As we prepared for the inaugural group of students to start in August 2018, one of our most important endeavors was building the team who will teach and lead the dyslexia program. We continue to hold this high standard for our faculty as New Avenues grows. We are pleased to introduce the program’s head and current faculty.
Leading our New Avenues Dyslexia Program (NAP) is Cindy O’Neill. Ms. O’Neill received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida State University. She also continuously participates in extensive training and certifications to provide the most up-to-date research-based foundation for the faculty and students in NAP. Ms. O’Neill is certified at the Associate Level in Orton Gillingham, Wilson Reading System Dyslexia Therapist Level II, and is a certified Multisensory Math Practitioner. Additionally, she is trained in Visualizing and Verbalizing, Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing Program, and Making Math Real, among numerous other multisensory instructional strategies. Prior to joining the Leadership Team at Walker, Ms. O’Neill served as the Director of the Academic Resource Center at Pace Academy in Atlanta, GA, where she expanded the Center from a solo operation to a team of two full-time and four part-time specialists. She also worked at The Atlanta Speech School for 18 years, where she served as a classroom teacher and reading specialist for grades K-6, revamped the school’s Learning Lab, and developed the curriculum for the summer programs. “Working with students with dyslexia is where my heart and passion lie,” stated Ms. O’Neill. “Walker’s program allows students to focus on building a solid foundation centered on their specific needs, thus allowing each child to progress through school well-armed with the knowledge, tools, and strategies that apply to all areas of learning.”
Ms. Herndon joined the New Avenues Dyslexia Program in its second year. Prior to Walker, she served as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in Fulton County Schools and the Atlanta Speech School for 12 years. She is a two-time alumnus of Georgia State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Across the Lifespan and Master of Education degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Previously, Ms. Herndon provided direct speech-language therapy for receptive-expressive language disorders, speech sound disorders, and fluency disorders. She also worked with psychologists to conduct psychoeducational evaluations and counsel parents and students regarding appropriate accommodations and interventions as well as potential school placement. Bringing her knowledge as an SLP, Educational Placement Consultant, and Educational Diagnostician to the team, Ms. Herndon works collaboratively with classroom teachers and reading specialists to serve students through a combined push-in, pull-out model to address oral and written language challenges.
Ms. Walter joined the New Avenues Dyslexia Program in its inaugural year and currently serves as a first-grade classroom teacher. Before Walker, she served at The Swift School in Roswell, GA, working directly with students with dyslexia and language learning differences. She also taught at The Epstein School in Atlanta and Chalker Elementary School in Kennesaw. Ms. Walter is certified at the Associate Level in Orton-Gillingham. Additionally, she has fulfilled 100 practicum hours in O-G tutoring. She holds a Bachelor of Education and Master of Education from the University of Florida. “Teaching children with dyslexia is a passion of mine, and I am happy to be a part of this amazing journey for them and Walker.”
Ms. Polattie joined the faculty of the New Avenues Program in 2022 in the process of relocating from Columbus, GA. In Columbus, she served as a Lead Learning Center Teacher at Brookstone School. Ms. Polattie graduated from Georgia Southern University. She considers lifelong learning a hobby and regularly seeks continuing education courses on etymology and executive functioning that will add to her educator’s toolbox. In addition to working with learners, she enjoys spending time with her husband and dog, running, and working with the Women’s Initiative for Learning and Discovery (WILD). The strong community at Walker pulled Ms. Polattie to Walker.
Ms. Montaña graduated from Miami University with a bachelor’s in early childhood education. After teaching in a Georgia public school, she quickly yearned to learn more about teaching reading. This thirst for knowledge led her to the University of Georgia for a Master’s of Education in Special Education, General Curriculum. Following a student teaching experience at the Atlanta Speech School, Ms. Montaña joined the staff full-time as a first-grade teacher, where she enjoyed learning from her many talented co-workers, including classroom teachers, reading specialists, speech-language pathologists, and occupational therapists. In August 2019, Ms. Montaña joined the faculty of the New Avenues Dyslexia Program as a third-grade teacher. She is certified at the Associate Level in Orton-Gillingham, a Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner, and trained in Multisensory Math, Making Math Real, and The Writing Revolution.
Ms. McDonough holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and a Master of Science in reading from Loyola University. She initially joined the New Avenues Dyslexia Program as an Associate Teacher and moved into a fourth-grade classroom teacher role as the program expanded. Ms. McDonough previously served students with language-based learning differences at The Swift School and The Lovett School, both in the metro Atlanta area. Additionally, she served as the Admission Director at Trinity Episcopal School in New Orleans, LA. She is certified at the Associate Level in Orton-Gillingham and trained in Multisensory Math. Ms. McDonough is intrigued by the development of the brain and how it learns to read. She enjoys working with students and their families to propel and support their academic progress.
Ms. Nelson holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Georgia State University and a Master of Arts in Teaching (K-8) from Western Governors University. She is an Associate Level member of the Orton-Gillingham Academy and trained in The Writing Revolution and The Complete Reading Series. Ms. Nelson joined the New Avenues Dyslexia Program as a 5th Grade Advisory Teacher in August 2023. Before coming to New Avenues, Ms. Nelson taught 5th and 6th grade at The Schenck School, where she worked side by side with co-teachers, speech-language pathologists, and occupational therapists to remediate dyslexia. She also taught at St. Benedict’s Episcopal School and Pace Academy in metro-Atlanta. Ms. Nelson found her passion for teaching dyslexic learners after encountering many in her classroom who struggled to learn the traditional way and needed a multisensory approach to succeed.
Ms. Mainzinger joined the faculty of the New Avenues Program in 2019. She is a Midwesterner at heart and earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin. She is certified at the Associate Level in Orton-Gillingham and trained in Multi-Sensory Math. Teaching small groups of children with dyslexia is a joy of her life. She enjoys empowering students to learn how to unlock the code of reading and spelling. Additionally, she believes that teaching at The Walker School is a pleasure.
After eighteen years of service to The Walker School, Ms. Mulroy joined the New Avenues team in August 2023. She previously served in the Lower School as a third and fourth-grade teacher and in the Primary School as a Kindergarten teacher. Ms. Mulroy received her undergraduate degree from Emory University and her Master of Education in Reading Literacy from The University of Arizona. She is certified at the Associate Level in Orton-Gillingham and trained in Multi-Sensory Math.
After serving as an assistant teacher at Walker for many years, Ms. Paulsen transitioned to Associate Teacher in the New Avenues Dyslexia Program. Ms. Paulsen holds a bachelor’s in elementary education from Kennesaw State University. She is intrigued by the nuances of the English language and the many ways students learn. Additionally, she is certified at the Associate Level in Orton-Gillingham and trained in Multi-Sensory Math.
Mrs. Reddick joined the New Avenues Program in 2021 after teaching pre-k in the Primary School for ten years. She holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Alabama and a Master's from the University of West Georgia. Mrs. Reddick is certified at the Classroom Educator (CE) Level in Orton Gillingham and has fulfilled 100 practicum hours in O-G tutoring. She is also a certified Wilson practitioner and is passionate about early intervention.
Ms. Young began serving students in the New Avenues in 2022, yet has been practicing pediatric occupational therapy (OT) for 20 years. She has experience working in private clinics, schools, camps, social skills groups, and orphanages. Ms. Young now owns a private practice called Young FUNdamentals, providing group OT services to schools, individual therapy, and aquatic sessions during warmer months. She also enjoys helping people of all ages "Trash the Training Wheels," a program that teaches individuals how to ride bikes independently. Additionally, Ms. Young has designed playgrounds in metro Atlanta and Ukraine because she believes in the power of play for all ages and all people.