2022 Conference Speakers

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PBIDA’s Spring 2022 Conference

Strengthening Instruction Through the Science of Teaching

Saturday, April 9, 2022
Attend In-Person at Carlow University or Virtually


Ms. Kristin Anderson

Kristin Anderson is an educator, researcher, founder and CEO of The Brilliance Project. Through her research and consultancy over her 20-plus-year career, Kristin has helped thousands of educators, leaders and aspiring world-changers transform their potential and unleash their personal power through the lens of education.

Kristin’s early career was spent working with students from marginalized and disadvantaged backgrounds, often outcast from mainstream school systems. This formative experience exposed the duality of education in both its capacity to fortify and lift the human spirit, as well as isolating the oppositional factors that actively disable it. These insights invoke the redemptive themes of her current day work, such as building trust, hope, and belief through personal efficacy, and a specialized focus on adult learning that embraces the lifecycle of the whole educator along with their wellbeing.

Kristin has worked within instructional and leadership roles across a diverse range of K-12 settings. She has developed professional learning programs for Edison Schools, The Leadership and Learning Center, and Corwin, and is known as the person who brought Visible Learning to North America. In parallel she has completed advanced degrees from Sterling College, the University of Denver, and the University of Colorado. As a lifelong learner, she is currently earning her doctoral degree from Vanderbilt University in Educational Leadership and Organizational Change where she is researching leadership self-efficacy. 

In recent years, Kristin has collaborated with global leaders to design, implement, and evaluate professional learning frameworks, and has led large scale development initiatives for sustainable impact through education. Kristin’s approach is anchored in her understanding of behavioral and decision science, balanced with her practical and humanizing implementation of research in real-world settings. She has delivered keynotes, workshops and extensive professional learning on various topics in teaching, learning, and leadership across the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Africa.

Kristin is the author of Data Teams Success Stories Volume 1, Real Time Decisions, Getting Started with Rigorous Curriculum Design, and a soon to be published book on Educator Wellbeing. She currently resides in Thousand Oaks, California with her family.


Dr. Keely Baronak

Dr. Keely Baronak is a former special educator.  She has training in LETRS, Wilson Reading, Fundations, LindaMood Bell, and the Strategy Intervention Model (SIMS) from Kansas University.  Her dissertation focused on preparation of educators in word structure knowledge.  She is currently Professor of Education and Chair of the Education Department at Carlow University where she also serves as Executive Director of The Campus Laboratory School.  Keely serves as PI for the NSF Noyce grant preparing STEM educators and several other teacher diversification grant projects.  


Ms. Lee Sullivan

Kindergarten teacher at The Campus Laboratory School of Carlow University.  Lee earned her MEd and Dyslexia Certificate from Carlow University.


Ms. Sarah Sora 

Sarah Sora is Director of the Dyslexia Center and Learning Lab at The Campus Laboratory School of Carlow University.  She is a Certified Wilson Language tutor and trained in Orton-Gillingham and LETRS. Sarah is also an instructor in the Department of Education at Carlow University. 

Sarah started her teaching career in the New York Public School system after receiving her Masters in Education from Hunter College in New York City. She moved back to Pittsburgh in 2001 and started teaching at The Campus Laboratory School in 2002. In 2003, after receiving Wilson Language training, she started her own tutoring business working as a private tutor for children with dyslexia and other language based learning differences. During her time as a private tutor Sarah collaborated with classroom teachers in many of the private schools in the Pittsburgh area. They worked together to incorporate multi modal reading strategies to engage and include all students. Her work has been dedicated to being an advocate and tutor for children with dyslexia and their families. 


Ms. Val Piccini

Val Piccini is a Reading Specialist and Instructor in the Education Department at Carlow University. She also serves as Coordinator of Professional Development at Carlow’s Campus Laboratory School. She holds a Master of Education degree in Reading with Disabilities from Wilmington University. Her role at Carlow is to prepare professional reading educators to become competent practitioners and agents for equitable literacy: ensuring every learner achieves full literacy through systematic and explicit teaching of reading, writing and spelling. Additionally, Val is a National LETRS Professional Learning Facilitator for Lexia Learning. She is a strong advocate for teachers having access and knowledge to implement evidence-based curricula and assessments, including ongoing support for using these tools in the classroom. 


Dr. Rae Ann Hirsh Dr. Rae Ann Hirsh directs the early childhood program at Carlow University and is the Executive Director of the Center for 21st Century Innovation and Workforce Development.  She has worked in childcare, preschool, elementary, and special education classrooms. She created Pennsylvania’s first bachelor’s apprenticeship program in early childhood education and led the state in apprenticeship innovation for 4-year institutions.  

Rae Ann co-authored grants awarded from the Office of Child Development and Early Learning, private and community foundations, and Race to the Top that totaled over $3,500,000.00 and has published an early childhood textbook and numerous book chapters and journal articles.  She was a past recipient of the Carlow Woman of Spirit, Digital Learning, and Teaching Excellence Award. She is an invited board member for Pennsylvania’s Higher Education Consortium, Pittsburgh Public School District’s Early Childhood Education CTE Advisory Board, and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s Professional Development Organization Advisory Board.  


Ms. Theresa Kowcheck         Theresa Kowcheck is Director of The Center for Multisensory Learning (CML) at Wheeling Country Day School in WV.  She has extensive training in LETRS, Wilson Reading, and Orton-Gillingham.  She is an Orton-Gillingham Practitioner and is currently completing her fellowship 


Margie Howells     Margie Howells is a third-grade teachers at Wheeling Country Day School and Director of Remote Learning for the School.  She has training in multi-sensory mathematics, LETRS, and structured literacy. 


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