When schools succeed,
Meet the RACs
William T. Andersen
William T. Andersen is the Secondary Literacy Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 5 Regional Achievement Center. In his role, Mr. Anderson works directly and collaboratively with Priority and Focus Schools to implement turnaround principles focused on improving student achievement and performance. Mr. Andersen works with school and district administrators, literacy supervisors, and coaches to support English language arts, social studies, and science teachers as they put in place research-based literacy instruction that addresses communication skills essential for all students to meet the rigorous college and career readiness standards. Prior to joining the department, Mr. Andersen served as language arts teacher and supervisor, high school principal, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and doctoral dissertation editor. He earned his BA from Sacred Heart University and his MA from Yeshiva University; and he completed additional graduate work in supervision and administration at Georgian Court University and CCNJ. In his spare time, Mr. Andersen enjoys classical music, jazz, dance, theatre, art, baseball, and literary study.
Jo Ann Berkley
Jo Ann Berkley is the School Culture and Climate Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 5 Regional Achievement Center. In this role, she is responsible for working with Focus and Priority Schools to enhance their school culture and classroom climate to create an environment where every student is able to learn. A career educator, Ms. Berkley has various experiences in education as a middle school principal, an elementary principal, curriculum coordinator/assistant principal, instructional coach, former classroom teacher, new teacher mentor and professional development trainer. She has also worked as an administrator in both public and charter schools. Additionally, Ms. Berkley is a senior adjunct instructor at Burlington County College and teaches education and remedial reading courses. A graduate of Temple University with a B.S. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and an M. Ed. in Educational Leadership from Cheyney University, Ms. Berkley is presently a doctoral candidate at Wilmington University. In her leisure time, she enjoys bowling, spending time with family and friends, and reading.
Dr. Frances Borkes
Dr. Frances Borkes is the Intervention Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 5 Regional Achievement Center. As part of the RAC team, she supports teaching and learning for the special education population in all Focus and Priority Schools in Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean Counties.
Dr. Borkes began her career as an educator teaching special needs students in a resource center at the elementary level. After completing her MA, she assumed the role of learning consultant on the child study team. Subsequently, she became high school assistant principal, followed by twelve years as principal. She continued in her role as an educator by working with schools that had been identified as needing additional assistance/support to improve student achievement. As a practitioner, Dr. Borkes brings her years of providing proven instructional practices and building leadership to the schools she supports. Some of her leisure activities include participating with friends in a book discussion club, playing the piano and traveling with family.
Neyda Fernandez-Evans is the Math Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 5 Regional Achievement Center. In this role, she is responsible for working with Focus and Priority Schools to collaborate on improving student acheivement in mathematics through rigorous instruction and devleoping professional supports. As a career educator, Neyda has had various experiences as an elementary and middle school teacher, lesson study leader, elementary administrator, content specialist, and supervisor of mathematics in the public, private and charter school sectors. Additionally Mrs. Evans was an active participant with the Northern NJ Lesson Study Group where she collaborated with peers and teachers from the Greenwich Japanesse School to develop highly focused and rigorous lessons in mathematics. She is a graduate of Montclair State University with a B.A. in Fine Arts, an M.A. in Mathematics Education and an Endorsement in Educational Leadership from Western Governer's University. In her leisure time, she enjoys reading, camping, and spending time with family and friends.
Iliana Okum is the English Language Learner (ELL) Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 5 Regional Achievement Center. Prior to joining the RAC team, she worked as Assistant Director of Elementary Education for the Pemberton Township School District and was responsible for the coordination of curriculum development, professional development, and state and local assessment systems and school improvement plans for the district elementary schools. Ms. Okum served in several senior level positions at the Department of Education as Director of Bilingual Education, Equal Educational Opportunity, Gender Equity Programs and the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education. She also served as Director of Urban Assistance Centers-Central and South under the Division of Urban and Field Services. Ms. Okum received her BA in elementary education from Trenton State College and her MA in Urban Education and Bilingual Education from The College of New Jersey. She is certified as a supervisor, principal and school administrator. Iliana is a member of the American Rose Society where she is a certified horticultural judge and consulting rosarian. She enjoys travelling and competing nationally in rose shows.
Sheila Wegryn is the Climate and Culture Specialist for the for the NJDOE's Region 5 Regional Achievement Center. In her role, she supports the work of partner schools developing and sustaining learning environments conducive to student success. Prior to joining the RAC team, Ms. Wegryn served New Jersey students as a teacher, state and federal grant writer/director, and school administrator. Ms. Wegryn brings to the RAC team her experience leading diverse school communities to realize high expectations. As principal of a nationally ranked high school, Ms. Wegryn led her team to national instructional best practices and federal recognition on one hundred percent graduation rate and college acceptances. Ms. Wegryn earned a BA in Cultural Anthropology/Latin American Studies from Allegheny College and a Master of Educational Administration with distinction from Kean University. In her spare time, Ms. Wegryn enjoys writing, flat water canoeing and traveling with her family.