Faculty Spotlight: Susan Stoya and Gretchen Oliver join CASDA

October 19, 2017

CASDA is excited to welcome Susan Stoya and Dr. Gretchen Oliver to our faculty. Both Ms. Stoya and Dr. Oliver bring extensive knowledge to the CASDA program in emerging fields such as the intersection of literacy and subject mastery and education for English Language Learners.


Susan Stoya brings 34 years of experience as both a teacher and administrator in the Glens Falls, Amsterdam and Ballston Spa school districts. Her work as a Director of Curriculum and Instruction provided her with deep insight into essential practices such as curriculum mapping and scaffolding and aligning both content and instruction to the Common Core Learning Standards.  Sue’s other areas of expertise include curriculum development, effective literacy practices, Early College High Schools, urban education, grant writing and school and program reviews.


Ms. Stoya’s first CASDA program will be the inaugural Literacy in the Content Areas Roundtable. Held at Glens Falls High School, this regional professional learning community will focus on the role of literacy in academic subject areas.  Participants can expect to explore strategies for identifying struggling readers and practices to develop vocabulary skills and reading comprehension.  Later sessions will focus on integrating vocabulary, reading, and writing concepts into effective instructional practices to support student achievement.  Most importantly, educators will have access to their most precious resource – their peers.  Participants will share promising practices utilized in their classrooms and discuss methods to integrate new strategies to support the development of critical thinking skills that are essential to student success across the academic program.


Gretchen Oliver brings diverse experience as a classroom educator, university professor and researcher to her two fall offerings focusing on improving instruction for English Language Learners.  Dr. Oliver’s experience includes serving as  Project Coordinator of a U.S. Department of Education funded research and professional development initiative that focused on working with teams of high school STEM and English as a New Language instructors to develop strategies to help ELL students master academic vocabulary in STEM and other subject areas. 


Dr. Oliver’s first CASDA conference, “Using NYSESLAT Scores to Target Instruction for English Language Learners,” will focus on helping educators utilize the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test as an informational and instructional resource. Participants will recognize characteristics of students across the five language proficiency levels (entering, emerging, transitioning and commanding) and develop instructional practices to improve student mastery of the four language modalities (listening, speaking, reading and writing).  This symposium is especially timely as English Language Learners are a growing student population who enrich our schools and communities.   Reflecting on her work with ELLs, Dr. Oliver explained:


One of the most important things I have learned working with English language learners and their teachers is that ELLs bring a variety of lived experiences to the classroom with them, and they add a richness to our schools. They are capable of engaging with rigorous grade-level curricula, but they need linguistic supports as they are learning a new language.  It is important to view ELLs through an asset perspective and focus on what they can do, rather than viewing language issues as a problem to overcome.

Dr. Oliver will highlight crucial practices that embrace culturally responsive pedagogy while providing necessary language supports that allow students to successfully engage with content across the curriculum.


Dr. Jim Butterworth stated that “the faculty is the engine that drives CASDA’s work and we look forward to sharing the unique experience and perspective that Sue and Gretchen have to offer with the Capital Region’s community of educators.”

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