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Committee of Practitioners

To help guide the development of Rhode Island's ESSA state plan, RIDE has convened a Committee of Practitioners.

The Committee of Practitioners will give the RIDE team input on high-level questions concerning ESSA, will serve as liaisons to the community at large regarding our planning process, and will weigh in on multiple drafts of the Rhode Island State ESSA Plan.

The Committee of Practitioners will meet monthly from July 2016 to June 2017. More information on the Committee of Practitioners can be found below.

The Committee of Practitioners will meet twelve (12) times on a monthly basis from July 2016 to June 2017.

All meetings will take place on Wednesdays, from 4:00pm-6:00pm, unless otherwise noted.  All meetings are open to the public. All agendas posted below are PDFs unless otherwise noted.

Meeting Date Location Agenda Materials
July 20, 2016 United Way of RI
50 Valley Street
Providence, RI
Agenda Click here for materials
August 24, 2016 United Way of RI
50 Valley Street
Providence, RI
Agenda Click here for materials
September 21, 2016 United Way of RI
50 Valley Street
Providence, RI
Agenda Click here for materials
October 19, 2016 United Way of RI
50 Valley Street
Providence, RI
Agenda Click here for materials
November 30, 2016 United Way of RI
50 Valley Street
Providence, RI
Agenda Click here for materials
December 14, 2016 United Way of RI
50 Valley Street
Providence, RI
Agenda Click here for materials
January 25, 2017 New England Institute of Technology
East Greenwich Campus
One New England Tech Boulevard
East Greenwich, RI
Agenda Click here for materials
February 22, 2017 New England Institute of Technology
East Greenwich Campus
One New England Tech Blvd
East Greenwich, RI
Agenda Click here for materials
March 22, 2017 New England Institute of Technology
East Greenwich Campus
One New England Tech Blvd
East Greenwich, RI
Agenda Click here for materials
April 12, 2017 New England Institute of Technology
East Greenwich Campus
One New England Tech Blvd
East Greenwich, RI
Agenda Click here for materials
May 17, 2017 New England Institute of Technology
East Greenwich Campus
One New England Tech Blvd
East Greenwich, RI
Agenda Click here for materials
June 14, 2017 New England Institute of Technology
East Greenwich Campus
One New England Tech Blvd
East Greenwich, RI
Agenda Click here for materials
August 16, 2017 Rhode Island Department of Education
255 Westminster Street
Providence, RI
Agenda Click here for materials

Michael Barnes

Superintendent, Foster-Glocester Regional School District;
President, Rhode Island School Superintendents' Association

"I am representing students, parents, teachers, school and district leaders, and our communities as this is the role of superintendents. I hope to support the design of an accountability system that advances Rhode Island's identified educational priorities which include personalized learning experiences and pathways that prepare students for college, careers and local/global labor markets. A system that is flexible, empowers schools to innovate, and does not require significant time and personnel to generate and provide documentation."
Click here for a brief bio

Dr. Barnes is a former middle and high school technology teacher. He has served as Superintendent of the Foster-Glocester Regional School District since 2008 and is President of the RI Association of School Superintendents. Michael’s experience is deeply rooted in teaching and learning. He is leading and supporting educators in his district as they create flexible pathways that lead to college credit and/or industry certifications. In 2014 he implemented a multi-year plan to purchase laptops for students and staff to cultivate a 1:1 blended learning environment.

In 2015 Michael served on the Core Design Team that developed the RIDE Strategic Plan. Before serving as Superintendent, Michael was a Fellow at the RI Department of Education for six years where he chaired School Accountability for Learning and Teaching Visits and worked with districts to advance middle and high school reform. He assisted the RI Board of Regents in developing the original graduation by proficiency regulations for middle and high schools.

Dr. Barnes has served on numerous boards and commissions such as the RI Department of Education (RIDE) Evaluation Advisory Committee, RIDE Diploma Working Group, RIDE Career Ready Working Group, RIDE CTE Leadership Academy, the Common Core Ambassador Team, the RI Center for School Leadership, RI Association for Curriculum Development, NE Secondary School Consortium (NESSC) Council, the NE Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Commission, and the NEASC 2011 Standards Writing Committee.

Dr. Barnes holds a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction with concentrations in educational leadership and gifted and talented education. He was the 2014 RI Superintendent of the Year. As a classroom teacher he was recognized as a Milken National Educator and Technology Teacher of the Year.

Elizabeth Burke Bryant

Executive Director, Rhode Island Kids Count

"I am representing Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, a children’s policy and research organization. As Co-Chair of the RI Early Learning Council I am also representing leaders from the early childhood community. As a member of the Committee I will help to ensure that RI’s ESSA plan builds a state accountability system that has high standards for all students and that the new ESSA is used to ensure high quality early learning and development opportunities for young children."
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Elizabeth Burke Bryant is Executive Director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, a children's policy and research organization that provides information on child well-being, stimulates dialogue on children's issues, and promotes accountability and action. Rhode Island KIDS COUNT provides policy makers, community leaders, and the news media with the best available data and information on children's health, education, safety, and economic security. The organization produces a quarterly Issue Brief Series, hosts a monthly cable television program, and publishes the annual Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Factbook.

Ms. Bryant works with the Alliance for Early Success to increase access to evidence-based health, early learning, and family support programs for young children and she is also working on policy issues with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, an initiative to promote reading proficiency by the end of third grade. Ms. Bryant received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Vermont and a law degree from the George Washington University Law School. She is an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at Brown University where she teaches Strategic Communication. Ms. Bryant is Co-Chair (with Commissioner Ken Wagner) of the Rhode Island Early Learning Council.

Colleen Callahan

Director of Professional Issues, RI Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals;
Council Member, RI Council for Elementary and Secondary Education

"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers & Health Professionals and hope to bring the perspective of classroom teachers, union leaders and the students we serve to the important discussions regarding RI's ESSA plan. I look forward to collaborating with members of the Committee and sharing information with and getting feedback from those I represent."
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A former sixth-grade and special education teacher in Lincoln, Rhode Island, Colleen Callahan currently serves as the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals’ (RIFTHP) Professional Issues Director. As Director of Professional Issues, Dr. Callahan coordinates the organization’s extensive professional development program. She is responsible for direct service to members through coursework and on-site presentations and assists local union leaders in negotiating for and supporting professional issues. Dr. Callahan works regularly with the Rhode Island Department of Education and other state agencies on education policy and represents the RIFTHP on numerous state and national boards and commissions including the RI College Crusade and the Northeast Regional Education Lab’s Board of Directors.

Currently, Dr. Callahan serves as the program director for the RIFTHP/AFT’s nationally recognized Innovation Fund initiative on teacher evaluation, working with labor-management teams from six RI urban districts to create and implement a RIDE approved teacher evaluation and support system. Under her leadership, this initiative has attracted over $3,000,000 in grant funds since 2009 from the AFT, the US Department of Education, the Gates Foundation and the RI Foundation supporting evaluation related development and training in Innovation districts. In addition to her position as RIFTHP Director of Professional Issues, Dr. Callahan has served as a member of the RI State Board of Education since 2000.

Dr. Callahan holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Rhode Island College and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Johnson and Wales University.

Victor Capellan

Superintendent, Central Falls School District

"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing the students, families and staff of the Central Falls School District and hope to represent their interests and the interest of immigrant students and English Language Learners across the state."
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Victor Capellan is an education advocate passionate about helping students from all backgrounds. Born in the Dominican Republic, he moved to the United States when he was 12 years old. Since college he has been at the forefront of education reform, currently serving as Superintendent of Schools in Central Falls.

Victor has experience in K-12 school reform in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island and has also worked in higher education. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science in 1992, a Master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies (College Student Personnel) in 1996 and a Master’s degree in Education in 2002 from the University of Rhode Island. Victor is a Distinguished Educator in Residence at Rhode Island College, he is a member of the Board of the RI Nature Conservancy and ​has served as chair of the Rhode Island Kids Count Board of Directors and served as Chairman of Rhode Island Housing.

Edna Coia

Principal, Elizabeth Baldwin Elementary School, Pawtucket School Department

"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing the elementary school principals. I hope to contribute to the success in the implementation of ESSA in RI by being active in sharing ideas, giving suggestions or critique if needed, and being an effective agent in the implementation of its mission and vision."
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Edna P. Coia has over 30 years of combined service to public education here in America and the Philippines. Before serving the US public school system, she was a principal in the Philippines for 12 years. Arriving in the US in 2000, it became Edna’s aspiration to continue serving the public school system. She pursued her mission and became an assistant principal and then principal in the Pawtucket School District.

In 2015, the school where she was the principal received the National Blue Ribbon Award for closing the achievement gap. That same year, Edna became one of the seven recipients of the 2015 Terrell Bell National Leadership Award. This year, she was chosen as one of the finalists for the RI Principal of the Year.

Dr. Edna P. Coia is the current principal of Elizabeth Baldwin School in Pawtucket. Her belief that there is no reason for students in America to fail considering the resources and opportunities afforded to them. This is the standard of service she brought to her former schools and the same measure she promised to dedicate to Rhode Island.

Michelle Davidson

"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing the students, parents, and diverse communities concentrated in our urban districts needing strategic innovation to increase performance."
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Michelle Davidson is the Rhode Island (RI) Branch Sales Manager for Fairway Independent Mortgage with over 15 years of experience in the mortgage industry specializing in the Emerging-Markets segment of our population inclusive of all diverse groups. Before joining the Fairway team in July of 2014, the extent of her professional career included being a broker-owner, operations manager, and loan originator.

In 2012, pursued and achieved the designation of Certified Christian Life Coach (CCLC) desiring to enrich the whole life of women through workshops and conferences. She is currently completing her Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, specializing in Strategic Innovation and Change Management. She is an alumna of University of Maryland College Park and Hope High School in Providence, Rhode Island.

Michelle is the proud wife of Cliff Davidson and mother of Ndiaye, Jeremiah, Destiny Grace, and Danielle Joy Davidson.

Melissa Denton

Director of Pupil Services, Westerly Public Schools;
Member, Special Education Advisory Council

"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing all stakeholders who are involved in the education of students with disabilities, and I hope to provide input that ensures access to best practices that increase academic, social emotional and behavioral skills that lead to reaching each student’s individualized transitional goals for their future."
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Melissa Denton began her teaching career in 1990 as a Special Educator in a residential special education school in Rhode Island. In February of 1991, she transitioned to Westerly Public Schools in her new role as a Middle School Special Educator. During her tenure she has held numerous leadership positions, Melissa has been the District Mentor Coordinator, Middle School Team Leader, Differentiation Coach, Enrichment Specialist, and Special Education Coordinator (LEA). Twenty six years later, Melissa continues to impact the lives of children with disabilities and lead their teachers and providers as the Director of Pupil Personnel in Westerly.

Melissa is a lifelong learner who is eager to learn new skills, apply them to her practice, and then share them with others. Early in her career, she worked with colleagues to develop the strategies to give her students with moderate disabilities access to the general education classroom with their peers by co-teaching. These experiences led to a more inclusive education for her students, but also through her professional work Melissa was able to reach classrooms throughout her Community, State and Country by offering workshops, speaking at national conferences, and publishing three articles.

Most recently, Melissa left her home school district as a fellow for the Rhode Island Department of Education. During her three year tenure, she was a State Induction Coach for beginning teachers, worked as an Educator Quality Specialist on State educator evaluation models, and trained and coached district administrators and principals on evaluating personnel to increase the effectiveness of instruction for all students. Melissa was selected and trained by the New Teacher Center as a Year 1 and Year 2 Induction Coach Trainer. She continues to provide these trainings for RI even though she has returned to her home district.

Melissa is passionate about special education. She holds both her Bachelor and Master Degrees in Special Education. She later went on to complete her Administration Certification program. She earned her National Board Certification as an Exceptional Needs Specialist in 2006. She has been an Adjunct Professor for Rhode Island College and the University of Connecticut. She is currently an Adjunct Professor at Johnson and Wales University in their M.A.T. program. She is an active member of the Association of RI Administrators of Special Education where she is a member of the Mentorship Program Committee.

Jessica DuBois

Reading Specialist, Stony Lane Elementary School, North Kingstown
"I am a Practitioner on the ESSA Committee as an advocate for all teachers and support staff at every level, Elementary, Middle, and High School; including classroom teachers, Specialists, Special Ed., ELL, Social Workers, School Psychologists, Art and Music."
Click here for a brief bio

I enjoy the challenge of teaching full time and also working as a Reading Curriculum Coordinator. I am trained in Reading Recovery, Orton Gillingham, and as a Literacy Coach from the East Bay Collaborative. School based Committees that I am on are RTI Chairperson, Reading Week Coordinator, Spelling Bee Coordinator. I enjoy volunteering for school related activities and attending district related and NEARI workshops. I have also presented many workshops including RTI, Response to Intervention, Seven Keys to Comprehension, and Common Core Science and Social Studies/ELA lessons for the district. I am currently the Elementary Vice President of NEANK and also represent NEARI as an ESSA Practitioner.

  • Reading Specialist/District Elementary Reading Curriculum Coordinator
  • North Kingstown School Department, Stony Lane Elementary School
  • University of Rhode Island, Masters in Reading Specialist/Consultant
  • Salve Regina University, Bachelors in Elementary Education

Lori Ferguson

Career & Technical Education Director, Regional Career and Technical Center at Coventry

"I am representing career and technical education and would like to ensure that essence of college and career readiness ​is represented for all students K-12."
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Lori Ferguson is currently the director of the Regional Career and Technical Center at Coventry High School. She has served as an educator for over 20 years and the last 14 as an assistant principal and director. During that time, Mrs. Ferguson served on numerous district and state committees such as the Coventry Strategic Planning Committee, the CTE Board Subcommittees, The Proficiency Based Graduation Steering Committee and is a member of the National Association of Secondary School Principals​, the Rhode Island Association of Secondary School Principals, the Association of Career and Technical Directors and served as co chair to the Rhode Island Association of Career and Technical Directors in 2011 and 2012. Mrs. Ferguson also serves on the CTE Leaders Academy for transformative leadership in CTE representing RI in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of Rhode Island College (Bachelor of Science) and Providence College (Masters of Education).

Mrs. Ferguson also served on a number of parent committees for Bishop Hendricken High School and Coventry High School​ where her sons attended school.

Daniel Ferris

Superintendent, Catholic Schools, Catholic Diocese of Providence

"As a member of the ESSA Committee of Practitioners, I am representing students enrolled in non-public schools and hoping to see that they receive the equitable services they are entitled to under the reauthorized law."
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Daniel J. Ferris is Superintendent of Schools for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence. As Bishop Thomas J. Tobin’s agent for Catholic education, he is responsible for providing direction and support to the 39 Catholic schools in Rhode Island in the areas of mission and Catholic identity, governance, leadership, academic excellence and operational vitality. Ferris joined the Diocese in January 2011. Previously he was Assistant Superintendent for Educational Programs in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, administering staff development programs, marketing and advancement efforts, and directing the Hispanic Outreach Task Force.

He has taught middle, secondary and graduate school. From 2000-2007 he served as Head of the Middle School at St. Anselm’s Abbey School, Washington, DC. He earned his BA from the University of Notre Dame and holds Master’s degrees from the University of Minnesota and The Catholic University of America.

He is a member of the boards of the Catholic Athletic League and Read to Succeed and president of the Rhode Island Council for American Private Education (CAPE). With his wife Monica and four children, he lives in East Greenwich.

Thomas Flanagan

Chief Academic Officer, Providence Public Schools
"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing Providence Public School Department and hope to be a part of a network of colleagues that makes decisions about the implementation of ESSA in Rhode Island that will align to current best practices, provide coherence, and benefit students."
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Tom comes to Providence from the Washington, D.C. Public Schools, where he led a staff of more than 300 as deputy chief of specialized instruction. In this role, he successfully raised graduation rates for students receiving special education services, created and implemented an equity-focused budgeting system, developed job-embedded professional development and led strategic planning work.

Previously, Tom served as a principal and assistant principal in Washington. He has experience as a history teacher, community outreach director, special educator and special education coordinator. Tom earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon and holds master’s degrees from both Trinity University and the Catholic University of America.

Nikos Giannopoulos

Special Education Teacher, Beacon Charter School for the Arts;
2017 RI Teacher of the Year


Adam Greenman

Executive Vice President, Director of Community Investment, United Way of Rhode Island
"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing the many nonprofit organizations that work closely with schools to educate our state’s children. I’m also representing parents and my children. I hope to ensure we define education as more than just the core subjects."
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Adam Greenman is the Executive Vice President for Community Investment at United Way of Rhode Island. In that role he oversees grant making, public policy, government relations, and research and evaluation for the organization. Prior to that role, Adam was the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Afterschool Plus Alliance, an organization that ensures all young people in the state have access to quality afterschool and summer experiences. He began his career as a middle school social studies teacher in Camden, NJ with the Teach For America program. It is there that Adam saw the wide gaps in opportunity that exist in our country, and it is the experience that has shaped who he is and led to the work that he does today. Adam holds a Doctorate in Education from Northeastern University, an MPA from Rutgers University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Communication from The George Washington University. He lives in Pawtucket with his wife and two daughters. In his spare time, Adam enjoys woodworking, running, cycling, and spending time with his family.

Stacy Haines-Mayne

President, School Counselors Association;
Chair, School Counseling Department, Chariho Regional School District

"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing. the Rhode Island School Counselor Association and hope to promote the importance of balancing children’s academic requirements with career awareness while still meeting their social/emotional needs."
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Stacy Haines-Mayne is the current president of the Rhode Island School Counselor Association (RISCA). She has worked for the Chariho Regional School District since September of 1990 starting first as a middle mathematics teacher before transitioning to the school-counseling department. Stacy has held the position of school counseling department head at Chariho for the last 14 years. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education in 1990 from the University of Rhode Island and her Masters in Education from Providence College in 2001.

Stacy was honored at the White House by the First Lady Michelle Obama this past January as Rhode Island’s School Counselor of the Year. In April, Stacy was also honored as Friends Way (Rhode Island’s only children’s bereavement center) volunteer of the year. She has facilitated groups of adults caring for grieving children at Friends Way on a biweekly basis for over 11 years. Stacy also works part time as a secretary for Trinity Lutheran Church in Ashaway. In her spare time she is mom to five children

Heather Hudson

Executive Director, Governor’s Workforce Board

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Heather Hudson was confirmed as the Executive Director of the Governor’s Workforce Board of Rhode Island in January of 2017. The Governor’s Workforce Board is a policy making body with statutory responsibility and authority to plan, coordinate, fund and evaluate workforce development activities in the state that supports strategies to improve the existing skill base of the Rhode Island workforce to anticipate the future needs of business. The board consists of 21 members representing business, labor, education, community, and government who establish workforce development policy and plans, and allocate state Job Development Funds. The Governor's Workforce Board served over 116,000 participants in FY2015 and has invested more than $46 million in Job Development Funds since its formation in 2005.

Heather served as Policy Advisor for Governor Gina M. Raimondo from 2015 through 2016, and prior to that was the Director of Financial Empowerment in the Treasurer’s office. During that period she led the development of several initiatives including: The Financial Coaching Corps, CollegeBoundBaby, the RI Promise Scholarship, offering free PSAT’s/SAT’s, and the Working Cities Challenge. Before coming to Rhode Island, Heather was a grants manager for a civil rights nonprofit in Seattle, WA and worked at a small housing complex helping low-income students increase academic success.

Heather serves on the board for College Visions, is a proud AmeriCorps Alumna, and is a mentor for Year Up. She received her B.A. from Willamette University in 2006 and her Master’s degree in Education Policy at the University of Colorado in 2012.

Nirva LaFortune

Manager, Academic Programs and Student Affairs, Brown University; Parent

"I am representing students, parents and a community that advocates for educational equity for the underserved and underresourced. I hope to collaborate with the committee to promote resources and urge for the development of policies that will foster educational access for all students regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background and citizenship status."
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Nirva is an Academic Affairs Administrator and Program Manager at Brown University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Temple University’s School of Media and Communication and is en route to a Master of Arts in Urban Education Policy from Brown University.

Nirva moved to Providence from Philadelphia almost three years ago where she was the Assistant Director of the Centers for Public Policy, and Science, Technology, and Society. Nirva’s dedication to education is supported by over a decade of professional experience in higher education, which includes program development for retention and support; and educational access and resources.

Nirva 's commitment to equity in education extends beyond higher education. She served on a committee charged with developing two new high schools in the Providence Public School District; she served as a board member at Independence Charter School in Philadelphia, where she collaborated with educational leaders and community members to create resources to address issues in educational disparities and has volunteered abroad in undeserved communities. She has been a long time PTO member at both of her children's schools in Providence and Philadelphia. Nirva is an avid runner and loves to travel and has embarked a 50 state challenge with her son and daughter.

Anna Mascia

Student, The MET School

Jason Masterson

Principal, Joseph L. McCourt Middle School, Cumberland School Department;
2016 RI Secondary Principal of the Year

"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing the Rhode Island Association of Secondary Principals and hope to develop a response to ESSA that addresses the diverse needs of our students with a growth mindset approach."
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Jay Masterson is the principal of Joseph L. McCourt Middle School in Cumberland, RI. He has held that position for the last four years. In addition to his principal duties, he is the chairperson of the Cumberland Safety Committee, which is comprised of municipal safety (police, fire, EMS) and the school department representatives. Dr. Masterson has worked on rewriting school department policies with the Cumberland School Committee since he was an assistant principal at North Cumberland Middle School.

Dr. Masterson is also involved with his local community where he resides in North Kingstown. This spring, he was appointed by the town council to the Asset Management Commission for the Town of North Kingstown. At present, he is working on projects such as studying the next use for the North Kingstown Town Hall as well as the long term permanent location of the various town government offices and services.

Dr. Masterson holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Johnson and Wales University.

Sara Monaco

Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Warwick Public Schools

"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing students deemed at risk for poor learning outcomes and hope to close the historical achievement gaps that have developed over time. My belief is that education is the great equalizer."
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Sara Monaco, Ed.D., is the Director of Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, and RTI (Response to Intervention) for Warwick Public Schools. She previously worked as the Coordinator of RTI and Federal Programs in Warwick and as a special educator and reading specialist in Smithfield. Her responsibilities have included data analysis, professional development, strategic planning, Title I coordination, curriculum writing, and advocating for families and youth experiencing homelessness. She has also served as an adjunct professor at Providence College. Monaco earned her Doctor of Education in K-12 Curriculum Leadership from Northeastern University, a Master of Education in Literacy from Providence College, and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary and Special Education from Providence College. She lives in Smithfield, RI with her husband and two daughters and enjoys running and traveling.

Julie Motta

President, Rhode Island Limited English Proficiency; Chairwoman, Rhode Island English Learner Advisory Council

"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing English Learners, their families and the teachers and staff who work with them. I hope to ensure that the unique needs of ELs are considered in this important task to implement ESSA and to share my ideas and experiences to benefit this population."
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Julie has been an educator for 26 years, beginning her career in Providence Schools as an elementary ESL teacher. She earned her B.A. from Rhode Island College as well as an M.A. in Teaching ESL. She also earned a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the University of Rhode Island. Julie holds National Board Certification in Teaching English as a New Language, Adolescent through Young Adulthood. Julie served as Director of ESL Programs for the Pawtucket School Department and as Assistant Superintendent of Schools in East Providence. She recently returned to Providence to teach Middle School English Learners at Del Sesto and Stuart Middle Schools. Julie serves as the Chairwoman of the RI English Learner Advisory Council whose goal is to advise the Commissioner regarding the education of ELs in Rhode Island. Additionally, Julie has taught teacher preparation classes at Rhode Island College and Providence College and is a WIDA Certified Trainer. She has worked with many districts and organizations across the state to assist with the teaching and learning of ELs and equity and access issues.

Michael Podraza

Principal, East Greenwich High School, East Greenwich Public Schools

"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing educators, students, parents and life-long learners. I hope to use this opportunity to create the structures and conditions necessary to have all school communities empowered to focus on student agency, engagement and learning."
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Michael Podraza began his career in education as a Social Studies teacher and coach at Portsmouth High School in 1998. He has served as an administrator at East Greenwich High School since the 2007-2008 school year when he became the assistant principal and has served as principal since 2011. During his tenure the school has: revamped graduation requirements with a complete overhaul of Senior Project, become a 1:1 teaching and learning environment, expanded the course catalog increasing access for all students to Advanced Placement and dual enrollment coursework, and implemented innovative opportunities such as "Genius Hour" for teacher common planning, EdCamp for professional development, and events such as Choose2Matter to amplify student voice. Throughout his leadership, East Greenwich High School has maintained NEASC accreditation and its reputation as one of the top schools in Rhode Island and New England.

Michael is a member of the Rhode Island Association of School Principals (RIASP), serves on the Rhode Island Interscholastic League's Waiver Committee, and served as a member of the national Edcamp Foundation Partner Programs Committee.

Tracy Ramos

Director / Parent Advocate, Parents Across Rhode Island
"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing our non-profit, Parents Across RI and hope to add a parent voice to the recommendations. Ideally, we’d like to see less emphasis on standardized testing as it relates to rating schools and student achievement and ensure schools have the resources they need to achieve their goals."
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Tracy has been the director of Parents Across RI since 2015. As mom of two children, her interest in the direction of in public education and educational philosophy began when she was expecting her first child. She has educated herself and become well-versed in many of the critical issues regarding the state and federal’s public education policy. Through Parents Across RI, she serves as a point of information for parents on policies that impact students most.

In the past year, Tracy and Parents Across RI spearheaded the effort to pass Rhode Island’s free play recess legislation, introducing and getting the bill passed in the 2016 legislative session – which made Rhode Island the first state in the country to recognize recess as a right that is necessary for students’ physical and emotional well-being, as well as their academic success. In addition to her work with Parents Across RI, Tracy teaches classes for eCornell.com, owns and operates a yoga studio, and works as a hotel real estate consultant. She is a graduate of Cornell University.

Ana Riley

Superintendent, Portsmouth School Department
"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing students, staff and parents as we review the recommendations from ESSA and bring personalized learning to Rhode Island. I hope to provide a school context for the committee and keep our work focused on students."
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Ana C. Riley is an experienced leader and has been the superintendent in Portsmouth, Rhode Island for two years. During Ana’s tenure in Portsmouth the School Department has insourced Special Education and passed two successful budget cycles. Working to bring trust and transparency to the budget, Ana and her team published a detailed budget aligned to the strategic improvement plan and directed at improving student achievement. Ana is a member of the Rhode Island School Superintendents Association and serves on the CS4RI board. Previously she served as superintendent and assistant superintendent for six years in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. She used her time in Dartmouth to focus on improving student achievement, working with district stake-holders to develop a strategic improvement plan guided by core values and multiple measures of student data.

Ana also worked in Fall River, Massachusetts for 16 years serving as a middle and elementary school principal and as a middle and high school teacher.

Ana and her husband Kyle reside in Fall River, Massachusetts with their six children; Brenna (22), Gaelen (20), Connor (18), Jensen (15), Colman (13) and Seamus (6).

Mary Anne Roll

Vice Chair, Lincoln Public Schools School Committee

"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing both the Lincoln School Committee and the RI Association of School Committees. I hope to contribute to the successful implementation of the ESSA so that every school is able to support the diverse needs of each student through a variety of pathways leading to a diploma that opens doors after graduation."
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A native of Buffalo, NY, I hold a BS in Education from Medaille College (Buffalo NY) and a MA in Social Studies from the University of Illinois/Urbana. I taught at the elementary and secondary level for 13 years in Buffalo, Charlotte, NC and St. Louis, MO before “kids”. I believe that public education has been and continues to be the key for both the state’s and its citizen’s HOPE for the future. Since moving to Lincoln with my family 30 years ago, I have been a volunteer and an advocate for public education in my local community and at the state level. I served in a variety of leadership positions as a member of the Rhode Island PTA and the National PTA including two terms as President of the RI PTA and as a Board member of the National PTA for 6 years. This volunteer work provided me with the opportunity to work with the RI Department of Education on a variety of issues beginning with the Goal 2000 Panel and including the RI Health Education Framework and Assessments, the RI Healthy Schools/Healthy Kids Initiative, the development of the Parent/Family Involvement Policy adopted by the Board of Regents in 1999, and RIDE’s Charter School External Review Committee (1998-2000). I was elected to the Lincoln School Committee in 2004, currently serving as the Vice-chair and also serve as the President-elect of the RI Association of School Committees.

Bahjat Shariff

Member, Governor’s Workforce Board;
Senior Vice President of Operations, Howley Bread Group

"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing my family, friends, neighbors and the families of all our Panera associates ... and hope to materially improve the education in our state for everyone, also to represent the committee well and be a good ambassador for all educators."
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Bahjat started his restaurant career as a part-time cook at the Kentucky Fried Chicken across the street from his college. In a short amount of time, he realized he enjoyed his job and the restaurant industry. He worked hard at his job and in time moved up in the company’s ladder. Today, as a partner with Howley Bread Group dba Panera Bread, he manages 28 bakery-cafes with 1200 associates and managers, he believes in developing his team, treating people with respect and always having fun.

As a board member in the National Restaurant Association, Bahjat is in the front line to advocate for the Restaurant Industry. In addition, Bahjat’s active involvement with RI Governor’s Workforce Board, RI Commodores, and Children’s Friend Development Committee provides support to the local community.

Awards / Achievements:

  • Was appointed by the Governor of RI to be on the Commodores Business Committee 10/2012
  • Was awarded The Diversity Award (The American Dream Award) by the National Restaurant Association – 1 out of 3 Americans to win this award in 2012.
  • Outstanding Partner in Philanthropy Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals - 2004

Community and Personal Accomplishments:

  • Private pilot – 2005
  • Chairman of the Board for Cranston RI Chamber of Commerce – 2004-2005
  • Bahjat is an active member of Children’s Friend in Providence, RI, helping provide proper care for Rhode Island’s most vulnerable children.
  • A Board Member of the RI Hospitality Association (2011 - Present)
  • A Board Member of the Education Foundation of RIHA (2012 – Present)
  • A Co-Chair of the Children’s Friend 175th Anniversary Planning Committee (2008-2009)
  • A Co-Chair of the “Invest in Children Luncheon” for Children’s Friend. Raised over $250k. (2010-Present)

Carolyn Sheehan

Executive Director, Blackstone Academy Charter School


Ruth Sullivan

Dean of Learning Resources, Community College of Rhode Island

"As a member of the Committee of Practitioners, I am representing higher education, specifically the community college. While many students will graduate from RI high schools with the skills and experiences that will ensure success in college, many others will not. I hope that together we can close the gap so that more students are prepared for college."
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Ruth Sullivan is the Dean of Learning Resources at the Community College of Rhode Island. An academic librarian with over 30 years of experience working with community college students, she is the immediate past-president of the HELIN library consortium’s Board of Directors, a member of the Karla Harry Commission on Libraries, and a former public higher education representative on the Library Board of Rhode Island.

In addition to her work with libraries in Rhode Island she has been involved with student success programs and activities for more than a decade. She has led several major college-wide success initiatives including the Wabash National Study, Foundations of Excellence, and the General Studies Task Force. Her commitment to streamlining students’ pathways to success has led to the introduction of a new placement model and to co-requisite remediation in English and math.

She has had leadership roles in completing NEASC institutional self-studies and has served on ten NEASC visiting teams at institutions throughout New England.

She has completed the Community College Leadership Academy and is a Teagle Assessment Scholar.

Materials referenced at the Committee of Practitioners meetings will be posted here.  Click the arrow beside the meeting date to expand the list.