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THE WHOLE A+ TEAM


 

Caroline Novak, President

caroline@aplusala.org

aplusala_caroline

As a member of the charter class of Leadership Alabama I learned about the depth of our challenges in education, and also about the role citizens played in organizing efforts to improve education in states such as Kentucky. I challenged our class to promote excellence and equity for all children in our state. With the leadership of classmate Bill Smith, chairman of Royal Cup Coffee, we launched A+ in 1991. We were fortunate that committed Alabama educators and other business and civic leaders joined us from the very beginning.

The message that we can succeed with the right mix of high expectations, support for educators and students, and accountability for all stakeholders has helped to build strong partnerships throughout the state. I believe that we can create opportunities for all Alabama students to pursue their dreams by ensuring that we are constant learners ourselves. So we worked to build support for improving schools and then developed programs to actually deliver support to educators and students through the Alabama Best practices Center and A+ College Ready.

To stay connected to national resources and local issues, I serve on the boards of the Education Commission of the States, the Southern Regional Education Board, the Business Council of Alabama, Sterling Bank and Leadership Alabama. Tabor and I are proud that our children, grandchildren and grand-dogs call Alabama home.

 

Cathy Gassenheimer, Executive VP for ABPC

cathy@aplusala.org

pic_cathyI’ve been with A+ from almost the very beginning, joining in August 1991. In 1999, we launched the Alabama Best Practices Center, which works directly with educators through our four professional learning networks: the Superintendent Leaders Network, the Key Leaders Network (school and district leaders), the Powerful Conversations Network (school teams), and the Instructional Partners Network (school-based instructional coaches).

I’m a real learning nerd and love nothing more than to learn more about things that matter. I’m also quite a lover of all types of music! Personally, I’m married to Rick Gassenheimer and together we have three children and three grandchildren. You can connect with me through this website, and also on Twitter (@cathygassenheim) and the ABPC Facebook page.

Tammy Dunn, Chief Academic Officer for A+CR

Chief Academic Officer
tammy@aplusala.org

apluscr_tammy_dunnI am a 28 year career educator. The first 17 years of my career were spent in science classrooms in Tennessee and Hoover, Alabama, teaching biology, chemistry, physics and AP biology. In 2007, I went to work as the science supervisor for Jefferson County Schools where I facilitated the curriculum, instruction, professional learning, and assessment for 6 - 12 science education in 14 high schools and their feeder middle schools. While working with Jefferson County schools, I helped manage the A+ College Ready grant program, and in 2010, I became the Program Manager for A+ College Ready. In 2013, I went to serve as the Chief Academic Officer for Mathematics and Science for Hoover City Schools, and in 2016 I returned to A+ College Ready as the Chief Academic Officer.

I earned a bachelor's degree from the University of North Alabama, a master's degree from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and an Education Specialist's Degree from Samford University where I currently serve as an adjunct teacher for the School of Education.

I achieved certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) in 1999 and renewed the certification in 2009. I have mentored over 100 teachers who have undergone the NBPTS certification process. I currently serve on the NBPTS board of directors. I was honored to be the 2001 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching and the 2003 Alabama Teacher of the Year.

My husband Ray and I love to travel and play golf. The joy of my life is enjoying my family, especially my two granddaughters, Ava and Olivia.

Teri Thompson, Chief Program Officer for A+CR

Chief Program Officer
A+ College Ready
teri@aplusala.org

I have spent the last 33 years involved with public education in Alabama, then retired from the classroom and began working with A+ College Ready.  My classroom experience includes teaching high school English, grades 9-12 and AP literature and Composition in diverse educational settings from urban to rural to magnet. 

I graduated from Bradley Central High School in Cleveland, TN, in 1979, and then attended The University of Alabama and The University of Alabama at Birmingham.  I began teaching in 1984. 

In 2010, I became a certified Laying the Foundation trainer and have presented at summer trainings across the state as well as presenting at Advanced Placement (AP) Literature Saturday Study Sessions in Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. 

I joined the staff of A+ College Ready in 2014 as the manager for Partner Schools.  I am currently the Chief Program Officer for the organization.

I am a member of the 2017 class of Leadership Elmore County, the 2014 Wetumpka High School Teacher of the Year, the 2013-14 Building Leadership Team chairperson, and a member of ADK (Alpha Delta Kappa), an education sorority.  My husband, David, and I have one child and live in Wetumpka, AL.


 

Carrie Bates

Statistics Consultant
A+ College Ready
carrie@aplusala.org

This is my fifth year as the A+ College Ready Statistics Consultant. I also teach full time at Buckhorn High School in the Madison County School System. I have been a secondary mathematics teacher for twenty years and currently teach AP Statistics, Discrete Mathematics, and Algebra with Finance.

My husband, Jack Jr., and I live in Huntsville, Alabama with our two children, Jack (7) and Caroline (3). I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Birmingham-Southern College (1997) and my graduate degree in Mathematics Education from the University of Alabama in Birmingham (2000). In 2005, I became a National Board Certified teacher and then renewed that certification in 2014.

Michelle Condon

Chief Financial Officer
michelle@aplusala.org

aplusala_michelleI came to A+ in 2010 as Chief Financial Officer. Prior to A+, I worked for 37 years in commercial banking, primarily in operations, finance, and mergers/acquisitions. I was a military brat who landed at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, and graduated from Sidney Lanier High School and then Auburn University with a B.S. in Economics.

I have one son who graduated from Auburn and lives in Winston-Salem, NC with his new wife. I enjoy my Lake Martin cabin, as well as traveling, cooking and spending time with friends. I'm very happy to be working with A+, and out of the pressure cooker world of banking!

Rennie Crabb

Special Projects Coordinator
rennie@aplusala.org

aplusala_rennie

I began working at A+ in August of 2008. I work with all the A+ divisions, handling special projects, board interactions, donor relations, meetings preparation, and other administrative duties. Before joining A+, I was a stay-at-home mom for 20 years while volunteering with various community groups and church activities. I also worked as an account executive with Automatic Data Processing after graduating from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Personnel Management and Industrial Relations.

I was born in Birmingham and moved to Montgomery in elementary school. I attended Jefferson Davis High School, along with my husband, Barry, a CPA. We worked in Birmingham after attending opposing colleges (AU and UA) for 6 years before settling down in Montgomery to raise our two children. I love going to the beach, and I enjoy reading, cooking, and watching football.

Melissa Crook

Office & Data Manager
A+ College Ready
melissa@aplusala.org

I have served as the office manager of A+ College Ready since 2015. I earned a B.A. in Anthropology and Master of Public Health, both from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. My passion for the education field stems from my upbringing in a small, rural town. I graduated from Fayetteville High School in Sylacauga, AL, and am encouraged by the opportunities the A+ program offers to so many students in similar settings.

I live in Sylacauga, and have a four-year-old daughter, Madelyn. In my spare time, I enjoy photography and spending time outdoors.

Matt Dean

Science Content Director
A+ College Ready
matt@aplusala.org

I have taught AP Biology for 21 years and AP Physics for 5 years, and am currently the Science Content Director for A+ College Ready. I have presented at numerous AP professional development conferences and Saturday study sessions across the state. I attended Madison County High School in Gurley, AL, and earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Additionally, I earned Educational Specialist and Doctoral degrees from the University of Alabama. I was awarded National Board Certification in 2001 and 2011. I enjoy kayaking and farming in my spare time.

Dale Fleury

Social Studies Content Director
A+ College Ready
dale@aplusala.org

dale_fleuryI joined the A+ College Ready team in 2015 to help scale and implement a teacher training and student incentive program in social studies. I bring over 25 years of experience in social studies curriculum and instruction, having co-authored two books on the topic in social studies education. Immediately prior to coming to Alabama, I served nine years as Vice President of Programs and Business Development for a nation-wide education non-profit. I earned a Master’s Degree in Education Administration - Supervision, Curriculum and Instruction from the University of North Texas. I enjoy playing golf and traveling with my wife Teri.

Diann Frucci

English Content Director
A+ College Ready
diann@aplusala.org

I joined A+ College Ready to serve as the English Content Director in 2013 after retiring from the classroom. I taught for 28 years, 25 of those at LAMP High School in Montgomery, Alabama, where I taught both AP English Literature and AP English Language. I served as department chair at LAMP, as English lead teacher for Montgomery Public Schools, and as an AP reader; I have also been an LTF (Laying The Foundation) trainer for seven years. I was honored in 2011 to be named a NMSI All American Teacher and the College Board’s AP Teacher of the Year for the Southeastern Region in 2012.

Jenifer Glover

Finance Manager
A+ College Ready
jenifer@aplusala.org

I joined the A+ team in 2014, serving as its Finance Manager. Before that, I worked with Southern Company in various roles for sixteen years- the last six years as a Budget Analyst. I earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and MBA from South University.

Originally from Spring Hill, Florida, I now live in Elmore County with my husband LaDon. We have four children with two of them currently in college, and one proudly serves in the Alabama National Guard. I enjoy reading, and volunteering in my community in my spare time.

Pat Johnson

Consultant
AL Best Practices Center
johnsonp8908@gmail.com

abpc_pat-johnsonI do not think I can remember a time when I have not been involved in education: I have been in school, teaching school, managing a school or consulting with schools. My career began in kindergarten in North Carolina, then to Florida, and now in Alabama. I taught multiple grade levels and content areas from kindergarten to college. In addition, I have had the opportunity to visit classrooms in Kenya, Bolivia, and Honduras. I never dreamed I would leave the classroom. From the classroom, I worked as Teacher-In-Residence with the University of Alabama, and began to realize the importance of administrative leadership. I spent the last years in public education in administration.

My goal is to always be a learner—in education and in life. I believe that no matter the age or stage in life there is always something new to learn.

Away from the work of education, my husband and I enjoy traveling, involvement in mission outreach through our church, and gardening.

Lee Ann Latta

Mathematics Content Manager
A+ College Ready
leeann@aplusala.org

I am a 20-year veteran in the Birmingham City School system where I taught everything from Algebra I to AP Statistics and AP Calculus. I served as the AP math lead teacher for the district. I have been a National Math and Science Initiative / Laying The Foundation trainer for six years; I also present at Saturday study sessions, ACT study sessions, and am AMSTI trained. I am married and have two daughters.

Beth McDavid

Consultant
AL Best Practices Center
mcdavidb@mac.com

bethmcdavidI started my career in education thirty-nine years ago as an art teacher with the Tarrant City School District and was honored to receive the National Elementary Art Educator of the Year award. After a number of years teaching I served as assistant principal and then in central office as an administrator. My responsibilities have included staff development, curriculum, technology, English as a Second Language, accreditation, and Federal Programs.

Since retiring last year I have been with the Alabama Best Practice Center (ABPC) working with Alabama educators in supporting the ABPC’s work with Key Leader Network (KLN), Powerful Conversation Network (PCN), and Instructional Partners Network (IPN).

It has been a pleasure and very rewarding to continue my work with teachers and leaders as we all learn together to further learning and success for Alabama children. I enjoy yoga, reading, and cooking new and interesting foods. My family includes my husband, Bill McDavid, four children, and eight grandchildren.

Kitty Morgan

Mathematics Content Director
A+ College Ready
kitty@aplusala.org

I have taught AP Calculus AB and BC for 20 years, and am currently the Math Content Director for A+ College Ready. I have been an AP Calculus Reader for six years, have presented at state, regional, and national conferences on math education and am an "Laying The Foundation" (LTF) presenter. I attended Stanhope Elmore High School in Millbrook, AL, and earned a degree in math education from Troy University. I hold a Master’s Degree from UAB, and earned National Board Certification in 2005. I love to sing and twirl baton!

John Norton

Communications Consultant
AL Best Practices Center
johnnort@gmail.com

abpc_johnI made my first connection with A+ more than 20 years ago during a chance phone encounter with Cathy Gassenheimer, while I was vice president for information at the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). As a communications consultant for the A+ Alabama Best Practices Center, I spent a decade writing and editing the ABPC journal Working Toward Excellence and now serve as editor for the ABPC Blog. In my first career, I reported on education for newspapers in South Carolina. I was also the first executive director of the state-supported SC Center for Teacher Recruitment (now CERRA).

A Clemson graduate, I attended "small-town" public schools while growing up near Myrtle Beach. My wife, Janice and I live in Little Switzerland, NC, but spend lots of time in Atlanta with grandson Wyatt and daughter Laurah, an English professor at Georgia State.

Thomas Rains

Vice President of Operations & Policy
thomas@aplusala.org

aplusala_thomasI joined A+ in 2011 and promote state education policies focused on ensuring all students graduate from high school ready for college and careers. I am currently vice chair of the Alabama Public Charter School Commission, and serve on the advisory boards for Teach For America-Alabama and the Family Guidance Center. I am also a member of the PARCA Roundtable and an alumnus of the Alabama Leadership Initiative and Leadership Montgomery’s Torchbearers Class. Before joining A+, I was a middle school teacher in Marks, MS, and also worked as a journalist in New York and Washington, DC. I hold a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University and dual bachelor’s degrees in history and journalism from Boston University. Originally from Atlanta, I am a preacher’s kid raised in Birmingham and Lanett, AL.

John Richey

Program Consultant
A+ College Ready
johnrichey64@gmail.com

I joined the A+ team in 2015 to serve in a consulting capacity, primarily as a liaison between A+ College Ready and schools involved in the program. Prior to that, I served as a teacher and administrator in the Albertville, Arab, and Guntersville City School Systems. I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Auburn University in 1986, a Master's degree in Education from the University of Alabama Birmingham in 1988, and an Educational Specialist degree from the University of Alabama in 1998.

I am originally from St. Clair County and now live in Arab with my wife, Laura. We have three children. The oldest, John William and his wife, Sara, live in Madison, and he works as a Data Analyst for Wallace State Community College in Hanceville. My other two sons, Benjamin and Jack, attend Auburn University. I enjoy travel, sports, cooking, and helping schools grow academically by partnering with A+ College Ready.

Beth Sanders

Technology Integration Consultant
AL Best Practices Center
bethellen86@gmail.com

abpc_bethsandersI am a connected educator, lifelong learner, and proud millennial. My full-time position is as the Technology Integration Coordinator for Pike Road Schools. I am a member of the Powerful Conversations Network, Key Leaders Network, and for the past six years I've served part-time as the Technology Integration Consultant for Alabama Best Practices Center.

I am passionate about all things future-ready, leading. and learning. I have been fortunate to partner with APBC in a number of ways to provide support and access to connected and blended-learning experiences for educators, administrators, and instructional partners all across the state. One of the most exciting parts of my work with ABPC involves the online professional-learning community I've created and manage through Ning, which connects and empowers our Instructional Partners Network. Although our partners are in districts all over the state, the Ning connects them to each other and to resources whenever it is most convenient for them. It also keeps the learning going long beyond our face-to-face meetings. You can learn more about my work at my about.me page, connect with me on Twitter @MsSandersEdu, and with ABPC at #ALPartners.

Chip Turner

Science Content Manager
A+ College Ready
chip@aplusala.org

I am the son of a career naval officer and, as such, have lived on both coasts. I have more than 16 years of experience as a teacher, having taught Chemistry, Physics, Life Science and Physical Science. My last 13 years have been spent in the Jefferson County school system at Pleasant Grove, where I was initially trained in Laying The Foundation as part of the very first cohort, eight years ago.

Pam Walker

English Content Manager
A+ College Ready
pam@aplusala.org

aplusala_pamI joined A+ College Ready in June of 2015 as the English Content Manager. I am a twenty-year veteran English teacher who has taught in both Georgia and Alabama public schools where my primary teaching roles have been freshman English and AP Language and Composition. I have served as an AP study session presenter, and am also a certified Laying The Foundation trainer. I was honored to be named Elmore County Teacher of the Year for Secondary Schools for 2015-2016. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Language Arts Education from Auburn University in 1995. Originally from Auburn, I now live in Wetumpka with my husband and our three children.

Jackie Walsh

Primary Consultant
AL Best Practices Center
walshja@aol.com

abpc_jackieSince 2008, I have served as senior consultant to the ABPC with primary responsibilities for design and facilitation of professional learning. Previously, I collaborated with A+ in my role as consultant to the Governor’s Commission on Quality Teaching. I began my career as a high school social studies teacher and, over the years, have worked in multiple educational organizations, including universities, a state department of education, a regional educational laboratory, and as consultant to the USDOE, national professional organizations, multiple SDEs, regional agencies, and school districts across the country. Phew! I should be really tired!

My passion is classroom questioning. I have co-authored four books on this topic, most recently Quality Questioning, 2nd Edition (Corwin Press, 2017) and Questioning for Classroom Discussion (ASCD, 2015), numerous articles in national journals, and presented at many national conferences. I partner with teachers in schools and districts across the country to improve questioning practices.

A native of Georgia, I received the A.B. from Duke University, M.A.T. from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), and Ph.D. from the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa). In my spare time, I enjoy time with my adult children, two granddaughters, and two grand-dogs. I also travel whenever a good opportunity arises, read recreationally (as well as professionally), and am a huge college basketball and football fan.

Jill West

Communications Director
jill@aplusala.org

aplusala_jillI joined the A+ team in 2012, and am proud to serve as its website, social media and communications guru. Before that, I served six years as Chief Development Officer for the United Methodist Children’s Home and eight years as Public Relations Director for the Montgomery Housing Authority. I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Auburn University {War Eagle!}, and graduated from high school in Elmore County, AL.

Originally from Savannah, Georgia, I now live in Elmore County with my husband and our daughter, who is a freshman in high school. My oldest son just got married, and my middle son is "living the dream" in Utah. I'm a Libra, enjoy reading mystery novels and traveling around Alabama visiting our awesome schools.

Carol Yarborough

Computer Science Specialist
A+ College Ready
cyarbroughapcr@gmail.com

I began teaching high school in 2007, embarking on a second career after working in the computer industry for 20+ years. I am currently teaching computer science full-time at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, in Birmingham, Alabama, and serving as the A+ College Ready Computer Science Content Specialist.

I graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a degree in Computational Mathematics. I then was employed in just about every aspect of the computer industry, doing both scientific and business programming. In addition to being a programmer, I have been a designer, analyst, system administrator, database administrator, technical architect, corporate trainer and curriculum developer. But, I always wanted to teach, so I studied Secondary Mathematics Education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I have been a College Board pilot teacher for the AP CS Principles course and a Teacher Leader with the CS4Alabama project. CS4Alabama is training in-service teachers in Alabama to teach the APCS Principles course.

I enjoy working with bright and creative people and the satisfaction of knowing that my work matters.