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Susan O'Hara, Co-founder

Dr. Susan O’Hara was formerly a center director at UC Davis, professor of education and center director at Stanford University, and professor of educational technology at Sacramento State University. Susan’s research and work with districts spans 22 years and focuses on building instructional capacity and implementing systems of support for teachers, with specific attention to linguistically and culturally diverse student populations. Susan has directed numerous large federal grants investigating best models for improving outcomes for English learners and at risk populations. She has more than 50 publications, including three books, the most recent through Teachers College Press is titled Literacy Classrooms that SOAR: Strategic Observation And Reflection in the Elementary Grades.

Bob Pritchard, Co-founder

Dr. Bob Pritchard is a language and literacy specialist who works extensively with teachers and administrators around the county implementing high leverage, research-based, instructional practices associated with improved student learning across content areas. A former classroom teacher and reading specialist, Bob also worked internationally for nine years as an ESL teacher and program specialist. He has authored numerous publications related to English learners, innovative uses of technology, and professional development for teachers, including Literacy Classrooms that SOAR: Strategic Observation And Reflection in the Elementary Grades, through Teachers College Press.

Debi Pitta, Vice President of Professional Learning

Debi Pitta was an elementary and secondary teacher as well as Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction where her primary responsibility was to provide professional development for teachers. Debi currently supports the professional learning of teachers and administrators on topics ranging from academic language and literacy development, differentiated instruction, and professional learning communities. Her publications include Implementing New Technologies to Support Social Justice Pedagogy, Academic Language and Literacy in Every Setting (ALLIES+): Strengthening the Science Learning Ecosystem, and Literacy Classrooms that SOAR: Strategic Observation And Reflection in the Elementary Grades, through Teachers College Press.

Joanne Bookmyer, Partner

Dr. Joanne Bookmyer was Senior Director, Inquiry and Improvement Science at Resourcing Excellence in Education (REEd) at University of California Davis. She joined REEd in 2001. Her interests are in the areas the areas of teacher professional development and K-16 school reform and she has an extensive background in conducting program evaluation and educational research including evaluations of state and national grant initiatives, collaborative research and project management. She was Principal Investigator on a large federal grant focusing on building a state wide system of professional growth. He publications include A Theory of Action for Resourcing Professional Growth and Rebuild and Reboot: California District's Teacher Driven Approach Focuses on Equity.

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SOAR Consultants

Suzanne Abdelrahim

Southern California

Dr. Suzanne Abdelrahim-Tartir is an education consultant with the SOAR project and with Frontline Education supporting school districts across the country. As a former elementary school teacher, Suzanne's professional background includes K-5 education, reading education, teacher education, and education for ELL’s. Suzanne has developed and facilitated PD services and materials related to second language learning and has experience coaching teachers both nationally and internationally, focusing on teacher self-reflection and growth.  Suzanne is a former research associate with the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA) out of The George Washington University.

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Isabel Aguirre

Southern California

Dr. Isabel Aguirre is a K-12 English Learner Instructional Expert.  She taught both elementary and secondary EL students in a LAUSD for over 20 years.  Her doctoral research focused on the linguistic and cognitive resources in the homes of first generation latinx kindergarten students in LAUSD.  Isabel was an assistant professor in the MA in Ed department and Claremont Graduate University and CSULA where she taught credentialing courses and qualitative research courses. Currently, she designs and develops ELD curriculum and professional development for K-12 students and teachers.


Shauntelle Cota


Shauntelle Cota has served as a classroom teacher, school counselor, administrator, director of professional development, and consultant. She has worked extensively with schools across the nation to implement research-based practices in core curricular areas. She has extensive experience working with ELL populations and high poverty regions. In her role as a consultant for the SOAR project she facilitates learning opportunities to support the understanding and implementation of the SOAR Teaching Frames.

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Karen Dahlen

Northern California

Karen Dahlen, started teaching in Yuba City Unified over 20 years ago. She teaches 8th grade Science and Project Lead the Way, Medical Detectives. Currently, she is the curriculum coordinator at her school, sits on multiple district committees, provides professional development for her district and is a mentor teacher for the California induction program. She has been working with EPF over the last 8 years to help teachers cultivate a culture of communication, discussion, and  metacognition in their classrooms.


Karen Estes

Washington State

Karen Estes has served as a teacher, instructional coach, literacy specialist, principal, and a school improvement director at elementary, middle and high school levels. Having worked in both urban and rural districts with high poverty and ELL populations, Karen has a proven track record of increasing student achievement and system effectiveness. As a district and regional director, Karen guides districts in the implementation of various federal and state grants, including Title Programs, 21st Century, State Bilingual, Migrant, School Improvement, State Assessment, and Professional Development. 

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Ivy Laney

Northern California

Ivy Laney is a high school English teacher and SOAR teacher leader, guiding teachers in the implementation of the SOAR essential practice frames through site-based professional learning communities and individualized coaching. A former common core instructional coach and middle school ELA teacher, she has provided professional development and support to teachers within her district in the areas language acquisition, literacy, and academic discourse.


Christina Leff

Northern California

Christina Leff has served as an elementary and middle school classroom teacher, instructional coach, and administrator. She has extensive knowledge and experience developing and presenting learning opportunities to K-12 teachers and administrators. She has worked closely to support and coach schools in high poverty areas with large ELL populations to effectively implement research-based teaching practices.

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Frank Lily

Northern California

Dr. Frank R. Lilly, professor in Educational Psychology at Sacramento State University, has taught and supervised single subject credential teachers focusing on creative teaching and inclusive educational strategies for teachers and learners. Frank continues to mentor preparedness, resilience, social emotional learning, and assessment synonymously with domain curriculum.


Aracely Lozoya

Northern California

Aracely Lozoya is a Middle School Assistant Principal,  has twelve years experience as a middle school teacher in English, Social Sciences and Designated ELD classes. As a teacher, she was involved with her school’s leadership team as an English department school lead. She has extensive experiences in leading PLCs, developing and delivering curriculum, and providing professional development on research- based teaching practices and routines.


Soha Mahmoud-Tabana


Soha Mahmoud-Tabana has taught in elementary schools both in the US and abroad. She has worked as an instructional coach facilitating professional development for teachers with a focus on working with dual language learners. Currently, she has been working to train superintendents, principals, and teachers throughout the country on the use of educational software tools for professional growth.


Teresa Pitta

Central California

Teresa Pitta served as a K-5 elementary teacher for forty years,  in the central valley.  Teresa’s professional background includes Co-Director of the  UC Merced Writing Project,  Teacher-Leader of the California Literature Project, reading specialist, experience with under represented and ELL students as well as a member of the CLAS development and scoring team, California Learning Assessment System.


Jenna Porter

Northern California

Dr. Jenna Porter has experience as an elementary and middle school teacher. She is currently working as an Assistant Professor in the Teaching Credentials Department at Sacramento State, where she teaches science, pedagogy, and STEM related courses. Her areas of research and scholarship include professional learning for science and equity, Next Generation Science Standards policy and implementation, and collaboration strategies for special education and general education teachers.


Sherrill Renfro

Northern California

Sherrill Renfro has over 34 years of experience in education, teaching Kindergarten and 1st grade.  During that time she has also supervised numerous student teachers as well as new teachers through the  BTSA  program.  Sherrill  is also a consultant with  Area 3 Writing Project, working with districts throughout Northern California training teachers on how to teach writing in the primary grades, utilizing new reading programs in writing as well as using writing rubrics and assessment to guide instruction. 


Lynn Solari

Northern California

Lynn Solari has over 30 year experience in education.  She taught elementary school in San Juan Unified and Elk Grove Unified School Districts.  She is currently working as a Lecturer in the Teaching Credentials Department at Sacramento State where she teaches courses in Tutoring Children in Reading and Pedagogy.  She also serves as the Field Placement Coordinator for the multiple subject program and supervises teacher candidates in the field.  She enjoys facilitating professional development with the teachers who serve as mentors to our credential candidates.  She joined the SOAR team in 2017.


Betsy Stenklyft

Northern California

Betsy Stenklyft is a veteran educator with extensive experience working with students and teachers in elementary and middle school classrooms.   She is a trained Reading Recovery Teacher and is currently a Reading Specialist in an elementary school. She also is certified in brain -based teaching. Betsy also works as a literacy consultant throughout the United States.


Jeanne Temple

Central California

Jeanne Temple currently teaches English at Merced College.  She was a middle school language arts teacher for Merced City Schools where she also served as a Teacher on Special Assignment developing curriculum and delivering professional development.  After working in Merced City Schools, she became Reading Program Manager for Calabash, Houghton Mifflin and worked on additional professional development projects before teaching at Merced College.

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