Education Advisory Board

Jen Stenger 200 bw

Jen Stenger, PhD

Co-Chair, Education Advisory Board

Dr.  Stenger has been in public education for 20 years, first as a high school English teacher and currently as a school counselor. She has also taught adjunct classes ta two universities in Southern Illinois. In 2011, she received a PhD in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her dissertation research was based on other public K-12 educators who, like herself, have Tourette Syndrome. After completing her doctorate, she self-published The Life that Chose Us: Educators with Tourette Syndrome, based on this work. Since publishing in 2013, she has presented at multiple conferences and speaking engagements; she also meets with younger children with disabilities to promote positive self-image and self-confidence. She is energized when working with and serving the TS community, as she is driven to help school-aged children succeed both academically and socially. She has been a member of the Education Advisory Board since 2016. 

Marge Henning 200 bw

Margery Henning, MS, OTR/L

Co-Chair, Education Advisory Board

Margery is a seasoned occupational therapist with over 30 years of experience specializing in pediatric occupational therapy. She began her career as an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) and later advanced to become an Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) after completing her BS/MS in Occupational Therapy from the State University of Newy York at Buffalo. 

Margery’s dedication to her field is evident through her extensive involvement in advocating for individuals with Tourette Syndrome and related neurological conditions. She regularly conducts informative in-service on the efficacy of occupational therapy for individuals with TS and related conditions at various levels, including local, state, regional, and national conferences.

 Her commitment to the TS community extends beyond clinical practice; Margery has served as the chairman of the board of the Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA) of Western New York and currently co-chairs the Ohio Support Group. 

In addition to her professional achievements, Margery is deeply connected to the TS community on a personal level, with two adult sons and several extended family members living with TS and related conditions. Margery brings a unique blend of personal insight and professional expertise to her work. 

Currently, Margery operates a successful private practice and is certified in Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT), which she has found to be a rewarding experience. Her dedication to improving the lives of individuals with TS and related conditions continues to drive her work in both clinical and advocacy realms. 

3

Amanda Coffman, MSEd

Amanda Coffman has more than 20 years as a classroom teacher. She has a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and graduate degrees from both the University of Connecticut and the University of Kansas. She has taught in elementary and middle schools, private and public schools, and both general education and special education. Like many of you she now finds herself as primary educator for three children in 5th grade, 8th grade, and college.

4

Riley F. Isaacs, MA, Ed

Riley Isaacs (He/Him/His) is a former public school administrator and educator with 30 years of experience at all levels. The TAA has been a part of Riley’s life since he was in high school. He was diagnosed with TS and several cooccurring conditions at the age of seven. 

Riley is a state-certified EMT, firefighter, school safety specialist, and former police officer. His most recent assignment was as a choral director in Indianapolis, IN and as a volunteer firefighter/EMT in Noblesville, IN. Having served students pre-K through the adult/collegiate levels, Riley is an award-winning choral, music, and theater educator, clinician, certified vocal music adjudicator, guest conductor, performer, and organist. He is a show choir and choral music adjudicator with more than 25 years of experience adjudicating competitions around the country.

Riley was born and raised in Columbus, IN and is a graduate of Ball State University with an MA in Education specializing in Building Level Leadership and Supervision. He received his Bachelor of Music Education specializing in Choral and General Music from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. In his free time, Riley is bonded with his best friend Kovy Briant Jacobs (a 20 lb dachshund that is his service dog), enjoys playing golf, gaming, and is an IHSAA official in basketball, baseball, and track/cross country. 

5

Helene Walisever, PhD

Helene is a parent of children with TS and associated challenges. Dr. Walisever received her undergraduate psychology degree from Barnard College of Columbia University and her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Long Island University in New York. She has been an adjunct psychology professor at Barnard College. 

6

Kate Mielitz, PhD, AFC®, CDP®

Kate has been a member of the TAA Educational Advisory Board since 2019. As an adult with TS, and the mother of two TAA Youth Ambassadors (who also have TS), Kate is an active part of the community. She regularly supports families and schools with education and presentations surrounding TS and other associated conditions. Kate has had her AFC designation since 2009 and recently completed her Certified Diversity Professional (CDP®) designation in order to provide evidence of her commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, Accessibility, and Belonging – especially regarding equitable treatment and accessibility for people who are neurodiverse. 

Kate has been a member of the TAA Educational Advisory Board since 2019. As an adult with TS, and the mother of two TAA Youth Ambassadors (who also have TS), Kate is an active part of the community. She regularly supports families and schools with education and presentations surrounding TS and other associated conditions. Kate has had her AFC designation since 2009 and recently completed her Certified Diversity Professional (CDP

7

Patty Mendoza, MS

Patty Mendoza is the Lead School Psychologist in the Kings Canyon Unified School District. She holds a Master’s from California State University, Fresno. Her experience as a school psychologist has been extensive, serving grades preschool to high school.

Her experiences include a broad range of services, such as psychoeducational evaluations, consultations with teachers, parents, and administrators, counseling, crisis interventions, threat assessment, functional behavior assessment, behavior intervention plans, manifestation determinations, collaboration in 504 plans, collaboration in the implementation and monitoring of Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS), district-level Nonviolent Crisis Intervention (NCI), and district-level Safety Care trainings. 

In addition, she is a Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT) practitioner. She participated in the Treating Tourette Together project, which brought together people with TS, their families, clinicians, researchers, and other stakeholders to set an agenda for the next generation of CBIT researchers. 

8

Marissa Smolinsky, M.Ed.

Marissa is a Special Education Teacher in Northern Virginia. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and a Master’s in Special Education from Northern Arizona University. Marissa has over 10 years of public school classroom experience in both the self-contained and inclusion settings. She has taught grades K-12 in Arizona and Virgina. She has TS herself, has taught students with TS, and has a child with TS.

9

David Blattner, Ed.D.

Dr. David Blattner is from Mooresville, NC and has been in education for 28 years. He is an accomplished educator and administrator; he holds an Educational Doctorate from Wingate University and has served in various leadership roles in NC schools. His experience spans from being a Chief Technology Officer at Davie County Schools, to a Principal at Lake Norman High School, to a classroom teacher. He has also made significant contributions to the field of distance learning as the Director of Distance Learning at Iredell-Statesville Schools. In addition to his administrative roles, he has been an active participant in professional organizations such as CoSN Digital Promise and the American Library Association. He has been recognized for his work with awards like the Charlotte CIO of the Year and the Iredell-Statesville Principal of the Year. He has conducted many trainings for the TAA with schools, school systems, new Youth Ambassadors, and has presented nationally. Most importantly, David is a father of three children, one of whom has TS.

10

Emily Coonrod

Emily Coonrod has more than 15 years of experience as a classroom teacher, instructional coach, and professional development creator. She has a graduate degree from the University of Iowa in Educational Leadership. Emily is currently serving her local education agency as a professional development consultant, conducting frequent in-services to educators across Iowa and training educators on presenting and facilitation best practices. She has volunteered with the TAA as an educational presenter, sharing TS learning to educators throughout the U.S. 

Emily has two children, both with ADHD and one with TS and OCD. She enjoys helping her children learn about themselves and how to advocate for their educational needs.