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A school library research project funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to study the impact of school library programs and librarians on student achievement in Pennsylvania; edited by Debra E. Kachel
Last Updated: Dec 3, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Advisory Board Print Page

Deborah Dunstone

Deborah M. Dunstone, Peckville, PA

A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Scranton, Deborah is a licensed CPA and has worked as a senior accountant, office manager, and a guest teacher since 1999 for NWIU #19.  Her extensive PTA non-profit experience with schools and grassroots parent involvement has not only earned her numerous leadership awards, but has resulted in her being elected President-Elect of the Pennsylvania PTA for 2011-2013.  In addition to being a trained presenter for local, regional, state, and national educational initiatives, she has served as a liaison between the PA School Librarians Association and the State PTA—a partnership which has created a program to connect parents and librarians in strengthening school libraries.  She has been instrumental in securing strong PTA organizational support for school library programs through the development of a formal position statement.


Dr. Patricia Gennari

Patricia A. Gennari, Ed.D., Homestead, PA

Dr. Gennari recently retired from the Pittsburgh School District, Pennsylvania’s second largest school district, where she held the position of Deputy Superintendent for Special Education and Support Services. Prior to that, she was the Superintendent of the Penn Hills School District, having started there 17 years ago as the Director of Elementary Education. During that period, she partnered with the Laboratory for Student Success at Temple University, serving as a regional outreach center to school districts in an effort to provide timely educational information. During her tenure as Superintendent, she simultaneously served as the President of the Penn Hills Public Library Foundation and spearheaded a campaign to raise several million dollars and community support for a new public library—driven by a need to provide students with much needed information to stay competitive despite dwindling resources for public education.


Dr. Persida Himmele

Persida Himmele, Ph.D., Millersville, PA

Dr. Himmele is an Assistant Professor in the Education Department at Millersville University in Southeastern PA.  She has served as the ELL coordinator for Curriculum and Professional Development for the School District of Lancaster and as a consultant to school districts and the PA Department of Education.  She has a Ph.D. in Intercultural Education and has been a teacher in bilingual and multilingual classrooms in New York and Southern California.  She has served as a consultant and teacher trainer for educational projects in the United States, China, Nepal, Argentina, and Tonga.  She has presented over one hundred English as a Second Language (ESL) workshops throughout PA and the United States. 


William Isler

William H. Isler, Pittsburgh, PA

Bill serves as the President and CEO of The Fred Rogers Company which has produced the longest running program on PBS and published training materials for individuals working with children and all materials related to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.  He has been a teacher, administrator, and has served the PA Dept. of Education as Commissioner of Basic Education and Senior Program Advisor for Early Childhood Education.  Since 2005, he has also been the first Executive Director of The Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at St. Vincent College.  He is a member of the Pittsburgh School Board, Past-President of the Council of Great City Schools, and a member of the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences Board of Visitors.  He serves as a board member for St. Vincent College, Carnegie Museum of Art, and Carnegie Institute.  He has made significant accomplishments in growing partnerships between non-profit agencies and institutions. 


Richard Karcher

Richard Karcher, Shippensburg, PA

Richard has an extensive background working in a variety of capacities with communities in Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  He holds a B.S. degree in Parks and Recreation Management from West Virginia University and is currently employed by the Shippensburg School District.  He has worked with community services to plan and coordinate programs and activities for youth and adults, which included supervision and evaluation.  He has applied his background and management skills to provide service as a consultant to counties, cities, and other community programs.  Richard and his wife Tanya are parents of one school-aged daughter and have become strong advocates for students with disabilities, fostering a routine that includes library programs as a significant part of her life.


Tonya Trembly Karcher

Tonya Trembly Karcher, Shippensburg, PA

Tonya Karcher holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration, Human Resource Management from West Virginia University. She has been employed for over sixteen years in this field, currently serving as a Human Resource Manager for a privately owned multi-location Motor Truck Equipment Company that employs 200 people.  In her professional career, she has done policy development, payroll, training, benefits design, law compliance, employee relations, union negotiations, and employee recruitment in seven states and Puerto Rico.  Her family and volunteer work has given her strong connections to schools and communities, enabling her to channel her advocacy and organizing skills into major contributions for children.


Dr. Diane Kirk

Diane L. Kirk, Ph.D., Pittsburgh, PA

Dr. Kirk has been an Associate Professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education since September 2006.  She manages the internship courses in the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies that all aspiring principals and superintendents must complete in order to gain certification in Pennsylvania.  In addition to her course work, she recently became the Director of the Tri-State Area School Study Council after serving as Co-Director for four years.  Dr. Kirk manages Tri-State’s activities, which include research and development assistance for member school districts, informative publications, conferences, professional development activities, and special services such as executive searching.  Before joining the university, Dr. Kirk served as the Superintendent of Schools in Peters Township from July 1997 to July 2006 and as the Assistant Superintendent for the five years prior.  She is the immediate past president of the National School Development Council.


Dr. Edward Maritz

Edward J. Maritz, Ed.D., McKees Rocks, PA

Dr. Maritz holds a Doctor of Education Degree in Educational Administration from Duquesne University, as well as undergraduate and graduate degrees from Robert Morris College.  He also has earned professional licensure as a K-12 building principal as well as the attainment of the PA School Superintendent’s Letter of Eligibility.  He is a business education teacher in the Pine-Richland School District and has served as a school board member in the Sto-Rox School District since 1993.  As a long-time advocate for schools and students in poverty, Dr. Maritz has been able to champion issues and seek solutions for making sure all students have access to quality education, despite their zip code.  He has been student-nominated for his contributions to youth as a distinguished educator by inclusion in “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.”


Advisory Board Meeting Agendas


Role of the Advisory Board

Stricty advisory in nature, the Advisory Board will meet via conference call or via teleconference equipment located in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh offices of the Education Law Center several times during the project year. The will be kept informed of the the project's research, Professional Judgement Panel results, and findings of the Focus Groups. Advisory Board members will engage in these types of activities: 

  • Recommend participants for the Focus Groups,
  • Identify organizations or individuals for include in a stakeholder database, and
  • Review IMLS reports and project products, including the website.


Project Funded by IMLS

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.


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