Sara Christopherson, M.S. Curriculum and Instruction (Science Education) is Director of WebbAlign. She has worked with assessment developers and educational publishers on high-stakes and on-demand assessments for over 20 years and has worked on content alignment analyses with Norman Webb for nearly 20 years. Drawing on her background in curriculum and instruction, as well as communications and educational publishing, Sara led the build-out of a popular professional development program, offered through WCEPS, to help educators, educational publishers, assessment developers, and other stakeholders to enhance and strengthen their use of Depth of Knowledge (DOK), understanding of alignment, interpretation of curriculum standards, and overall assessment literacy.
Dr. Norman Webb
Dr. Norman L. Webb serves as program advisor for WebbAlign. Dr. Webb developed the Webb alignment methodology and original Depth-of-Knowledge (DOK) definitions in 1997. At the time he was a Senior Research Scientist for the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) and was funded in part by the National Science Foundation. The DOK definitions describe levels or categories of cognitive complexity. They are not intended to represent progressions in learning or instructional levels. In addition to being one of the leading experts on alignment, Dr. Webb has done research and evaluation through the Wisconsin Center for Education Research on systemic reform and curriculum. He has worked in the areas of mathematics education, assessment, and evaluation for over 40 years.
Lisa Ashe is a Secondary Mathematics Consultant with the NC Department of Public Instruction and the President-Elect of the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics. Prior to coming to the state department, Lisa served as a high school mathematics teacher, a school-based math instructional facilitator and a PK-12 District Curriculum Specialist.
She holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Hampton University, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Supervision, and is currently pursuing her doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Her research interest is in the development partnerships that propel and advance mathematical teaching and learning. She is passionate about providing opportunities for equitable access to high quality educational experiences for all children. Lisa also has experience facilitating professional development at the local, state and national level on high quality instructional practices and equity-based teaching.
Lisa has served as a panelist with WebbAlign since 2016. As an external panelist, Lisa brings a national perspective to alignment studies in examining the alignment between state level standards and assessment items.
Kymyona Burk, Ed.D.
Kymyona Burk is a Senior Policy Fellow at ExcelinEd. In this role, she supports states pursuing a comprehensive approach to K-3 reading policy by assisting state leaders in building new or improving existing K-3 reading policies, with a heavy focus on supporting successful policy implementation. Kymyona most recently served in Mississippi as the Executive Director for the Jackson Public School District’s Office of Teaching and Learning and led all aspects of the district’s instructional programming. Prior to this, she was the State Literacy Director at the Mississippi Department of Education where she led the implementation of Mississippi’s Literacy-Based Promotion Act. Kymyona began her career as an elementary reading teacher and has also taught middle and high school English. At Jackson State University, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Master of Arts in Teaching English, Master of Science in Education Administration and Supervision and a Doctor of Education in Early Childhood Education. Kymyona has contributed to projects with WebbAlign since 2015.
Tim has served the educational community as a high school physics and chemistry teacher, as an advanced learning coordinator and as a science teaching methods instructor. His educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in physical science teaching and an M.S. in education. Throughout his career, Tim has been a member of the National Science Teachers Association, the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers, the Wisconsin Association of Talented and Gifted and other professional organizations. In 2019, Tim joined the WebbAlign team as a consultant, workshop presenter, reviewer and team leader for science assessment alignments. He has presented and led alignment review teams in multiple states. As a member of the WebbAlign team collaborating with teachers, administrators, regional and state officials, and vendors, Tim finds joy in striving to ensure that standards, curriculum and assessment are aligned to support proper student engagement and the very best in teaching, learning and evaluation.
Mr. Melvin Diggs has well over 21 years of teaching and administrative experience with students with disabilities, including visual and hearing impairments. His past experiences include Special Education Children’s Teacher, Behavior Coach, Literacy Consultant, Special Education Programs Specialist, Assistant Principal, Senior Administrator for EC Policy, Statewide Policy Consultant with NCDPI, Executive Director of Special Education & Academically/Intellectually Gifted Programs. Mr. Diggs received a Bachelor of Arts from Elon University, Master of Education (Special Education) from North Carolina Central University, and School Administration Certification from UNC-Greensboro. Currently, Mr. Diggs serves as the School Director for the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, North Carolina. Mr. Diggs has served both a reviewer/participant and a group leader for the WebbAlign process since 2004.
Jeanette Fernandez Scott has been in education for 20 years. She has served as a high school and community college math teacher and is currently CTE Math Integration Specialist for Phoenix Union High School District. She is serving as the treasurer for Arizona Math Leaders and is active in several organizations, including AATM, TODOS, NCSM, and NCTM. In 2013, she was selected as Chicanos Por La Causa Esperanza Award winner, honoring Latino teachers who inspire students of all backgrounds, play an active role in the school, and demonstrate a true commitment to the community.
Dr. Melyssa Ferro
After transferring college majors from lab scientist to science educator and graduating from Boise State University with a B.S. in Biology, Secondary Education, Melyssa has spent the last 23 years of her career dedicated to providing hands-on and enriching science and engineering experiences for students in the Caldwell School District. Her passion is encouraging young women and minoritized students to become more involved in the pursuit of STEM careers. She has earned an M.S. in Middle Level Education and a PhD in Learning, Instruction, and Innovation with an emphasis in STEM from Walden University and has focused her STEM education pursuits on teaching 7th grade life and 8th grade earth science at Syringa Middle School. Melyssa is the coordinator for the Science and Math Bowl competition team and the summer MASSI program at the College of Idaho as well as leading the Habitat H2O Florida trip and the Expedition Yellowstone and Explore Oregon experiences. She facilitates several teams for the Future City engineering competition as part of her advanced science curriculum. Melyssa is the STEM coordinator for Caldwell as well as working as the Digital Integration and Innovation Specialist for the district. She serves on the board of the Idaho Education Association, is the president of the Idaho Science Teaching Association, and works with the VOYA STEM fellowship to encourage STEM education at the national level.
Joanne Goelzer M.Ed.
Joanne Goelzer (M.Ed.) has been teaching physical science and Earth science at Coe Brown Northwood Academy in Northwood, New Hampshire since 1989 and began working with WebbAlign as a consultant in 2019. She has served on the Professional Standards Board for the New Hampshire Department of Education, is a 2019 Toshiba America STEM grant awardee, authored lesson three in Journeys in Film’s curriculum guide for National Geographic’s One Strange Rock, and has presented at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Conferences in New Orleans and Washington, DC. Currently, Joanne serves as the president of the New Hampshire Science Teachers’ Association and is a New Hampshire state finalist for the 2023 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Joanne brings the experiences and insights gained from the alignment studies back to her classroom to reshape assessment and increase curriculum alignment with state standards.
Kimberly Hernandez is a Puerto Rican military brat turned high school ELA teacher and technology enthusiast. A graduate of Mercer University, she has been in the classroom since 2008. She is also the recipient of the Future English Teachers of Color Award and the Wild Apricot: Teachers for the Dream Award from the Georgia Council of Teachers of English. In 2018, she had the honor of working with Curtis L. Jones Jr., the American Association of School Administrator’s 2019 National Superintendent of the Year, on his district’s Teacher Advisory Council. Since 2014, she has worked with multiple organizations for alignment and assessment, including the Georgia Department of Education, College Board, ACT, Inc., Measurement Incorporated, and EdPuzzle, Inc.
Cynthia (Cindy) Jacobson is a retired high school English teacher, Title I teacher and coordinator, middle school reading teacher, and Instructional Services Resource who worked in three Wisconsin school districts. She also taught graduate level reading courses for the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Extension for eight years. After serving as an item writer for a statewide elementary reading assessment, she has worked as a Language Arts reviewer and leader for WebbAlign for over 20 years. “I have been privileged to work with the most dedicated and respected educators in over thirty states. Each alignment study is different, and we all learn from each other. The ingenuity of Dr. Norman Webb in the development of the Depth of Knowledge categories and the expertise of Sara Christopherson in orchestrating the alignment of curriculum standards and assessments has resulted in successful student outcomes.”
Dr. Tim Krieg
Tim is a district administrator at a public school district in northwest Indiana. He LOVES what he does and considers it an honor to oversee secondary curriculum, assessment, and instruction. Working within an evolving K-14 space, Tim has broad experience with standardized testing, standards-alignment, norm and criterion-referenced assessments/benchmarks, formative assessments, graduation pathway requirements, formative assessments, Title grants, competitive grant writing, and related matters. His district has an endorsed Early College through CELL at the University of Indianapolis and is a leader in Indiana for credentials awarded. This early college programming allows Tim to team up with higher education on course articulation agreements, stackable credentialing opportunities, early college, dual credit, dual enrollment, Next Level Programs of Study, CTE, and other related fields. An ardent believer in remaining directly involved as an educator, Tim is an adjunct faculty member who teaches a capstone course for students earning their AS degree. Tim has contributed to WebbAlign projects since 2018. On top of the personal and professional growth he credits to his involvement in alignment studies, Tim considers it an oblitunity (obligation + opportunity) to actively partake in experiences that will directly impact current and future students.
Randy LaRusso, M.Ed.
Randy LaRusso, M.Ed., is a forty-two year veteran in the area of special education in the Florida public education system. She spent the last eight years of her public school career as the director of a Florida department of education discretionary grant. The Access Project focused on curriculum, instruction and professional development for students with significant cognitive disabilities and developmental delays. Randy has served on two national grants, the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) and the TIES Center, both funded through OSEP. A national speaker, trainer and author, and adjunct university instructor, Randy continues to work in the field of special education as a consultant. She started contributing expertise to WebbAlign projects in 2019.
Karen L. Mesmer, Ph.D.
Karen L. Mesmer, Ph.D., taught middle and high school science for 33 years in both Alaska and in Baraboo, Wisconsin. She was the head of the life science team that wrote the Wisconsin Science Standards and also a part of the team that completed the alignment study of Wisconsin’s Forward exam for science as well as multiple other alignment studies. Since retiring from the classroom, she has been a science education consultant, working as a curriculum writer, reviewer, mentor, coach and professional development facilitator focusing on the Next Generation Science Standards. Along with 4 co-authors, she is currently writing a book for Corwin Press for new science teachers. She continues to be active at the local, state, and national levels in professional organizations. Karen started contributing expertise to WebbAlign projects in 2019.
Norka Padilla is currently an Instructional Specialist with International Admissions & Enrollment in the Office of School Support and Wellbeing in Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland where she collaborates ensuring equitable access to standards aligned instruction and programming K-12. Previously she served as a K-12 Learning and Achievement Specialist supporting 24 school leadership teams. Norka has over 30 years of experience as an instructional specialist and teacher, designing and facilitating professional development nationally. She also enjoys consulting with state, national, public, and private organizations on standards-setting and policy. Norka is a Nationally Board Certified specialist in English as a New Language K-12 with two master’s degrees and administrative certification from Trinity College, McDaniel College, and the University of Maryland. She also holds Educational Administrative I & II certification in Maryland. In addition to her work with WebbAlign, starting in 2015, Norka collaborates with several national organizations. She is an Equity Commissioner with The New Teacher Center, GLEAM badged coaching school leadership teams with UnboundEd. Norka was born and raised trilingual as a Guatemalan-Norwegian-American in Washington, DC, and is the proud mother of three young men. She and her husband live in Chevy Chase and enjoy traveling, urban walks, and hiking in nature.
Mary Lynn Raith M.Ed.
Mary Lynn Raith is retired from her position as Mathematics Curriculum Specialist in the Division of Instructional Support of the Pittsburgh Public Schools. As such, her responsibilities included leadership roles in curriculum development, textbook selection, design of alternative assessments—both performance tasks and portfolio development, inservice program design and implementation, in-class support of teachers and coordination of mathematics programs across levels and schools. Ms. Raith was the Co-Director of the Pittsburgh Reform in Mathematics Education project (PRIME), a K-12 professional development system that includes both in-class support from demonstration teachers and a comprehensive series of in-service sessions focused on increasing the depth and breadth of teachers’ mathematics knowledge. Since 2004, Ms. Raith has contributed to content alignment analyses and other projects with the WebbAlign program.
Dr. Rick Sypel
Dr. Rick Sypel is a lifelong educator, grades 7-12. He began teaching in 1996 and is still going today, in Mesa AZ. His masters is in Curriculum, Instruction, and assessment, which helped him as he was part of the review and revisement committee which passed the new 2016 mathematics standards. Dr. Sypel started collaborating with WebbAlign in 2017. He has worked with teachers on recognition of DOK, through his training at WCEPS and travels to other states to evaluate alignment of assessments with standards.
Dr. Deborah Taub
Dr. Deborah Taub has expertise in systemic system change to support inclusive instructional practices for students with extensive support needs. She has designed and evaluated alternate assessments for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Her expertise in UDL and standards-based instruction are fueled by her focus on equity and social justice for all students. She has contributed journal articles, book chapters, and numerous professional development training to the field of educating children with complex needs, and has presented internationally. Dr. Taub is the CEO of OTL Education Solutions whose work focuses on transforming opportunities to learn for all students. Dr. Taub started contributing expertise to WebbAlign projects in 2019.