Learning Innovations at WestEd

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Susan Mundry

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Bio:
Susan Mundry, Director of Learning Innovations at WestEd, contributes to the Northeast Comprehensive Center’s efforts by serving on the senior management team and overseeing the work of WestEd’s technical assistance services provided through NCC. Mundry has extensive expertise providing technical assistance in several NCC focal areas, including the development of great teachers and leaders, college and career readiness, and support for low-performing schools.

She currently serves as a Senior Researcher for the Regional Education Laboratory–Northeast & Islands (REL-NEI), where she has coauthored studies on teacher quality and is currently the Lead Facilitator for the REL-NEI’s Research Alliance on Educator Effectiveness. A major focus of this work is supporting members to develop and use Student Learning Objectives as part of educator evaluation systems. Mundry also directs the technical assistance project supporting the Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s School Redesign Initiative, which is supporting the redesign of high schools for the twenty-first century.

For over a decade, Mundry codirected the National Academy for Science and Mathematics Education Leadership, which provided leadership development for science and mathematics education leaders in 30 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. She was a Co-Principal Investigator for two National Science Foundation projects on teacher development: Curriculum Topic Study, which developed and field-tested professional development materials for mathematics and science teachers; and Building Systems for Quality Professional Development, which produced a simulation game and professional development materials on building professional learning communities.

Mundry has served as an expert advisor to National Science Foundation projects, to the National Research Council, and to the National Science Teachers Association and as a committee member for Learning Forward. Prior to this, she was Associate Director of The NETWORK, Inc., an educational consulting organization with offices in MA and Washington, DC. There she provided technical assistance on equity and desegregation and organizational change. She codeveloped two acclaimed simulation games focused on organizational change, led national dissemination of one of the earliest educational software programs validated by the US Department of Education, and served on the executive management team, overseeing staff and work within two divisions: the National Center for Improving Science Education and the Center for Effective Communication.

Mundry is an author of several books, book chapters, and articles and the codeveloper of two simulation games. She coauthored Designing Effective Professional Development for Teachers of Science and Mathematics (2nd and 3rd editions); The Data Coach’s Guide to Improving Learning for All Students: Unleashing the Power of Collaborative Inquiry; Professional Learning Communities for Science Teaching; The Leader’s Guide to Science Curriculum Topic Study; The Leader’s Guide to Mathematics Curriculum Topic Study; and Leading Every Day: 124 Actions for Effective Leadership, which received a Book of the Year Award from Learning Forward. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a Master of Arts degree in Education from Boston University.
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Robin Ahigian

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Robin Ahigian supports the Northeast Comprehensive Center's work on College and Career Readiness and Building State Capacity and Productivity. Ahigian, Learning Innovations at WestEd staff member, is a Research Associate who provides technical assistance, program evaluation, research, and dissemination of information to schools, state agencies, and institutions of higher education in the Northeast.

With training in policy and education, teaching experience in a variety of settings and ages, and administrative experience at the State Education Agency (SEA) level and in higher education, Ahigian's career has focused on improving systems of education from K–16. As a staff member of the Northeast Comprehensive Center, Ahigian provides additional technical assistance to states around such key issues as strategic use of resources, school and district improvement, and college and career readiness. Her work building capacity of SEAs has focused on dropout prevention and school turnaround.

Prior to joining WestEd, Ahigian worked in the Center for Accountability and Targeted Assistance at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education where she served first as a Communications Manager and then as a Coordinator for the Regional System of Support to low-performing districts and schools. She also served as the Program Manager for the Colleges of the Fenway, a consortium of six colleges in the Fenway area of Boston, where her primary role was to facilitate collaborative programming among and between the six colleges. Ahigian also worked at UCLA as both an advisor to undergraduates and as the advisor and Teaching Assistant in the Science Teacher Education. She has also taught outdoor education and science at the middle school level in the public and private sectors.

Ahigian received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island and a Master of Education degree, with a focus on teaching and learning, from Harvard University's Graduate School of Education.
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Kathy Dunne

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Kathy Dunne leads the Northeast Comprehensive Center (NCC) Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL) regional initiative focusing on educator effectiveness and evaluation. Dunne, as a WestEd staff member and in collaboration with other NCC GTL team members, designs and facilitates regional conferences and provides technical assistance to individual state education agencies in Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont. She serves as the NCC liaison to the National Center on Great Teachers and Leaders.

As the Director of Professional Development for Learning Innovations at WestEd, Dunne manages and coordinates large-scale professional development and technical assistance efforts, providing facilitation, training, and consultation to state education agencies, schools, districts, and national agencies including the GTL Center and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Dunne is a nationally sought presenter with more than 25 years of experience in facilitating, designing, and implementing induction, mentoring, and coaching programs and in training and preparing content-based coaches in several academic areas.

Currently, Dunne is leading several state initiatives focused on educator effectiveness and evaluation. The state initiatives look at ways to identify, recruit, develop, evaluate, and retain highly effective teachers and leaders. She leads a district professional development initiative in Massachusetts to train district staff in the state's educator evaluation model. She has provided research support and consultation to SEAs in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont in the areas of teacher and leader effectiveness and school improvement. Dunne facilitates the New Hampshire State Consortium on Educator Effectiveness (SCEE) team as part of the CCSSO’s national initiative and she co-facilitates the Maine SCEE team. This work involves addressing ways to identify and scale up proven and innovative approaches to teaching and learning that significantly improve student outcomes. She co-led the New England Collaborative for Educator Effectiveness (NECEE), a collaborative of the six New England states working together to plan policy and practice initiatives to support effective teachers and leaders. Dunne recently co-led an event bridging research into practice in using student measures in educator evaluation with leaders from the six New England states.

Dunne has taught at the middle school, high school, and college levels and has served as a curriculum supervisor for the New Hampshire State Department of Education. She presents regularly on professional development design, teacher leadership, mentoring, coaching, and induction at national conferences, including the Learning Forward (formerly National Staff Development Council) Annual Conference, the New Teacher Center Annual Symposium, and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Meeting.
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Nancy Gerzon

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Nancy Gerzon is a Senior Program Associate at Learning Innovations at WestEd and serves as the Northeast Comprehensive Center Liaison to the Rhode Island Department of Education. She also provides support across the region on issues related to standards, assessments, and instruction. Gerzon's work supports educational leaders at all levels to improve policy and develop systems to increase student learning. Her consulting work has had varied entry points, including career and technical education, college readiness, teacher and principal leadership, data use practices, and standards and assessment alignment.

In her Learning Innovations at WestEd work with low-performing schools and districts, Gerzon works with superintendents, principals, coaches, and teacher leaders to build internal capacity and to develop strategies for sustained improvement. She provides professional development to district and school teams to implement internal data analysis in order to pinpoint strategies for systemic change. In recent years, she has focused on training teacher leaders to align standards, instruction, and assessment and to use evidence of learning to guide instruction. Through sustained multiyear work, Gerzon has helped numerous schools improve achievement and to exit Program Improvement status.

Gerzon is the subject expert for Rhode Island's Formative Assessment Project, a full-year online formative assessment course. As the lead content expert on this Race to the Top project, Gerzon developed online instructional resources including learning activities, case studies, and vignettes to showcase effective classroom formative assessment. Her team is leading the development of a statewide Communities of Practice model to deepen and sustain building-level formative assessment supports for teachers.

Prior to coming to WestEd, Gerzon led a regional professional development network focused on career and college readiness. She participated in the development of state standards and facilitated a regional association of school guidance counselors to improve instructional pathways for students' transition to college. She convened and facilitated teams comprised of members of the local business community, college and community college professors, and high school teachers to design instructional pathways to college and to build learning progressions that defined student outcomes at each level. This initiative significantly raised academic expectations for high school course outcomes in technology and the sciences.

Gerzon is the coauthor, with Sonia Caus Gleason, of Growing into Equity (Corwin Press, 2013), which documents leadership and professional learning practices in high-achieving high-poverty schools.
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Steve Hamilton

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Steve Hamilton serves as one of the Learning Innovations (LI) at WestEd staff at the Northeast Comprehensive Center (NCC) and as the NCC Liaison to the Maine Department of Education. He is Director of District and School Services for Learning Innovations at WestEd and provides technical assistance, program evaluation, and research and dissemination of information to schools, state agencies, and institutions of higher education in the New England region. He is also staff to two of the national Comprehensive Centers, WestEd's Turnaround Center and the Center on Standards, Assessment, and Instruction. His current experience with Comprehensive Centers, SEAs, and districts involves supporting initiatives focused on college and career-ready standards for all students and supporting the development of new curricula, assessments, and assessment practices aligned to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to inform instruction.

In his work with LI at WestEd, Hamilton currently coleads a team of WestEd providers supporting a New Hampshire high school/middle school SIG three-year turnaround effort, which began in the 2010 school year. He is also coordinating improvement efforts and providing professional development to two Lynn, MA Public Schools Level 4 (SIG) elementary schools with an emphasis on local and formative assessment practice. He directs Learning Innovations' professional development, which focuses on district and school development of CCSS-aligned curricula and local assessment practice supervising teams of professional development providers working with Departments of Education and districts in Rhode Island and New Mexico.

Hamilton's past experience includes work with the New Bedford Schools (MA) to support the district's Common Formative Assessment implementation effort. He provided technical assistance to the Massachusetts Department of Education related to local accountability programs and a state-supported Comprehensive School Reform model targeting middle school mathematics programs that was used in a variety of urban settings within the Commonwealth. In 2007, Hamilton coauthored the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands quasi-experimental study, The Impact of Benchmark Assessments on Student Achievement in Mathematics.

A member of WestEd's staff since 1997, Hamilton previously served as an elementary school principal and teacher, as well as director of an early childhood education program. He also worked with university professors to coordinate seminars for elementary school pre-service teachers. He has served as an elected member, finance chair, and chairperson on school boards/committees in Vermont and Massachusetts and has served as primary evaluator for several National Science Foundation–funded studies, including a three-year teacher enhancement initiative.
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Kevin Perks

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Dr. Kevin Perks supports the work of the Northeast Comprehensive Center (NCC) in three areas: standards and assessment, Great Teachers and Leaders, and school turnaround. Dr. Perks is a Program Associate at Learning Innovations at WestEd. He brings energy and expertise on standards-based and college- and career-ready curriculum, instruction, and assessment to clients of the NCC. His experience in training and supporting the development of systems of educator evaluation and in turning around low-performing schools supports the regional and state initiatives of the NCC.

In his role at Learning Innovations, Dr. Perks offers assistance to schools, districts, and state agencies in implementing college- and career-ready standards that align with the Common Core State Standards and high-quality assessments; helping low-performing schools develop research-based policies, programs, curricula, and practices designed to turn around student achievement; and building viable and rigorous pathways that support student achievement and successful transitions from postsecondary learning to college and the workforce without the need of remediation.

Dr. Perks currently coleads a team of WestEd providers supporting a four-year plan to help schools in New Mexico align curriculum, instruction, and assessment around the Common Core State Standards. Over the past few years, Dr. Perks has successfully helped multiple schools and districts in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New Mexico use the Common Core State Standards to redesign programs, policies, and practices of instruction and assessment, as well as to develop student-, parent-, and teacher-friendly resources to improve student achievement.

Prior to joining WestEd, Dr. Perks served as a Curriculum Coordinator for a large district in southern Maine. As part of his role, he helped the district redesign its system of curriculum, instruction, and assessment to better use research and data to prepare students to be college and career ready. His work included the use of data-based decision-making to build effective programs of instruction, remediation, teacher training, and leadership development.

Dr. Perks holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Boston University, a Master of Arts degree in Teaching from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of New Hampshire.
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Cerelle Morrow

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Since 1995 Cerelle Morrow has been teaching, designing, and implementing professional learning and developing materials related to school improvement for nonprofit and for profit programs across the country. As a District Services Program Associate at WestEd, she works to create and implement professional learning programs with schools and districts in the area of adolescent literacy and ELLs. In addition, as a part of the Northeast Comprehensive Center she works to help build the capacity of SEAs in this same area.
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Susan Villani

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