Department Hires Regional Coaches to Assist with Idaho Core Implementation

As part of the state’s effort to help Idaho schools and districts in the transition to the new Idaho Core Standards in mathematics, English language arts, and literacy, the state has hired regional coaches who will focus on assisting districts at the local level.

The Idaho Legislature appropriated $3.75 million in new funding for FY2014, which began July 1, for the Idaho State Department of Education to deliver professional development to schools and districts. The state organized a focus group of educators to guide how this funding is spent. Based on the feedback we received, a majority of this funding is being spent on regional support in mathematics, as well as English language arts and literacy.

Meet your regional coaches!

The regional coaches are all educators with extensive experience in the classroom and their subject areas. Through these regional coaches, the state also is partnering with Idaho’s institutions of higher education in each region.

Idaho Core Standards Mathematics Regional Contacts

Region 1

Dr. Julie Amador
Regional DirRegional Director
(208)664-7010ulie Amador is an Assistant Professor of elementary/middle school mathematics education in the College of Education at the University of Idaho and is the Director of the Idaho Regional Mathematics Center in Region 1. Dr. Amador came to northern Idaho from Indiana University, Bloomington, where she worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Research on Learning and Technology. She has taught in elementary and in university classrooms, served as an instructional coach for new mathematics teachers, trained adult volunteers to serve as tutors, and has served on district and state department of education boards, shaping district and state teaching standards and policies. Her research focuses on the design and enactment of mathematics lessons with an emphasis on student thinking and reasoning. She is specifically interested in how practicing and pre-service teachers construct models of student mathematical thinking and engage in Lesson Study.

Abe Wallin
Region 1 MatRegion 1 Mathematics Specialist

Region 2

Dr. Amy Huffman Page
Regional DirRegional Director

Dr. Amy Huffman Page is an Assistant Professor of Education and the Coordinator of the Secondary Education Program at Lewis-Clark State College. She received a BA in Mathematics from Lenoir-Rhyne University, and an MA in Middle Grades Mathematics Education from Appalachian State University. She received her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Gardner-Webb University, where her dissertation research was a responsive program evaluation of a beginning teacher mentoring program. She has worked with mathematics education in different capacities in a variety of settings such as K-12, community and four-year colleges, and at district and state levels. She has presented at numerous professional development workshops and conferences on topics such as mentoring programs, beginning teacher support, instructional design, contextual teaching and learning, teacher collaboration, and a wide range of mathematics topics.

Christina Tondevold
Region 2 Mathematics Specialist

Christina is an Orofino native and currently lives there with her husband and 4 children. She is a former middle school math teacher and many people know her as an instructor of the MTI course. She graduated from LCSC in 2000 with her elementary teaching degree and from BSU in 2005 with a master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction.

Regions 3 & 4

Dr. Jonathan Brendefur
Regional Director

Brendefur, PhD is professor of Mathematics Education at Boise State University. Dr. Brendefur is currently the Director of the Initiative for Developing Mathematical Thinking, which currently hosts three grants: a Mathematics Science Partnership Grant that works with teachers and staff at 8 elementary and middle schools over a three year period. He also has been awarded a five year grant from the Idaho State Department to provide mathematics professional development to over 12,000 teachers K-12 teachers and administrators across the state. In addition, he is a PI on a National Institute of Health (NIH) grant that examines the psychometrics of a primary mathematics screener and a PI on an Institute for Educational Sciences (IES) grant that works with teachers in 8 elementary schools to examine professional development related to formative assessment and mathematics teaching. He has written numerous chapters, journal articles, technical reports and curriculum and has presented over 70 conference papers. His area of research is on mathematical learning progressions and teacher professional development.

Keith Krone
Associate DirectorAssociate Director

Keith Krone taught 8th and 9th grade mathematics in Rigby and has also been a math coach and administrator within the Vallivue School District. He has provided professional development for teachers since 2000, not only in Idaho but also many other rural and urban areas across the country. Keith became an approved MTI instructor in 2010 and joined the MTI Project Team at Boise State University the summer of 2012 where he has been able to work with several teachers providing workshops, unit study support, and guidance on both the Content Standards and Standards for Mathematical Practice within the Common Core State Standards – Mathematics. Keith has his B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Montana and his M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the University of Idaho.

Michele Carney
Associate Director

Dr. Carney is an assistant professor in the college of Education at Boise State University and co-associate director of the MTI project. Previously she worked full-time as the associate director of the statewide MTI project in partnership with the Idaho State Department of Education. Prior to that position she worked for several years as the K-12 mathematics coordinator, math coach and teacher in the Meridian school district. Dr. Carney has extensive experience developing, coordinating, and providing K-12 mathematics professional development activities to districts and schools.

Jacquelyn Ismail
Regions 3 & 4 Mathematics Specialist

Jackie Ismail taught middle school math in the Meridian School District for six years. This is Jackie's fourth year working as a Regional Math Specialist with Boise State University. In this position she has provided professional development focused around the Common Core State Standards for teachers in regions three and four through unit studies, workshops, webinars, classroom lessons and various other forms of follow-up support. Jackie has a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Mathematics and she is currently working on her Education Specialist degree in Educational Administration.

Gwyneth Hughes
Regions 3 & 4 Mathematics Specialist

Sam Strother
Regions 3 & 4 Mathematics Specialist

Region 5 & 6

Dr. Cory A. Bennett
Regional Director
(208) 282-6058

Dr. Bennett is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education within the Department of Educational Foundations at Idaho State University. He is also a National Board Certified Teacher in Mathematics—Early Adolescence. His research interests include students' development of mathematical discourse to strengthen relational understanding; teachers' creation of classroom cultures of participation to support students' intellectual, social, and emotional development; and integrating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) within a middle level context. Dr. Bennett's previous educational experiences include several years teaching eighth grade mathematics, working as a middle school (grades six to eight) mathematics coach and mentor, and a K-12 district level instructional resource teacher in culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse communities in Hawaii.

Jason Libberton
Regions 5 & 6 Mathematics Specialists

Jason has lived in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, England, Oregon, and Idaho. After earning a degree in Statistics from BYU-Utah, Jason realized that he belonged in mathematics education. He then earned his mathematics teaching certificate at ISU and a Master's degree from Grand Canyon University. Jason has developed his sense of a mathematical thinking classroom while teaching middle and high school mathematics classes for the past eleven years. Along with teaching, his duties of Lead Teacher and Curriculum Director had him designing and delivering district trainings on a wide range of topics. When Jason isn't driving through eastern Idaho helping mathematics teachers, you will probably find him on a golf course or spending time with his family.

Idaho Core Standards English Language Arts/Literacy Regional Contacts

Region 1

Barbara Crumb

Barbara Crumb taught English in grades 9-12 for 22 years at Sandpoint High School. She was also the English Department Chair and a Site Technology Coordinator for several years. She attended the Invitational Summer Institute through the Northwest Inland Writing Project in 2006 and has been heavily involved with the Writing Project since, co-teaching the Summer Institute twice, serving on the Leadership Team, and creating numerous workshops and classes on ELA Common Core State Standards. During the 2012-13 school year, she was the unofficial ELA Common Core trainer for her school district. She is excited for this new opportunity to work with more teachers in Region I.

Region 2

April Niemela

Most recently the Curriculum Resource Teacher for English Language Arts and History / Social Studies in the Lewiston School District, April Niemela has taught 7-12 English Language Arts over the past fourteen years in the towns of Homedale, Craigmont (Highland), and Lewiston. As co-director of the Northwest Inland Writing Project, she has spent many summers facilitating Summer Institutes, workshops, and professional development classes for K-12 teachers in literacy, writing in all content areas, and the Common Core, as well as pursuing a doctorate in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology at Michigan State University. Her selection as a 21st Century Master Teacher, Teacher for Global Classrooms, and member of Idaho's EQuIP team speak to her dedication to new literacies, global competencies, and empowering educators through building teacher leadership capacity.

Region 3

Rachel Bear

Rachel Bear has taught high school English for the past eight years at schools in Nampa and Boise. Her teaching experience includes 9th-12th grade Language Arts, including Sheltered ELL and Advanced Placement. Her work with the Common Core began three years ago when she was invited to work on a grant with the National Writing Project focused on writing units aligned to the Common Core. Shortly after, she became the Common Core Implementation Team Leader for the Boise State Writing Project (BSWP). In this role she has mentored other BSWP Teacher Consultants (TCs) and designed a large variety of in-services, workshops, online courses and other professional development focused on Inquiry and Common Core implementation. She has also done work with the Smarter Balanced Consortium and has recently started work on an i3 grant through the National Writing Project which will focus on improving the teaching of writing in high needs, rural schools. She is very excited for the opportunity to focus her efforts on being a thinking partner for teachers and district leaders as they implement the Idaho Core (CCSS).

Chris Butts

Chris Butts taught 3rd and 4th grade for eight years in the Nampa School District and spent two years in Boise as a paraprofessional for English Language Learners. He graduated with a Master Degree in Bilingual Education from Boise State University in 2012. In the summer of 2012 Chris was invited to work with the National Writing Project on a grant focused on creating Online Learning Experiences (OLE) for educators. Chris has also provided professional development on the Common Core and inquiry-based learning across Region 3 and online as a Teacher Consultant with the Boise State Writing Project. He looks forward to encouraging connections among teacher-leaders across the state.

Region 4

Sara Crystal

A graduate from the University of Montana, Sara Crystal has taught at the elementary level in both Jerome and Kimberly over the past twelve years. She became a Boise State Writing Project Teacher Consultant (TC) in 2007 and participated in a second institute that focused on reading the following year. In 2011, she began developing and delivering PD focused on the CCSS through the BSWP while implementing the standards in her own classroom. Most recently, she worked as a full-time CCSS/Schoolnet Implementation Coach (k-12) for the Kimberly School District. She designed a year-long inquiry engaging teachers and district leaders in the process of planning and evaluating CCSS aligned lessons, units, and performance tasks, using Schoolnet to organize and store these curriculum materials. She also served on the i3C Eastern Steering Committee. Sara is looking forward to assisting the districts in Region Four as Idaho education evolves.

Region 5

Merri Ann Drake

Merri Ann Drake was born and raised in Teton Valley, Idaho, with roots there four-generations deep. She graduated from I.S.U. with a double degree: a B.A. in Spanish Literature, and a B.S. in Secondary Education. She has taught in Blackfoot School District for ten years. While teaching, she also assisted other teachers as a SIOP Coach for two years, led in the Idaho Migrant Student Leadership Institute for two summers, and served at-risk youth in an After School Program for the past two years as a teacher and mentor. Merri Ann is a teacher consultant in the Boise State Writing Project in Southern Idaho focused on the Idaho Core Standards transition. Merri Ann is excited to stay close to her roots and looks forward to working with teachers and administrators in Region Six.

The state has established a Regional Contacts paThe state has established a Regional Contacts page online at so you can learn who the best contact is for your school or district in mathematics or English language arts/literacy as well as other areas.

We encourage you to reach out to the coach in your region, get to know them and how they may be able to assist you and your teachers in the implementation of the new Idaho Core Standards and the new assessment.