Leadership Team Members:
Kristin Allen is currently a Literacy Specialist in Regional School District 13. Prior to that she had been a Special Education teacher for 15 years. She is a certified Dyslexia Practitioner through IDA and IMSLEC and is an Orton Gillingham trainer through Western Mass Learning Center. Kristin lives and operates a small farm in Durham, CT with her husband and two children.
Nancy Cavanaugh was a special education teacher in Regional District 13 for 35 years. She is passionate about supporting individuals with dyslexia as both a teacher and a parent of a son with dyslexia. Since retiring three years ago she has been tutoring students, traveling, and volunteering cuddling babies in the NICU at CCMC.
Sean Cavanaugh is an employee in the Plant Accounting Department at Eversource Energy and attained his BA in Economics from Marist College in 2017. He is an adult with dyslexia and during his college years was a treasurer for Alpha Delta Pi, an honor society for high-achieving college and university students with disabilities. Sean brings to the IDA board his firsthand experience with dyslexia and knowledge of the services available at the high school and college level that helped him succeed.
Cindy Jackson is a Special Education teacher in Rocky Hill. She is a certified Orton Gillingham practitioner through IMSLEC and certified by the International Dyslexia Association as a Structured Literacy Dyslexia Interventionist. Cindy is currently in the process of receiving her 6th-year certificate in Literacy and Language Arts at CCSU. She is very passionate about reading and teaching children to read. Cindy lives in the house that she grew up in with her husband and two sons.
Dr. Kearns is an assistant professor of Special Education in the Department of Educational Psychology in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut (UConn). He is a research scientist for Haskins Laboratory and the Center for Behavioral Education & Research (CBER). He has a Master’s degree in Elementary Literacy from Loyola Marymount University and a Ph.D. in Special Education from Vanderbilt University.
Dr. Kearns researches reading disability—including dyslexia—in elementary- and middle school-age children. He is an investigator on multiple projects to prevent and remediate reading difficulties funded by the Institute for Education Sciences, the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, and other national and local organizations. He has published research in journals like Journal of Educational Psychology, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Reading Research Quarterly, and Scientific Studies of Reading. He has also published papers for teachers in Teaching Exceptional Children and The Reading Teacher. Dr. Kearns is on the editorial boards of Journal of Educational Psychology, Reading Research Quarterly, The Reading Teacher, and several other journals.
Dr. Kearns has extensive experience as an educator, professional development provider, and curriculum developer. He has seven years of classroom experience as a teacher, literacy coach, and reading specialist. He still regularly works in schools, supporting teachers and teaching reading lessons to students. Dr. Kearns has worked with large and small school districts in urban and rural areas in all regions of the United States and with multiple school boards in Canada.
Brynn Lipstreu is an elementary school teacher in eastern Connecticut. She has a BA in Early Childhood Education from Eastern Connecticut State University, a M.Ed of Educational Technology from American College of Education, and a M.Ed of Educational Leadership from Southern New Hampshire University. Brynn has always had a great desire in helping all students access learning in their own ways and became passionate about dyslexia when her own daughter was diagnosed.
Nicole Chick, began her teaching career in 2005 as a first grade teacher after receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the UCONN NEAG School of Education. Nicole most recently has taught Kindergarten and is a Literacy Specialist with her 6th year degree in Remedial Reading and Reading Consultancy. During her tenure as a public educator she has also taught at the university level and has supervised and mentored student teachers. She has completed the Orton-Gillingham Associate Level Training and is currently completing her practicum. She has now stepped away from the classroom and has founded Early Literacy Labs, a private literacy instruction and consulting company.
Migdalia Fletcher, M.S. CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and the founder of A.L.L. Diagnostics & Consulting LLC, an educational evaluation and consulting company that specializes in language and literacy assessment, intervention, and professional development. In addition to her private practice, Migdalia holds a part-time position with West Hartford Public Schools as their districtwide Pupil Services Curriculum Specialist which enables her to work collaboratively with teachers, school teams, and administrators to design practical and effective language and literacy interventions for students with special education needs. Migdalia graduated with a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from Gallaudet University in 1998 and has over 20 years of experience working with children in both private and public school settings.
Lisa is a public school elementary literacy and reading specialist with 19 years of teaching, remedial reading and instructional coaching experience. She holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in Elementary Education with specialities in Reading and Language from both Central Connecticut State University and the University of Saint Joseph and a Remedial Reading and Language Arts certification from Albertus Magnus College. She has completed Orton Gillingham Associate level training through OGA and is completing her practicum. She has also completed training in Structured Literacy. She is the State Lead and Admin of the Connecticut Science of Reading professional and social learning community, a branch of the main Science of Reading facebook group. More recently, she teaches as an adjunct at Albertus Magnus College in the Remedial Reading and Language Arts certification (#102) program. Outside of school, Lisa also privately tutors students with dyslexia and provides advocacy to parents and families. Lisa is interested in helping bridge scientific research to instructional practice and translating that information in a way that is easy and actionable for teachers and educators in any form to understand. She believes that the right to read is a basic human right for all students and that with informed educators all children can become skillful and proficient readers and writers.
Richard P. Zipoli, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is an associate professor and clinical instructor in the Department of Communication Disorders at Southern Connecticut State University. He received a Ph.D. in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut, with a program of study in special education emphasizing learning and reading disabilities. In 2018, Richard was awarded the Connecticut State Universities Board of Regents Systems-Wide Teaching Award. Richard’s clinical and research interests include childhood and adolescent language disorders, learning disabilities, and reading difficulties, as well as service delivery in high need schools.
Jaclyn Manzo has been providing specialized instruction to students both in the public school and private setting for over ten years. Jaclyn received her bachelor’s degree from Providence College in Elementary and Special Education and then went on to pursue a Master’s Degree in Reading. She received her associate-level Orton Gillingham Certification and IDA Dyslexia Practitioner certificate in 2017 and is currently pursuing the Orton Gillingham certified level through the Southport School. She also received training in the Lindamood-Bell Phoneme Sequencing Program (LiPS). She has taught in both the Massachusetts and Connecticut School Systems, in Marlborough and Fairfield respectively.
Shelby Zukowski has been a special education teacher in a public school setting for the past seven years. She is a certified Orton Gillingham practitioner through IMSLEC and certified by CERI-IDA as a Structured Literacy Dyslexia Interventionist. Shelby received her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Connecticut in Special Education as well as her Master of Arts degree in Educational Psychology. More recently, she received a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Interdisciplinary Studies including Reading and Applied Behavior Analysis at Fitchburg State University, where she also received a Behavior Analyst Graduate Certificate. Shelby is passionate about providing high quality intervention to students and educating her peers about dyslexia.
As a child who struggled with LD Jake Sussman felt worthless by the time he hit 6th grade. Being told he would never go to college due to his learning challenges, he faced many obstacles during his academic journey. However, by his junior year in high school, he came to realize that while every human being has a brain, nobody has the same mind. Jake’s purpose and mission in life is to change the conversation around learning and attention challenges for future generations. Jake is the Founder and CEO of Superpower Consulting, a mentoring firm that ignites LD students across the globe to confidently and successfully excel in traditional learning environments through matching mentees to their very own mentor who also struggled in school due to their LD. The philosophy of Jake’s “Discover your Superpowers” mentorship program, is to not only focus on strengths instead of only on challenges, but to create customized tools for each mentee to become a master self-advocate. The results have been life-changing. Jake rigorously works to enlighten educators and parents to the needs of the young LD mind. Today, Jake facilitates conversations around the world, including opening the International Dyslexia Associations global conference this past November, spreading his message of communication, perseverance, and passion. Jake has curated a team of prominent doctors and professionals with the purpose of developing a program that empowers students with learning and attention challenges; children and adults, alike.
Sarah Levine is a native of New Haven and currently lives and teaches there. She taught in NYC for 12 years before returning home and has now been in education for over 20 years. She’s taught a variety of elementary grades, was a literacy coach for four years, and now works as a Reading Specialist for grades K-3. Sarah is certified in elementary ed, as a Remedial Reading Specialist, and as a TESOL instructor. She is LETRS trained and has her classroom educator certification from the Orton-Gillingham Academy (she’s working towards her associate). In addition, Sarah has an elementary aged daughter who has dyslexia. Her daughter has taught her so much and has fueled her passion for getting Structured Literacy instruction into every classroom so that all students are provided with research-based instruction in reading, writing, and spelling.
Nina Healy has a masters degree in Elementary Education from Lesley college and was a first grade teacher for 10 years before staying home to raise her three children. She currently works as a para professional. Mom to two dyslexic children, Nina’s passionate about supporting other parents of dyslexic children and getting information about early detection signs, as well as what to expect when your child is diagnosed with Dyslexia out into the community.
After staying home with her five children, Katie Ancona earned a masters degree in Special Education from Saint Joseph University. She has been teaching in Rocky Hill for almost 10 years as an elementary special education teacher. Katie strives to work collaboratively with colleagues to support learners with varying special needs. She is dedicated to the early identification of students with dyslexia, to the provision of early intervention for struggling readers, and to empowering students to advocate for themselves.
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