Lead Tech

Shannon Smith, M.Ed.

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Administrative Assistant 

Shelly Osborn

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Project Manager

Robin Thoma, Ph.D.

Meet Our Team

Dr. Robin Thoma spent the first eighteen years of her career as a high school special teacher where she specialized in working with students with specific learning disabilities and autism. In this role, she collaborated with general education teachers, counselors, related service providers, and parents to best serve students with IEPs. Following her time in the classroom, Robin became the Project Coordinator of the PASS Project at Indiana State University where she facilitated professional development opportunities for teachers of the blind/low vision, teachers of the Deaf/hard of hearing, and educational interpreters. 

Prior to becoming the Project Manager of the SLDSP, Robin was the interim Chairperson of the Education Department, Assistant Professor, and Licensing Advisor at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. While at SMWC, she developed curricula for the P-12 Mild Intervention and Intense Intervention programs. Robin earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at Indiana State University.

Robin has spent her career advocating for students with special needs and helping train preservice teachers on inclusive practices. She is incredibly excited to work with teachers across the state of Illinois, and provide instructional supports for students with specific learning disabilities.  

Project Manager

Robin Thoma, Ph.D.

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In her 25 years as an Illinois educator, Shannon Smith has been privileged to work with students and teachers in various K-12 settings. She has worked as a classroom teacher, Librarian/Media Specialist, Instructional Technology Curriculum Liaison, and Director of Technology.

Committed to sharing her passion for instructional technology, Shannon is also the co-founder of Recess TEC, a company specializing in delivering high-quality, practical professional development to help teachers bridge the gap between classroom technology and curriculum requirements. She has trained thousands of teachers in hundreds of schools to improve educational outcomes and equity for all students by providing a cutting-edge environment to prepare students for college and career readiness.

Shannon earned her Bachelor of Science in Education and Master of Science in Educational Administration from Eastern Illinois University. She is also a Google Certified Trainer. 

Lead Tech

Shannon Smith, M.Ed.

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Shelly has worked in schools in various roles for the past nine years. In February 2014, she started working in education at a middle school in the health room. In July of that year, she was transferred to the main office and served as the school treasurer. Shelly stayed in that position for eight years. In October of 2021, she moved to the Administration Building in the same corporation and served as the Administrative Assistant to the Curriculum Coordinator. In October of 2022, she was asked to also work with the Deputy Superintendent along with the Curriculum Coordinator. 

Shelly has three adult children. Her oldest daughter, Ashley is married and lives in Terre Haute, IN, her son, Cole, is single and lives in Granby, CO, and her youngest daughter Ainsley, is a junior at Indiana State University where she is studying to be a special education teacher. Her hobbies include going to the UP in Michigan and hiking, snowmobiling, and enjoying all things the outdoors has to offer. She also enjoys spending time with her kids and parents.

In addition to working in schools, she spent the first 25 years of her professional career as a licensed Cosmetologist. She still does hair on a part-time basis.

Administrative Assistant

Shelly Osborn

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CONTENT SPECIALIST
READING

Kellyn Sirach, M.Ed.

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CONTENT SPECIALIST
EArly Writing

CONTENT SPECIALIST
Writing

 Jessica Rodriguez, M.Ed.

 Jill Rogers, Ed.S.

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CONTENT SPECIALIST
MATH

Aubrey Durkin, M.Ed.

Content Specialists

CONTENT SPECIALIST
READING

Kellyn Sirach

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CONTENT SPECIALIST
Writing

Jill Rogers

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CONTENT SPECIALIST
MATH

Aubrey Durkin

Content Specialists

Aubrey Durkin has been working in education since 2009. She has taught or tutored students leveled pre-k to 12th grade. She completed a math specialist program through UIC in 2020 and has her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

Most of her career was spent in Calumet City working as an interventionist, parent liaison, and instructional coach. In her tenure there, she helped create intervention groupings and monitor outcomes to ensure success. She also worked with dozens of teachers through coaching cycles in which they used student data to drive instructional planning. Making math accessible to all learners is her passion, and she devotes many of her professional developments to this endeavor.

Aubrey spends her free time with her husband and four children, usually at the hockey rink bundled up and rooting for the Midwest Blackbirds. 

Content specialist
Math

Aubrey Durkin, M.Ed.

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CONTENT SPECIALIST
READING

Kellyn Sirach

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CONTENT SPECIALIST
Writing

Jill Rogers

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CONTENT SPECIALIST
MATH

Aubrey Durkin

Content Specialists

Kellyn Sirach is a reading specialist in Champaign, Illinois. She has experience working with pre-kindergarten - college level students in literacy development while most of her work has been in middle schools. She is currently working toward her Certified Academic Language Therapy (CALT) certification and is a 22-23 Teach Plus Policy Fellow working on literacy policy in the state of Illinois. She is co-founder of Camp Monarch - Evolving with Dyslexia, Champaign-Urbana's first ever summer camp for students with dyslexia and reading disabilities.

In 2016, Kellyn was awarded the 30-Under-30 award from the International Literacy Association. She is a board member for Everyone Reading Illinois and The Reading League Illinois. Kellyn is passionate about providing resources and professional development to school districts, teachers, and families to ensure that every single child has the access to learn how to read. 

Content Specialist
Reading

Kellyn Sirach, M.Ed.

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Jess Rodriguez started her teaching career in 2015 as a high school special education teacher working primarily with students with specific learning disabilities, and students with emotional disabilities. After several years, she began working in Charleston, Illinois as a middle school LBS1, and then as a reading teacher. Throughout her middle school experience, Jess has acted as a mentor for both beginning and future teachers, provided professional development for teachers and parents, and piloted several district initiatives including Competency Based Education which promotes individualized learning for all. 

Jess has her Bachelor of Science in Special Education and Music Education from Eastern Illinois University. In addition, she has her Master of Science in Elementary Education with a focus on English Language Learning, and a Master’s Certificate in Reading Instruction. Jess has devoted her career to establishing a classroom environment that promotes learning and personal growth for all students.

Regional Specialist
Region 2

Jess Rodriguez

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CONTENT SPECIALIST
READING

Kellyn Sirach

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CONTENT SPECIALIST
Writing

Jill Rogers

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CONTENT SPECIALIST
MATH

Aubrey Durkin

Content Specialists

Jill Rogers started her teaching career at Eastern Illinois University as a graduate assistant teaching Basic Composition and English as a Second Language. After earning both a Bachelor and Master of Arts in English from EIU, she moved to K-12 education, teaching 7th-12th grade English and computers before becoming a K-12 building principal.

After earning a Specialist in Education Administration, she spent twenty-two years as a district superintendent. During that time she served on ROE 11’s Professional Development Advisory Committee, Lake Land College’s Professional Advisory Committee, EIU’s Educational Leadership Advisory Council, and the IASA-ISBE Advisory Committee. In 2022 she received the ROE11 Recognition of Excellence Award.

Jill is excited to return to doing what she loves - writing! She looks forward to supporting teachers of writing throughout the state.

Content specialist
Writing

 Jill Rogers, Ed. S.

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REGIONAL SPECIALIST
REGION 4

Amy Magers, SSP, Ed.M.

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REGIONAL SPECIALIST
REGION 4

Lauren Brewer, M.Ed.

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REGIONAL SPECIALIST
REGION 2

Chanita Jones, M.Ed., NBCT

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REGIONAL SPECIALIST
REGION 2

Amy Weltin, M.Ed.

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REGIONAL SPECIALIST
REGION 1

Tari Jansen, M.Ed.

Regional Specialists

REGIONAL SPECIALIST
REGION 5

REGIONAL SPECIALIST
REGION 6

Josh Quick, Ed.S.

Janet Flesch, M.Ed.

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REGIONAL SPECIALIST
REGION 3

Christie Johnson, M.Ed.

Tari Jansen joins the SLD Project with 27 years of experience as a special education teacher and administrator. Tari will be serving the SLD Support Project as a Regional Specialist for Region 1. While she has experience across PreK -12 and across most disability categories, she has spent the majority of her career working with K-5 students. Tari has also served as a special education coordinator, a special education director and most recently an Elementary Principal.

Having spent several years implementing Response to Intervention Systems in schools after co-writing and being awarded the ASPIRE grant in 2005, her passion for the instructional evidenced based approaches in reading and writing was fueled by her own experience as a mother.

In addition to academic instructional coaching, Tari has significant experience in developing explicit instruction models using structured teacher methods, visual supports and picture exchange communication systems to support students instructionally and behaviorally. Her most recent journey in education gave her experience in problem solving strategies to meet the needs of EL students school wide.

Tari is very excited about the potential of the SLD Support Project and looks forward to her membership on the team to support Illinois school to provide relevant professional development and coaching.

Regional specialist
Region 1

Tari Jansen

COntact Tari

Christie comes to SLDS with an extensive background in special education and a strong passion for teaching students with learning differences. She began her career in special education in 1996 and since then has held positions as a special education teacher, elementary school principal, and an alternative education school principal. Most recently, she held a position as a special education administrator. During her career, she has worked with a variety of students and staff in K-12 settings with curriculum, trauma-informed practices, behavior strategies and best practices dealing with special education issues. Christie understands the importance of fostering a collaborative and cohesive team environment to meet the diverse needs of students. She strives to consistently inspire and motivate those around her.

Christie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and a Master of Science in Educational Administration from Eastern Illinois University. In 2021, Christie obtained her certification in Orton-Gillingham. This new achievement better equips her to identify and address the specific needs of students with Dyslexia and other reading disabilities.

Christie is an avid learner who consistently seeks out new research and techniques to enhance her skills to better serve students and teachers that she works with. She is a firm believer in the power of education to transform lives and is committed to making a positive impact on the lives of students with learning disabilities.

Outside of professional commitments, Christie enjoys spending time with her teen daughter, walking her dog Lola, traveling to new parts of the world, and enjoying many adventures with family and friends.

Regional specialist
Region 3

Christie Johnson

COntact Christie

Amy Magers began her career as a school psychologist and has served students in both small, rural schools as well as a large urban school district in Illinois. Most recently, Amy has served as a Special Education Administrator, so her educational focus is on meaningful educational evaluations, legal issues in Special Education, and ensuring students have access to a Free Appropriate Public Education. Always a school psychologist, she also has interests in creating robust MTSS systems, social-emotional learning, and data literacy. 

Amy attended Loyola University Chicago with a degree in Psychology and Minors in Sociology and Women and Gender Studies prior to receiving her Master’s and Specialist degree in School Psychology at Northern Illinois University. Her administrative certification was obtained from the Educational Policy, Organization & Leadership program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 

When not working or reading, Amy loves to travel with her husband and daughter. 

REGIONAL SPECIALIST
REGION 4

Amy Magers, SSP, Ed.M.

COntact Amy

Lauren started her teaching career as a high school special education teacher working primarily with students with specific learning disabilities, other health impairments, and autism. Lauren also taught high school English and Algebra in both co-taught and self-contained settings. In 2015 she started as an instructional coach on the school district’s Autism Team, helping teachers and staff implement evidence-based practices and problem-solving needs for students with autism. Most recently, Lauren has worked as a Special Education Instructional Coach and Therapeutic Crisis Intervention Trainer. She supported K-12 teachers across the district where she combined a general education and special education background to develop and deliver workshops and on-site coaching to meet the diverse needs of students and adults. She is committed to socially just practices to close the achievement gap and promote student independence.

Lauren attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in English Secondary Education prior to receiving her Master’s degree in Special Education, LBS1 at the University of Illinois.

REGIONAL SPECIALIST
REGION 4

Lauren Brewer

COntact Lauren

Josh has 29 years of experience as an educator in PreK-12 schools. After earning a BS in Special Education he started his career as a K-4 special education teacher. In this role, Josh helped facilitate the school’s first collaborative team to assist teachers in identifying interventions for students experiencing academic or behavioral difficulties. Many of his students struggled with language and reading and this piqued a career-long interest in the development of language and reading skills. Josh focused his graduate studies at Eastern Illinois University on these topics and earned an MS in Elementary Education with an emphasis in reading. This soon led to a new assignment as a first grade classroom teacher and new opportunities to help students.

Josh continued his graduate studies throughout his teaching career, eventually completing requirements for an EdS in Educational Administration and licensure as a principal and superintendent. This took his career path to Robinson CUSD#2 where Josh became the principal of a PreK-2 elementary school. Here he led an amazing learning community which put the needs of the students first and committed to getting the youngest learners in the school district off to a successful start. Josh collaborated with staff to create a comprehensive benchmarking and progress monitoring process as well as a system for managing and analyzing student data to facilitate effective problem-solving meetings. He also gained valuable experience in how to manage conflict and build consensus within a learning community. After just over six years as principal, Josh was asked to become the superintendent of schools. He served in that capacity for nearly sixteen years, keeping his students’ needs at the center of every decision. Josh is extremely excited to join the team at the SLD Support Project and have the opportunity to work with educators throughout the state. 

REGIONAL SPECIALIST
REGION 5

Josh Quick, Ed.S.

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Janet just finished her 25th year in the field of special education. She started her career as a special education teacher for students in primary and intermediate grades with experience in an itinerant position providing services for students within private school settings. She later moved to Southern Illinois and began providing services for students at the high school setting with all learning needs, focusing on a more functional curriculum. After a total of 14 years of teaching, she transitioned to a special education administrator for Tri-County Special Education and Williamson County Education Services and has served in this capacity for eleven years.  

Janet holds a B.S. in Education from Eastern Illinois University and a M.A. in Educational Administration from University of Illinois. 

REGIONAL SPECIALIST
REGION 6

Janet Flesch

COntact Janet

Amy first joined the field of education 24 years ago as a self-contained special education teacher. After four years, she became an inclusion facilitator at the elementary level where she co-taught with all grade levels.

After spending 6 years teaching, Amy became an assistant principal at two dual-language elementary schools. Here, she discovered a love for supporting multilingual learners. After four years as an assistant principal, Amy moved into the role of special education coordinator. In this position, she supported teachers, students, and parents to provide FAPE to students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. 

After staying at home with her children for a period of time, Amy returned to public schools at the high school level. Here, she co-taught with general education high school teachers. She also taught multiple different self-contained subjects for students with learning disabilities and social-emotional needs. During her high school experience, she developed a passion for exploring the executive functioning needs of children and adolescents. This passion led her to develop a class specifically to support students with executive functioning needs. 

When not working, Amy enjoys traveling with her husband and friends and attending the athletic events of her children.  

REGIONAL SPECIALIST
REGION 2

Amy Weltin

COntact Amy

An educator by-nature and by-trade, Chanita has worked in the field of education through school and non-profit settings since the age of 14. She is a National Board-Certified Teacher-Exceptional Needs Specialist, and has served as a teacher-leader in traditional public and charter schools throughout Illinois. Passionate about improving quality of life conditions for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, she is a fierce advocate for equity, inclusion and accessibility. She earned a B.S. in Special Education at SIU-Carbondale and a M.Ed. in Spec. Ed.-Curriculum Adaptation, focusing on Culturally-Responsive Differentiated Instruction at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Outside of working to improve education, Chanita enjoys traveling to national parks, arts and crafts, and spending time with family. 

REGIONAL SPECIALIST
REGION 2

Chanita Jones

COntact Chanita

Janet just finished her 25th year in the field of special education. She started her career as a special education teacher for students in primary and intermediate grades with experience in an itinerant position providing services for students within private school settings. She later moved to Southern Illinois and began providing services for students at the high school setting with all learning needs, focusing on a more functional curriculum. After a total of 14 years of teaching, she transitioned to a special education administrator for Tri-County Special Education and Williamson County Education Services and has served in this capacity for eleven years.  

Janet holds a B.S. in Education from Eastern Illinois University and a M.A. in Educational Administration from University of Illinois. 

REGIONAL SPECIALIST
REGION 6

Example

COntact Janet

GRANT PARTNER

Kathryn Havercroft, Ph.D.

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GRANT PARTNER

Jeremy Doughty, M.Ed.

Grant Partners

GRANT PARTNER

Tony Reeley, Ed.S.

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GRANT PARTNER

Missy Jones, Ph.D.

Jeremy Doughty has worked with students with disabilities since 1998 when he began at Eastern Illinois Area of Special Education (EIASE) in a program for students with emotional disabilities. After acquiring his LBS1, Jeremy taught seventh graders for Charleston CUSD#1. As a cross-categorical teacher, Jeremy instructed reading, math and writing, and then partnered with general education teachers for other academic instruction through co-teaching. 

In 2009, Jeremy returned to EIASE as an Associate Director, and consulted with school districts on special education issues, programming, professional development and mediation as well as supervising school psychologists, school social workers, and the EIASE Autism team. For the past seven years, Jeremy has been an Assistant Director for EIASE. Professional and Staff Development and Programming have been his main focus in this position. His passion has been helping employees attain higher education through partnerships with universities for teacher development and closing the gap on shortage areas within EIASE. 

Jeremy is involved in his community by serving on his local county board, public health board, and the local education credit union board. He serves at his local church and volunteers through Compassion Services International for humanitarian work worldwide. He has traveled to forty-three countries.

GRANT PARTNER

Jeremy Doughty

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Dr. Kathryn Havercroft is a Professor and Department Chair for the Department of Special Education at Eastern Illinois University. She earned her doctoral degree from Indiana University and has focused much of her work in the area of School-wide Positive Behavior Supports (SWPBS), along with mental health supports for children and young adults. Additionally, she is interested in programming and curricular decisions for students with low incidence disabilities and transition services.

GRANT PARTNER

Kathryn Havercroft, Ph.D.

COntact Katheryn

Melissa Jones-Bromenshenkel is currently a professor and graduate coordinator in the Department of Special Education at Eastern Illinois University. Prior to this, Missy taught children with various types of disabilities at Cumberland Elementary and Middle School where she implemented a co-teaching model and coached Special Olympics. Dr. Jones is currently a partner, along with Eastern Illinois Area of Special Education (EIASE), on the SLD Support Project grant through which she serves as the Chair of the Dyslexia Handbook Work Group. She is also the Principal Investigator on the C2C (College to Classroom) Grant which provides induction supports to new special educators. 

Dr. Jones is a member of the American Council on Rural Special Education (ACRES) Executive Board, serves as the Secretary/Treasurer for the Illinois Teacher Education Division (ITED) of CEC, and is on the Advisory Group for the Illinois Elevating Special Educators (IESE) Grant. In addition to working towards preparing quality teachers, Missy strives to ensure that all children receive effective educational services by volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), a family advocate, and an Educational Surrogate. 

GRANT PARTNER

Missy Jones, Ph.D.

COntact Missy

Tony Reeley has been the Executive Director of Eastern Illinois Area of Special Education in Charleston since 2010. Tony is in his 24th year in special education, serving in central Illinois districts as a teacher, dean of students, and Associate Director prior to his current position. Tony's graduate work consists of a Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Specialist Degree in Educational Administration from Eastern Illinois University, where he currently teaches courses in the Educational Leadership Program.

GRANT PARTNER

Tony Reely, Ed.S.

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