President Robert Meyer has 18 years of territory sales, sales management, marketing, product development and general management experience in the K-12 publishing industry. Prior to co-founding Ventris in 2013, Meyer worked as Wisconsin Account Executive for the Scholastic Corporation, VP of School Sales at Failure Free Reading, Sales & Marketing Director at Knowledge Unlimited, Director of Educational Services at MetaMetrics, and Business Development Manager for Advantage Learning Systems. Earlier in his career, Meyer worked in a national business development role for Micro-Surface Finishing Products, and in regional sales positions for Air & Water Technologies. Meyer holds music education and MBA degrees from the University of Iowa.
Professional Development Partner Beulah Johnson-Keels’ passion for cultural and linguistic diversity stems from her personal experiences with code switching and 14 years of expertise as a speech-language pathologist (SLP). She holds a B.A. and M.S. from the University of South Florida (USF) and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Argosy University. Dr. Johnson-Keels has always had a keen interest in African American English. She has researched teachers’ attitudes toward African American English, and served as a contributor for research related to nonword spelling and phonemic awareness tasks for speakers of African American English. She has mentored and supervised numerous SLPs from USF. Before resuming private practice, she served as district supervisor for the Department of Specialized Services for students with exceptional needs in Pinellas County Schools. Dr. Johnson-Keels owns Speech EFX, a private practice in which she partners with individuals who desire to enhance their communication skills for public speaking.
Professional Development Partner Angela Bruno joined the education profession in 2009. She holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of North Florida (UNF). During her career as a teacher, Instructional (Reading) Coach and Reading Interventionist her success in the classroom significantly improved reading achievement while still supporting children’s home dialect and socio-cultural identity. As a Reading Coach at a Title I school in Jacksonville, Florida, she helped facilitate Professional Development as the Contrastive Analysis supplemental curriculum was implemented through ToggleTalk. She recently moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she works as an EL and Math EIP (Early Intervention Program) teacher. English and Language Arts have always been her area of educational expertise and interest. Mrs. Bruno’s dedication and accomplishments as an educator have led to her work in the classroom being featured in several books that have highlighted teaching in the Common Core and Action Research.
ToggleTalk storybook author Debbie Taylor, who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has written numerous stories, including Sweet Music in Harlem which was inspired by an historic photograph from the prime of Harlem’s jazz era and has received acclaim including the Book of Outstanding Merit by the Bank Street Book Committee, Children’s Book Council Choices, and the International Reading Association Notable Book. Her stories have been published in Spider, Cricket, New Moon, and Pockets magazines.
Award-winning children’s book illustrator Lori McElrath-Eslick is noted for her vibrant oil paintings and watercolor renderings which have appeared in dozens of picture books as well as in the pages of well-known children’s magazines. Her book credits include Does God Know How to Tie Shoes (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers), If Jesus Came to my House (Harper Collins Children’s Books), and BAREFOOT, Poems for Naked Feet (Wordsong). McElrath-Eslick’s paintings have been exhibited at the Sprint Corporation (Kansas City, MO) Mazza Museum of Children’s Book Art (University of Findlay, OH) California Department of Education Collection, Grand Valley University School of Education Collection, Kerlan Collection, University of Minnesota, Toledo-Lucas Children’s Library (Toledo, Ohio) DeVos Children’s Hospital, Grand Rapids, MI, and the Cricket Magazine Group (Peru, IL). For more information visit www.eslickart.com.
Illustrator Jason Phillips, a native of Detroit, is a graduate of the Cass Technical High School’s noted Commercial Art curriculum and the School of Fine Arts at Wayne State University. In 1992 he was selected as the Marie W. Sharpe Scholar at Colorado College. His work is found in private collections nationwide and has been exhibited in numerous galleries and public spaces throughout the United States including the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Johanson Charles Gallery in Detroit, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, and the Stuart McClean Gallery in Atlanta.
Research Specialist Stephanie Hensel has worked with Dr. Holly K. Craig at the University of Michigan since 2001. Hensel supervises the day-to-day operations of the Michigan – Project on Oral language, Writing, and Reading (M-POWR) research program where research assistants transcribe and code language samples, score tests, and analyze data. She also manages both the qualitative and quantitative data collection activities for the research program while maintaining a high level of quality for all incoming data. She has published numerous conference papers and journal articles while working with Dr. Craig and she oversaw the creation of the ToggleTalk teaching and training materials including 9 original storybooks, and provided training and coaching for teachers.