Meet the Team Behind Stronge & Associates
James H. Stronge, Ph.D., is the Heritage Professor in the Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership Area at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. His research interests include policy and practice related to teacher quality, and teacher and administrator evaluation. He has worked with numerous school districts and other educational organizations to design and implement evaluation systems for teachers, administrators, and support personnel. His work on effective teachers focuses on how to identify effective teachers and how to enhance teacher effectiveness. Dr. Stronge has presented his research at conferences such as American Educational Research Association and Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, conducted workshops for national and state organizations, and worked with local school districts. He has been a teacher, counselor, and district-level administrator. His doctorate is in the area of educational administration and planning from the University of Alabama. University of Alabama
Ginny Tonneson, Ph.D., serves as Vice President of Stronge and Associates. Ginny has leveraged her extensive education, professional development, and program management expertise from her 20 years of service in the U.S. Air Force to conduct business operations, training, and technical development in support of the Stronge Teacher and Leader Effectiveness System. In this capacity, she works with international, state and regional education agencies as well as individual school districts. Ginny has taught at the elementary through graduate levels and has been a higher education administrator. She has presented at national-, state-, and local-level conferences in the areas of leadership, mathematics, and gifted education. Her current areas of research interest include teacher leadership and teacher effectiveness. Her work has been published in both books and peer-reviewed journals. Ginny received her doctoral degree in Educational Policy, Planning and Leadership from the College of William and Mary.
Xianxuan Xu, Ph.D., received her doctorate from the College of William and Mary's Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership Program. Currently, Dr. Xu is working as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate for a state-wide teacher evaluation project which is funded by the Virginia Department of Education and based at the College of William and Mary. Her research interests are teacher effectiveness, professional development, and teacher and principal evaluation. Dr. Xu's research also focuses on international comparative analyses of teacher qualities in the United States and China. She has presented findings of her research on U.S.-China teacher effectiveness and teacher evaluation at national conferences, such as American Educational Research Association, University Council for Educational Administration, and National Evaluation Institute. She is also the contributing author to Effective Teachers = Student Achievement: What the Research Says authored by James H. Stronge and published by Eye on Education in 2010.
Lauri M. Leeper, Ph.D., is the Director of Instructional Design and Development. She is also a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and works with several state agencies and school districts on teacher and administrator evaluation systems. She is a former middle school and elementary school teacher, and library media specialist and has taught up through the graduate level. She has presented at national-, state-, and local-level conferences on topics including closing the achievement gap, effective schools, information literacy, problem-based learning, and curriculum design. Her research interests include effective reading comprehension instruction, teacher effectiveness, teacher/administrator evaluation, and teacher leadership. Lauri received her doctoral degree in Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership from the College of William and Mary.
Mary Wallen is the Director of Project Planning. She has over 38 years of educational experience in an urban public school district in Virginia, serving in positions ranging from that of a classroom teacher to a central office administrator. Her classroom experience included both regular and gifted education in an elementary setting. After 15 years of teaching in the classroom, she spent the next three years as a "teacher trainer" providing professional development to teachers in grades pre-K through 12. Mary then became an elementary school administrator, serving as the principal of two elementary schools for the next 20 years. In her last role with the district she was a Leadership Coach, providing guidance and support to principals of Title I schools. Mary received her B.S. from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts and her MA. Ed. from the College of William and Mary.
Nancy Richmond, Ed.D., is New Jersey Coordinator for the Stronge Teacher and Leader Evaluation models in the Garden State. Following a 34-year career in public education, Nancy was a member of the Senior Staff at the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors' Association. As a public educator in New Jersey, Nancy served as teacher, reading specialist, and elementary principal. In 1998 she was named National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals and in 1993 the school where she was principal was named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. Nancy co-authored a book on school leadership entitled, Learning to Lead: Ten Stories for Principals, and has been a featured writer for Principal Magazine. She has presented on numerous occasions at state, national, and international conventions. Nancy earned the Ed.D. in organizational leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Denise Birdwell, Ed.D., is the Senior Arizona Project Advisor for Stronge & Associates. She has over 33 years of educational experience in rural and urban public schools including 10 years as a Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent. In 2014, her district was named the number one large district by the Arizona Department of Education and she received the Gilbert Excellence Visionary Leader Award. She is also the recipient of the Arizona School Administrators (ASA) All Arizona Superintendent Award 2011, Horace Mann 2011 ASA Dynamic Ruler Award, and many other accolades. Dr. Birdwell has collaborated with numerous districts and political leaders in the design and implementation of the Arizona teacher evaluation system. She has published in juried journals and presented research at national and international conferences. She holds a Doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from Arizona State University and has served as a faculty associate for Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University.
Carol Pollack is the Stronge & Associates Arizona Coordinator. She has 32 years of educational experience in Arizona. She has held the positions of high school teacher, department chair, high school assistant principal, high school principal and central office administrator. She also serves as adjunct faculty for Arizona State University. She has presented at Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and has currently led the teacher and leader evaluation process for her district providing training and professional development for teachers and administrators. Carol Pollack received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership both from Northern Arizona University.
Kate Wolfe is the Director of Innovation and Development. She has worked for several years as an elementary school teacher in an urban school district, where she saw first-hand how quality teachers can make a difference in the lives of young people and their families. Her desire to support teachers led to roles as a technology integration specialist, an instructional coach, and a Supervisor for Employee Development and Expertise. She earned her B.A. in history at the University of Virginia and her MA.Ed. from the College of William and Mary. Believing that effective teaching starts with quality instructional leadership, she is currently finishing her doctorate in Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership from the College of William and Mary. She has presented at the National Social Studies Conference and is currently researching the role administrator leadership, evaluation, and feedback plays on the formative development of elementary mathematics teachers.
Emily R. Dwoyer received her M.Ed. in School Counseling at The College of William & Mary in 2012. Previously, she earned an M.A. from the University of Connecticut in the field of Survey Research (2001), and was employed by Mathematica Policy Research as a survey director. In the role of survey director, she participated in evaluation design, data collection methodology design, and implementing the entire scope of data collection efforts; additionally she contributed to evaluation analysis, and report writing. While at Mathematica she worked on evaluations in a broad range of policy areas, including work for the US Department of Education, as well as education evaluations funded by private foundations. She is now excited to work more directly with students, and school communities as a school counselor.
Brenda Tanner, Ed.D., has over 35 years of experience in education in Virginia and South Carolina, including her six years of service as Superintendent of Schools in Madison County. She has also served as Chief Academic and Chief Personnel Officer for Horry County Public Schools in South Carolina, a district with 31,000 students and 4,000 employees. The majority of Dr. Tanner's career has been in PK-12 systems; however, she has also worked at the college level, teaching in the area of leadership and school administration at the University of Virginia while also directing a school/university professional development consortium. Currently, as President of Dominion Education Services, LLC, she has provided consulting services to schools in multiple states, including public and charter schools in Chicago. Dr. Tanner received her B.A. in Elementary Education from Lynchburg College, her Masters in Early Childhood Education from the University of Virginia, and her doctoral degree from the University of Virginia.
Lois F. Berlin, Ed.D., has been an educator for 36 years in the United States and the United Kingdom. She taught middle school aged students for five years outside of Aberdeen, Scotland in the Camphill Rudolf Steiner Schools for children with special needs. Shortly thereafter Lois became the assistant principal at Cora Kelly Magnet School, then principal at Jefferson-Houston Elementary School. In 1996 she assumed the principalship of George Mason Elementary School and in 2002 Lois was appointed Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for ACPS. Most recently, in 2004 she was appointed Superintendent of the Falls Church City Public Schools Northern Virginia. Lois received her bachelor's degree in Sociology from Virginia Tech, her master's degree in Early Childhood/Special Education from George Washington University and her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Virginia Tech.
Maria A. Corso has 41 years of experience in education in New Jersey. She has held the positions of elementary teacher and guidance counselor, high school guidance counselor, and middle school assistant principal. Maria currently serves as an elementary principal, a position that she has held for over 20 years. She also works as a Mentor for new administrators in the New Jersey Leader to Leader Program. In 2005, as President of New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, she was named a National Distinguished Principal. Maria was a past President of The Bergen County Principals and Supervisors Association and received the Administrative Excellence Award the same year. She has served as principal of Lyncrest Elementary in Fair Lawn, NJ for the last 15 years. The school was named a Reward School for Academic Excellence by the State Department of Education. She earned her Bachelor of Arts and Masters Degrees at New Jersey City University.
Jeanifer Caldwell is a Stronge trainer for our districts in Texas. She serves as the Project Manager over teacher and principal evaluations at the Texas Center for Educator Effectiveness. She helps leadership teams to analyze data to create plans for professional development and coaching to best meet the needs of their campuses. As they put these plans into action, she guides them in determining next steps to improve student achievement and meeting the goals they initially set as well as provides training to ensure they grow professionally and continue to strengthen their own support of their campus. Prior to joining the TxCEE team, she worked in the classroom for 10 years teaching 7th-11th grade math and computer applications, as well as serving as technology coordinator. She also spent two years as a teacher leader at Terra Vista Middle School. Caldwell received a Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies specializing in Secondary Math and Business and a Masters of Education in Educational Administration both from Lubbock Christian University.
Jennifer Diszler is a Stronge trainer for our districts in New Jersey. Currently employed by South Brunswick Schools, Jennifer serves as the Director of Professional Development for the Central Jersey district. Jennifer oversees all coordination of professional growth for the district including evaluation system, mandated policy, technology infusion, character education, and content-specific training. Prior to her time in South Brunswick, Jennifer was an Instructional Strategies Specialist for Innovative Designs for Education (IDE), an educational consulting group out of Ramsey, New Jersey. There she worked with teacher cohorts in various school districts to develop a learner-active, technology-infused classroom. With over ten years of teaching experience, Jennifer spent time at both the elementary and middle school level. Jennifer earned her Masters degree in Educational Leadership at Rider University.
Why choose the Stronge Teacher and Leader Effectiveness System?
» Aligns the criteria used for hiring, developing, evaluating, and supporting educators
» Fully customizable to state, district, or organizational requirements
» Comprehensive evaluation system is research-based, feasible, and sustainable
» Recognized expertise in assessment and student growth measures
» Top quality, handbooks, user guides, training materials, and support materials
» Reasonably priced