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ASSIST Site Developers

Project Direction

  • Randi Stanulis, Project Director, Michigan State University
  • Barbara Markle, Director of Dissemination, Michigan State University
  • Bonnie Rockefellow, Project Liaison, Michigan Department of Education
  • Ken Dirkin, Lead Programmer, Michigan State University
  • Susan Neuman, Director, UM Modules and Project Evaluation, University of Michigan
  • Marcia Leone, Project Manager, Michigan State University
  • Yong Zhao, Technology Consultant, Michigan State University
  • Tom Bird, Factotum, Michigan State University


Continuing to Learn

Organizing induction

Improving practice

Janet Alleman is a Professor of Teacher Education and School Administration with interests in undergraduate and graduate social studies education, teacher/administrator collaborative initiatives, and children's thinking. She currently serves as a member of the NCSS Research Committee. She was a member of the Michigan Task force for social studies education. She co-led the development of the Organizing Induction tools and resources for the ASSIST project.

Dorothea Anagnostopoulos is an Assistant Professor in Teacher Education at Michigan State University with an interest in the teaching of English and the effects of policy on teaching and learning, particularly in urban high schools. She has worked with urban districts, including the Washington DC Public Schools, to rethink how districts can provide professional development for secondary teachers. She co-led the development of the Organizing Induction tools and resources for the ASSIST project.

Kathryn Bell is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Spring Arbor University. An experienced high school English and journalism teacher, K-12 curriculum director, and a MLPP literacy trainer for elementary teachers, she has taught undergraduate and graduate courses for Baker College, Eastern Michigan University, Michigan State University and Adrian College 's Southeast Michigan Writing Project. Dr. Bell assists K-12 school districts with mentoring and induction initiatives and provides professional development in literacy instruction and curriculum design. She worked on the Organizing Induction section of ASSIST.

Tom Bird is an Associate Professor of Teacher Education.  He spends most of his time in MSU's teacher preparation program, where he teaches a course on classroom management and a course for new doctoral students serving as course instructors.  Dr. Bird has spent most of his career in adult education, having worked with police officers, probation officers, juvenile court judges, social workers, youth workers, school principals, teachers, and, since 1989, working with undergraduates preparing to be teachers. He co-led the development of the Improving Practice resources for the ASSIST project. He was largely responsible for the website organization and structure.


Susan Brondyk is a doctoral student in the Teacher Education Department at Michigan State University. She is interested in teacher learning in school settings, field instructor support, and classroom-based professional development. Before coming to Michigan State, Susan taught early childhood through fourth grade in Bloomington, Indiana and Grand Rapids, Michigan . She is a certified Montessori Teacher, who founded and operated Greenhouse Montessori in Grand Rapids. Susan began field instruction for Aquinas College in 1999 and has taught in the Early Childhood Program at Western Michigan University. Since coming to Michigan State, Susan has been a field instructor at both Stocking Elementary (Grand Rapids Public Schools) and Challenger Elementary (Kentwood Public Schools) in Grand Rapids. She also teaches an advanced curriculum course. She works with the Improving Practice Team for the ASSIST project.


Ken Dirkin is an Information Technology Professional at the College of Education at Michigan State University. Through the Center for Teaching and Technology, Ken is employed by various grants and projects to develop a wide variety of multimedia projects including online collaborative simulations, web portals and video documentaries. He is the lead web designer and programmer for ASSIST.


Nell Duke is an Associate Professor in Teacher Education and Educational Psychology at Michigan State University and Associate Director of the Literacy Achievement Research Center (LARC). Duke's work focuses on early literacy development, particularly among children living in urban poverty. Her specific areas of expertise include the development of informational literacies in young children, comprehension teaching and learning in early schooling, approaches to addressing the needs of struggling reader-writers, and issues of equity in literacy education. Duke is the recipient of several awards, including the National Reading Conference Early Career Achievement Award. She is co-author of the book Reading and Writing Informational Text in the Primary Grades: Research-Based Practices and co-editor of the book Literacy Research Methodologies. Duke teaches inservice and doctoral courses in literacy education at MSU, speaks and consults widely on literacy education, and is an active member of several literacy-related organizations. She co-developed the module on building student comprehension for ASSIST.

Patricia Edwards is a Professor of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. She has developed two nationally acclaimed family literacy programs: Parents as Partners in Reading and Talking Your Way to Literacy. Her research focuses on issues related to families and children: parent involvement and teacher thinking, parent involvement in the reading/writing process, parent support of children's oral preparation for literacy, portfolio instructional conversations with parents during regularly scheduled parent-teacher conferences, and parents' stories of literacy and teachers' reactions to these stories. Patricia developed the module on Developing Home, School, and Community Partnerships for the ASSIST project.

Elizabeth Heilman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University who teaches a range of courses on curriculum theory and development and social studies education. Her research focuses on the ways in which identity, belief systems, and school contexts influence curriculum in general and democratic civic capacity more specifically. She is Social Studies Co-Leader for Michigan State University's Teachers for a New Era initiative (2002-07) and is an executive board member of the College and University Faculty Assembly of the National Council for the Social Studies.  She developed the module on developing curriculum for the ASSIST project.

Marcia Leone works in the Office of K-12 Outreach at Michigan State University. She has served in the public education arena for 30 years. She taught in the elementary grades in Detroit and Lansing for 10 years prior to entering the education policy arena. She served as Legislative Consultant with the Michigan Association of School Boards and spent 14 years as Director of Communications and Member Services with the Middle Cities Education Association. There, she worked with a wide range of task forces made up of urban school administrators to influence state and federal education policy. She served as Project Manager of ASSIST.


Karen Lowenstein is a doctoral candidate in Teacher Education at Michigan State University. She is studying how White pre-service teachers learn about issues of diversity and equity. While at MSU, Karen has taught a social foundations course in teacher education, worked with ESL students and adults in the local community, and has served as field instructor for intern teachers. Prior to her work at MSU, Karen taught high school Spanish language and literature for five years in diverse schools in New Jersey. She worked with the Mentoring Tools Team for the ASSIST project.

Barbara W. Markle is Assistant Dean of K-12 Outreach in the College of Education at Michigan State University. In this capacity she develops and implements programs for classroom teachers, school administrators and policymakers that translate educational research to application in schools and settings where education policy decisions are made. Dr. Markle's public school experience includes service as a high school teacher, counselor, junior high principal, senior high school associate principal and director of curriculum. She also served as Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction in the Michigan Department of Education where she was responsible for Michigan's education reform initiatives. She directs several state and federal grants, and has a deep interest in school reform issues centering on teacher and administrative leadership. Her Ph.D. is in educational administration from Michigan State University where she serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of Educational Administration. She served as co-director of ASSIST.


Barbara Meloche holds a doctoral degree in Educational Administration from Michigan State University where she is an Induction Research Associate. The focus of her research is on beginning elementary school principals. Barb has been an elementary classroom teacher, literacy specialist, and principal in the local area. She consults with teachers and principals about differentiation and brain-based learning through her consulting business, Ensuring Student Success. She worked on the Organizing Induction section of the ASSIST website.


Susan B. Neuman is a Professor in Educational Studies at the University of Michigan specializing in early literacy development. She returned to UM in 2004 after a two year hiatus where she served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. Previously, she directed the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Ability (CIERA). Her research and teaching interests include early childhood policy, curriculum, and early reading instruction, pre-K-grade 3. Prior to coming to Michigan, she was a Professor at Temple University, the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and Eastern Connecticut State University . She is the author of a number of books addressing early education and literacy. Susan leads the University of Michigan portion of the modules for the ASSIST project and co-developed the module on Developing Literacy in Early Childhood.

Cynthia M. Okolo is a professor of special education at Michigan State University, where she teaches courses in instructional methods and assistive technology and directs the Special Education Technology Scholars program. Cindy's research has focused on improving teaching and learning for understanding in inclusive classrooms, particularly in the areas of literacy and historical understanding. Her current projects include the design of interactive, web-based learning environments for history instruction, and the curricula and practices to improve students' informational literacy. Her work has been funded by the United States Department of Education and has been published in journals such as the Journal of Special Education, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Journal of Computing and Childhood Education, and Journal of Special Education Technology. She developed the Differentiating Instruction through Technology module for the ASSIST project.

  Amy Parks is a doctoral student at Michigan State University. She is interested in teacher inquiry, issues of equity and elementary mathematics. Before coming to MSU, she taught second, third and fourth grades in Virginia and North Carolina. She worked on the Improving Practice section of the ASSIST project and served as content consultant and editor.

Jennifer Rappin is pursuing doctoral studies in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. Her research interests focus on teacher learning, critical collegiality, and support of mentor teachers. Since 2005, she has been an elementary teacher with Baker Demonstration School in Wilmette, IL. Jennifer also taught in Northfield for nine years and at Francis Parker School for two years. She has worked extensively with new teachers and mentored several full-year pre-service teachers. Jen worked with the In the School section of the ASSIST project.


Julia Reynolds is currently a doctoral student in Teacher Education and Literacy at Michigan State University. She has been the Director of Introduction to Education at Aquinas College since 2001. She has also been teaching Content Area Literacy at Aquinas College since 1998. At MSU, she has taught TE 301 (Learners and Learning in Context), TE 801 (Professional Roles and Teaching Practice I), TE 803 (Professional Roles and Teaching Practice II) all for Team 4, plus TE 843 (Content Area Literacy), since 2001. She earned her first B.A. in Criminology & Law Studies and Psychology from Marquette University , her second B.A. in English and Reading from Aquinas College , her M.A.T. (Initial Certification) from Aquinas College, and her EdS. In Educational Leadership from Michigan State University . Her research interests include preservice teacher development, content area literacy, and comprehension. Previously, Julia worked as a high school English and Reading teacher in Wyoming Public Schools and Forest Hills Public Schools and was a K-12 Language Arts Curriculum Specialist and Secondary Language Arts Curriculum Coordinator for Grand Rapids Public Schools. Julia works with school districts all over Michigan in areas of reading, writing, and anything else relating to literacy. She co-developed the comprehension module with Nell Duke.


Bonnie Rockafellow joined the Michigan Department of Education as an English Language Arts Consultant. As a member of the MDE team she was responsible for the Family FUNdamentals for Literacy, Michigan Literacy Progress Profile preschool-grade three, the development of the MLPP for 4 th and 5 th grades, as well as providing support to other literacy initiatives for instructional programs up through the institutes of higher education. Now Dr. Rockafellow serves with the Office of Professional Preparation Services with oversight for the approval and review of teacher education preparation programs in several specialty areas. She also has responsibility for providing support to teacher induction and mentoring programs across the state. She is the MDE liaison for the ASSIST project.

Cheryl L. Rosaen is Associate Professor of Teacher Education at Michigan State University and a faculty Team Leader in MSU's five-year Teacher Preparation Program. She teaches courses in literacy methods and teacher education, and conducts research on learning to teach literacy, and the role technology can play in supporting teacher learning. Dr. Rosaen is a Co-Principal Investigator for Teachers as Designers: A Problem-Based Approach to Preparing Teachers (PT3), and Literacy Co-Leader for Michigan State University 's Teachers for a New Era initiative (2002-07), a five-year project focused on making subject matter content and context central in teaching. In the Creating Teacher Education Hypermedia Materials Project, Dr. Rosaen collaborates with three elementary teachers in research and development of video case materials for use in literacy teacher preparation and professional development. She co-led the development of the Improving Practice tools and resources for the ASSIST project.


Kathleen Roskos teaches courses in reading instruction and reading diagnosis at John Carroll University. She recently completed two years of public service as the Director of the Ohio Literacy Initiative at the Ohio Department of Education, providing leadership in P-12 literacy policy and programs. Dr. Roskos studies early literacy development, teacher cognition and the design of professional education for teachers and has published research articles on these topics in leading journals. She is currently a member of the e-Learning Committee and the Early Childhood Commission of the International Reading Association and a leader in the Literacy Development for Young Children SIG of that organization. She co -developed the module on Developing Literacy in Early Childhood.

Randi N. Stanulis is Associate Chair and an Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. She is the Co- Director of ASSIST and is leading the development of a brand new MSU induction program as part of the Carnegie Corporation funded Teachers for a New Era Project. Dr. Stanulis is the Chair for the Induction Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association and serves on the Association of Teacher Educators' National Commission on Mentoring and Induction. Her research interests include teacher learning and development, mentoring and induction, and learning to teach literacy. She directs the development of all of the resources for the ASSIST project.


Valerie Struthers is a doctoral student in the Teacher Education program at Michigan State University. She is interested in teacher inquiry, literacy and children's literature. Before coming to Michigan State University, Valerie taught third through eighth grades at the American International School of Bamako (Mali) and the American International School in Vienna. She worked on the In the School section of the ASSIST website.


Sarah Tucker is a doctoral student in Foundations and Education Policy at the University of Michigan. Sarah is interested in how education policies affect students in rural America . Prior to coming to the University of Michigan , she worked as a behavioral specialist in an adolescent girls group home in Boston and as a counselor for children with chronic and terminal illness in Connecticut. She developed the Inclusion Module for the ASSIST project.


Sarah Williams is a graduate student in Literacy Instruction at Michigan State University . She currently teaches second grade. Sarah worked on the For Beginning Teachers section of the ASSIST website and provided technical assistance for the Improving Practice section of the ASSIST project.

Yong Zhao is a professor of educational psychology with interests in Internet-based learning environments, technology evolution and adoption, language acquisition and literacy, and perceptual control theory. His research activities focus on the social, cultural and psychological interactions between technology and education. He has developed and managed numerous network-based learning environments and educational Web sites. His current research projects include a social constructivist analysis of technology adoption in schools, designing an Internet-based multimedia literacy environment, and examining the cognitive and affective effects of computer-mediated learning communities. Yong was the lead technology consultant on the ASSIST project.