Howard Pitler, Ed.D.

Howard Pitler, Ed.D. is an international speaker, coach, author, and facilitator with a passion for improving education for all learners. Dr. Pitler spent 29 years in K-12 education as a teacher, assistant principal, elementary school principal, and middle school principal in Wichita, Kansas. Under his leadership, his elementary school was featured as an innovative program by WIRED Magazine, recognized as one of the Top 100 Schools in America by Redbook Magazine, and named an Apple Distinguished Program. 

Dr. Pitler has been recognized as a National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary Principals, and is an Apple Distinguished Principal, an Apple Certified Teacher, and a Smithsonian Institution Laureate.  He is the author of numerous articles on the topics of instruction and technology and co-authored Classroom Instruction that Works, 2nd ed. (ASCD, 2012), Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, (ASCD, 2007, 2012)and the Handbook for Classroom Instruction that Works, 2d. ed. (ASCD, 2012).  He works nationally and internationally on classroom instructional practices, instructional coaching and technology integration.  Dr. Pitler holds a BA from Indiana State University and an MA, Ed.S. and Ed.D. from Wichita State University.

Our Consultants

Monette McIver, Ph.D.


Founding Partners


Jacquelyn Criger, MA


Jacquelyn Criger has enjoyed a varied career in education.  She has a BA in general education from Wayne

State College in Nebraska, an MS in Improvement of Instruction and Curriculum as well as special education certification from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and attained assistive technology competencies from the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque. Jacquelyn has been a classroom teacher, a special education teacher, behavioral interventionist/consultant, technology integration coach, and assistive technology facilitator.  She started teaching at Westside Community School District in Omaha, Nebraska and later moved to Illinois where she worked at Indian Prairie School District in Naperville. Criger is passionate about helping educators continue to develop skills and integrate technology. Her work with educators relative to assistive technology ultimately empowers students to accomplish executive functioning tasks that had been thought to be unattainable.

Patricia Duncan, MA, MS, MBA

Patricia Duncan is a life-long learner as demonstrated by her many degrees and certifications. She has earned a BA in mathematics and English from Buena Vista University; an MSS in Education from The University of South Dakota; an MA in English from The University of South Dakota; and an MBA from Kaplan University. She continues to learn through attending seminars and workshops and is currently enrolled in an EdD program at Creighton University.  She maintains a permanent professional teaching certificate in Iowa 7-12 in Mathematics, English, Psychology, Sociology, and K-12 in Talented and Gifted as well as certifications in other states in the areas of English, mathematics, and psychology. Patricia is a very in-demand coach in school districts throughout the country, specializing in Guided Reading and Six Traits Writing. Patricia has successful experience teaching preK-graduate students as well as diverse populations in special needs including brain injured, learning disabled, mentally and physically challenged, and gifted students at all age/education levels. Patricia served as the Director of Education at Opportunities Unlimited, specializing in improving executive functions in youth and adults, helping them achieve success in daily life skills. Patricia also served as the Director of High-Ability Learners for the State of Nebraska. Her expertise and passion for education make her a popular presenter at local, regional, state and national conferences.  


André Charlebois, MA 

André Charlebois is De novo Learning's specialist in second language acquisition. He believes that every child and adult is able to learn another language if appropriate and adequate strategies, based on authentic language, are used for learning.


André is a specialist with the Neurolinguistic Approach, developed by researchers Dr. Claude Germain and Dr. Joan Netten. This approach allows student to learn the language, using an authentic and natural process. Emphasis is put on acquiring oral language, followed by reading and writing. This process has proven to be one of the most effective methods of learning language. The NLA is currently used in Canada, China, Japan and Mexico. André Charlebois’ experience as a language teacher, administrator, university professor at the University of Ottawa (Canada), facilitator and trainer of teachers in language learning throughout Canada has allowed him to further his work with First Nations.  He is currently working as a language trainer with First Nations teachers and consultants in James Bay (Canada), Saskatchewan and Maritime provinces. As a writer and author, he has published the pedagogical guide Strategies for Success (Nelson Learning) and co-authored several reading resources for students and teachers.  

Patricia Davis, Ph.D.

De novo Learning President

Dr. Patricia J. Davis brings a truly global perspective to education. She has trained teachers throughout the United States, Canada, Africa, the Pacific islands, and Asia. She has a firm belief that no matter where they live, teachers want what is best for their students and that professional development must combine the research base with practical application to real classrooms.  Her vast experiences as a teacher and trainer allow her to customize trainings to meet the needs of individual schools.

​Dr. Davis began her career in education as a secondary English, French, drama, and debate teacher. She then served as a teacher and director of gifted education programs for several school districts in Iowa and Nebraska. In 2004 she became the first Director of Education for Opportunity Education Foundation, an NGO serving over 1,000 schools in the developing world.  Dr. Davis has also worked as an Implementation Consultant for Scholastic and a Lead Consultant for McREL International.  In these positions she focused on literacy programs, school improvement, and CCSS implementation.
For the past three years she has had the honor of serving as an International Facilitation Fellow for the Dana Center at the University of Texas where she has had the opportunity to train DoDEA teachers around the world in mathematics.

​Dr. Davis has a bachelor’s degree in English and Speech, a dual master’s degree in Special Education/Gifted Education, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Teaching. She is a National Board Certified teacher in Early Adolescence (Generalist) and has received numerous awards including the Christa McAuliffe Fellowship, Time Magazine’s Teacher of the Year Finalist and U.S.A. Today’s All-American Teacher Team.  She has presented hundreds of national and international workshops and published numerous training manuals that are used in schools throughout the world.


Vicki Foster, Ph.D.

Dr. Vicki A. Foster has a strong belief in embedded professional development implemented and sustained by ongoing coaching. It is important to her that administrators encourage innovation and support their staff in the difficult transition to new practices and procedures. Change in education must occur for the sake of our children and their children to come.

​Dr. Foster began her educational career as a classroom teacher for 24 years in Wyoming school districts. She taught in various grade levels (first through ninth) and her experiences include teaching Title I, team teaching, multi-grade teaming, middle school and junior high science and math. For the next 13 years, Dr. Foster went on to hold various central office positions including Instruction/Assessment Specialist, Staff Development Coordinator, Secondary Coordinator, and Director of Teaching and Learning in the Curriculum and Instruction Division. In those roles she was responsible for researching and developing a successful mentoring and coaching program for new teachers, encouraging the adoption and teaching of hands-on science (including the development of a Science Depot whose personnel monitored the scheduling and delivery of science kits K-8 and necessary biological speciments), and the transition to standards-based mathematics instruction. Dr. Foster has a wealth of knowledge and experience in assessment (classroom and large-scale, formative and summative), school improvement processes, systems thinking and continuous improvement, Baldrige education criteria, and leadership. As a principal consultant for McREL, she provided consultation, technical assistance, and professional development to states, districts, and international education entities.

​Vicki has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Master of Science Teaching degree in Natural Science, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. Her teaching certification includes elementary education, middle school education, General Science 7-12, Earth Science 7-12, and Administration K-12. She has received numerous awards, most notably the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, sponsored by the NSF. She has also received the Take Pride in America award from the U.S. Department of the Interior and was published in the Searching for Success - Environmental Success Index highlighting an environmental science program developed for elementary students.



Dr. Andrew (Andy) Kerr, is an international education and leadership consultant. His background includes over 20+ years of education and leadership related throughout North America, the Pacific Islands, and Asia. Andy’s specialty areas are global education and educational anthropology that focus on curriculum & instruction, leadership development, family & community engagement, and technology planning & implementation. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in Communication (with an intercultural communication and anthropology focus) from Western Illinois University and an Ed.D. in Interdisciplinary Leadership from Creighton University.


Prior to consulting with De novo Learning, Andy was the Director for U.S. Department of Education’s Territories and Freely Associated States Education Grant (T&FASEG), the Associate Director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Pacific Regional Technology Education Consortium (PRTEC), an instructional design and technology coordinator and a teacher. Andy has lived and worked in Hawaii and Guam and served the areas of American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands,and the Republic of Palau on several education projects. He specializes in working with indigenous populations across the Pacific, in the U.S., and Canada. 

Libby Jachles, MA


Libby Jachles holds a Masters Degree with a Reading Concentration and K-12 Reading Certification from Nazareth College of Rochester, in Rochester, New York. Her Undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree is in Psychology, with Elementary Education Certification, also from Nazareth College. Libby’s experience as a classroom teacher prepared her for assuming her role as the Language Arts Specialist/Instructional Specialist in the Brighton Central School District in Rochester, NY.  As the Instructional Specialist, Libby’s focus was on supporting teachers in implementing Guided Reading in their classrooms through modeled lessons and guidance in assessment and planning.  During this time, Libby also became acquainted with Ruth Culham’s work on the Traits of Writing and was instrumental in bringing the traits to the Brighton School District.  Libby used the traits in classrooms, and presented to school districts around the country about the benefits of using the traits to teach writing to students. She currently specializes in training and coaching teachers, nationally and internationally, in teaching writing using the traits and implementing Guided Reading in the classroom.  Whenever possible, Libby continues to volunteer in former colleagues’ classrooms to share her knowledge of teaching reading and writing to students with educators. Libby makes her home in Rochester, NY.


Dr. Monette McIver completes De novo Learning's core team with her wealth of knowledge about all things education. Her philosophy about the role of public education is reflected in her work as a teacher, trainer, and school reformer. She strongly believes in the importance of families and communities and the roles that they play in effective school systems.

​Dr. McIver started her career in education as an elementary classroom teacher. As a former assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder, Dr. McIver shared her elementary classroom teaching experience, taught writing methods courses for elementary teacher candidates, and conducted research on the interaction between teachers and students in the writing conference process. During her tenure with McREL International as a principal consultant and Center Director, Dr. McIver provided consultation and professional development to states and districts. Notably, she was the primary writer and manager of a multi-year program with the Florida Department of Education, working with every district in the state to increase their capacity to plan, implement, and evaluate professional development. She is the coauthor of Teaching Writing in the Content Areas and the ASCD Quick Start Common Core Series.

Monette has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, and a Master of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of Colorado. She went on to receive her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Colorado. Her professional affiliations have included American Educational Research Association (AERA), Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and the National Reading Conference. She is a current member othe National Writing Project. 

Andrew Kerr, Ed.D.

De novo Learning, Inc.

​A New Beginning for Education

Cynthia Long, M.Ed.

Ms. Cynthia Long is an educator, curriculum and professional developer, scientist, writer and coach whose career has spanned several decades and whose pursuits have given her first-hand experience in positions supporting education at all levels. Among her many accomplishments are serving as Director of Education and COO at Oceans First, Curriculum Developer at BSCS and Kendall Hunt Publishing, and research scientist/laboratory manager at the University of Washington, Department of Bioengineering. In her career as an educator, she has led professional development opportunities focused on standards-based assessment and instruction, taught K-12 students and teachers around the country in ELA, mathematics, and science, written textbooks, and performed scientific research. Ms. Long continues to support implementation of high-quality assessment and instruction across disciplines, most recently as a STEM director. Ms. Long has been an integral part of De novo learning's assessment work and virtual education offerings.  

Andrea Johnson, M.Ed





.Andrea Johnson holds a Bachelor's degree in Theatre Performance and Theatre Education from the University of Northern Iowa and a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction form the University of North Texas, She also has a Principal's Certification from Lamar University (She is a life-long learner!)


Since 2002. Andrea has worked in a variety of content areas, serving individually determined learners of all ages and at all stages of life. From theatre director, speech, teach sign language interpreter, or AVID (Advancement vis Individual Determination), Mrs. Johnson has a passion for fostering a growth mindset and inspiring students to be their best. She has worked sith over 2,500 students, helping each to feel personal success and empowerment. 

Penny O' Connor, MA


Penny O'Connor is a  communication studies instructor at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. She teaches in the areas of first year inquiry, college research and writing,  interpersonal communication and public speaking. Prior to Augustana, she was on the faculty of the University of Northern Iowa for 29 years. At UNI, she taught interpersonal communication, business and professional communication, public speaking, interviewing, oral communication basic course and first year cornerstone. She also coached the UNI competitive speech team and served as graduate student supervisor and director of the basic (speech) course for eleven years. 

While in the Cedar Valley, she served as a volunteer for Cedar Valley Hospice for 29 years, was active in the Waterloo Community Playhouse and Cedar Falls Community Theatre, She is a professional auctioneer and graduate of the World Wide College of Auctioneering and has been a coach for WW (Weight Watchers) for 27 years.   Penny is a three-time national finalist in individual events speech competition and a member of the National Forensic Association Hall of Fame.

 A popular workshop presenter and keynote speaker, she provides training about listening and communication skills as well as other motivational topics to many groups and organizations.