I began my teaching career at Lesley College, then an all women’s college in Cambridge, MA. It was there that I learned not only my love of teaching and learning but developed my determination as a woman to be independent and empower others in their own learning journeys as well. I began as a teacher in adolescent psychiatric settings where I honed my skills to work with marginalized students-- students that would be more likely to throw the book at you out of frustration than actually read it. These students were so frustrated by their own skills because of circumstances out of their control effecting their lives. It was in these settings that I learned so much about the power of literacy and the potential it has for an individual’s learning and growth.
As a native Bostonian from a large Italian family I had never ventured outside of the metro-Boston (or even South Shore) area. I knew that in order to take the next step in my own life I needed to expand my horizons and I moved to Chapel Hill, NC for graduate school. There I worked on my M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Special Education and Literacy studies immersing myself in the work of my mentors and eventual colleagues Drs. Karen Erickson, David Koppenhaver, Jim Cunningham, Pat Cunningham, Janet Sturm, and David Yoder. I worked in schools in Orange and Wake Country, NC providing literacy instruction to students with a variety of disabilities.
As a graduate student I focused on literacy assessment for students across the disability spectrum but in particular students the need alternative access and AAC for communication. I've published articles on these subjects (see CV), presented nationally, and consulted with developers on writing software. All of my professional work and research has placed the teacher at the center as an agent of change, advocacy, and leadership in a classroom with an individual student.
I returned to my native Boston area back where I began my teaching career-- taking a faculty appointment at Lesley College in 2000 - now Lesley University. It is here that I have taught a variety of graduate courses in literacy instruction, assessment, research, speech and language development, AAC and AT usage, strategies for inclusive schooling, and supervised teachers beginning their careers in the classroom. I have directed the Specialist Teacher of Reading Program, Early Childhood Education Program, and the Teacher Residency Programs across licensure areas. I have led curriculum revision initiatives as well as acted in faculty leadership roles during challenging times at the university.
I am a scholar practitioner working extensively with private and public school settings across the country I have done extensive work with schools and districts to design literacy programs for students with a range of disabilities including Severe Speech and Physical Impairments, and Autism Spectrum Disorders. I worked with the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire and the NH Department of Education, to provide technical assistance to elementary schools and districts to support the implementation of Response-to-Intervention (RtI) for literacy and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) models for academic and behavioral supports.
Places I have worked to make change for literacy and language development:
School District #54 in Schaumburg, IL
Burlington, Newton, and Westwood, MA
Pittsfield, Somersworth, Laconia, New Hampshire
Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA
Boston Higashi School, Randolph, MA
Recently I have expanded my focus on leadership to self-identified women, in and outside of the classroom. With colleagues at my university we co-faciltate a feminist peer-mentored development group, Leadership Enrichment and Development. I have presented nationally on the subject of leadership development for women, particularly in higher education. I have been a member of the Harvard University’s Women in Leadership Institute, and have presented papers for presentation at the International Leadership Association’s Women in Leadership annual conference, POD Network Professional and Organizational Development , and the National Women’s Studies Association Annual Conference.
Currently, I am writing and editing a co-authored book on a women’s leadership development model that co-created with my colleagues. It is expected to be out in 2021 from Routledge.
My passion for helping women in their own personal development journey comes from my experiences as a women, educator, professional, academic, and single-mother. So many have helped me on my journey in life helping me find solutions along the way to the problems that I faced. We as women are socialized in such ways that the barriers to our career success prevent us from advocating for ourselves, taking on challenges, saying NO, negotiating, and finding work-life balance. I work with women to utilize resources to strategically prioritize the components of their lives to work towards their financial, career, and life goals.