About TeachersFirst's Contributors

A. Ruth Okoye, Ed.D. 
Ruth is SFL’s Director of K-12 Initiatives. She has over 20 years of experience as a teacher, technology integrator, and researcher who has both taught and led professional development efforts in both university and K-12 environments. Her areas of expertise include technology integration in K-12 settings as well as developmental reading and writing. She previously served as Technology Resource Teacher for the Portsmouth Public Schools, Portsmouth, VA. She holds a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from Regent University.

Melissa Henning, M. Ed.
Melissa is Educational Content Manager for TeachersFirst and chief editor for our review team. She has 11 years' teaching experience, and holds certification in elementary education. Melissa heads the research/writing team for Globetracker's Mission and many upcoming projects on TeachersFirst. Melissa has also designed and moderated OK2Ask online professional development sessions.

Donna Benson, M.S. ED
Donna manages SFL's MySciLife project and is also a content contributor for gifted and regular ed projects for TeachersFirst. She has been a teacher for over 20 years, with experience in all grade levels. She holds certifications in Family and Consumer Science and gifted education. Donna has held several offices in state and national associations for gifted education and regularly consults in legislative proceedings on gifted ed.

Content Contributors and Reviewers

TeachersFirst’s site-review and writing staff includes teachers and veteran educators with a broad range of backgrounds. Some of our major current and past contributors include:

Elaine R. Bergstresser, M.S.
Elaine is a teaching veteran of over 13 years and holds certifications in German, English, Business, Computer and Information Technology, and Instructional Technology Specialist. Elaine has written many site reviews for TeachersFirst.

Sarah Berry, M.Ed.
Sarah began working for TeachersFirst while a graduate student completing her Masters in Teaching, Secondary Education - Social Studies. She completed student teaching in a high school, teaching Government, AP Government, and AP Human Geography, and is now a middle school U.S. History teacher. Sarah has worked on site reviews, database updates, and lesson plans for TeachersFirst. She is currently our resident "newbie" teacher, writing a blog about her experiences as a tech-savvy, beginning teacher.

Michele Casey, M.A.
Michele has been a teacher for 33 years, and she holds certification in Secondary Education/ Communication. She has also been a professional actor/stage manager for 26 years. She is a National Writing Fellow and professional speech writer. Michele has written site reviews for TeachersFirst.

Marsha R. Connor, M.A., SLP, CCC
Marsha has been a teacher for 32 years, with elementary, middle and high school experience and certification in English, speech/language pathology, and special education. She has won an award for infusing technology in her delivery of instruction, lesson plans, assessments, and student-based projects. Marsha recently retired from her position as an English teacher in New York and has written reviews for TeachersFirst.

Diane Darrow, M.F.A.
Diane has been an educator over 16 years in both K- 5 and college settings. She holds certification in Early Childhood Education, Reading Recovery, Montessori, and Gifted Education. She has held various positions as a writing, technology, and art mentor, classroom teacher, and Fine Arts Instructor. She is currently a Library Media Specialist. Diane is a site reviewer for TeachersFirst and contributes Edge reviews. She also moderates OK2Ask online professional development sessions. Diane has been accepted as an Apple Distinguished Educator, class of 2011.

Sharon Hall, M.A.
Sharon has been an educator for 15 years and is certified in Elementary Education with a Master of Arts degree in Teaching. She holds National Board Certification as an Early Childhood Generalist and received the Presidential Award of Excellence in Math teaching in 2008. Currently she provides Professional Development to elementary teachers in Mathematics. Sharon is a site reviewer for Teachers First and designs and moderates OK2Ask online professional development sessions.

Heather Hurley M.Ed
Heather as been in education for 18 years as elementary and middle school teacher, professional development director, and instructional technology coordinator. She holds certifications in administration, instructional technology, special and elementary education. In addition, she is a Smart Exemplary Educator, STAR Discovery Educator, Blog Coordinator for the VA Discovery Educator Network Leadership Council and a Google Certified Teacher. Heather is a site reviewer for TeachersFirst and presents and moderates for OK2Ask online professional development.

Peggy Jennings, Ed.D.
Peggy has been an educator for 27 years in both K-12 and college settings. She holds certification in secondary social studies and secondary school counseling. Peggy writes both site reviews and content for history and college planning for TeachersFirst and TeachersandFamilies.com. Peggy is also a historical re-enactor, so her love of history shows in much of her work for TeachersFirst.

Kathleen Lawrence, M.Ed.
Kathy began her career in education as an elementary classroom teacher, and has been a librarian for the past twenty-four years. She has been a fellow with the National Writing Project in Vermont, and is the author of several published articles and two blogs. She contributes content for Help! I lost my Library Media Specialist! - a resource for teachers working in districts where budget cuts have reduced or eliminated librarian positions.

Louise Maine, M.A.
Louise has been a teacher for 20 years in both middle and high school settings in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Virginia. She has also taught Methods in Science Education for pre-service teachers at WMU in MI. She holds certifications in Biology and General Science. She is currently involved in bringing the newest in technology and authentic instruction into her high school science classroom as a Pennsylvania Classrooms for the Future teacher. She is also a blogger and presenter of educational technology and instruction topics. Louise is a Google Certified Teacher. She is a site reviewer for TeachersFirst and contributes many Edge reviews. Louise also designs and moderates OK2Ask online professional development sessions.

Shirley Miller, B.A.
Shirley has been a teacher for 27 years in both elementary and middle school settings in Northern California. She holds certifications in English, ESL Crosscultural, Language, and Academic Development (CLAD), and Elementary Multiple Subjects. She is, and has been, the English Department chairperson at her school for 15 years. She is currently involved in bringing the newest in technology and authentic assessment to her middle school English classrooms as a participant in the EETT federal government grant. She blogs, belongs to several educational nings, and is a presenter of educational technology and instruction topics. Shirley is a site reviewer for TeachersFirst and contributes Edge reviews.

Melinda M. Morgan, M.S.
Melinda is in her seventh year of teaching. She holds secondary level (7-12) certifications in Biology, General Science, and Advanced Placement Biology. She holds a middle level certificate in Math, and a K-12 certification in Environmental Science. She currently seeking Chemistry certification and a second master's degree in educational leadership. She has participated in pilots for the Concord Consortium. She also teaches online in her district's virtual academy. She is a site reviewer for TeachersFirst and contributes Edge reviews.

Alix E. Peshette, M.A.
Alix has been an educator for over 20 years, holding various positions as a classroom teacher and district-level technology training specialist. She holds certifications in K-12 Art, K-12 Social Studies, Computer Concepts and Applications, and Elementary Multiple Subjects. She is also a Google Certified Teacher, blogger, author and presenter on educational technology topics. Alix has written many site reviews for TeachersFirst.

Rhonda Phillips, M.A.
Rhonda has been a teacher for over 12 years, and she holds certifications as a reading specialist, elementary teacher, and special ed teacher. In addition to teaching reading to elementary students, she also prepares future educators by teaching reading as a university faculty member. As a writer (her other passion), her essays have appeared in several well-known anthologies. Rhonda is site reviewer for TeachersFirst.

Marsha Rohrbaugh, B.S.
Marsha has been an educator for 13 years; she holds certifications in Elementary Education and Business, Computer, and Information Technology. Marsha contributes technology-infused lesson plans and templates for TeachersFirst.

Linda Ryan, M.S., M.A.
Linda has been an educator for 30 years. She is certified to teach ESL, basic skills, basic computer skills, ABE/GED, and career skills. She holds a Master's Degree in Library and Information Studies. She has taught most recently in a technical school and is an active contributor to the reading department's internal website, specializing in finding and annotating useful websites for teaching reading. She is both a site reviewer and ESL content expert for TeachersFirst. Linda compiles curriculum-related reading lists for TeachersFirst and also writes themed book lists for TeachersandFamilies.

Trudy Saraiva, M.S.
Trudy has been an educator for over 29 years, with experience as both a teacher and administrator in Special Education. She holds certifications in Supervision and Cooperative Education. Her classroom experience includes teaching students with mental retardation, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, autism, and emotional disturbance as well as working with these students on transition to life after high school. Trudy has also been a supervisor of programs in both special education and gifted education. Trudy is a content contributor and special ed consultant for TeachersFirst.

Candace Hackett Shively, M.A.
Candy began contributing to TeachersFirst since its inception in 1998 and was SFL's Director of K-12 Initiatives from 2006 through 2014. She is a veteran of 27 years of teaching and holds certifications in English, Business, Computer and Information Technology, Gifted Program Specialist, and Instructional Technology Specialist. She has taught Instructional Technology as an adjunct faculty member for two colleges. She is also a Fellow of Penn State’s Capital Area Writers Project.

Erin B. Sheppard, J.D., M.P.P.
Erin is a graduate of Duke University School of Law and The Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University. She has served as a clerk for the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington, DC. and is now in practice with a Washington, D.C. law firm. Erin is the author of social studies resources for TeachersFirst, and she has created several of our Harry Potter study guides.

Gretchen Sting, M.Ed.
Gretchen has over 25 years of K-8 teaching experience in public, religious, and independent schools. She is currently a reading specialist, infusing technology into work with gifted students. Gretchen has been involved with the National Writing Project, the Florida Humanities Project, and Schools Attuned. She has also directed an inner-city enrichment program, been a teacher in residence at COSI—a hands-on science museum, and worked with the Exploratorium’s Problem Solving Science project. For TeachersFirst, Gretchen is an OK2Ask moderator and a site reviewer.