Our Team

WEA Staff

Scott Poirier & Melissa Marsh, Project Support

Scott has been in education for 35 years serving as a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, and the state assistant superintendent in Olympia. Currently, Scott is the K-12 Education Coordinator for the WEA and works to build capacity in local associations and districts by developing training cadres. Scott overseas Teacher evaluation, Math and ELA state standards, next generation science standards, gamification and game-based learning, professional learning communities, math equity, English language arts equity, STEM Innovations, special education, and guest teacher trainings. Scott can be reached at: spoirier@washingtonea.org

Melissa Marsh provides program support for the Special Education Support Center, including logistics and materials for all trainings. She can be reached at: mmarsh@washingtonea.org

Special Ed Cadre

Mark Anderson, Retired WEA Staff

Mark Anderson is a life long special educator who previously served as Coordinator of Special Programs for the WEA. Since retirement, Mark has continued his interest in special education by serving as a Special Education trainer, advisor, and critical friend, for the WEA Special Education Support Center.

Sherlunda Anderson-Smith

Sherlunda is a special education teacher at North Middle School in the Everett School District.

Jennifer (Stevens) Bendix, Special Ed Teacher

Jennifer has a Bachelor of Science in therapeutic recreation with a minor in psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University, and an MIT (masters in teaching) from City University with K-8 and Special Education P-12 certificates. She is actively perusing a doctorate (EdD) through Grand Canyon University in Special Education. Jennifer has completed numerous trainings, including: DBT, CPI, and Restorative Justice circles. She has 5 years teaching experience in EBD and is in year 5 as a Resource Teacher at Juanita High School in the Lake Washington School District. Her areas of specialty/expertise are related Behavior and Autism. She became a member of the Cadre in June 2011 and has participated in 6 summer Boot Camps.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their two sons (a 3-year-old and one less-than-1-year). As a life time learner, she is spreading the joy of learning to her toddler and has him enrolled in a co-op preschool.

Jamie Coonts, Parent

JamieCJamie is a life-long Washingtonian and happily married to Bob. Her daughters are Jessa, 22, who is currently in college and headed toward the medical field, and Jamae, 25, who has a brilliant career in cosmetology and is married to Alex, together they have a son, Cash. Jamie’s son Jameson (who was medically fragile and had significant special needs) passed away at the age of 5, nine years ago but not before touching many people and changing lives. Jamie’s favorite new adventure is being grandma to that spunky little 3 year old grandson, Cash!

While learning the ropes of being a parent to a child with medical needs she developed a heart for families and individuals doing the same. This led her to her job at the Arc. She has worked for the Arc of Snohomish County for over 10 years and is currently the Program Director. In this position she uses her many extraordinary talents to demonstrate her passion for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families by developing many different opportunities both fun and educational. She strives to create programs that support the whole family and believes that individuals with developmental disabilities should have opportunities to live, work, and play in their own community.

Shari Cotes, Parent

Shari is a parent of two special needs children and one neuro-typical child. She has a BA in Accounting from Seattle University, currently working for a company that does tenant screening for landlords. Shari became involved with the Cadre in 2005 while looking for education and advice on how to get her son’s educational needs met and was quickly recruited to assist in developing training that provides a more positive approach to the IEP process.

Brenda Cunningham, Special Ed Teacher

Brenda has lived in Spokane for most of her life and where she raised her children. She attended Spokane Community Colleges (SCC and SFCC), Olympic College, Eastern Washington University, Whitworth University, and Lesley University. Credentials include an AAS, a BA in Elementary Education, Sociology, and an endorsement in K-12 Special Education. Brenda has a Masters degree in Creative Arts and is a National Board Certified Teacher (2012).
After substituting for a few years, Brenda became a teacher for Spokane Public Schools and has held a few different positions, since 1998: Resource Math – High School, Multi-handicapped, Orthopedically Handicapped – Elementary Level, and Special Education, Self-contained – Middle School. She has also worked during the summers with Physical Therapists and students in their homes and at the middle school teaching summer math classes.  Brenda says: “It’s the best career I didn’t choose because I starting out studying cardiology, kept getting bumped into other programs and somehow just could not get out of the education classes that were being offered.” She looks forward to working and learning with colleagues and students, every day.

Franklin Day, Associate Director, Special Education

cadre-franklinFranklin Day earned his B.S. in Psychology at Eastern Washington University, his Ed.S. in School Psychology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and his Administrative Credentials at Washington State University. Franklin has served on the executive boards for the Nevada Association of School Psychologists and the Southern Nevada Association for the Education of Young Children. In addition, he has served on the advisory council for Gonzaga University’s School Psychology Doctoral Program and Whitworth University’s Special Education Advisory Board. Franklin has worked in mental health hospitals, birth to three early intervention programs, public and private preschool, public and charter k-12 schools and in higher education systems, as an ABA therapist, a school psychologist, a program administrator and as a school district administrator. Franklin is currently the associate director of special education overseeing special education services for students in grades 7 through age 21, as well as overseeing psychological and physical therapy services and special education compliance for Spokane Public Schools.

Andrea Downs, Behavior Program Specialist

cadre-andreaAndrea is a Behavior Program Specialist in the Seattle school district. She has a Master’s in Policy Studies from the University of Washington and obtained her teaching certificate from Saint Martin’s University where she majored in History. Prior to working in Seattle, Andrea was a Special Education teacher working primarily with middle school students with Emotional/Behavioral Disorders. She is currently in her second year with the Cadre.

Antoinette Felder

bio coming soon.

Heather Frede

bio coming soon.

Anna Fritts, School Psychologist

cadre-annaAnna earned her B.S. in Psychology at the University of Washington, her M.S. and Ph.D. in School Psychology at Syracuse University, and her superintendent credentials at Gonzaga University. In addition to serving on the WEA Special Education Training Cadre, Anna has also served on the executive board for the Washington State Association of School Psychologists, the National RTI Leadership Network, the RTI and Early Intervening Services Committee Task Force for OSPI, the Special Education Assessment Leadership Team for OSPI, the ELL / Special Education Joint Certificate of Mastery Task Force for OSPI, the School Psychology Certification Work Group, the Professional Education Advisory Board for EWU, and Gonzaga University’s Advisory Council to the School Psychology Graduate Program. In addition, she has been the facilitator of the Spokane Public Schools’ Special Education Support Center and has taught a number of university classes.  Anna is employed as a school psychologist in the Spokane Public Schools, and has been awarded Washington State School Psychologist of the Year in 2004, the National Association of School Psychologists’ Certificate of Recognition for the School Psychologist of the Year Program in 2006, the Best Practices in Education / Supervision by the Washington State Association of School Psychologists in 2012, and (as part of Hamblen Elementary), the School Psychology Services Award by the Washington State Association of School Psychologists in 2012.

Rebecca Fry, Life Skills Coordinator

10537028_10204437039949922_7246726369609264933_nRebecca is currently working as an independent consultant as well as state trainer for SESC. Previously, she worked as a Special Education teacher for 13 years and a K-12 Life Skills coordinator for the past 5 years. She started her career in Maysville, Alabama, working also in Louisiana before moving to Washington to become a life skills teacher. She holds a BS in K-6 Primary Collaboration and Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE), a masters degree in ECSE from the University of South Alabama, and a masters in Administration from University of Washington. She is Nationally Board Certified in the area of ECYA/ENS Sever/Multiple ages-21. She has worked as a teacher/instructor in a multitude of environments to include self-contained, Resource room, full inclusion (co-teaching), life skills, and college (undergraduate and MIT). She has been a state trainer for OSPI and WEA for the past 7+ years. She has also proudly served as a head coach for Special Olympics for 10+ years.

Jonathan Judy, Special Ed Teacher

Jonathan is currently serving as Assistant Principal at Hidden River Middle School and Maltby Elementary School in the Monroe School District. After earning a Master’s in Special Education from the University of Washington, with a focus on serving students with Emotional and / or Behavioral Disabilities, he spent 10 years working in self-contained classrooms and programs working with this student population. Jonathan has worked in both public school settings, as well as in private placement. Prior to making the leap to administration, Jonathan spent 4 years developing and facilitating programming for under-served students with a pattern of internalizing behaviors in the Lake Washington School District. In Lake Washington, he drew on his behavioral roots to provide services to students and coaching to teachers within general education classrooms. Jonathan’s current focus and area of interest is working with teachers to increase access points and lower barriers to achievement for students with disabilities. He has developed and pursued a career-long interest in building classroom and school environments that allow students to experience the safety and belonging they need to understand the potential they have for building competence. As such, Jonathan draws from frameworks of restorative justice, positive behavior intervention support, and multi-tiered systems of support to help build and refine school systems that promote student learning for each individual. Jonathan grew up in the Puget Sound region and as such loves to be outside any chance he gets, particularly with his wife and three kids.

Rachael Kettner-Thompson, Science Teacher

Rachael is a Nationally Board Certified EYA Science Teacher and holds a BA in Elementary Education as well as a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction-English as a Second Language from Arizona State University.  Rachael started her career teaching 3rd grade in Arizona, but has moved up and spent the majority of her seventeen plus years teaching middle school Science.  Currently, Rachael teaches 8th grade Science and Technology in Spokane, Washington and has been with the Cadre since 2016.  Rachael is also a parent of a typically developing child, a child with a 504 plan and a child on the Autism Spectrum.

Annie Lamberto, Special Ed Services Director

Annie holds a B.Ed. in Varying Exceptionalities, a M.Ed. in Technology, and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership. She currently serves as Director of Special Services in Battle Ground Public Schools. Annie was a special education teacher for 20 years, beginning in Broward County, Florida. She has experience in a variety of special education fields, including working with students with behavior disorders, autism spectrum disorders, students at risk, resource classrooms, and life skills classrooms. Additionally, Annie is an instructor for ESD-U’s and City U’s teacher preparation programs in special education. In 2013, she achieved National Board Teacher Certification as an Exceptional Needs Specialist. Annie has been a member of the WEA Special Education Cadre since 2014.

Marisol Mallari

bio coming soon.

Dacca Michaelis

bio coming soon.

Terressa Montgomery, Parent

Terressa has been a member of the Cadre since 1995. She has two adult children, Alexi and Spenser. Her son, Spenser, introduced the family to autism in 1990. Terressa was active in her childrens’ education and created strong collaborative programs with the school teachers and staff. Working with private specialists, Terressa established an in-home therapy program for Spenser which helped her provide strong leadership to her son’s respective IEP teams. Terressa has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Eastern Washington University. She also has her JD from Gonzaga University School of Law. Terressa is currently employed as a Business Coach and trainer with a national insurance company.

Julie Moore, Secondary General Ed Teacher

cadre-julieJulie Moore has been involved with the WEA Special Education Cadre and a Boot Camp trainer from the very beginning. She has a Bachelors Degree in Biology and Health, in Secondary Education from Northern Michigan University, and a Masters Special Education from National University. Teaching experience includes general education 1983-1985–Guam— 7-9–ESL and Reading; 1986-1989–San Diego—6-8—Science and Social Studies; 1989-1990 San Diego Union/Tribune—Newspaper. Since 1990 Julie has served in several roles in the Central Kitsap School District; including: Education Coordinator; Junior High and Middle School Special Education—Resource room reading, language arts, and study skills/transition; Inclusion Language arts/Social Studies and Transition Coordinator; General Education—English 9, Language Arts 8, U. S. History, Washington State History, Career Education. Her areas of specialty/expertise related to special education include UDL, Resource Room, and Inclusion.

Leslie Morrison, Special Ed Teacher

Leslie A. Morrison has been a special education teacher for 18 years. For the last 13 she has been the Employment and Transition Liaison Teacher for the Gateway to Adult Transition Education Program with Vancouver Public Schools. In this job, she works with students 18 to 21. Leslie is the owner of SW Transition. She is always looking for ways to empower adult students to become competent, responsible, and compassionate citizens. She has been actively involved in organizations and projects that improve the quality of life for youth since 1980. She has over 300 clock hours of training in Person Centered Planning in the last 10 years. Leslie has been facilitating PCP for over 10 years and has mentored numerous individuals in the PCP process.

She has worked with special needs students ranging from elementary age children to adults. Leslie has presented at several regional and national workshops and conferences. Her Bachelor’s Degree is in Mass Communication and Speech from Linfield College. Her graduate level training is in Curriculum and Instruction and Speech from the University of Southern Mississippi. Before joining the staff of the Vancouver Public Schools, Leslie worked as the Director of Public Relations for Creative Educational Co. She was also an adjunct faculty for Lewis and Clark College and Portland State University where she taught graduate level courses in special education.

Camille Nelson

Waiting for bio

Danae Place, Special Ed Teacher

cadre-daneaDanae Place is a National Board Certified Exceptional Needs Specialist P-12 for Severe and Profound students. She holds a BA from The Evergreen State College focusing in Deaf and Bilingual Education. She also has a Master’s Degree in Special Education. Danae started her career in Deaf education and has taught at every level from early childhood through adults over the last 15 years. Some of that time was spent training teachers of the Deaf in Kenya. She is currently working as a K-2nd grade teacher for students with moderate to severe disabilities at Evergreen Elementary School in Shelton, WA. She specializes in students with language delays and this is her second year with the Cadre. Danae is also the parent of three typically developing children and one child with severe disabilities.

Gordon Quinlan, Special Ed Teacher

Gordon is a native San Diegan, where he spent 13 years as a Laboratory Technician. He has lived in Washington for the past 20 years; first attending The Evergreen State College and graduating with a Master in Teaching degree, in 2004. Gordon intended to be a Kindergarten teacher but discovered that he enjoyed Special Education. He teaches students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Emotional Behavioral Disability, and other similar disabilities that present with challenging behavior.

Gordon is very active in the special education community and works to keep up on changes in the field. He is new to the Special Ed Cadre, happy for the opportunity to share experiences, and looking forward to classes and workshops with his new colleagues.

Joan Smith-Bator

photo of Joan SmithJoan Smith is a middle level life skills teacher in the Ellensburg school district. She has been teaching for 25 years, with experience in special education, general education, and co-teaching. She is currently working toward her National Board Certification as a special education P-12 specialist, as well as becoming a Certified Practitioner with the TEACCH autism program. Joan also works as an adjunct professor for Central Washington University in the Department of Education, Development, Teaching and Learning.
When not at work, Joan enjoys horseback riding, camping, cooking and spending time with her husband and children.

Barbara Tompkins, Retired Speech Language Pathologist

BarbaraTBarbara has a B.A. in Education, M.S. in Speech Language Pathology, and M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling. She attended the UW, EWU and Whitworth University. She worked as a Speech Language Pathologist for 35 years in state agencies and school districts in both Washington and Idaho. She has been an adjunct instructor for Seattle Pacific University and has taught classes at EWU, Gonzaga University and Whitworth College. Some of the committees and boards Barbara has served on include: OSPI’s Special Education Advisory Council, OSPI’s ADD/ADHD Risk Force, OSPI’s Subcommittee on Behaviorally At-Risk Students, OSPI’s Comprehensive System of Personnel Development Committee, OSPI’s Student Responsive Service Delivery Executive Board, WSHA Executive Board (President and member), WSHA State Convention Chair, and WEA’s Special Education Commission. Barbara was a member of the committees that developed the Para-Educator Core Competencies as well as the CDS/SLP and Guidance Counselor certification requirements. While working for Spokane Public Schools, Barbara developed a comprehensive plan for special education staff development and facilitated inservice for para-educators, School Psychologists and Speech Language Pathologists. Barbara is a founding member of WEA’s Special Education Cadre.

Julie Wickersham, ESP

bio coming soon.

Linda Zaccanti, Teacher

Linda grew up in the basin of Washington state and has lived in the North Central area of Washington for the past 34 years. She is married and has two grown children, two daughters-in-law and three grandchildren.
Linda graduated from Spokane Community College with an AA degree and Eastern Washington University with a BA in Early Childhood.  She has taught in the Brewster School District for the past 32 years, beginning in the P-12 Special Education classroom. At that time there were 2 teachers and 4 instructional assistants. She then taught in the General Education classes of 3rd, 2nd, K-1 Transition/ behavior classroom, 1st grade and now is teaching Preschool/Pre-K Special Education and also does home-visits with Home Bound Medically Fragile students.  The district currently has 5 Special Education teachers and 15 instructional assistants.  The Special Education and General Education classroom experience has given Linda the opportunity to work with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Deprivation Order, Seizure Order, Down’s Syndrome, Medically Fragile students, students with challenging behavior, Multi-lingual but most importantly Parents. Linda loves working with and supporting the families of her students through home-visits/face to face visits, school to home newsletters, phone calls and texts.Linda is a member of the Certification Cadre and new to the Special Ed Cadre – looking forward to meeting colleagues at classes and workshops across the state.


Gary Obermeyer, Learning Options

gary-goateeGary Obermeyer has served in various roles in support of WEA projects and programs, beginning in the mid-80s with the Restructuring Schools initiative and later with the NEA Keys to Excellence program. For the past 8 years, he has been a consultant to the Special Education Support Center in the design, maintenance, and promotion of the SESC website, and in the facilitation of online support for the WEA Special Ed Cadre.

Pat Steinburg, Education Services Group

Pat Steinburg has many years of experience working as a special educator in the public schools of Washington State, and as the special education coordinator for the Washington Education Association where her responsibilities included designing and providing training to educators on special education topics. Pat has extensive background in school improvement, special education service models, and instruction. She currently works as a consultant with school districts, agencies and educational organizations, and the Special Education Support Center.

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