Professional Development Team

Meet our team of Educators

We are a team of K12 educators, curriculum designers and strategists, artists and dreamers, working to inspire and engage educators around the world. Come meet our educators at one of these upcoming events:

Our Educators

When you visit our offices in downtown Portland, it’s likely you’ll hear lively discussion and debate around hot topics in education and the culture of learning emerging from one corner of our floor. Wait a few minutes, and peppy laughter and snappy storytelling will follow. That’s when you’ll know our team of PD Specialists are back in town.

A group of former teachers with a deep-seated passion for teaching and learning, this team travels the globe, leading workshops for schools and districts on topics that range from curriculum development and design to differentiated instruction and personalized learning. This same group facilitates our collaborative multi-day Leadership Institutes held at our Portland headquarters throughout the year. Read on and meet the team!

Amber Villa-Zang_Professional Development

Amber Villa-Zang

Passionate about pedagogy and the role school leaders and teachers play in creating and providing dynamic, high quality curriculum and instruction, Amber leads professional development sessions for domestic and international school districts. She supports districts in developing standards-aligned curriculum and guides teachers through the process of developing integrated units of instruction. She also collaborates with district curriculum planning teams and leads professional development sessions for differentiated instruction.

Amber graduated from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon with a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in Secondary Language Arts. She spent seven years in a public high school teaching a wide range of Language Arts courses, including Senior IB. She also coached volleyball and was active in the school community.

Ashley Brown_Professional Development

Ashley Brown

Ashley Brown worked as both an elementary school teacher and administrator, spending several years teaching third grade in St. Paul, Minnesota before moving to Portland, Oregon to serve as Head of Lower School for a charter school in the city. Prior to her time as an educator, Ashley served as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Education, partnering with schools in the turnaround process to support them with their school improvement efforts.

Ashley also worked at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on a program aimed at improving education, housing, and health in low-income neighborhoods throughout the country. Ashley pulls from all of her professional experiences when partnering with teachers and administrators to help them develop and maintain a successful, comprehensive curriculum process. She has a deep respect for school teachers and leaders and is committed to providing them with high-quality professional development to make their incredible work sustainable.

Catherine Cohen

Catherine Cohen

Catherine Cohen is a passionate, lifelong learner and an internationally-minded educator with leadership, pedagogical management, and trainer experience. Catherine completed a master’s degree in teaching while studying in France and has since worked as an educator for 25 years in France, Louisiana, and Oregon, possessing more than 20 years in language immersion settings.

In addition to classroom teaching, Catherine served as a Student Support Specialist and program/ IB coordinator leading curriculum changes in a French immersion school. She now serves as the Lower School Division Head in a French American International School in Portland, Oregon as well as a workshop leader and site visitor for the International Baccalaureate, completing verification/authorization and evaluation visits.

Christine Zimmermann

Christine Zimmermann

With over 25 years of service to public, parochial, and private schools in both suburban and urban settings, Christine Zimmermann brings her deep and diverse experience as a PreK-12 district curriculum director, PreK-8 principal, and teacher of every grade from preschool through eighth to her professional development work. 

Chris has presented at national and regional conferences, such as NCTE, on a variety of topics, including literacy leadershipcurriculum development, and social-emotional learning. By supporting and empowering both teachers and school leaders as agents of meaningful change, she helps to facilitate complex district-wide curricular updates leading to improved teaching practices and student learning outcomes 

Chris earned her BA in Psychology and Education from Rutgers University, MA in Computing and Education from Teachers College, Columbia, and MEd in Educational Leadership from William Paterson University. 

Christina Botbyl

An educator since 1989, Christina’s roles in the classroom as a French and English teacher have spanned the entire K – 12 continuum and included experiences teaching adults, university students, and supervising student teachers. She thrives in collaborative relationships and environments. Over the course of several years, her experiences coaching and training educators to become better collaborators, listeners, and thinkers continue to impact her on both a personal and a professional level.

Christina is currently the PK – 12 Curriculum Director at the American International School Kuwait. She is also a member of the Near East South Asia (NESA) Schools’ Coaching Collaborative and Wider Circle.

Christina earned her BA in French and English from Alma College and her MS in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.

Her work in centralizing school resources and elevating the work of PLC’s in her school is featured here.

Elizabeth Clarkson

Elizabeth Clarkson

Dr. Elizabeth Clarkson began her career in North Carolina, which she still considers her home. After earning a B.A. in birth-kindergarten education at Appalachian State University, she started her first teaching position as a PreK teacher with North Carolina Public Schools and was named the 2004 Teacher of the Year for her school.

With an interest in young children and international education, Elizabeth completed a short study program in Reggio Emilia, Italy and completed her M.A. in Educational Psychology in Colorado. 

Elizabeth served as an Early Reading First Literacy Coach for United Way of Greater Atlanta, working with teachers of prekindergarten students.  In 2013, Elizabeth completed her Ed.D in Educational Leadership from the University of Georgia with a dissertation focusing on the relationship between a specific type of professional development, young children’s literacy outcomes, and teacher practices. 

Elizabeth began her international career in administration when she moved to Guayaquil, Ecuador and served as the Founding Academic Director for Colegio Menor, Campus Samborondón, a private bilingual school providing an American style education to Ecuadorian children and their families.  She continued her international principalship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the American School of Rio de Janeiro as the Lower School Principal. 

Elizabeth volunteers her time with AdvancED as a school and district level External Review team member. Currently, Elizabeth is a consultant focusing on early childhood education and early literacy. 

Gail Grigg

Gail Grigg

Dr. Gail Grigg has worked as an educator for over 40 years, delivering special educational services across all grade levels (K-12), focusing on science, and serving as an administrator, both building and district wide, as well as an Assistant Professor in Teacher Education at Nazareth College. Beyond her formal schooling, she received special training in Science Inquiry (Texas Center for Inquiry) and the consultant model of special education delivery.

Dr. Grigg brought her special educational perspective to the development and testing of curriculum for the JASON Project as well as First Hand Learning, a unique discovery curriculum utilizing real world artifacts. She is a GLOBE trainer and maintained a biological study site with her elementary students for 13 years at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. Over 30 years ago, she co-developed the TIE (Totally Integrated Education) in which students, with and without disabilities, spent two years in a co-teaching environment with curriculum that had no discernable lines between subject areas. Dr. Grigg is also a founding member of Prove Your World, a not-for-profit that provides entertaining science programming for 8- to 13-year-old student across both web-based and traditional media.

Dr. Grigg brings expertise in the areas of Special Education, curriculum development and lesson plan writing, and science education to her professional development work.

Genny Rumancik

Genny’s experience in several industries has empowered her to see what works and what doesn’t when it comes to creating healthy, high-functioning teams. She started her career in education teaching high school English (domestically and abroad), moved on to work in the tech industry as a web developer for a few years before transitioning into advertising as a strategist. She’s taken the efficient, agile practices of the tech world, the innovative approaches of the design world and uses her experience as an educator to share that knowledge with everyone who can benefit. She loves teaching workshops and supporting educators on how to create happier and more productive work environments for staff and students.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Ohio University, a Masters degree in English Literature from Portland State University and spent a year studying Interactive Art Direction and Design Thinking at Hyper Island in Stockholm, Sweden. 

Jennifer Parker

With over 18 years in education spanning four different continents, Jennifer Parker brings her diverse experiences with curriculum to support International schools in maximizing their backwards design and use of Atlas. She has worked as a Curriculum Coordinator in the Middle East for four years, supporting her school and its teachers in shifting from McRel to Virginia to AERO to CCSS/NGSS standards, becoming IBDP (and blending American and IB curriculum), adherence to local Ministry of Education expectations, three MoE inspections, and two accreditation visits each of CIS, IB, and NEASC. Her most recent honor was her participation in bringing an International American Secondary School to implementing standards-based learning (standards-based assessments, grading, instruction). Part of this process involved her collaboration and lead with rigorous curriculum review, delivering (re-)training on UbD, ongoing redesign of unit plan templates, and assistance in establishing “reportable standards”.

Jennifer Parker has presented at various global conferences in areas of project-based learning, place-based education, and curriculum design. Having been in-house Atlas trainer at her previous school, she enjoys helping teachers find ways to make unit plan templates work for them. With curriculum consulting and PD, she is zealous with different approaches to unpacking standards, developing and using essential questions to inspire classroom learning, creating standards-based assessments, and unit plan template design.

Kelp Zenor_Professional Development

Kelby Zenor

Kelby Zenor guides the coordination, development, and facilitation of Professional Development programs both nationally and internationally. She has presented at international conferences — ECIS, NESA, EARCOS — and many others on curriculum review, analysis, and process. One of her great passions is bringing diverse groups together to facilitate deep conversations around meaningful curriculum reform.

Over the years, she’s been noted for her ingenuity and enthusiasm when leading events. (That, and the famous Portland donuts she totes to teachers on cross-country flights). Kelby is a graduate of St. Mary’s College in California and her former work as a director of an environmental education program and classroom teacher in New York City provides a strong foundation for consulting with schools on a range of topics.

Kim McCoy

Working as an educator the last 10 years, Kim has come to embrace that teaching is perhaps the most fulfilling and challenging profession in modern society. She’s risen to the challenges and relished in the successes fulfilled by not only her students but also in her practice. She was honored in 2015 as an Outstanding Educator of the Year for providing exceptional service to young people by the Rotary Club of McMinnville. She’s taught English Language Development, Social Studies, Science, and Language Arts in both English and Spanish at the secondary level.

Amongst Kim’s professional passions are restorative practices, trauma informed practices, second language acquisition program design, advocacy for students and families, and support for teachers and staff. In addition, Kim has worked successfully with administrators in collaborating for more equitable and culturally-responsive practices.

After earning her B of A in Environmental Studies from University of Oregon, Kim spent time in the Caribbean, Thailand, Turkey, Malta, Italy, Panama, Mexico and Spain. Experiencing and working within these cultures has taught Kim many different ways of life and given her a unique perspective on social dynamics. She then returned to Oregon to complete a MEd in Bilingual/Bicultural Education from Portland State University.

Kristy Beam

Dr. Kristy Beam has a diverse background in education as a teacher and administrator. In her 20 years in education, she has achieved measurable success as a teacher in grades 3-12 before moving to school administration. Understanding highly effective teaching strategies, how to use data to identify targeted areas of improvement and monitor progress, and how to lead organizational change, she has successfully developed and led school improvement efforts in a variety of settings from a large public school system to a private, international school in Europe.

Megan Davenport

Megan Davenport’s passion for education is at the forefront of her work. Megan earned her master’s degree in education from Arizona State University and bachelor’s degrees in sociology and business management from the University of Montana. Thanks to her academic background, Megan takes a well-rounded approach to working with schools and benefits from knowledge of organizational structure as well as change management paired with classroom experience and a love of helping children learn.

Megan consults with public and independent schools both domestically and internationally and enjoys synthesizing knowledge gained from working with a wide variety of schools to provide training and professional development for educators.

Sarah Plews

Sarah Plews

Sarah Plews has over two decades of experience in the UK, Europe and Asia, in both business and education sectors. An experienced instructional coach, senior leader and teacher, she currently heads up the PK-12 Professional Development for Learning at The Oporto International School, Portugal.

Driving cultures for coaching and collaborative professionalism, she has worked with schools, universities and adult educational institutions to lead and support change for strategic improvement. She is a speaker at international conferences, CIS, ECIS, AIE amongst others, and regularly facilitates training on leadership, curriculum, pedagogy and professional development.

Graduated with an MA from The University of Edinburgh and Post Graduate Certificate in Education from The University of Newcastle, she is certified in International Educational Senior Leadership and Management and as a Council of International Schools Accreditation Evaluator.

Shauna Hobbs

Shauna has been the Director of Teaching and Learning at Graded, The American School of Sao Paulo, in Sao Paulo Brazil since 2016, previously working as a school administrator across the US and internationally for the past 20 years.

Prior to her position as Director of Teaching and Learning, she served as Executive Director of Curriculum, Assessment & Instruction for Seattle Public Schools from 2013-2016. She also led preschool and elementary principals and staff in their professional work as PK-5 Instructional Services Director for City Schools of Decatur, Georgia, from 2007 to 2010. Shauna also worked as a principal in Washington, Georgia, and Tennessee.  

Shauna received her Ed.S. from Walden University and an M.I.T. and B.A. from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.  

Sofía Amador

Dr. Sofía Amador, a citizen of Costa Rica, has been involved in education for over 30 years as a teacher, administrator, and consultant.  She worked in several top schools in Costa Rica, both local and international, where she performed various roles.

Sofía graduated with honors from the University of Costa Rica with a bachelor’s degree in English and in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. She also earned a master’s degree in General Education and in Educational Leadership from Framingham State University. Sofía received a Doctorate in Education from La Salle University at Costa Rica. 

Dr. Sofía Amador is the founder and Director of EducArte International, an educational consulting business, leading her to work on several curriculum development and strategic planning projects throughout Central America and the Caribbean.  

As part of the AdvancED Review Teams, Sofía has served in El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.

Currently, Sofia works at Schools of Excellence, a system of private schools in Costa Rica, as the Curriculum Director and Continuous Improvement Coordinator.

Here work on Strategic Planning, written in Spanish, is featured here.

Tricia Halonen

Tricia Halonen has worked in many sectors of education from private schools, public schools, and charter schools. She has worn the hats of a middle school science teacher, an instructional coach, a STEM coordinator, a Dean of Students, and an Assistant Principal. Through these varied experiences she has been able to craft her philosophy around education and support student growth.

Tricia graduated from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota with a Bachelors of Science in Sports Medicine. She later went on to earn a master’s degree in Education from Fordham University in New York and then her Initial Administrator License from Portland State University in Oregon.

Over the past year, Tricia has been on several AdvancED Review Teams providing feedback to high schools in the Portland metro area.

Currently, Tricia is creating, developing and implementing a middle school engineering program with an emphasis in engaging students to become problem solvers.

Her work in using data to support student interventions in her school is featured here.

Kate Owen_Professional Development

Kate Owen

Kate Owen has a talent for creating fun and positive learning environments, supportinng participants both in in the office and in the field. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Education & Learning with a focus on Special Education from Pacific University, Oregon. Early in her career, she created and launched an innovative language arts program in a 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade split classroom at a newly founded school in Forest Grove, Oregon. She also wrote and designed lesson plans for kindergarten students.

Her career path then shifted and led her to business management in which she utilized her problem solving, customer service, and leadership skills with adult learners. Kate finds joy in executing an event that allows participants to focus solely on content and learning. She zestfully has every detail covered.

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