Christa served as a classroom teacher, Title I teacher, elementary principal, special education coordinator and ended her career as a federal programs coordinator/director of human resources. She was introduced to Reading Horizons during her time as a federal programs coordinator at her previous district and witnessed gains in kindergarten through high school students. She began as a contractor for Reading Horizons and is currently serving as a Lead Certified Facilitator.
She enjoys spending time with her husband on their farm and living the lake life. She also enjoys traveling to visit her children in Colorado and Texas.
Meredith became a teacher because she loved teaching even as a child. Her mom used to say that she had the smartest stuffed animals around. She currently works as a dyslexic interventionist. She has an administration degree but is currently seeking a degree in dyslexia therapy.
In her spare time, she is a travel agent and enjoys watching her daughter play volleyball.
Jessica Fenster is a 2009 graduate of Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, AL. She received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education; she also received her Masters of Education from the University of West Alabama. Jessica is currently employed with the Tuscaloosa County School System, where she is the Local Reading Specialist at Crestmont Elementary School. Before becoming a Reading Specialist, Jessica taught second to fifth grades. Learning how children learn to read and write has been Jessica’s passion since she first started teaching. She believes reading is an adventure that all students should fall in love with.
When Jessica is not teaching, she enjoys traveling, reading, and cooking. Most of all, she loves to spend time with family and friends.
Melanie grew up as the child of a high school teacher and decided to follow in her mom’s footsteps. She knew she had a natural ability to work with the youngest learners and decided to be an early childhood educator. For the past 25 years, she has taught kindergarten and first grade. She has served on district reading committees, mentored student teachers from Jacksonville State University, and has enjoyed teaching Reading Horizons in kindergarten and first grade for the last six years. Mrs. Heath has a passion for teaching phonics and developing readers. She believes the first two years are crucial in a child’s school career.
Melanie has been married to her husband, Tim, for over 30 years. Their children, Peyton and Mary Caroline, have left her with an empty nest. One fun fact about Melanie is that she grew up on a cattle farm and started driving tractors at the age of eight. She was a daddy’s girl who not only drove tractors to spend time with him but loved flying in her dad’s four-seater Cessna.
Before joining the team at Reading Horizons, Erica spent 15 years inside the classroom. She was a self-contained third-grade teacher for eight years and a K–6 interventionist for seven. In this role, she was introduced to Reading Horizons and had the opportunity to use it with her students. The rest, she says, “is a dream come true.”Watching students test out or return from the intervention classroom to the mainstream classroom, reading at higher levels than the students not pulled out for additional assistance, was an incredible experience for Erica. It was eye-opening for the district as well. She is proud that all students in her home district learn to read with Reading Horizons and feels her goal in life will be accomplished when every student has that opportunity.
Julie Parker has been teaching since 1996 as a first-grade, ELL, and Reading Intervention teacher. She is passionate about teaching students how to read and enjoys watching the excitement of struggling readers when they realize they finally understand how to read and what they are reading.
Julie enjoys reading and exercising. She is an avid runner who qualified and ran the Boston Marathon. Fun Fact: She was also a flight attendant for American Airlines.
Heather was a classroom teacher, interventionist, and instructional coach for twenty years in elementary education, teaching every grade level K–5. She was introduced to Reading Horizons as an interventionist and had the opportunity to teach it in her class for six years before coming on staff two years ago. She is one of the Lead Facilitators in her current role and is truly passionate about empowering teachers to teach students to read. She is also really enjoying mentoring new facilitators on training and coaching. Heather has coached hundreds of teachers in their classroom on teaching the Reading Horizons method. She believes it is the best thing that happened to her in her career.
She is married with three daughters and a precious Yorkie-poo named Princess. They enjoy living on the lake and spending lazy family days on the water.
Jamie is from Birmingham, Alabama. She began teaching third grade in 2002 at Tarrant Elementary School. After teaching for several years, she moved to the role of Reading Specialist at her school. She graduated in 2007 with her master’s degree in educational technology from Lesley University. She is passionate about teaching and instilling a love of reading in English language learners and students living in poverty.
She enjoys spending time with her husband and children, especially at the beach.
Karen was in public education for thirty-four years. She has served as a reading specialist for the past 18 years in a Title I school in Alabama, working with students and teachers in grades K–3 and mentoring coaches in her district. Before that position, Karen served as a classroom teacher in grades 2–6. During those years, Karen’s passion for metacognitive literacy learning developed. She loves it when children become aware of their thinking. One of her favorite successes as a reading specialist is helping students and teachers identify their strengths and supporting them as they grow in other areas of teaching and learning. She is trained in the science of reading in both LETRS and Neuhaus-Reading Readiness and Language Enrichment. She was a National Board Certified Teacher for the last twenty years of her career.
Karen enjoys outdoor activities with her family and friends.
Vicki resides in Pell City, Alabama. She is happily married and is the mother of two beautiful children and two children by marriage; she has also raised her sister’s children for the past five years. She began her educational career in Talladega, Alabama, teaching first grade in 1992. In 2007, she moved to Pell City, Alabama, taught for one year, and then was selected to be the ARI Reading Specialist for her school and later for multiple elementary schools. Vicki retired in 2019 with 27 years of teaching experience. Teaching has always been her first love, so when the opportunity presented itself to work with Reading Horizons, it was like a dream come true. She has specialized in reading instruction, collecting data, coaching teachers, and providing professional development. She is passionate about literacy education and helping students “break the code” to our English language while making it fun and engaging for all learning abilities. Touching the lives of so many children and watching their excitement for learning has always been such an inspiration.
Vicki loves to read, cook, and enjoy the great outdoors. Now that her children are grown, she loves it when they all get together and remember the great times they had growing up together.
Chrestie began her career in education as a Title 1 paraprofessional in 1989, where she continued working while obtaining her degree in elementary education. While teaching first grade in 2014, she realized that the current materials were not sufficient to meet the needs of her students. Many students were identified as having dyslexia characteristics. Her journey to find a phonics program that would help fill in the gaps led her to Reading Horizons. After implementing the method in her classroom and seeing improvements, she approached her principal with the idea of adopting the program for the school system. Thankfully, her principal and the school system agreed. Chrestie was certified as a Reading Horizons instructor in 2017. She is certified to teach Experience Dyslexia and obtained 35 hours of Orton-Gillingham training. She recently retired after serving 31 years in education as a classroom and Title 1 teacher. Her grandson received a dyslexia diagnosis in 2017. Due to her grandson’s and other students’ struggles, she is passionate about multisensory literacy education that empowers the teacher and student.
She loves to read, spend time with her family on the water or at the pool, and sing.
Carrie is passionate about teaching children to read and supporting teachers in refining their craft. After being fortunate to complete a vocational teaching program in high school, she received her undergraduate and graduate degrees through the outstanding program at Grand Canyon University. Carrie deeply believes that teacher language is the single most powerful tool an educator has and is constantly working to refine “teacher talk.” Her education experience includes many years in K–1 and fifth-grade ELA, reading interventions, and full-time teacher mentoring. Providing professional development that moves teachers and students makes her heart smile. Carrie has recently led the literacy learning curve in a unique “sub rural” district outside the Phoenix Valley.
When she isn’t busy being a mom, wife, or teacher, you may find her hiding out in the woods, working on a photo book, or supporting local theater through acting, adjudicating, or attending.
Over the last four years, Connie has worked in several roles for a fast-growing online ESL company. She was their first teacher for Open Class, an innovative program pairing one teacher to thousands of online students per class session. In addition to teaching, she coached hundreds of ESL teachers both online and in-person and was in the top 1% of teachers chosen as mentors and teacher applicant trainers. She also contributed as a content director/designer for remedial and advanced reading curricula and teacher coaching programs. With a background in elementary education, communication, and ESL, Connie loves helping to make a difference in the lives of teachers and students alike. She believes literacy is the life-changer that knocks down barriers and unleashes unlimited possibilities! She is thrilled to be a part of Reading Horizons.
In her spare time, Connie enjoys international travel, learning languages, reading, and meeting new people.
For the past 20 years, Amie has been teaching second, third, and fourth grades. She has spent the past 18 years training other teachers and administrators throughout the state of Florida and facilitating reading endorsement courses. Reading instruction is Amie’s passion, and she has continually sought to increase her awareness and knowledge to reach young readers better.
When Amie is not in the classroom, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughters.
As a child, Rhonda knew she would be a teacher. In addition to spending 22 years in middle and high school science classrooms in Indiana and Florida, Rhonda is a published author. She wrote course guides for the Florida DOE for Forensic Sciences I and Forensic Sciences II, eventually writing a textbook (Forensic Science: Advanced Investigations). She served as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the National Science Foundation and became even more passionate about literacy during that year. She attended think tank discussions in the DC area and presented at conferences around the United States and Canada. She was selected to participate in the ECO Classroom in Costa Rica, where her team of four teachers studied frogs with three other teams from across the United States. In 2015, she retired from the classroom to work as a professional learning consultant.
Veronica began her career as a first-grade school teacher in central Florida. Over 15 years, she has worked as an instructional coach, curriculum designer, NASA education specialist, and program manager facilitating teacher training and implementing programs for various organizations and many school districts in the U.S. and abroad. Currently, she is an education consultant, facilitator, and instructional designer collaborating with organizations to bring authentic learning experiences that support STEM career interests.
Her passion for helping all learners build literacy skills began early in her career, working with at-risk children in Spain and then supporting non-English speaking children and families in the U.S. As an ESL learner and first-generation graduate, she believes that literacy skills are at the heart of opportunities for learners to shape their future.
Veronica holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s in math and science education from the University of Central Florida. She is a certified Florida Digital Educator, UCF Minority in Education Scholar, and a Presidential Award for Science nominee.
Being surrounded by children was a lifelong goal for Taryn. Straight out of high school, she started her journey working with children. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in educational leadership. Over ten years, she advanced from a middle school English teacher to the role of an assistant principal. Her years with CSUSA were filled with milestones and memories, which helped her identify the importance of early literacy.
Now you can find her running two self-starter businesses. As a copywriter and education consultant at Taryn J Writes LLC., she has founded a business that ignites two of her greatest passions: writing and supporting educators. Tails and Toddlers Inc. is her other business venture that she runs alongside her husband and fellow animal enthusiast. They build custom furniture for pets and children.
Francine is a native Floridian, and has served the community in several capacities over the last twenty years: classroom teacher, interventionist, teacher mentor, and instructional coach. She has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a master’s degree in K-12 educational leadership.. She began her career as a first-grade teacher and currently serves as a district literacy coach for the Transformation Network. She has taught students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade and is deeply invested in developing lifelong learners, both in adults and children. As a teacher leader, she has impacted the professional growth of hundreds in the area of literacy through coaching, mentorship, and collegial partnership. Her passion for equipping learners drives her to continue growing her own craft as an instructional leader and teacher developer. A quirky fun fact about Francine, she has a “healthy” love/hate relationship with the dentist…she hates going, but loves the results after a visit!
Laurie is a professional facilitator and instructional coach for K–12 schools. After graduating from the University of North Florida with a degree in elementary education, she taught first grade for over 12 years. Her passion for building confident readers in a digital world ignited her desire to create lessons that infused reading literacy and technology. As a STEM leader in her school, she inspired students to weave reading and computer literacy skills into their daily lives. Her passion is providing researched-based strategies that allow all students an opportunity to build self-confidence so they may succeed in reading and pursue their dreams.
Her hobbies include cooking, reading, listening to podcasts, and spending time with her family.
Chloe began her career as an elementary school teacher in Florida, working to instill an excitement for literacy in her students through engaging, interdisciplinary learning experiences. In her more recent role as an education consultant, Chloe has facilitated professional learning and coached teachers in many school districts across the country. Chloe specializes in educational technology and 21st-century skills, which she believes are vital to a student’s future success. Chloe is passionate about literacy education because it is the foundation of all learning and unlocks a student’s ability to recognize their fullest potential.
In her free time, Chloe enjoys being in nature, exploring new biking or hiking paths, and relaxing on the beach.
Brigitta is a passionate educator with a degree in Child & Adolescent Development, Multiple Subject Teaching Credential with an emphasis in Crosscultural Language & Academic Development, and TESOL Certification. She began her career as an elementary school teacher in a traditional classroom setting. With experience and success in the classroom, she began serving in leadership roles to help ensure student success within her school and district. After leaving the classroom, she continued teaching K-3rd grades online as well as ESL classes. She served as a mentor and coach for new teachers in ESL classrooms. Brigitta believes literacy education goes well beyond the classroom, giving students the skills to improve their life and open doors. Outside of the classroom, Brigitta enjoys spending time with her family, mountain biking, and traveling.
Susannah Allen began her career teaching in a Title I school and later moved to an independent college preparatory school to be with her three children. Teaching Pre-K through second grade, she loved working with young children because of the incredible joy they exhibited when they learned to read! For the last ten years, she served as the Lower School Principal and the Assistant Head of School. Susannah received the Judy Lowery Outstanding Educator Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the GISA.
After 31 years in education, Susannah developed a desire to learn about the science of reading and its impact on students and teachers. This desire drove her to pursue an opportunity to support teachers as they implement quality reading instruction in the classroom.
Susannah enjoys spending time on the lake with her husband, children, and their dogs in her spare time.
Chloe Rhea Beauford
As an experienced workshop leader and coach, Chloe has helped thousands of educators successfully implement Reading Horizons’ instructional methods. Over the past 25 years, Chloe has conducted workshops and led presentations at many national and state education conferences. Chloe’s passions are educator professional learning and coaching, and she recognizes these as key to implementing new instructional methods. Before facilitating workshops for Reading Horizons, she was an instructional specialist and coach for a school district on the Navajo Nation.
Yasmeen Blankenship graduated with a master’s degree in education from the University of La Verne in 2008. She has served as an educator for over 14 years. In that time, she has been fortunate enough to serve as a kindergarten teacher, 2nd grade teacher, K/1 lead teacher, 4/5 interventionist, and a K-6 reading interventionist. Yasmeen has always had a deep love for learning and reading. She loves having a front row seat for when students transition from being reluctant readers to confident readers. She knows that literacy is a crucial component for a child’s success in their educational journey as well as life. It is for these reasons that she is excited to be a member of the Reading Horizons family.
When Yasmeen is not learning alongside her students she enjoys being a certified yoga instructor and health coach.
Alexis began her career as a kindergarten and third-grade teacher in a Title 1 school in metro Atlanta with a diverse student body comprised of students from across the globe. She then followed her yearning for intercultural exchanges to South Korea, where she taught English to preschool through 6th graders at a rural public school. Her career has also taken her to Malaysia and Brunei, serving as an Instructional Coach to elementary teachers in early literacy, math, and ELA and as a trainer and mentor for other coaches. She has served as a program administrator and an instructional leader in adult ESL, basic education, and high school equivalency programs.
In her free time, she enjoys hiking, yoga, and reading. She is passionate about helping others achieve the gift of literacy because she knows how it can change the trajectory of one’s life and open a world of possibilities.
Sandra’s dream of becoming a teacher began as a first grader when she read a book to her class. She never even considered another job! After being a classroom teacher for 20 years and an ESOL teacher for 10 years, she served as a Title I Parent Facilitator and an RTI Support Specialist. Most recently, she started her own company with a focus on empowering schools to engage families. In this role, Sandra developed and facilitated workshops for teachers and parents. While Zoom meetings have been a necessary format, she is really looking forward to being with people face to face. She believes that literacy skills are the foundation of most learning, and when we teach children to read, we are enabling them to be successful in life.
Sandra enjoys running, biking, hiking, spending time with family, and playing with her dogs in her free time.
Brittany began her teaching career more than nine years ago. She has spent most of that time teaching second grade. Brittany earned her master’s degree in reading and literacy from Benedictine University in Illinois in the fall of 2018. She enjoys learning about literacy theories and the science of reading. After being introduced to Reading Horizons in the fall of 2019, phonics quickly became Brittany’s favorite instructional block of the day.
When she is not teaching, you can find her spending time with her family, reading, or hiking.
Erin has worn many educational hats. She was a high school teacher for six years before becoming the K–12 literacy instructional coach for her district. In this role, she gained a wealth of knowledge to help students (both elementary and secondary) succeed in reading or filling in the gaps in their literacy journey. Eventually, she became the teacher leader coordinator for the district in charge of the teacher leader program. She empowered teachers, so they learned from each other and perfected their craft. She went back into the classroom to work as an 8th grade ELA teacher, where she put what she learned as a coach to great use. She is excited about helping teachers learn the latest science-backed strategies to help students succeed.
She has three boys that keep her busy and entertained. She likes to get crafty in her spare time by making fun signs and screen-printed shirts.
Andra Gerst received her bachelor’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from Harding University in 2007. She taught grades K–4 in the public schools in Maryland and New Jersey before her recent move to Kentucky. Additionally, Andra tutors and teaches students, including ESL, both virtually and in person, using a brain science approach to reading. Andra has been trained in using the Wilson Reading System, an Orton-Gillingham approach, which focuses on multisensory techniques that combine the teaching of both reading and spelling simultaneously. She has presented on these topics and more at the district and county level, as she enjoys sharing her experiences and learning with fellow educators. Andra is passionate about brain science and how it relates to reading. She stated that continuing her learning with Reading Horizons was her next “best step” in her continual learning journey. Andra is thrilled to combine her experience and passion for brain science and reading with the team here at Reading Horizons.
Sara is beginning her 18th year in education. She began her career as an elementary teacher, teaching both first and second grades. She is currently the Curriculum/ Instructional Coach at Bell Elementary in Wayne County, where she has been coaching and supporting their teachers for the past four years. Sara received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Eastern Kentucky University, master’s degree in special education from Union College, and Rank I Certification in Supervisor of Instruction from the University of the Cumberlands. Sara not only coaches, trains, and supports teachers, she also serves as an English language learner resource for her school. Sara’s love for literacy comes from her background in teaching in the elementary classroom. She wants all students to be successful in understanding text and be able to experience life through reading. She believes that literacy instruction is important for our students to become socially engaged and to be able to communicate effectively and understand the world around them.
Sara enjoys spending time with her family on the family farm, relaxing on Lake Cumberland, and watching her children participate in sports.
Kate is currently a first-grade teacher. She has been teaching for eight years and loves being in the classroom. For six of those years, Kate has been using Reading Horizons. She loves teaching reading and seeing success with her students and enjoys helping other teachers prepare for implementation.
Kate loves traveling and usually comes home with a good story to tell. When she is not teaching, Kate enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids, shopping, and cooking.
Tina began her teaching career in Maine with K–3 students. She worked with many inspiring teachers that encouraged her to learn as much about her students as possible. She and three colleagues created a multi-age program. The program allowed the teacher-student relationship to grow and offered students the best personal learning experience that met their needs. Tina then moved to Mississippi and taught for 22 years in first grade, where Tina learned so much about the reading process and how students approach it differently based on their experiences. Tina then began working with middle schoolers. First, she worked with a sixth-grade ELA classroom and ended with a Title 1 tutoring program where she was introduced to Reading Horizons and loved it.
She retired in January 2022 and is on a new adventure with Reading Horizons. She enjoys sewing and crafting when time allows.
Sara comes from a long line of educators in her family. Originally from Savannah, Georgia, Sara is now a military spouse who has taught primary grade levels in Georgia, Texas, and Arizona. She has a huge passion for teaching phonics and recently joined the Reading Horizons team of facilitators after teaching it in her own classroom. Sara is also a children’s book author and enjoys creating resources for teachers to use in their classroom.
Ashley graduated from East Carolina University with her master’s degree in elementary education. She taught third grade for ten years in Pitt County, North Carolina, before becoming the Elementary Curriculum Director of Beaufort County Schools, NC, where she earned her add-on licensure in gifted education.
She got married in 2015 to her husband, Nate Conner, who is a high school head football coach. They recently added a Havapoo puppy named Joey to their family in 2020. Mrs. Conner aims to use her experience and love for literacy instruction to inspire teachers in multiple school districts to help their students learn to read.
Heidi’s 20 years of experience in K–12 public school and virtual classroom settings inspired her interest in literacy training and joining the Reading Horizons facilitator team. Heidi has worked with thousands of teachers to encourage, support, and help them align their teaching with current research and to inspire their potential. With degrees in liberal studies and English and ESL endorsements, she seeks to help enhance the knowledge and practices of teachers.
As a mother of four, spending time with her husband and children is her greatest joy. She has seen the benefits of engaging learners through meaningful play and entertainment by performing as a ventriloquist and vocalist.
Wendy started teaching as a PE specialist and classroom aide and promptly changed her major from English teaching to elementary education. She loved working with all ages and subjects, but she especially loved her time as a reading aide. Wendy got her master’s degree in learning and technology during her first year teaching and was so grateful for the lessons of data gathering that the process gave her. She taught first grade for six years, and during her fifth year, she was awarded Teacher of the Year. She usually worked with the gifted and talented students during breakout time, and she loved pushing her students to new heights and showing them that learning can be fun.
Wendy is an avid reader, usually reading two to three books per week, and she loves seeing the passion of reading come into her students’ lives. Her current hobbies are watercolor and triathlon training.
Alicia began her career in education as an elementary classroom teacher, served as a middle school reading teacher, and then transitioned into a training and technical assistance role as an educational consultant specializing in literacy, instruction, assessment, and data analysis. She most recently served as Director of Federal Programs and Student Achievement. Alicia is passionate about literacy and believes that every human being has the “right to read.”
In her spare time, Alicia enjoys traveling, playing with her ragdoll cats, and, of course, reading.
Ellie has a degree in early childhood education and was a teacher for four years. She is a certified structured literacy classroom teacher and is passionate about increasing literacy through her work with students and teachers.
In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, creating pottery, and boating with her family.
Christina Lucera received her bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education from Holy Family University in 2009. In 2011, she earned her master’s degree in education curriculum and instruction. Christina received her Reading Specialist certification, K–12, in 2016.
Christina became a teacher in 2009 with the Philadelphia School District. In 2013, she began working as a teacher at West Oak Lane Charter School, a K–8 school, and has served as literacy coach and literacy specialist. She is currently the director of literacy. Additionally, she has managed the school’s 21st CCLC grants since 2015. Christina started Reading Horizons as the core K–2 reading program in 2017 and was trained as a facilitator herself in 2020.
Christina has three children. Her youngest has dyslexia, like Christina. Literacy has also been Christina’s passion, and she strives to develop a deep love of reading in children so that they never stop learning.
Melanie comes to Reading Horizons with 20 years of teaching experience. As a classroom teacher, she spent most of her time in kindergarten, third, and fourth grades. Her desire to help students improve their reading skills led her to a master’s degree in reading. In 2011, Melanie became a Middle School Reading Specialist at a Title 1 school in South Philadelphia. It has been her joy and delight to support middle school students on their path to becoming successful readers.
Melanie enjoys reading, crafting, and spending time with her husband and twin sons.
Melissa has been teaching school for 22 years in general and special education. She received her bachelor’s degree in special education at Carson-Newman University, her master’s degree in special ed inclusion from Concordia University, and has earned and renewed her National Board Certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist. Her experience includes teaching in the general education third and fifth-grade classrooms and the resource and self-contained special education classrooms. Currently, she teaches part-time in the resource classroom and coaches special education teachers in Reading Horizons for the second part of her day. Melissa has received training in Orton-Gillingham and has a passion for teaching the struggling reader. She has taught the Reading Horizons method and coached teachers implementing it for the past four years.
In her free time, she enjoys watching her sons play sports, traveling, and reading good books.
Primary literacy coach turned education consultant, Kelly is a wealth of knowledge helping learners succeed and bridging the gap of early literacy. With a background in elementary education and a master’s degree in reading and literacy, she worked for the Department of Defense as an instructional support teacher, facilitating professional development in literacy and math instruction.
Throughout her 20+ years teaching and being a military spouse, she has traveled and taught in various states and programs, from Minnesota to Colorado and North Carolina to Florida. She is currently working as a writer, education blogger, and educational consultant with educational collaborators. She is also a Microsoft Innovative Educator & Minecraft Trainer plus a Google Certified Educator 1, 2, and Certified Google Coach Mentor. Additionally, she has a knack for creating meaningful stories and engaging lessons to share with young readers and their families.
After her first year in education, Toshiba quickly realized her passion was teaching literacy. She has spent countless hours studying, training, and developing ways to create strong readers in early childhood. Toshiba was a key member of the Instructional Leadership Committee for Literacy, and her most recent role was Instructional Facilitator for grades K–3.
She enjoys traveling, sightseeing, and photography. Toshiba is often referred to as a social butterfly. She has never met a stranger.
April is very enthusiastic about being part of the Reading Horizon family. Before joining the team, Mrs. Johnson worked as a K–3 teacher for Parkway Village Elementary in Memphis, Tennessee. At Parkway Village, she held the second and third-grade chair positions and was a member of the Instructional Leadership and Digital Learning Team. She also acted as a lead teacher mentor to first-year teachers within the school district. During this time, Mrs. Johnson was a presenter for various professional development courses such as Eureka Math, Math TEM Crosswalk, and Teaching Equality vs. Equity in the classroom. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s degree in elementary education from The University of Memphis. Her philosophy on education is that “Learning is not a one size fits all.” Mrs. Johnson enjoys providing a safe and highly engaging learning environment, allowing all her students to discover their fullest potential.
She also enjoys international travel, reading, museums, trying new foods, and Broadway shows.
Amanda began her career as a classroom teacher in Minnesota. She spent 13 years teaching students in second, third, and fifth grades. A move to Atlanta, GA pushed her to pursue a new area of interest—supporting teachers. As an Instructional Coach and Curriculum Implementation Specialist with Better Lesson, she has worked with thousands of teachers in Pre-K through eighth as they make student-centered shifts in their classrooms. She is passionate about supporting educators with best practices in literacy instruction, watching their enthusiasm as they try to meet the needs of their students, and celebrating growth when students learn to read.
When not working, Amanda enjoys traveling and gardening.
Robyn has served in education since 1998 and has experience in a variety of roles at campus and regional levels, including teacher, instructional coach, reading interventionist, program coordinator, trainer, and consultant. She has a bachelor of science degree in interdisciplinary studies from Sam Houston State University and a master of education degree in curriculum and instruction from The University of Texas at Arlington. She is also a certified K–12 Reading Specialist and Master Reading Teacher. She believes literacy is the foundation for success and is passionate about helping people of all ages discover the power and joy of being readers and writers.
Aside from reading, Robyn enjoys traveling with her husband, doing interior design projects, and spoiling her two dogs.
Deborah De Hoyos
Deborah De Hoyos is a professional learning facilitator and instructional coach for Reading Horizons. At an early age, Deborah felt drawn to education. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology. With an interest in education and culture, she went on to earn her master’s in teaching English to speakers of other languages. Upon completion of her graduate degree, Deborah joined the administrative council of an intensive English program. As an administrator, she mentored graduate students, conducted teacher training, and taught international students with novice, intermediate, and advanced English skills. Outside of the classroom, Deborah has worked in curriculum and assessment development. As part of Reading Horizons’ non-profit efforts, Deborah helped develop a literacy program designed for pre-literate learners and refugee populations.
Deborah usually stays up too late because she cannot resist the lure of one more chapter. She enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with her family.
Melissa has been an educator for 26 years. She served as a first-grade teacher for five years, a reading coach for 17 years, and spent two years as a District Resource Teacher in Hillsborough County, Florida. At Tyler ISD in Texas, Melissa taught second grade and served as a Campus Reading Specialist for the ELAR department. Melissa earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of South Florida, a master’s degree in reading from St. Leo University, and a specialist degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of South Florida.
Melissa believes that all students can learn and has a passion for teaching reading and being a learner herself.
Fun fact: Melissa did a lot of traveling within the U.S. growing up because her dad worked for an airline. She wanted to be a flight attendant but fell in love with teaching.
Amber began teaching in 2001 and has been teaching first grade ever since. She received her degrees from Weber State University in Utah in early childhood education and curriculum design and instruction with a Level 1 Reading Endorsement. She is passionate about phonics and literacy after working with young developing readers for 20 years.
She loves to ski, go rafting with her family, and hike with her golden retrievers.
Shannon has been working with edtech for five years as a remote ESL teacher for students in China. During this time, she developed lasting relationships with her students and their families. Shannon has also mentored prospective ESL teachers as part of a coaching team that facilitated in-person and remote ESL teaching training workshops. Shannon has recently worked as part of the Brigham Young University Pathway Worldwide program, remotely mentoring students around the world. She takes great satisfaction in helping others succeed. She is passionate about the possibilities technology can bring to educating students of all ages.
Shannon lives in Utah with her husband, four children, and one neurotic but lovable dog. She is an avid reader who believes literacy is for everyone. In her spare time, you’ll find her with her nose in a book, baking, taking a Zumba class, or swimming with her kids at the pool.
Sharee J. Jensen
Sharee has been an educator for 27 years and has taught mostly in the primary grades. Recently, she’s been working as a reading/instructional coach in her district. For the last six years, she’s been training for Reading Horizons and was excited to be on the committee to help develop the Reading Horizons Discovery® Spelling Supplement. She has also recently been trained in LETRS. She loves that students with reading skills are empowered with so many opportunities to enhance their lives in the way they choose.
Sharee has a cabin that she loves to spend time in with her family. Her favorite hobby is quilting. She likes to hike and spend time outdoors.
Lesli has been an educator for over 23 years, teaching kindergarten, first, second, fourth, and sixth grade. Her most recent role has been as her school’s reading specialist. She was part of the leadership and management teams at her school and helped bring fun to the love of reading with her principal “Captain RED” (Read Every Day) as his sidekick “Miss PINK” (Power IN Knowledge). Literacy Nights were always a favorite, and Lesli loved spreading the joy of reading through them. She developed a passion for literacy as she helped struggling readers learn to read and see the “light turn on” in their eyes when they suddenly understood.
She loves spending time playing games with her family, performing in community theater, yoga, reading, and crocheting. A fun fact about Lesli is that she earned her blue belt in karate (back in the day).
Melanie graduated with undergraduate degrees in both special education and elementary education. She has spent the last 20 plus years teaching and specializing in reading intervention. She is trained and certified in various Orton-Gillingham-based approaches such as Susan Barton, Phonics First, and Handwriting without Tears. She also has experience teaching the Wilson Fundations and Lindamood-Bell’s LIPS programs. This training and experience have led to her favorite moments in teaching when the reading code becomes unlocked! Melanie’s passion for literacy education was sparked by her mother, a professional storyteller. Making literature accessible to all students through the science of reading is her goal. She is excited to partner with classroom teachers and Reading Horizons and work together to make every student a reader.
Melanie is married with four wonderful children. In her spare time, she loves to go hiking, spend time with her family and friends, or curl up with a good book.
Rachel has a passion for increasing access to quality education for students who need it most. After earning her bachelor’s degree in English teaching from Brigham Young University, she taught English Language Arts to secondary grades, including teaching students with learning disabilities. While entering her fourth year of teaching, Rachel earned her master’s of science in education in international educational development from the University of Pennsylvania. Rachel is taking strides to understand and develop the broader scope of “what works” in education. She has participated in and presented at numerous research endeavors, including the Comparative and International Education Society Conference, Penn GSE Leading for School Improvement, and Engaging Reluctant Readers with Cris Tovani. Rachel sees literacy as a major building block to improve education on a worldwide scale.
She enjoys spending time with her husband and dog, skiing, wakeboarding, and catching up on her favorite Netflix series.
Belen majored in early childhood and elementary education. She began teaching in 2005, starting her career in the kindergarten classroom. She taught kindergarten for 11 years, first grade for five years, and is currently a sixth-grade teacher. She has spent her whole teaching career in the same school, a Title I school in Ogden, Utah. She has been using Reading Horizons in the classroom for four years and has been a big advocate for grades K–3 using it at her school. She feels strongly that reading is something everyone should feel like they can do and do well! Belen has been a facilitator for Reading Horizons for two years and loves the opportunities she gets to meet and help teachers all over the country.
When she isn’t teaching or working for Reading Horizons, she loves to spend time with her two daughters and husband in the beautiful mountains and lakes of Utah.
Jenna has spent the last few years teaching reading in an adult ed setting, working primarily with English language newcomers. She has also tutored elementary students with dyslexia using Reading Horizons and is a passionate advocate for quality literacy instruction at all levels. She loves how Reading Horizons empowers students and educators to be successful in the classroom and hopes to share her experience with the program to help other teachers/students succeed.
If you can’t find Jenna behind a book, then you will most certainly find her baby-wearing her six-month-old little boy, Grant, as she and her pup, Ranger, go out to explore the hiking trails local to her in Utah.
Susie began her journey in education in youth organizations. She has a degree in recreation management and youth leadership and worked in several educational roles, such as the education director at a Boys & Girls Club and before and after school programs supporting students. She eventually became a K–6 PE teacher and para educator supporting math and reading. She transitioned to the classroom teaching first and second grade and received her teaching license through an alternate route. It was in this role she became familiar with Reading Horizons and became passionate about literacy. She is now her school’s Literacy Specialist and supports teachers and paras using Reading Horizons curriculum and helping to achieve school-wide literacy goals.
She has four children and enjoys nature, reading, and music.
Allison has been teaching predominantly Title 1 schools for seven years in San Diego, California. She began as a single subject social science teacher for seventh and eighth grade and added her multiple subject credential to teach ELA. Her passion for literacy education stemmed from the vast majority of middle school students reading far below grade level and realizing the detrimental effect this had on those students progressing to higher grade levels and even college. The problem with reading comprehension became evident when she taught third grade and realized the fundamental skills were not being taught to their fullest potential. She had the highest growth that school year (in a K–8 school) through her own classroom interventions in reading and math.
In addition, Allison played college soccer and coached high school soccer for eight years. She also coached a U8 team. She loves working with kids in all capacities and is very passionate about their personal and academic growth.