The SIM Leadership Award

The SIM Leadership Award recognizes individuals who have shown exceptional leadership and excellent service to the Strategic Instruction Model by helping educators become strategic teachers,and, as a result, students become strategic learnings.

Since 1978, the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning has worked with schools, communities, teachers, students, and service organizations to tackle the serious challenges of improving literacy and learning among the nation’s adolescents.

We are indebted to the many individuals who have accompanied us on our journey. The teachers and administrators who take risks—both personal and professional—to promote the widespread use of the Strategic Instruction Model in their schools or school systems bring our work to life. The members of the International Professional Development Network who share their expertise in the Strategic Instruction Model help educators become strategic teachers and, as a result, students become strategic learners. The partners in the education field who generously share their knowledge and time further our research and help us reach our goals.

Each year, we recognize outstanding teachers, administrators, professional developers, and partners who inspire greater achievements. We offer this tribute and our sincerest congratulations to this year’s recipient of the SIM Leadership Award with profound appreciation for all of your efforts on behalf of adolescents and literacy.

SIM Leadership Award

The SIM™ Leadership Award recognizes individuals who have shown exceptional leadership and excellent service to the Strategic Instruction Model by helping educators become strategic teachers and, as a result, students become strategic learners.


Over the years, Patty has forged a significant relationship with the KUCRL and SIM’s reach has grown throughout the state of Arkansas thanks to innumerable activities and projects she has promoted that include the implementation of SIM. Her steadfastness, tenacity and persistence as a champion of the Strategic Instruction Model in Arkansas, all while maintaining her sense of humor and fun, have resulted in remarkable capacity building, and impact for Arkansas teachers and students. It is for these reasons and many more, Dr. Patty Kohler is the recipient of the 2020 SIM Leadership Award.

Read more about Patty Kohler (.pdf)

Not only have Janice and Cindy’s SPDG results been appreciated in their state, their results have been shared nationally through the SPDG network. Their experiences are shared with SPDG projects across the country which are also focused on improving academic outcomes for students who struggle. Other project officers at Office of Special Education Programs at the federal Department of Education have expressed interest in the work of the Florida SPDG. Cindy and Janice have been exceptional models and sharers of their most convincing outcomes.

Read more about Janice Creneti (.pdf)

Read more about Cindy Medici (.pdf)


Jean Piazza - WY


Kathy Boyle Gast - GA


Mary Black - TX


Beth Lasky – CA

Diane Gillam – VA

Ann Hoffman – IA


Irma Brasseur-Hock – KS

Kimberly Toebe – MO


Sheri Fiskum

Janet Atallah 


Pam Leitzell – TN 

Learn more about Pam's work in the 2009 AWARD VIDEO


Barb Ehren - Professor and Director of the Doctoral Program in Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Central Florida

Joyce Rademacher - Professor of Special Education, Texas Woman's University 

Learn more about Barb and Joyce in the 2008 AWARD VIDEO


Anita Friede - NY

A superb leader in the SIM Network and a tireless advocate for struggling learner, Anita is a professional Developer from New York. 

Learn more about Anita in the 2007 AWARD VIDEO

Victoria Cotsworth, Site Coordinator, GEAR-UP Project, Schlagle High School, Kansas CIty, KS

Vicki Cotsworth, A SIM Professional Developer since 1986, has assumed numerous leadership roles within the Network, including coordinating an update conference in Maho Bay in St. Martins, and mentoring many Potential Learning Strategy Professional Developers.  For five years, Vicki provided SIM instruction for the Kansas Governor's Academy, in which 50 districts participated.  In recent years, she has written and developed materials for the Xtreme Reading project, and her classroom has served as a site for KUCRL videos, piloting the Paraphrasing Strategy, and work on the Self-Advocacy and Reading Strategy CDs.  Vicki has taught at the SMI Reading and Writing Strategy Institute at KUCRL for two years, has been a gust speaker about SIM countless times in graduate-level courses at the University of Kansas , and is the site coordinator for the KU GEAR-UP project in Kansas City, where she teachers and supports implementation of SIM Learning Strategies and Content Enhancement Routines.

Jim Knight, Pathways to Success Project Director, KUCRL

Jim Knight became involved with SIM when he took a job teaching community college students in Toronto, Canada.  When he sought help in reaching his class of failing students, he found SIM.  He became a certified SIM Professional Developer in 1989, then began his doctoral program at KU in 1992.  Four years later, he became a full-time KUCRL researcher, pursuing his interest in professional development and system-wide change.  He has been instrumental in developing new ways to deliver professional development experiences to teachers and is now one of the "go to" people for the National Staff Development Council, often speaking about coaching at NSDC meetings.  He stars in a DVD on coaching just released by NSCD, and Corwin Press will publish his text on instructional coaching this fall.  Jim's thinking has had a profound effect on the way in which KUCRL and the SIM Network think about and conduct staff development and school change initiatives.

Lee Schwartz, Staff Developer, El Paso, Texas Independent School District

Lee Schwartz became a Learning Strategies Professional Developer in 2001, quickly followed by Content Enhancement certification in 2002.  She headed a school-wide program to implement SIM from 1993 to 1997, then helped develop a district-wide SIM initiative in 2000.  Lee has nurtured SIM in her district, arranging for and facilitating Content Enhancement and Learning Strategies Potential Professional Developer Institutes in 2003 , 2004, and 2005.  In addition to her work in El Paso, Lee too SIM to Alaska in 2004, providing six days of workshops for the Anchorage School District.  She also has presented SIM to Bureau of Indian Affairs schools in New Mexico, South Dakota, and North Dakota.

Joan Fletcher - President of Winning Ways, Inc. Oakton, VA

Joan has a long and productive history with SIM, beginning as a teacher in Florida in 1986 before becoming a certified professional developer in 1988. Since then, she has trained more than 600 teachers and mentored some of these to become professional developers. She facilitated the Virginia Potential Professional Developers Institute in 2001 and served as mentor for each of the 20 learning strategies potential professional developers in that class. Joan has made huge efforts to see SIM implemented in two Virginia counties, including one that is the seventh largest school district in the country. She planned, coordinated, and executed two Northeast Regional Update Conferences in Washington, D.C., in recent years, has presented at the international conference, and is assisting with KUCRL’s current statewide SIM project in Virginia. Joan, who has provided professional development in more than 20 strategies and routines, is especially concerned with implementation. As such, she is dedicated to working with each teacher and school division to increase their SIM implementation

Ginger Williams - Adjunct Professor, California State University, Northridge, Los Angeles, CA

For more than 20 years, Ginger has been a passionate and dedicated SIM teacher, mentor, and professional developer. In 1983, she was instrumental in bringing a team led by Don Deshler to California to present SIM. Ginger, who held teaching and administrative positions in her career, retired in June 2003 to spend time working with research field-validated strategies and routines. At California State University—Northridge, she has worked with 12 new special educators in a district intern program for the last two years. The group graduated this year with full credentials and SIM strategies and routines in their tool kits. Five years ago, Ginger volunteered to be a state leader and to work with all of the other SIM Professional Developers in California. She has worked closely with KU-CRL to revive the CAL-SIM connection and organized the California Potential Professional Developers for Content Enhancement Institute several years ago. Ginger and SIM PD Barb Glaeser organized the first SIM update in California in June 2001, and last year Ginger was in charge of the annual CAL-SIM update.

Charles A. Hughes - PA 

Charles Hughes, a professor of special education at Penn State University in University Park, Penn., has been a SIM Professional Developer since 1985. Since then, he has provided SIM professional development for hundreds of teachers in 10 states and has conducted strategy related sessions in Russia, Korea, and Jamaica. Charlie has been an advocate for SIM everywhere he goes, especially in his home state. He proposed, organized, and implemented SIM statewide professional development sessions in Pennsylvania for more than 750 teachers. In addition, he is helping to mentor nine potential professional developers to maintain and spread the influence of SIM. An author and researcher, he has co-written the Test-Taking, Assignment Completion, and InSPECT  strategy manuals and is currently working on the Essay Test-Taking Strategy.  He also worked to help develop a CD-ROM version of the Test-Taking Strategy. He has published more than 15 articles about SIM and has made more than 20 presentations related to the strategies. As a university professor, Charles has taught more than 1,000 students a variety of SIM strategies in the past 18 years.

Diane Larson - MN

Diane Larson, a learning disabilities teacher at Mayo High School in Rochester, Minnesota, became a SIM Professional Developer in 1994. She has been a leader in Minnesota Professional Development ever since. While remaining in the classroom full time, Diane has helped to provide SIM professional development for many special and general education teachers in the Rochester School District in the past 10 years; she also teaches the SIM components to other teachers throughout Minnesota for use in their classrooms and has reached more than 3,000 teachers this way. Diane works closely with the state network to keep Minnesota professional developers informed about state and federal legislation and helps teachers to adapt SIM components to their classrooms. She led her district in rewriting the entire biology curriculum based on the Course, Unit,  and Lesson Organizers, and she has co-written a program that helps ninth-grade teachers incorporate reading strategies into their courses. She retired from the Rochester Public Schools this year, but she plans to teach the Strategic Instruction Model at Mankato State University later this year, and she will continue to work with the Minnesota Professional Developers Network.

Cynthia Gibson - MI

Cyndi Gibson, a teacher at Lowell High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been a SIM Professional Developer since 1994. She provides more than 12 formal professional development sessions each year in addition to countless informal/one-on-one sessions all the while teaching full time and using Learning Strategies and Content Enhancement Routines daily. She has presented about SIM at state conferences for CEC and the Michigan Association of Learning Disabilities Educators (MALDE). She is an original member of a group that ultimately became the Michigan SIM Connection. She has served as mentor for several new professional developers, created brochures, and published SIM articles in professional publications. Cyndi actively participated in the revision of K-12 language arts curriculum within her district and in her school’s Literacy Committee, ensuring in both cases that SIM components were included in plans. Cyndi has attended international conferences, participated in and recruited co-workers to participate in field-testing of the Interactive Organizer CD, and worked with CRL to collect data for a CD version of the Word Identification Strategy.

Peggy Graving - CA

Peggy Graving, a district literacy coach in Stockton, California, has been a SIM Professional Developer since 1989. She has been instrumental in revitalizing interest in SIM in California. As state conference chair of the California Association of Resource Specialists, Peggy organized a SIM strand of workshops involving nine California SIM Professional Developers, 11 sessions on Learning Strategies, and CRL’s Keith Lenz as keynote speaker. She facilitated a partnership between KU-CRL and West Ed’s Secondary Literacy Success Network, which resulted in SIM being adopted as one of the programs for strategic learners for 50 California schools participating in the SLSN Pilot. Using the Content Literacy Continuum as her guide, she has facilitated development of a strategic school site. She has spoken about SIM at numerous statewide conferences and, as visiting faculty at the University of the Pacific, has integrated Learning Strategies as part of the requirements for two courses leading to the resource specialist certificate of competence for the state of California. Peggy conducted a research project on the effectiveness of SIM strategies in a school-wide reading class for middle school students and is conducting another on the effectiveness of teaching SIM strategies in middle school content classes. Peggy contributes to SIMTRAINER-L and Strategram and provides coaching and mentoring.

Jane Stevenson - MN

Jane Stevenson and Barbara Vallejo, a SIM Professional Development team from Minnesota, have been working together regularly since 1991. Barb, an independent consultant from Stanchfield, Minnesota, and a SIM Professional Developer since 1989, taught in Minneapolis for 31 years, where she continues to provide SIM workshops. Jane, associate principal at Eden Prairie High School in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, began her journey with SIM in the mid-1980s. In 1989, her school district received a $25,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Education as a result of her proposal to research the effectiveness of strategies intervention in general education classrooms. During that project, the team implemented strategies in both a “pull out” setting and a ninth-grade English class and tracked student progress. Data they collected indicated that all groups of students benefited from strategy instruction. Since forming a team, Jane and Barb have integrated SIM into numerous projects, including a redesigned secondary reading program at Minneapolis South High School, a Learning Disabilities Licensure program at the University of Minnesota, and a special education/general education collaboration grant called “Creating Capacities Within.” Barb developed a student self-advocacy panel using SIM’s Educational Planning Strategy, now called the Self-Advocacy Strategy. She and Jane facilitated presentations by the panel at two high schools as well as at the University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and St. Cloud State College. Both Jane and Barb have served as mentor teachers and are active in the Minnesota SIM Network.

Helen Barrier - High Incidence Coordinator, Roanoke, VA


Helen Barrier has been a SIM Trainer since 1995. She has never missed an update and has offered professional development sessions for a“massive” number of teachers. In fact,she is one of the national leaders in the number of registration of training forms she has sent to Helen shares her excellent training materials and ideas with other trainers freely in numerous ways and has been an outstanding for others. She is a leader in providing Content Enhancement workshops for teachers and is a mentor for new SIM Trainers in Virginia. In addition, she has presented at regional and international SIM conferences.



Beverly Mommsen  - Educational Consultant, Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency, Clinton, Iowa

Bev Mommsen has been a SIM Trainer since 1986. She has been an enthusiastic supporter of strategies instruction as a teacher,trainer, and educational consultant and has been a strong advocate for strategic instruction in the districts and buildings she serves as a consultant. Bev has assisted with coordinating area SIM conferences and has presented at both area and international SIM conferences. She estimates that more than 1,000 individuals have attended her workshops. In addition, Bev participated in the Stratellite Connection video series.

Cathy Spriggs  - Instructional Facilitator,Turlock Junior High School, Turlock, CA

Cathy Spriggs has been a SIM Trainer since 1990. Cathy, a SIM leader in California, was nominated for this award by three different trainers in the states of Michigan, Colorado, and Texas because of all she has shared with other trainers across the network. She designed and developed the Word ID Routine designed and developed a phonics program to parallel instruction in Word ID; and is conducting a research pilot using the Word ID Routine and Fundamentals of Summarizing. Cathy, who has offered professional development workshops at county, district, and site levels, was one of the coordinators for the California Summer Institute for teachers this year. In addition, she promoted SIM as a presenter at the California Secondary Summit and the Middle School Demonstration Program state-level conferences. She also has presented several times at the international SIM conference.


Debbie Cooke, Manager, Staff Development - Palm Beach County Florida School District, Office of Staff Development

Patty Graner, Coordinator, Strategic Education Training - Strategic Learning Center in Seattle, WA

Debbie began teaching Learning Strategies in fall of 1985. Patty began teaching Learning Strategies in fall of 1986. They met in the summer of 1988 when they were selected as representatives from Palm Beach County to become certified SIM Trainers. They were original subscribers to the Strategram document, members of study groups using the Stratellite Connection videos; Patty is a published contributor to Strategram (Bost’s Deli) in Volume One, Number 4. Debbie and Patty have facilitated seven potential professional developer institutes. They have both presented numerous sessions at Florida Update sessions on such topics as Generalization, Making SIM Happen for Kids, SIM and Critical Features of Strategies Training. They received the Jane Langenbach Award, which is presented to a Florida SIM Trainer (or TEAM) who has demonstrated outstanding service to the Florida SIM Network. They have participated in several task forces, including the July 1993 National Task Force to Organize the National Network Structure for Regional Meetings. In September 1990,Debbie presented Promoting Student Success Utilizing Critical Teaching Behaviors to two groups of high school teachers in Auckland, New Zealand. Since 2000, Patty’s position is fully devoted to SIM, developing a network of teachers and trainers in Washington and advocating for academic success for youth in out-of-home care. In June,Patty presented Content Literacy and Introduction of SIM at the 2nd Annual Special Education Conference in Bellingham, Washington.

Karen Koskovich - IA

Karen Koskovich, a Special Education Consultant in Dubuque, Iowa, is known throughout the SIM Network for her creativity and energy in developing unique ways to support instruction and implementation of SIM Learning Straegies. Karen's games and tips have been featured in Strategram, Stratellite Connection videos and at local, regional, and national conferences, She has offered numerous opportunities for Iowa educators to learn more about SIM. During the past year, she has added training sessions and monthly follow-up calls at a youth correctional facility in Wisconsin. "The progress and excitement that are being generated now that they have taught the strategies for a third time make the extra effort worthwhile," she said. Her recent projects involved adapting the Assignment Completion Strategy for the elementary level and devoting a great deal of time and energy to organizing the October 5 Regional SIM Conference in Iowa.

Luanne Todd - CO

Luanne Todd has been active in the SIM Network for more than 10 years and currently is the only SIM Professional Developer in Colorado. In 1995, she started her own business, the Learning Coach, with the mission of providing SIM Learning Strategies and Content Enhancement Routines to teachers as well as providing private strategic tutoring sessions for students and their parents. She has trained teachers in school districts, private schools, and at the college level and has presented SIM-related sessions at local, state, regional and national conferences. She has contributed to CRL publications and electronic communications. In summarizing her experiences with SIM, Luanne wrote, "I have found the energy to do this, in part, because I believe so strongly that students deserve to have SIM tools in their hands now, and also because of the generous encouragement and support I have received from the SIM Network. The colleagues and resources it has provided me have been invaluable as I have tried to promote SIM in Colorado.

Keith Lenz - MO

Keith Lenz, CRL research scientist, was a surprise recipient of the SIM Leadership Award. Keith is an author of many of the manuals that result from the research conducted by CRL. He is active in CRL research and is dedicated to sharing results and progress with t he SIM Network at local, regional, and international meetings. He serves as a resource for both CRL staff and SIM Professional Developers. His work with Contgent Enhancement continues to inspire the development of innovative instructioa methods and tools for general education teachers. Among his current projects are the Strategic Learning Cetnters in Lawrence and Seattle and development of a content enhamcent planning CD. He is also leader of the INstitute for Academic Access projet schools in Washington State.

Nancy Sander - KY

Susan Peterson Miller -NV

Beverly Colombo and Mary Ellen O'Hare, Instructional Facilitators, and Judly Wollberg, Adminstrator -  Special School District, Town and Country, Missouri

This team has trained more than 1000 teachers, developed elementary strategies, and served as mentors for several new professional developers. They are regional SIM leaders and have made many SIM presentations.

Alice Henley - CT

Alice Henley, Consultant, SERC, Middletown, Connecticut. Alice coordinates SIM training and activities in Connecticut for 25 professional developers. She is a study group leader and regional leader and has contributed to StrateNet, Stregram, and Stratellite Connection video. She is in the process of establishing SIM demonstrateion sites in her state.

Susan Woodruff - MI

Sue Woodruff, Teacher Consultant, Muskegon, Michigan High School. Sue, who has contributed to Strategram and given many SIM presentations, is a lead contributor to StrenNet. She is also a study group leader and was the impetus for the Michigan Association of Learning Disability Educators to sponsor statewide SIM training.

Ann Valus - IA

Ann Valus, Educational Consultant, Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency No. 9, Bettendorf, Iowa. Ann has attended all but two national conferences and has been a contributor to Strategram. She served as a mentor for six new professional developers and was insturmental in obtaining a grant to support tow new trainers, trips to the national conference for three professional develoers, and training for a large group of teachers. She is a leader of SIM professional Developers in her area.


Lawrence Bemish - MI

Barbara Millikan - OR

Judy O’Malley  - FL

Mary Anne Tharin - NC


Elaine Fine - NJ

Carla Soronen - CA

Tony Van Reusen - TX

Becky Wetzel - CA


Gail Cheever - Kern County, CA

Janet Jones - MN

Joseph Rogan - College of Misericordia, Dallas, PA

Shari Schindele - MN

Kim Short - Wake County NC Public School System

Rosemary Tralli -  Special Education Resource Teacher at Wethersfield High, School, Wethersfield, CT &

Vicky Day  - Associate Professor at University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT

     Rosemary and Vicky have been leaders in the state of Connecticut with regard to initiating the statewide SIM training project. They not only have trained many teachers themselves, they also came to Kansas to become trainers of trainers and have trained new trainers in their state. Nomination statement from Ann Hoffman and Conn Thomas: "Rosemary has taught Special Education for 20 years. She began teaching the strategies in 1987 and has been a SIM Trainer since 1989. Vicky began teaching the strategies in 1985 and has been a trainer since 1986. Rosemary and Vicky have not only trained in their schools but were instrumental in initiating the SERC statewide SIM training project. Both have devoted countless hours beybnd their teaching day to provide expertise and leadership in this ongoing project. According to Marianne Kirner, SERC Director, "without question the commitment, spirit, and expertise of Vicky and Rose­mary has contributed to the overall success of the Connecticut Strategies Intervention Program. While they are certainly seen as an outstanding team, what is most impressive to us is their devotion to the integrity of the SIM project. Rosemary and Vicky have devoted many hours behind the scenes organizing materials, sharing ideas, mentoring new trainers, and providing leadership through their expertise to the state­wide project. While both demonstrate great expertise in the Strategies Intervention Model, they are constantly seeking further knowledge to update their skills.

JoAnn Graham & Anne Millea - NE

     Anne Millea and JoAnn  Graham former1y taught in the Millard Public Schools in Nebraska and are presently retired from teaching and devoting more time to training . Both have devoted  countless hours to the success of the SIM teacher  training efforts in the state of Nebraska.​

     Nominating statement for Jo Ann Graham from Alice Senseney, Teacher  Support Cadre Coordinator, Nebraska Department of  Education: 

"Over the last six years, Jo Ann has provided Strategies Intervention Model training for the Nebraska Department of Education many times in Ogallala,  Kearney and Lincoln and served on the Teacher  support Cadre for three years. In addition she has co-​directed a training program during the current year for Millard Public Schools to both teachers and speech pathologists. Jo Ann regularly participates in strategy updates for trainers both in Nebraska and Kansas. Finally, she implements strategy instruction in her classroom which serves as a demonstration site to many other teachers interested in the model. ​

     Nominating statement for Anne Millea from Alice Senseney, Teacher Support Cadre Coordinator, Nebraska Department of Education:  "During the past five years, I have depended  upon Anne's frequent assistance for sharing update  information with other trainers, assisting new trainers as they design initial training sessions, offering feedback on how a new strategy works in the classroom and  providing training in locations throughout the state Scottsbluff, Ogallala, Kearney, Fremont, Lincoln, Valley and Omaha). Anne has served on the advisory group for our Teacher support Cadre and as co director of a strategies training series for Millard Public Schools. tn this past year, she has retired from teaching and  pursued her training interests more fully. Her efforts  have helped us pioneer new training formats, including distance learning through broadcast capabilities."


Connie Gentle - FL

Fran Clark - KS

Jeri Neduchal - FL


An accessible version of the documents on this site will be made available upon request. Please contact the KU CRL Professional Development Research Institute, at to request the document be made available in an accessible format.