When schools succeed,
Meet the RACs
Regions 1 & 2
Margaret Barnes serves as an Instructional Literacy Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 1 & 2 Regional Achievement Center. In her role, Ms. Barnes works each day with teachers to ensure that they help their students grow academically and develop a love for reading. The thirty-seven-year education veteran is affiliated with the Seton Hall Academy for Urban School Transformation. Most of her career has been spent serving in the Newark School District as a middle school literacy teacher, parent outreach coordinator for the Office of Community Relations, and literacy coach. She brings her zest for literacy to her duties in the region 2 RAC.
Vincent Caramico serves as a Literacy Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 1 & 2 Regional Achievement Center. In his role, he assists Focus and Priority Schools with their School Improvement Plans, professional development, instruction, and assessment in the area of English Language Arts .The forty-five-year veteran educator most recently served as a mentor for New Jersey principals. Previously he worked with the Center of Education Innovation in New York City where opened charter schools in Brooklyn and served as Vice-President of the Believe High School Network. Prior to that, Mr. Caramino's career encompassed many roles in the Paterson School District. He began as an English teacher at John F. Kennedy High School where he established the first reading center at the high school level. After serving as an assistant principal, his first principal's assignment was at PS #4. He was next transferred to Martin Luther King, Jr. School where, over ten years' time, the school went from a failing school to one recognized as distinguished. The school won four first place trophies from Panasonic Corp. for creating a film entitled "Top of the World, Bottom of the Barrel". In 2000, Mr. Caramico was recognized as "Principal of the Year" by the Media Association of NJ. He served as president of the Principal's Association from 1995 to 2000. His last position in the Paterson district involved creating a high school academy program which became the International High School. Mr. Caramico holds a BA and MA in English and certifications as principal/supervisor, reading specialist, and reading teacher.
Linda Crescione, Ph.D.
Dr. Linda Crescione is a Program Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 1 & 2 Regional Achievement Center. An educational and instructional leader for the past 40 years in the Paterson School District, she began her career as a classroom teacher and a mathematics resource teacher. She served as vice-principal at CJR # 9, a large K – 8 urban school, serving a diverse multi-cultural student population. After a few years, she was promoted to principal where she served for 17 years. Under her leadership, CJR #9 continued to be one of highest performing schools in the city with an emphasis on high-quality education and dedicated commitment to the needs of the students and parent community. During her tenure as principal, the school was acknowledged with several citations recognizing high student performance and excellence in teaching, including a Best Practices Citation by the NJ Department of Education to support interdisciplinary instruction utilizing technology and four consecutive years as a New Jersey "Just for the Kids" Benchmark School for high student performance on the state assessment. Most recently she has been affiliated with Montclair State and William Paterson Universities as an adjunct professor and principal mentor. Dr. Crescione earned a BA, an MA in Student Personnel Services and Instructional Supervision, and a doctorate in instructional leadership from Seton Hall University.
Kesha Drakeford serves as the Accountability Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 1 & 2 Regional Achievement Center. In this role, Ms. Drakeford coordinates and leads the implementation support for all of the region's Priority and Focus Schools. Previously, she facilitated and supported school improvement initiatives and assisted in building staff capacity in Abbott districts in Paterson and as a member of the state-operated school districts' team for 12 years. More recently, Ms. Drakeford has worked in student affairs for higher education and as an adjunct professor in English and humanities. Ms. Drakeford earned her BA in Political Science and a Master's degree in Public Administration from Virginia State University. She also holds administrative certificates for principal/supervisor and superintendent.
Damon Englese is a Project Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 1 & 2 Regional Achievement Center. In his role, he works closely with the administrative teams in 20 Focus Schools in Bergen and Passaic Counties, providing them with the support they need to achieve academic success in their schools. He is the team leader of one of the RAC Core Support Teams, assisting them in completing the Quality School Review (QSR) and School Improvement Plan (SIP) implementation within the schools. He and his team complete three milestone visits to the schools each year, as well as provide continuous year- round support to ensure that school improvement plans are being followed and implemented.
Before joining the RAC, Damon served many roles in his educational career. He started in Union City, New Jersey as an elementary teacher and went on to become a high school teacher. He was then selected to become the Whole School Reform Facilitator / Technology Coordinator of a newly built elementary school in Union City. He next began his administrative roles serving as assistant principal and acting principal. After nine years in Union City, Damon moved on to the Hillsdale Public School District and served there for five years as a middle school assistant principal and for a short time as an interim principal in the district's elementary school.
Damon received his BA from Seton Hall University in Business Administration and Finance and an MA from Saint Peter's University in Educational Administration and Supervision. He holds educational certifications as teacher, supervisor, principal, and school business administrato,r as well as others.
Damon enjoys spending time with his family and traveling with his wife Diana who is a school counselor.
Wanda Foy-Burroughs serves as the Instructional Math Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 1 & 2 Regional Achievement Center. In this role, she works with school leaders and teachers in the Priority and Focus Schools to continually improve and monitor mathematics instruction and student achievement. She was a highly-recognized mathematics educator and served as a district resource for the Newark Public School District.
An expert in the field of education, Ms. Foy-Burroughs has served as an adjunct professor at Kean University in the Bureau of Educational Services; at Essex County College in the Department of Mathematics; and at Seton Hall University. She maintains an active membership with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics. She has served as the Northeast Regional Representative for the Benjamin Banneker Association, Inc. -- a national organization dedicated to leveling the playing field for mathematics learning for African-American students. In 2010, she was selected by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) as a member of the program planning committee for the Baltimore NCTM Regional Conference. Ms. Foy-Burroughs earned a BA in Intermediate Education from Johnson C. Smith University and an MA in Mathematics from the College of Science and Mathematics at Montclair State University, as well as a certification in Algebra I. In her spare time she loves to travel, read and spend time with family and friends.
Ron Karsen serves as the Turnaround Coach for the NJDOE's Region 1 & 2 Regional Achievement Center. In this role, he supports the effective implementation of the eight school turnaround principles in the Priority and Focus Schools. Prior to this, Mr. Karsen served as a network turn-around officer in Paterson and West Caldwell. His partnership and support in West Caldwell at the West Essex Technical/Vocational High School resulted in a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence award after demonstrating a school turn-around under a School Improvement Grant (SIG) when 70% of the school's population was in the special needs category. As principal of Newark's Dayton Street School, the thirty-nine-year education veteran demonstrated the success of the transformational model under a $4.3 million three-year School Improvement Grant. He was recognized as a successful school turn-around leader when he was asked to present at the SIG Regional Conference in Washington D.C. In addition to being principal, Mr. Karsen's career in Newark includes being a classroom teacher, a reading specialist, a Title I coordinator, as well as serving in several administrative roles. He holds graduate degrees and certifications as a Reading Specialist, School Administrator, and in Student Personnel Services.
John Marshall is the Project Management Specialist for the NJ DOE Region 1 & 2 Regional Achievement Center. In his most recent role, John served as Executive Director of Teach Plus in Indianapolis, a nonprofit organization that works to retain early-career teachers in urban schools through education policy engagement. During his tenure, the Indianapolis site expanded its fellowship program and launched a network for solutions-oriented teachers. Previously, he served as Director of Curriculum and Assessment (9-12) and Director of Data Management and Analysis for Lighthouse Academies, a national network of charter schools (CMO). In that role, he led curriculum development, professional development, and data analysis for more than a dozen schools in seven states. He began his career teaching United States History in New Jersey at Kinnelon High School where he also coached baseball and basketball and advised the student council and numerous clubs. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Notre Dame.
Darlene Rankin serves as a Turnaround Coach and Instructional Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 1 & 2 Regional Achievement Center. She and her team provide high-impact support by working directly with principals in Priority and Focus Schools to assist them in developing and implementing school improvement plans. Before her retirement in 2007, Ms. Rankin worked for the Paterson School District as a classroom teacher, vice principal and principal. Her experience in literacy resulted in her serving on many panels and being involved in many literacy initiatives. Since retirement, Ms. Rankin has served as a professor in residence at William Paterson University where she is involved with REFORMS and the Garden State Urban Residency Grants, as well as other roles in conjunction with professional development activities in Bergen and Passaic Counties. Ms. Rankin holds a BS in Elementary Education and a Master of Education in Elementary Guidance and Counseling from Duquesne University. She also earned an MA in Administration and Supervision from Montclair State University receiving a graduate student award for educational leadership. Ms. Rankin is an avid reader and spends time cruising with her husband and enjoying her four children and four grandchildren.
Richard Roberto Jr.
Richard Roberto Jr. is a Program Specialist in NJDOE's Region 2 Regional Achievement Center which serves Passaic and Bergen counties. In his role, he addresses school climate and culture and graduation rates in high schools. He also serves as a turn-around coach in an elementary school designated as a Priority School.
Mr. Roberto has served as a teacher, coach, vice principal and principal at both the high school and elementary levels. As principal, his schools made continual progress in state-mandated test results. In 2003, he was named New Jersey High School Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and the New Jersey Principal and Supervisors Association (NJPSA). He was one of three finalists for National Principal of the Year sponsored by the NASSP and Metlife.
In recent years, Mr. Roberto has served as an Interim Director of Secondary Schools and as an academic advisor at William Paterson University School of Education -- Graduate Studies for Educational Leadership. He served four years in the United States Air Force and is a Viet Nam Veteran.
Joanna Santana is an English Language Learner (ELL) Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 1 & 2 Regional Achievement Center. In her role, she and her team are responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of the current ELL instructional support systems in the Priority and Focus schools and overseeing professional development for ELL staff. Prior to joining the RAC team, Ms. Santana served as the English as a Second Language (ESL) coordinator in Palm Beach County School District, the fifth largest district in the U.S. She was instrumental in developing and implementing a variety of instructional strategies that resulted in significant gains for the lowest-achieving 25% and earning the school an "A" rating. Ms. Santana earned her BA in Education from Florida Atlantic University and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction, as well as Educational Leadership, from Nova Southeastern University. Ms. Santana enjoys and supports the arts, including playing her cello.
Shivoyne Trim is an Intervention Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 1 & 2 Regional Achievement Center. In her role, she data analysis expertise to focus on the intervention instructional practices for at-risk students. Prior to joining the RAC, she was employed for 10 years by the Paterson school district as a school psychologist where she worked with both elementary and secondary students. In addition to being a child study team member, Ms. Trim served on various intervention and referral service (I&RS) committees to assist with the pre-referral and intervention process. She also served as lead teacher/supervisor of the Coordinating Early Intervention Services (CEIS) program in an effort to combat the overrepresentation of minority students in special education. Prior to being employed by the Paterson school district, she was a school counselor at Passaic High School (Passaic, NJ) working primarily with "at risk" teens. Ms. Trim holds a BA in Education from Seton Hall University; an Educational Specialist certification in School Psychology from Montclair State University; an Educational Administration certification from Kean University; and is in the dissertation phase of a doctoral degree in school psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. In her free time, she volunteers at P.S. #5 in Paterson focusing on assisting with the implementation of services provided by the Full Service Community Schools (FSCS).
Patricia Walters-DiGiaimo serves as an Intervention Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 1 & 2 Regional Achievement Center. In her role, she works with Priority and Focus schools to raise the achievement of the lowest-performing special education sub-groups. Ms. Walters-DiGiaimo most recently was the Director of Special Education services in a large urban district where she oversaw all staff that provided special education services to students with various disabilities. Under a grant Ms. Walters-Giaimo hired special education literacy coaches at the K-3 level to improve early instruction and reduce the number of referrals to special education. Under another grant, she created a model of inclusive services for preschool students. Prior to this, Ms. Walters-Giaimo served as a learning disability teacher consultant on a child study team and a preschool consultant for a large preschool for students with disabilities, and she assisted the NJ Department of Education in developing preschool programs. At the start of her career she was a special education in preschool for nine years. She is a thirty-eight-year education veteran.