MEET THE TEAM
Melissa Orkin, Ph. D
Melissa Orkin is a Developmental Psychologist who specializes in learning disabilities, and achievement motivation. Dr. Orkin trained in the assessment and remediation of reading and learning disabilities with Dr. Maryanne Wolf, at the Tufts’ University Center for Reading and Language Research where she received her doctorate and served as a Program Director. She has worked as a reading teacher in the classroom, and in clinical settings. Dr. Orkin instructs on learning disabilities at Tufts University, and has also lectured on reading disabilities at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She contributes to publications on a variety of educational topics including literacy development and executive function skills, and regularly provides professional development workshops and consults with public and private schools on best literacy practices.
Crafting Minds seeks to promote the best practices in literacy and English language arts instruction. Along these lines members from our group provide consultations, evaluations and ongoing professional development workshops designed to support school districts and enhance practitioners knowledge about the fields of neuroscience, reading instruction, dyslexia, achievement motivation, early literacy skills and use of technology in literacy development. Our interdisciplinary team of professionals consists of Developmental Psychologists, Educational Researchers, Reading Specialists, and Special Educators.
LEANDRA ELION, M.Ed
Leandra Elion is a reading specialist and special education teacher, with training and expertise in multisensory methods for students with reading disabilities. She has taught literacy to students of all ages, from preschoolers, through the elementary grades and up to the high school level. Leandra has also taught teacher interns at both Brandeis and Tufts University. She has been a Literacy Coordinator for a public school district and has worked for the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in their Special Education Planning and Policy Department. Among her interests is using technology to support struggling readers and she has presented on this topic at literacy and special education conferences. Currently, at Tufts, Leandra is a Lecturer in Education and Special Education. She also is the Vice-President Elect of the Massachusetts Reading Association, working on international and state-wide literacy improvement projects.
CONNIE HENRY, M.A.
Connie Henry is an experienced educator with a focus on equity and access in mathematics for all students. Ms. Henry served as the Assistant Director of K-12 Mathematics for Boston Public Schools, where her responsibilities included professional development, curricular and assessment recommendations, and collaboration with other departments such as the Office of Special Education. Prior to that role, she worked as a classroom teacher and instruction coach.
Connie designs and facilitates professional development that builds content knowledge and examines equitable practices through a lens of inquiry.In addition, she is interested in the complex link between mathematics and language in the context of student thinking. She is a content advisor to MathTalk, a community-based initiative to encourage adult-child conversations. She recently co-authored No More Math Fact Frenzy (Heinemann, 2019) that includes research-based strategies to achieve fluency with all four operations using strategies and representations based on conceptual understanding
STEPHANIE GOTTWALD, Ph.D.
Dr. Gottwald is a linguist specializing in the interaction between the acquisition of spoken and written languages. Stephanie has directed investigations into evidence-based solutions for struggling readers, including the development and longitudinal, NICHD-funded, efficacy testing of the RAVE-O program, an evidence-based fluency and reading comprehension curriculum. Stephanie has provided professional development in the RAVE-O curriculum for thousands of teachers in a multitude of national and international educational settings. Stephanie also speaks frequently about her work in treading development, assessment, and intervention. Stephanie is a Co-Founder of the Curious Learning, which seeks to develop a global, open source solution to support child-driven literacy learning. She holds an M.A. from Boston College and a Ph.D. from Tufts University in Linguistics and Literacy.