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Who We Are

Dr. Sylvia C. Chard is Professor Emeritus of Early Childhood Education at the University of Alberta, Canada. Dr. Chard worked at the University of Alberta beginning in 1989, where she served for seven years as director of the laboratory school, the Child Study Centre, in the Department of Elementary Education. She taught at various levels in schools in England—from preschool through high school—and she completed her M.Ed. and Ph.D. at the University of Illinois. Dr. Chard spent more than twenty years traveling worldwide helping teachers and school systems implement project-based learning in the classroom. Each summer, she and her colleague, Lilian Katz, offered a four-day institute on the Project Approach at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Chard and Dr. Katz developed a group of international educators, known as the Project Approach Teacher Education Network (PATEN), discussed below, to help train future generations of teachers to successfully use project work. 

Project Approach Teacher Educator Network (PATEN)

PATEN is a group of educators committed to and experienced in implementing the Project Approach with learners of all ages in a variety of settings. Our group members collaborate with educators worldwide by supporting and developing the work of Drs. Lilian Katz and Sylvia Chard. We offer general support and guidance, project feedback, and site visits. Many of our members also serve as consultants and provide more formal services, such as training workshops and in-services. We invite you to contact us and look forward to hearing from you.

Member Profiles
Kathy Bartelmay

Visiting Consultant
Duke School (Durham, NC)


Kathy is the former  Curriculum Director at Duke School, a Preschool-8th grade school that first implemented the Project Approach in 1996. Kathy's ongoing relationship with Dr.Katz and Dr. Chard resulted in the creation of the Educators Institute at Duke School, which provides on and off-site project work professional development to educators around the world. The institute is enriched by a staff of nine teacher consultants who use the Project Approach day in and day out in their classrooms.

Geoff Berry

4th Grade Teacher and PATEN Developer
Duke School (Durham, NC)

Geoff earned his bachelor's in teaching social studies and history from Appalachian State University in 2001. While teaching 5th grade in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City schools for 10 years, he also earned his elementary education license from North Carolina Central, his Academically Gifted license from Duke, completed the National Boards Certification for Middle Childhood and completed his master's in science methods from the University of North Carolina in 2012. 

Maureen Costello Dwyer

Visiting Consultant
Duke School (Durhan, NC)

Maureen received her bachelor's degree in early childhood education as well as her M.Ed. in special education and literacy studies, from UNC-Chapel Hill. Maureen has worked in a variety of educational settings for the past 25 years, serving both preschool and school-age children of varying abilities. Maureen joined the Duke School faculty in 2011. She taught at Family Preschool in Chapel Hill and Durham for 11 years prior. 

Heather Greene

3rd Grade Teacher and PATEN Developer
Duke School (Durham, NC)

Heather is a National Board-certified teacher with more than 10 years of classroom experience including both upper elementary and middle grades. She received her master’s in education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a focus on literacy and bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Elon University. She has presented at several national and local conferences and published her first book chapter on creating reading partnerships in 2013.

Cathy Hargrove

Master Practitioner / Coach / 4th-grade Teacher / Consultant
Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township
Harrison Hill School of Inquiry

Cathy is currently co-teaching in a 4th grade all-boys classroom in the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township. She is also employed part-time at Butler University in the College of Education. She facilitates courses in the Early/Middle Childhood program, which include Early Childhood Curriculum, Literacy and Language in Early Childhood, and Problems in the Teaching of Reading.

Claire Koerner

5th Grade Teacher and PATEN Developer
Duke School (Durham, NC)

Claire has 12+ years of teaching experience. She graduated from Emory University in Atlanta, GA with a bachelor's degree in international studies. She received her master's degree and teaching certificate from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. Claire began her teaching career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador. Since then, she has worked in the Washington, D.C. area and abroad. She is an avid reader and writer who fully embraces the workshop model. 

Xiaowei Liu

Principal / Consultant
Pioneer Education School (Chengdu, Sichuan, China)

Xiaowei organized and conducted the first Project Approach Workshop in China with Dr. Sylvia Chard and has been providing training and consulting for kindergarten teachers in Beijing and Sichuan areas. He is currently working on a book about the practice of the Project Approach in China.

Wendy McLeish

Lecturer / Consultant
Buffalo State College (Buffalo, NY)

Wendy is an early childhood instructor who works with pre-service and in-service teachers on understanding and implementing the Project Approach with children in preschool through third grade. She has coached teachers in the Buffalo area. Wendy previously taught students in grades preschool through high school.

Junli Linda Niu

Lecturer / Consultant
Beijing Early Childhood Pioneer Education Center

Junli is a postgraduate in physical and psychological development of children at the Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Junli is an early childhood lecturer who works with pre-service and in-service teachers on understanding and implementing the Project Approach with children. Junli is a member of the China Project Group Leadership Team. She facilitates and conducts the Project Approach Workshops bilingually in English and Chinese.

6th Grade Teacher and PATEN Developer

Duke School (Durham, NC)

Michelle received her bachelor's degree in math education from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, and a master's degree in mathematics education from the University of Minnesota. Michelle has presented at both the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the NCAIS conference. Michelle has also worked as a consultant, training teachers in using the Connected Mathematics Project curriculum. 

Nicole Thompson

Director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives

Duke School (Durham, NC)

Nicole joined Duke School in 2010. Prior to becoming a school administrator, she was an elementary teacher for many years. Born and raised in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, she is an avid Steelers fan. Nicole enjoys reading and creating stained glass in her spare time.

Sallee Beneke

St. Ambrose University (Davenport, IA)

Sallee is a retired Professor and Director of Graduate Programs in ECE at St Ambrose University, Iowa.  She co-authored The Project Approach for All Learners (2019) with Michaelene Ostrosky and Lilian Katz. She used the Project Approach as a teacher and has worked to build the implementation of the approach via training and consulting.  Sallee co-founded the IEL Project Approach Web site, and Facebook page with Lilian Katz (see, and she continues to contribute to the site.

Natalie Cappadona

7th Grade Teacher and PATEN Developer

Duke School (Durham, NC)

Natalie graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (in her hometown) and earned her degree in middle grades education with certifications in social studies, language arts, and gifted education. She is a former NC Teacher Cadet, NC Teaching Fellow, and gifted language arts teacher for Learning Environment for Advanced Programming (LEAP) in Chapel Hill. 

Annie Gentithes

5th Grade Teacher and PATEN Developer
Duke School (Durham, NC)

Annie Gentithes received her bachelor’s degree in educational studies and psychology from Denison University in Ohio and her master’s of education from DePaul University. Before teaching at Duke School, she taught first and fifth grades at North Shore Country Day School outside of Chicago. There, she was a leader in curriculum development, emphasizing technology, diversity, and global education.

Sandy Gillespie

Head of Lower School

Stone Ridge School (Bethesda, MD)

Sandy is the head of the lower school at Stone Ridge School. Sandy works with other administrators and teachers in developing and implementing the Project Approach in a preschool through fourth grade program. Sandy can offer an administrator's perspective on creating a school curriculum that uses the Project Approach; she can also offer ideas about classroom logistics and facilities.

Carolynn Klein

1st Grade Teacher and PATEN Developer

Duke School (Durham, NC)

Carolynn attended Wheelock College in Boston, MA, where she received a bachelor's degree in early childhood education with a focus on curriculum studies. She also attended Wheelock for her graduate studies in the area of teaching children with special needs. Carolynn has been an educator for more than 15 years, teaching in both public and independent environments. She has taught a myriad of ages, including preschool, pre-K, kindergarten, and first grade.

Yvonne Kogan

Early Childhood Principal / Consultant
Eton School (Mexico City, Mexico)

Yvonne is the co-founder of Eton School in Mexico City, where she still currently works as the Principal of the Early Childhood and Elementary Departments. She is a bilingual international educational consultant and presenter. Her published works as co-author include Picturing the Project Approach: Creative Explorations in Early Learning, which was awarded the Academics’ Choice Award, the Third Edition of Engaging Children’s Minds: The Project Approach, and From My Side: Being a Child. 

Candy Mabry

Early Childhood Educator/Preschool Head Teacher/Consultant
Children’s Day School (San Francisco, California)

An early childhood educator since 1984, Candy began implementing the Project Approach in 2000. She has successfully used this teaching method in both pre-K (2-year-old and mixed-age classes) and kindergarten. As a mentor teacher and assistant head of school, she has helped numerous colleagues apply the Project Approach to pre-K through elementary classrooms. Candy also does parent education about the Project Approach.

Lisa Nagel

Head of School

Duke School (Durham, NC)

Lisa joined Duke School as Head of School in 2020. Before Duke School, she worked at St. Anne’s School in Annapolis, Maryland, where she was the Head of School for the last eight years, and Associate Head for 14 years before taking the helm as Head. Originally from Ohio, Lisa graduated from Oberlin College and received her master’s in education from John Carroll University. 

Katie Ree

Innovation Director

Duke School (Durham, NC)

Innovation Director Katie Ree has a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction. She has over 20 years of experience in technology and innovation integration in elementary and middle schools. Her experiences in education include running a makers club, chairing an international board on innovative learning, presentations at conferences, planning of conferences, and working in an international school. She loves to travel and is an artist.

Jo Sigmund

Jo Sigmund has a master’s degree in Education and more than 30 years of experience. In 2003, she co-founded The Emerson School, a Project Approach K-5 public charter school located in Portland, OR. She has worked with children of all ages, from early childhood through middle school, has conducted many workshops and classes on the implementation of Project Approach, and was the executive director of a Project Approach preschool for four years.  For the past eight years, she has worked with pre-service elementary teachers at the university level, incorporating Project Approach work into her many classes.

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