MEET OUR FACILITATORS
Norah Barney works at the Anaconda School District as the Special Education and Curriculum Director. She has over 15 years of leadership experience in pre-K through 12th grade, and she is a former SPED teacher. Norah taught Special Education for 11 years in a variety of settings before jumping into administration. She earned her Masters' Degree in Special Education in 2005, a Doctorate Degree in Education Leadership in 2018, and was the recipient of the 2020 Adrian Langstaff Award, presented to a Montana School Leader for outstanding service to education. She has presented at many state, national, and international conferences.
Norah currently lives in Fairmont, Montana, with her husband, Tony, and her two dogs.
Areas of Expertise: PLCs; Multiple-Tiered Systems of Support MTSS; Data Analysis; Special Education; SEL; Intervention; Leadership; Early Childhood Education Programming & Best Practices; Climate & Culture Change; Standards-Aligned Grading
With nearly two decades of experience in the public education sector, Dr. Jake Chipps is the new Director of the Montana Education Curriculum Consortium (MECC) at School Services of Montana. Jake has served as a secondary math and computer science educator, assistant teaching professor, teacher coach, curriculum developer, professional development writer and facilitator, state standards writer, academic program lead, and educational consultant for districts. Jake holds an Ed.D. in learning technologies from Pepperdine University and an M.Ed. in educational technology from California State University, Northridge.
Jake is passionate about working with educators to redesign their learning environments, curricula, and assessments to best support all learners using place-based and evidence-based approaches. He supports educators across subject areas to develop curricula with novel assessments that empower learners to communicate understanding through identity-based, constructionist models, and facilitates diffusion of innovation across districts by encouraging robust fields of practice. Jake leverages his expertise in qualitative and mixed-methods research to inform his leadership practices.
Areas of Expertise: Learning Technologies; Diffusion of Innovation; Organizational Culture; Communities of Practice; Math Education; Computer Science Education; Instructional Coaching; Qualitative Research; PD Design & Facilitation; Curriculum & Assessment; Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
JEANNIE CHIPPS - coming soon!
Jennifer Graham received her History degree from the University of Montana and her teaching endorsement from Montana State University. For the past 12 years she has been a 7-12 History Teacher at Philipsburg School District, and she added K-12 Instructional Coach to the mix two years ago. Jennifer is also a Rural Teacher Mentor through MSU, a Montana Historical Society Teacher Leader in History, and the Board Chair of the Healthy Montana Network Grant in Granite County.
Along with teaching, Jennifer has her Master’s in Clinical Counseling and is currently working as a PCLC with Providence Mental Health. She strongly believes in the thought that “we are only as healthy as the people in our communities” and works to honor the importance of mental health for those who surround us.
Jennifer is originally from Missoula and now lives in Philipsburg, MT. In her free time she likes to spend time with her husband and four children.
Areas of Expertise: History; Montana History; SEL; Instructional Coaching; Educational Consulting; PD Best Practices; Literacy; Improving Culture; Instructional Strategies; Understanding & Using Data
JORDANN LANKFORD-FORSTER (Bright Trail Woman)
Jordann Lankford-Forster is from Great Falls, Montana and is A’aniiih and Anishinaabe. Her A’aniiih name is Bright Trail Woman. Jordann received a major in Native American Studies and teaching degree in Broad Field Social Studies from the University of Montana. Jordann has spent 10 years in education and currently serves as an educator and IEFA instructional coach for Great Falls Public Schools. She is also a co-facilitator for Bright Trail Education (an educational consulting company).
Jordann has been recognized as a Montana Indian Teacher of the Year as well as the BSNF 2021 Teacher of the Year. She believes that public education is vital to the growth and development of society, and by providing students with a strong educational foundation using primary source documents from multiple sources, students will be able navigate their identities, world, and future.
Areas of Expertise: IEFA Instructional Coaching; Dropout Prevention Education; Education Consulting
Miranda Murray is from Great Falls, MT and a descendant of the Yankton Sioux. She received her teaching degree in Art Education (K-12) from the University of Montana. Miranda has spent 10 years in education and currently serves as an IEFA instructional coach for Great Falls Public Schools. She is also a co-facilitator of Bright Trail Education (an educational consulting company).
Miranda is a strong advocate for public education and the unique integration of Indigenous Education for All in Montana schools. She wants to be a part of an educational system that shares multiple perspectives and gives students the opportunity to be critical thinkers. Miranda has recently been awarded the Teresa Veltkamp Advocacy and the 2019 Salute to Women awards for her work in local and state communities.
Areas of Expertise: IEFA Instructional Coaching; Education Consulting
DR. ERIN LIPKIND
"My name is Erin Lipkind, and I am the Missoula County Superintendent of Schools. I am elected by the citizens of Missoula County to oversee the rural school districts in the county. In particular, I work with school districts that do not have a superintendent or a principal, and sometimes I assist districts that have just a principal but no superintendent at the request of the school board or principal. I also teach library classes and manage the library collections at Woodman, Sunset, and Swan Valley Schools. I am the co-director of WM-PLC, and teach continuing education classes focused on IEFA integration and rural school leadership. Finally, I am the library standards specialist for the Montana Small Schools Alliance and support other educators around the state with library media information literacy curriculum reviews and planning."
Melissa Rosenstein was born and raised in Bozeman, MT. She received a Psychology degree from Montana State in 2009 and an Educational Specialist Degree (Ed.S) in School Psychology from University of Montana in 2012. In addition, she holds a Master’s Degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis from MSU-Billings.
Melissa worked as a school psychologist for a rural cooperative for the first seven years of her career, serving 14 different school districts. In addition, she has also worked in the clinical setting as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), providing direct services, supervision, and behavioral consultation and coaching to children, families, and clinicians. She is entering into her 4th school year working for Bozeman Public Schools as a school psychologist.
Melissa is a certified instructor through the Crisis Prevention Institute, providing both direct and indirect trainings to educators throughout the state in the areas of verbal and nonverbal de-escalation strategies as the School Services of Montana Certified CPI Workshop instructor.
She is passionate about working within systems and with organizations, educators, and families to support best practices and outcomes for children.
Areas of Expertise: PLCs; Multiple-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS); Data Analysis; Special Education; SEL; Intervention; Leadership; Restorative Practices; Universal Design for Learning (UDL); Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS); Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA); Educational Coaching
DOROTHEA (DOTTIE) SUSAG
Dorothea (Dottie) Susag is an award-winning high school teacher who has been critical to successful implementation of the Indian Education for All initiative. She was the recipient of the 1992-93 Christa McAuliffee Award for Montana that culminated in her 1998 NCTE publication of Roots and Branches: A Resource of Native American Literature Themes, Lessons, and Bibliographies. She earned two Master of Arts degrees in English from the University of Montana, Missoula: Native American Literature and English Education.
Since retiring from teaching, Dottie has worked as a curriculum specialist and has written and edited several secondary-level ELA Units as well as the 2013 publication Birthright: Born to Poetry - a Collection of Montana Indian Poetry, for the Montana Office of Public Instruction. In 2017, she was one of six to receive the Montana Governor's Humanities Award given every two years. During COVID, she conducted presentations through Humanities Montana to secondary and college-level classes through Zoom or Google Classroom. She now lives in Oakdale, Minnesota, and she travels to Montana whenever the opportunity arises.
Areas of Expertise: Community-based Education; Teaching Native American Literature; Assessment Strategies; Technical Writing; Family & Community History
With nearly two decades of experience in the education sector, Genevieve Thomas is School Services of Montana's brand new Director of Professional Learning. She has also served as a special education teacher, literacy specialist, teacher coach, school psychologist, and special education administrator. She holds graduate degrees in both Special Education and School Psychology from Loyola Marymount University and is currently a doctoral student in the Reading Science Department at Mount St Joseph University.
Genevieve is passionate about partnering with schools to implement best practices for students with diverse learning needs, evidence-based literacy instruction and intervention, and multi-tiered systems of support. She supports teachers and schools across these areas through the development and implementation of professional learning opportunities, side-by-side coaching, and system-level consultation work. She is particularly skilled at collaborative analysis of data to inform instructional decisions for both the core educational program and academic and social-emotional interventions and supports.
Areas of Expertise: Special Education; Literacy Instruction and Intervention; Dyslexia; Multiple-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)
Melissa Tovaas is the Executive Director for School Services of Montana (SSoM). Melissa began her 20+ years in education as an elementary/special education teacher and has worked nationally as an education consultant. Prior to her move to SSoM Executive Director, she was the SSoM Director of Education Services, where she worked with schools across Montana to provide professional learning and curriculum support through SSoM, and she supported implementation of best practices in curriculum design, literacy, social emotional learning (SEL), STEM, and more. Melissa also hired a brand new Montana Education Curriculum Consortium (MECC) Director in August 2023 who will collaborate with schools and regional organizations, planning a variety of curriculum-based professional learning support. Melissa currently serves on the Board for the Montana ASCD and supports the SEL and literacy programs of the Center for the Collaborative Classroom, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating hearts and minds.
Areas of Expertise: Social Emotional Learning (SEL); Literacy; Curriculum Alignment and Design; Standards-Based Grading; STEM; Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and Collaboration; Culturally Responsive Practices
SSoM Executive Director
Email: mtovaas | *see footer
Work (406) 272-0021