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Advisory Panel


Geraldine P. Wallach, Ph.D.

Professor Emerita at the Department of Speech-Language Pathology at California State University

Geraldine P. Wallach, Ph.D. (Dr. Gerry Wallach) is a Professor Emerita the Department of Speech-Language Pathology at California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, California. She teaches courses in childhood and school-age language disorders, assessment, phonology, and language development. She has published widely in school-age language disorders including her most recent book, now in press with Dr. Alaine Ocampo:


She has published widely in school-age language disorders including her most recent book, now in press with Dr. Alaine Ocampo,: Language and Literacy Connections: Intervention for School-age Students.  She is an editor of the text: Handbook of Language and Literacy: Development and Disorders (NY: GuilfordPress, 2014).

She has also been one of three Americans involved in a teacher training project in Guangzhou, China. She prides herself in being a school-based professional and is committed to issues in education and the expanding role of speech-language pathologists in literacy.


Dr. Kevin T. Kalikow

child/adolescent psychiatrist & author

After attending Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Dr. Kalikow trained in General Psychiatry at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, Westchester Division and in Child Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.


He is currently Clinical Assistant Professor in Child Psychiatry at New York Medical College. He also teaches at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Kalikow has been interviewed and quoted in numerous publications, such as The New York Times. He has been interviewed on radio and television, including National Public Radio's The Diane Rehm Show. He teaches widely and is known as an engaging and informative speaker.


Dr. Kalikow was asked by a local hospital to speak on the topic of the alleged over prescription of psychiatric medicines to children. That speech culminated in Your Child in the Balance, a much-needed guide for parents who are faced with the decision of whether their child should take psychiatric medicine.


Kids on Meds, Dr. Kalikow's second book, guides professionals and parents through the maze of psychiatric medicines. Using a reader-friendly but substantive style, Kids on Meds teaches the reader about the use and side effects of these medicines, so that they can appreciate the pros and cons of using various medicines.

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Margie B. Gillis

Literacy How, Inc.

Margie B. Gillis, Ed.D. is a Certified Academic Language Therapist, a research affiliate at Haskins Laboratories and the president of  Literacy How, a non-profit organization that provides professional development on the Science of Reading. Margie is also the president of Anne Fowler Foundation providing scholarships for educators. She is the co-founder of Smart Kids with LD, the former president of ConnBIDA, a board member of the Dyslexia Society of CT and New Alliance Foundation, and a professional advisor for Understood, ReadWorks, and the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction.

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Courtney Dunbabin

Speech-Language Pathologist, State-wide Literacy Project Leader, Department of Education, Tasmania, Australia

Courtney Dunbabin is a Speech and Language Pathologist who calls the island of Tasmania, Australia her home. She has worked for over 12 years in a variety of setting including Early Years, Education, Private Practice and NGO. She is currently working in Education in a Literacy Project Leader role focusing on collaboration between Speech and Language Pathologists and Educators in relation to oral language and literacy instruction and support. She is passionate about all children accessing high quality literacy instruction and is a strong advocate for Speech and Language Pathologists to take a leadership role to exert influence in the language underpinnings that affect learning in the classroom.



Director of Professional Development and co-founder of The Learning Alliance.

Liz earned her B.A. in English Literature from the University of Delaware and her Masters in Learning Disabilities from American University, where she was one of the last students to work with the legendary Sally Smith, the founder of the Washington Lab School. She is on the Board of Directors for the International Dyslexia Association. The Learning Alliance, in collaboration with the Indian River County School District and the broader community, has set the Moonshot Moment goal of 90% of third grade students reading at or above grade level. These efforts reached a world-wide audience when the work was featured on the PBS NewsHour in September 2014, and TLA/Moonshot Moment has earned the Pacesetter Awards from the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading seven times. She lives in Vero Beach, Florida, and is the mother of two boys who have struggled with Learning and Attention issues.

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Rooted in Language & Rita Cevasco & Associates

Rita Cevasco is a private Speech-Language Pathologist and owner of  her private practice Rita Cevasco & Associates, located in Ohio. She is the founder of Rooted in Language, which provides online training for traditional and home educators in the use of multisensory strategies for teaching struggling and typical learners. Through her classes and support products, Rita shares engaging ideas that promote deep learning, giving educators the tools needed to grow independent, successful readers and writers. provides free downloadable materials and information regarding dyslexia, dysgraphia, and deep learning practices. Ongoing ideas are shared through the Rooted Community Facebook group, blogs, podcasts, Instagram, and Pinterest. Rooted in Language believes that if educators aid students in taking small, successful steps in learning, they will move toward huge growth and progress!


Rita has thirty years experience providing speech-language therapy and reading-writing intervention for students in all school settings. She has extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of language-based learning disabilities, dyslexia, and dysgraphia. Rita has built her work on evidence-based strategies from the fields of language and reading intervention, sharing successful methods tested within her own practice. 


As a homeschool veteran, Rita promotes a comprehensive approach to language arts for all learners in all settings, but especially for those who struggle. Rita co-authored with Tracy Molitors Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers through Deep Comprehension.

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Polly Hare Tafrate

 Teacher, Tutor, Writer  

During her twenty-five years of teaching first graders, in the Katonah-Lewisboro school district, Polly learned that the phonetic approach was the only one that guaranteed success in teaching these youngsters how to read. With the introduction of whole language reading into the curriculum, she continued to weave a strong phonetic approach into everything the children read from the red EXIT sign over the door to the lunch menu.

Each day during the morning message, Polly would tell her class about the about the alphabet family and their sometimes quirky behavior. Every letter or combination of them had a story. The children looked forward to hearing about letters such as /y/ who couldn’t make up his mind on whether to be a vowel or a consonant, and scardy-cat /q/ who was afraid to go out in a word without his best friend /u/.

She began to tutor students after school who were experiencing difficulty in learning to read providing explicit phonics instruction to them. She recalls one mother of a third-grader who noted, “He can follow along with a group when they’re reading orally in a book with a lot of pictures, but when he’s given a book without these crutches, he’s totally lost. He can’t read!”   

Polly joined the school’s Reading Specialist, Cynthia Jones, in teaching a three-year interdisciplinary performance task with Polly’s first-grade students. They wrote an article describing this titled,  Developing Standards from a Performance Task.  It was published in Bill Harp’s Handbook of Literacy Assessment and Evaluation.  At the 1997 National Conference of Teachers of English, (NCTE), they presented their research and conclusions of evaluating students by use of rubrics, titled, “Creating Story Rubric and More, Understanding and Using the NCTE-IRA Standards.” Jones and Tafrate also co-authored and self-published a book, “Your Child’s Journey into Literacy, A Parents’ Resource and Journal.”   

Following her retirement, she pursued her passion for freelance writing and has published an eclectic mix of over a hundred by-lined articles for magazines and local newspapers. This has become her new and demanding hobby. Polly loves the challenge of meeting, interviewing, and then writing about a wide variety of people.   

Polly received her Bachelor of Science degree from The University of Vermont and her Master of Science from Western Connecticut State University which qualified her to become a reading consultant. She chose to remain in the first-grade classroom.  


Laura Pierce


Laura Pierce has been an educator for over 25 years and subsequently worked in the non-profit arena for 15 years. As an educator in New York, New Jersey and Ohio, she developed and taught curriculums in the areas of Gifted and Talented, Art, Reading and Social Studies in grades K-8. She graduated from Syracuse University with a BS degree in Public Relations and Journalism and then received a Masters of Science in Education from The Sages College (formerly Russell Sage College). Her career has taken her from teaching in a rural, remote setting of the Adirondacks in upstate New York, the suburbs of northern New Jersey to finishing her career in Sylvania, Ohio. “Teaching is often a matter of how students can effectively use their minds, to be creative problem solvers and critical thinkers. The boom in technology and social media has created significant changes in our society within the last two decades, and with that we have unending new challenges with student learning. We must not forget that the development of  language and learning are important dimensions of hands-on activities. John Rosemond’s basic tenets - 3R’s- Respect, Responsibility and Resourcefulness can guide many parents/educators to raise autonomous learners”.


An owner of several labrador retrievers, Laura is now a volunteer and foster with The Ability Center Assistance Dogs, and grant and fundraising manager for Agility Angels, a non-profit that uses dog agility to improve the physical, emotional and mental health of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental delays. 

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Jane Carver

University of South Florida College of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics

Jane Carver, PhD, MS, MPH, has been on the faculty of the University of South Florida College of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, since 1981. She is currently Professor Emeritus. Her career in pediatrics has given her a keen appreciation of the importance of early diagnosis and intervention in assuring strong and healthy development. Through her personal involvement with MVLLP, she has learned about the role of informed speech and language intervention in developing spoken and written language skills.


She has experienced first-hand how effective this approach is in children with deficits in these critical areas. For the last 10 years she has been teaching scientific communication to health care professionals and trainees, further confirming her conviction that the early achievement of sound oral and written communication skills is a basic foundation for academic success, and should be made available to all children. She is an advocate for timely early assessment and treatment and scientifically- based intervention to support competent social and academic communication.