January 2020 Student Support Newsletter

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January 2020

In this issue:

An Introduction to Our Team

Happy 2020! We wanted to take the opportunity in the new year to tell you a little more about the Student Support Team at the Oklahoma State Department of Education.  Last spring, Superintendent Hofmeister restructured departments at the agency to better meet our overarching goals. In order to help meet these goals, the  Student Support Team was developed. Members of this team include the following divisions: Alternative Education, College & Career Readiness, Counseling, Family & Community Engagement and Prevention Services. Our team works to provide training and technical assistance in order for students to “Maslow before they Bloom.” We offer a wide variety of expertise, training and technical assistance in multiple areas. Hopefully, you will take the time to read the brief biographies of each of our team members and will find a way in which they can assist your district and schools. If you would like to request a professional learning session from one of our team members, please fill out the form found here and we will reach out to schedule something with you. Have a great day and wonderful spring semester!

Request Form

Shelly Ellis PhD


Deputy Superintendent of Student Support

Shelly Ellis’s diverse educational career provides her a wide perspective of the education profession. Experiences include middle school principal, middle school assistant principal and high school counselor for Norman Public Schools. Dr. Ellis also taught middle school science at Lone Grove Public Schools and high school science in the McLoud district. In addition, she also worked for the K20 Center, University of Oklahoma, as the Parent and Community Specialist for the GEAR UP for SUCCESS grant. In this capacity, Ellis traveled around the state working with counselors, principals, superintendents and families. Prior to her Deputy Superintendent role, she served the Oklahoma State Department of Education as the Executive Director of School Support and Improvement and the Executive Director of Counseling. Shelly earned her PhD in Educational Administration, Curriculum and Supervision from the University of Oklahoma, her MEd in School Counseling and BS degree in Biology from East Central University. Dr. Ellis enjoys working with schools on Multi -Tiered Systems of Support, comprehensive school counseling programs, ICAP, college & career readiness and trauma informed schools, just to name a few. Her favorite days of the year are those spent helping schools in any way they need. You can reach Shelly at shelly.ellis@sde.ok.gov

Beth Whittle M.Ed., LPC


Executive Director of Counseling, Stop Violence Grant Project Director

Beth is the Executive Director of Counseling at OSDE. She is also the Project Director of two Department of Justice grants (one providing OSDE and districts across the state with a crisis response team and the other a Bullying Prevention Specialist). Beth also helps advise the work of the Project AWARE grant as previous to her current position she served as the Project AWARE Program Manager. As the Executive Director of Counseling, Beth oversees the efforts of OSDE in relation to increasing school based mental health supports for students. She also informs Social Emotional Learning efforts of schools in Oklahoma. Previous to her work at OSDE, Beth was a high school and middle school counselor. Beth's areas of expertise include bereavement and mental health counseling as well as crisis response and comprehensive guidance and counseling programs. Beth was a previously nominated OSCA School Counselor of the Year finalist and is currently working with veteran counselors throughout the state on a new Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Model for Oklahoma as well as a Comprehensive School Based Mental Health Plan for Oklahoma. Reach out to Beth by email for supports regarding crisis intervention and postvention, comprehensive school based mental health programming, SEL evidence based practices and resources, trauma training and/or comprehensive guidance and counseling program planning at beth.whittle@sde.ok.gov

Elizabeth Suddath MPH


Executive Director of Prevention, School Climate Grant Project Director 

Elizabeth is the Executive Director of Prevention Services & School Climate Transformation Grant Project Director at the Oklahoma State Department of Education, where she oversees programs to prevent dating violence, sexual violence, bullying, substance abuse, and suicide in Oklahoma schools. Elizabeth is also the Project Director of the U.S. Department of Education’s School Climate Transformation grant. The School Climate Transformation Grant (OKTransform) has a team of School Climate Specialists across the state who provide schools training on the implementation of positive behavior systems and prevention programs. Previously, in other positions, Elizabeth worked directly with youth providing behavior restoration practices, health promotion, and violence prevention programs. Reach out to Elizabeth by email at elizabeth.suddath@sde.ok.gov for supports or resources regarding trauma-informed schools, positive behavior intervention supports, and/or prevention programming.

Petra Woodard M.Ed.


Executive Director of Academic Counseling 

Petra is the Executive Director of Academic Counseling for the Oklahoma State Department of Education—a new position within the Office of Student Support created to work alongside other state education agencies in serving the academic needs of secondary schools across the state.  Prior to assuming her current role, she served as a high school principal, counselor, and teacher working with students, staff and parents to accomplish the mission of preparing all students academically and socially for lifelong learning and achievement.  As Executive Director of Academic Counseling, she serves as a collaborative resource for Counselors, Administrators and Superintendents helping students persist towards high school graduation.  Her areas of expertise include state reporting, transcript guidance, college/career transition planning, and master scheduling.  Petra also supervises the Alternative Education Department and brings a wealth of knowledge to this role as well, having begun her teaching experience in the alternative education setting and continued work with alternative programs as a Counselor and Principal.  This year marks her 27th year in public education. You can reach Petra at petra.woodard@sde.ok.gov.

Marissa Lightsey MSHR


Executive Director of Career and College Readiness

Marissa Lightsey is the Executive Director of College and Career Readiness and manages ICAP Implementation, Post – Secondary Partnerships, and college and career readiness strategies. Marissa earned a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Communications from Oklahoma Baptist University in 2010 and later earned a Master of Science in Human Resources from East Central University in  2014. Passionate about the well-being of Oklahoma youth, Marissa began her professional career as the communications associate for the Oklahoma Institute for  Child Advocacy where she shared the message of Oklahoma youth advocates statewide. She later served as the upward bound advisor for Seminole  State College’s TRiO program as well as an advisor for Seminole  State Colleges GEAR UP program where she provided career and college advising to over 700 students. Most recently Marissa joined the OSDE team from Oklahoma Baptist University where she  served as the Director of Career Development for four years. You can reach Marissa at marissa.lightsey@sde.ok.gov

Chelsea Hunt MBA


Executive Director of Work-Based Learning and Industry Engagement

Chelsea Hunt is the Executive Director of Work-Based Learning and Industry Engagement for the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Prior to her current role, she served as the Career Pathway Strategy Lead for the New Skills for Youth Program in which she provided strategic planning for the career pathways, coordinated the digital platform for business and community leaders, engaged cross-sector collaboration and built opportunities for education and business partnerships. As the Executive Director of Work-Based Learning and Industry Engagement, she will continue these efforts to help Oklahoma school districts engage and collaborate with industry and community organizations, to provide service learning and/or work environment (work-based learning) activities for students to be successful in their career pathways and workforce goals. Chelsea attended the University of Central Oklahoma where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 2009. In 2016, she graduated with honors from Southern Nazarene University where she earned a master’s degree in Business Administration. She was also inducted into the Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society in Business. Chelsea has more than 7 years of experience working within business and education agencies, which include: Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC), University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC), Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE), and the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE). You can reach Chelsea at chelsea.hunt@sde.ok.gov

Sonia Johnson


Executive Director of Family and Community Engagement

Sonia Johnson is the Executive Director of Family and Community Engagement and 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) at the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE). Prior to joining OSDE, Sonia served as the Director of the Oklahoma Afterschool Network, a statewide initiative working to ensure all of Oklahoma’s children and youth have access to safe, enriching learning opportunities during their out-of-school time.  

Additionally, Sonia has served as an Early Education Specialist with Drake University Early Head Start. Her work there focused on pregnant and parenting teens – and before joining Drake University, Sonia served as the university child care consultant for Iowa State University. In her role at Iowa State, Sonia was responsible for developing a variety of community partnerships aimed at improving the affordability, accessibility and quality of child care services available to university students, faculty and staff. Early in her career Sonia enjoyed teaching pre-kindergarten students in both public and private organizations.

A graduate of Iowa State University, Sonia has a keen interest in youth development strategies and community-school partnerships that will help meet the needs of Oklahoma’s children and youth more effectively, from the early childhood years through adolescence. You can reach Sonia at sonia.johnson@sde.ok.gov

Cheryl McGee MHR, LPC, LADC/MH


Project AWARE Program Manager

Cheryl McGee is the Program Manager of Project AWARE for the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Cheryl graduated from the University of Oklahoma where she earned a Masters in Human Relations. Cheryl holds two professional licensures one as a Licensed Professional Counselor and the second as a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor. For the past ten years, Cheryl serves the Oklahoma metro area by operating a personal private therapy practice. Her career background of fifteen years included serving individuals of all ages by providing counseling services in inpatient psychiatric facilities. Throughout her inpatient psychiatric career she held many clinical leadership and supervisory roles. Prior to working for the State Department of Education Cheryl spent several years as a school counselor within Norman Public Schools. While in that role she worked on enhancing trauma understanding for students and educators. Reaching students and educators through a trauma focused lens is her passion and enhances her current role as the Program Manager for Project AWARE. You can reach Cheryl at cheryl.mcgee@sde.ok.gov.

Brayden Savage M.Ed


Director of Alternative Education 

Brayden is in her 24th year of education.  She has worked as an early childhood classroom teacher for 9 years and then made the switch to an Instructional Coach for 1 year.  She served in Educational Administration for 14 years.  In her years as an Administrator she worked as a site administrator for 6 years and then at the district level as a Director, Executive Director and Assistant Superintendent for 8 years.  She has a passion for working with educators to help reach students by building strong relationships and providing adequate resources.  Brayden graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1995 with a Bachelors in Early Childhood and then returned in 1998 to receive a Masters in Administration.  She joined the SDE team in October of last year and is excited to help support Districts in providing quality Alternative Education Programs. You can reach Brayden at brayden.savage@sde.ok.gov

Amanda Clark-Andrejkovics, LCSW


Suicide Prevention Specialist, Project AWARE Grant

Amanda Clark-Andrejkovics is the Project Aware Suicide Prevention Specialist. She has experience working with both civilian and military families. Prior to coming to the State Department of Education she provided training on child abuse and domestic violence to military leadership, prevention treatment for military families, and taught parenting and anger management classes to military personnel. She also has worked for Idaho State University as a Child Welfare Training and Adjunct Professor. Her experience includes research, curriculum development, program evaluation, and therapeutic services to adults and children. Amanda graduated from Florida State University with her Bachelors and Masters degree in Social work. She also holds a Masters Degree from Nova Southeastern University in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in behavior sciences. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Florida and Oklahoma. You can reach Amanda at amanda.clark-andrejkovics@sde.ok.gov

Heather Graham M.Ed.


School Climate Specialist, School Climate Transformation Grant

Heather Graham is currently serving the Oklahoma State Department of Education as a School Climate Specialist on the Oklahoma School Climate Transformation Federal Grant. The project provides training and technical assistance in the implementation of a multi-tiered behavioral framework that integrates the Trauma-Informed Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support model. The project is a research-based program that incorporates procedures designed to improve behavior by employing positive systematic techniques for all children.

Heather comes from ten years of classroom experience as a Special Education Teacher in Norman Public Schools and Purcell Public Schools. Additionally, she spent ten years coaching high school girls' basketball at Norman North High School as the assistant coach and as the Head Coach at Purcell High School. Heather holds a Master's Degree from the University of Oklahoma in Special Education and is alternatively certified in Elementary Principalship. Heather enjoys working with all students to ensure their college and career readiness as well as providing ongoing support and opportunities for them to grow. You can reach Heather at heather.graham@sde.ok.gov

Blaire Harrison M.Ed.


School Climate Specialist, School Climate Transformation Grant

Blaire Harrison, M.Ed., is currently a School Climate Specialist working under a Federal School Climate Transformation Grant. Her career spans thirteen years in the educational field. She spent twelve years as a classroom teacher; ten in Oklahoma Public Education and two abroad at Brent International School of Manila, Philippines. Blaire earned her M.Ed. in Elementary Administration and BS in Elementary Education from East Central University.

In the classroom, she focused on building student relationships through positive classroom supports, while teaching English language arts and science. She received numerous grants to enhance student learning, including Fund for Teachers, Target, OG&E, Donors Choose and local foundations. Blaire has participated in administrative curriculum mapping committees, reviewed textbooks for Houghton Mifflin and was a member of the OSDE TLE Working Group for Value-Added Model. Blaire's heart and dedication is to Oklahoma Public Education. She continues to strive to be a supportive resource to educators and students across the state. You can reach Blaire at blaire.harrison@sde.ok.gov

Amanda Sellers LMSW


School Climate Specialist, School Climate Transformation Grant

Amanda Sellers is a Licensed Master Social Worker specializing in school social work practice, with an emphasis on supporting students, families, educators and communities through a strengths perspective. She currently serves as a School Climate Specialist with the Oklahoma State Department of Education School Climate Transformation grant. As a specialist, she trains and coaches schools on implementing multi-tiered systems of supports, positive behavior interventions and supports, trauma-informed strategies, evidence-based prevention/interventions, data-based decision making and crisis response.

Amanda is a master connector of resources and people. Therefore, her professional accomplishments center around helping students, families and educators make meaningful connections that empower them to be their best. She has taught social-emotional learning to students and led district school-wide teams in implementation of multi-tiered systems of support, first as a site facilitator and then as a school counselor for Osage County Interlocal Consortium. Other previous professional responsibilities include crisis response coordinator, backpack for kids, equine therapy and McKinney-Vento liaison; as well as Project Director for Title IV, Champions of Excellence grant (10 districts), and supervision of school counselors and social work interns. You can reach Amanda at amanda.sellers@sde.ok.gov

Jenna Jones M.Ed.


School Climate Specialist, School Climate Transformation Grant

Jenna Jones, M.Ed. currently serves as the School Climate Specialist for 14 counties in the Eastern region of Oklahoma. Through this position, Jenna provides technical assistance and training to teachers and various school teams. After receiving her B.S.Ed. in Elementary Education from Northeastern State University, Jenna began her career as an elementary teacher. While teaching, Jenna served in several leadership roles such as department chairperson, member of several professional committees and secretary of her local education association. Jenna also began pursuing her M.Ed. in School Counseling to better serve the needs of her students. Upon completion of her masters training, Jenna worked as a middle school counselor for three years with Tahlequah Public Schools. Her passion for multi-tiered systems of support and mental health supports for students flourished. These opportunities enhanced her knowledge and practice of child development, social emotional learning and collaboration with stakeholders. Serving schools and bringing trauma awareness to eastern Oklahoma has been the most rewarding and humbling aspect of her position as a School Climate Specialist. You can reach Jenna at Jenna.jones@sde.ok.gov

Missy Corn, M.Ed


Alternative Education Specialist

Missy Corn’s Alternative Education Field Specialist position allows her to work with a wide variety of Oklahoma School districts across the state. She likes to explain her position as, “customer service representative” to all school districts in Oklahoma. Her experience includes working as a business teacher for fourteen years and a school counselor for two years at Blackwell High School. Missy served as a teacher/director for Blackwell’s Alternative Education night program for sixteen years. Mrs. Corn received both her bachelor’s degree in Business and master’s degree in School Counseling from Northern Oklahoma State College in Alva Oklahoma. She also has a Master’s in Educational Administration from Southwestern Oklahoma State College in Weatherford. What Missy enjoys the most about her job is helping school districts across the state build the best individualized alternative education programs for their unique school populations. You can reach Missy at missy.corn@sde.ok.gov

Erika Olinger PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D


Crisis Team School Psychologist, Stop Violence Grant

Dr. Erika Olinger was born and raised in Portales, New Mexico. She received her B.S. in Psychology from Colorado State University and her M.S. and Ph.D. in School Psychology from Oklahoma State University. Dr. Olinger is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist and Doctoral Level Board Certified Behavior Analyst. In her early career, she worked as a school psychologist practitioner at Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in Houston, Texas as well as the Putnam City and Edmond school districts in Oklahoma. She has also served as Lead School Psychologist and Response to Intervention Instructional Facilitator for Edmond Public Schools and as the Assistant Director of Special Service in Putnam City Schools. Dr. Olinger worked as an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Coordinator of the School Psychology Graduate Program at the University of Central Oklahoma and was the Director of the UCO Learning and Behavior Clinic for 4 years. Dr. Olinger is sought for her training and consultation by school districts, school administrative teams, professional organizations, and state agencies. She is a trainer for the NASP PREPaRE crisis preparedness and intervention curriculum and has trained school professionals across Oklahoma and other states. Dr. Olinger is a member of several professional organizations. She has served on the executive board (including two terms as President) for the Oklahoma Association of School Psychologists and is currently the Oklahoma Delegate for the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and a board member of the Oklahoma Licensed Behavior Analyst Board. Her research and professional interests include crisis prevention and management in schools, threat/ risk assessment, applied behavior analysis, academic and behavioral interventions, and implementation of multi-tiered systems of support.

I feel that I will have many opportunities for growth in this new role as Crisis Team School Psychologist at OSDE and will benefit greatly from the expertise and consultation of my colleagues in this group. Cheers to a group of great minds working together! You can reach Erika erika.olinger@sde.ok.gov

Trisha Goga MA, NCSP, RBT


Crisis Team School Psychologist, Stop Violence Grant

Trisha Goga was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She received her B.S. in Human Development and Family Science with a minor in Psychology from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. She obtained her M.A. and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in School Psychology from the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma. Mrs. Goga is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist and a Registered Behavior Technician. She has worked in both private and public schools as a School Counselor and School Psychologist. She is also a trainer for the NASP PREPaRE Curriculum an evidence-based school crisis prevention and response framework. Mrs. Goga has received many different awards for her contributions to the field of education and school psychology including: the Oklahoma NextGen Under 30 Award for Education, the Paul Warden Graduate Studies Award, and the Outstanding School Psychologist Student Award. She was a co-founder of UCO’s Student School Psychology Association (SSPA) and was the first President in office. She has also served on the Oklahoma School Psychological Association (OSPA) as Student Representative, Central Region Representative, and the past two years as Co-Operations Chair. Her research and professional interests consist of crisis in the schools prevention and intervention, school-based threat assessments, MTSS academic and behavioral intervention, applied behavior analysis, and mental health counseling. You can reach Trisha at trisha.goga@sde.ok.gov

Emily Hicks M.Ed


Coordinator II

Emily provides administrative and clerical support for all members of the Student Support Team. She has a Master of Education degree in Library Media education and believes that books have the power to change lives. You can reach Emily at emily.hicks@sde.ok.gov