Language for Learning Institute


People


Photo of Letty Martinez

Letty Martinez

Dr. Leticia Martinez earned her doctorate in curriculum and instruction, with an emphasis on language and literacy studies, from The University of Texas at Austin in 2006. Martinez's professional experience includes teaching at the elementary, secondary, and university levels. She has worked closely with schools and teachers to coordinate federally funded research for the last 7 years. Her research focuses on supporting English language learners in schools. Currently, she is the director of the Texas Institute for the Acquisition of Language for Learning, funded by the Texas Education Agency. The institute is a support center for Texas secondary schools and their English as a second language programs. Her research interests include adolescent English language learners, content area literacy, and qualitative research of Latina youth in schools.



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David Francis

Dr. David J. Francis is a Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Houston, where he also serves as director of the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics and co-director of the Texas Learning and Computation Center. Francis is currently chairman of the Executive Board of the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology and a fellow of Division 5 (Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics) of the American Psychology Association. His areas of quantitative interest include modeling of individual growth, multilevel and mixture modeling, structural equation modeling, item response theory, and exploratory data analysis. He has collaborated in research on reading and reading disabilities, attention problems, developmental consequences of brain injuries and birth defects, and adolescent alcohol abuse. He obtained his doctoral degree in clinical neuropsychology from the University of Houston in 1985 with a specialization in quantitative methods. To contact Francis, visit the University of Houston website.


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Elfrieda Hiebert

Dr. Elfrieda “Freddy” H. Hiebert is president and chief executive officer of TextProject. Hiebert received her Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She has worked in the field of early reading acquisition for 40 years, first as a teacher’s aide and teacher of primary-level students in California and, subsequently, as a teacher educator and researcher at the universities of Kentucky, Colorado-Boulder, Michigan, and California-Berkeley. Her research addresses ways to support students who depend on schools to become literate. Her particular interests include how to foster fluency, vocabulary, and knowledge through appropriate texts. Hiebert’s research has been published in numerous scholarly journals. She has also authored or edited nine books, the most recent being Revisiting Silent Reading: New Directions for Teachers and Researchers (International Reading Association; with D. Ray Reutzel). Through documents such as Becoming a Nation of Readers (Center for the Study of Reading, 1985) and Every Child a Reader (Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement), she has contributed to making research accessible to educators. Hiebert’s model of accessible texts for beginning and struggling readers, TExT, has been used to develop several reading programs that are widely used in schools. She is the 2008 recipient of the William S. Gray Citation of Merit, awarded by the International Reading Association, and is a member of the Reading Hall of Fame.


Photo of Deborah Short

Deborah Short

Dr. Deborah J. Short is a senior research associate affiliated with the Center for Applied Linguistics, a nonprofit organization for language education research, policy, and practice in Washington, D.C. Short co-developed the research-validated SIOP Model for sheltered instruction and has directed quasi-experimental and experimental studies on English language learners funded by the Carnegie Corporation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education. She chaired an expert panel on adolescent English language learner literacy and co-authored the policy report Double the Work. She recently completed a 3-year study of newcomer programs for middle and high school English language learners, culminating in the report Helping Newcomer Students Succeed in Secondary Schools and Beyond. As director of Academic Language Research and Training, a consulting group, Short works with districts in the United States and abroad on professional development and curriculum design for sheltered instruction and academic literacy. She has authored numerous publications, including books on the SIOP Model and National Geographic Learning's ESL series: Edge, Inside, Reach, High Point, and Avenues. Her research articles have appeared in TESOL Quarterly, Language Teaching Research, Journal of Educational Research, Educational Leadership, Education and Urban Society, Social Education, and Journal of Research in Education.



Photo of Leticia Romero Grimaldo

Leticia Romero Grimaldo

Dr. Leticia Romero Grimaldo currently serves as co-principal investigator of the English Learner Institute for Teaching and Excellence (Project ELITE2), funded by the Office of Special Education Programs in the U.S. Department of Education. The goal of the project is to develop, implement, and evaluate tiered intervention models for students who are English language learners. Previously, she served as the project manager for the Texas Institute for the Acquisition of Language for Learning, which assisted schools throughout the state with their programs of instruction for English language learners through technical assistance and professional development. She has extensive experience developing and providing professional development in the areas of promoting school leadership, meeting the needs of English language learners, and facilitating change in schools. She is also an adjunct professor for Texas State University–San Marcos, where she teaches master's-level courses within the Education and Community Leadership Program.


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Colleen Reutebuch

Dr. Colleen Reutebuch is a director of the Reading Institute, project director of the External Evaluator for National Center for System Improvement and the National Deaf Center, principal investigator of the Targeting the 2 Percent project, and co-principal Investigator on Project READ. For more information, read Reutebuch's full bio.


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Greg Roberts

Dr. Greg Roberts is the associate director of MCPER. For more information, read Roberts' full bio.




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Kaci Bonine

Kaci Bonine serves as an assessment coordinator for MCPER. Bonine works with school districts in Austin and the surrounding area to coordinate teacher observations and research projects, including the Center for Research and Educational Achievement and Teaching of English Language Learners (CREATE) and Collaborative Strategic Reading. She earned both her undergraduate and master’s degrees in social work from The University of Texas at Austin.


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Vanessa Cortez

Vanessa L. Cortez has joined the Write for Texas team as their online content specialist. She was previously project manager of the Targeting the 2 Percent project. Cortez has worked on both professional development projects as well as intervention research studies. She received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education and her master’s in curriculum and instruction with a reading specialization. Her certifications include master reading teacher, special education, bilingual, and principal. Prior to her work at MCPER and VGC, she served for 10 years in Laredo, Texas, as a bilingual teacher, campus literacy coach, and early childhood district coordinator. Her interests include language, literacy, and interventions for English language learners. 


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Gleb Furman


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Shannon Giroir

Dr. Shannon Giroir is a researcher within the English Language Institute for Teaching and Excellence (Project ELITE2), a model demonstration project focused on multitiered instruction for ELs. Previously, she worked with the Texas Literacy Initiative, developing online course content for the Texas State Literacy Plan and providing teacher training in literacy instruction for ELs. Giroir completed her doctorate in applied linguistics, with an emphasis in teaching English as a second language, from UT Austin in 2011. Her professional experience includes English as a second language curriculum and instructional design, reading intervention instruction, and teacher-education courses in second-language acquisition and applied linguistics. Her current work focuses on supporting English language learners in schools, particularly within the context of culturally and linguistically responsive pedagogy.


Photo of Stephanie J. Stillman

Stephanie J. Stillman

Dr. Stephanie J. Stillman serves as the director of assessment for MCPER. Stillman works closely with school districts and teachers in Austin and the surrounding area to coordinate research related to student testing and teacher observations for several MCPER projects, including CREATE, Collaborative Strategic Reading, and a focused UT Elementary School study. She earned her undergraduate degree in sociology and philosophy from Colgate University and her master’s degree in religion and philosophy from Harvard University. She earned her doctorate in religious studies with a focus on ethics and children from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She is a former Teach for America High School Special Education teacher, and she has also taught at the University of California at Santa Barbara and California Polytechnic University. She is the author of the forthcoming book Remembering the Cruelest Month: The Politics of Memory in the Aftermath of the Shootings at Columbine.