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2019 Presenters








LIZ REMINGTON is the Co-Founder and the Director of Professional Development for The Learning Alliance. TLA, in collaboration with the Indian River County School District and the wider community, has set the Moonshot Moment goal of having 90% of third grade students reading at or above grade level. Liz’s efforts reached a world-wide audience when her work with TLA was featured on the PBS NewsHour in September 2014, and TLA/Moonshot Moment has earned the Pacesetter Award from the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading four times. Liz earned her BA in English Lit from the University of Delaware and her Master's in Learning Disabilities from American University, where she was one of the last students to work with the legendary Sally Smith, the founder of the Washington Lab School. 

KURT WOOTTON is the Co-Founder of the Arts Literacy Project at Brown University and Director of Habla: Center for Language and Culture in Merida, Mexico. With a specialty in creative literacy pedagogies, teacher professional development, and organizational change, Wootton works with teachers and administrators helping to design schools and organizations that are creative, meaningful, and welcoming places. Previously he worked as an urban school reform consultant for the Providence School District and has led literacy initiatives for the Boston Public Schools, the St. Paul Public Schools, the Central Falls School District, and Plan Estratégico de Mérida, Mexico. He is the co-author of A Reason to Read: Linking Literacy and the Arts (Harvard Education Press, 2012). He writes a blog at






CYNTHIA WEISS is an award winning professional artist, program director and arts educator with 30 years experience developing and implementing arts education programs and designing large-scale public art commissions.  She is the former Director of Education at the Marwen Foundation and a founding member of the Chicago Arts Partnership in Education (CAPE).








DEBBI ARSENEAUX is the Moonshot Institute Program Manager and an Educational Consultant

and Teaching Artist with The Learning Alliance. She has been a classroom teacher in the Washington DC P​ublic S​chool District and worked as a professional Theatre Director​, Stage Manager, Producer​ and​ freelance Teaching Artist in the DC area for over 15 years.  Specializing in arts integration, she believes in the power of the arts to reach and teach students of all ages.











LESLIE CONNELLY is a certified educator in Elementary Education K-6 with a Master's in Educational Leadership. A team member of The Learning Alliance, she serves as an Educational Consultant and Liaison with the Indian River County School District. She is trained in Conscious Discipline, Wilson, Fundations, Backward Design, and many other researched based strategies.  She is excited to be a part of the journey to reach our Moonshot Moment Goal of 90% of third graders reading on grade level.










FRAN MCDONOUGH is a District Liaison for Indian River School District and an Educational Consultant with The Learning Alliance, managing the Moonshot Academy afterschool programs. She received her BS in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University and is a certified K-6 educator, with Clinical Educator training.  She has a strong background in foundational literacy skills, and has received certification in multiple research based programs.  Having taught at the elementary level, her passion lies in providing rich integrated learning experiences for children and quality professional development for teachers. 

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The 2019 Summer institute brought in teacher leaders to help plan and facilitate the week-long workshop. Jody Houston (Left) and Mary Chavers (Right) added their perspective and expertise on how strategies taught could look in the classroom. Jody is a licensed Speech Pathologist with over 30 years of experience. Her unique role at SDIRC combines her clinical background with the science of teaching reading. Mary Chavers, is an elementary teacher with over 25 years of classroom experience. 

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