The PD Team
The Center for Professional Development and Curriculum Support
450 Mamaroneck Avenue, 3rd Floor, Harrison, NY 10528 | (914) 345-8500
Dr. Mary Beth Wilson is the Senior Director of Professional Development and Instructional Technology. She oversees several CoSer and grant funded programs within the larger Center, including: School Library System, School Safety, Hudson Valley Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network, and Professional Learning for teachers, principals/school leaders, and central office administrators/district leaders from 32 member districts, 187 schools and including 9,280+ educators who teach 78,960+ students each year. The Center’s programs and services are grounded in research and focused on practical teaching and learning experiences and blend academic excellence and expertise in curriculum and pedagogy with transformative professional learning to improve the knowledge, skills, and competencies of educators. The Center’s efforts are realized through strategic partnerships with superintendents, assistant superintendents, and school leaders from our component districts, faculty, and administrators from higher ed institutions, and industry leaders who are committed to the Center’s mission: to prepare and support all educators in providing high quality learning opportunities for all students. Responsibilities include:
• Leading implementation of the PreK-12 New York State Learning Standards through in-district side-by-side instructional modeling, embedded coaching, curriculum development, and professional learning (face-to-face, hybrid, and online).
• Developing and implementing new strategies, programs, and structures (micro-networks of schools/districts, on-line learning, new tools, etc.) to support the professional learning needs of area schools and districts.
• Building the capacity of district teams to leverage assessment and other data to target supports and resources for students, educators, schools, and districts.
• Supporting ESSA implementation in researching, analyzing, and synthesizing data concerning special populations and school support, as appropriate.
Partnerships & Innovative Practices
David Luhman is the Director of School Partnerships & Innovative Practices for Southern Westchester BOCES. Prior to his current position, David was a Special Education School Improvement Specialist for the Lower Hudson RSE-TASC, a secondary level Humanities Department Chair, a district Supervisor of Special Education and ELA for grades 6-12, and a teacher in both special education and English. He has been an adjunct professor at Long Island University's Graduate School of Education. He has also presented at a number of professional conferences including the CEC's 2017 National Expo and the Council on Learning Disabilities 2019 International Conference.
Safety and Facilities
Brandon A. Cruz works to ensure that component districts' safety and building facilities needs are met. He teaches a nonviolent crisis intervention course and leads the Dignity for All Students Act 6-Hour Mandated Course on Harassment, Bullying, and Discrimination. In the School Emergency Planning – Introduction to Incident Command System workshops, he teaches the evolution of school safety and how to use the ICS to work effectively with first responders. He collaborates with Westchester County police to provide Threat Assessment Team training. He served on the Westchester District Attorney’s School Safety Commission as co-chairman of its threat assessment subcommittee. He works to reflect the Threat Assessment Team model, encouraging school officials to work with law enforcement and mental health professionals to prevent school violence. Previously, Mr. Cruz was a middle school special education teacher, a special education instructional support specialist and, for 10 years, an elementary school assistant principal in the Bronx. He is a graduate of SUNY Albany with a master's degree in special education.
School Library System
Eleanor Friedman is Supervisor of School Library System for Southern Westchester BOCES. In this role, she assists librarians in 32 component school districts and 35 independent and parochial schools, to build capacity in school libraries. Ms. Friedman brings over a decade of experience as a librarian. She specializes in supporting librarians to cultivate sustained interdisciplinary collaborations with their school colleagues to implement Empire State Information Fluency Continuum and AASL Standards Framework for Learners. Ms. Friedman is passionate about library advocacy and encouraging librarians to become teacher leaders in their school settings. As a teacher librarian in both public and private K-12 school settings, a reference librarian and coordinator of interlibrary loan and reserve services in an academic library and Chappaqua Public Library Trustee, Ms. Friedman has had broad experience in a variety of library settings in various capacities. Ms. Friedman earned her B.A. in Art History, with a Minor in English from the University at Albany, her M.S.I.S. with a concentration in Library and Information Services from the University at Albany, and School Library Media Specialist certification through Long Island University. Ms. Friedman is currently enrolled in the M.S. in Educational Administration program at Long Island University.
Literacy and Learning
Tracy Tyler is the Supervisor of Literacy and Learning for Southern Westchester BOCES. She supports the 32 component school districts to ensure they have strong instructional practices resulting in accelerated student achievement. For nearly a decade, she supported schools across the Bronx in improving teacher pedagogy, with a focus on literacy instruction. Tracy specializes in supporting schools to use data to inform small group instruction in reading and writing and is passionate about supporting educators in developing cognitively engaging lessons and curriculum. As an elementary school teacher in Westchester, Manhattan, and the Bronx, Ms. Tyler has had diverse opportunities preparing her to support a wide variety of districts and schools. Tracy earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Special Education, with a Minor in Linguistics from the University of Delaware, her Master of Science in Teaching Literacy from Bank Street College, and an Advanced Certificate in School Building and District Leadership from Hunter College.
Carol Conklin-Spillane is recognized nationally as a progressive school leader for her achievements in developing school programs and practices that transform teaching and learning and lead to high graduation rates. She has presented for the U.S. Department of Education, The College Board and the American Educational Research Association, among other organizations. Under her leadership, Sleepy Hollow High School was identified as A Best Practices High School by The Magellan Foundation, featured on the U.S. Department of Education’s Doing What Works website and named a Breakthrough High School for 2014 by NASSP/MetLife Foundation. She received the 2019 Distinguished Service to Education Award by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, Pace University’s Partnership Award, and its Inquiry Leader Award. She been featured in Principal Leadership Magazine, by ASCD in “Common Core Insider HS Math” and in Releasing Leadership Brilliance: Breaking Sound Barriers in Education (Corwin Press 2017). A former superintendent, high school principal and special education teacher, she is now a consultant specializing in executive coaching and leadership development, inclusive practices, supporting English language learners, building school climate, innovative school scheduling and providing equity and opportunity through open enrollment.
Hollis Dannahamholds a dual master’s degree in Special and Elementary Education as well as a master’s in School Administration and Leadership. However, it was her post-graduate studies at UNC’s Center for Development and Learning in the area of the neurodevelopment of learning that gives her a unique perspective. She incorporates her knowledge of current research in learning and the brain with her experience as a teacher to bring understanding and effective strategies to teachers and school leaders. In her 35-year career she has been a special educator in Pre-K through high school and worked in day treatment, public, private, and charter schools. She started an alternative high school and acted as Director of Academic Intervention at a charter school. For the past seven years she has provided professional development workshops and embedded coaching opportunities for teachers and school leaders. She has audited special education programs and helped schools develop RTI/MTSS systems. She is passionate about supporting struggling learners and the educators who work with them.
Mary Ellis believes that social-emotional learning is as essential to students as reading, writing, math and science. A longtime classroom teacher, first at Rye Country Day School and later in the Carmel and Mahopac schools, Ms. Ellis moved into administrative roles after completing the Future School Administrators Academy through Teachers College at Columbia University. Her leadership experience came first as Supervisor of ELA and Social Studies and later Director of Fine Arts, both in Harrison, and then as Director of Curriculum and Instructional Services in Mount Pleasant. Accomplishments there include supporting an early literacy program, moving to block scheduling at the high school, and bringing the International Baccalaureate program to the middle school. Ms. Ellis believes in investing in classroom culture. Her classroom teacher experience influences her workshops, where she wants participants to come away with tools they can use immediately and in the long term. Ms. Ellis earned her Master of Science in Teaching at Pace University. She is currently an interim assistant superintendent in Irvington.
English Language Learners
Christine Etienne has over 31 years as an educator with the New York City Department of Education. With a passion for impacting her community, she has served bilingual students as a paraprofessional, classroom teacher, instructional specialist, and compliance performance specialist. She has written curriculum to support the bilingual community and mentored teachers and administrators. Throughout her career, she has provided children, teachers, parents, and community members the tools necessary to navigate the educational system and achieve their highest potential. Christine’s workshops are interactive and support developing strong instruction for teachers of Multi/English Language Learners by allowing educators to step into their students’ shoes. She has collaborated with government representatives on issues with ELL program services and delivery of funded programs, and oversaw College and Career Readiness Programs for Immigrant students and ELLs in high school. She supports schools in understanding the delivery of appropriate instructional and programmatic services for ELLs. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Brooklyn College and master’s degrees in Bilingual Education and Supervision and Administration, both from Long Island University. Ms. Etienne believes, “We must make it, in spite of it all.” “Malgre tou, nou kapab rive.” “Debemos hacerlo, a pesar de todo.”
Peggy Golden is a consultant for Great Minds/Eureka Math and Otsego Northern Catskills BOCES in addition to Southern Westchester BOCES. Peggy was on the Grade 5 writing team that produced the New York State Modules, also known as Eureka Math. Prior to her present work, Peggy was a classroom teacher. She taught every elementary grade from Kindergarten (as an assistant teacher in a Montessori school) to Grade 6, except for Grade 2! For several years she also taught full-time at the State University of New York at Oneonta, teaching mostly Math Methods. Peggy has published articles in A Journal of the New York State Reading Association and Social Students for the Young Learner. She has presented several times at the Singapore Math Summit in Phoenix and at the annual conference of the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New York State (AMTNYS). In 2003, while still a classroom teacher, Peggy was nominated for New York State teacher of the year.
Denise Jaffe worked for Southern Westchester BOCES for more than three decades. She is known for her ability to provide teachers practical, evidenced-based and easily implemented strategies to improve educational outcomes for all students. She created and taught a 30-hour course for school-based speech/language therapists that lasted for over 25 years, resulting in a true professional learning community for an underserved population. She is most proud of her participation in creating structured opportunities for educators to come together and learn from each other about effective practices and systems and to help identify solutions. She has worked with districts throughout the Lower Hudson Valley as a staff developer, coach or facilitator to enhance the educational experiences for students with unique learning challenges. Targeted professional development, including technical assistance and on-site visits to assist staff in improving instruction, has been her main focus in recent years. She has collaborated with the NYU Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionally and served as a Special Education Subgroup Specialist in NYSED-led Integrated Intervention Team Reviews. She holds an M.S. in Speech and Language Pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an M.A. in Supervision and Administration from Pace University, and a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Hofstra University.
Dorothy Leone, PhD, is devoted to supporting teachers and therapists to truly understand their students; she often encourages colleagues to act as a “detective” when addressing challenges in and out of the classroom. She whole-heartedly believes in a positive, developmental approach to learning that analyzes the whole person. She is currently an associate professor of speech communication studies at Iona College and a New York State and ASHA certified speech language pathologist. She graduated from Iona with a Bachelor of Arts in speech language pathology and audiology and furthered her studies by completing a Master of Science and Ph.D. at Teachers College, Columbia University in speech language pathology. While completing her Ph.D., she worked as a speech-language pathologist for the New York City Department of Education. She had the honor to work in a program for elementary students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As her professional and educational journey continued, she engaged in a variety of research projects centered around diverse learners and began supporting schools' professional development needs to understand this population. To date, she has worked in over 50 different schools supporting students, parents, teachers and administrators as both a workshop facilitator and an embedded coach.
Jamie Margolies has taught for over 23 years in public and private schools, becoming a teacher leader. She began supporting colleagues at a Blue Ribbon-honored school, attended leadership groups at Columbia Teachers College, and worked with colleagues to grow their literacy practice. She transitioned into her work as a literacy consultant, which allowed her to impact teachers and students beyond her school, and has done this for 10 years. She is co-author of two books, "The Complete Year in Reading and Writing: Grade 1" and "The Great Eight Management Strategies for the Reading and Writing Classroom." Jaime's contributions to her schools include mentoring new and experienced teachers in curriculum implementation, classroom management, reading and writing workshops, small-group instruction, content studies, work time, project-based learning, inquiry and other areas. Her knowledge of NYS Standards and what works best for children helps her write strong curricula that meet the unique needs of each district. She supports teachers at all levels to implement best practices in literacy through a balanced approach. Teachers experience success as they are coached in a gradual release model where lab sites and one-on-one coaching support learning. She is a graduate of Bank Street College with a Masters in Special Education. She recognizes the challenges of a range of learners and helps to create a community that allows all students to be successful. She supports teachers in understanding and recognizing the importance of setting up systems towards independence for all learners. Jaime also works to support co-teaching models and Tier I and Tier II interventions. She works in both inclusive and special education schools. She works closely with administrators to create a strong school vision, implement data-driven instruction, and create strong supportive learning environments for all. She leads professional workshops for teachers and families, specifically planned for a school or their communities' needs. She has worked with new schools on the challenge of adding a grade each year, helping to order books and materials for a strong learning space. Her work with teachers, principals, literacy coaches, paras/assistant teachers and parents helps to create schools and communities where all students are successful.
Suzanne Schneider is a Literacy Specialist, Special Education Advocate, Academic Tutor and Parent & Teacher Educator. She started her career in 1993 as a public school teacher, first in New York City, then in Westchester. She has been a general education classroom teacher, special education integrated co-teacher and a reading specialist. She has worked in private practice for over 25 years supporting families of students with learning differences. Her private practice, Westchester Educational Services, offers tutoring, advocacy and literacy assessments. She provides professional development to teachers, administrators and parents. Her trainings incorporate research and evidence-based, multi-sensory, approaches into all areas of the curriculum. She has trained teachers and parents about executive function, dyslexia awareness, phonological awareness, structured literacy approaches and the science behind teaching reading and writing. Ms. Schneider believes in teachers’ innate desire to help students and works to help support them in meeting students’ unique needs. She understands the pressures teachers experience and strives to incorporate proven techniques into curricula. She received a bachelor’s degree from Boston University in elementary education in 1993 and a master’s degree from Hunter College in Special Education, with a concentration in learning disorders, in 1995.
Dr. Alison Telsey is a licensed Ph.D. psychologist and a certified special educator. She has worked in New York as a Professional Development Specialist for 38 years. As a staff developer, she has designed and delivered workshops and coaching to professionals to maximize opportunities for students with disabilities to meet success. She is known for her ability to provide practical, easily implemented strategies to educators to ensure students with disabilities achieve in inclusive settings. In addition to working in PD, she has served as an Adjunct Professor at the College of New Rochelle, New York University and Columbia University. On an international level, she has participated as a member of the Advisory Committee for the Bhutan Foundation and spent four summers in Bhutan conducting professional development for educators and government officials to expand educational opportunities for children with special needs. She has co-written and published two articles in the National Staff Development Council’s Journal of Staff Development about the Bhutan Special Education experience.
Dr. Betty Ann Wyks is a former Director of Professional Development for Southern Westchester BOCES. She has extensive experience at a variety of school and district level positions. She has served as a teacher, principal, reading coordinator, curriculum specialist, director of special education, assistant superintendent and superintendent of schools. Dr. Wyks possesses a deep understanding of the issues facing education at all levels and a passion for helping educators achieve success for all their students. She holds a Doctorate in Educational Administration from Columbia University, a master’s in Learning Disabilities and a master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources. She has presented nationally and was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by Rider University for her work in the area of educational technology.