Students Are at the Center of All We Do
What We Do
The Professional Development Resource Center
The Upstate PDRC’s mission is to design and deliver high quality professional development that meets the direct learning needs of school educators including; school leaders, teachers and support staff. We also aim to support the community surrounding the school including parents and caregivers. Our ultimate goal is to improve the learning opportunities and experiences for students through our work, academically, socially and emotionally.
All of our services and products are needs driven and our work is continually guided by our “Why.”
Our “Why” is embedded in everything we do, it represents our philosophical approach to our work.
The figure below illustrates visually our “Why.” An organization’s “Why” is its Purpose—it is the reason
the organization exists. Often organizations focus more on their “How” and their “What.” The “How” is
the organization’s approach to their service or product delivery. The “What” are the services and/or
products that the organization provides or produces. Based on Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle philosophy,
MI has adopted the practice of starting first with our “Why.” Starting with our “Why” ensures that e
everything we do, our “How” and our “What” flows from our core purpose—our mission—why we exist.
The Upstate PDRC works collaboratively with two other PDRCs; The Long Island PDRC at Catapult Learning and the NYC PDRC at Fordham University. Together the three NYS PDRCs provide a comprehensive and coordinated set of professional development services, products, and resources to support schools. The Upstate PDRC relies upon collaboration and guidance from key stakeholders including schools, the CAC (Commissioners Advisory Council), and the NYSED’s SORIS. We will work very closely with these groups to:
cultivate a deep understanding of needs and unique characteristics;
build trusting relationships that are based in partnership and collaboration;
employ principles of adult learning to engage and make meaning;
employs a culturally respectful approach to service delivery and
provides accessible and flexible PD/TA delivery options (in-person and web-based).
Our center is funded through Title II, Part A, and Title IV, Part A of ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) as amended by ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act). We know and understand that these Title II and IV dollars belong to the Religious and Independent schools we serve throughout NYS and we will do our best to facilitate access to the services that these dollars support. Our five-year contract is held by Measurement Incorporated, a leader in the field of assessment, research, technology, and professional development. (https://www.mi-schoolservices.com)
 Adopted from Simon Sinek’s Start with Why (https://startwithwhy.com).
Who We Are
REBECCA SHEA, M.Ed.
Rebecca Shea brings over 25 years of experience as a former school leader, instructional coach, and teacher to the Professional Development Resource Center (PDRC) for the Upstate PDRC region, including all areas north of NYC, through the State Office of Religious and Independent Schools (SORIS).
Prior to leading the Upstate PDRC team as director, Rebecca has worked on multiple projects to support, manage, and evaluate professional development and technical assistance programs across schools, districts, and agencies across New York State.
Rebecca brings comprehensive leadership and teaching experience in curriculum, instruction, assessment, and school improvement. She has been designing, delivering, evaluating, and supporting embedded professional development work for well over 17 years. Rebecca has delivered professional development in areas such as leadership, instructional coaching, supporting ENLs, data-driven instruction, and mentoring teachers. When working with school-based stakeholders, Rebecca's goal is to help strengthen knowledge, innovation, implementation, and research-based practices to support equitable learning opportunities for all students to succeed and reach high levels of mastery learning.
Throughout the years Rebecca has led professional learning communities, coached teams for aligned instructional planning, supervised school-wide academic and behavioral interventions, and directed programs for second language learners, including Dual Language One Way and Two Way programs.
Rebecca has taught at the university level supporting pre-service teacher cohorts and is currently a doctoral student at SUNY Albany. She has conducted research on understanding ways leaders and teachers engage in culturally responsive practices and supporting pre-service teachers. Currently, her research centers on how leaders can help support in-service teachers as they navigate situated change of practice. Rebecca holds certifications in the areas of teaching, master reading teacher, cognitive coaching, and school and district administration.
DIANA STRAUT, Ph. D.
Senior Professional Development Specialist
Diana Scarselletta Straut, Ph.D. brings over 30 years of experience to her work as a Professional Development Specialist with Measurement Incorporated.
Dr. Straut’s work is guided by an unwavering commitment to inclusive practices, supporting partnerships to ensure that all students have full access to meaningful academic, and social experiences.
She brings a variety of perspectives to this work, drawn from her time as a classroom teacher, college professor, school board member, and organizational change consultant. Dr. Straut balances years of practical field experience with a deep knowledge of education research, instructional best practices, organizational change, inclusive education, and federal and state educational policy.
Dr. Straut has held faculty positions at Syracuse University and the College of St. Rose (adjunct) and for several years was an organizational change consultant for Cornell University (School of Industrial and Labor Relations) She holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University and is a member of Kappa Delta Pi (International Honor Society in Education).
GINA KARP, M.Ed.
Senior Professional Development Specialist
Gina Gutierrez Karp brings 30 years of experience to her work as a classroom teacher, school leader and independent school board member. Drawing from training and experience in both public and private schools, Gina has a deep understanding of classroom practice and organizational development at both the local and state levels. Gina has served as a consultant to developing schools, working with teachers, administrators and board members to strengthen alignment with both AWSNA (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America) and NYSAIS (New York State Association of Independent Schools) accreditation requirements. Gina has served as a member of a AWSNA/NYSAIS dual accreditation team, offering 15 years of independent school classroom experience and leadership to develop sustainable, mission-based schools that align with a standards-based state curriculum. As a former parent, teacher and board member of an independent school in upstate New York, Gina is deeply committed to supporting the professional development of religious and independent school teachers and leaders.
As the Project Assistant for the NYSED's SORIS PDRC, Dawn is responsible for helping to plan and coordinate professional development events and providing day-to-day operational support. Her support tasks include maintaining correspondence with key stakeholders, assisting with the implementation of professional development and resource offerings to the field, and collecting evaluation data as part of the Center’s continuous improvement process. Dawn is committed to providing the highest level of professional support. Her recent prior experience includes working on several statewide systems of professional development and support in the areas of special education, mental health, social-emotional learning, and early literacy. She is well versed in delivering and managing learning opportunities through virtual platforms. Prior to her work at MI she worked in the area of appeals processing and account review for the New York State of Health (NYSOH) – New York State’s response to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Dawn holds an M.B.A. from the University at Albany, State University of New York and a B.S. in Management from Russell Sage College.
Where We Serve
UPSTATE PDRC MAP
Below is a link the Upstate PDRC Map where you can view each independent and religious school in New York State by county.