The Central Comprehensive Center (C3) at the University of Oklahoma is one of a national network of 22 federally funded centers. The C3 mission is to provide high quality/high impact technical assistance that helps build or expand the capacity of the state education agency (SEA), intermediary agencies, and other educational systems in Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri to implement, support, scale-up, and sustain reform efforts to improve teaching and learning.
C3 has several components designed to maximize responsiveness and ensure technical assistance (TA) is relevant, useful, and of high quality.
State Coordinating Councils (SCCs): C3's SCCs include members from each state education agency's (SEA's) leadership working with the Center to identify state priorities and tailor work to meet specific and changing needs. To maintain the flow of communication and plan TA services, each state's SCC meets regularly with C3 staff members, partners, and collaborators.
C3 Advisory Board: The C3 Advisory Board is composed of educational and community stakeholders from every state in C3's region. Members are appointed by each state's governor and commissioner/superintendent. The Advisory Board meets annually to provide feedback and guidance for TA services and regional work plan.
ELLEN BALKENBUSH, Ed. Spec., serves as C3 Missouri TA Liaison. She joined the former Mid-Continent Comprehensive Center staff as a TA Liaison in March 2006. In this unique role, she has built strong relationships and directly serves the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) in an embedded position. Being housed within DESE’s offices affords her many opportunities to work alongside DESE leadership to collaboratively identify their capacity building needs and to work with the Comprehensive Center and its partners to leverage the most appropriate supports and resources to meet these needs. Her knowledge of federal programs is extensive and includes familiarity with principles of Response to Intervention (RtI), Instructional Coaching, Assessment for Learning, and Common Core State Standards (CCSS). She has served as a team leader with the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP), which is DESE’s statewide system of accountability and accreditation and has worked directly with Parents as First Teachers’ (PAT’s) home visiting program, Reading First, Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy (SRCL), the Reading Success Network, Success for All, Safe & Drug-Free Schools, and numerous other educational programs.
Ms. Balkenbush has engaged in collaborative work at the local level, not only with Regional Professional Development Centers (RPDCs—intermediary agencies), but also with a number of other state agencies, colleges & universities, and professional education organizations in Missouri. She has been very successful in working with the Comprehensive Center to leverage and broker leading experts and national organizations such as Assessment and Accountability Content Center (AACC) and SMARTER Balance Director Stanley Rabinowitz, Center on Innovation and Improvement (CII) Director Sam Redding, Midwest Equity Assistance Center Director Charles Rankin, and North Central Regional Resource Center (NCRRC) staff members Norena Hale and Kent Hemre.
She has 27 years of experience in public education including teaching at all levels, from preschoolers to adult learners, and a variety of subject areas, from gifted education to special education art education to numeracy and literacy instruction.
BELINDA P. BISCOE, Ph.D. serves as C3 Principal Investigator and Interim Vice President for Outreach at the University of Oklahoma. As Principal Investigator, she works with the SC3 Director, staff members, center partners, and associates to design and provide high impact and high quality TA services in four states: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Her strengths in working with large systems through partnerships and helping them to reform and build capacity are demonstrated in her work in education and the community and have been the hallmark of her career. She has taken on a leadership role at the national level by helping to design and conceptualize an educational model to define capacity building work with state education agencies. Previously she directed the program and technical assistance (TA) functions of the former Mid-Continent Comprehensive Center (MC3). She has nearly 30 years of experience with school- and community-based programs, including higher education as an administrator, researcher, and program developer. As AVP, she bears responsibility for sixteen program units totaling over $60,000,000 in gross revenues and employs 500 professionals.
Dr. Biscoe Boni’s collaborative spirit has been acknowledged by her appointment to the Regional Educational Laboratory – Southwest (REL Southwest) Board of Directors (2005-2012), where she served as Chair from 2010-2011. Additionally, she was appointed from 2011-2013 to serve on ED’s National Advisory Board for the Office of Special Education (OSEP). She was appointed to an Educational Research Board for the Texas State Education Agency in 2008 by the Texas Commissioner of Education. SC3 is Dr. Biscoe Boni’s third time to serve as director of a comprehensive center. In addition to SC3 and MC3, prior to 2005, she was Director of the Region VII Comprehensive Center, which served the states of Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.
Prior to her time at OU, Dr. Biscoe Boni worked for eight years in the Oklahoma City Public School District as a senior research associate and Director for Federal and State Programs focusing on areas such as bilingual education, homeless education, safe and drug free schools, Indian Education, Title I, and Community Education. As a researcher, practitioner, and competitive grant writer, Dr. Biscoe Boni has been able to blend scientific rigor successfully to TA work resulting in numerous awards. She is co-founder of Eagle Ridge Institute, a non-profit, community-based drug and alcohol and treatment prevention agency and founder of Positive Tomorrows, a transitional school for homeless youths and their families.
PATRICIA FLEMING, M.Ed., serves as the C3 Associate Director and TA Coordinator and is responsible for coordinating and providing TA and other supports on initiatives for Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri. Ms. Fleming’s primary responsibility is to support the states in the region in implementing and sustaining state and federal initiatives including school improvement; standards, instruction, and assessment alignment; teacher education, support and leadership; early childhood readiness; and middle and high school support for transition to college and career.
Her skills and experience with developing collaborative partnerships, her knowledge of federal law and research-based promising practices, her skills with facilitating groups of stakeholders with a common focus, and her understanding of how large systems are organized and operate, allow her to provide targeted support. Her work with school reform consists of using her knowledge of research, data-based decision making, college and career ready standards aligned to assessments and instruction, effective teachers and leaders, turning around low performing schools, and federal law in working with State Education Agencies as well as, low performing LEAs and schools.
Ms. Fleming’s 20-year education career includes experience as an elementary classroom teacher, state education agency administrator working in federal programs, educational consultant, and TA provider. Prior to joining the former Mid-Continent Comprehensive Center, Ms. Fleming worked for our partner WestEd, a national, non-profit educational organization providing direct support, TA, and professional development to districts and schools in the Southwest. She has a B.S. degree in Business from the University of Oklahoma. She received her M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. She attended Grand Canyon University’s post-baccalaureate program in Phoenix, Arizona, receiving a K-8 Elementary teacher certification while in Arizona.
RHONDA FYKES, B.S., B.G.S., serves as a Project Manager for Northrop Grumman Information Systems (NGIS). NGIS is a highly respected provider of information technology solutions to federal and state governments. She works with the Central and South Central Comprehensive Centers as a member of the Technology Team. Over the past two decades, NGIS has provided technology services for the University of Oklahoma’s previous Comprehensive Centers.
For the past four years, Mrs. Fykes has provided Project Management/Knowledge Management Consultant for Northrop Grumman’s Information Technology Sector - Based in Huntsville, Alabama and Indianapolis. She is responsible for the development and maintenance of the KnowledgeBases created for the Central and South Central Comprehensive Center’s websites. She also maintains both website’s content currency. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Technology and Computer Science from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. Rhonda is a member of National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Society of Human Resources Managers (SHRM), and Certified in Technical Project Management by Purdue University.
Rhonda possesses experience in management areas including project management, operations improvement, marketing, strategic and operational planning, financial management, human resource development, and staff recruitment. Over the course of her business management career she has developed expertise in project management and operational management problem resolution. She has presented at numerous national and regional conferences and workshops.
ROSA E. GARCÍA-BELINA, Ed.D., currently serves as C3 English Language Learner (ELL) and Migrant Education TA Coordinator. She also serves in the same capacity for the Central Comprehensive Center, and previously served the former Mid-Continent Comprehensive Center. She was born and raised in Mexico. Dr. Garcia-Belina has been an educator for more than 48 years. She has been a teacher, an assistant principal, a principal, and a faculty member in various universities in Mexico and the United States. Her areas of expertise include language acquisition, bilingual education, multiculturalism, migrant education, early childhood education and parental involvement. During the last 12 years, she has worked nationwide in providing TA and professional development enabling teachers, administrators, and teachers’ assistants to help ELLs improve in their academic achievement effectively. She also works closely with Hispanic families by helping them navigate the educational, social, and economic systems in the United States as they make the transition into their new country.
Dr. Garcia-Belina has published several bilingual textbooks containing reading practices and exercises to develop academic vocabulary and comprehension skills in young children, the most recent being Exito Levels I, II, and III. She is author of the PADRES (Parents Advancing Readiness for Educational Success) program designed to empower parents to be their child’s first teacher as they develop skills to increase their involvement in schools and the community. Dr. Garcia-Belina is currently a member of the Arkansas ELLs with Exceptional Needs Task Force. She has presented at national and international conferences for the last 25 years. She has worked with state education agencies, districts, schools, and and migrant education programs in Texas, Florida, Nebraska, Oklahoma, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, and Oregon.
TAMARA KEEFER, B.A., serves as a Web Developer for Northrop Grumman Information Systems (NGIS). She works with the Central and South Central Comprehensive Centers as a member of the Technology Team. NGIS is a highly respected provider of information technology solutions to federal and state governments. Over the past two decades, NGIS has provided technology services for the University of Oklahoma's previous Comprehensive Centers.
Ms. Keefer is responsible for the development, maintenance, and online collaboration tools for the website. Her areas of expertise include web design and development, web marketing, programming, and support of computer hardware and software. She holds a number of nationally recognized technology certifications.
DONNA CASTLE RICHARDSON, Ed.D., serves as the C3 Director. Dr. Richardson previously served as Associate Director for University of Oklahoma’s former Mid-Continent Comprehensive Center. She directs a team of 10 technical assistance (TA) coordinators and liaisons who work with state education agencies in Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri to build their capacity to serve districts and schools better in the implementation of federal programs targeted to improve teaching and learning.
Dr. Richardson’s expertise includes extensive research and program development in early childhood, family, and emergent literacy, resulting in nationally recognized programs. She has written more than 40 research reports as an external evaluator, such as the Oklahoma City Public Schools’ Even Start project, in which her research and the project design were validated by ED’s National Diffusion Network. She led a team in national dissemination of the Family Intergenerational Literacy Model (FILM), which was recognized for MODELS teaching for success formula and organizational structure. Dr. Richardson led a team of trainers in dissemination of the Reading Discovery Tutor Training program featured in ED's document So That Every Child Can Read...America Reads Community and Tutoring Projects, receiving national recognition for leadership and collaboration.
Beginning as a television Romper Room teacher, Dr. Richardson taught kindergarten and first grade. She was selected as a trainer to model for other teachers in the district and developed a statewide dissemination program in early childhood. She earned an Ed.D. while serving as an adjunct instructor in early childhood education at East Texas State University. During her early career as a teacher educator, she served as Assistant and Associate Professor of Education at the University of Arkansas Little Rock, co-developing and administering a Title XX childcare training program in which she led a team in writing and developing child care training modules.
She is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Education at Oklahoma City University (OCU) and served over two decades in designing and directing the teacher certification program in Early Childhood Education. She held a variety of administrative and leadership positions including Residency Program Coordinator, Coordinator of Elementary Education, Teacher Certification Officer, and Chair of Education. She founded and headed the Family Education Institute for Research and Training.
Kris Shaw, M.S., serves as C3 Kansas TA Liaison. She joined the C3 staff as a TA Liaison in March 2018. In this unique role, she has built strong relationships and directly serves the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) in an embedded position. Being housed within KSDE’s offices affords her many opportunities to work alongside KSDE leadership to identify their capacity building needs and work with the Central Comprehensive Center and its partners collaboratively to leverage the most appropriate supports and resources to meet these needs. She has worked at KSDE for eighteen years. Previously, she held the position of National Assessment of Educational Progress Coordinator and was the English Language Arts and Literacy Consultant. She worked in the development of the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy. She has served as a consultant for Smarter Balanced and Dynamic Learning Maps to develop English language arts assessments appropriate for general education and special education students.
Mrs. Shaw was awarded Star Performer at Kansas State Department of Education for developing summer academies for educators. She received a letter of appreciation from First Lady Laura Bush for coordinating the American History Teacher of the Year Award. She works with and has made presentations for many national organizations including the Council of Chief State School Officers. There are several published works with International Reading Association and Kansas Journal of Reading and interviews with Educational Testing Services and Council of Chief State School Officers co-written by Mrs. Shaw and her colleagues.
Mrs. Shaw was an Education Specialist at the Kansas State Historical Society and wrote curriculum for the state of Kansas about Kansas history. These included reading materials for students and curriculum for educators. She organized large events for school children as directed by the Governor. She has 31 years of experience in public education including teaching at all levels from preschool to college. She received her Master’s Degree, Reading Specialist and Social Studies Comprehensive from the Department of Education at Kansas State University.
HAYLEY TESTERMAN, M.A., is the C3 Communications Specialist and is a member of the Technology Team and serves in the same capacity for the South Central Comprehensive Center. Her role includes providing support to staff members, developing social media, and promoting the work of the centers. She has worked with the University of Oklahoma (OU) for over seven years. Her previous experience includes working with the College of Continuing Education at OU as a technical writer and lead marketing analyst for Oklahoma Department of Human Services projects. She also has experience in developing presentations, coordinating events, program management, marketing, and providing business-writing services.
Mrs. Testerman is alternatively certified to teach in the state of Oklahoma and has teaching experience. She graduated from the OU’s Gaylord College of Journalism with a Master of Arts in Professional Writing and Bachelor of Arts in Advertising.
MARK L. TURNER, B.S., is the C3 Logistics Coordinator. He previously served the former Mid-Continent Comprehensive Center and the Region VII Comprehensive prior to that. His role with the center is to assist with all aspects of meeting requirements to include coordinating events, arranging travel for state education agency (SEA) and Comprehensive Center staff members, working with onsite meeting locations, and coordinating supplies and materials for all meeting needs. He has worked with the University of Oklahoma for 18 years. His previous experience includes working with the University of Oklahoma’s College of Law where he was the Career Services Coordinator and the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History where he was the Collections and Registrations Coordinator. He received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Oklahoma.
KERRI VANPOOL, B.A., is the C3 Budget and Quality Assurance Coordinator and serves in the same capacity for EDUTAS – an educational technical assistance services unit within the University of Oklahoma's (OU's) College of Continuing Education (CCE). She previously served in the same capacity for the former Mid-Continent Comprehensive Center. She also has experience working OU's Overseas Practicum for English Teachers, a program that was recognized for outstanding collaboration by OU CCE in 2012.
Ms. Adams facilitates development, implementation, and monitoring of the Center's internal Evaluation and Process Improvement Plans to ensure processes are efficient and effective; collects and reports financial data (including Government Performance Requirements Act [GPRA] measures); monitors and reconciles the Center's budgets; serves as the lead for center contracts; ensures University, State, and Federal mandate compliance; and processes and coordinates all University payroll and human resources issues.
Ms. Adams has over a decade of experience working with federal grants and contracts. She is certified by the American Society of Trainers and Developers (ASTD) as an Advanced Adult Trainer, is alternatively certified to teach in the state of Oklahoma, and has previous classroom experience at the elementary and secondary levels. She holds a Lean/Six Sigma Green Belt certification and is currently pursuing Black Belt certification. Ms. Adams served on her community's Planning Commission for six years, chairing the Commission for five years, and was instrumental in helping develop and implement that city's Vision Plan for the future. She graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in Organizational Communications and is working toward obtaining a Masters of Liberal Studies in Administrative Leadership through OU's College of Liberal Studies.
Her previous University experience includes working with OU CCE as a technical writer and lead user acceptance tester for Oklahoma Department of Human Services projects. She also has experience in curriculum development, presentation development, speech writing, event production and coordination, film production, theater production and direction, and program and project management.
JENNIFER WATSON, Ph.D., serves as the C3 Literacy Technical Assistance Coordinator for the Central Comprehensive Center at the University of Oklahoma. In this role, she supports literacy, standards development, and assessment literacy efforts in all C3 states. Her research and professional interests have focused on the reading/writing connection, the use of narrative to build reflection on professional practice, teacher leadership, and school reform. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in education from Oklahoma City University, Jennifer began her career as a middle grades language arts teacher in Oklahoma City Public Schools. After a side-trip into feature writing and public relations management, she spent 17 years guiding the district-wide language arts program for the Putnam City Schools in Oklahoma City. During these years she earned a Master of Arts in English from the University of Central Oklahoma and a doctorate in educational leadership and curriculum supervision from the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Watson transitioned to the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) in 2004 to become the state Director of Language Arts, and subsequently held the positions of Curriculum Team Leader and Assistant State Superintendent for Instruction. In these roles, she provided leadership for a wide range of programs and initiatives, including standards development and implementation for all content areas, discipline-specific and comprehensive school improvement efforts, and master teacher growth. Prior to assuming her current position, Dr. Watson was Project Director of the Kentucky Middle Grades Schools of Innovation, a partnership with the Kentucky Department of Education, the Southern Regional Education Board, and thirty Kentucky middle schools. In 2015, she served as Co-Chair of the 2015 Writing Committee for the Oklahoma Academic Standards in English Language Arts. Dr. Watson has taught high school, undergraduate, and graduate students and has created and presented professional learning on literacy, curriculum design, instructional delivery, and mentoring at both the regional and national levels.
THERESA ZEDEKER is the C3 Budget Specialist. Her role includes providing information regarding location or availability of Budget and Personnel materials, resources, and services; preparing budget and expense reports; drafting, typing, and proofreading memoranda, letters, reports, and records; assisting with day-to-day responsibility for coordinating and executing budget, travel, and personnel-related functions; and assisting with logistics coordination. She has worked for the University of Oklahoma for over 15 years. Her previous experience includes working with the University of Oklahoma’s Southwest Prevention Center as the Financial Assistant.