Board of Directors
Sharon began her teaching career at Del Valle Junior High School in a self-contained special education classroom. Sharon also taught English and Language Arts and became an Instructor for the New Jersey Writing Project.
In 1998, Sharon started a dyslexia program at her junior high and developed a reading lab program for struggling students. Despite her varied experiences in education, learning how to teach reading to students with dyslexia was a profound turning point in her career and life. As a result of the program and the students’ success, Sharon took on the newly created position of Secondary Dyslexia/Reading Coordinator.
For over a decade, Sharon served as the Dyslexia, 504, and General Ed Homebound Coordinator. During this time, she became a Master Reading Teacher, received training in several dyslexia programs, and continued to develop the district’s dyslexia program. Sharon returned to the classroom for the last four years of her career to reconnect with students, administer assessments, and work to implement the latest scientific reading research in the K-12 classroom.
Sharon has actively served on numerous boards, including previous service on the board of IDA Austin. She hopes to build on the work that has been done, keep the Board challenged, and honor IDA’s traditions.
In her free time, Sharon loves baking, scrapbooking, traveling, and all things grandchildren, including learning to fish and pitch baseball. She also enjoys making an annual beach trip every summer with the teachers she hired and trained during the course of her career.
Lisa Baker, M.Ed., CALT, LDT
President Elect – Branch Administrator
Cynthia Edwards, M.Ed. is a national education consultant. Her work includes support to educator prep programs, districts, and schools on issues related to effective teaching practices with a focus on intentional and equitable evidence-based literacy instruction for all students.
For thirty-two years Cynthia worked in the Austin Independent School District in Austin, Texas. She taught for eighteen years within multiple grade levels and classroom settings providing special education services. Her teaching experience and continued education afforded her the opportunity to serve in several administrative leadership roles within Austin ISD. Her passion and expertise in the areas of language, literacy, and academic/behavioral support systems opened doors for a unique opportunity to create and develop several administrative positions within the district. She developed and refined academic coaching to enhance special educator preparation and development. This opportunity led to working collaboratively to design and develop a district-wide multi-tiered support system for academic achievement, focusing on evidence-based literacy instruction, further enhancing district-wide support for the identification and academic support for dyslexia services.
Beyond her work with the district, Cynthia shared her knowledge and expertise as an adjunct instructor in both undergraduate and postgraduate education preparation courses at the University of Texas, Austin, and Texas State University, San Marcos. Additionally, she was honored with the opportunity to present Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling and Early Childhood LETRS on a national level. Cynthia received her BS and M.Ed. in education from the University of Texas, Austin, and additionally earned certifications in both special education and language therapy. She is an active team member and certified inspector of Teacher Preparation and Inspection-US; a role she has held since 2013. Her professional memberships include the International Dyslexia Association, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, The Reading League, and The International Literacy Association.
Christine Perlino, M. Ed., Educational Diagnostician
Being an educator is Christine Perlino’s life’s work. She has supported students – in several different capacities – for more than 20 years. Christine obtained her undergraduate degree in the areas of sociology and psychology from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. She then started her career as an outdoor educator leading adolescents through the wilderness while providing them the tools to learn. That work led to completing a Master’s of Education concentrated in integrated learning and Waldorf early childhood from Antioch New England Graduate School. She continued to teach and lead in various ways, in the classroom of both private and public schools, for the next two decades. Christine is certified to teach grades EC-8th and Special Education EC-12th.
After spending years working with different learning styles, Christine’s curiosity about the cognitive processes steered her to secure an Educational Diagnostician certificate through Texas Tech University. She has been an Educational Diagnostician for eight years. Christine currently works with a local education agency and runs a private evaluation practice in the Rio Grande Valley.
As an IDA board member, Christine values collaborating with other professionals regarding dyslexia and learning differences. She strives to provide information and resources about dyslexia to those in her surrounding area.
Christine enjoys backpacking, swimming, and traveling with her three children and dog in her spare time.
Karen Ashorn, B.S., M.Ed., CALT
Karen began teaching in 1997, in public and in private schools, and has been a Certified Academic Language Therapist since 2013. She graduated from Texas A & M with a B.S. in Curriculum & Instruction, and from Midwestern State University with a M.S. in Special Education, Dyslexia Specialization. She received her CALT training through the Take Flight program with Scottish Rite and has been doing dyslexia therapy through the public schools up until 2020.
This is her fourth year as a Director with IDA Austin, and she is excited to continue to learn and grow in knowledge of how to best help families and get important information broadcast to them. She is a member of the International Dyslexia Association and the Academic Language Therapy Association.
She very recently retired from teaching 2nd grade, and has two sons, Keith and Colin, who are in their 20’s. She also has three rescue dogs she enjoys doing agility with in her spare time.
Linda Halbreich, M.A. Ed., LDT, CALT
Linda has been teaching at the Austin Waldorf School since 2003, initially as a Certified Academic Language Therapist and Licensed Dyslexia Therapist. Since 2015, Linda has joined the AWS high school as the Student Support Coordinator, where she serves as an advocate and coach for students with learning disabilities. While working as the head of the kindergarten at the Dalton School in New York City, Linda was an intern at the Fisher-Landau Center for the Treatment of Learning Disabilities. Witnessing the powerful impact of academic therapy on children’s lives, and after her son was diagnosed with dyslexia, Linda pursued training as a CALT at the Rawson Saunders Institute.
Linda holds a Master’s degree from Adelphi University in Early Childhood and Elementary Education with an emphasis on identifying children who have learning disabilities. Previously, she attended Bank Street College of Education to study Reading Instruction, and SUNY Buffalo, earning a BA in Human Services/Child Development.
Linda is pleased to join the IDA Austin board to provide advocacy on a larger scale by supporting students, parents, and educators, and by promoting the Science of Reading to a wider audience to foster early successes for all students as they learn to read.
Linda enjoys gardening with native plants, identifying wildflowers on her hikes through Barton Creek Preserve, and listening to live music. Spending time with family and friends is at the top of her list along with cooking, reading, and traveling near and far.
Rama Tandon, from New Delhi, India, is currently a first-year doctoral student at UT Austin, majoring in Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Disorders. She is a Certified Academic Language Therapist who has worked in the field of special needs for over 22 years. She has a double Masters, one of them being a Master of Arts in Psychology. She is a member of the Academic Language Therapist Association (ALTA)and the International Dyslexia Association. She has been conducting workshops all over India and outside India for parents and teachers. She also has a YouTube channel where she has uploaded over 100 videos in Hindi and English for teachers and parents to understand Dyslexia and tips related to intervention. As a new member of the IDA board, she hopes to combine her diverse experience with her compassion and enthusiasm and to make a positive contribution to IDA, Austin, and the greater community. She desires to increase her knowledge and comprehension of reading, literacy, and cognitive skills. She is interested in current and effective practices in the disciplines of literacy, early intervention, reading, and other language-based learning disorders.
Meagan Sullivan, MA, CALT, Educational Diagnostician
Meagan Sullivan was raised in Nashville, TN and studied Communication Studies at NYU. Upon graduation, she was accepted as a corps member for the newly created Teach for America and spent the next two years living and working in a small, under-resourced and understaffed school district in Arkansas as a special ed teacher.
From Arkansas, she went on to the University of Arizona (Go Wildcats!) for a masters in Special Education: Deaf and Hard of Hearing before relocating to Texas with her family. She’s the single mom of 5 children, the oldest of whom, now an adult, was identified with dyslexia in 3rd grade. This led her to becoming a CALT with the program at SMU and then working at her home district to develop policy and procedures for district dyslexia assessment as well as serving the DHH population.
After a decade of overseeing district dyslexia programming and assessment, and recognizing the crucial role diagnosticians play, Meagan decided to pursue educational diagnostician certification due to the shortage across Texas. In addition to being an educational diagnostician in the RGV and serving on the IDA-Austin board, she is currently serving on the school board for Sharyland ISD in Mission, TX.
Believing ALL children can learn and that ALL communities deserve a high quality, accessible education embedded itself from her first teaching experiences, igniting her lifelong journey as an involved community member and advocate for high quality public education.
Meagan’s view of education is one of social justice and equality: as a means of providing a more equitable and balanced playing field for students everywhere.
Cherry Craig Lee, Ed.D. LDT, CALT, Educational Diagnostician
Cherry Craig Lee, Ed.D., serves in the Austin Independent School District as the Executive Director of Instructional Delivery and Inclusion. Dr. Lee graduated from Austin College in Sherman, Texas with a B.A. in Sociology in 1995. After completing her teacher training through the Region XIII Alternative Certification Program in Austin, Texas, she served as a special education teacher, a general education teacher, and a reading interventionist at the elementary school level. She received her master’s in special education, with a focus on dyslexia and educational diagnostics from Midwestern State University. She is a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT), a Licensed Dyslexia Therapist (LDT), and an Educational Diagnostician. Cherry has also held educational leadership positions at the district and state level, including serving as the Director of Reading at the Texas Education Agency. Her professional interests include academic assessment and interventions, equity in education, teacher training, global literacy, and dyslexia. Dr. Lee completed her dissertation using an explanatory sequential, mixed methods approach where she investigated teacher perceptions of their preservice handwriting training, as well as their current implementation of handwriting instruction.
Erin Modde M.Ed., CALT, LDT
Erin began her career as a 3rd grade teacher in a small town south of San Antonio, called Pleasanton, Tx. After a year of teaching, she then moved to San Antonio and enrolled in the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) for a Masters program. She completed her Masters in Reading while teaching in San Antonio in Northside ISD. Upon graduation, she was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to teach as a Reading Specialist in a neighboring Title 1 school in Northside ISD. She spent 3 years as a Reading Specialist at Esparza Elementary working with 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade struggling readers in a predominantly inclusion model capacity.
Erin decided to move to Austin and with that choice, found herself back in the classroom as a third grade teacher in Lake Travis ISD. Over the next twelve years she taught Reading, Language Arts and Social Studies in 4th and 5th grades as a classroom teacher at Lake Pointe Elementary. Ten of those years she also served as Team Leader for the 4th grade team. The opportunity to teach as the Dyslexia Interventionist at Lake Pointe arose in 2019 and she completed her work as a CALT at Rawson Saunders Institute in March of 2023. She continues to work teaching students with dyslexia in Lake Travis ISD at Lake Pointe Elementary where she’s teaching in her 25th year in the profession, 17th year at Lake Pointe Elementary, and 5th year as the Dyslexia Intervention teacher.
When Erin is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her 6 year old daughter, Reese, and husband, Don. They enjoy listening to live music and exploring new places in Austin and the surrounding area, as well as trips to the Texas coast.
Holly Rasoulian, M.Ed., CALT
Licensed Dyslexia Therapist
Holly began her career in education teaching young children at a Tarrytown preschool while attending college at the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. Upon graduating, she immediately pursued her M.Ed. in Elementary Education at Texas State University. Holly promptly accepted a job at her own elementary school, St. Theresa’s Catholic School, after becoming certified as an English as a Second Language Generalist for grades EC-6 in 2013. In her fifth year of teaching, she was introduced to a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) that worked on campus with one of her struggling students. Shortly after, Holly investigated the Rawson Saunders Institute and decided to pursue the Dyslexia Therapist CALT program herself.
Since the decision to focus entirely on CALT certification in 2018, Holly has worked privately with students all over Austin. In May 2019, she accepted a position as an Academic Language Therapist at Rawson Saunders School where she worked until the birth of her second child in October of that year. Today, she continues to provide private therapy for students in the greater Austin area in addition to substituting and serving as the Social Media Coordinator for her son’s preschool. Holly is licensed as a Dyslexia Therapist in the state of Texas and is an active member of both the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and the Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA). She is delighted to join the board in order to further IDA’s dedication to enhancing the lives of those struggling with dyslexia.
Holly enjoys making memories with her husband, daughter, and son. Traveling, gardening, reading, and exploring the great outdoors are some of her favorite pastimes.
Meet Sylvia Gonzalez, a dedicated Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) and Licensed Dyslexia Therapist (LDT) with a profound commitment to empowering individuals facing language-based learning disabilities. Sylvia’s personal journey with dyslexia began within her own family, where she homeschooled her three children, two of whom have dyslexia. Over thirteen years of homeschooling, she successfully guided her children through their educational milestones, including college and high school.
Currently, Sylvia serves a diverse range of students in private, public, and homeschool settings within her private practice. She takes great pleasure in developing targeted interventions and support content tailored to students navigating language-related challenges. Her expertise extends to integrating technology into her interventions, creating a dynamic and effective learning experience.
Shannon Heinzen, M.Ed., CALP
Shannon Heinzen took her first Basic Language Skills class as a mom trying to help her child learn how to read. The instructors encouraged her to consider teaching and the seed was planted. Shannon began her career in education in 2007 in Round Rock, Texas, where she enjoyed teaching first graders for nine years. She and her family moved to Salado, Texas, and she continued teaching first grade at Salado ISD for another two years. When the opportunity arose to move into a reading and dyslexia intervention position, Shannon eagerly accepted the new role to continue her passion to help struggling readers. She currently serves as an instructional coach to support both teachers and students. Additionally, she has served as a team leader, mentor, and response to intervention contact for her campus.
Shannon graduated from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and completed her teacher training through the Region XIII Alternative Certification Program in Austin, Texas. She earned a M.Ed. from the University of Texas at Arlington and received her certification as a Certified Academic Language Practitioner through the Rawson Saunders Institute.
Shannon enjoys reading, baking, crafting, and gardening. She and her husband Mike enjoy being outdoors, traveling, and spending time with family. Shannon and Mike are proud parents of their two adult children, Hayden and Ava.
Dianne has been in education for over 20 years. Past experiences include preschool, elementary, and middle school classroom teaching and working in the Curriculum & Instruction and Assessment Divisions at TEA. Currently, Dianne is a Dyslexia Specialist at Pfluger Elementary in Hays CISD. She has trained at Rawson Saunders Institute working toward earning CALT. Dianne is excited to be part of the Austin IDA Board of Directors to further serve the dyslexia community.
Dianne has three adult children, a witty husband, and three somewhat behaved dogs. In her free time, Dianne can be found with her 6 pound Chihuahua “Monty” in her lap or tucked inside her cardigan while watching documentaries.