Regional and Site Coaches
Brittany Cufaude taught and worked in district instructional leadership in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District. She devoted her teaching experience to Title 1 schools where she developed and coordinated literacy and ELD interventions. Throughout her time there, she focused on K-12 programs and collaborations, the CCSS and ELA/ELD Framework roll-outs, and building healthy school cultures through the PLC process. Her experience includes designing a district-wide literacy reform, establishing the district MTSS plan for ELA, and directing the 2014-2015 ELA program pilots and adoptions. In 2016, she left FCUSD to work in publishing as a national literacy consultant. In this capacity, she supported teachers and leaders in their effort to gain insight into the new literacy programs and how they dovetail with the nation’s mission to foster both highly rigorous and also equity-based classrooms. She now owns and operates a literacy consulting company and is thrilled to join the CALI Reads coaching team to help carry out its vision and mission.
Deborah Tucker, Ed.D., serves as the CALI Reads Site Coach for the schools in the Butte County Consortium. She began her career in education as a middle school science and Title 1 teacher in Napa, then moved on to work with K-12 teachers in a statewide professional development initiative before working at the California Department of Education. With both science and reading credentials, her unique blend of concept-building activities grounded in cognitive and learning sciences allows learners to “make meaning” from experience and from text. Now as an independent consultant, she is excited to work with middle school teachers as they help their students become strategic readers.
Alexis Filippini, PhD leverages her expertise in literacy, behavior, and inclusion to provide strengths-based professional development, instructional and leadership coaching, and consultation. She has experience supporting complex learners in diverse roles, including bilingual (Spanish) reading teacher, researcher, behavioral clinician, professor of special education (San Francisco State University), executive director, and dean of teaching and learning. Dr. Filippini earned her PhD in special education with an emphasis in cognitive science from UC Santa Barbara. She also holds a BA in linguistics, an MA in special education, and an education specialist credential with autism and English Learner authorizations.
Del Norte Site Coach
Elizabeth Calleja has spent the last twelve years passionately dedicated to cultivating a love of reading and driving strong reading outcomes for some of the most underserved young people in her community of Del Norte County. Her continued focus on reading instruction includes providing services to a wide range of students--kindergartners through adults--and has been delivered in both teaching and coaching roles. Elizabeth began her career as a first and second grade teacher serving students at a high poverty Native American reservation school; the role facilitated a strong foundation in the fundamentals of reading instruction. During her time as a fourth grade teacher, she expanded her experience to include effective intervention strategies for struggling readers, as well as building a reading community that highlights comprehension and reading to learn across content areas. Additionally, Elizabeth has taught in the alternative education system, encouraging deeply disconnected youth to discover a love of reading for the first time in their lives, and build reading skills rapidly through fostering authentic student motivation. Elizabeth was tapped to expand her service and impact through an Investing in Innovation Fund (I3) project via the U.S. Department of Education; she served as a Data Team Leader and Instructional Coach, building a culture of collaboration and data-driven decision-making in her district. As an Instructional Coach, Elizabeth worked with teachers across eight school sites, in grades kindergarten through eighth grade; as a Data Team Leader, she collaborated with district administration to co-design professional development, planning, and reflection practices that contributed to meaningful learning and success--for both teachers and the students they serve each day. Today, Elizabeth continues to both teach students each week, and find significant opportunities to invest deeply in system-wide approaches for inspiring all young people to learn and love to read.
Susan Van Zant served as an elementary and middle school principal for 27 years in the Poway Unified School District. During this time, she worked with teachers to present well-defined reading and math programs, which lead to increasingly high achievement scores. Three of these schools were recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools and four were identified as California Distinguished Schools. Susan taught leadership courses for two universities in San Diego and served as the president of the San Diego Association of School Administrators. She also served as the president of the California Elementary Principals Association, and served on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals. In recognition for these achievements, Susan was selected as a National Distinguished Principal and is a Milken Award recipient. As a coach, her knowledge of core reading programs and supplementary programs combined with experience working with populations of English learners helps to ensure that student achievement levels improve.
Southern California Regional Coach
Shelia Wells is a master educator with a passion for all aspects of literacy which includes reading, writing and communication. Over the past 30 years in education, she has served as a teacher, Literacy Coach and Reading Consultant throughout North America. She began her career in Teach For America in California and the Mississippi Delta. Shelia furthered her teaching career in the Compton Unified School District as an elementary and secondary teacher where she became the first Language Arts and Math Curriculum Specialist in the district to support K-12 teachers in myriad aspects of classroom instruction and assessments. Over the past 15 years, Shelia moved from teaching to consulting with various Educational Companies. She has worked as a Senior Trainer, Coach and Implementation Manager assisting K-12 schools with: a) Approaches to assessing reading and mathematics via screening, progress monitoring, and summative assessments, b) Facilitated trainings in classrooms with students, teachers, coaches, and instructional assistants on effective delivery of research-based instructional strategies such as Direct Instruction, Differentiated Learning, Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English, Process Writing, and Reciprocal Teaching, and c) Utilizing researched based “In The Cloud” reading and writing resources as Multi-tiered Systems of Support.
Melinda R. Pierson, Ph.D. serves as the Chair of the Department of Special Education and the Director of the Center for International Partnerships in Education at Cal State Fullerton where she has co-led students on inclusive study abroad programs as well as co-led an online international teacher training research project focusing on global awareness and cross-cultural understanding among educators from 10 countries. She has recently developed an online training network in Haiti to support teachers in orphanage schools. Dr. Pierson has written over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and state grants which focus on literacy, international teacher training, literacy, and resilience in children and adolescents around the world in addition to presenting hundreds of times to school districts as well as state, national, and international conferences.
Sonaleena Patnaik Hargrove, Ed.D. has completed numerous projects for school districts, charter schools, non-profit education organizations, and communities of parents. Dr. Hargrove began her teaching career in urban schools in Los Angeles, California, where she taught students of diverse linguistic, academic, and developmental backgrounds. She completed her B.S. in Education, M.S. Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology, and Doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of Southern California. Her recent accomplishments include systems change in various K-12 schools, empowering parents to support student achievement at home, developing DISPTM for data-informed strategies to drive student achievement, navigating effective school budget and resource use practices, collaborating with school leaders and teachers to address challenges that improve student learning outcomes, and coaching teachers for multiple innovative and core instructional programs including a STEM program by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The scope of students and schools that she has worked with continue to become diverse and expand to include former refugee students, incarcerated youth, increased numbers of students with multiple disabilities, students impacted by high profile cases and PTSD, and students who have been historically marginalized by society.
Tori Sanchez, Ph.D. has spent her career working to improve the literacy skills of students facing reading challenges. She has worked as a reading interventionist with elementary students and worked as a special educator at the middle school. Dr. Sanchez has worked with research teams to conduct research on evidence-based reading practices and has co-authored several publications with those teams. She currently works at UC Riverside with the CHAAOS vocabulary project helping to foster the vocabulary development of students with disabilities in the middle grades.
is a project funded by the Office of Special Education in partnership with the California Department of Education, Special Education Division. The project is coordinated and administered through the
The contents of this website were developed under a State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG) from the US Department of Education (CALI/Award #H323A170011), Project Officer, Susan.Weigert@Ed.gov. However, the contents of this site not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education and no assumption of endorsement by the Federal government should be made.
Last updated: 10/16/2019