Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia

ARCC Staff

The ARCC fields its staff across the region to provide state-of-the-art technical assistance to state education agencies in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Our seasoned management team has a history of engagement in the region and extensive experience in education. The ARCC deploys two coordinators to each state, who share responsibility for sustaining relationships with the state education agency, assessing needs, and developing and delivering technical assistance. An array of experts in various aspects of education completes the ARCC team.

Leadership Team

  • Director

    Dr. Caitlin Howley serves as Director of the Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center (ARCC). In this role, she is responsible for the center’s design and operation, oversight of technical assistance initiatives, supervision and professional development of staff, and stewardship of center resources. She also provides technical assistance to state education agencies (SEAs) through regional initiatives and serves as the leadership liaison to the ARCC Tennessee and Virginia teams. Howley has nearly 20 years of experience providing technical assistance, program evaluation, and research services to a variety of clients, with specialties that include rural education, college access and success, at-risk students, and organizational capacity building. In previous roles, she served as Associate Director of the ARCC; directed evaluation of an array of technical assistance centers; and led evaluations of education programs for low-income, minority, and Appalachian youth. The American Educational Research Association and the National Rural Education Association have honored her work. Howley received her Ph.D. in sociology from Temple University.

  • Associate Director

    Dr. Jobi Lawrence serves as Associate Director of the Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center (ARCC). In this role, she oversees and provides technical assistance, assists with staff supervision and professional development, and contributes to communications efforts. She also serves as the Kentucky State Coordinator and as the leadership liaison to the West Virginia team, and oversees evaluation of the ARCC.  Dr. Lawrence has more than 25 years of experience working with English Language (EL) and at-risk populations through program administration, evaluation, and implementation with educators across the state of Iowa and nationwide. Most recently, she provided leadership at the National Clearinghouse of English Language Acquisition (NCELA). Prior to her work with NCELA, she served as the Director of Title III and Education Program Consultant for the Iowa Department of Education. Previously employed by William Penn University, she served as a tenured Associate Professor of Education, Chair of the Graduate Programs in Education, and Director of three National Professional Development Grant programs (Project Power Up, Project Impact, and Project Teach).  In earlier capacities, Dr. Lawrence taught English as a second language (ESL) for grades K-12 and served on the grant-writing committee for Muscatine Community Schools. Prior to her teaching assignment in Muscatine Schools, she taught ESL and implemented a gifted program for bilingual students at Columbus Community Schools.  Her professional work has appeared in such publications as Common Core and ELLs/Emergent Bilinguals: A Guide for All Educators, NABE News, Distance Education: Bridging the Equity Gap, and International Diversity in Organizations Journal. Her work has been honored with awards from the University of Iowa, Baylor University, and the Iowa Culture and Language Conference. She earned an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix.

State Coordination Teams

  • State Coordinator
    Kentucky

    Dr. Jobi Lawrence, ARCC Associate Director, also serves as the state coordinator for Kentucky, and offers needs assessment, technical assistance, and progress monitoring services to the state.  Dr. Lawrence has more than 25 years of experience working with English Language (EL) and at-risk populations through program administration, evaluation, and implementation with educators across the state of Iowa and nationwide. Most recently, she provided leadership at the National Clearinghouse of English Language Acquisition (NCELA). Prior to her work with NCELA, she served as the Director of Title III and Education Program Consultant for the Iowa Department of Education. Previously employed by William Penn University, she served as a tenured Associate Professor of Education, Chair of the Graduate Programs in Education, and Director of three National Professional Development Grant programs (Project Power Up, Project Impact, and Project Teach).  In earlier capacities, Dr. Lawrence taught English as a second language (ESL) for grades K-12 and served on the grant-writing committee for Muscatine Community Schools. Prior to her teaching assignment in Muscatine Schools, she taught ESL and implemented a gifted program for bilingual students at Columbus Community Schools.  Her professional work has appeared in such publications as Common Core and ELLs/Emergent Bilinguals: A Guide for All Educators, NABE News, Distance Education: Bridging the Equity Gap, and International Diversity in Organizations Journal. Her work has been honored with awards from the University of Iowa, Baylor University, and the Iowa Culture and Language Conference. She earned an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix.

  • State Coordinator
    Tennessee

    Terry Lashley, Ph.D. is a state coordinator for Tennessee, along with her colleague Beverly Mattson. Together, Lashley and Mattson offer needs assessment, technical assistance, and progress monitoring services to the state. Lashley has long-standing professional relationships with the Tennessee Department of Education, and with local education agencies, schools, institutions of higher education, STEM centers, and reform organizations in Tennessee and Kentucky. Dr. Lashley stays current with education in Tennessee through her service, leadership, and advisory roles for Tennessee SCORE; the Rural Education Network; the Expect More, Achieve More Coalition; the Tennessee Science Teachers Association/National Science Teachers Association; and a large-scale Appalachian education reform project funded by the National Science Foundation. During her 35-year tenure as an educator, national laboratory program manager/partnership leader, and college faculty member, she has provided high-quality, standards-based technical assistance on content and pedagogy in 15 states, often in the Appalachian region. She is experienced in building capacity through her work with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Tennessee Appalachian Rural Systemic Initiative Resource Collaborative, and Math Science Partnership grants. She has documented successful experience with the design and development of K-20 STEM instruction and education reforms for faculty and students. She earned a Ph.D. in education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

  • State Coordinator
    Tennessee

    Dr. Beverly Mattson is a state coordinator for Tennessee, along with her colleague Terry Lashley. Together, Mattson and Lashley offer needs assessment, technical assistance, and progress monitoring services to the state. Mattson has 40 years of experience in education, including 22 years working with state education agencies. For 18 years, she has provided technical assistance services to state and local educational agencies through four comprehensive centers: for example, to Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio through the Great Lakes East Comprehensive Center and to Pennsylvania and Delaware through the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center. She has worked with 11 other states, including Virginia, assisting in the implementation of federal education legislation and other initiatives, including personnel and professional development systems; statewide systems of support; special education; statewide literacy plans; high-performing, high poverty schools; and public charter schools. She adapted Kentucky’s education reform initiatives and its Standards and Indicators for District and School Improvement for the Indiana Department of Education, with permission from the Kentucky Department of Education. Previously, she served on U.S. Department of Education-funded professional development partnerships and technical assistance projects supporting state and local education agencies. Mattson earned her Ph.D. from George Mason University in special education and the sociology of persons with disabilities.

  • State Coordinator
    Virginia

    Kandace Jones is a state coordinator for Virginia, along with her colleagues, Aracelis Gray and Elizabeth Eaton. Together, they offer needs assessment, technical assistance, and progress monitoring services to the state. She previously served as Special Assistant for School Turnaround and Acting Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. In earlier capacities, Jones was the Director of the Office of Out-of-School Time Programs for the District of Columbia Public Schools; led the development of a support system to drive school turnaround efforts for the Pomona Unified School District in Los Angeles County, California; co-founded Global Elevation, a nonprofit whose mission was to stimulate economic growth and build capacity in underserved communities; and directed school partnerships for the Gallup Organization's education division. A member of the 2008–2010 class of the Broad Residency in Urban Education, Jones earned her MBA from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.

  • State Coordinator
    Virginia

    Aracelis Gray is a state coordinator for Virginia, along with her colleagues, Kandace Jones and Elizabeth Eaton. Together, they offer needs assessment, technical assistance, and progress monitoring services to the state. She has more than 15 years of experience directing technical assistance and research and evaluation services on behalf of state and federal clients across the human and social services sectors. Gray currently leads the implementation evaluation of Diplomas Now, a whole school reform and dropout prevention model implemented in 32 schools in 11 of the largest urban school districts in the country. She recently served as Associate Director of the Reform Support Network for which she directed a team of experts to support the provision of high quality technical assistance to Race to the Top states as they moved to implement education reforms and achieve dramatic improvements in student outcomes. Her areas of specialization include dropout prevention, services for at-risk youth (children in the child welfare system, children of incarcerated parents, homeless children, victims of violence), youth and family engagement, large-scale program implementation, program sustainability planning and cross-system partnerships. She has a diverse range of skills including policy research and analysis, strategic planning facilitation, consensus building and collaboration processes, qualitative research and analysis techniques, design of needs assessment tools and protocols, and development of strategies and approaches to support the identification and dissemination of promising and effective practices.

  • State Coordinator
    Virginia

    Elizabeth Eaton is a state coordinator for Virginia, along with her colleagues, Kandace Jones and Aracelis Gray. Together, they offer needs assessment, technical assistance, and progress monitoring services to the state. Ms. Eaton has more than a decade of professional experience providing and managing training and technical assistance services for projects addressing a wide range of education issues. Ms. Eaton specializes in developing and implementing technical assistance frameworks and processes designed to build capacity, align with programmatic goals, and directly respond to stakeholder needs. She served as the Program Manager for the Reform Support Network’s School Turnaround Community of Practice where she supported state education agencies in the design and implementation of school improvement initiatives funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top (RTT) Program. In her previous work, Ms. Eaton led a team of representatives across all ten Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) to design, develop, and implement a collaborative REL Reference Desk service, providing stakeholders with access to the latest research and information in the field. Ms. Eaton also supported the design and development of Ask A REL, the public face of the REL Reference Desk. Ms. Eaton is a graduate of George Mason University.

     

  • State Coordinator
    West Virginia

    Sarah Sayko is a state coordinator for West Virginia. Sayko offers needs assessment, technical assistance, and progress monitoring services to the state. In previous capacities, she served as a technical assistance provider for the National Reading TA Center and its predecessor, the National Center for Reading First TA; was a literacy content specialist for the Center on Instruction; provided assistance to the Connecticut and Oklahoma Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy projects; was an instructor at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia; and served as an elementary school reading coach and literacy specialist. Sayko received her masters of education degree as a consulting teacher of reading from Lesley University.

Evaluation Team

  • Evaluation Team Lead

    Dr. Kimberly Cowley serves as the lead for the ARCC internal evaluation team. In this role, she assesses the implementation and impact of ARCC’s capacity building technical assistance services provided to the four-state region. She works closely with other evaluation team members as well as with the ARCC leadership and state coordinators to ensure an embedded, integrated approach to the evaluation. Cowley has more than 20 years of experience in the field of educational research and evaluation, including previous experience in evaluating Comprehensive Centers. She has conceptualized and managed numerous studies, ranging from case studies to experimental designs. Her responsibilities have included project management, supervision, instrument development, data collection and analysis, reporting, and client interactions. She also has numerous years of experience serving on various institutional review boards. Cowley has experience in institutional leadership, business development, and project oversight. She has authored or co-authored more than 40 presentations at national conferences and more than 75 research and evaluation reports. Her dissertation received a third-place award from the Rural Education Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and she has received nearly a dozen awards from the AERA Division H Outstanding Publications Competition for reports she authored or co-authored. She earned her Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction from Marshall University.

  • External Metaevaluator

    Keith M. Sturges, Ph.D. directs the external metaevaluation of ARCC’s program evaluation. He engages ARCC’s different stakeholder groups to gather feedback on the evaluation’s development and delivery of credible information that meets the information needs of those stakeholders. He also assesses instruments and tools, facilitates strategic planning and solutions planning, and provides feedback for improving the evaluation’s processes. Keith is Principal at Indikus Planning & Evaluation, a firm that serves K-12, higher education, and state agencies with program implementation and operations studies. With more than 21 years as a program evaluator, including six with Comprehensive Center programs, Keith is experienced at what he does. In addition to ARCC, he oversees two large-scale U.S. Department of Labor-funded college access evaluations, an evaluation of a National Science Foundation-funded program designed to encourage prospective first generation college students to enter engineering programs, and an adult learning curriculum review and rewrite project for a Tennessee state agency. Keith has published in peer-reviewed journals on evaluation use, metaevaluation, planned education systems change, and transitions from secondary to higher education. He has taught university courses in organizational effectiveness, organizational intervention, and research methods. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin and is a certified group facilitator.

Technical Assistance Staff

  • Technical Assistance Staff

    Monica Mitchell serves as an on-call education specialist. In this role, she provides technical assistance, facilitation, and communications support to the region’s state departments of education. She has more than twenty years of experience in education policy, program implementation, and evaluation. Her primary focus has been on needs assessment and service delivery planning for underserved student populations, particularly migrant farmworker children and homeless youth. Mitchell also has experience in science education, including facilitation of an informal science project in the ARCC region, building partnerships between schools and science centers. Previously, she served as the Communications Team Leader for the federal migrant education center based at the Research Foundation of the State University of New York. Prior to that, she was a program officer for the National Academy of Sciences examining issues related to international education and assessment, where her work was honored with NRC division awards. She also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda managing a conservation education center. Mitchell earned her Master’s in environmental management from Duke University’s School of the Environment.

  • Technical Assistance Staff

    John Ross is a technical assistance staff member of the ARCC. He has spent much of the past 15 years helping educators understand how technology integration enhances school improvement efforts. Formerly the director of the Institute for the Advancement of Emerging Technologies in Education and the director of technology for the ARCC, he currently works as an independent educational consultant. He spearheaded the launch of a regional online professional development environment in 2004 and has since designed and delivered online professional development to thousands of educators. His book, Online Professional Development: Design, Deliver, Succeed! (Corwin) was a publisher’s bestseller and selected as book-of-the-month for July 2011 by Learning Forward. He has also served as evaluator for numerous projects, such as the Virginia Department of Education’s e-Learning Backpack Initiative and Kids’ Tech University at Virginia Tech. Ross earned a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction and instructional technology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He was a classroom teacher for 10 years.

  • Technical Assistance Staff

    Dr. Kyle Snow is a technical assistance staff member for the ARCC. A senior research associate at RMC Research, Snow’s multi-faceted career in child development research and policy includes experience in overseeing research studies and application to policy as the director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Program in Early Learning and School Readiness. He directed large studies, for example, as principal investigator for the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Birth Cohort Study. Snow also served in a senior research and communications role with a national education organization, as director of the Center for Applied Research at the National Association for the Education of Young Children, providing scientific leadership for the organization. In those roles, he has often communicated the results of research in high stakes settings to policymakers, practitioners, and the public. Snow has served on numerous federal, state, and private foundation advisory panels, applying his content knowledge in assessment, factors affecting children’s early care and education, transition to school, and the experiences of young dual language learners.

  • Technical Assistance Staff

    Ashley Walther, Ph.D., is a technical assistance staff member of the ARCC. Walther spent her early career as a secondary mathematics teacher and intervention specialist. Additionally, she served as a state-wide Common Core Coach in mathematics for the Tennessee Department of Education. Currently she works as an instructional coach, independent educational consultant, and she serves as the STEM Hub Coordinator for East TN. She has experience writing, implementing, and evaluating state and nationally funded grant projects—including Math and Science Partnership Grants (MSP) and Improving Teacher Quality Grants (ITQ). In all her roles, Walther spends time helping educators improve instruction, specifically in mathematics. She has designed and delivered professional development sessions in both traditional and online formats, relating to mathematics and mathematics education. Her research interests include professional development, rural education, teacher practice, and making mathematics meaningful. Walther has presented her research and work at the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education and the Tennessee Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators. She earned a Ph.D. in education with a specialization in mathematics education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

  • Technical Assistance Staff

    Kimberly Cook is a technical assistance staff member for the ARCC. She has more than 25 years of experience in the education sector. As an analyst in ICF’s Charleston, West Virginia office, she provides research assistance and support for several projects, including the ARCC. Her past work in a variety of capacities includes support of federal programs such as the Regional Education Laboratory Mid-Atlantic, the Eisenhower Regional Mathematics and Science Consortium, the Region IV Comprehensive Center, the Appalachia Educational Laboratory, and the Reform Support Network.