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Get to know the people behind the revolution!


Dr. Paul Bloomberg


Dr. Paul Bloomberg is the founder and Chief Learning Officer for the Core Collaborative, a professional learning network that specializes in student-centered approaches to learn¬ing. Paul is the co-author of the best seller, Leading Impact Teams: Building a Culture of Efficacy published by Corwin Press. In addition, Paul serves on the advisory board for Spiire, a network made up of individuals, coaches and thought leaders committed to growing the potential of LGBTQI community. 

Prior to founding The Core Collaborative, he was the former director of TIDES (Transformative Inquiry Design for Effective Schools &Systems), a nonprofit in San Diego focusing on inquiry-based learning.  Paul is a former principal and instructional leader and has directly supported multiple, successful school turn-around and school innovation efforts nationally.  Paul also served as national Author Consultant for Corwin Professional Learning, a North American Visible Learning Consultant for John Hattie, and a Distinguished Professional Development Associate for the Leadership &Learning Center, founded by Douglas Reeves. 

Paul’s passion is partnering with professional learning teams and sys¬tems in an effort to empower ALL students to take ownership of their learning. He is deeply committed to enhancing student success and believes that we all share in the responsibility for equity and diversity. Paul resides in San Diego with his husband Tony and his two sons, Alex and Taylor.

Dr. Paul Bloomberg
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Barb Pitchford


Barb Pitchford is the Executive Director of Professional Learning and co-founder of The Core Collaborative. During her 30 plus years in public education, Barb has worked at all school levels - high, middle, and elementary - as a teacher, counselor, assistant principal and principal. For the past several years Barb has worked for a variety of professional development organizations including The Leadership and Learning Center where she was recognized as a Distinguished Professional Development Consultant. 

Barb also worked with Corwin Press as a consultant specializing in Visible Learning work. Barb is most proud of the work she led as principal of her last school that was awarded state recognition as a top performing school several years running. During that time, she also worked closely with Bob Marzano during the development of state-wide standards for Colorado.  

Barb’s passion and commitment is around helping to ensure high-impact school leadership. Based on the research around collaboration and formative assessment, Barb specializes in developing Impact Teams to improve student and teacher learning.   

Barb Pitchford
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Kara Vandas

As a consultant, Kara Vandas works with districts and schools around the country to implement processes and practices that best support student learning.  She is the co-author of Partnering with Students: Building Ownership of Learning and Clarity For Learning.  Her areas of focus include implementing practices that encourage students to be partners in learning, the Visible Learning research and professional learning, EmpowerED Coaching™, EmpowerED Assessment™ and EmpowerED curriculum design™.

Kara brings experience in these areas from her previous work as the Director of Teacher Effectiveness for the Colorado League of Charter Schools. In this role, she was responsible for partnering with over 30 public, charter schools around the state of Colorado in the implementation of Data Teams and Rigorous Curriculum Design.  In doing so, Kara has had the opportunity to support rural, urban, and suburban schools of various instructional models, student populations, and across K-12 systems in order to best implement these powerful practices.
 Over the course of her career in education, Kara has worked as a teacher, teacher leader, trainer, and program developer. She holds a Master of Arts in Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Regis University and Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Wyoming.

In her career, she has also worked to establish an innovative teacher education program for teachers serving high-need students.  In addition, Kara worked with Edison Schools, now Edison Learning, to train teachers in effective instructional and classroom management practices. Kara also taught with Edison Schools at two charters in Colorado, where she taught middle school science, reading, and language arts.  Her teaching career began at the Denver Street School, an alternative school for high-need youth in Denver, CO.

Kara remains passionate about supporting all students in becoming successful learners and views her work as an opportunity to reach students around the country through working with teachers and administrators in implementing proven and powerful practices.

Kara Vandas


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Eric Bjornstad is a partner consultant and Science & Mathematics educator from the Chicago area with over 15 years experience in the high school classroom. He specializes in creation of phenomena based science instruction with a focus on formative assessment integration. When not working with students or consulting, he might be spotted captaining an adventurous team of adults with a taste for obstacle races in remote locations throughout the country.

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As a national educator, Lisa partners with educators to create a positive change by focusing on strengths and a student-centered environment.  She addresses the why behind research in addition to applying best practices for greatest student impact.  At The Core Collaborative, Lisa is passionate advocate of the IncludED social justice lens partners with schools to support Impact Teams, literacy at the secondary level, and instructional coaching.  She is also a Visible Learning for Literacy consultant, a facilitator for Welcoming Schools with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and specializes in working with women in educational leadership.

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As a partner consultant with The Core Collaborative, Lori specializes in helping teachers create student-centered math environments.  Her passion is partnering with educators to empower ALL students to become problem-solvers who persevere and explore math to make sense of it. Lori supports K-12 teachers and administrators across the country develop clarity of the standards, as well as develop best instructional practices that foster student ownership of learning and has authored

Prior to consulting Lori excelled at helping low-performing students and teachers find success. Lori served as an achievement director, team-leader, curriculum coordinator, and classroom teacher. In addition to her work with The Core Collaborative she is a Senior Fellow with the International Center of Leadership and served as a Distinguished Professional Development Associate with The Leadership and Learning Center founded by Douglas Reeves. Lori has authored chapters for two books as well as written professional development seminars that focus on the deep implementation of state standards.

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David Horton is a national consultant and presenter in the areas of teams, assessment, curriculum design, math/science instruction, and systems.  He has served as an Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, a K‑12 Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment; Coordinator of Secondary Mathematics and K‑12 Instructional Technology; high school administrator; and high school math and science teacher.  David’s area of expertise is building systems and structures of organizational leadership that align mission and vision with practice.  In particular, David’s greatest passion is the study and support of teams and collaborative success.  He currently teaches as an adjunct professor with three Southern California universities.

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Rachel Syrja is a Partner Consultant with The Core Collaborative. Rachel brings with her 19 years of education experience, she has been a classroom teacher, mathematics coach and resource teacher as well as a school leader. Rachel has designed and implemented district-wide staff learning in the areas of English Language Development, working with struggling learners, standards-based education and Assessment IS learning. She is the author of How to Reach and Teach English language Learners.

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Gary Giordano is a 7th-grade social studies and 8th-grade special education teacher at the Michael J. Petrides School in Staten Island, NY. He is a proud James Madison Fellow for New York State, Model Teacher through the NYCDOE Teacher Leader Program, and instructional technology designee and School Leadership Team chairperson for his school building. Mr. Giordano also serves as an NYC Junior Ambassadors Educator where he works with students in taking action on issues aligned to the goals of the United Nations. Mr. Giordano enjoys conducting Socratic Seminars with his students and crafting digitally enriched instruction that engages his 21st-century learners while achieving a high standard of historical knowledge. In short, he seeks to develop a love for learning with his Social Studies Scholars.

Mr. Giordano graduated with his Bachelors of Arts from Wagner College in History and Childhood/Special Education, Grades 1-6. He completed his Masters of Arts in Social Studies Education, Grades 7-12 at Teachers College, Columbia University and Masters of Science in Educational Leadership at Touro College.

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Rupa is co-founder and CEO of Sown to Grow. She spent the last several years working in the San Jose Unified School District, most recently leading school redesign implementation. She loves working side-by-side with students, teachers, and school leaders to help make every learning interaction awesome. Before working in schools, Rupa spent nearly 10 years working in consulting at Bain & Company and The Bridgespan Group.

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Katherine (Katie) serves a partner consultant for The Core Collaborative. She brings experience concerning social studies instruction, curriculum development, and assessment literacy. She has served as a Social Studies Department Chair, High School Curriculum Coordinator, and an Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction in Chicago Public Schools. Since 2009, Katie has worked as the Coordinator of Assessment and Research for a large suburban high-school district. She has experience designing and administering district assessments, analyzing district-wide data, and designing strategic professional learning plans to increase student achievement. In the last four years, Katie has implemented Impact Teams as a practitioner, as well as a coach. This experience is included as a case study in Learning IMPACT Teams: Building a Culture of Efficacy. Katie lives in Illinois with her husband Jim and three vivacious daughters.

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Sarah Stevens is the National Director of Professional Learning for The Core Collaborative. During her career, Sarah worked in several areas of school improvement and innovation serving as an elementary teacher,  instructional coach, and Director of Curriculum. In this role, she led a team of instructional coaches specializing in various efforts including coherent, curriculum design, leading Impact Teams, and supporting a 1:1 initiative. Sarah's passion is in system thinking and partnering with adults to create a motivating environment where students come first and teaching makes an impact. She is a co-author of the “EmpowerED Learner: Student Assessment Toolkit” and lives with her husband, James, and their two children, Deagan and Bria.

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Isaac Wells is the Assistant Director of Professional Learning with the Core Collaborative. Prior to his work at The Core Collaborative, he worked for six years as a School Improvement Specialist and Instructional Coach for Henderson County Public Schools in North Carolina. In his ten years as a classroom teacher, he taught the fifth, fourth, second grades, but it was teaching kindergarten that ignited his passion for early literacy. Now Isaac partners with schools and systems across the country to empower teachers and students to take ownership of their learning. Believing that a strong foundation is key to success for all students, he has chosen to focus on supporting deep and meaningful learning in the primary grades.

Eric Bjornstad
Lisa Cebelak
Lori Cook
David Horton
Rachel Syrja Fairchild
Gary P. Giordano
Rupa Chandra-Gupta
Katherine Smith
Sarah Stevens
Isaac Wells
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