In continuing our series on key Region 8 CC staff, we profile our two Indiana state coordinators, Beverly Mattson and Kerry Hoffman this month. Both play valuable leadership roles in our comprehensive technical assistance and capacity-building efforts. Check our Blog section for other profiles in this series.
Beverly Mattson, Ph.D., has four decades of experience in education, including 21 years with Comprehensive Centers and 25 years working with state education agencies (SEAs). Her expertise has helped SEAs implement federal legislation and other initiatives such as personnel and professional development systems, statewide systems of support, special education, and literacy plans. A senior research associate with RMC Research Corp., Mattson has a Ph.D. in special education from George Mason University.
Kerry Hoffman, Ph.D., has multiple areas of expertise including implementing curricula and instructional priorities aligned with state standards. In her 30-year career in education, she has served as a teacher, professor, state assessment consultant, school and district administrator, and university center director. As a consultant for the Indiana Department of Education, she helped lead the development and administration of state assessments. She has a Ph.D. from Purdue University.
Question: How did you get interested in education technical assistance and capacity-building?
Beverly: During graduate school, I was hired by my university through a federal grant to assist schools and districts that wanted to integrate students with disabilities into neighborhood schools rather than having them attend separate schools. I knew then that I wanted to work with educators and provide technical assistance and capacity-building. Since then, I have been fortunate to be a technical assistance provider assisting schools, districts, and states through at least four previous comprehensive centers. While serving on a comprehensive center, my understanding and knowledge of capacity building has grown and now is the focus of technical assistance.
Kerry: I have held a number of different jobs in education before becoming Region 8 CC’s Indiana Co-Coordinator. I loved each of those positions for different reasons and was always excited about continuing to grow and learn with each new role. Technical assistance and capacity building was a natural next step. The work is both fascinating and important.
Question: What education topics are you most passionate about today?
Beverly: As a technical assistance provider, I am really interested in helping states use implementation science in practical ways to ensure that their initiatives, particularly addressing evidence-based practices, are well planned and implemented and are sustainable. I’m also interested in using research on designing and implementing effective professional development that results in improved practices. My most abiding passionate topic is the inclusion of children with disabilities into general education.
Kerry: My career has focused primarily on literacy in different ways. It remains the most important piece for success, not only in school, but in life. Literacy holds the promise to improve the quality of life for both individuals and their communities.
Question: What current Region 8 CC activities in Indiana should more people know about?
Beverly: The Region 8 CC staff recently worked closely with the Indiana Department of Education, the Center to Improve Social Emotional Learning and School Safety and a group of stakeholders to review and revise the Indiana PK-12 Social and Emotional Learning Competencies. The revised competencies are now available on IDOE’s website.
Kerry: Indiana has a number of interesting and innovative projects with Region 8 CC. One of the most interesting activities is the Grow Your Own initiative. Two pilot districts are working to solve their teacher pipeline issues by partnering with universities across the state to provide students with college credit in high school, then supporting them with mentoring during two years on a college campus. Finally, they will bring them back to their district for a one-year paid teacher residency. Essentially, these two pilot sites are identifying potential teachers that they can hire when they become certified. We not only support IDOE with this work but the two districts as well.
Question: The COVID-19 pandemic has upended a lot of norms in American education. In what ways do you think K-12 education will change in the next five years?
Beverly: I think that K-12 education will develop more flexible, individualized schedules and approaches to the teaching and learning of all students by incorporating technology into all facets of learning.
Kerry: I think virtual learning will be part of the norm from now on. Schools will have to provide teachers with training specifically on effective virtual or remote instructional strategies that really engage students in their learning. I also think schools will have to focus more on the “person,” not just on academics. We know both adults and children suffered from isolation, fear, and uncertainty over the last year. I think we’ll see a more focused, intentional effort related to social and emotional well-being for students and teachers.
Question: What else would you like educators in Region 8 to know about you?
Beverly: My original field in education is special education and I was fortunate to not only be able to teach students with disabilities but also serve as an educator in community-based organizations serving individuals with disabilities. My first job was at a children’s hospital where I worked with a team of doctors and therapists who focused on meeting the needs of the whole child. As a hospital team member, I worked with families and educators who lived in a metropolitan area to address the educational needs of children with a wide range of disabilities.
Kerry: While I love the work we are doing in Indiana, I also really enjoy being part of Region 8 CC’s work in Michigan.Our Region 8 CC team is the most collaborative, supportive, and professional team I’ve ever worked with. I am very excited to have the chance to continue to learn and grow alongside these amazing colleagues!