Crafting Minds seeks to promote evidence-based instructional practices for students who benefit from extra support and/or specialized instruction including those with specific learning disabilities.

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, math instruction, dyscalculia, and achievement motivation.

Our interdisciplinary team of professionals consists of Developmental Psychologists, Educational Researchers, Reading Specialists, Math Coaches, and Special Educators. 




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.



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.  



Sarah Gannon has worked as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, and literacy coach for the past 18 years. Sarah bridges her knowledge of the body of research, known as the Science of Reading, to the practical application in the classroom. She brings her experience with screeners and assessments to use a data-driven approach to instruction. Her knowledge of multi-sensory methods and interventions for students struggling with aspects of reading help teachers plan targeted Tier 2 interventions to address weaknesses in decoding, fluency, and comprehension. Sarah will complete her certification at the Associate Level in Orton-Gillingham in the fall of 2021. She is trained in Rave-O and has deep experience with various assessment and screening tools such as the DIBELS, supplemental inventories like the PAST, and standardized assessments like the RAN/RAS & TOWRE.



Rebecca Lord, M.Ed. is an elementary math coach in Waltham Public Schools and a former dual special education/middle school math teacher. She has 10 years of experience in specialized math instruction, primarily teaching substantially-separate small-group math classes to students with dyscalculia, dyslexia, language-based, and math learning disabilities. During this time she also served as a middle school math general education teacher, provided tier 2 math support, and designed and delivered tier 3 math interventions. Over the past several years she has provided professional development on dyscalculia, math learning disabilities, and effective math instruction for teachers and districts throughout MA.



Kate Shade is an educator with over 15 years of experience in professional development, instructional coaching, academic evaluation, classroom teaching, curriculum design, and remedial instruction. Kate has worked across educational settings including public, charter, and private schools, non-profits, educational consultancies, and pediatric hospitals.  She specializes in evidence-based practices for English language instruction, including differentiated teaching for students with specific learning disabilities and those who are developmentally- and medically-complex students.  She has worked at organizations including Boston Children's Hospital, Tufts University's Center for Reading and Language Research, reDesignU, and the Stern Center for Language and Learning.


Project Manager 

Hannah Lim is a special education resource specialist for primary and secondary schools based in the Greater Los Angeles area. She has previously worked as both a lead/mentor teacher and an assistant director in various early childhood educational settings. During graduate school at Tufts University, she focused on attachment theory, ethnic-cultural identity development, and socio-emotional learning. In her spare time, Hannah is a content creator and writer for a non-profit that focuses on cultivating and strengthening the ethnic-cultural identity of those on the Korean Spectrum. 

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