Susan Smartt, Ph.D.
Vice President Science
Doctor Smartt holds a doctorate in school psychology from Tennessee State University and a master’s degree in special education and reading from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Formerly in her work at Vanderbilt, Dr. Smartt engaged in research focusing on improving teacher preparation for reading teachers. Dr. Smartt currently provides educational consulting services and teacher training to states and local school districts focusing on school reform, reading intervention for low-performing schools, using data to inform practice, developing response to intervention initiatives and implementing scientifically based literacy programs.
Dr. Smartt owned and directed a reading clinic for 20 years in which she provided comprehensive psychoeducational assessments and tutoring services. She has been a clasroom teacher, a reading coach, a reading specialist, a principal, a university faculty member, and a researcher. Her publications include authorship and coauthorship of journal articles, edited volumes, and books on research-based reading intervention and policy initiatives, including Next STEPS in Literacy Instruction: Connecting Assessment to Effective Interventions (Paul Brookes Publishing Co, 2010) with Deborah R. Glaser, Ed.D. Recently she and Marty Hougen, Ph.D. collaborated on the edited volume, Fundamentals of Literacy Instruction and Assessment, PK-6 (Paul Brookes Publishing Co, 2012). Dr. Smartt travels the country extensively presenting workshops for classroom teachers and administrators.
Laurie Cutting, Ph.D.
Laurie E. Cutting, Ph.D., is an Endowed Chair at Vanderbilt University. She is a Patricia and Rodes Hart Associate Professor of Special Education, Psychology, Radiology, and Pediatrics. She is also head of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Reading Clinic, which serves children in need of tutoring in reading, including those with dyslexia. She is also a Research Affiliate of Haskins Laboratories and a member of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute as well as the Center for Cognitive and Integrative Neuroscience at Vanderbilt University. Her work encompasses both applied and theoretical underpinnings of reading development and disorders. Currently, she is the principal investigator of NIH-funded research projects on reading and reading comprehension and a co-investigator on other NIH-funded and Department of Education-funded projects on reading, reading disabilities, and ADHD. She focuses on brain-behavior relations in children and adolescents, with a particular emphasis on reading disabilities, language and executive function. Prior to joining the faculty at Vanderbilt, she was is a research scientist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and an Associate Professor of Neurology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and an Associate Professor of Education at Johns Hopkins University. During her doctoral work at Northwestern University, she completed internships at Yale University School of Medicine’s Center for Learning and Attention and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In 2002-2003, she completed an NIH science policy fellowship. She has authored or co-authored almost 70 publications focusing on reading, reading disabilities, other learning disorders, and ADHD.
Suzanne Carreker, Ph.D.
Suzanne Carreker, Ph.D., CALT-QI, vice president of innovative solutions at Neuhaus Education Center, is a certified dyslexia therapist and qualified instruction. A past president of The Houston Branch of The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and current vice president of the national IDA board, Suzanne is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and has authored journal articles, textbook chapters, and systematic, evidence-based literacy curricula. Suzanne was the 2009 recipient of the Nancy LaFevers Award for her contributions to students with dyslexia and other related disorders in the Houston community. Her most recent project is the creation and development of Neuhaus Academy, a free online source for literacy lessons for adolescents and adults learners.
Barbara Decker, Ph.D.
Barbara Decker received her Masters of Science degree in speech and language pathology from Idaho State University. She has worked with students who have language-based learning and reading difficulties throughout her career and has put her expertise to use in various settings, including public schools, hospitals, and her private practice. She is an affiliate faculty member at Idaho State University, and has served as an adjunct faculty member at both Boise State University and Northwest Nazarene University, teaching literacy courses in phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension and assessment. She provides professional development workshops to help teachers understand and translate reading research into effective practice and works with educators to implement research-based reading instruction in the classroom. As a member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, Barbara strives to stay current with reading research in order to continue the important work of improving literacy outcomes for all children. She is currently developing HelpforReading.com, a website designed to assist parents and practitioners who are working with struggling readers.
Steven Dykstra, Ph.D.
Claude Goldenberg, Ph.D.
Claude Goldenberg‘s areas of research and professional interest center on promoting academic achievement among language minority children and youth. A native of Argentina, Goldenberg is currently Professor of Education and Chair of Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education (CTE) at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. He was previously at California State University, Long Beach, where he was Professor of Teacher Education, Associate Dean of the College of Education, and Executive Director of the Center for Language Minority Education and Research (CLMER).
Goldenberg received his A.B. in history from Princeton University and M.A. and Ph.D. from Graduate School of Education, UCLA. He has taught junior high school in San Antonio, TX, and first grade in a bilingual elementary school in the Los Angeles area.
Goldenberg was a National Academy of Education Spencer Fellow in 1986-88. He received the 1993 Albert J. Harris Award (along with Ronald Gallimore) from the International Reading Association for an article describing how beginning Spanish reading achievement improved at an elementary school where he taught first grade and conducted research on home and school influences on early literacy development. In 2004 he received the Distinguished Faculty Scholarly and Creative Activities Award from California State University, Long Beach.
In 1997, he produced “Settings for Change,” a video describing a 5-year school improvement project that raised literacy achievement in a largely Latino, bilingual elementary school in the Los Angeles area. A book based on this project, Successful School Change: Creating Settings to Improve Teaching a Learning, was published in 2004 by Teachers College Press. Research stemming from the project (in collaboration with Bill Saunders, Ronald Gallimore, and Brad Ermeling) won the 2010 Best Research Award from Learning Forward.
Goldenberg’s most recent books are Promoting Academic Achievement among English Learners: A Guide to the Research, co-authored with Rhoda Coleman (Corwin, 2010) and Language and Literacy Development in Bilingual Settings, co-editing with Aydin Durgunoglu (Guilford, 2010). His other publications have appeared in academic and professional journals, and he has been on the editorial boards of Language Arts, The Elementary School Journal, Reading Research Quarterly, American Educational Research Journal, and Literacy, Teaching and Learning. His current projects focus on improving literacy achievement among English learners in elementary and middle school, language and literacy development among Mexican children in Mexico, and development of a measure of classroom quality for English learners.
Goldenberg was on the National Research Council’s Committee for the Prevention of Early Reading Difficulties in Young Children and on the National Literacy Panel, which synthesized research on literacy development among language-minority children and youth.
Elsa Hagan, Ph.D.
Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan is a Bilingual Speech Language Pathologist and a Certified Academic Language Therapist. She holds a doctorate degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She is the President of Valley Speech Language and Learning Center in Brownsville, Texas and is an Associate Research Professor for the Texas Institute for Measurement Evaluation and Statistics at the University of Houston.
Dr. Cárdenas Hagan research interests include the development of early reading assessments for Spanish-speaking students in addition to the development of reading interventions for bilingual students. She was the co-principal investigator of a longitudinal study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Institute for Education Science, examining the oracy and literacy development in English and Spanish of Spanish-speaking children. She is the Co-Founder of Brownsville READS! a nonprofit organization to promote literacy. Elsa currently serves as the Vice President of the International Dyslexia Association, Chairperson of the State Dyslexia Board and a board member of the National Academic Language Therapy Association.
She has authored curricular programs, book chapters, and journal articles related to oracy and literacy development for English language learners.
Fumiko Hoeft, MD, Ph.D.
Jule McCombes-Tolis, Ph.D.
Driven by a deep commitment to social justice and a passion for “putting together the pieces of the puzzle” in order to help educators better understand the individual needs of students with learning disabilities and attention disorders, Jule McCombes-Tolis has fashioned a multifaceted career in service to children and teachers.
She maintains active Connecticut teaching certificates in both Special Education and in Remedial Reading and Remedial Language Arts. That dual expertise is essential as she helps special and general education teachers better understand the literacy needs of diverse student populations.
McCombes-Tolis can be found leading classes at the University of Saint Joseph and in classrooms across Connecticut advising current educators and districts as an Independent Education Evaluator (IEE) specializing in the identification and remediation of reading disabilities, including Dyslexia. “Collaborating with educators is extremely rewarding, and helps me in my work with candidates,” she notes. “The relationships I’ve developed have allowed me to establish very unique clinical and practice experiences for teachers in training.”
McCombes-Tolis has provided expert testimony at the Connecticut State Capitol, working with the Commission on Children to advocate for policy geared toward reducing the achievement gap, has served on several key state advisory panels, and publishes in the area of teacher preparation. She emphasizes, “all of my professional endeavors are focused on helping to ensure that future and current educators are provided with the necessary training and supports to serve the ever-changing needs of children, their families, and their communities.”
Ph.D., University of Connecticut
Sixth-Year Degree, Southern Connecticut State University
B.A., Syracuse University
Blanche Podhajski, Ph.D.
Dr. Blanche Podhajski founded the Stern Center for Language and Learning in 1983 with a clear mission: she envisioned a learning center that combined direct services for individuals, training for educators, and research on learning differences. Thanks to her vision, the Stern Center has become a respected language and literacy resource for our region and for the nation.
She has over thirty years experience working with individuals with learning differences. She teaches and consults with educators throughout the country and is a frequent presenter at regional and national conferences.
Dr. Podhajski also serves as a resource to numerous professional and parent organizations. She is also a Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. Dr. Podhajski received her doctoral degree in communication disorders, specializing in learning disabilities, from Northwestern University and holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in speech pathology from the American Speech and Hearing Association.
Her publications include a chapter on adult literacy titled “Professional Development in Learning Disabilities for Adult Literacy Providers”, published in S. Vogel and S. Reder’s Bridging the Gap: Learning Disabilities, Adult Education and Literacy (1998, Brookes Publishing Company, Inc.). She is the coauthor of “What Preservice and Inservice Teachers Believe and Know About Early Reading Instruction” published in the Annals of Dyslexia and “Sounds Abound, Teaching Phonological Awareness in the Classroom” (1998, LingiSystems). Learn more about Stern Center publications.
Dian Prestwich, Ph.D.
Dian Prestwich, Ph.D. has worked in the field of education for 18 years including experience teaching primary grades, serving as an instructional coach, and managing the Read to Achieve grant for the Colorado Department of Education. Currently, her role as the assistant director for the Office of Literacy at the Colorado Department of Education requires supporting districts and schools statewide in implementing the Colorado Reading to Ensure Academic Achievement Act (The Colorado READ Act). Dr. Prestwich also currently serves as an instructional consultant for the federal Striving Readers program in the state of Montana, supporting full implementation of grant requirements in a participating preschool program.
Through her work for the Colorado Department of Education, Dr. Prestwich has provided strategic guidance for the creation of an early literacy resource bank consisting of professional development, instructional programming, and assessments to support educators in improving their students’ literacy skills. She directs regional literacy support structures to ensure districts’ success in implementation of relevant provisions of the READ Act. She also manages the Early Literacy Grant and coordinates departmental collection, analysis, and reporting of all required data related to the READ Act. Dr. Prestwich regularly conducts program reviews for higher education teacher preparation programs in the state of Colorado.
Dr. Prestwich’s recent presentations include a panel discussion at the National Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Conference on leveraging and sustaining the education reform agenda to improve literacy outcomes. She also presents regularly to teachers on topics such as incorporating phonological and phonemic awareness activities in the classroom, oral language development, and dialogic reading. Her dissertation, Measuring Preschool Teachers’ Perceived Competency and Knowledge of Oral Language Development, included the development of an instrument to measure preschool teachers’ perceived competency and knowledge of strategies for language development.
Sharolyn Pollard-Durodola, Ph.D.
Dr. Durodola is the Morgridge Endowed Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of Denver. Her scholarship attends to the prevention and intervention of language and literacy difficulties (Spanish/English) among students with identified disabilities or at risk of later academic difficulties. Central to her scholarship is an interest in developing intervention curricula that build on validated instructional design principles, evaluating their impact on the language and reading development of struggling readers (Spanish/English), and investigating how to improve the quality of language/literacy practices of teachers and parents of young English language learners (ELLs) and non-ELLs who are at risk for reading difficulties. She has received grants from the Institute of Education Sciences and the Mexican American and U. S. Latino Research Center. Dr. Durodola has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Exceptional Children, Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, The Elementary School Journal, Language Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, and the Bilingual Research Journal. She has co-authored one book, Dynamic vocabulary read-aloud strategies for English learners: Building language and literacy in the primary grades and two commercial intervention curricula: SRA Intervención Temprana de Lectura and Vocabulary Power: Grade 3 and 4 for speakers of African-American vernacular English. Prior to joining the University of Denver, Dr. Pollard-Durodola served as Associate Professor of the Bilingual Education Program in the Department of Educational Psychology at Texas A&M University and as Assistant Professor at the University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center (The Center for Academic and Reading Skills).
Timothy Shanahan, Ph.D.
Timothy Shanahan is Distinguished Professor of Urban Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he is Director of the UIC Center for Literacy. Previously, he was director of reading for the Chicago Public Schools. He is author or editor of more than 200 publications including the books, Teaching with the Common Core Standards for the English Language Arts, Early Childhood Literacy, Developing Literacy in Second-Language Learners, and Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten through Third Grade. Professor Shanahan is past president of the International Reading Association (IRA). He received a presidential appointment to serve on the Advisory Board of the National Institute for Literacy, and serves as content expert, advisor, and on various boards. Dr. Shanahan took a leadership role on the National Reading Panel, convened by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the request of Congress to evaluate research on successful methods for teaching reading (the third most influential education policy document according to the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center). He is co-principal investigator of the National Title I Study of Implementation and Outcomes: Early Childhood Language Development funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. He received the William S, Gray Citation of Merit for Lifetime Achievement from IRA. In 2009, he was selected as researcher of the year at the University of Illinois at Chicago (in social sciences and the humanities). He was inducted to the Reading Hall of Fame in 2007, and is a former first-grade teacher. For more information, visit his blog: www.shanahanonliteracy.com
Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D.
Sandra Stotsky is an advocate of standards-based reform and strong academic standards and assessments for students and teachers.
She is now Professor of Education Reform in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, and holds the 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality. Her research ranges from the quality of teacher licensure tests to the question of gender bias in the English curriculum. She reviews influential books in education and writes op-eds commenting on current educational fads.
From 2004 to 2006, she was a Research Scholar in the School of Education at Northeastern University. From 1984 to 2000, she was a research associate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education affiliated with the Philosophy of Education Research Center (PERC). For 12 years, she directed a summer institute on civic education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, sponsored by the Lincoln and Therese Filene Foundation. From 1991-1997, she served as editor of Research in the Teaching of English, the research journal sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English. On a consultant basis from 1992 to 2002, she worked for the United States Information Service and the U.S. State Department on the development of civic education programs in Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Romania with educators and ministry officials in Eastern Europe. She has taught elementary school, French and German at the high school level, and undergraduate and graduate courses in reading, children’s literature, and writing pedagogy.
She is editor of What’s at Stake in the K-12 Standards Wars: A Primer for Educational Policy Makers (Peter Lang, 2000) and author of Losing Our Language (Free Press, 1999, reprinted by Encounter Books, 2002). Her publications address many areas and disciplines in education and include “School-related influences on grade 8 mathematics performance in Massachusetts” and Progress in Mathematics Research Base (a 2005 review of mathematics education research and related reading research, for W.H. Sadlier, Inc.).
She currently serves as Chair of the Sadlier Mathematics Advisory Board, member of the Advisory Board for Pioneer Institute‘s Center for School Reform, and member of the Advisory Board for the Carus Publishing Company. She is also on the ERIC Steering Committee for the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences. She served on the Steering Committee for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment framework for 2009. She received a B.A. degree with distinction from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in reading research and reading education with distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Louise-Spear Swerling, Ph.D.
Louise Spear-Swerling is Professor of Special Education and Area Coordinator of the Graduate Program in Learning Disabilities at Southern Connecticut State University, in New Haven CT. Before receiving her Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Yale University in 1989, she worked as a general and special educator in K-12 public schools. Her current research interests include reading development and reading difficulties across the K-to-12 grade span; teacher knowledge and beliefs about reading; and teacher preparation in reading. She has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters on these topics, as well as several books, including Off track: When poor readers become “learning disabled” (with Robert J. Sternberg). In addition to consulting widely for public schools, she has prepared general and special educators to teach both reading and mathematics for many years, and she runs a supervised field work program for teacher candidates in a local magnet school.
Dr. Spear-Swerling’s policy work has included several key state educational initiatives in Connecticut. She was the primary writer of Connecticut’s Blueprint for Reading Achievement, and she was centrally involved in developing and writing the Blueprint’s companion document for grades 4-12, Beyond the Blueprint, as well as the state’s response-to-intervention document and its 2010 revision of guidelines on identification of learning disabilities. In 2009 she served on the working group for the International Dyslexia Association that helped to produce national IDA professional standards for teachers of reading. Currently she is writing another book about reading development, reading difficulties, and literacy policy, to be published by Brookes.
Maryanne Wolf, Ed.D.
Maryanne Wolf is the John DiBiaggio Professor of Citizenship and Public Service, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research, and a professor in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University.
She received her doctorate from Harvard University, where she began her work on the neurological underpinnings of reading, language and dyslexia. Most recently, she has conducted studies in reading intervention, early prediction, fluency and naming speed, cross-linguistic studies of reading and the relationship between entrepreneurial talents and dyslexia.
The author of numerous scientific publications, Professor Wolf’s most recent book, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain (HarperCollins, 2007), was written for the general public and translated into 13 languages. Described as one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly, it received the Marek Award from the New York International Dyslexia Association for the best book of the year on reading.
Among Professor Wolf’s honors are the Distinguished Professor of the Year Award from the Massachusetts Psychological Association, the Teaching Excellence Award from the American Psychological Association and the Distinguished Researcher Award from Tufts University. For her work on dyslexia, she has received a Fulbright Research Fellowship, the Norman Geschwind Lecture Award from the International Dyslexia Association and the Alice Ansara Award. With colleagues Robin Morris and Maureen Lovett, Professor Wolf received the Shannon Award for Innovative Research from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and several multiyear NICHD grants to investigate new approaches to reading intervention, including the RAVE-O reading-intervention program, created by Professor Wolf and members of the reading center at Tufts.
Margie Gillis, Ed.D.