Diane DugasDirector of K-12 Magnet Schools and Leading & Learning
Diane Dugas directs EASTCONN’s Leading and Learning division, as well as the agency’s two magnet high schools and its alternative high school. Formerly the director of EASTCONN’s Center for Educational Leadership, which she now also oversees, Diane was previously a superintendent of schools, an assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, a turn-around principal and a special education teacher. A lifelong educator, Diane has conducted doctoral research on the ways in which central office supports leadership capacity for transformational change. She holds a Sixth Year certificate and is a graduate of the UConn Executive Leadership Program. Diane specializes in leadership and talent development; social-emotional learning; competency-based, student-centered learning; and strategic planning. She also facilitates EASTCONN’s Regional Staff Development Council. To learn more about EASTCONN’s Leading and Learning virtual professional development opportunities, as well as embedded district professional learning or team facilitation across a range of K-12 academic fields and pedagogies, contact Diane at her email listed above.
Lauren RodriguezDirector of Talent Development
Lauren Rodriguez supports EASTCONN regional schools in her role as Director of Talent Development. She has held many roles in her education career, spanning 25 years, most recently coming off a 10-year principalship in Mansfield, CT where she opened the newly consolidated net-zero elementary school. Prior to this, Lauren worked for six years as a school improvement facilitator for several programs at The University of Connecticut. That worked allowed her to travel across the northeast states and mid-west to get a broader view of teacher practices, educational leadership and a process for improvement. Lauren began her teaching career in Bridgewater, NJ in a large suburban school district as an upper elementary school teacher. Lauren has completed her 092 (Principal) and 093 (Superintendent) certification programs through the University of Connecticut. Lauren specializes in administrative coaching, supporting districts with developing core instructional practices, curriculum writing and alignment, supporting districts with Strategic Planning, as well as providing the regional TEAM trainings. Lauren is committed to the development of instructional leaders and runs a community of practice focused on finding solutions to the most difficult challenges. She also facilitates the Math, Science and Social Studies Curriculum Councils.
Gary PetersenEducation Specialist
Gary is an education specialist who's been working in the field for over 25 years. He recently completed a six-year tenure as a Staff Developer at Columbia University’s Reading and Writing Project, where he provided instructional support and professional development to hundreds of teachers and students. He's travelled to China, Turkey, Canada and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for work on implementing workshop methods. He's run workshops on mentor texts, humor and joy in the writing workshop, read aloud, content area literacies, and the integration of technology in planning and practice of workshop. Gary is always interested in how to motivate the unmotivated learner, and is known for bringing humor and joy to the writing workshop. His goal within professional development sessions is to make the time spent both practical and pragmatic.
Monica RiveraAdministrative Secretary, Interdistrict and After School Grants
Monica is an executive administrative assistant for the Leading and Learning division. She's a graduate of EASTCONN's Customer Service Academy, and began working at EASTCONN as an intern with the program. Monica provides support for the Interdistrict Grants team, assisting them in securing funding for student projects and programs. She also supports the Community Arts Connection After-School Program at Windham Heights. Monica's is the friendly voice that will most likely greet you when you call the EASTCONN Leading and Learning offices!
Kevin SegarCommunity Arts Connection After School Program Coordinator
Kevin Segar, a Science Specialist, is a 23 year veteran at EASTCONN currently serving as the site coordinator for the Windham Heights Afterschool Program in North Windham. After teaching science for 10 years at EASTCONN's Northeast Challenge School in Brooklyn, CT he worked for 2 years as a Grant Coordinator for EASTCONN's Interdistrict Grants. He graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelors Degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and subsequently worked for the Connecticut DEEP at the State Fish Hatcheries as an Ichthyology Intern. He is currently a Senior Instructor with the DEEP CT CE/FS Education Program. He promotes hands-on outdoor science inquiry utilizing the rich outdoor resources located on the Learning Center's property along the Natchaug River.
Esther SofferInterdistrict Grant Facilitator
Esther joined the EASTCONN Interdistrict Grants Team over a decade ago as a grant facilitator. Today, Esther’s successful grant writing has won EASTCONN funding for multiple grants over several consecutive years. She oversees all aspects of Interdistrict Grants including the research, development, writing, implementation and facilitation of five highly successful grants across 14 EASTCONN partnering school districts. She has created community and partnerships across many school districts and with students of all backgrounds and abilities. Esther introduced Mindfulness and Social-Emotional Learning to her grant participants many years ago after training and certification in Mindfulness Practices and Education from UC Berkley’s Greater Good Science Center. In her work, she has trained and developed programming and workshops in the areas of Social Justice, Equity, Inclusion, Wellness, Resilience, LGBTQ+, Community Engagement and Teambuilding. As a Russian, child refugee and former YMCA counselor and administrator, Esther has spent her life working towards equity and inclusion for underserved and immigrant children and their families. It was at the Y that she developed her skills as an educator and team builder and established her love for generating excitement and building confidence in kids, teens and adults. Esther brings that same energy to everything she does with the teachers, students and families she works with. Her enthusiasm and curiosity for learning, traveling, painting, hiking, cooking, baking and photography help her connect and build relationships with others around shared interests and pursuits.
Stephanie WhiteInderdistrict Grant Facilitator