Leadership Team

Dr. Jill Grifenhagen

Dr. Jill Grifenhagen (Primary Investigator)

Dr. Grifenhagen was an elementary classroom teacher in Washington, DC and Boston prior to earning her Ph.D. from Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Grifenhagen’s research focuses on the role of teachers’ talk in the classroom learning environment. She is interested in the intersection between children’s language and literacy development as well as preparing children from all backgrounds for the academic and language demands of schooling today. In turn, Dr. Grifenhagen seeks to develop the best training and supports for teachers to improve practices in language and literacy.

Dr. Ann Harrington

Dr. Ann Harrington (Co-Primary Investigator)

Dr. Ann Harrington, a former elementary school classroom, ESL, and reading teacher, is a Teaching Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences in the College of Education at North Carolina State University. Prior to her work at NC State, she served on the faculty at UNC-Greensboro and UNC-Chapel Hill. She earned her Ph.D. in Reading Education from the University of Georgia. Ann’s scholarly interests focus on optimal literacy environments and structures for diverse, striving readers; reading teacher education; and teaching in high-poverty elementary schools.

Dr. Paola Sztajn

Dr. Paola Sztajn (Co-Primary Investigator)

Dr. Paola Sztajn is the Associate Dean for Research and Innovation and the Former Department Head in the Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences. She teaches mathematics methods courses for prospective and practicing teachers.

Jill Jones

Jill Jones (Project Director)

Dr. Jill Jones is a former NC elementary school teacher as well as a K-2 literacy coach and specialist. She is a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences at NC State University. She first developed her passion for teaching early literacy working as an intern in a kindergarten classroom during her high-school Child Development course. She graduated with her M.Ed. in Reading from Meredith College and her Ph.D. in Literacy and Language Arts from NC State. Her research interests include teacher scaffolding during small-group reading instruction, effective literacy assessment and classroom literacy instruction, and literacy interventions for students identified as needing more support in literacy.


Stephen McKinney (Project Manager)

Stephen McKinney serves as Project Manager for the Wolfpack WORKS project.  He previously served as a Graduate Research Assistant for Wolfpack WORKS and the Northeast Leadership Academy (NELA) program while obtaining his MAT in Elementary Education (2019).  During Stephen’s time as a Master’s student, he earned an NC State Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity mini-grant to research and develop more avenues for men, especially those of color, to enter the field of elementary education.  His poem, Diamonds, was included in the May 2019 College of Education Commencement Ceremony.

Dara Butler

Dara Butler (Lead Literacy Coach)

I am thrilled to be joining Wolfpack WORKS!  I am originally from Connecticut and received my BA from the University of Richmond in English and Spanish. After completing a graduate certification program at Central Connecticut State University I taught in Connecticut for 6 years before coming to North Carolina where I taught third grade in Wake County. Next, I spent a short time outside Dallas, TX where I was a Reading Specialist and received my M.Ed from Texas Woman’s University.  Most recently I have served as an Instructional Resource Teacher, Instructional Coach, and Literacy Coach across Wake, Chapel Hill, and Orange Counties.  I am passionate about partnering with teachers to design joyful and equitable classrooms in which every student has access and opportunities to succeed.

Janet Outlaw (Graduate Research Assistant)

Janet is a Ph.D. student in Literacy and English Language Arts. She is from one of our Wolfpack WORKS’ school districts, Martin County. She is a former special education teacher and has provided reading interventions across grades K-12. Janet’s scholarly interests include dialogic teaching, multicultural literature, and participatory research with rural schools. In addition to serving on the leadership team, she has co-instructed reading methods courses at NC State. She is passionate about supporting our teachers and young readers in NC!

Marina Wagemaker

Marina Wagemaker (Graduate Research Assistant)

Marina is a doctoral student at North Carolina State University, within the Educational Psychology department of the Teacher Education and Learning Science program.  Marina has taught as a classroom teacher and as an ESL teacher for 10 years within the U.S and abroad (Mexico, South Korea, and Argentina).  Marina’s research interests include multilingualism and metacognition.

Morgan Harris

Morgan Harris (Undergraduate Research Assistant)

My name is Morgan Harris and I am a Junior at NC State, majoring in Elementary Education with a minor in psychology.  I am presently working with current and prospective NC State students as an intern in the Undergraduate Admissions Office.  I also enjoy being a University Ambassador for NC State and a College of Education Ambassador, as  these experiences give  me the opportunity to promote the work of our university and the College of Education.

When the opportunity arose for me to learn more about  literacy research through Wolfpack WORKS, I was very excited.  I am passionate about literacy research and instruction, and  I can’t wait to implement what I learn through my experiences in Wolfpack WORKS into my own classroom instruction, and to share what I learn with other educators!

Kaelyn Oakes (Undergraduate Research Assistant)

My name is Kaelyn Oakes and I am a Junior in Elementary Education with a minor in English as a Second Language here at NC State University. Previously, I worked with a  literacy program funded by the Duke Endowment. In this program, I served as an assistant teacher and helped to provide specialized instruction to rising first- and second-grade students.  

I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to work with the Wolfpack WORKS initiative and learn more about how to support beginning teachers with their literacy instruction. As an undergraduate student, I have learned more about classroom literacy instruction through working with Wolfpack WORKS, which will benefit me when I am a  beginning teacher.  I look forward to learning a lot through Wolfpack WORKS and taking this knowledge into the field with me! 

Caroline Savage (Undergraduate Research Assistant)

My name is Caroline Savage and I am a Junior at NC State University majoring in elementary education and pursuing special education, add-on licensure.  I am currently an ambassador for the College of Education, which has given me the opportunity to share my passion for education with incoming students. I am also a Passport Scholar, which allows me to explore global knowledge, community engagement, cross-cultural skills, and professional development endeavors.

The opportunity to serve as an undergraduate research assistant with the Wolfpack WORKS project is something that is very exciting to me. I am looking forward to learning about how literacy instruction evolves throughout the school year, as well as taking what I learn from Wolfpack WORKS and implementing these understandings in my future classroom!