Now that her children are grown, she loves it when they all get together and remember the great times they had growing up together.

Chrestie Thach

Chrestie Thach

Chrestie began her career in education as a Title 1 paraprofessional in 1989, where she continued working while obtaining her degree in elementary education. While teaching first grade in 2014, she realized that the current materials were not sufficient to meet the needs of her students. Many students were identified as having dyslexia characteristics. Her journey to find a phonics program that would help fill in the gaps led her to Reading Horizons. After implementing the method in her classroom and seeing improvements, she approached her principal with the idea of adopting the program for the school system. Thankfully, her principal and the school system agreed. Chrestie was certified as a Reading Horizons instructor in 2017. She is certified to teach Experience Dyslexia and obtained 35 hours of Orton-Gillingham training. She recently retired after serving 31 years in education as a classroom and Title 1 teacher. Her grandson received a dyslexia diagnosis in 2017. Due to her grandson’s and other students’ struggles, she is passionate about multisensory literacy education that empowers the teacher and student.

She loves to read, spend time with her family on the water or at the pool, and sing.

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Luanne Tubbs

Luanne Tubbs began her career teaching second grade in Scottsboro, AL. During her four years in this position, she obtained her master’s degree in early childhood education. She spent the next 20 years teaching kindergarten and first grade. She spent her 25th year of teaching as the media specialist. In 2022, Luanne was named Teacher of the Year by her colleagues. While teaching in the Scottsboro City School System, she helped plan and implement a system-wide pacing guide for K–2 teachers, and helped plan and implement Tier 2 instruction to be used in the kindergarten classrooms. Luanne is committed to sharing her passion for literacy and learning. 

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, shopping, and exercising.

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Beth Anderson

Beth has been an educator for 31 years. Her first five years were in the primary classroom. She then transitioned to the library in a PK–8 school. During that time, she also served as the reading specialist and helped teachers support their struggling learners. Beth earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Portland, a master’s degree in educational technology from City University Seattle, and an endorsement in Library Media from Seattle Pacific University. Beth is passionate about bringing the joy of reading to all children she encounters. 

Beth is married and has twin daughters who are attending college. She enjoys reading and going for long walks with her dog in her spare time.

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Connie Shirley

Over the last four years, Connie has worked in several roles for a fast-growing online ESL company. She was their first teacher for Open Class, an innovative program pairing one teacher to thousands of online students per class session. In addition to teaching, she coached hundreds of ESL teachers both online and in-person and was in the top 1% of teachers chosen as mentors and teacher applicant trainers. She also contributed as a content director/designer for remedial and advanced reading curricula and teacher coaching programs. With a background in elementary education, communication, and ESL, Connie loves helping to make a difference in the lives of teachers and students alike. She believes literacy is the life-changer that knocks down barriers and unleashes unlimited possibilities! She is thrilled to be a part of Reading Horizons.

In her spare time, Connie enjoys international travel, learning languages, reading, and meeting new people.

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Emily Hitz

Emily worked as an English language instructor to teens and young adults in Vancouver, Canada, specializing in beginner-level instruction. She then began work as a trainer and coach for a literacy intervention program in California elementary and middle school classrooms. She has also worked in nonprofit programs focusing on adult literacy and language skills. Her passion for literacy is fueled by a love for words and language and a desire to help learners develop a skill critical to life, work, and lifelong learning. Her specialties include adult learners, English Language Learners, bilingual instruction (Spanish), and working with emergent readers of all ages. Her other passion is all things crafty, especially textiles—she has taught weaving classes for many years.

Sofia Borron

Sofia Borron

Sofia Borron began her career in education nine years ago in Miami-Dade County. She received her Master of Science in Special Education and transitioned to work with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She then worked as a Reading Clinician and Specialist, working specifically with students with Dyslexia. Sofia is extremely passionate about her students having the knowledge to become strong readers, as she knows it is possible with explicit, systematic instruction! More recently, Sofia has worked as an Implementation Advisor for Reading Horizons, supporting Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Her favorite hobbies include riding her Peleton bike (Camila’s classes), swimming, and trying new restaurants.

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Rhonda Brown

As a child, Rhonda knew she would be a teacher. In addition to spending 22 years in middle and high school science classrooms in Indiana and Florida, Rhonda is a published author. She wrote course guides for the Florida DOE for Forensic Sciences I and Forensic Sciences II, eventually writing a textbook (Forensic Science: Advanced Investigations). She served as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the National Science Foundation and became even more passionate about literacy during that year. She attended think tank discussions in the DC area and presented at conferences around the United States and Canada. She was selected to participate in the ECO Classroom in Costa Rica, where her team of four teachers studied frogs with three other teams from across the United States. In 2015, she retired from the classroom to work as a professional learning consultant.

Facilitator Melinda Chemin

Melinda Chemin

As an educator of 13 years, Melinda has found her passion in teaching reading. She was introduced to Reading Horizons at the beginning of her career and has seen countless children learn and love to learn to read. Her career spans teaching 2nd, 1st, 4th, and MTSS K-5 in a Title 1 school where she also has been the Reading Coach for 6+ years. Equipping teachers and students becomes a daily endeavor to ignite in others the love for teaching and for teaching reading.

Her hobbies include singing, knitting, cooking, and football. A wife and mom of 3 boys and 1 grandson, her favorite time is spent around the dinner table with her family making and sharing memories!

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Veronica Franco

Veronica began her career as a first-grade school teacher in central Florida. Over 15 years, she has worked as an instructional coach, curriculum designer, NASA education specialist, and program manager facilitating teacher training and implementing programs for various organizations and many school districts in the U.S. and abroad. Currently, she is an education consultant, facilitator, and instructional designer collaborating with organizations to bring authentic learning experiences that support STEM career interests.

Her passion for helping all learners build literacy skills began early in her career, working with at-risk children in Spain and then supporting non-English speaking children and families in the U.S. As an ESL learner and first-generation graduate, she believes that literacy skills are at the heart of opportunities for learners to shape their future.

Veronica holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s in math and science education from the University of Central Florida. She is a certified Florida Digital Educator, UCF Minority in Education Scholar, and a Presidential Award for Science nominee.

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David Futch

For over 20 years, David has taught students and worked with teachers from kindergarten to twelfth grade. He has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s degree in instructional technology. During his many years of classroom experience, David has taught in an elementary computer lab, high school social studies, and been a district instructional coach for grades 6–12. As a Florida master digital educator, David embraces the term “geek” and how technology can positively impact student learning. His focus is currently as a coach and mentor, working with K–8 teachers in schools where intensive literacy programs support district goals and STEM/Project-Based Learning initiatives. 

David loves the outdoors, is an avid photographer, and will travel anywhere to photograph the beauty of this amazing place we call Earth.

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Dana Garth

Dana Garth is an educator, educational mentor, and professional development facilitator who values rigor and engagement amongst students. With over 10 years of experience in education, Ms. Garth encourages energy and student engagement in the classroom! She is a soon-to-be published contributor for McGraw Hill and ELA enthusiast . She was voted 2013’s and 2020’s”Distinguished Minority Educator of the Year” for her current district, as well as a three-time “Teacher of the Year” nominee. Her passion is not only to educate students to be independent and critical thinkers, but to encourage teachers to utilize best practices!

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Taryn Jackson

Being surrounded by children was a lifelong goal for Taryn. Straight out of high school, she started her journey working with children. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in educational leadership. Over ten years, she advanced from a middle school English teacher to the role of an assistant principal. Her years with CSUSA were filled with milestones and memories, which helped her identify the importance of early literacy. 

Now you can find her running two self-starter businesses. As a copywriter and education consultant at Taryn J Writes LLC., she has founded a business that ignites two of her greatest passions: writing and supporting educators. Tails and Toddlers Inc. is her other business venture that she runs alongside her husband and fellow animal enthusiast. They build custom furniture for pets and children.

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Francine Lawson

Francine is a native Floridian, and has served the community in several capacities over the last twenty years: classroom teacher, interventionist, teacher mentor, and instructional coach. She has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a master’s degree in K-12 educational leadership.. She began her career as a first-grade teacher and currently serves as a district literacy coach for the Transformation Network. She has taught students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade and is deeply invested in developing lifelong learners, both in adults and children. As a teacher leader, she has impacted the professional growth of hundreds in the area of literacy through coaching, mentorship, and collegial partnership. Her passion for equipping learners drives her to continue growing her own craft as an instructional leader and teacher developer. A quirky fun fact about Francine, she has a “healthy” love/hate relationship with the dentist…she hates going, but loves the results after a visit!

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Laurie Lear

Laurie is a professional facilitator and instructional coach for K–12 schools. After graduating from the University of North Florida with a degree in elementary education, she taught first grade for over 12 years. Her passion for building confident readers in a digital world ignited her desire to create lessons that infused reading literacy and technology. As a STEM leader in her school, she inspired students to weave reading and computer literacy skills into their daily lives. Her passion is providing researched-based strategies that allow all students an opportunity to build self-confidence so they may succeed in reading and pursue their dreams. 

Her hobbies include cooking, reading, listening to podcasts, and spending time with her family.

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Chloe Romeo

Chloe began her career as an elementary school teacher in Florida, working to instill an excitement for literacy in her students through engaging, interdisciplinary learning experiences. In her more recent role as an education consultant, Chloe has facilitated professional learning and coached teachers in many school districts across the country. Chloe specializes in educational technology and 21st-century skills, which she believes are vital to a student’s future success. Chloe is passionate about literacy education because it is the foundation of all learning and unlocks a student’s ability to recognize their fullest potential. 

In her free time, Chloe enjoys being in nature, exploring new biking or hiking paths, and relaxing on the beach.

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Susannah Allen

Susannah Allen began her career teaching in a Title I school and later moved to an independent college preparatory school to be with her three children. Teaching Pre-K through second grade, she loved working with young children because of the incredible joy they exhibited when they learned to read! For the last ten years, she served as the Lower School Principal and the Assistant Head of School. Susannah received the Judy Lowery Outstanding Educator Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the GISA. 

After 31 years in education, Susannah developed a desire to learn about the science of reading and its impact on students and teachers. This desire drove her to pursue an opportunity to support teachers as they implement quality reading instruction in the classroom.

Susannah enjoys spending time on the lake with her husband, children, and their dogs in her spare time. 

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Chloe Rhea Beauford

As an experienced workshop leader and coach, Chloe has helped thousands of educators successfully implement Reading Horizons’ instructional methods. Over the past 25 years, Chloe has conducted workshops and led presentations at many national and state education conferences. Chloe’s passions are educator professional learning and coaching, and she recognizes these as key to implementing new instructional methods. Before facilitating workshops for Reading Horizons, she was an instructional specialist and coach for a school district on the Navajo Nation.

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Yasmeen Blankenship

Yasmeen Blankenship graduated with a master’s degree in education from the University of La Verne in 2008. She has served as an educator for over 14 years. In that time, she has been fortunate enough to serve as a kindergarten teacher, 2nd grade teacher, K/1 lead teacher, 4/5 interventionist, and a K-6 reading interventionist.  Yasmeen has always had a deep love for learning and reading. She loves having a front row seat for when students transition from being reluctant readers to confident readers. She knows that literacy is a crucial component for a child’s success in their educational journey as well as life. It is for these reasons that she is excited to be a member of the Reading Horizons family.

When Yasmeen is not learning alongside her students she enjoys being a certified yoga instructor and health coach.

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Chanirika Davidson

Chanirika Davidson comes from a bloodline of educators. She became passionate about education as a young child from seeing her parents, grandparents, and other family members in the field. Chanirika earned her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Tuskegee University and her Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning with a Reading Specialization from NOVA Southeastern University. She taught elementary students in Atlanta Public schools for 11 years. Chanirika’s educational philosophy is that ALL students can be successful with the proper tools and skills. When she is not spending quality time with her family, Chanirika is busy brightening spaces for events and occasions. In 2020, she started her own Event Styling company, Sincerely Sunshine.

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Sandra Smith

Sandra’s dream of becoming a teacher began as a first grader when she read a book to her class. She never even considered another job! After being a classroom teacher for 20 years and an ESOL teacher for 10 years, she served as a Title I Parent Facilitator and an RTI Support Specialist. Most recently, she started her own company with a focus on empowering schools to engage families. In this role, Sandra developed and facilitated workshops for teachers and parents. While Zoom meetings have been a necessary format, she is really looking forward to being with people face to face. She believes that literacy skills are the foundation of most learning, and when we teach children to read, we are enabling them to be successful in life. 

Sandra enjoys running, biking, hiking, spending time with family, and playing with her dogs in her free time.

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Brittany Graves

Brittany began her teaching career more than nine years ago. She has spent most of that time teaching second grade. Brittany earned her master’s degree in reading and literacy from Benedictine University in Illinois in the fall of 2018. She enjoys learning about literacy theories and the science of reading. After being introduced to Reading Horizons in the fall of 2019, phonics quickly became Brittany’s favorite instructional block of the day. 

When she is not teaching, you can find her spending time with her family, reading, or hiking. 

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Dana Murphy

Dana began her teaching career in 2001. She taught upper elementary for several years before becoming an instructional coach. Her passion for teaching literacy led her back into the classroom, and she is now the Reading Interventionist at an elementary building. She has fallen in love with teaching phonics to primary students. She also writes article about teaching for Choice Literacy and believes in the power of ongoing professional learning for teachers.

When Dana is not teaching she is spending time with her two daughters. They love board games, family dinners, and movie nights. She loves to read and swap books with her mom. She also knits ill-fitting gifts for people she loves.

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Erik Dominguez

Erik began his career in education as a competitive speech and debate teacher and coach. He recognized that the best way to build literacy and inspire students to excellence was by doing the common uncommonly well. With a focus on fundamentals and teams, he grew perennial state and national championship teams before becoming a full-time speaker and facilitator and was featured in the documentary “Figures of Speech.” He is passionate about equipping educators with the right tools and mindsets to serve their students with the most significant impact. He strives to comply with Crossfit’s first rule, which is to tell everyone you do Crossfit, and lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with the love of his life, Whitney, their two boys, Elias and Ian, and their bulldog Winston.

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Annie Gerst

Andra Gerst received her bachelor’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from Harding University in 2007. She taught grades K–4 in the public schools in Maryland and New Jersey before her recent move to Kentucky. Additionally, Andra tutors and teaches students, including ESL, both virtually and in person, using a brain science approach to reading. Andra has been trained in using the Wilson Reading System, an Orton-Gillingham approach, which focuses on multisensory techniques that combine the teaching of both reading and spelling simultaneously. She has presented on these topics and more at the district and county level, as she enjoys sharing her experiences and learning with fellow educators. Andra is passionate about brain science and how it relates to reading. She stated that continuing her learning with Reading Horizons was her next “best step” in her continual learning journey. Andra is thrilled to combine her experience and passion for brain science and reading with the team here at Reading Horizons.

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Sara Harris

Sara is beginning her 18th year in education. She began her career as an elementary teacher, teaching both first and second grades. She is currently the Curriculum/ Instructional Coach at Bell Elementary in Wayne County, where she has been coaching and supporting their teachers for the past four years. Sara received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Eastern Kentucky University, master’s degree in special education from Union College, and Rank I Certification in Supervisor of Instruction from the University of the Cumberlands. Sara not only coaches, trains, and supports teachers, she also serves as an English language learner resource for her school. Sara’s love for literacy comes from her background in teaching in the elementary classroom. She wants all students to be successful in understanding text and be able to experience life through reading. She believes that literacy instruction is important for our students to become socially engaged and to be able to communicate effectively and understand the world around them.  

Sara enjoys spending time with her family on the family farm, relaxing on Lake Cumberland, and watching her children participate in sports.

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Tina Dearborn

Tina began her teaching career in Maine with K–3 students. She worked with many inspiring teachers that encouraged her to learn as much about her students as possible. She and three colleagues created a multi-age program. The program allowed the teacher-student relationship to grow and offered students the best personal learning experience that met their needs. Tina then moved to Mississippi and taught for 22 years in first grade, where Tina learned so much about the reading process and how students approach it differently based on their experiences. Tina then began working with middle schoolers. First, she worked with a sixth-grade ELA classroom and ended with a Title 1 tutoring program where she was introduced to Reading Horizons and loved it. 

She retired in January 2022 and is on a new adventure with Reading Horizons. She enjoys sewing and crafting when time allows.

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Ellen Quade

Ellen graduated from Southern Illinois University with a degree in education and immediately starting teaching 5th grade. After several years she began working on her masters degree at Lindenwood University and switched to teaching 1st grade . Later she returned to Lindenwood University and began working on her 2nd masters in reading and became a state certified reading specialist to assist her struggling readers in 1st grade and kindergarten. Ellen has a strong passion and knowledge of literacy and recently resigned from teaching in the classroom after 22 years to focus on sharing her passion with other educators and facilitating adult learning . Ellen also opened her own small business in the past 2 years and enjoys running a small women’s fashion boutique with her best friend . Her hobbies include spending time with her family and dogs going on hikes and vacations.

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Michaela Wilson

Michaela graduated from the University of Missouri in 1989 with a degree in elementary education. She spent most of her 25 years in the classroom, teaching first and fifth grades. Michaela received a master’s degree in reading education in 1999, a master’s degree in elementary administration in 2011, and a specialist degree in administration in 2017. Michaela is currently an elementary principal in a district that has adopted Reading Horizons. Through this adoption, Michaela was introduced to the Reading Horizons curriculum and became an immediate believer. Watching the students in her district improve their reading skills and the teachers’ enthusiasm for Reading Horizons led Michaela to pursue the opportunity to become a facilitator. Leading educators to develop into the best reading teachers for their students is now Michaela’s passion. 

Michaela spends her free time with family, reading, and traveling, when the opportunity arises.

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Deb Kucera

Deb is passionate about all things literacy! She has been an educator in Nebraska for 30 years. The past 20 years were spent at a Title 1 school. Her career has included teaching first, third, fifth, and sixth grade, as well as K–5 reading intervention. Her most recent role has been literacy coach and new teacher mentor. This role included planning and facilitating professional learning and training for teachers, team leaders, and administrators. Supporting new teachers and planning and leading the ELL adult literacy parent group was the “cherry on top” of this education sundae!

Deb believes all students should have access to quality Tier 1 instruction that utilizes the best practices in literacy instruction. She received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her master’s degree in Instructional Technology from Peru State College.

She and her husband love to spend time with their two grandsons and enjoy traveling and walking their dog, Boston.

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Heidi DeMaio

Heidi’s 20 years of experience in K–12 public school and virtual classroom settings inspired her interest in literacy training and joining the Reading Horizons facilitator team. Heidi has worked with thousands of teachers to encourage, support, and help them align their teaching with current research and to inspire their potential. With degrees in liberal studies and English and ESL endorsements, she seeks to help enhance the knowledge and practices of teachers.

As a mother of four, spending time with her husband and children is her greatest joy. She has seen the benefits of engaging learners through meaningful play and entertainment by performing as a ventriloquist and vocalist.

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Susan Good

Susan began her career in education teaching preschool while working toward her education degree at Towson State University. She followed up with a master’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma. Throughout her career, she has taught students in preschool through high school. She is retired from Oklahoma City Public Schools, where she recently served as an Instructional Coach. Susan was a district finalist for Teacher of the Year twice.

Susan believes in building strong relationships with both students and teachers. She is highly trained in the science of reading and is passionate about early literacy. She strongly believes that the implementation of the Reading Horizons program has changed the educational trajectory for thousands of Oklahoma City students. 

In her spare time, Susan is an avid quilter. She also enjoys spending time with her two adorable grandchildren and three rescue dogs.

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Wendy Morrey

Wendy started teaching as a PE specialist and classroom aide and promptly changed her major from English teaching to elementary education. She loved working with all ages and subjects, but she especially loved her time as a reading aide. Wendy got her master’s degree in learning and technology during her first year teaching and was so grateful for the lessons of data gathering that the process gave her. She taught first grade for six years, and during her fifth year, she was awarded Teacher of the Year. She usually worked with the gifted and talented students during breakout time, and she loved pushing her students to new heights and showing them that learning can be fun. 

Wendy is an avid reader, usually reading two to three books per week, and she loves seeing the passion of reading come into her students’ lives. Her current hobbies are watercolor and triathlon training.

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Michelle Credle

Michelle has been an educator for 22 years. She currently teaches science in grades K-5. She enjoys bringing literary elements into the science classroom. Most of her career has been in Title 1 and underserved communities. She is passionate about literacy education because she believes ALL children can learn and be successful with the proper foundation. She has been a Mentor teacher and Grade Level Chair.
In her free time, she loves to read (big surprise!), spend time with family and friends, and do crafts or DIY projects.
She has two amazing daughters, Cheyenne and Shelby.
Fun Fact: When she retires she wants to have lots of land and run a cat sanctuary for injured and unwanted cats.

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Melissa Freeman

Melissa has been teaching school for 22 years in general and special education. She received her bachelor’s degree in special education at Carson-Newman University, her master’s degree in special ed inclusion from Concordia University, and has earned and renewed her National Board Certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist. Her experience includes teaching in the general education third and fifth-grade classrooms and the resource and self-contained special education classrooms. Currently, she teaches part-time in the resource classroom and coaches special education teachers in Reading Horizons for the second part of her day. Melissa has received training in Orton-Gillingham and has a passion for teaching the struggling reader. She has taught the Reading Horizons method and coached teachers implementing it for the past four years.  

In her free time, she enjoys watching her sons play sports, traveling, and reading good books. 

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Kelly Lucero

Primary literacy coach turned education consultant, Kelly is a wealth of knowledge helping learners succeed and bridging the gap of early literacy. With a background in elementary education and a master’s degree in reading and literacy, she worked for the Department of Defense as an instructional support teacher, facilitating professional development in literacy and math instruction. 

Throughout her 20+ years teaching and being a military spouse, she has traveled and taught in various states and programs, from Minnesota to Colorado and North Carolina to Florida. She is currently working as a writer, education blogger, and educational consultant with educational collaborators. She is also a Microsoft Innovative Educator & Minecraft Trainer plus a Google Certified Educator 1, 2, and Certified Google Coach Mentor. Additionally, she has a knack for creating meaningful stories and engaging lessons to share with young readers and their families. 

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Toshiba Bouey

After her first year in education, Toshiba  quickly realized her passion was teaching literacy. She has spent countless hours studying, training, and developing ways to create strong readers in early childhood. Toshiba was a key member of the Instructional Leadership Committee for Literacy, and her most recent role was Instructional Facilitator for grades K–3. 

She enjoys traveling, sightseeing, and photography. Toshiba is often referred to as a social butterfly. She has never met a stranger. 

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April Johnson

April is very enthusiastic about being part of the Reading Horizon family. Before joining the team, Mrs. Johnson worked as a K–3 teacher for Parkway Village Elementary in Memphis, Tennessee. At Parkway Village, she held the second and third-grade chair positions and was a member of the Instructional Leadership and Digital Learning Team. She also acted as a lead teacher mentor to first-year teachers within the school district. During this time, Mrs. Johnson was a presenter for various professional development courses such as Eureka Math, Math TEM Crosswalk, and Teaching Equality vs. Equity in the classroom. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s degree in elementary education from The University of Memphis. Her philosophy on education is that “Learning is not a one size fits all.” Mrs. Johnson enjoys providing a safe and highly engaging learning environment, allowing all her students to discover their fullest potential.  

She also enjoys international travel, reading, museums, trying new foods, and Broadway shows.

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Amanda Beale

Amanda began her career as a classroom teacher in Minnesota. She spent 13 years teaching students in second, third, and fifth grades. A move to Atlanta, GA pushed her to pursue a new area of interest—supporting teachers. As an Instructional Coach and Curriculum Implementation Specialist with Better Lesson, she has worked with thousands of teachers in Pre-K through eighth as they make student-centered shifts in their classrooms. She is passionate about supporting educators with best practices in literacy instruction, watching their enthusiasm as they try to meet the needs of their students, and celebrating growth when students learn to read.  

When not working, Amanda enjoys traveling and gardening.  

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Kristi Bridwell

In 1992, Kristi began her career as a Title 1 inclusion teacher at an elementary school in Pampa, TX. That year laid the foundation for a lifelong passion of literacy learning. Since then, Kristi has taught grades K–3, reading recovery, and fourth grade ELAR. In addition, she was trained as a collaborative early literacy coach through Ohio State University and served as a certified literacy coach for over 16 years. Her most recent role has been as a reading academy cohort leader for the state of Texas, specializing in the science of reading. 

Kristi enjoys spending time with her family and traveling. She loves to learn with her peers and enjoys helping teachers grow in their craft.

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Amanda Childress

Amanda began her career in education in 2012 with a general interest in teaching.  Starting as a middle school math teacher, she later found a deep rooted love for all things reading! Opportunities soon opened for elementary-level reading roles, including third grade teacher, dyslexia interventionist, instructional coach, reading interventionist, and currently, Reading Academy specialist.  

She enjoys spending time with her family and pets.

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Vanessa Conatser

Vanessa began her career as a secondary English language arts teacher while coaching various sports. However, earning a M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction led to her educational passion of serving students and teachers in leadership. Pursuing a second M.Ed. in digital learning and leading extended her passion to digital innovations in education. She is currently obtaining an Ed.D in educational leadership, with an emphasis in educational technology innovations. Vanessa is presently the coordinator for dyslexia services for Plano ISD. She is also a certified reading specialist and master reading teacher in Texas. Her vast experience includes developmental education for Collin College, first to sixth dyslexia therapy, high school newcomers, middle and high school ELAR, and secondary literacy coach. Vanessa has also presented at the Region 10 Digital Coaching Conference, Texas TESOL Regional Conference, TABE Regional Conference, and Region 10 Coordinator’s Roundtable.

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Erin Heape

Erin knew she wanted to teach at a very early age. Her career choice began when she started babysitting at age 9; then began working in a daycare setting where she taught preschool. She went on to teach Pre-K to 1st grade for 15 years in a few different elementary schools. Moving from Minnesota to Texas, she accepted a first grade position where she currently teaches.  

Erin loves to teach literacy because she loves to see the growth and wonderment of her students. Erin believes that literacy is the foundation to all learning. Once students have a strong foundation of literacy, they will connect it to all other academic areas.

Erin loves to dance, read, play pickleball, golf, travel, and especially spend time with family and friends.

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Jeni Cox-Howard

Jeni Cox-Howard has been an educator and teacher trainer for 18 years, working for the past 15 years in Title I schools in Maryland, Virginia, and Texas. Jeni believes strongly in the equity and inclusion of ALL students. Working with many ESL students and students with dyslexia sparked her love and tireless dedication to literacy instruction. Trained in LETRS and The Science of Teaching Reading (Texas Reading Academies), Jeni is excited to help others deepen their understanding of literacy so all students receive the instruction they deserve. In her free time, Jeni loves to hop on her Peloton, takes Pilates classes, and dabbles in the world of gardening!

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Deborah De Hoyos

Deborah De Hoyos is a professional learning facilitator and instructional coach for Reading Horizons. At an early age, Deborah felt drawn to education. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology. With an interest in education and culture, she went on to earn her master’s in teaching English to speakers of other languages. Upon completion of her graduate degree, Deborah joined the administrative council of an intensive English program. As an administrator, she mentored graduate students, conducted teacher training, and taught international students with novice, intermediate, and advanced English skills. Outside of the classroom, Deborah has worked in curriculum and assessment development. As part of Reading Horizons’ non-profit efforts, Deborah helped develop a literacy program designed for pre-literate learners and refugee populations.

Deborah usually stays up too late because she cannot resist the lure of one more chapter. She enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with her family.

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Melissa Izzo

Melissa has been an educator for 26 years. She served as a first-grade teacher for five years, a reading coach for 17 years, and spent two years as a District Resource Teacher in Hillsborough County, Florida. At Tyler ISD in Texas, Melissa taught second grade and served as a Campus Reading Specialist for the ELAR department. Melissa earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of South Florida, a master’s degree in reading from St. Leo University, and a specialist degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of South Florida.
Melissa believes that all students can learn and has a passion for teaching reading and being a learner herself.

Fun fact: Melissa did a lot of traveling within the U.S. growing up because her dad worked for an airline. She wanted to be a flight attendant but fell in love with teaching.

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Emilie Jones

Emilie has served in education since 2008 and has experience in a variety of roles in districts across Texas K-12, including teacher, athletic coach, interventionist and Reading Specialist. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership from The University of Texas at Tyler. She is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in School Improvement at UT Tyler.

Emilie has always had a love for literature and enjoys teaching students how to read.

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Amber Booth

Amber began teaching in 2001 and has been teaching first grade ever since. She received her degrees from Weber State University in Utah in early childhood education and curriculum design and instruction with a Level 1 Reading Endorsement. She is passionate about phonics and literacy after working with young developing readers for 20 years. 

She loves to ski, go rafting with her family, and hike with her golden retrievers. 

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Shannon Bowles

Shannon has been working with edtech for five years as a remote ESL teacher for students in China. During this time, she developed lasting relationships with her students and their families. Shannon has also mentored prospective ESL teachers as part of a coaching team that facilitated in-person and remote ESL teaching training workshops. Shannon has recently worked as part of the Brigham Young University Pathway Worldwide program, remotely mentoring students around the world. She takes great satisfaction in helping others succeed. She is passionate about the possibilities technology can bring to educating students of all ages. 

Shannon lives in Utah with her husband, four children, and one neurotic but lovable dog. She is an avid reader who believes literacy is for everyone. In her spare time, you’ll find her with her nose in a book, baking, taking a Zumba class, or swimming with her kids at the pool.

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Angela Killian

Angela Killian served as a classroom teacher, facilitator, and elementary principal whose work was focused on helping learners turn “I Can’t” into “I Can!”

Angela is deeply committed to the Reading Horizons mission. She used the curriculum during her nineteen years as a classroom teacher, while tutoring at-risk leaners during her years as a facilitator and purchased Reading Horizons Curriculum for her faculty once she became an elementary principal. She witnessed her school reading data move to 90% of her students reading at, or above grade level. She understands that the Reading Horizons curriculum is truly where reading momentum begins.

She loves spending time with her husband and cherishes every moment she is with her children and grand-children.

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Melanie Norman

Melanie graduated with undergraduate degrees in both special education and elementary education. She has spent the last 20 plus years teaching and specializing in reading intervention. She is trained and certified in various Orton-Gillingham-based approaches such as Susan Barton, Phonics First, and Handwriting without Tears. She also has experience teaching the Wilson Fundations and Lindamood-Bell’s LIPS programs. This training and experience have led to her favorite moments in teaching when the reading code becomes unlocked! Melanie’s passion for literacy education was sparked by her mother, a professional storyteller. Making literature accessible to all students through the science of reading is her goal. She is excited to partner with classroom teachers and Reading Horizons and work together to make every student a reader. 

Melanie is married with four wonderful children. In her spare time, she loves to go hiking, spend time with her family and friends, or curl up with a good book.

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Belen Pulsipher

Belen majored in early childhood and elementary education. She began teaching in 2005, starting her career in the kindergarten classroom. She taught kindergarten for 11 years, first grade for five years, and is currently a sixth-grade teacher. She has spent her whole teaching career in the same school, a Title I school in Ogden, Utah. She has been using Reading Horizons in the classroom for four years and has been a big advocate for grades K–3 using it at her school. She feels strongly that reading is something everyone should feel like they can do and do well! Belen has been a facilitator for Reading Horizons for two years and loves the opportunities she gets to meet and help teachers all over the country.

When she isn’t teaching or working for Reading Horizons, she loves to spend time with her two daughters and husband in the beautiful mountains and lakes of Utah. 

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Laura Sawyer

Laura is a recently retired first-grade teacher. She completed her degree in early childhood education from Utah State University and began her teaching career in 1990 at Woodruff Elementary in Logan, Utah. After dedicating 33 years of service to teaching first grade, she is excited about the opportunity to continue her passion for literacy instruction with Reading Horizons. Throughout her career, Laura received an ESL endorsement, a Reading Endorsement, and was honored to receive the Teacher of the Year award in 2022–23. Laura has eight years of experience teaching the Reading Horizons Discovery® program. She specializes in phonics instruction and believes there is nothing more gratifying than teaching children the skills necessary to become successful readers.

Laura has two adult children who live in Oregon. She lives in Logan, Utah with her husband and their two dogs and two cats. Laura enjoys skiing, hiking, yoga, reading, traveling, and taking their dogs on long walks.

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Jenna Schroder

Jenna has spent the last few years teaching reading in an adult ed setting, working primarily with English language newcomers. She has also tutored elementary students with dyslexia using Reading Horizons and is a passionate advocate for quality literacy instruction at all levels. She loves how Reading Horizons empowers students and educators to be successful in the classroom and hopes to share her experience with the program to help other teachers/students succeed.  

If you can’t find Jenna behind a book, then you will most certainly find her baby-wearing her six-month-old little boy, Grant, as she and her pup, Ranger, go out to explore the hiking trails local to her in Utah. 

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Kristie McDonald

Kristie McDonald began her teacher career in 1990 as a 5th and 6th grade teacher in small town Fairmont, WV. With a Master of Arts in Reading, she has impacted children in the area of literacy ranging from Kindergarten through college. She has been recognized as the Reading Teacher of the Year in WV, Fairmont State University Young Alumni Award, and the Patti R. Pollack Marion County Reading Teacher of the Year. Her most recent role is an Assistant Principal at Watson Elementary School in Marion County, WV. Her favorite part of the day is making connections and developing relationships with students, staff, and families! Kristie enjoys the outdoors with her husband, 5 children, and 3 grandchildren with 1 more on the way! Fun fact: Kristie has a school procedure video on tic-tok with 2.4 million views.