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.

Anna Thorp

Anna Thorp (Project Manager)

Anna Thorp, Project Manager for Wolfpack WORKS, is passionate about supporting teachers of early elementary grades and spreading research-based best practices. Prior to her current role, she served on research teams for other studies focused on education and child development at NC State University, the University of Virginia, and UNC-Chapel Hill. In addition, she taught at elementary schools in Chapel Hill and Raleigh. She received an M.Ed. in Elementary Education from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College and a B.A. from the University of Virginia.

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.

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 Boone

Janet Boone (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 research focuses on early comprehension, dialogic teaching, and collaborative, participatory research with rural schools. In addition to serving on the leadership team, she co-instructs 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 language acquisition, bilingualism, and executive function.

Courtney Weathers

Courtney Weathers (Undergraduate Research Assistant)

My name is Courtney Weathers and I am a sophomore in elementary education. I am a historian and education council representative for ELMO, the Elementary Education Organization. I enjoy mentoring elementary school students every week to get experience in the classroom, being just a sophomore. I’ve been passionate about early literacy education ever since I was an intern for the nonprofit Promising Pages, where I experienced first-hand the amount of children who couldn’t read at their grade level and didn’t own books at home.


Emma Wilson (Undergraduate Research Assistant)

My name is Emma Wilson and I am a Junior in Elementary Education with a minor in psychology here at NC State University.  I have been primarily working with first-year college students and their transitions with the Office of New Student Programs, but I am very excited to focus more on my major studies and work with teachers and elementary students. I have also recently finished a residency with motivation and cognition lab where we studied children’s feelings towards math in and out of school. In the past, I have also worked with children with special needs and have found a passion for helping them grow and succeed.