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The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at The University of Texas at Austin


The Meadows Center supports coaches at 27 sites who work with educators in over 200 secondary schools to foster reading, writing and discussion.


The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk Personnel

Photo of Sharon Vaughn

Sharon Vaughn, Principal Investigator

Dr. Sharon Vaughn is the executive director of The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. Vaughn is the author of numerous books and research articles that address the reading and social outcomes of students with learning difficulties.

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Ellie Hanlon, Project Director

Since 2008, Dr. Ellie Hanlon has worked with the TEA to support secondary teachers in providing effective reading and writing instruction. This is the third year she is directing the Write for Texas project.

Dr. Hanlon’s professional experience includes evaluating programs for various educational initiatives, providing technical assistance and data analysis for secondary schools, and creating professional development materials for teachers. Her research interests include self-regulated learning, language and literacy development in adults learning a new language, and the impact of professional development on the self-efficacy of teachers. She holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the City University of New York Graduate Center.

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Jessica Acebo, Director of Write for Texas Institutes

Jessica Acebo is the director of the Write for Texas Institutes. The Institutes have included sessions by national leaders in the field of writing, state instructional leaders, education service center specialists, National Writing Project teacher consultants, and district representatives, and integrated the Write for Texas Guiding Principles for Effective Writing Instruction and online materials. Ms. Acebo holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with an emphasis in special education from The University of Texas at Austin. With more than 19 years of experience in the field, she has worked as a special education teacher, elementary teacher, instructional coach, intervention coordinator, and also in private practice.

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Mary Helen Acosta, Project Coordinator, Communications and Data Specialist

Mary Helen Acosta coordinates virtual support to Write for Texas coaches through the project newsletter, web site, and webinars. She holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) and is currently pursuing a Master of Education with a specialization in reading. Ms. Acosta’s experience includes teaching secondary English and advising and program administration at the university level.

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Vanessa Cortez, Online Content Specialist

Vanessa L. Cortez serves as the online content specialist for Write for Texas. Cortez has worked on both professional development projects as well as intervention research studies. She received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education and her master’s in curriculum and instruction with a reading specialization. Her certifications include master reading teacher, special education, bilingual, and principal. Prior to her work at MCPER and VGC, she has served as a bilingual teacher, campus literacy coach, and early childhood district coordinator. Her interests include language, literacy, and interventions for English language learners.

Photo of Colleen Moore

Colleen Moore, Communications Specialist

New to the Write for Texas project this year, Ms. Moore will be documenting efforts across the 27 project sites to share the successes and promote the use of Write for Texas tools, approaches, and practices. She holds a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language (ESL) and has worked in education for over 20 years, serving as ESL teacher, education consultant, technology integration specialist, professional development writer, and online course writer and manager.

Institute for Public School Initiatives (IPSI) Personnel

The Institute for Public School Initiatives at the University of Texas at Austin supported Write for Texas project by coordinating project events.

IPSI staff supporting Write for Texas:

Karen Nelson, Executive Director, Institute for Public School Initiatives

Daryl Michel, Director, Institute for Public School Initiatives

Danica Velarde Acharya, Project Specialist

See staff profiles here: