Speakers

2024 Keynote Speakers

Deena Bishop, Ed.D.

Commissioner
Alaska Department of Education & Early Development
Deena Bishop, Ed.D., began her Alaska educational career in 1991 serving in her first teaching position for the Copper River School District. From there, she served in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District as a teacher, coach, assistant principal and principal, before taking on broader roles in the district office serving first as an assistant superintendent then the superintendent. Most recently, she served six years as the superintendent in Alaska’s largest school district, Anchorage School District, from 2016 to 2022 before being named Commissioner of Education in August 2023.
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During her tenure, Dr. Bishop has invested in the people with whom she has worked to best meet students needs. She believes in reading and math as core competencies for all children. Dr. Bishop has brought innovative change to programs such as the Alaska Middle College School, the redesign of career and technical education to meet Alaska’s workforce needs, and flexible modernized schooling models to meet student and family needs, post pandemic, to name a few.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in education, a master’s degree in educational administration, and a doctorate in learning assessment and system performance. She also holds a National Superintendent’s certificate and is a 2021-2022 fellow of The Broad Academy Yale School of Management in Public Education Leadership.

Dr. Bishop is active in local and civic organizations and serves on several non-profit boards in Alaska. She served as a member of the University of Alaska Board of Regents and presently serves on the Education Commission of the States.

Dr. Bishop enjoys many ties to the community and is the recipient of the YWCA 2016 Woman of Achievement award, the Covenant House Alaska 2019 Women Helping Women Award, the Junior Achievement of Alaska 2020 Educator of the Year Award, and a 2020 inductee to the Anchorage ATHENA Society.

She has two daughters, a son and son-in-law, and a grandson. Dr. Bishop enjoys outdoor sports, interior painting, and spending time traveling with her family.

Steven Bollar, MA

Stand Tall Steve
Stand Tall Enterprises, LLC

Steve Bollar, a.k.a. Stand Tall Steve, is driven to help schools, associations, and organizations create a better culture and climate through creative innovations and encouragement. His books, Stand Tall Leadership and Ideas, Ideas, Ideas! has been a jumping point for hundreds of organizations on how to increase morale, change the culture and improve the climate for their students and staff.

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In 2023 Steve was identified as one of the Top 30 Global Gurus In Education. In 2014 Steve was awarded the Burlington County Principals and Supervisors Association Visionary Leadership Award. In 2011 Steve was recognized by South Jersey Magazine as South Jersey’s top 20 Men of the Year. Additionally, Steve was chosen by Suburban Family Magazine Top 20 Citizen of the Year for 2012. Steve is also a member of the Jostens Renaissance Hall of Fame. Renaissance is a program that focuses on recognizing students and staff while developing a positive school culture.

Steve has a long history in the education system, from art teacher to principal to Superintendent of Schools. His 25+ year career has shown him firsthand how to face the challenges that any organization can encounter and how to overcome them with creativity and communication.

It’s this insight that he brings to the stage during his keynotes, breakouts, and workshops – training administration, teachers, organizations and staff on how to create a better atmosphere for students and staff alike.”

Brent Conway, M.Ed.

Assistant Superintendent
Pentucket Regional School District (MA)

Brent Conway is an educational leader with 25 years of experience in the field. He has been a classroom teacher, a special education leader, a building administrator and is currently the Assistant Superintendent for the Pentucket Regional School District in West Newbury, MA.
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As a Principal, Brent led Lincoln Elementary School in Melrose, MA to achieve a National Blue Ribbon School designation in 2015 for closing achievement gaps. As the Assistant Superintendent in Pentucket, he leads efforts in the district, across the state of MA and the country to implement evidence-based literacy instruction.

In addition to being a national leader and speaker for literacy, he has built opportunities for advanced coursework for high school students in science, engineering and math pathways. Brent is also a doctoral student in the Education Leadership program at The University of Southern Mississippi. Brent is thrilled to return to Alaska for another Science of Reading Symposium.

Luis Cruz, PhD

Author/Associate
Solution Tree

Luis F. Cruz, PhD, is former principal of Baldwin Park High School, located east of Los Angeles, California. He has been a teacher and administrator at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Dr. Cruz presents on methods from the best-selling book Time for Change by Luis F. Cruz and Anthony Muhammad.
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In 2007, Dr. Cruz led a collective effort to secure a $250,000 grant for Baldwin Park from the California Academic Partnership Program for the purpose of effectively utilizing “courageous leadership” to promote a more equitable and effective organization.

Since becoming a public school educator, Dr. Cruz has won the New Teacher of the Year, Teacher of the Year, Administrator of the Year, and other community leadership awards. He and a committee of teacher leaders at Baldwin Park received California’s prestigious Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association for significantly closing the achievement gap between the general student population and students learning English as a second language.

Cruz has co-authored two books and is certified as a PLC at Work, RTI at Work, and Transforming School Culture Associate with Solution Tree.

As a recipient of the Hispanic Border Leadership Institute’s fellowship for doctoral studies, he earned a doctorate in institutional leadership and policy studies from the University of California Riverside. He earned an associate’s degree from Mount San Antonio Community College, a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Fullerton, and a master’s degree from Claremont Graduate University.

Stephanie Stollar, PhD

Part-time Assistant Professor and Consultant
Mount St Joseph University and Stephanie Stollar Consulting

Stephanie Stollar, PhD, is the founder of Stephanie Stollar Consulting LLC and the creator of The Reading Science Academy. Dr. Stollar is a part-time assistant professor in the online reading science program at Mount St. Joseph University, and a founding member of a national alliance for supporting reading science in higher education. As a board member for the Innovations in Education Consortium, she collaboratively plans the annual MTSS Innovations in Education Conference.
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Dr. Stollar has worked as a school psychologist, an educational consultant, and as Vice President for Professional Learning for Acadience Learning Inc. She has provided professional development, conducted research and published in the areas of assessment, early intervention, and collaborative problem solving. She is passionate about improving educator knowledge and aligning school systems to prevent reading failure. You can follow Stephanie Stollar Consulting and the Reading Science Academy on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and contact her at stephaniestollar@gmail.com.

Kareem Weaver, MA

Co-Founder and Executive Director
FULCRUM

Kareem Weaver is a Co-Founder and Executive Director of FULCRUM, which partners with stakeholders to improve reading results for students. He is the Oakland NAACP’s 2nd Vice President and Chair of its Education Committee; his advocacy is featured in the upcoming film The Right to Read.

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Mr. Weaver previously served as New Leaders’ Executive Director of the Western Region and was an award-winning teacher and administrator. He has undergraduate degrees from Morehouse College and a master’s in Clinical-Community Psychology from the University of South Carolina. Mr. Weaver believes in the potential of all students, the brotherhood of man, and the importance of service above self. His educational heroine, for literacy instruction, is the late Marva Collins.

Kate Winn

Teacher and Podcaster
PVNCCDSB & IDA Ontario
Kate has been teaching with the PVNCCDSB in Ontario, Canada since 2000. A passionate literacy advocate, she is coproducer and host of IDA Ontario’s Reading Road Trip podcast.

2024 Breakout Speakers

Anita Archer, PhD
Author/Consultant

Curriculum Associates

Anita Archer, PhD, serves as an educational consultant to state departments and school districts on explicit instruction and literacy.
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She has presented in all 50 states and many countries, including Australia, and is the recipient of 10 awards honoring her contributions to education. Dr. Archer has served on the faculties of three universities: the University of Washington, the University of Oregon, and San Diego State University. She has co-authored numerous curriculum materials including PHONICS for Reading (Curriculum Associates), a three-level intervention program, and a best-selling textbook titled Explicit Instruction: Effective and Efficient Teaching (Guilford Publications).

Matthew Burns, PhD

Fien Professor of Special Education and Assistant Director of UFLI

University of Florida

Matthew K. Burns, PhD, is the Fein Professor of Special Education at the University of Florida and an Assistant Director of the University of Florida Literacy Institute. Dr. Burns has published over 200 articles and book chapters in national publications, and has co-authored or co-edited 15 books.
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He is a Past Editor of School Psychology Review and Assessment for Effective Intervention. Dr. Burns is one of the leading researchers regarding the use of assessment data to determine individual or small-group interventions, and has published extensively on response to intervention, academic interventions, and facilitating problem-solving teams.

In addition, Dr. Burns was also a practicing school psychologist and special education administrator before becoming an academic, and served on the faculty of the University of Minnesota for 10 years and Central Michigan University for 5 years. He received the 2020 Senior Scientist Award from Division 16 (School Psychology) of the American Psychological Association.

Valentina Contesse, PhD

Clinical Assistant Professor

University of Florida Literacy Institute (UFLI)

Valentina Contesse, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor of special education in the School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies at the University of Florida (UF). Dr. Contesse is a University of Florida Literacy Institute (UFLI) faculty member and the co-author of UFLI Foundations: An Explicit and Systematic Phonics Program.
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Dr. Contesse teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in various UF teacher preparation programs and coordinates professional development for practicing teachers focused on evidence-based reading instruction. Her research focuses on early literacy instruction and intervention, teacher preparation and training in reading, and the effects of performance feedback on the implementation of evidence-based instructional practices.
Karen Eades, MA Ed.
Keys to Literacy National Trainer

Keys to Literacy

For 49 years Karen has been a Teacher, Literacy Coach, Assessment Coordinator, AZ State Reading Specialist and Adjunct at Arizona State University.
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After failing retirement, she is currently a Keys Trainer working with respected colleagues and teachers and children all over the country that help keep her learning, laughing and loving life! This year Karen is training teachers throughout Alaska on Keys to Beginning Reading, providing foundational knowledge on the teaching of reading.
Marybeth Flachbart, Ed.D.
Managing Partner

Mountain West Associates

Marybeth Flachbart, Ed.D., provides technical assistance to schools, districts, and states to build capacity for literacy and school improvement.
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Most recently, she was a contributor to the Alaska Native Language and Literacy Playbook. In 2023 she facilitated the creation of the Alaska Literacy Blueprint and in 2022 lead author of the Alaska Reading Playbook. She works closely with the staff of the Region 16 Comprehensive Center and the Department of Education & Early Development. In the past year she has been an instructor for the Alaska Reading Endorsement cohort and has provided more than two dozen training sessions for Alaskan educators and paraprofessionals.

Prior to joining Mountain West she was the Director of the Region 17 Comprehensive Center serving the State Departments of Education for both Idaho and Montana from 2015 until 2020. Dr. Flachbart served as president and CEO of the Neuhaus Education Center in Houston, Texas; a nonprofit think tank for literacy solutions that specializes in supporting individuals with dyslexia through applied literacy and language research and professional learning for educators from 2011 until 2015.

Marybeth has also served as Deputy Superintendent of Student Achievement and School Improvement at the Idaho State Department of Education, taught at Boise State University, established, and directed Idaho’s Reading First Program. She consulted and created professional development for the network of National Reading First Technical Assistance Centers. Her classroom experience includes 10 years of both general and special education. Marybeth holds an Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction from Boise State University and an M.S. in special education from Fairfield University. She is a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) and a dyslexia specialist.

Deborah Helms
Partner

TNTP

Deborah has served as Partner of TNTP’s Learning Portal since 2021. Prior to becoming partner, Deborah was Project Director for the online Learning Portal (2016-2021). Her previous work at TNTP includes roles as Field Development Coach, ACE Classroom Observer, and Video Principal Coach. Deborah’s career in public education started in 2004 with the NYC Teaching Fellows; she spent ten years as a teacher and administrator in NYC public schools as a licensed Secondary ELA Teacher and School Building Leader.
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Her work with students and teachers focused on content-specific literacy, supporting secondary teachers in all subjects in making shifts to text-based instruction. She created inter-departmental and schoolwide systems for explicit instruction and evaluation of student writing to drive academic improvement. After leaving the NYCDOE, Deborah spent two years working on the Career and Technical Education statewide standards and assessment project for the University of Arizona/Arizona Department of Education, guiding the redesign of 60 high-stakes online assessments statewide.

Deborah’s private sector experience includes five years with EdVision/Scantron in the development and support of standards-based computer adaptive assessment and instructional planning software programs. In her current role, she leads flexible teams in designing, developing, and implementing online learning modules for use at scale via TNTP- or client-owned LMS. These modules include certification coursework, discrete training opportunities, and continuous professional development, with coursework designed using Quality Matters standards for learner support and accessibility.

Deborah holds a BA in Literature and Writing from University of California, San Diego, an MST in Secondary Literacy Instruction from Pace University, and an MS in Educational Leadership from New York University.

Joel Isaak, MFA

Deputy Commissioner

Alaska Department of Education & Early Development

Joel Isaak is an artist, educator, and lifelong learner. He uses the unique way the arts uncover understanding for working in an educational environment that combines a formal Western education model with customary traditional Native Alaskan life ways.
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Language work inspires Isaak’s artistic practice and education methodology. He uses multi-cultural communication as a medium to aid in language revitalization. Art has served as a safeguard for Isaak and a medium for generating understanding and communicating hard truths to a wide range of audiences to help facilitate wellness.

Kasey Johnson

Senior Manager

TNTP

As a Senior Manager at TNTP, Kasey supports districts, school leaders, and classrooms across the country to ensure that all students have equitable access to research-based instruction in literacy.
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Her multifaceted perspective regarding teaching and learning is informed by a diverse set of roles within education including experience as a classroom teacher, administrator, School Psychologist, Director of MTSS, National LETRS Professional Learning Facilitator, and a reading specialist. Kasey cares deeply about the students, families, and educators at the center of the most important work!
Pam Kastner, Ed.D.
Educational Consultant

Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance

Pam Kastner, Ed.D., is an educational consultant at the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) Harrisburg, where she serves as the State Lead for Literacy in Pennsylvania. Dr. Kastner and the PaTTAN Literacy team provided the literacy training, technical assistance, coaching, and consultation for the school research sites for Pennsylvania’s Dyslexia pilot, extension, and expansion.
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Dr. Kastner along with the PaTTAN literacy team leads state-wide literacy initiatives which include professional learning in the science of reading and structured literacy; onsite training, coaching, and consultation; a virtual literacy resource hub; and an international literacy conference. Dr. Kastner is honored to serve as an adjunct professor at Mount Saint Joseph University in the Reading Science Program where she teachers in the Masters’ and Doctoral Program and was honored as the Adjunct Professor of the Year in 2023. Dr. Kastner serves on the Pennsylvania Higher Ed Task Force and has the honor of serving as the President of The Reading League Pennsylvania, The Reading League Journal’s Practitioner Editorial Board, and is a member of The Science of Reading: A Defining Movement coalition.

Susan Lambert

Chief Academic Officer

Amplify

Susan Lambert is the Chief Academic Officer, Elementary Humanities at Amplify and the host of Science of Reading: The Podcast. She has worked in all areas of education, from elementary teacher to district administrator, both nationally and internationally.

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Susan holds advanced degrees in curriculum and educational policy and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in reading science. She regularly consults with districts across the country, both large and small, as they transition to research-based instructional approaches.
Becky Lewis, MA Ed.
Professional Learning Solutions Account Executive

Lexia

Becky Lewis works with state-level leaders to ensure educators are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to support the unique literacy needs in their classrooms.
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Prior to joining Lexia, Becky worked for the West Virginia Department of Education providing professional learning opportunities to educators and helped districts evaluate the effectiveness of their early literacy plans. Becky also spent time in the classroom as a general education teacher and Literacy Specialist working with students in grades K-12.

While in the classroom, she obtained her National Board Teaching Certification in Early and Middle Childhood Literacy. Her love of literacy and learning motivates her to continue to develop her own knowledge of literacy development and share it with state-level leaders in order to provide all children with the best educational experiences possible.

David Nungaray, M.Ed.
Bilingual Consulting Partner

TNTP

David Nungaray is a Bilingual Consulting Partner at TNTP. Currently, David oversees partnerships in multiple states including Texas, Nevada, and California. He also supports TNTP’s multilingual strategy across the country.
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David has led teams focused on partnering with districts through strategic planning, (bi)literacy visioning and implementation, dual language supports, stakeholder and family engagement, high-impact tutoring, learning acceleration, and state-wide high-quality instructional materials adoption.

Prior to TNTP, David served as the principal of one of the flagship dual language schools in Texas. He first began his career as a dual language teacher and has led work in bilingual education for over thirteen years. As a son of immigrants, native Spanish speaker, and a first-generation college graduate, David is passionate about educational equity and to ensuring school systems best meet the needs of all learners.

David is also an alum of Teach For America. He has served on multiple non-profit boards focused on education, and he holds his Masters in School Leadership from Trinity University, where he has served as an adjunct professor in multilingual education, school leadership, and special education.

Rosie Santana, MA
Educational Consultant

Neuhaus Education Center

Rosie Santana provides professional development and technical assistance to schools, districts, and states throughout the country.

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Prior to partnering with Mountain West Associates, Ms. Santana Rosalie Santana currently served as the Senior Advisor in Equity and School Improvement at Education Northwest. During her time at Education Northwest, she provided technical assistance to rural schools in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho. She has worked closely with the Title III Coordinator for the Idaho Department of Education to provide professional development in language learning.

Ms. Santana also served as the ELL Coordinator for Neuhaus Education Center where she offered coaching and support for all levels of the school system centered on collective improvement and student achievement. Rosie was the Idaho Southwest School Improvement Coordinator for the State of Idaho. She developed educational reform strategies built around school effectiveness and led the state’s school improvement coaches, where she trained others to build capacity for effective change. Ms. Santana earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Boise State University and her M.A. in Education from the University of Idaho.  

Bill Suttles, M.Ed.

Senior Manager

TNTP

Bill has a strong background in literacy and instruction with advance degree work from both Clemson University and the University of Georgia.
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He has been in education for 35+ years and has served different roles throughout that time. Bill was a classroom teacher before moving into teacher coaching and administration. He has worked as a Director of Curriculum and Instruction, a school principal and a leadership coach as well as serving on the faculty of National Louis University. Bill recently returned to the classroom on the west side of Chicago to reinforce his understanding of instruction and the challenges teachers and school leaders face on a daily basis. Since joining TNTP, Bill has worked as a Senior Manager leading the rollout of curriculum for several districts across Arkansas, California, Oregon, North Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee.

Teah Shope, M.Ed.

Senior Manager

TNTP

Teah Shope is a Senior Manager in the Consulting division at TNTP, assisting with various projects focused on curriculum implementation in grades K-8.
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She supports several districts implementing their adopted ELA curriculum while strategizing support to propel student achievement and growth forward with high-leverage steps. Before TNTP, Teah taught in the classroom for 15 years in grades K-3 while serving as a district-wide mentor coach in Tennessee. She is currently working on her Doctor of Education in Leadership from Trevecca Nazarene University.

Kari Shaginoff Ts’qalts’ema Dek’isen

Alaska Native Language Literacy Specialist

Alaska Department of Education & Early Development

Kari is currently employed by the State of Alaska’s Office of Tribal Affairs as the Alaska Native Language Literacy Specialist.
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She holds an Associate of Applied Science degree in Native Language Education in the Dene Athabascan language and has 25 years of experience in Ahtna Dene Athabaskan research and documentation, working closely with Elder Professors.

Before her current role, Kari worked for Chickaloon Village Traditional Council for 30 years. During that time, she served as the Ahtna Language Teacher for the Ya Ne Dah Ah School, as Education Director, and managed the Ahtna Language program. Additionally, she served on the Chickaloon Village Traditional Council for 6 years. Kari is not only an Ahtna Language learner/speaker and teacher, but also a moose/caribou/salmon hide tanner, skin sewer, beader, plant gatherer, salmon cutter, and birch bark basket maker.

Sarah White, M.Ed.
State Success Manager- West

Lexia

Sarah White has worked in the field of education for over 29 years. She has taught in K-12 classrooms and at the collegiate level.
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She has been a Pre-Kindergarten through 5th-grade Principal, a Senior Literacy Consultant for the Colorado Department of Education serving the Southwest and Southeast Regions of Colorado, a School Superintendent and as a LETRS Professional Learning Facilitator and a Champion for the Science of Reading.
The 2024 Science of Reading Symposium would not be possible without the help of our partners: