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.
Dr. Sharon M. Biggs
Dr. Sharon M. Biggs serves as a Turnaround Coach and Project Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 1 & 2 Regional Achievement Center. In her role, she partners with Priority School principals and provides them with targeted leadership coaching to assist them in their efforts to accelerate student learning and close achievement gaps that will help students graduate college and career ready. Dr. Biggs has served for almost 30 years in education, including 16 years as a teacher leader and classroom teacher in New York City and in New Jersey. In addition to her "in the trenches" classroom experience, she has filled district-level and school-based roles of Executive Director of Principal Coaching & Evaluation, Assistant to the Superintendent, Elementary Principal, and Middle School Assistant Principal. Dr. Biggs is a graduate of the Harvard Principals' Institute, and a recipient of a Dodge Principal's Fellowship Grant. Dr. Biggs earned a doctorate degree in Executive Educational Leadership from Seton Hall University's doctoral cohort program. Her doctoral dissertation topic was "Superintendents' Beliefs about Barriers That Can Influence Their District Technology Leadership," and included focus group interviews with district superintendents to heighten their awareness as they prepared for the national roll-out of the PARCC. She also earned an MA degree in Educational Leadership from The College of New Jersey's Administrative Immersion Cohort Program, and a BA degree in Speech Pathology and Education from Hunter College, C.U.N.Y. Dr. Biggs and her husband enjoy spending time with their two children, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren.
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.
Celeste Denman serves as an Instructional Secondary Literacy Specialist for the NJDOE's Region 1 & 2 Regional Achievement Center. In her role, Ms. Denman works with teachers daily helping to co-plan, coach and create lessons, and offering support in the area of content and instruction. Ms. Denman spent the first eleven years of her career as an English teacher, as well as collaborating with Syracuse University through Project Advance. Ms. Denman is a graduate of The College of New Jersey with a Bachelor's Degree in English and Secondary Education. She earned a Master's Degree in Education from Boston University in English and Teaching and Curriculum, as well as a Master's in Education from the University of Pennsylvania in Educational Policy. Ms. Denman joins the RAC to be an agent of change and work with the dedicated staff at RAC 1&2.
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.
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.
Yasmin E. Hernández-Manno
Yasmin E. Hernández-Manno is an English Language Learner (ELL) Project Specialist for the NJDOE's Regions 1 & 2 Regional Achievement Center which serves Bergen and Passaic counties. In this role, she assists Focus and Priority Schools with their School Improvement Plans, instruction and assessment to effectively improve Bilingual/ESL programs and student achievement.
Prior to joining the NJDOE, Ms. Hernández-Manno has been an urban educator for twenty-three (23) years in the largest school district in NJ, the Newark Public Schools. In her career, she has been instrumental in educating a diverse student population. Her educational experience ranges from classroom teacher, K-8 literacy staff developer, district-wide instructor, curriculum writer, school reform model SFA facilitator and central office supervisor for fifteen years (15) in various capacities of: Whole School Reform, School Leadership Councils, Bilingual/ESL programs and operations, Curriculum and Instruction and Alternative Education. As a result of her leadership, the District International Newcomer program she developed was the recipient of State and National (USDE) awards for a model program of excellence that effectively addressed English Language Learners. She has presented at state and national conferences on effective practices addressing ELL students.
Ms. Hernández-Manno earned her undergraduate Bachelor's Degree from Rutgers University in Spanish Literature and Elementary Education. She earned her Master's Degree in Urban, Bilingual/ESL Education from Jersey City State University.
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 is responsible for providing high-impact support by working directly with School Administration and School-Based Supervisors in the Paterson School District's Priority and Focus Schools to assist them in developing, implementing and executing the School Improvement Plans. Prior to joining the RAC team, Mrs. 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. During her tenure at PBCSD, 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. Mrs. Santana earned her BA in Education from Florida Atlantic University and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction, as well as Educational Specialist degree in Educational Leadership, from Nova Southeastern University. Mrs. Santana holds educational certificates as Principal, Elementary Education, Language Arts Literacy, Reading, ESL, and Spanish.
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.