Meet Our Professional Learning Specialists
Professional Learning Specialists (PLS) design and deliver focused professional learning experiences for educators grounded in multiple opportunities for practice and feedback to support next-day implementation. Sessions integrate best practices of adult learning with follow up job-embedded coaching to support the application of the session’s content. These supports include individualized coaching, data collection, modeling, co-teaching, and co-planning. PLSs also co-lead a district-wide professional development initiative, which includes: Induction, Tune Up Tuesday, Exemplary Teaching Video Library, and teacher-led professional development events.
With over 15 years in public education, Nick’s expertise and passion lies in cultivating engaging, healthy, and inclusive learning environments for children. Nick’s former role as a Dean of Students developed his deep understanding of culturally responsive pedagogy and restorative practices to build strong school communities and supercharge student learning. As a Professional Learning Specialist, Nick serves on a variety of projects to raise awareness of diversity, equity, and inclusion concepts and skills. Nick co-leads Tune Up Tuesday PD events each month for teachers, and supports newly hired teachers by creating and leading the Teacher Mentor Program. Nick supports LGBTQIA+ students, staff, and families by creating the district’s ClubPRIDE website and leading crucial conversations across the district. Nick is a graduate of California University of Pa and Saint Vincent College and is excited to be a part of the SDP learning community! Nick’s certifications include: Principal PK-12 and Science/Biology 7-12.
After over ten years teaching elementary school in Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Miami, Catherine pivoted to instructional coaching in 2014, committing to the development teachers and leaders throughout Philadelphia. Catherine is passionate about equity-focused coaching and research-based early literacy practices, and approaches coaching as a partnership. She currently supports K-8 SBTLs through coaching and professional development, and manages the Exemplary Teaching Video Library. Catherine’s certifications include: Principal PK-12, Reading Specialist PK-12, and Elementary K-6.
Dr. Brian Dillon
Dr. Brian Dillon joined the PLS team in the Office of Teaching and Learning in July 2021. Brian became passionate for collaborative professional learning and new teacher support as a middle school teacher in Washington, DC. He most recently served as an Assistant Principal at an elementary school in West Philadelphia, where he led professional development, teacher coaching, and curricular implementation with a team of upper elementary ELA, math, science, and social studies teachers. For his doctoral dissertation, Brian sought to develop systematic ways for surfacing parents’ knowledge and insights about the school’s responses to systemic racism and at-home learning during the Covid-19 pandemic. He is excited to engage with stakeholders across SDP in service of our shared responsibility for students.
Cristina has spent her career serving students in high needs schools/neighborhoods first in Newark and Camden, New Jersey, then in Philadelphia at University City and John Bartram High Schools. By moving from elementary school to middle school to high school, Cristina realized that students arrive at school, sometimes despite myriad challenges, excited and curious. Her passion is found in nurturing and sustaining that excitement and curiosity. As a result, Cristina served in a range of school-based leadership positions before joining the Office of Teaching and Learning, first as a Consulting Teacher and now as a PLS. She looks forward to collaborating with school leaders and teachers to provide rich, rewarding teaching and learning opportunities to feed the excitement and curiosity of all involved. Cristina has earned a B.A. in English Literature from NYU, a M.A.L.S. from Dartmouth College, and an M.Ed. from Cabrini College, and holds certification for English, grades 7-12, and an Administrative PK-12 certificate.
Matt has spent his entire career in Philadelphia Schools, teaching and coaching teachers. He spent ten years teaching elementary school, and six years as as an instructional coach. His coaching experience includes working as a new teacher coach with The New Teacher’s Project, a virtual instructional coach with EdConnective, and a literacy coach with the School District of Philadelphia. He is passionate about teacher development and ensuring that all students are provided with a chance to thrive. He earned his Bachelors in Elementary Education from Goucher College and his Masters in School Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.
Elizabeth Mc Anally
A Philadelphia educator since 1991, Elizabeth (Beth) has served as a general/choral music educator and teacher/leader at Fairhill Elementary and Wilson Middle School, and as a Consulting Teacher supporting new teachers in our district. She holds degrees from Nazareth College, Columbia University Teachers College, and Holy Family University. Her published work includes curriculum materials, articles in peer reviewed journals, and texts about middle school school general music and urban music education. In her “spare” time she consults for area arts organizations, and has been privileged to speak at a variety of state and national conferences. She is very passionate about providing the highest quality instruction for our city’s children and meaningful supports for teachers. Her work in the Office of Teaching and Learning includes #teachPHL, Induction, New Hire Orientation, and other initiatives related to Impactful professional development for teachers. Beth’s certifications include: Music K-12, Middle Years English, and Principal K-12.
Diane has worked in education for over 35 years. She taught grades 1-12, general and special education for 21 years before moving into an instructional development role. Diane has been with the Office of Teaching and Learning for over 8 years. She has developed and facilitated professional learning for instructional leaders, coaches, teachers, and support staff. Diane grew up in Central and South America, but sadly has forgotten most of her Spanish. She has 2 almost-grown children and 2 dogs. She loves spending time in the wilderness, hiking and canoeing. She is an avid watercolorist and enjoys sewing. Her greatest joy, however, is in creating opportunities for learning. Diane currently holds Principal, Supervisor Special Education, Elementary, English, and Special Education certifications.
Dr. Lina Richardson
Dr. Lina Richardson is proud to serve as a Professional Learning Specialist in the Office of Teaching and Learning. Throughout her professional career, Lina has worn many hats including serving as a middle years English Language Arts teacher, an Assistant Language Teacher in Japan and an assistant professor of education at The College of New Jersey. Lina is most excited about working alongside teachers and colleagues who are committed to equity and social justice.
Jill started her teaching career in 2006 as a middle school science teacher for the School district of Philadelphia. Over the past 15 years Jill has taught math, science, and special education at various grade levels. She also held the role of SBTL of Math/Science at Martin Luther King HS for three years. Jill earned a B.S in Secondary Science Education from Temple University, a M.S Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in special education, and a M.S Ed.in Educational Administration from Gwynedd-Mercy University. Jill is excited to start supporting High School SBTL through coaching and professional development.
Emily began her career in education teaching English abroad before returning home to Philadelphia in 2007 as a Philadelphia Corps member. Emily taught middle school math and science for six years in Philadelphia public and charter schools before transitioning to school leadership as an Assistant Principal of Instruction. In this role, Emily supported students and teachers in grades K-8 across a variety of content areas. For the last two years, Emily has worked as a Math Counts Specialist with Carnegie Learning to support mathematics instruction in Philadelphia public schools. She is passionate about collaborating with school leaders and teachers to ensure high quality, engaging learning experiences for students and is excited to return to the School District of Philadelphia as a Professional Learning Specialist. Emily has a bachelor’s degree from Haverford College and a master’s degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Her certifications include: PA Administrative Level I – PreK-12, Instructional II – Mid-level Mathematics 6-9, Instructional II – General Science 7-12.