Summer 2023 Newsletter


With the support, investment, and hard work of educators and administrators like you, the 2022-23 academic year had plenty of wins across every school we serve!

A few of our staff members took the time to consider those wins, and we’re glad we can share them with you today, so you can celebrate along with us:

Tina, who is part of our Leadership Services team, says:

“Our ‘wins’ this year have centered around growing and building the courage/confidence of others to prepare themselves to pursue leadership positions in the schools. In addition to our ongoing successes, three more of our aspiring Superintendent participants have recently landed positions in Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Woodridge, and Galion. In addition, one of our aspiring Superintendents was encouraged to ‘cross train’ and obtain her Treasurer’s license. She has been named Treasurer in Mogadore. 

“Furthermore, we are involved in a national business project sponsored by the state ESC association. The purpose is to teach our ESC team how to approach our cost structures for workshops and services as a business model more along the lines of profit versus benevolence and/or service. In a recent focus of dialogue with the national trainers, we were informed that they have not seen a program in America for creating leaders like our individualized leadership development efforts — and that it’s worthy of promotion and replication. We feel so proud!”

Corey, on our Curriculum and Instruction team, shares:

  • Personalized Learning has progressed and grown over the year with the help of Jake Miller, our recent addition to the team as Personalized Learning Consultant. Jake has worked tirelessly to educate districts on the great impact personalized learning could have on their students.

  • We were awarded HQIM work for Andrea, Susan, Alyssa, and Missi.

  • Andrea’s role as Resident Educator Coordinator has been a success — her program has grown significantly over the past couple years.

  • The Math Modeling and Reasoning Program has grown as well under Steve’s role as a state leader — and it’s led to work in Wisconsin and Oregon this summer.

We’re grateful for all the above AND all the wins not mentioned here that you played a part in. Thank you for your dedication to the success of our schools and your students!


Summit ESC and Peg’s Foundation are proud to announce a new partnership to develop a county-wide system of Behavioral Health and Wellness Coordinators (BHWC) for proactive prevention and early intervention for middle school and high school students in Summit County. 

Coventry Local Schools and Tallmadge City Schools will be the first districts to pilot this program — set to take place during the upcoming 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 school years.

  • The partnership aims to address the disconnect between schools and mental health and wellness services in Summit County. 

  • By equipping local school districts with the necessary awareness, staffing, and training, the program intends to bridge the gap in mental health service delivery, ensuring students receive the support they need.

Jeff Ferguson, our Director of Administrative Services, is enthusiastic about this partnership: “We are incredibly excited about this collaboration with Peg’s Foundation, as it will empower our schools to proactively address the mental health and wellness needs of our students. This program promises to bring forth transformative change, ultimately fostering a more supportive and thriving environment for our students to learn and grow through the proactive prevention of crises.”

Peg’s Foundation is a leading advocate for behavioral health and wellness locally, state-wide, and nationally … and the group approached Summit ESC to improve mental health outcomes for middle and high school students in Summit County. 

We’re pleased to move forward into a brighter future alongside you for the sake of students like yours. Their mental health is a priority, and we expect to see positive results in many districts in Ohio as we integrate and replicate this program in the months and years to come.

There are a number of new staff members joining the Summit ESC team … 

And it would be our honor if you would join us in giving each one a warm welcome!

  • Zach Miley, Coordinator of Wellness Initiatives

  • Steve Barrett, Kids First and TOPS Coordinator

  • Cerafino Gotto, Part-Time Gifted Education Consultant

  • Lucia Heddleson, English Learner Consultant

  • Samantha Price, Transition Coordinator

The evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) has been rapid over the last several months — perhaps you’ve noticed this yourself, either personally or professionally. 

Summit ESC has been privileged to play a part in educating the districts we serve about what it is, how it can be used, and why we should embrace it. The following expands on how Summit ESC has been involved recently …

First, we’ve formed a partnership with The AI Education Project (AiEDU) to expand access to learning opportunities about AI for students in the region. The AI Education Project is a national effort to provide professional learning programs, curriculum implementation, stakeholder engagement, and regional/national convenings of education leaders to ensure students are prepared to thrive in the age of AI.

“This might be the single most important challenge in the history of the U.S. education system, and no organization can solve the problem alone. The incredible coalition of partners that aiEDU has assembled validates its commitment to collaboration across the entire ecosystem,” said Tiffany Taylor, Chief People & Impact Officer at GSV Ventures and aiEDU Board Member.

  • The AI Education Project recently announced its goal of securing 500 school district commitments for AI education by 2024 and unveiled an initial group of more than 20 district pioneers that together serve more than 1.5 million students. 

  • Summit ESC is proud to be part of this group of pioneers and is committed to expanding access to AI education for its students.

We are one of many organizations across the country to join The AI Education Project in its mission to expand access to AI education. The project is a rallying cry for schools, nonprofits, universities, companies, and others in the education ecosystem to band together behind a single goal: expand access to learning opportunities about artificial intelligence to ensure students are prepared to thrive as workers, consumers, creators, and citizens in the age of artificial intelligence.

How does this look at the local level, you might ask? 

  1. Woodridge Local School District partnered with NeoNet to host “AI and EdTech Exploration” — where educators learned how the technology works and learned how it can be used as a tool for teachers and students in classrooms. Summit ESC’s Curriculum and Instruction department facilitated the event and assisted in coordination between NeoNet and Woodridge.

  2. Summit ESC also recently worked with Manchester Local School District and Windham Exempted Village School District to train educators on AI. 

Summit ESC is continuing to embrace this new technology by helping staff become aware of its uses and providing them with resources to adapt and evolve our programs.

Corey Hoynacke, our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, sums it up well in saying, “We are thrilled to partner with The AI Education Project to provide our students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st-century economy. As the world becomes increasingly digital, it’s important that our students are prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the future.”

By being part of Summit ESC’s reach, you are part of the journey to give students what they need in an ever-changing academic landscape. Please contact Corey Hoynacke at [email protected] if you have any questions about implementing AI resources or programs in your district!

Alyssa Bird, Summit ESC’s Literacy and ELA consultant, has been working in school districts and growing ELA programs since she started this past school year …

And ever since, she has been focused on increasing the reading performance of all students!

Just a few of her services include:

  1. K-12 ELA curriculum adoption using high-quality instructional materials

  2. ELA/Literacy Instructional Coaching

  3. Curriculum pacing and mapping 

  4. Dyslexia legislation facilitation and support for districts

  5. Assisting in interpreting K-12 student data to provide high-quality reading instruction and intervention

  6. Integrating structured literacy practices into current reading instruction and deepen understanding of the Science of Reading

  7. And more!

“Shared leadership is at the heart of Ohio’s plan to raise literacy achievement,” Alyssa says — and she encourages schools to reach out for help should they need it. “I can lead and support districts in successfully implementing evidence-based instruction and interventions.”

For the upcoming school year, Alyssa looks forward to fostering deeper connections with the administrators and educators she’s been working with, as well as building new rapports with districts she has not yet served. 

“This year, I did a lot of groundwork by laying the foundation and building a deeper understanding of Ohio's literacy plan. Next year, I will work closely with educators, coaching them on evidence-based language and literacy practices and analyzing student data to drive tier 1 and tier 2 instruction.”

And we’re proud to say that educators from around Northeast Ohio are already singing Alyssa’s praises!

The Sixth Grade Team at Cuyahoga Falls told us:

“Alyssa is wonderful to work with for so many reasons. She has so many fresh ideas that enhance our curriculum for all learners. Her flexibility and willingness to listen to what we need is so appreciated! So thankful for her!”

Amy Olivieri, Norton’s Director of Curriculum, said:

“Alyssa was an integral part of our district’s ELA adoption process this school year. She met with our staff on several occasions to develop rubrics for evaluation, answered questions during the resource review process, attended vendor presentations, and finalized the recommendation process. She was always available to answer any of our questions and will work with us once again through the implementation process next year.”

A First Grade Teacher at Mogadore Local Schools explained:

“Working with Alyssa for the past school year has been beyond insightful. She has opened our eyes to the science of reading — even those who were feeling hesitant and unsure at first — and helped us to reignite our passion for reading instruction so that we can instill a love of reading in our current and future students. I am excited we get to continue working with Alyssa during the 2023-2024 school year because she is going to help us revamp our small groups, and while it will be a lot to take on, I know we’re in good hands!”

Each of us has a unique part to play in making Ohio’s schools better and our students successful in life. Thanks for allowing Alyssa, and the entire Summit ESC team, to be part of your work — no matter what subject it is!





Today we say farewell to another integral part of the team:

Kristin Fazio has been at Summit ESC for over 12 years and has announced she will be taking on a new position closer to home. As Summit ESC’s Director of Student Services & Wellness, Kristin greatly impacted many programs the ESC provides.

Kristin’s passion for the welfare of students is very apparent in how she worked and served. She has been committed to finding solutions to give better opportunities to students in our districts through a large variety of funnels — audiology, autism, and mental health, to name a few.

“My first role at Summit ESC was the Kids First Program Coordinator (2011-2015),” Kristin explains. “I was promoted to Assistant Director of Student Services in 2015 and later promoted to the Director of Student Services in 2017. My title changed to Director of Student Services & Wellness in 2019 in response to the growing demand for Wellness Services — and through the Success & Wellness funds that were distributed to districts from the Governor. As a psychology undergraduate, I have fully enjoyed the ability to positively impact student and staff mental health and well-being.”

Kristin accomplished many things during her tenure:

  • Expanding Kids First and growing it from the ground up, adding three classrooms including the TOPS vocational class to support students with Autism with the transition to life after school.

  • Growing and expanding the Audiology Program, with the support of Dr. Carrie Spangler. “We started with nine districts are now serve 36 across five counties!” she said.

  • Developing a viable Wellness Program and hosting a regional Mental Health Advisory Team that included involvement from a dozen social services agencies within Summit County. 

“Most recently, I am proud of the work I have done alongside Jeff Ferguson, which led to the PEG’s grant award,” Kristin added.

In her new role — as Director of State Support Team, Region 2 — Kristin will provide guidance to districts within Lorain, Erie, and Huron Counties with the goal of building capacity of district personnel to support students of all abilities and needs. “I credit my time at Summit ESC for equipping me with the skills to be able to do this work!”

“I want to thank Kristin for her tireless efforts to build key connections between schools and area mental health providers,” Superintendent Joe Iacano says. “Her 12 years of service in various roles at Summit ESC have helped lead us to where we are today, and I offer her my sincere congratulations on her new opportunity.”

We appreciate how Kristin contributed so well to our team …

And we thank YOU for partnering with our excellent staff members to make Ohio education better with each passing year!



You may be sad to hear that Mr. Joe Rohr, the Kids First/TOPS Program Coordinator, retired at the end of the school year. He has played a huge role in the lives of the children who went through the program … and on his last day, students lined the halls to give Joe a “clap out” to say good-bye as he exited the building.

Joe began working as Program Coordinator of Kids First in August 2015. He went on to expand enrollment, build strong relationships with our affiliated districts, and add much value to the program in the form of enhanced Adaptive PE, dog therapy, morning announcements, and a student and staff yearbook — which families have come to love!

He certainly had a passion for working with students with special needs and helping them obtain the support they need to be successful in life.

Having worked with special needs students for more than 20 years, Joe has: 

  • Been their biggest advocate,

  • Helped many students turn their lives around through developing a behavior management system,

  • And guided them in interacting with others appropriately, which opens doors to many opportunities. 

Parents, staff, and others are grateful to Joe for his dedication …

Kristin Fazio says:

“Dear Joe, As you gear up for your (second) retirement, I want to express my deepest appreciation for everything you have done for the Kids First/TOPS program. Your eight years were great years! You have made a lasting impact on the lives of each of your students and staff. Your leadership and dedication made my job easier since I knew that KF/TOPS was in good hands.”

A few — of MANY — encouraging notes from others include:

  • “Congrats on your retirement! Kids First will not be the same. I want to say THANK YOU for taking a chance on me five years ago and giving me my first teaching job. I enjoyed working with you and your taught me so much.” 

  • “Thank you for your leadership, your support — for putting your own blood and sweat, and your own wallet, into helping this school, these students, their families, and our staff accomplish great things and have amazing experiences together.”

  • “Thank you for always being there for me if I needed you and advocating for me and my IEP needs.”

He’ll be missed … but Joe deserves a happy, healthy retirement. Join us in wishing him all the best!

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