Our expert team

Our expert team

Our training is delivered by leading national and international education experts with decades of experience leading and supporting schools to deliver effective teaching. Good to Great Schools Australia trainers have all taught the programs they train in from at least two years and have lead Tailored School Implementations.

Dr Vicky Vachon - Director of Implementation Improvement

Vicky Vachon, PhD has decades of experience supporting schools to implement effective teaching in school settings across the United States, Canada and Australia. Vicky specialises in improving student academic achievement with a focus on literacy, and is recognised internationally as a leading expert in Direct Instruction school implementation.

Vicky has co-authored a range of papers and curriculum materials, including several books in the widely used REWARDS series. This is for remedial readers and to improve students’ oral and silent reading fluency by learning an effective strategy for decoding multisyllabic words. Titles co-authored by Vicky include:

– REWARDS: Word Attack and Rate Development Strategies
– REWARDS Intermediate
– REWARDS: Reading Strategies Applied to Social Studies Passages
– REWARDS: Reading Strategies Applied to Science Passages.

Vicky has also published a number of scholarly articles contributing to educational academic literature, including:

– Decoding and fluency: Foundation skills for struggling older readers’, in Learning Disabilities Quarterly (2005)
-‘The fragile X syndrome: A multidisciplinary perspective on clinical features, diagnosis, and intervention’, in Journal on Developmental Disabilities (1993)
-‘Developmentally delayed children – Ready for school, but are the schools ready for them? Parent and teacher perceptions’, in Journal on Developmental Disabilities (1993).

Vicky began her career as a classroom teacher in Canada working with very low functioning students. Feeling demoralised and frustrated with her inability to progress the students, Vicky was considering leaving teaching until a friend told her about a program called Direct Instruction. Vicky took some training in the program and then tried it out in the classroom. The poor behaviour disappeared and her fourteen year old students started learning to talk for the first time. Vicky’s passion for teaching was again switched on and led her to study under the creator of Direct Instruction, Siegfried Engelmann, doing a Master of Education at the University of Oregon.

After completing her master’s degree Vicky returned to Canada and joined a multidisciplinary team at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, providing tertiary assessment for children with developmental concerns.

In 1998 Vicky completed her PhD, with her thesis exploring effects on reading skills for middle school students with reading deficiencies.
She has lectured at the University of Oregon in special education method courses and design of instruction, and in the Department of Special Education and Community Resources.

As Implementation Manager with the National Institute for Direct Instruction, Vicky has supported primary and secondary schools’ improvement journeys, from small remote schools in Australia to large urban schools in the United States, Canada and Australia. Vicky led the team that implemented Direct Instruction at Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy in Aurukun, Coen and Hope Vale. Many of the well below grade level students Vicky first met seven years ago have since graduated from high quality high schools.

An experienced trainer, Vicky specialises in the REWARDS program, and has delivered workshops alongside her REWARDS co-authors Anita Archer and Mary Gleason across the United States, including at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Washington.
School partnerships and leadership team member biographies

As Implementation Improvement Director at Good to Great Schools Australia, Vicky oversees the quality of tailored school implementations. She reviews implementation and school results data, identifies anomalies, and provides regular mentoring and problem-solving sessions with Teaching Coaches and school leadership.

Interesting fact: Vicky is an accomplished and experienced yachtswoman. In 1992 she skippered the first-ever all-female crew in the Lake Ontario 300, a strenuous race circumnavigating the 380 kilometre lake. Her team split the fleet coming 44th out of 88 boats. Vicky is also Vice Commodore on the Board of Directors of her yacht club.

Linda Youngmayr - Leading Expert of Direct Instruction

Linda Youngmayr has over four decades experience developing, teaching and training in all Direct Instruction (DI) programs. She studied with DI inventor Siegfried Engelmann and worked on the early development of the DI Reading, Language, Math and Corrective series. Linda is in the Hall of Fame for the Association of Direct Instruction (ADI).

Linda was a presenter and trainer at ADI conferences for over 35 years, and has taught students or trained teachers in almost all DI materials over more than 45 years. She has been providing school professional development in a range of forums for decades.

Linda’s DI work includes program and coaching training, implementation and training of the REACH program (Corrective Reading, Reasoning and Writing), as well as general and special education teaching using DI programs in the curriculum.

In Sigfried Englemann and Doug Carnine’s Theory of Instruction, Linda is described as providing an incredible demonstration of teaching the unteachable through a highly technical understanding of instruction.

Linda has a Master of School Administration from California State University and qualifications in special education teaching, standard teaching and administration.

As well as her extensive experience in the United States, Linda is the Teaching Coach for the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy for Good to Great Schools Australia (GGSA). Linda provides support, coaching, evaluation and feedback to manage implementation of GGSA’s Tailored School Implementation at both of the academy campuses in remote Indigenous communities.

Dawn Hughes - Senior Teaching Coach (Explicit Direct Instruction)

Dawn Hughes has decades of experience as a mainstream and special education teacher, school leader and instruction coach in remote urban and regional communities and in the United Kingdom. A specialist in explicit pedagogies and positive behaviour management, Dawn is a leading Australian practitioner in creating and developing pedagogical frameworks, reviewing school data to inform practice, and coaching and mentoring graduate and experienced teachers.

Having demonstrated success in leadership roles such as head of special education services, behaviour specialist and head of explicit teaching. Dawn has spent the past five years supporting school leadership teams to effectively implement instructional improvement programs across schools and working with teachers to develop skills in explicit instruction and positive behaviour strategies.

As head of explicit teaching at a high school in Logan City, Dawn rolled out an explicit pedagogy across the whole school in all faculties. Before implementing the program many students had been entering the school at or below the national minimum standard. As a result NAPLAN data in all areas was raised for three consecutive years.

Dawn trained with the founders of Explicit Direct Instruction John Hollingsworth and Sylvia Ybarra and used the pedagogy in enhanced English classes and modelled it to teachers and heads of departments across the school. These students attained one and two bands higher in NAPLAN in less than a year and the schools whole NAPLAN results lifted in all five areas for two consecutive years.

Dawn completed Direct Instruction Coaching Academy training and now develops teachers’ ability to provide data-driven feedback, facilitating rehearsal sessions to provide practice for instructional staff in lesson formats and program content and determining appropriate interventions based on student data and observations.

Dawn frequently delivers professional development training for school staff at all levels including school executive teams from school clusters, teaching cohorts and support staff. She has also facilitated regional professional development seminars in the Reading to Learn program.
As Senior Teaching Coach at Good to Great Schools Australia Dawn provides support, coaching, evaluation and feedback to deliver and manage effective teaching implementations across urban and remote schools across Australia. She is also developing an explicit program that is aligned to the Australian Curriculum for students who have completed the Direct Instruction RMSE series.

Interesting fact: Dawn is originally from Wales and is a fluent speaker of Welsh. The number of Welsh speakers has declined so rapidly there was concern that the language would become extinct.

Dr Sheri Wilkins - Director of Professional Development

Sheri Wilkins, PhD has over 30 years of experience serving students with disabilities and building the capacity of educators to better support students with special needs. Sheri has worked at all levels of education, including preschool, primary school, high school and university.

Sheri has spent decades presenting and coaching teachers in literacy intervention, especially in the area of reading comprehension. She regularly provides Direct Instruction program training and classroom coaching, and has facilitated training for dozens of schools. Working across the United States and Australia, Sheri has worked extensively with schools and school systems to collect, analyse and use data to improve learning for all students.

Sheri has also teamed with school systems to implement district-wide change efforts, such as Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, and Response to Intervention.

Sheri’s PhD thesis explored teaching strategies for the comprehension of informational text. She also holds a Bachelor of Science (Special Education) and a Master of Arts (Special Education) with a focus on mild and moderate disabilities.

Throughout her career, Sheri has coordinated inclusion services for students with disabilities, provided professional development training to educators in evidence-based practices, and coached teachers and school staff in research-based strategies and practices.

In 2010, Sheri’s son sustained a mild traumatic brain injury in a car accident. As a result, Sheri has experienced first-hand the power of environmental modifications and metacognitive strategies to support people who struggle with executive functions. This personal experience led her to work with parents of children with disabilities, specifically children who may be inflexible, emotional, impulsive, or poor at planning and problem solving.

Sheri co-authored FLIPP the Switch: Strengthen Executive Function Skills, a book for parents and educators of children with executive function disorders characterised by disorganisation, inflexibility and impulsivity, such as attention deficit disorders, foetal alcohol syndrome disorder, intellectual disability, obsessive-compulsive disorders, social communication disorder, specific learning disability, Tourette’s syndrome and traumatic brain injury.

Sheri served on the University of California committee that developed a certificate program for teachers in the education of students with autism. She also served as a reviewer in the National Professional Development Center on Autism Disorders 2014 update on evidence-based practices. She has also presented extensively on the topic of Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism.

As Professional Development Coach at Good to Great Schools Australia, Sheri oversees the development and delivery of school-wide professional development plans. She also develops training modules and oversees the training and development for school leaders and teaching faculties.

Interesting fact: Sheri’s book FLIPP the Switch has been #1 bestseller in its category in Amazon.

Dr Lynn Lysko - Professional Development Trainer

Lynn Lysko, Ed.D has over 33 years of experience in preschool to post-secondary education in diverse settings in both the United States and Canada. Lynn’s areas of expertise include effective instructional strategies, change theory, professional learning communities and transformational leadership. With a deep understanding of school- and system-level data, she uses data to effect positive results for students.
Lynn has successfully led school and system reform efforts in leadership roles. She has been both a primary and secondary school principal, a regional director of curriculum and staff development, and chief executive officer of a network of four independent schools.

Lynn’s doctorate focused on administrative leadership for teaching and learning, specialising in school-wide implementations of effective teaching. Her dissertation was awarded Walden University’s Frank Dilley Award for Outstanding Doctoral Study — an award recognising for its high standards of academic excellence.

Lynn’s has published work on education policy including, An Analysis of Governance Policies and Practices in One School District Regarding English Learners. This explored why secondary English-learning students in a large, urban high school district were not achieving at the same rates as other identified subgroups on standardised tests — what could be done to change this and increase students’ overall learning.
She designs and teaches cultural proficiency and personal ethics courses to aspiring principals, with a particular emphasis on performance assessment. She is also a Brandman University adjunct faculty for new teachers, focusing on differentiation and assessment. She has created walkthrough protocols merging the Rigor and Relevance Framework with Explicit Direct Instruction.

Lynn also has a Master of Arts in Spanish and a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in French and Spanish, with additional qualifications in drama and cooperative education.

As Implementation Improvement Director at Good to Great Schools Australia, Lynn oversees the quality of tailored school implementations and reviews school results data. Lynn is also a mentor to school leaders and works closely with Teaching Coaches.

Interesting fact: Lynn has travelled the world as a SCUBA diver and student exchange group leader. She has dived in the Red Sea, Fiji, Indonesia and the Caribbean as a student group leader she has travelled to Japan, Switzerland, Italy and France. She also speaks Spanish and French fluently.

May-Brit Mackenzie - Teaching Coach

May-Brit Mackenzie has eight years experience supporting students to improve literacy and numeracy skills, and providing support, coaching, evaluation and feedback to teaching staff during effective teaching program implementations. May-Brit regularly travels in remote Australia supporting teaching teams in their schools. She has facilitated school professional development training in a range of forums.

May-Brit joined Djarragun College in 2010 and supported the school’s implementation of Direct Instruction where she saw the benefits for teaching staff and students, including gains in literacy, numeracy and comprehension skills, higher attendance and increased confidence. After students were placed in classes based on ability rather than age, they went from struggling to actively participating with strong voices and reading proudly in front of their peers.

In 2012 May-Brit travelled to Oregon in the United States and completed training to become one of Australia’s first Direct Instruction trainers. She continued to teach Direct Instruction programs in the classroom for seven years, delivering all programs in Reading Mastery Signature Edition, Corrective Reading Decoding, Horizons, Corrective Reading Comprehension and Direct Instruction System for Teaching Arithmetic and Reading and Connecting Maths Concepts.

May-Brit has extensive experience training and coaching school leadership teams, teachers and teaching assistants in successful implementation of Direct Instruction. At Djarragun College she provided weekly coaching to teaching staff, fortnightly practice sessions and coordinated professional development for successful implementation and delivery of the pedagogy. She also trained and supported new teachers and conducted placement tests for new students, analysed student data for progress and gave feedback to teachers on student groupings and remedies.

She has supported schools around Australia, from remote Indigenous schools to Queensland’s largest mainstream school on the Gold Coast. Through the National Institute for Direct Instruction May-Brit graduated from the Coaching Academy 1 and 2 and Leadership Academy.

As Teaching Coach with Good to Great Schools Australia May-Brit supports teachers to be strong and confident at delivering Direct Instruction programs with fidelity. She models effective teaching practices and techniques in classrooms and coaches school teams on specific remedies.

Interesting fact: May-Brit, pronounced /m??/ /br?t/, is a Danish name – May-Brit’s father is from Denmark. Born in New Zealand, May-Brit’s family moved to Australia when she was five. The family toured outback Australia, working in and visiting remote communities for five years before returning to New Zealand when May-Brit was ten. May-Brit’s family settled in Australia when she was 14.

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