The Kids at the Core Team

Kids At The Core is proud of our team of practitioners. Our team brings a variety of experiences and perspectives from diverse geographical regions. From teaching our graduate courses to providing on-site district professional development, each team member of the KATC community shares the passion student centered education and assessment practices and empowering teachers through knowledge and resources.

Anne Weerda, Founder

M.S.Ed., M.Ed

Anne is a curriculum and assessment specialist focusing on the effective measurement and monitoring of student growth and learning in school districts.  She is passionate about quality professional development and resources for all educators, and as a result, founded Kids At The Core.

Anne’s love of teaching began in the Southwest side of Chicago as a teacher and then a building administrator. Her experience as a central office administrator in Northern Illinois and experience as a practicing scientist prior to entering the education field, give her a unique combination of experiences to design targeted professional development in the areas of data analysis, assessment, curriculum, grading and instruction.

Anne received dual BS degrees from Northwestern University in Molecular – Cellular Biology and Radio – Television – Film. After several years in education, Anne received the Golden Apple Fellowship and earned her M.Ed. in Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University. She earned her second masters in Educational Leadership from National Lewis University.

Under her leadership, teachers K-12 have grown as professional learning communities (PLCs) for powerful work including standards based report cards, creating local assessment sets aligned to Common Core Standards, and measuring student learning and growth. She been a writer for national benchmark assessment systems and led assessment professional development. Previously, Anne worked at the Director of Curriculum and Assessment in a Northern Illinois School District. She has experience as a director of curriculum, school improvement assessment specialist, a high school administrator, department chair and a classroom teacher.

Nicole Hayes: Educational Services Manager


Nicole is a passionate educator currently working for Kids At The Core as our Educational Support Manager. She has a Master of Arts in Teaching, and began her tenure teaching 1st grade in Vernon Hills, IL. She believes teachers should create, find or adapt assessments to learn where students are, meet them at their level, and create interventions to help all students succeed and grow.

Dawn Monge: Curriculum & Assessment Specialist

M.Ed., M.Ed., M.Ed.

Dawn Atlee’s strengths in special education, early literacy and skill based assessments K-12 provide a foundation for practical support to districts through workshops, facilitation and resources.  She has expertise in the area of designing growth assessments to measure and monitor learning. Through her extensive work with Kids At The Core, Dawn has provided leadership, guidance and facilitation for districts in creating quality measurements of student learning while designing pivot points for instructional change.  She has helped districts strategically implement growth measurements on teacher evaluations. Dawn is passionate about using student data from valid and reliable assessments to inform classroom instructional choices. She has experience as a classroom teacher, Title I teacher, Reading Specialist and Special Education teacher. She has masters degrees in Educational Leadership, Reading & Literacy and Special Education. She also has experience as a professor teaching undergraduate and graduate courses at Southern Illinois University. She is currently the Assistant Principal at Camelot Therapeutic Day School of Belvidere in Illinois.

Amanda Huling: Curriculum & Assessment Specialist

M.S.Ed., M.S.Ed.

Amanda Huling brings expertise in CCSS mathematics, assessment and curriculum design to her robust pedagogical knowledge.  She is currently working as a high school mathematics teacher.  She has a masters of science in Special Education and a masters of science in technology. Amanda is passionate about teaching common core mathematics and incorporating technology into the classroom, to produce lifelong learners in a productive society. Through her work with Kids at the Core, she has helped teachers create reliable measures of growth and lead analysis of mirrored assessment sets to develop improved growth measurements. She believes high quality, valid and reliable assessments are the key ingredient in interpreting whether a student has mastery of a learning objective or standard.

Kristina Gardner: Curriculum & Assessment Specialist


Kristina Gardner’s strengths in instructional design, question complexity and question design are cornerstones of the quality resources and tools she creates aligned to quality assessment design.  With experience teaching kindergarten, 2nd and 3rd grade in the East Richland School District in Southern Illinois, she brings classroom experience of writing and implementing an assessment system designed to measure and monitor growth as well as using student growth on her own evaluation. She has experience working with educators preK-12 in assessment design, assessment validity and assessment implementation. Kristina is passionate about helping children achieve academic success as well as helping them to become lifelong learners and leaders. She believes high quality, aligned assessments are necessary in identifying students’ targeted areas of growth and celebrating students success and achievements. Through Kids At The Core, she has written popular question stems and leads training workshops to help teachers and administrators understand how to create, adapt or write high quality assessments that can capture the growth of all students.

Nina M. Giannangeli: Curriculum & Assessment Specialist

Nina brings a passion for the English, Language Arts and expertise at the middle and high school levels.  She is an English teacher in Northern Illinois with experience in many courses from co-taught freshman English to honors courses and American Studies.  Her experience creating mirrored assessments to measure growth in her own classroom is a key strength she brings to helping teachers create, adapt and improve their own assessment systems to measure and monitor learning.  Nina wants to help her fellow teachers develop ways to authentically assess students to drive and improve instruction and learning. She knows it can be done and the work will pay off — because she has seen it happen herself! She most enjoys working in the classroom with her students and co-teachers to support the students in their journeys towards success. Through Kids at the Core, she has lead teacher workshops in assessment literacy, rubric design and mirrored growth assessment writing.

Joe Mullikin: Assessment & Data Specialist


Joe’s brings invaluable experience in assessment design and analysis from both in his own classrooms and beyond.  He has content strengths in middle and high school science and experience pulling out skills from science curricula and the NGSS standards which have leverage and endurance and the ability to be measured and monitored for longitudinal growth.  Joe brings an extensive understanding of data and analysis techniques with an ability to explain techniques and concepts in a user-friendly way.  Through his work with Kids at the Core Joe has worked with districts to help align curriculum and develop effective assessments. Joe is passionate about effective data driven instruction. Joe has experience working as a high school Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, and AP Biology teacher. He has a M.A.T. from Rockford University and is currently finishing a M.S.Ed at Western Illinois. He also has experience teaching undergraduate courses with Judson University and Upper Iowa University.  He is currently the Assistant Principal at Highland School in Stillman Valley, IL.

Lynsy Oswald: Curriculum & Assessment Specialist

M.A.T., M.S.Ed.

Lynsy bring strengths in assessment development and leadership.  She has developed and implemented assessment tools which are used as models for many districts creating assessment sets to measure student growth.  Her expertise in the process provides a backbone for quality workshops as well as leadership and support.  Through her work with Kids at the Core, she has provided teachers guidance in the development of practical and effective assessments. Lynsy has experience teaching preschool, 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th grade. She has a M.A.T. from Aurora University and a M.S.Ed from Western Illinois University. She is currently an Assistant Principal at Hamilton Elementary School in Moline, Illinois.

Diane Muller: Curriculum & Assessment Specialist


Diane Muller brings her own expertise in CCSS mathematics, assessment and curriculum design.  She is currently working as a junior high mathematics teacher.  She is also an adjunct professor at Trinity Christian College in the adult studies education program.  She has a masters of education in Curriculum and Instruction. Diane is passionate about teaching mathematics, incorporating technology into the classroom, and strives to produce lifelong, productive and proactive learners. She believes high quality and reliable assessments will help guide both teachers and students to grow and learn in order to meet all individual needs.

Nicolas D. Wade


Dr. Wade is currently working as an administrator in the Elmwood Park 401U school district. Through Kids At The Core, he has helped districts pursue quality assessment measures and serves as a professor for our Graduate Course programs. He has experience as a high school English teacher, department chair, and assistant principal. Dr. Wade is passionate about educating teachers and administrators about the realities of current education reforms and how they can be used to better instruction and further student achievement. He believes the full power of valid and reliable assessments is reached when educators can successfully interpret the results in what it means for the quality and efficacy of the curriculum, instruction, and resources.

Beth A. Summers

M.Ed, MPA, Ed.D.

Dr. Summers is a High School principal at Freeport 145 in Northern Illinois. She has experience as a building administrator, central office administrator and high school English and Journalism teacher. Dr. Summers is committed to helping educators build powerful Professional Learning Communities focused on student learning and results. She has worked with teacher teams to coach them through the assessment writing and mirroring process to create quality formative assessments of learning. She believes all students will grow and learn as teachers pivot and differentiate to meet students’ needs.

Contact Us

Mailing Address:

Kids At The Core LLC
PO Box 4424
Rockford, IL 61110