Our Consultants


Dr. Charla Mulbrandon Boles is a public school educator whose teaching and administrative experience spans 45 plus years.  During that time, she has instructed students at the K-12, community college and university levels.  Dr. Boles has been a Director of Special Education and Director of Pupil Personnel Services for over 20 years in the Massachusetts Vocational School system.  In addition, Charla has worked in diverse urban Massachusetts and Illinois settings, as a Team Chairperson, Special Educator, Title I Instructor, and Regular Education teacher.  She has also worked an instructor for Illinois State University, Southern Illinois University, Joliet Junior College, and Adjunct Instructor for Merrimack College.

As a retired educator, Dr. Boles holds a Doctorate in Educational Administration from Illinois State University, a Certificate of Advanced Study from Northern Illinois University, and both a Master and Bachelor of Arts degrees from Southern Illinois University focusing on the area of Reading/Elementary Education. In addition to her Administrative Certifications and SEI Endorsement, Special Education Certification includes specific licenses in the areas of Learning Disabilities, Social Emotional Behavioral disorders, Educable Mentally Handicapped, Moderate Special Needs, and Supervision/Administration.  Throughout her career, Dr. Boles has focused on educating and assisting both students and families, in an effort to work as a team, with the goal of providing positive outcomes for her students.

Dr. Boles resides in North Central Massachusetts. She has been employed in Essex, Middlesex, and Worcester Counties.


Susan Bruce, Ph.D., is a Professor of Special Education at Boston College. She directs the Masters Degree Program in Extensive Support Needs (Severe Disabilities) with an optional specialization in deafblindness. She previously coordinated the Masters Degree Program in Visual Impairment at Michigan State University. Susan has more than 30 years experience teaching and consulting in schools and adult settings that serve individuals with severe and multiple disabilities (including deafness, visual impairment, and autism). Susan has experience with student assessment, program evaluation, individualized curriculum development, and program improvement. Susan’s research concentrations are in assessment, communication intervention for prelinguistic learners, and collaborative action research. Susan was certified to teach general education (K-8), and students with intellectual disabilities (mild to severe), and visual impairment/blindness. She was also university prepared in deafblindness. She earned her Ph.D. in special education at Michigan State University. 


Gail Simpson Cahill is an experienced public school teacher and administrator who has taught and supervised students and teachers in grades PreK to 12. She has worked as an evaluation team chairperson for special education, an Assistant Director of Special Education for a large urban district, an Assistant Principal, and also served as a Board Member for a foster grandparent program, DCF, and DMH. Dr. Cahill has worked in both suburban and urban school districts. Throughout her tenure in public schools, she has worked with teams of educators and parents to develop varied programs that include those for students diagnosed with ASD, SLD, ED/BD and multiple disabilities. In 1998, she founded Simpson & Associates, a practice which provides educational services for students of all abilities in the areas of reading, written language, study skills, and executive functioning. Her lens of the special education process developed from a school and parent perspective. Currently, Dr. Cahill carries many certifications as a teacher and administrator in Massachusetts to include SEI (Sheltered English Instruction) endorsement, NISL certification (National Institute of School Leaders), and Wilson certification.


Cynthia is a retired elementary school principal from the New Bedford Public School System. Prior to her 8 years as a principal she was a special needs teacher for 18 years. Cynthia has a B.S. in Elementary Education, a M.Ed. in Special Education and a C.A.G.S. in Educational Leadership. In 2014 she began a private educational consultant agency working with families and The Arc of Bristol County as an educational advocate for children. She has completed and holds a certificate from the Federation for Children with Special Needs Parent Consultant Training Program. Cynthia’s specialties include working with social/emotional and ODD behaviors, pre-school special needs populations, ADHD and autism spectrum disorders. She is quite familiar with writing, implementing and working with behavior plans. She also has extensive experience in writing and administrating services for many different IEP’s within the school setting. She has an understanding of common core curricula, differentiated instruction and the classroom environment. Cynthia lives and works throughout the South Coast area. Unavailable November 5 – November 9


Sam Ernst has been working in Western Massachusetts as a special educator for over 20 years with students of all ages.  He has recently returned to the middle school classroom to teach math and special education in the Berkshire Hills Regional School District in Great Barrington. Prior to that, he served for 12 years as an administrative coordinator of special education in the Central Berkshire Regional School District in Dalton, where his primary job function was to facilitate good communication amongst IEP team members so that consensus IEPs can be written, and to then ensure the implementation of those plans.  Throughout his career, Sam has worked in a number of schools, spanning the spectrum of placements, from full inclusion settings for students with learning disabilities, to private residential schools for students with global developmental disabilities.  Sam’s chief areas of expertise lie in diagnosing learning disabilities, designing postsecondary transition plans, and determining appropriate accommodations and goals for students of all types of disabilities.  Sam holds MA certification for Mathematics (grades 5-9), Elementary (1-6), Special Needs (pre k-9), Moderate Disabilities (5-12), and Special Education Administration.  He obtained a B.A. from Wesleyan University, and a M.Ed. in special education from American International College.  Sam is the father of three school-aged children.


Barbara Govendo, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Special Education at Lesley University and is Program Director of the M.Ed. Special Education Programs. As a program supervisor, she visits inclusive and special education settings weekly, supervising M.Ed. students. Dr. Govendo has more than 30 years of experience teaching, supervising, designing programs and teaching educators in both general and special education. She has served as a consultant for parents, public school systems and private schools on issues regarding classroom and program placement, reading programs and effective instruction, learning and teaching strategies and adaptations for academic subjects. Certified to teach students with moderate disabilities, Dr. Govendo has extensive knowledge of testing and accommodations for students with Specific Learning Disabilities, Non-verbal Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia and ADHD. She is a skilled observer and interviewer and has a clear understanding of classroom environments, inclusive and differentiated instruction practices, and the collaborative educational process. Limited availability, please consult SpedEx Administrator.


Dr. Erik von Hahn is a board-certified Pediatrician and a Board-Certified Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician. In addition to these certifications, he completed a two year fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He has 19 years of experience working with children with diverse developmental and psychiatric conditions. Early in his career, Dr. von Hahn established a special interest in working collaboratively with schools, and in building bridges between the health care system and the educational system. In addition to clinical practice at the Center for Children with Special Needs at the Floating Hospital for Children, Dr. von Hahn consults regularly with Boston area schools. A significant portion of his consultative practice is dedicated to helping families and school teams work together successfully, and to resolve conflicts between families and schools. Erik recently released his first book, Essential Skills for Struggling Learner: A Framework for Student Support Teams. This comprehensive handbook is designed to help both general and special education professionals work successfully with children with diverse learning needs. Erik can complete all or most consultations in Spanish and/or French.


Dr. Kalyani Krishnan is a learning disabilities specialist, a nationally certified school psychologist, and licensed school psychologist in Massachusetts. She has been practicing in the Boston area for nearly three decades, during which she has conducted comprehensive evaluations of children, adolescents, and adults with learning and attentional difficulties and provided therapeutic support to students of all ages who have unique learning and emotional profiles.  She specializes in understanding the processing strengths and weaknesses of students, identifying instructional strategies based on individual neuropsychological profiles, and is an expert on learning disorders (including language-based learning and reading disorders), ADHD and executive function, and behavioral/emotional regulation. 

Dr. Krishnan received doctoral training in school psychology from Northeastern University; a master’s degree in linguistics from Osmania University, Hyderabad, India; and a second master’s degree in learning disabilities from Northwestern University. She currently practices privately (wisemindlearning.com), and teaches part-time at Tufts University in the Department of Education.Previously, Dr. Krishnan was Assistant Director of Assessment at the Institute for Learning and Development, Education Specialist at the multidisciplinary assessment clinic at The Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, and Reading Specialist at Dearborn Academy.Dr. Krishnan approaches research and clinical practice with an integrated orientation informed by a humanistic, developmental, and multicultural perspective. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals and she has contributed to a number of books, Executive Function in Education (Guilford Press, 2007), A Parent Guide to Hassle-Free Homework, (Scholastic, 2007), and Promoting Executive Function in the Classroom (Guilford Press, 2010).


Dr. Lusa Lo is a professor at University of Massachusetts. She specializes in students with specific learning disabilities, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and moderate cognitive impairment. She also specializes in assessment and educational planning/practice for English language learners and dual language learners with disabilities. Dr. Lo teaches courses about consultation and collaboration and assessments for students with disabilities at PreK-12 levels. She also works closely with non-profit organizations and state agencies to ensure that students with disabilities and their families, especially ones from diverse backgrounds, are well supported. Dr. Lo has been appointed by the governor to serve on the advisory board of Massachusetts Department of Development Disabilities and Massachusetts Rehabilitation Council. No in-person observations during Covid.


John William McKenna, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Special Education at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He develops and teaches undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral level courses in Special Education and Educational Leadership. McKenna is a strong advocate for the important role that special education teacher preparation programs have in improving student access to meaningful opportunities to profit from public education. Prior to entering higher education, John had 20 years-experience as a school-based practitioner working primarily with students with emotional and behavioral disabilities and collaborating with their parents/guardians. McKenna has extensive experience developing programming for students who are educated in highly specialized as well as inclusive school settings. His research interests include the responsible inclusion of students with emotional and behavioral disabilities, evidence-based academic and behavioral interventions for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities, the characteristics and quality of Individualized Education Programs for students with learning disabilities and emotional and behavioral disabilities, parent/guardian experiences with Individualized Education Program development, and barriers and facilitators to student access to effective instruction and support. McKenna holds Massachusetts professional licensure in preK-8 moderate disabilities, a master’s degree from Boston University, and a Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin.


Margaret V. Reed has experienced the special education process as parent, teacher and school administrator in public, collaborative and private special education school settings. A retired special education administrator, Dr. Reed holds an Autism Endorsement from DESE’s Office of Educator Licensure. Her more than 45 years experience in special education as a special educator, School Psychologist and district administrator give her extensive experience with IEP Team procedures, compliance and a grounded knowledge of successful student program indicators. In addition to her work as a graduate instructor at BC, Simmons, and Fitchburg State University, Dr. Reed’s specialization in the post-secondary transition process was gained through her work with DESE’s CSPD program providing training and expertise to school districts implementing the transition components. She is currently a facilitator for an Early Adopter site, contributing to the development of the new IEP form and revised IEP Team process to be implemented during the next school year. Dr. Reed works with public, private, and charter school districts as well as human service agencies and parent groups on special education implementation including FAPE in the LRE, special designed instruction, parent/student due-process rights, and IEP construction. She has extensive knowledge of and brings practical experience to assessment and programmatic requirements for students challenged with  ASD, SLD, ADD/ADHD, and ED/BD impairments.


Part-Time Faculty, Boston College,  Lynch School of Education and Human Development, department of Teacher Education,  Special Education, and Curriculum & Instruction.
   Don Ricciato was the director for over 30 years at the Boston College Campus School, a private, publicly funded, special education school located at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College.  Don has over 35 years of experience in service, training, and research focused on enhancing the lives of individuals with severe disabilities.  He emphasizes the importance of ensuring that all students are provided with an opportunity to access the general education curriculum through active and meaningful participation. 
Don directed a program providing education, therapy, and healthcare services to children and youth with severe multiple disabilities, and was the co- founder/ administrator of a supported employment program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  He is a part-time faculty member at the Lynch School of Education involved in teaching undergraduate students.
   Dr. Ricciato is also a current member of the Board of Directors of The May Institute, a national, non-profit organization that provides educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral healthcare services to individuals with autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, brain injury, mental illness, and behavioral health needs.  
   He has a doctorate in Educational Administration with a focus on the education of students with severe multiple disabilities, a master’s degree in Special Education, and a bachelor’s degree in Education.  Dr. Ricciato possesses licensure in Massachusetts as an Administrator of Special Education and Superintendent of Schools. He resides in the Boston metro-west area. 


Jerome (Jerry) Schultz, Ph.D. is a clinical neuropsychologist who has for more than 35 years specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of children and adolescents with a variety of learning, behavioral and emotional challenges, including LD, ADHD, NVLD and Asperger syndrome. A former elementary and middle school special education teacher, Dr. Schultz has been on the special education faculty at Wright State University, Boston College and Lesley University. He has served as the director of several university or hospital-based diagnostic and treatment clinics, and is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School in the Department of Child Psychiatry. He was the Chair of the Professional Advisory Board of the Learning Disability Association of America, and is a frequent contributor to, and serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of ADDitude Magazine. Dr. Schultz has written extensively and trained teachers about a variety of topics, including the impact of stress on learning and behavior. His book on this topic is called “Nowhere to Hide: Why Kids with ADHD & LD Hate School and What We Can Do About It.” He is an internationally respected speaker and consultant. Dr. Schultz no longer does neuropsychological evaluations, but serves as the consulting neuropsychologist for several school districts, and is a content expert for the Wunder Community: https://www.understood.org/wunder at Understood. He provides training and consultation to teachers working with students with LD, ADHD, Social/Emotional Disabilities, NVLD and Autism-level 1 (Asperger Syndrome) who range in age from kindergarten through high school. For more information and articles reflecting his philosophy visit Jerome’s website.


Dr. Rhonda Taft-Farrell has an extensive background working with students, professionals and parents.   Her professional experience includes direct service, administration and consultation in regular and special education environments in urban and suburban schools.  She also served  for six years as Head of  an independent, approved special education school for adolescents with Learning Disabilities, Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities and Asperger’s Syndrome.  Early in her career, Dr. Taft-Farrell was an elementary teacher, and school counselor.  Her work with teachers, administrators and parents have focused on due process, designing specialized programs and instruction  for students across all disabilities with complex learning needs. Dr, Taft-Farrell earned a doctorate in special education and counseling psychology from Boston University. 


Diane Trueblood has worked in special education in urban as well as suburban communities for over thirty years as a teacher, Team chair, out-of-district coordinator, program director, administrator, and consultant to schools and families. Her particular areas of disability focus are language-based disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and the impact of executive function and sensory integration issues on student learning. Using problem solving skills and creative thinking approaches, Diane has worked in schools with diverse populations across grades K-12 in private schools and public settings, including charter schools. She has a Masters Degree in Special Education and a specific interest in explicit methodology and how it can be used to enhance student learning. She has worked as a program director with students on the Autism Spectrum, students with language-based disabilities, and students in inclusion settings with a variety of disabilities. She has extensive experience using evaluative information to understand student learning profiles in order to develop effective IEPs and make programmatic recommendations. Diane has also worked closely with special educators, training them in IEP writing, special education procedures, Team process, and instructional practice. Within the field of special education, Diane has worked in Essex County, Suffolk County and Middlesex County.


Dr. Werunga is an Assistant Professor of Special Education in the department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education, University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Her research focus is in early academic and behavioral interventions through multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS). Dr. Werunga’ s target population is students with or at-risk for Emotional/Behavioral Disorders (EBD) and/or Learning Disabilities with a focus on culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) learners. In addition, Dr. Werunga does research on strategies that foster and promote meaningful family and school relations as well as family engagement. Dr. Werunga has a keen interest in cultural responsiveness in teaching and explores this topic within her teaching and scholarship. Currently, Dr. Werunga teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the college of Education. Dr. Werunga has over 20 years’ experience working with individuals with disabilities; sixteen of those years were spent working directly with students with disabilities within grade school.  She has taught in both separate and inclusive settings and designed instruction for students in both settings. She is a member of the council for exceptional children (CEC) with active membership on several divisions, including Division of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners (DDEL), Division of International Special Education and Service (DISES), and the Teacher Education Division ( TED).

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