Board of Directors
- Nancy Hennessy
Nancy Hennessy, literacy consultant and past president of the International Dyslexia
Association is an experienced educator. While in public schools, she provided leadership in the
development of professional learning systems and innovative programming for special needs
students. Nancy has and continues to design and deliver keynotes, as well as workshops and
courses, related to reading proficiency. She is a former Lead Trainer of Wilson Language Systems & National Trainer for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS). Nancy co-authored Module 6 of LETRS, Digging for Meaning: Teaching Text Comprehension (2 nd edition) with Louisa Moats. Her chapter, Working with Word Meaning: Vocabulary Instruction, is in the fourth edition of Multisensory Teaching of Basic Skills. More recently, she authored the book, A Blueprint for Reading Comprehension Instruction: Helping Students Make Meaning from Text. Nancy has served on multiple boards including the National Joint Commission on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD). In 2011, Nancy received the International Dyslexia Association’s Margaret Byrd Rawson
Lifetime Achievement Award and was the recipient of NCIDA’s June Lyday Orton Award in 2012. She believes that all children have the right to learn how to read and that educators have the responsibility to learn how to teach them.
- Laura Daniels
Laura Daniels has taught elementary school for sixteen years. She has enjoyed teaching second, third and fourth grades and serving as a Reading Interventionist. Laura’s passion for helping all children learn to read led her to be trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach. Laura has served as a private tutor for elementary aged children.
- Callie Luker
Callie is an elementary special education teacher with licensure in both General and Adaptive Special Education. She has taught learners of all ages in the NC Public Schools for 16 years. Callie is an active member of the Council for the Exceptional Children and has delivered multiple workshops. While employed by the Edenton Chowan Public Schools, she was recognized as a Teacher of Excellence and named Teacher of the Year. She was also recognized as Mattamuskeet Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2019 while serving as a Special Education Teacher. Callie is passionate about empowering administrators and teachers and believes in the importance of using a multisensory approach when teaching reading. She also believes that every person given the right strategy on a consistent basis can learn to read. Above all Callie believes that learning to read should be fun and accessible to all.
- Nancy Brewer
Nancy Brewer has been a special educator for 36 years in the public schools of North Carolina. She has also taught five summers at The Hill School in Wilmington, North Carolina. Her current passion is teaching students with dyslexia and other reading struggles. She is trained in several evidence-based reading programs and is a certified Reading Research to Classroom Practice instructor. Nancy is also trained to deliver Dyslexia Capacity Building PD. This Fall, Nancy was recognized with the 2017 Exceptional Children’s Teacher of Excellence Award for New Hanover County.
- Nikki Whitley
Nikki Whitley received her B.A. in Elementary Education at Elon University. She has taught in the public and private school settings. Nikki taught at The Hill School of Wilmington for seven years and is level 2 IMSLEC certified. She currently works in Wilmington as a tutor and consultant with families of children with learning differences. She enjoys educating parents and teachers on implementing best practices, helping them establish achievable goals for their children. She advocates for and seeks to find answers for families navigating the world of dyslexia and other learning differences.
- Nikki Peterson
Nikki has a passion for promoting the understanding of the best practices in education that support the needs of all learners, but specifically those learners with dyslexia. In her 17 years in education, Nikki has worked as a literacy coach, reading specialist and classroom teacher and currently teaches at the Hill School of Wilmington where she is also the Tutoring Program Coordinator.
- Beth Couch
Beth received her B.A. in Education with a minor in Special Education and M.Ed. from Clarion University in Pennsylvania. Beth taught at Hamilton-Martin in Pittsburgh, PA and taught at Lucille Hunter Elementary School in Raleigh, NC. Additional training included: Reading Certification, O-G training from JoAnn Crawford, and Wilson Level I Certification. Beth, now retired, continues to work with dyslexia students. Beth’s passion is helping students learn to read, write, spell, and speak.
- Dr. Trang Huynh-Watts
Having first-hand experience of the struggles my family has encountered, all with different aspects of the reading and writing process, my advocacy work focuses on oral language skills with importance on early literacy success and structured literacy practices that align with the SoR. I am especially passionate about my advocacy endeavor for older students, and 2E students that have not yet mastered their foundational literacy skills.
- Laura Britt
Laura –UNCP Graduate 1987 and 2008. I have my BS in Special Education and a Masters as a Literacy Specialist, both from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. From January 2010 – September 2016 served as Instructional Strategies and Literacy Consultant for NCDPI in Exceptional Children’s department for the Sandhill’s region. Previously, I was an EC Resource teacher for 12 years and an EC Program Specialist for Scotland County Schools. I am a National Board Certified Teacher since 2001 and renewed in 2010. I serve as a NB mentor to current candidates and renewals. I have been an NCSIP-Reading Research to Classroom Practice (Reading Foundations) Instructor since 2003. . I am a certified trainer/coach for Keys to Literacy: Comprehension Routine (K-12) by Joan Sedita. I retired from NC in 2016, but currently work in SC as a Reading Coach at Bennettsville Intermediate School. I also continue to provide RRtCP (Reading Foundations) on a contractual basis to districts in NC.
- Dr. Gretchen Robinson
Gretchen G. Robinson, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Special Education in the Department of Educational Leadership & Specialties (ELS) at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She serves as Interim Chair of the departments of Teacher Education and ELS, and Program Director of the Master of School Administration Program. She received her B.S. in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from UNCG, her M.S. in Communication Sciences & Disorders from WCU, and her Ph.D. in Special Education from UNCG. She has over 20 years of experience working in higher education and in the public schools. Her research interests include multitier systems of support, culturally responsive practices, equity education, and language and literacy practices for students who are at-risk or who have disabilities. She has published articles, presented workshops locally and internationally on evidence-based teaching strategies in reading, and has disseminated research at national and regional conferences.
- Lynne Loeser
Lynne Loeser graduated from the University of Kentucky with a B.S. in Elementary and Special Education and a Master’s Degree from the University of Louisville in Learning and Behavior Disorders. She is a National Board Certified teacher (Exceptional Needs Specialist). Lynne has worked in public education for over forty years in various capacities including special education teacher, beginning teacher mentor, instructional coach, and professional development instructor. In 2019, she retired from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction as the statewide consultant for Specific Learning Disabilities and ADHD where she led statewide efforts on specially designed instruction and progress monitoring, dyslexia and revisions of state policy for the evaluation and identification of Specific Learning Disabilities. She currently works for Lexia Learning where she is a National Independent Consultant for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS). She is passionate about effective core literacy instruction for all students and ensuring that students with disabilities receive specially designed instruction that closes achievement gaps.
- Sara Gray Horne
Sara Gray has a B.A. in Elementary Education and an M.Ed. in Special Education from UNC-Chapel Hill. As a faculty member, teacher trainer, and project coordinator at Hill Learning Center in Durham for 35 years, Sara Gray works with public and private school teachers to help them successfully implement HillRAP, a tech-enabled structured literacy program. Sara Gray is married to Mike, and they live in Bermuda Run, North Carolina, with their beagle, Daisy.
- Jennifer Hunt
- Henri Brown
Henri Brown is the trainer for Orton Gillingham International in North Carolina and owner of Reading Basecamp. Reading Basecamp supports educators and other individuals to better understand the structure of the English language and to effectively teach using a structured literacy approach. Prior to that, she was Executive Director of READWS and co-creator of its Reading Party parent education program. Prior to READWS, she was the Director of the Augustine Project in Winston-Salem and led its transition to READWS (Read.Write.Spell) with its expanded mission. For the last 19 years, Henri has worked to open access to the Orton-Gillingham approach for all children, not just those who could afford private language therapists or special schools. She studied under Fellows Ron Yoshimoto and Susie van der Vorst. As a volunteer, she currently serves as Senior Warden of the Vestry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Winston Salem and serves on the Roaring Gap Foundation Board. She has served on the Winston-Salem Women’s Fund Board, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust’s Forsyth County Advisory Board, as well as the boards of Summit School, Horizons, and Camp Merrie Woode Foundation. Henri graduated from the University of Virginia and received her M.A.L.S. from Wake Forest University. She lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
- Jennie Creason
Jennie Creason is a passionate educator who first developed her love of literacy instruction while teaching second and third grade in Charlotte, North Carolina. After earning a Masters of Education (2012) with a focus in literacy from Charlotte’s Queens University, her interest in individualized instruction continued to grow. She went on to complete more than 100 hours of Orton-Gillingham coursework, and she’s certified at the Associate’s Level. Additionally, she’s recognized by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) as a certified dyslexia practitioner. Determined to support as many students as possible, Jennie tutors full time using the Orton-Gillingham approach, teaches an undergrad course on literacy at her alma mater Queens, creates and shares literacy materials, and conducts local professional developments for educators interested in learning more about dyslexia and multisensory education.
- Kyla Crews
As the reading specialist for my school, I believe that it is part of my role to consistently obtain/expand on any knowledge as it relates to literacy/language instruction. This supports my instruction/interventions for my students as well supports the knowledge I deliver to other educators. I believe becoming a candidate for board membership will deepen my knowledge on dyslexia. This will then help me in spreading awareness, educating, and supporting teachers, colleagues, and students.
- Margaret Hemric
I began my career providing therapy for adult stroke and head injury patients in hospitals and clinics, and I continued to build on those language-based and cognitive skills as I moved to a school setting at Charlotte Country Day School to provide support for students struggling with reading and learning. My focus on JK-4th grade students gave me a great lab in which to develop strengths in early intervention, assessment, and discernment about the most important skills needed for teachers and students. While I retired two years ago, I consider myself a lifelong learner and remain interested in and passionate about dyslexia and other factors that impact learning.
- Dawny Hill
Dawnyale “Dawny” Hill is a speech-language pathologist (SLP) with 20 years of experience in the field, in various settings. She received her bachelor’s degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from Hampton University and her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dawny developed an interest in the evaluation and intervention processes of students with language and reading difficulties when working at the Atlanta Speech School, a comprehensive language and literacy school in Atlanta, Georgia. This interest sparked Dawny on the road to becoming a Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner (W.D.P.). Dawny is currently the owner of Fostering Communication, a private practice that provides virtual speech, language, and intensive reading services to children grades K-12. She is also a consultant with the Transformative Reading Teacher Group and a coach with The Reading Teacher’s Top Ten Tools. Personally, Dawny enjoys cooking/meal planning and exploring new places with her husband and their three daughters.
- Jennifer McConnell
Jennifer McConnell is a psychological associate with Southeast Psych in Charlotte, North Carolina. She received a BA in Psychology from the University of Virginia, and both an MA in Psychology and an Ed.S. in School Psychology from The Citadel. She has worked both in public schools and in private practice completing evaluations with children in order to better understand their overall learning strengths and weaknesses, learning differences, attention challenges, and/or emotional challenges. She also provides counseling support for children and their families related to a variety of concerns such as anxiety, depression, and behavior management, as well as academic consultations and coaching. She is passionate about helping children with learning differences and their families better understand their learning profiles, determine strategies to help them compensate for or remediate any underlying challenges, and find more success in all environments.
- Jeanette Meachem
Jeanette Meachem is an advocate and founder of Dyslexia Advocacy Group of the Carolinas. She is dedicated to spreading awareness as well as providing support for parents/guardians, and educators of dyslexic students. Since 2010 Jeanette has made the well being of dyslexic children her primary goal. She has worked with parents and school systems to develop individualized education program and interventions for students with dyslexia. She’s lobbied on behalf of families in the state of North Carolina which has resulted in NC’s first dyslexia law. Jeanette has hosted numerous dyslexia awareness events at local libraries, schools, and universities in an effort to educate the community on dyslexia. She believes by teaching students to embrace dyslexia we open the doors to self discovery as well as give them the lifelong gift of a positive self awareness. Jeanette Meachem is a wife and proud mother of two sons. She enjoys art, music, cooking and baseball (spectator only;-)
- Pryor Rayburn, President
Pryor is the Director of the Lower School Educational Resource Program at Charlotte Country Day School. Pryor taught in the classroom for 4 years and she was a reading tutor at Charlotte Country Day School for two years. After having children, she was a private tutor for ten years. She is a Certified member of the Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators and completed her training under AOGPE fellows Pat Langston and JoAnn Crawford. Pryor is passionate about helping teachers, parents, and students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. She has a BA in Art History. Credentials include CALP (ALTA), Certified AOGPE Orton Tutor, and Dyslexia Practitioner (IDA).
- Hallie Rojeski
Hallie Rojeski serves as the Head of School at The John Crosland School in Charlotte, NC. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Special Education and a master’s degree in Low Incidence Disorders – both earned with honors from East Carolina University. She also holds a Post-Master’s Certificate in School Administration from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She brings 20 years of teaching and leadership experience to this Board. She is passionate about supporting IDA efforts and is currently serving as a conference chair for the October IDA Conference in 2021.
- Nancy Coffman
Nancy Coffman is the Director of the Shelton Academic Reading Approach (SARA) for the June Shelton School and Evaluation Center in Dallas, Texas. She taught learning different students, oversaw the alphabetic phonics program at The Shelton School, and was an original contributor to the Shelton Model for Organization and Study Skills. Nancy holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The University of the South, a master’s degree in special education from Vanderbilt University, is a Certified Academic Language Therapist, a Qualified Instructor in Alphabetic Phonics, a Licensed Dyslexia Therapist in Texas, and an adjunct instructor for Dallas Baptist University. In addition to providing training in Structured Literacy, or MSLE techniques, to teachers both nationally and internationally, she is a frequent speaker at conferences related to serving students who learn differently. Nancy is a member of the International Dyslexia Association (serving on the board and on the Standards and Practices subcommittee), the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council, and the Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA). Nancy is a past president of both the Alliance for Accreditation and Certification of Structured Language Education, Inc. (Alliance) and of ALTA. Most importantly, Nancy is the proud parent of three children, two of whom are diagnosed with dyslexia. These two children, now successful adults, ignited her passion for serving students who learn differently. Nancy lives in Asheville, North Carolina.
- Deb Luckett
Deborah is the Grant Coordinator for the CLASS Grant (Counseling Leaders Advancing School Safety) at Buncombe County Schools. She works with 27 intermediate and elementary schools implementing comprehensive school counseling programs utilizing both the Second Step curricula and the online Devereux Student Strengths Assessment. She also assists with the implementation of the Compassionate Schools model that assists schools in creating caring and nurturing schools while understanding the impact of trauma and chronic stress on students. She recently took on this role after 10 years of working as a school counselor at the elementary, middle and high school levels in North Carolina and Colorado. Deborah integrates her knowledge about chronic stress/trauma into practical classroom strategies to help all students including students with dyslexia. Deborah graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991 with a degree in Psychology and completed her Masters in Education, Counseling at the University of Houston in 1997. In addition, she has been serving as a Board Member of the North Carolina International Dyslexia Association since 2014. Deborah is also the parent of a high school daughter who was diagnosed with dyslexia in 3rd grade and now attends the Nesbitt Discovery STEM School.
- Candi Sellars
Candi has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and a Masters degree in Special Education. She is a homeschool mom, Fellow of the Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, Certified Academic Language Therapist-Qualified Instructor with ALTA, Structured Literacy Dyslexia Specialist with CERI, Instructor of Therapy with IMSLEC, and NC licensed teacher. Candi works as a training Fellow with Key Learning Center in Asheville, NC. There, she is on the team for the Orton Gillingham teacher training and practicum courses. Candi also enjoys creating and sharing resources to support other homeschool families, parents, teachers, and tutors. Having worked in public, private, and homeschool settings, she knows how critical literacy instruction is for our students. She is passionate about helping families and professionals find the tools and measures needed to support all learners, specifically those with learning differences. As a lifelong learner herself, serving with NCIDA allows her to grow, lead, and spread awareness.
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