Ellen Richer, Ed.D.
Founder & Head of School
Ellen Richer's passion to understand and free the motivational barriers in at-risk youth weaves through her more than twenty years of work and research, as observer, mother, teacher, leader, academic advocate, and change agent.
She earned her doctorate in gifted education, with a focus on the psychology of motivation, behavior change, and learning, from the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College at Columbia University. Her mentors, Professors James Borland and Abraham Tannenbaum affirmed her belief that children will thrive when we invite them to thrive, and they will invest in their own success when we invest in them. Dr. Richer integrates motivation and behavior change methods into curriculum, program design, instruction, and differentiation for students across the academic and psychosocial spectrum.
She has created Gifted Education policy, programming and instructional procedures for student identification and program implementation for the Manhasset UFSD, and created and directed programs for underachieving and at-risk students with a variety of learning challenged in and out of the classroom. Before founding the Whole Child Academy, Ellen was the Founding Head of School at the Quad Preparatory School in New York City.
Board of Directors
Andrea Relkin - Chairperson of the Board of Directors
James Borland, Ph.D.
Jonathan Kretschmer, Ph.D.
Alyson Skinner, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, The College of New Rochelle, Susan is widely published in the areas of 2e, primary-aged gifted students, and social and emotional factors affecting gifted students. She is the Director of the National Institute for 2e Research and Development at Bridges Academy in Los Angeles and the recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Professional Alumni Award from the Neag School of Education The University of Connecticut for her work with 2e students and the Weinfeld Group's Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in educating 2e learners. She served on the Board of Directors of the NBational Association for Gifted Children and is past president and founder of the Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students (AEGUS).
George Delagrammatikas, Ph.D.
Professor Delagrammatikas joined Cooper Union's Mechanical Engineering Department in September of 2005 and has taught courses in mechanical design, the thermal-fluid sciences, engineering experimentation, internal combustion engine design, and automotive engineering. He is the faculty advisor of the Cooper Motorsports Team, which has entered the international, intercollegiate FormulaSAE Competition since 2007. George supervises research in engine and vehicle-level optimization. George first fostered his 'hands-on' approach to solving engineering challenges as an undergraduate at MIT, where he helped design, analuze, fabricate, and race solar powered cars across America. He earned an MSME (1996) and Ph.D. (2001) from the University of Michigan where he researched the optimal design of advanced automotive powertrains. Since 2006, George has also developed a series of STEM outreach programs that immerse K12 students from all socioeconomic backgrounds in engineering design and prototyping. He mentors students as they design and build Rube Goldberg inspired sculptures which have entered local competitions. His recent interests lie in engaging students with learning differences through hands-on design and prototyping. He is an active member of SAE, ASME, ASEE, Pi Tau Sigma, and the order of the Engineer.
Matt Lerner, Ph.D.
Matt is an Assistant Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Pediatrics in the Department of Psychology at Stony Brook University, where he directs the Social Competence and Treatment Lab. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Virginia. He completed his internship in Child Clinical Psychology at the University of Chicago Medical Center, as well as fellowships in Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities at the University of Illinois - Chicago, and in Evolutionary and Ontogenetic Dynamics through the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany. He is the founding director and current research director of the Spotlight Program at the Northeast Arc in Massachusetts, a year-round program for social competence and confidence development, serving more than 200 students annually. He has provided clinical services for children, adolescents, and adults in hospital, clinical, educational, and community settings; he currently supervises clinical psychology Doctoral students seeing child and adolescent cases in the Krasner Psychological Center. He has presented at more than 100 national and international conferences on topics related to social development and developmental disorders. Dr. Lerner's research focuses on understanding emergence and "real-world" implications of social problems in children and adolescents (especially those with autism Spectrum Disorders [ASD]), as well as development, evaluation, and dissemination of novel, evidence-based approaches for ameliorating those problems. He has published more than 45 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters; he serves on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology and Behavioral Therapy, and is also Co-Chairperson of the Autism Spectrum & Developmental Disabilities Special Interest Group at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. Dr. Lerner has received grants and awards from organizations including the National Institutes of Health, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, the Simons Foundation, the Medical Foundation, the American Psychological Association, the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Most recently, he received a Biobehavioral Research Award for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS) from the National Institutes of Health and received the Rising Star designation from the Association for Psychological Science.
Joseph Renzulli, Ed.D.
Joseph Renzulli is The Raymond and Lynn Neag Professor of Gifted Education and Talent Development at The University of Connecticut, where he also serves as Director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. Throughout his professional career he has actively engaged in research on the gifted and talented and contributed several books and numerous articles to the literature in this area of special education. Dr. Renzulli is a former president of The Association for the Gifted and served on the editorial boards of Learning Magazine, Gifted Education International, the Journal of Law and Education, and Gifted Child Quarterly. He has been a consultant to numerous school districts and agencies including the Office of Gifted and Talented (US Office of Education) and the White House Task Force on the Education of the Gifted.
Richard Ryan, Ph.D.
Richard Ryan is a professor at the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at the Australian Catholic University and a Research Professor in the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in psychology at the University of Rochester. He is a clinical psychologist and co-developer of the Self-Determination Theory, an internationally recognized leading theory of human motivation. He lectures frequently in the United States and abroad on the factors that promote motivation and healthy psychological and behavioral functioning. Richard is among the most cited researchers in psychology and social sciences today and the author of over 350 papers and books in the areas of human motivation, personality, and psychological well=being, including the Self-Determination Theory: Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation, Development, and Wellness (Ryan & Deci, 2017, Guilford). Reflective of Richard's influence internationally and across disciplines, he has been recognized as one of the eminent psychologists of the modern era, post World War II (Diner, Oishi, & Parker 2014, Archives of Scientific Psychology). He has also been honored with three lifetime achievement awards for his contributions to the field on motivation, personal meaning, and self identity, and has received an honorary degree from the University of Thessaly and an honorary membership to the German Psychological Society.
Susen Smith, Ph.D.
Dr. Susen Smith has three decades of leadership, teaching, and research experience from Pre-K to Tertiary. She has a diverse teaching background having worked across Early Childhood, Primary, Secondary, Gifted and Special Education, Education for Sustainability, and Aboriginal Studies. Her research interests include: Differentiating curricula and pedagogy for gifted students using dynamic cognitive and affective taxonomies and matrices. She has been a visiting scholar at Columbia University, CUNY, and the Hong Kong Institute of Education, has been the guest editor of the Australasian Journal of Gifted Education, published and presented at national and international conferences, most recently as an invited keynote speaker at the Sino-Australian Gifted Education Forum, China, the Ignite the Spark, Fuel the Fire: Differentiation for Diversity Conference and the Chinese Association of Gifted Education (CAGE) Conference in Taiwan. Hence, her work on Curriculum Differentiation is recognized in Australia and internationally. Susen has acquired several competitive research grants and received the UNE Vice-Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Achievements in Interdisciplinary Research Innovation and the UNSW Excellence in Postgraduate Research Award from the UNSW Arc Postgraduate Council "in recognition of exemplary supervisory conduct and invaluable contributions to the supervision of higher degree research candidates." Susen also organized the UNE TalentEd conferences, chaired the inaugural GERRIC Gifted Futures Forum for Talent enhancement and was a member of the organizing committees for the 2016 AAEGT National Conference and the 2017 22nd Annual WCGTC Biennial World Conference. Her UNSW, School of Education role is as a Senior Lecturer in Gifted and Special Education and GERRIC Senior Research Fellow, and MEdGifted Ed Advisor. Her previous roles were as a Sessional Lecturer in Special Education at the University of Newcastle. where she completed her Pd.D., Lecturer in Learning, Teaching, & Gifted Education at the University of New England and Associate Professor for a project at the Hong Kong Institute of Education.
Michael Buonomo, Ph.D. - Behavioral Psychotherapist
Tara Lanzisera, MSCCC-SLP - Speech Language Pathologist
Gina Luciano - Occupational Therapist