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.

Dawn Hughes - Curriculum Manager

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 and curriculum, reviewing school data to inform practice, and coaching and mentoring graduate and experienced teachers.

As Curriculum Manager at Good to Great Schools Australia, Dawn manages curriculum writing teams developing effective teaching programs aligned with Australian standards in language, writing, science, math, indigenous language and culture. She also provides expert support to school implementations and partnerships, and Mastery Teaching Pathway training.

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 is experienced at providing 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.  In her previous role as Senior Teaching Coach at Good to Great Schools Australia, Dawn provided support, coaching, evaluation and feedback to deliver and manage effective teaching implementations across urban and remote schools across Australia. She also developed 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.

Dianne Hannett – Program Developer

Diane Hannett has more than 30 years of experience supporting schools to implement special education programs. Diane specialises in both individual and school-wide behavioural intervention as well as school leadership and school improvement.

As a Program Developer at Good to Great Schools Australia, Diane is part of our expert team developing teacher professional development modules for the Mastery Teaching Pathway.

Diane has extensive experience in evidence-based teacher training initiatives. She was selected for the leadership team that designed and supported California’s statewide Positive Environments Network of Trainers (PENT), a cadre of behavioural experts trained to assist schools in individual behaviour intervention. She also served as a state-wide trainer for Positive Behaviour Interventions and Supports (PBIS) in its early days of implementation in California.

Diane began her career as a school psychologist identifying and programming for students with disabilities. She found she enjoyed consulting with teachers and other educators and sharing strategies at staff meetings to help improve teachers’ instructional skills. When the opportunity arose to work at a regional consortium providing consulting and staff development services, she jumped at it.

Diane spent the next 14 years consulting with schools and offering training and support for school leaders, teachers, behaviour specialists and classroom aides. She developed and implemented dozens of training modules, with particular interest in the areas of individual behaviour intervention, school-wide behaviour systems, classroom management and educational leadership. After training educators for a number of years, Diane decided to try her hand at doing the work herself.

After completing courses in educational administration Diane obtained her credential in administration and began working as a director of special programs. In that role she has continued to provide support for teachers, at-risk youth, and school leaders in behavioural and school improvement strategies. Diane also holds a Master of Education and Psychological Specialist degree.

Interesting fact: Diane is an avid baseball fan. She can often be spotted sporting one of her many items of clothing in support of the Los Angeles Angels club.

Susan Thomas, PhD – Training Developer

Susan Thomas, PhD has almost 40 years of experience as a teacher, administrator, professor, instructional coach and consultant in the United States, Qatar, and Australia. Her areas of expertise include multi-tiered systems of support, positive behavior interventions and support, special education and effective instructional strategies.

In her role at Good to Great Schools Australia Susan writes teacher professional development training modules for the Mastery Teaching Pathway. Susan has also supported several schools in remote Australia through Good to Great Schools Australia’s Flexible Literacy for Remote Primary Schools program.
Susan has contributed to the academic literature for special education, co-authoring articles Bullying of students with disabilities: school administrators’ responsibilities and Special Education Law for Leaders and Administrators of Special Education. She is also a peer reviewer for the journal Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities.

Susan began her career as an elementary teacher where she first learned about students with dyslexia in her classroom. She enrolled in a masters program at Clemson University and received her degree in special education with emphasis in learning disabilities. She taught special education for 10 years and it was during this time she learned about Direct Instruction. In 1998 Susan was selected by McGraw Hill to complete SRA’s Coaching and Supervision Advanced Training and began consulting for McGraw Hill on a part time basis.

After 18 years as a teacher, Susan took her first administrative job as a regional level special education director. After four years, she was approached about going to the South Carolina Department of Education to direct a grant focusing on positive behaviour interventions and supports and early literacy. During this time, she completed a masters degree in educational leadership and a PhD in special education from the University of South Carolina. She spent several years at the state level before returning for her remaining five years in public education as a special education director for a large district in South Carolina.

After 30 years in public education, Susan retired from public education and planned to begin consulting full time in Direct Instruction. While attending the Direct Instruction conference in Oregon, she met two people from a new school in Doha, Qatar. The school had a position as Head of Teaching and Learning and the three skills they were seeking were positive behaviour interventions and supports (PBIS), Direct Instruction, and special education. While there Susan established systems to support the implementation of PBIS, Direct Instruction, and special education programs.

After returning to the United States, Susan served as a Head of School for a private school for students with disabilities before going into private consulting. In 2011 Susan was awarded Educator of the Year by the Family Resource Center for Disabilities. During her career she has taught as an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina.

In 2017 Susan worked on Good to Great Schools Australia’s Flexible Literacy in Remote Schools program, providing consultation to schools using Direct Instruction. She consults with schools and districts supporting implementation of multi-tiered systems of support using positive behaviour support, effective instructional strategies, and team-initiated problem solving. She also works with districts to support effective special education programs and policies.

Her proudest work is her volunteer work in professional organisations. She served on the board of the South Carolina Council for Exceptional Children for thirteen years. She has served on the membership committee for the Council for Exceptional Children Division of Learning Disabilities at the national level and is on the research committee for the Council of Administrators of Special Education. She was a charter member of the South Carolina Association for Positive Behavior Support Network and currently serves as the president.

Interesting fact: Susan lives on a barrier island on the coast of South Carolina. She enjoys the beach, walking, biking and swimming. Savannah (17), Riley (14), Mason (7), Cohen (4), and Katherine (2) are her grandchildren and greatest joy.

Natalie McBrayer – Program Developer Coordinator

Natalie McBrayer has over 30 years experience in the field of public education and has had extensive experience in teaching, coaching, training, and facilitating. With expertise in Direct Instruction, curriculum and reading instruction and library science, Natalie has also spent much of her career working with Indigenous and disadvantaged students in rural Alaska, the Middle East and Australia’s Northern Territory. As a leader of school systems and improvement programs, Natalie brings together stakeholders in conversations designed to increase collaboration, positively impact teaching and learning, and build dynamic educational systems that are student-focused and results-driven.

In her role as Program Developer Coordinator at Good to Great Schools Australia Natalie leads the development of content for the Mastery Teaching Pathway, a unique professional learning platform built on evidence-based, internationally acknowledged, quality teaching practices that is aligned to Australian standards. Natalie has also supported several remote schools in the Northern Territory through Good to Great Schools Australia’s Flexible Literacy for Remote Primary Schools program, including in the Tiwi Islands, Ntaria and Pularumpi.

Natalie started her teaching career in Michigan and taught there for seven years as a classroom teacher and principal designee. In 1989 she moved to rural Alaska teaching primary school to Native Alaskan children in their communities. Her introduction to Reading Mastery and Corrective Reading happened during this time as some of her students were struggling to learn to read. In 2001, she was asked to move to the Lake and Peninsula School District Office to work with all 14 schools across the Alaskan Peninsula in literacy and preschool education along with the role of district librarian. Here Natalie became the Reading First Coordinator and Coach in which she coordinated and provided the training and implementation of DI programs including Reading Mastery and Corrective Reading along with the districts’ assessment program using Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) then AIMSWeb, a data-intensive assessment and reporting tool that helps educators track their students’ progress in subjects such as reading and mathematics.

In 2011 Natalie moved to Doha in Qatar and became the English Language Literacy Specialist and Instructional Coach at Awsaj Academy, a K-12 specialised school that addresses the needs of students with mild to moderate learning difficulties. In her first year she coached grades 1-6 in Reading Mastery and Corrective Reading, in her second year she served as the coach for grades 1-4 along with being the executive trainer and coach for Reading Mastery, Corrective Reading and Language for Learning. She also served as the primary school’s assessment coordinator using AIMSWeb.

For the past three years Natalie has worked as an Implementation Manager for the National Institute for Direct Instruction (NIFDI) in reading, language, and spelling in the Northern Territory.

Natalie holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Central Michigan University, a Master of Education in Reading from University of Alaska, Fairbanks and a School Library Media Specialist Endorsement for University of Washington.

Interesting fact: Natalie was adopted by a Yupik Eskimo family while living in Hooper Bay, Alaska so she could be presented to do her first Eskimo dance in the community with her kindergarten students. Natalie has a collection of Yupik baskets, dance fans, and dolls from the people of Hooper Bay.

Troy Bullock – Education Publishing Manager

Troy Bullock has over a decade of experience as a digital publisher and producer in the educational sector, producing educational content for the primary and secondary school market with some of Australia’s largest publishers including Jacaranda Wiley, the ABC, and the Australian Academy of Science. He is a qualified and experienced secondary school teacher and a trainer of digital media technologies at a tertiary level.

At Good to Great Schools Australia, Troy manages the team that is producing the Mastery Teaching Pathway (MTP) – GGSA’s unique professional learning platform for schools. The MTP is a training and assessment platform that supports schools which are seeking to improve their student outcomes through effective teaching and family engagement, by providing school staff with training in evidence-based, internationally acknowledged, quality teaching practices.

In his six years as a digital publisher at Jacaranda, Troy has published innovative and engaging digital resources across all subject areas within the Australian curriculum. In 2011 and 2012, Troy published the iconic Jacaranda myWorld Atlas, and its follow-up, the Jacaranda myWorld History Atlas. These titles have won numerous accolades including the Overall Winner and Category Winner at the APA Australian Educational Publishing Awards, Best in Class at the Australian Interactive Media Awards, and Best Educational Product at the International Cartography Awards.

Troy began his career in educational publishing in 2008 as Jacaranda’s first online digital publisher. Prior to 2008, the only digital resources used by most schools were CD-ROM’s that were included in the back of textbooks. Jacaranda was the first of the major educational publishers to launch a large-scale digital platform in the secondary education market. Over the six years that Troy was publishing digital titles for the newly launched JacPLUS platform, subscriptions grew from 30,000 in its first year, to over one million annual subscribers. In 2014, Troy was employed as Manager of External Projects at the ABC, where he worked as part of the team that produced ABC Splash, a free online resource that provides thousands of curriculum matched videos, interactive games, multimedia eBooks, and teaching resources for Australian Primary and Secondary schools.

Interesting fact: Troy is a qualified Drama teacher and theatrical actor and often performs in stage plays in Brisbane.

Michael Proctor – Project Manager

Michael Proctor has over 20 years’ management experience across the IT and mining sectors. Passionate about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), Michael has diverse experience in both project management with scientific applications, from software development and systems administration to managing mining exploration projects and mine sites.

In his role at Good to Great Schools Australia, Michael manages a number of exciting projects to further student and community engagement in science and STEM education, such as our unique online platform for advanced study of STEM subjects and the development of a Solar System Discovery Trail for Cape York. Michael works with GGSA’s science curriculum writing team, experts and external consultants to design a range of innovative scientific displays and activities intended to generate excitement, wonder and curiosity.

A Far North Queensland local, Michael has successfully developed business outcome focused projects to improve business insights and organisational efficiencies. In his previous role with TBS Distrbution, Michael supported businesses throughout the region to deliver ICT (Information, Communication, Technology) specialist services across all industries such as Tech, Mining, Healthcare, Transport, Retail, and Utilities.

Michael also has a strong background in both desktop and onsite research and development, having completed several scoping and pre-feasibility studies for various exploration and mining projects. Throughout his career in the mining sector, Michael has managed multi-million dollar budgets and managed teams up to 30 people.

Interesting fact: Over three years Michael performed extensive research to extract tin from a stanniferous ironstone skarn (a metamorphised iron and tin bearing sedimentary rock). This lead to the successful development of a new pyrometallurgical method which is awaiting funding to commence operations. Michael is also a scout leader and has achieved level two in abseiling, canoeing and hiking.

Christine Martin – Training Developer/School Partnerships Support

Christine Martin has nearly 30 years of experience serving students with disabilities, training teachers and providing consultation services. Christine has worked extensively with primary school students and staff, specialising in targeted teaching intervention and teacher training and coaching.

As Training Developer/School Partnerships Support at Good to Great Schools Australia, Christine collaborates with GGSA’s expert team of writers to develop professional development materials. In her role providing School Partnerships Support, she reviews implementation and school results data, and facilitates regular mentoring and problem-solving sessions with teachers.

Christine has trained hundreds of teachers throughout her career as a McGraw Hill intervention consultant, a regional summer school principal and mentor of first and second year teachers. Her excellence in providing early intervention support for students and support for their teachers has recently been recognised by receiving the Siegfried Engelmann Excellence in Education Award.

Christine began her career as an Intervention Clinician, specialising in working with parents of children under eight years to support and strengthen families. An opportunity was offered to split a special education teacher’s caseload, which opened the door to a career in special education. Discovering a dusty copy of Spelling through Morphographs, a Direct Instruction spelling program for older students, was transformative for Christine, and she soon enrolled in a Special Education Credential Program. She moved to the lower primary level, using Direct Instruction products to teach reading, writing and math. For many years, she attended the National Direct Instruction Conference and Institutes in Eugene, Oregon.

Seeing the need to serve students who did not qualify for special education, but who were considerably below grade level, Christine began a summer intervention program. She recruited other teachers to join her, and eventually the program was expanded to include higher primary level students in a comprehensive summer program. She served as Direct Instruction Trainer and Coach, providing training and in-class coaching to teachers implementing The REACH System, a Direct Instruction program that focuses on precise areas that students need intervention.

Christine has also worked as an Intervention Consultant for the McGraw Hill School Education Group, providing training on Corrective Reading Decoding, Corrective Reading Comprehension, Expressive Writing and Spelling through Morphographs.

Christine has served her district as summer school principal and most recently she served as a Teacher Induction Program Mentor, a two-year job-embedded individualised induction program focused on extensive support and mentoring to new teachers in their first and second year of teaching.

Christine holds a Master of Arts degree in School Administration and Supervision. Her Masters thesis explored the effects of Corrective Reading Decoding combined with Spelling through Morphographs on reading comprehension. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies with a minor in French.

In 2019, Christine was presented with the Siegfried Engelmann Excellence in Education Award for her excellence in providing targeted support to students, advocating for early intervention and support of students in general education through reading mastery training for general education teachers.

Interesting fact: Christine enjoys scrapbooking and is working on three nearly identical books. One for herself, and one for each of her girls.

Betsy Frisch – Implementation Improvement Director

Betsy Frisch has over 30 years of experience using Direct Instruction strategies and curriculum with students from pre-school through high school.

As Implementation Improvement Director at Good to Great Schools Australia Betsy provides support to  local administrators and educators at remote schools to help them develop and refine the quality of  their school implementations. She does this by reviewing student data, observing students during  instruction and guiding local school teams in the use of these measures to provide targeted and effective instruction. She provides mentoring and problem-solving sessions with teaching coaches and school leaders, with the goal of ensuring all students within the school are successful learners.

Betsy began her teaching career as Special Education Instructor of students on the Autism spectrum in  Chicago. While completing a second and third degree with a focus on special education, Betsy served as a Youth and School Program Director and School Community Liaison. While studying for these degrees, she was introduced to the strategies and curriculum of Siegfried Engelmann and Direct Instruction. She began using these tools in her work with K-8 students with special needs including emotional and behavioural disabilities, visual and hearing disabilities, learning disabilities, cognitive disabilities and students on the autism spectrum. Betsy has extensive experience with the Direct Instruction programs including Reading Mastery levels K-5, Language for Learning, Language for Thinking, Language for Writing, Reasoning and Writing A-D, Spelling Mastery A- D, Expressive Writing I & II, DISTAR Arithmetic 1 and 2, Corrective Math- all modules, Corrective Reading and Comprehension levels A – C.

Betsy has been providing training and coaching of Direct Instruction programs and behaviour management throughout the USA and Australia since 1997. She spent four years working with remote schools, predominantly in Central Australia, in Good to Great Schools Australia’s Flexible Literacy in Remote Primary Schools program. She has been an Implementation Manager for the National Institute for Direct Instruction since 2019.

Interesting fact:  Betsy has two quarter horses and spends her time riding through the beautiful Wisconsin countryside.

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