The Professional Development Resource Center

Upstate - All Regions North of NYC

Serving the All NYS Religious and Independent Schools North of NYC 


Our Mission

Utilizing NYSED funding The Upstate PDRC serves all New York State Religious and Independent schools north of New York City at no charge to schools. All services are funded through Title II, Part A and Title IV, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (https://www2.ed.gov/documents/essaact-of-1965.pdf). 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. The Upstate PDRC supports schools through building their knowledge and skills in research-based practices and systems change for school improvement. Professional development is differentiated based on individual needs and is planned and conducted in close collaboration with our partners and key stakeholders. 


Our Why & Our Guiding Principles

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.”[1]  Starting with our “Why” ensures that everything we do, our “How” and our “What” flows from our core purpose—our mission—why we exist.

Welcome the Upstate PDRC 
Quick Tour of the PDRC Website
Click to watch video

[1] Adopted from Simon Sinek’s Start with Why (https://startwithwhy.com).

Our Guiding Principles (GPs) work with our “Why” to guide us in how we deliver our services and how we work with those we serve. At the heart of our GPs are the students. We have an unwavering commitment to ensuring that all students, regardless of ability, SES, race, culture or language, get access to a rigorous, meaningful and relevant educational experience. All other GPs support this first GP. Our GPs incorporate all that we know to be significant to implementing effective, efficient, coordinated, cohesive, needs based, data-driven professional development systems of support to schools, families/parents. We will use these GPs in our Upstate PDRC’s work day in and day out:


  1. Students are at the center of all we do—student success is our “Why”

  2. Key Stakeholders are our partners and through partnership we are better able to understand needs and deliver services.

  3. Data is central to our work. A needs assessment will identify key stakeholder needs and service delivery.  Continuous progress monitoring and ongoing evaluation will document evidence of success/challenges in order to target areas for improvement. Data is critical to document the impact of services on key stakeholders and ultimately on students.

  4. Capacity Building for continuous improvement enables key stakeholders to build their internal wisdom and capacity toward ongoing systems change.

5.    Evidence Based Practices are essential for systemic improvement and are applicable to the classroom, school, district and regional

6.    A Blended Service Delivery Approach of in-person and web-based PD/TA meets today’s fast-paced adult learning needs.

7.    Adult Learning Principles create relevance, voice, choice, meaning, engagement and flexibility for today’s adult learners.

8.    Integration of existing school improvement efforts is important for service providers to leverage and maximize the impact of
       resources and services.

9.    Continuous and Systematic PD and TA opportunities that ensure deeper, ongoing, embedded learning for key stakeholders are

10.  Collaboration:  We hold high standards for and model the collaborative practices necessary for meaningful and powerful
        partnerships:  dialogue, reflection, reciprocity and reliability.


Our Partners

The Upstate PDRC works collaboratively with two other PDRCs; The Long Island PDRC at Catapult Learning (https://catapultlearning.com/nyspdrc/) and the NYC PDRC at Fordham University (https://www.fordham.edu/info/29608/nysnyc_professional_development_resource_center_for_independent_and_religious_schools). 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 culturally respectful approach to service delivery and

  • provides accessible and flexible PD/TA delivery options (in-person and web-based).

Our Funding:

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)



PDRC staff members are seasoned educational experts with strong backgrounds in curriculum and instruction, social emotional learning, professional development and school reform, national experts and organizations, statewide and nationally, to stay on the cutting edge of professional knowledge and expertise in the field.


As with all of our services and products our Upstate PDRC will strategically leverage the knowledge, skill and expertise of our Team to meet the needs of our key stakeholders. Our Team will deliver this important content through a variety of training formats (e.g., online, regionally, centrally in Capital Region and 1:1) while embedding the following best practice processes of school improving into our day-to-day work of service delivery: ​

  • cultural responsive/sensitive;

  • aligning services to needs;

  • delivering services using adult learning principals/practices;

  • partnering with key stakeholders;

  • understanding/addressing competing priorities and facilitating factors; and

  • ongoing data collection to understand impact and challenges (i.e. use of Guskey evaluation framework);

  • sharing of best practices; and by

  • building capacity and sustainability.

Kelly Valmore, M. A., Director

Mrs. Valmore is a highly experienced project director with over 20 years of experience in the area of managing and evaluating technical assistance and professional development programs across schools, districts and agencies throughout New York State. She has 8 years of experience directing statewide technical assistance and professional development centers for the NYSED serving school leaders, educators and TA agents. Her experience in these areas spans both core content and areas of curriculum and instruction. She has specialized more recently in the areas of Special Education school improvement and Independent and Religious school improvement. As Senior Staff Developer at Measurement Incorporated (MI) and the Director of the NYSED Religious and Independent Schools Upstate Professional Development Resource Center (PDRC) (for all regions north of Long Island and NYC), Kelly is responsible for managing, designing, and implementing professional development and technical assistance for Religious and Independent schools across the State. Kelly works directly with the NYSED’s SORIS and collaborates with the two other PDRCs (NYC and LI). Kelly’s specific skills sets supporting her project management include, facilitation, needs assessments, survey development, data collection and analysis, qualitative work, the design and deliver of PD/TA, use of technology to deliver and enhance learning and evaluation and program evaluation. Personally, Kelly has deep ties to independent education with both of her son’s attending a Waldorf school in upstate NY.

Rebecca Shea, M. Ed., Senior Professional Development Specialist

Ms. Shea brings over 22 years of experience with comprehensive knowledge of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and school improvement to her work.  Ms. Shea is responsible for designing, implementing, and supporting embedded professional development for the Professional Development Resource Center (PDRC) for Rest of State (ROS) through the State Office of Religious and Independent Schools (SORIS).  Ms. Shea has facilitated professional development for well over 16 years in multiple capacities and to various audiences at the school, district, regional, and state levels in areas such as leadership, instructional and curriculum design, supporting ENLs, data-driven instruction, and pre-service teaching with the goal to strengthen educators’ knowledge, innovation, and research-based practices.  Additionally, Ms. Shea has utilized multi-media technology to design and deliver online courses through synchronous and asynchronous modalities. Prior to MI, Ms. Shea has served in roles as a teacher, instructional coach, and administrator where she has led collaborative efforts to support all students reaching mastery through a standard based state curriculum. Throughout the years Ms. Shea has worked with professional learning communities, data-driven instructional planning teams, literacy frameworks, both academic and behavioral intervention supports, and programs for second language learners, with extensive experience of Dual Language One Way and Two Way programs.  Ms. Shea is currently a doctoral student and has conducted research in understanding ways leaders and teachers engage in culturally responsive practices, school improvement, and supporting pre-service teachers. Ms. Shea 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 Straut, Ph.D. brings over 30 years of experience to her work as a Professional Development Specialist with Measurement Incorporated. A former classroom teacher and current School Board member, Diana has a deep understanding of the complexity of schooling from a variety of perspectives. As an Organizational Change Specialist for Cornell University (School of Industrial and Labor Relations) she has guided schools across New York State through a variety of large scale change initiatives including curriculum development, school and class size issues, action research /program evaluation projects, and labor-management collaboration. In her work as a faculty member in pre-service teacher preparation programs at Syracuse University and The College of St. Rose, Dr. Straut has taught courses on the Foundations of Schooling, School Restructuring and Organizational Change, Instructional Design and Delivery, and Research Methods. For eight years she led The Task Force on Quality Inclusive Schooling, a network of higher education institutions committed to preparing teachers for inclusive classrooms and to working with high needs schools to improve their inclusive practices. She has worked closely with struggling urban and rural districts to help school leaders and teachers use data to align curriculum, instruction and assessment to improve student outcomes. For this work she draws from a vast knowledge of research-based practices and federal and state educational policy. She has conducted large scale program evaluations at the federal and state level, including the PT3 (Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to use Technology) grant and a complete audit of a New Jersey School District’s Special Education program. She has been an invited speaker at conferences for New York State administrators and has led a variety of innovative professional development experiences in districts across the state. In her work with Measurement Incorporated, Dr. Straut provides Professional Development and Technical Assistance support to teachers in a variety of settings, including religious and independent schools. Dr. Straut has been published internationally and is the co-author of Access to Academics for All Students: Critical Approaches to Inclusive Curriculum, Instruction, and Policy. 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 (spanning grades 1-12), school leader, in-service mentor 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. Gina has developed curriculum for emerging ELL, Health, Restorative Practices and Service Learning programs. As both an elementary and secondary level teacher, she has researched and implemented literacy strategies for emergent through pre-college readers and writers. GIna has recently served as the coordinator of an independent high school, providing in-service mentoring of new teachers, oversight of student academic and guidance services, and coordination of ELL and divergent learner programs. 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. Gina holds a Masters in Education as well as certifications in Elementary Education, TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), Waldorf Education, Theater Arts and Restorative Practices.

Dawn Rettig, Project Assistant

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.


·         M.B.A. University at Albany, State University of New York

·         B.S. Management, Russell Sage College



Measurement Incorporated: Program Evaluation and School Improvement Services Division

For more than 30 years, MI’s Program Evaluation and School Improvement Services division has helped clients advance their practice through high-quality research and evaluation, measurement, data management, and professional development and technical assistance.  We offer our clients a team of experienced professionals with deep content expertise, a thorough understanding of research methodology, and the ability to apply innovative strategies to help bring about meaningful change.  We’ve completed more than 2,000 projects, adhering to the highest standards of quality.  Our high-level work has enabled us to build a solid reputation for excellence with our clients and a distinguished track record of success. Measurement Incorporated is pleased to offer our full expertise and resources to the NYSED's SORIS Upstate PDRC. To learn more visit our website: https://www.mi-schoolservices.com/about-mi


To learn more about Measurement Incorporated go to: https://www.measurementinc.com/

Measurement Incorporated is an employee-owned corporation that invokes a sense of pride and responsibility in its employees toward the customers they serve and the communities in which they live.  From the beginning, MI has always maintained a humanistic, inclusive work environment for its employees to encourage increased staff morale, loyalty, productivity and ultimately, profitability.


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