Board of Directors
Tracy Hastings, President
As an educator, Tracy Hastings has served students and families during the last 29 years as a K-12 public school teacher, reading specialist, tutor, and instructional coach. After teaching general education for several years, she was drawn to supporting the students in her classroom that were striving to read but not succeeding. This became the focus of her professional career. As a lifelong learner, she has been a student of reading instruction seeking the highest quality mentors, training, and professional learning networks throughout her career. She is an Orton Gillingham International district trainer for Carmel Clay Schools and is pursuing a Fellowship in the Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. As a parent, she loves to spend time laughing with her three children, backpacking along the Appalachian Trail, and paddling her canoe down meandering rivers.
Rebekah LaFata, Vice President
Rebekah LaFata received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Special Education from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2010. Two weeks after graduation Rebekah accepted a position as a special education teacher in a public elementary school and continued to teach for the next 8 years in North Carolina, California, Ohio, and Indiana. In 2014, Rebekah stumbled upon the IDA website while researching strategies to help one of her students with dyslexia. Rebekah was amazed by the success other educators were having using approaches such as Orton-Gillingham. She quickly applied to a Reading Science program through Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, OH. Rebekah graduated with a Masters Degree in Reading Science and her dyslexia certificate in 2017. Rebekah is dedicated to advocating for students with dyslexia and working with other educators to ensure all students succeed in the classroom.
Tamara Dillon, Secretary
Tammy Dillon graduated from Indiana University, Bloomington with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Special Eduaction. She always knew she wanted to teach and felt that every student comes with a special need. Discovering what that was, would be the secret to the success of every student in her classroom. She worked in Washington Township in Indianapolis as a middle school teacher and then taught in Boston, Massachusetts at the elementary level. After taking a break from teaching to raise her three daughters, she went back into the classroom for Carmel Clay Schools in Carmel Indiana. Tammy is trained in the Orton-Gillingham Approach. She is a lifelong learner always looking to add to her tool kit. Outside of school, she can be found traveling or on a trail hiking or in a hot yoga class; but her favorite activities would include spending time with one or all of her daughters.
Deb Heindricks, Treasurer
Deb Heindricks has worked with the Dyslexia Institute of Indiana (Dii) since 2013 as a Multi-Sensory Education Instructor. She has her Bachelor’s Degree from Purdue University in Secondary Education and has a Master’s Degree from Indiana University in Public Affairs with a focus on Management. She has successfully completed training in Orton-Gillingham Basic, Intermediate and Advanced, Phonological Awareness, Written Expression, Lindamood-Bell LIPS and Visualizing/Verbalizing. Prior to working at Dii, Deb worked in the Human Resources field for ten years before her children were born. As a stay-at-home mom, she served as the Director of Noah’s Ark Preschool in Fortville where she realized the importance of early identification and intervention for children with learning disabilities. She became involved with the Orton-Gillingham Approach when her son was diagnosed with dyslexia in first grade and required intense tutoring. Over the years, Deb has become a strong advocate for evidence based multi-sensory instruction/intervention. She is an ardent supporter as both a parent and a tutor. As a parent, she has first hand experience with the struggles of a dyslexic child. As a tutor, she continues to work with students and provide them with necessary skills and support to reach their full potential.
Susie Beard graduated from Ball State University in 1998 with her Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education, certified K-6 with a reading endorsement and practicum certified K-12. After a brief stint teaching 4th grade, Susie moved to Ohio and became a Reading Specialist for Bay Village Schools. Despite being a specialist, she would be the first to admit she knew nothing about the science of reading until she took a chance on an approach called Wilson Reading, and her life changed forever. She was later formally trained in Orton Gillingham and became a private tutor. After moving back to Indiana and working in Carmel and Hamilton Southeastern Schools, this year she realized her dream of becoming a full time tutor. She believes in the right to read; literacy is achievable for all children and adults, regardless of socioeconomic status, color of skin, or background. One of her dreams is to teach Orton Gillingham in juvenile detention centers and prisons, as studies have shown many incarcerated individuals have undiagnosed dyslexia, or perhaps through grants start a not for profit capturing children and adults who have fallen through the cracks. Susie also recently joined the Indiana Reading League, which she believes is a positive voice in the fight for literacy for all.
Dr. Jenny French started her journey in education earning a BS in Elementary Education, a minor in Reading, and an endorsement in middle school Language Arts. After a few years of teaching middle school ELA she earned a MAE in Educational Leadership at Ball State and became a licensed administrator, then received her doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Her teaching experiences range from lecturing at a Navajo Bible College near the Grand Canyon to task force control as a mom of four. She recently published Help! My Students Write Like They Text: Teaching Code-Switching to Improve Writing. Growing up in and traveling to places such as Perth, Western Australia and Aranyaprathet, Thailand, she became intrigued by the diversity of educational systems. Her areas of specialty include: curriculum development, teacher coaching, young adult literacy, digital literacy, (and writing about herself in the third person). Her passions include, but are not limited to, International Girls’ Education, and hot air ballooning.
Dr. Kelly Grillo is an award-winning educator who has served Special Education and Education Justice for over two decades. Currently, Dr. Grillo is a coordinator of Special Education Services for Cooperative School Services. Dr. Grillo has served as a member of the AIM-AT-UDL Florida State oversight Committee, on Florida Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) State board, and as the Education Director of Mills Aviation Charities. Dr. Grillo is on the Leadership Development Committee for the International Council for Exceptional Children and a board member of IN*SOURCE Parent Resource Network in Indiana. Most recently, Dr. Grillo is the International Teacher CEC of the Year 2020. She holds other esteemed awards including, 2019 International Division of Learning Disabilities Teacher of the Year, and in 2018 she was named the Florida CEC Teacher of Year. Having been a student with a significant learning difference, Dr. Grillo expresses that a highlight to her career is when she was a nominee in Washington as a STEM Champion for Change in 2010. Dr. Grillo has numerous publications, conference presentations, and awards. Dr. Grillo is a national advocate for persons with learning disabilities so that she can accept her own disability and create a pathway to literacy for people with dyslexia in her late mother’s name, Gloria J. Grillo, who died a non-reader with dyslexia.
Jamey Peavler has served as an educator of teachers and students in both public and private schools for more than twenty years. She was an elementary teacher and literacy coach for the Indianapolis Public School District and pre-school teacher for Meridian Hills Cooperative Nursery School. In 2003, Jamey had the opportunity to attend training on the Orton-Gillingham approach. This experience was formative in her belief that with appropriate instruction and support, it is possible to teach all students to read. Jamey currently trains teachers in this approach and supports classroom teachers and coaches with the implementation of whole-class and small-group Orton-Gillingham instruction. Jamey’s certifications and academic accomplishments include: Certified Fellow in Training – Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators; Certified Dyslexia Therapist – International Dyslexia Association; Master of Arts, Reading Science – Mount St. Joseph University; Graduate Certificate in Dyslexia – Mount St. Joseph University; and Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education – Indiana University.
Dean Peterson is in his 14th season of coaching the Marian University Cycling Team. He has 38 years of cycling expertise and over 30 years of teaching and education experience. He has a B.S. degree in Organizational Leadership from Purdue University and an M.A. in Educational Leadership from Butler University. Since 2012, Dean has also been the Executive Director of the Indy Cycloplex – a partnership that developed between Marian and Indy Parks to help restore the 42-acre park and its facilities. Starting in July, 2019, he began his transition away from coaching to pursue his long-term goal to return to teaching. While he guides the current cycling staff at Marian, he is also working with City Connects, a program that builds a network of support for students, their families and the schools that serve them. Dean is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in American Studies with a research focus in differentiated teaching strategies in education at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis.
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