2022 PBIDA Board Member Bios


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2022 PBIDA Board 

 

President

Christine Craig Seppi is an Orton-Gillingham Tutor certified at the Advanced Level through the 32 o Masonic Scottish Rite Children’s Dyslexia Centers. She is also certified as an Academic Language Practitioner (CALP) through the Academic Language Therapy Association. She currently tutors privately. She has been actively involved in PBIDA for 20 years and served as the Chair of the Pittsburgh Region from 2009 through 2018.

Ms. Seppi obtained a Master of Arts in English Language from Brigham Young University. Before becoming an Orton-Gillingham tutor, she taught English, writing, and oral presentation skills at the college and high school levels. She has also developed and presented communication and management training courses as a consultant. Ms. Seppi and her husband are the parents of four adult children, one of whom has dyslexia.

 

President Elect for 2023

Jessica McKee, MSW, LSW is the Founder of The Literacy Alliance of Pennsylvania, an organization dedicated to transforming lives through literacy. Jessica is actively involved with Decoding Dyslexia PA and is a current board member for PBIDA. Jessica is a Licensed Social Worker with nearly 2 decades experience with mental health counseling and family services, including foster care and adoption. Mrs. McKee obtained her Master’s Degree in Social Work in 2004 from Marywood University.

Jessica is the mother of five children, two of whom have dyslexia. Through her experiences with her sons, Jessica realized the need for increased education and awareness regarding parent rights during special education processes as well as for increased training for educators on dyslexia. She then began volunteering with Decoding Dyslexia and the National Center for Learning Disabilities to create more opportunities for students with dyslexia in education.

 

Vice President

Maria Toglia, Ed.D. began her career as an outpatient child and adolescent therapist in community mental health working with underserved children and families. As a Certified School Psychologist, Dr. Toglia has served in the Pennsylvania public school system for the last 17 years, working with students who present with a broad range of learning and social emotional needs, including dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ADHD, Autism and mental health challenges. She has developed a particular interest in literacy and works as an advocate for scientifically based best practice reading instruction. Dr. Toglia is the Co-Chair of the Teacher Preparation and Support working group for the Read by 4th Campaign in Philadelphia, promoting teacher training that is aligned with the science of reading. She holds an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Management from Drexel University, and is the parent of two children, including an adult son with dyslexia. 

 

Secretary

Maria M. Paluselli M.Ed. is the CEO for Provident Charter School for Children with Dyslexia in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Prior to being named CEO, she was the Chief Learning Officer for the school and was actively involved in the founding of the school. Maria has worked as a special education teacher, an adjunct instructor at the University of Pittsburgh, and a consultant to the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, Non-Public Schools division (AIU) and for Winsor Learning Corp. At PITT and the AIU, she trained over 300 teachers in the basic principles of Orton-Gillingham methods. In 1999 she became the first director of the Pittsburgh Children’s Dyslexia Center. During her ten years as director, more than 150 dyslexic students were taught to read, and Maria trained more than 40 tutors. Maria is certified as an Orton-Gillingham Tutor at the Advanced Level as well as a certified Wilson tutor.

In 2001 Maria helped found a regional group of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) in Pittsburgh as part of the Pennsylvania Branch (PBIDA). Maria served as the second chair of that group. In 2014 Maria was awarded PBIDA’s Gardner Award for her work training teachers, tutors, and students and for expanding the knowledge of how to teach students with dyslexia to read. She a graduate of Duquesne University with a master’s degree in special education.

 

Treasurer

Joseph Nocera, Ed.D.has been working in education for 24 years as both an instructor and administrator. Dr. Nocera is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at Central State University as well as the admissions director for the Pittsburgh New Church School for children with dyslexia. He has spent the last 21 years teaching, developing, and reviewing early childhood education courses for a variety of colleges and universities in Ohio and West Virginia. He also taught technology in grades K-12 and served as the Director of Education for a Charter School in Ohio. In addition, Joe serves as a reviewer for Quality Matters, a nationally recognized, faculty-driven peer-review process used to ensure the quality of online and blended course design.

Dr. Nocera holds a BA in English, an MA Ed. in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Instructional Technology.

 

Pittsburgh Region Chair

Mindy Bramer, Ed.D. serves as the Director of Professional Development for Provident Charter School.  Prior to arriving at PCS, she served as a literacy consultant for the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance and Network (PaTTAN) working on Pennsylvania’s Dyslexia Screening and Early Literacy Pilot Program.  Dr. Bramer is a Nationally Board-Certified teacher in the area of Reading-Language Arts: Early and Middle Childhood and also has her Special Education Supervisor and Principal certifications.  In addition, she has Orton-Gillingham Level I certification and is a Wilson® credentialed trainer.  

She has been an elementary and special education teacher, reading specialist, and has taught ninth grade English Literature.  Dr. Bramer earned her Doctorate in Special Education Leadership from Slippery Rock University where her dissertation focused on dyslexia and multisensory instruction. 

 

Board Members

Olabimpe Abayomi-Ige, Ph.D. currently works for the School District of Philadelphia as a Special Education Lead (SPECM) and as a Special Education Teacher. In this position, she works with a team of specialists including a school psychologist, occupational therapist, school counselor, vision itinerant, and physical therapist. She has worked with students with special education needs for more than two decades and has wealth of experience serving students with specific learning disabilities such dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia; and with students with ADHD, autism, emotional disturbance, and other health impairments. She has an in-depth knowledge of the special education law, IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act) and its implementation as well as the ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act). Dr. Abayomi-Ige received her Ph.D. from Temple University.  Her dissertation analyzed special education policy in Lagos, Nigeria compared to IDEA in the United States.

 

Kathleen R. Biddle, Ph.D. is the chair of the Education Department at Juniata College.

Dr. Biddle is a Licensed Pennsylvania Psychologist who specializes in assessment and intervention for children with reading and other learning disabilities and acquired brain injuries. In this capacity she has consulted with numerous private and public schools in the Central PA area. Dr. Biddle is co-author of Strategies for Success: Classroom teaching techniques for children with learning differences, published by Pro-ed publications and presently in its second edition. She is the director of the Rural Outreach and Reading Clinic (ROAR) at Juniata College and provides after school interventions for struggling readers in Huntingdon County.

 

Michele Boutwell, M.Ed. has worked in the field of special education for over thirty-five years serving as a special education teacher, chairperson for a district’s Committee on Special Education facilitating meetings about students’ eligibility and specially designed instructional needs, and for over twenty-five years working as a specialist and coordinator of a technical assistance center for the New York State Education Department.  Michele served on the literacy committee that developed the State’s Quality Indicators and Resource Guides for Literacy and served on a State focus group on dyslexia and literacy instruction. Michele has served as a parent advocate, is an Orton-Gillingham tutor and started her own company to provide professional development in her own Orton-Gillingham-based program used in schools as an intervention for all instructional tiers. She has provided consultation services and professional development to school districts in need of improvement based on special education data for decades.

 

Ann Darrow is a Dyslexia Specialist having earned a degree in Bachelor of Sciences in Communication Sciences and Disorders (College of Health and Human Development) at Penn State with a Minor in Psychology and Sociology at Allegany College of Maryland. She is Certified in PACE, a training for Processing and Cognitive Enhancement and for Barton Reading and Spelling System.  She also has a Family Literacy Certification and an Advocacy Certification.

Ann is the mother of four adult children and has one grandson.  One of her children is severely dyslexic.  One is undiagnosed.  All have an auditory processing disorder. Ann currently tutors students privately and is co-chair of the Family Support Group for PBIDA.  She is also part of the team that holds the Dyslexia Simulations. Last year she became certified in Advocacy so that she could take a larger role in helping the families she works with.

Ann and her family are very involved with Lions Club International, and she serves as the secretary of their area club and her husband is the current president. She and her husband own the Darrow Bison Range and Bison Corral Gift Shop in Schellsburg, PA.

 

Georgette Helbling is a Certified Academic Language Practitioner in the Orton-Gillingham approach, with 20+years of theoretical instruction and teaching experience, Georgette received training in the Orton-Gillingham approach from the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE) and The Children’s Dyslexia Center Inc. Her educational background includes: Certified Academic Language Practitioner Certification (CALP), ALTA (Academic Language Therapy Association), Certified Dyslexia Specialist, (International Dyslexia Assoc.) Master of Education with Concentrations in Literacy Studies, Reading Specialist, & Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), ESL Certification, and a Certificate in Digital Literacy.  Master of Science – Library and Information Science – Specialization in Urban Libraries, and School, Librarian Certification.

The mother of two dyslexic sons, and herself a dyslexic, she understands the negative experiences struggling readers encounter on a regular basis, which negatively impact their self-esteem.

 

Dr. Tracy Johnson-Rockwell is the Founding President and CEO of Vessels of Hope, a non-profit organization that helps individuals with learning disabilities.  She is currently employed as an Enrollment Counselor at Eastern University and as an adjunct Professor at Harcum College and an Enrollment Counselor at Eastern University. She is the author of the book Journey of Hope: An Everyday Guide for Adults with Dyslexia and is a frequent speaker about how dyslexia affected her life and how she has been able to succeed.

After being told she would never be able to go to college, Dr. Johnson-Rockmore earned an Associate degree in Liberal Studies with a minor in Women’s Studies from Harcum College; a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in Human Resource Management from Cabrini University; an M.ED. in Multicultural Education from Eastern University and was awarded an honorary Ph.D. in Christian Education from the Accelerated School of Christian Ministry International. Inc.


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