Our CGI Professional Development Leaders

The CGI Math Teacher Learning Center team of 16 CGI professional development (PD) leaders has over 350 cumulative years of experience with Cognitively Guided Instruction as university professors, researchers, classroom teachers, math facilitators, and education administrators. Each member of our team has worked with Linda Levi, Director, for 7 - 29 years. Our CGI PD leaders have an average of 17 years experience leading CGI PD.

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Linda Levi, Director, CGI Math Teacher Learning Center,

Linda Levi has been a member of the Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) research and development team since 1989 and is a nationally recognized expert in teacher professional development. 

Dr. Levi has worked in CGI research, design, teaching, and mentoring. Her forte is developing professional learning experiences that position teachers to better comprehend each child's mathematical mindset and use this knowledge to plan, design and implement instruction for their students. Dr. Levi is the co-author of the definitive book on CGI: Children’s Mathematics: Cognitively Guided Instruction (2015, 1999). She also co-authored Thinking Mathematically (2003) and Extending Children's Mathematics (2011). These books have been used by hundreds of thousands of elementary school teachers worldwide to enhance their instruction.

In 2018, Dr. Levi started CGI Math Teacher Learning Center, based in Madison, Wisconsin. The Center is devoted to increasing all students’ mathematical understanding through CGI teacher professional development. The Center’s CGI seminars help teachers develop classrooms where students are problem solvers engaged with meaningful mathematics in a community of learners with their classmates. Before starting the CGI Math Teacher Learning Center, Dr. Levi was Director of CGI Initiatives at Teachers Development Group, based in West Linn, Oregon. Prior to that position, Dr. Levi served as Associate Researcher in the CGI research and development group at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Levi earned her Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Math Education under the direction of Professor Elizabeth Fennema, co-founder of CGI. Dr. Levi has been teaching CGI professional development since 1993 and has been leading a group of national CGI professional development leaders since 2005. Read more

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Jae Baek

Jae Baek, Assistant Professor at Illinois State University, received her PhD in math education from the University of Wisconsin under the direction of Thomas Carpenter, Co-founder of CGI. CGI guides the math and math education courses she teaches at Illinois State University. Dr. Baek’s research focusses on how students think about number, operations, and algebraic concepts, with a special focus on students’ thinking about multiplicative structure.  She is especially interested in designing instruction based on children’s thinking so that elementary school students can develop a foundation for the multiplicative and algebraic concepts that they will study in middle and high school. She has been teaching CGI PD sessions since 2000.


Tanya Blais

Tanya Blais, former elementary school teacher, Alto, New Mexico, was first introduced to CGI early in her teaching career. She was amazed by the richness and depth of her students’ intuitive strategies for mathematics. CGI transformed her thoughts about teaching mathematics and began an exciting 25-year process where she has delved deeply into children’s mathematical thinking and how she can be most effective with her students. CGI has been the mainstay of her math instruction in grades 1 – 4. Mrs. Blais loves the professional collaboration and learning that occurs during her facilitation of CGI professional development. She has a heart to reach as many students as possible, both directly when she works with students and indirectly by leading professional development. She has been teaching CGI PD sessions since 2005.

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Kendra Bookout

Kendra Bookout, Assistant Principal, Siloam Springs, AR, attended her first CGI PD session when she was a classroom teacher. She has always loved mathematics and was thrilled to see her students develop a passion for and confidence with mathematics. Although these changes occurred among all of her students, she saw the most profound changes occurring with her traditionally underserved students which in her school district tended to be students who were living in poverty and/or learning English. When Ms. Bookout became a math facilitator, she supported the teachers in her school to implement what they learned in CGI Professional Development in their math classes.  As an assistant principal, she continues to support teachers in her own school and throughout her school district to use CGI in their classrooms. In recent years she has worked with fellow administrators to support CGI in their buildings. Ms. Bookout has been teaching CGI PD sessions since 2012.


Dinah Brown

Dinah Brown, Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction, Del Mar, CA was an experienced math facilitator when she attended her first CGI PD Session. Ms. Brown found CGI’s focus on understanding of how children think about solving problems to be the missing piece she had been searching throughout her career. CGI PD changed her life forever and she chose to spend the last 17 years sharing her passion and knowledge with teachers both in her own district and other districts throughout the nation. Every teacher, principal and teacher aide in her school district has participated in four to seven years of CGI professional learning under Ms. Brown’s guidance.  In 2017, Del Mar Union School District was awarded the Golden Bell Award for an exemplary professional learning program in the area of CGI. Prior to working in education administration, she was an elementary teacher who taught grades 3-6 with most of her teaching experience in grade six. She has been teaching CGI PD sessions since 2001.

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Joan Case

Joan Case, retired teacher and district math coach, Greensboro, NC, began her CGI journey in 1999 when she attended a week-long CGI professional development at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She caught the CGI fever and returned each of the following three summers to receiving advanced training in CGI and Algebraic Thinking. She initially implemented CGI as a second and third grade teacher. Before CGI, she didn’t see herself as much of a math person but after CGI she became one of the math people in her district and took the role of a district math coach providing training and follow-up CGI support to K-8 teachers. Ms. Case is especially interested in supporting teachers to carefully craft questions to better understand their students’ thinking. Ms. Case continues to enjoy sharing her love of exploring children’s thinking by facilitating CGI professional development workshops. She has been teaching CGI PD sessions since 2002.

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Debbie Gates

Debbie Gates, elementary mathematics specialist and former elementary school teacher, Fairfax County, VA, works closely with kindergarten through sixth grade teachers as they use CGI to learn about and analyze students’ mathematical thinking. She holds Master’s degrees in both Early Childhood Education and Mathematics Education. Ms. Gates was an experienced math facilitator when she first learned about CGI. Her passion for teaching math grew as she worked with teachers and students and saw transformation in teaching and learning. She uses CGI as the guiding force of her math instruction and loves sharing her passion for exploring students’ mathematical thinking and facilitating mathematical discourse through leading CGI PD sessions for teachers. Ms. Gates has been teaching CGI PD Sessions since 1996.


Susan Gehn

Susan Gehn, retired elementary school teacher and elementary mathematics specialist, Monona, WI was one of 20 teachers who attended the very first CGI PD session in the summer of 1986 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. CGI helped her gain an understanding of math, a passion for teaching math, and helped her to make better instructional decisions to meet the needs of each and every student. During over 30 years as an elementary school teacher, Ms. Gehn’s knowledge of children’s mathematical thinking guided her math instruction in her first, third, and fifth grade classrooms.  She feels that CGI had the most profound and lasting impact on her students and herself of any professional development opportunity she participated in during her 30-plus years of teaching. She has been teaching CGI PD sessions since 1990.

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Linda Jaslow

Linda Jaslow, Arkansas State Math Specialist and former elementary school teacher, had her first experience with CGI in 1996 when she hosted CGI PD sessions for elementary school districts who were part of the Phoenix Urban Systemic Initiative. Her passion for CGI grew when she saw the effects of CGI on the 500 teachers and their students in this project. Mrs. Jaslow was especially impressed by the rich mathematical discussions, deep understanding of mathematics, and enjoyment of math that she observed in CGI classrooms. Mrs. Jaslow wanted to spread CGI to more teachers and began teaching CGI PD sessions for pre-service and in-service teachers at San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in her role as adjunct professor. In her current role, she has taught CGI workshops for K-2 and 3-6 grade teachers for the past 12 years to over 800 teachers.  Mrs. Jaslow has been teaching CGI PD sessions since 2000.


Annie Keith

Annie Keith, elementary school teacher, Madison, WI was one of 20 teachers who attended the very first CGI PD session in the summer of 1986 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has been using CGI as the guiding force in her math instruction for over 30 years as a classroom teacher.  She’s taught at every grade level, K-5, as well as in multi-age First/Second, Second/Third and Fourth/Fifth grade classrooms. Her school serves students who are from families at the highest as well as the lowest economic levels in the city and represent a variety of racial and social backgrounds.  CGI has helped Ms. Keith embrace the diversity in her classroom. CGI supports her to develop a community of learners among her diverse population of students. Each of her students, from the most sophisticated mathematicians to the students with math anxiety and/or emerging an understanding of grade level concepts, hold an important role when discussing math concepts. Ms. Keith enjoys teaching teachers as much as she enjoys teaching children and has been teaching CGI PD courses since 1990.


Luz Maldonado

Luz A. Maldonado, Assistant Professor of Bilingual Mathematics Education at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, earned her PhD in Mathematics Education with a doctoral portfolio in Mexican American Studies under the direction of CGI Author and Researcher, Susan Empson. She has used CGI in her elementary mathematics methods courses at central Texas universities for over 10 years.  Dra. Maldonado’s primary research interests follow the mathematical learning experiences of the bilingual learner, from elementary students to pre-service teachers, in particular documenting empowering teaching and learning practices. She has found that CGI is a powerful framework that has allowed countless teachers access to their student’s amazing mathematical thinking and led to excitement in the mathematics classroom, alongside with deep learning. CGI has been especially useful in supporting teachers to reach students who are learning English in school.  She has been teaching CGI PD sessions since 2005.

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Lynne Nielsen

Lynne Nielsen, Associate Professor, Louisiana Tech University.  Dr. Nielsen first learned about CGI as a State Level Math Specialist. She quickly caught the CGI fever and used CGI as the guiding principle of her math and math education courses for pre-service and practicing teachers for the past 12 years.  She is especially interested in supporting teachers’ mathematical understanding and finds focusing on children’s intuitive strategies for solving problems is the best way to improve teachers’ understanding.  Far too many prospective teachers begin her math courses for pre-service teachers with little understanding of and confidence with mathematics.  CGI has been her strongest tool in increasing her students’ knowledge of and disposition towards mathematics.  Dr. Nielsen used CGI to inform her middle school teaching.  She has been teaching CGI PD sessions since 2009.



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Debra Plowman

Debra Plowman, Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi Texas, earned her PhD in math education under the direction of CGI Author and Researcher, Susan Empson. She first learned about CGI as an elementary school teacher. CGI transformed her math teaching in that she was able to teach math for understanding at a deeper level. CGI is where she began to fall in love with mathematics and student thinking about mathematics. Dr. Plowman wants to help teachers develop that same passion and has used CGI as the foundation of her math and math education courses for pre-service and in-service teachers for over 20 years. She has led several initiatives involving the integration of mathematics and science in partnership with various organizations and institutions throughout Texas. She has been teaching CGI PD sessions since 1998.


Kim Romain

Kim Romain, Math Instructional Facilitator, Little Rock, AR attended her first CGI PD session when she was a classroom teacher.  Ms. Romain had been searching for ways to support her students’ mathematical understanding. She was especially concerned about developing understanding among her traditionally under-served students which in her school district tended to be Black students and/or students living in poverty.  CGI immediately transformed her teaching.  With each progressing year of attending CGI professional development she saw an increase in her students’ understanding, her students’ positive beliefs about themselves as mathematicians and her own love of teaching math.  When she became a math instructional facilitator, she supported teachers’ implementation of CGI first within one building and now across several buildings. She completed an eight-year CGI leadership development program directed by Linda Levi, Director of the CGI Math Teacher Learning center. She has been teaching CGI PD sessions since 2012.


Olly Steinthorsdottir

Olly Steinthorsdottir, Associate Professor at the University of Northern Iowa, earned her Ph.D. in Mathematics Education under the direction of Elizabeth Fennema, Co-Founder of CGI. Prior to her PhD studies, she taught elementary and middle school mathematics for 10 years in her native country of Iceland. CGI has been the guiding force behind her math and math methods courses for pre-service teachers and in-service teachers for the past 20 years. Her research focusses on children’s mathematical thinking within the domain of rational numbers (fractions) and proportional reasoning.  Dr. Steinthorsdottir is especially interested in gender equity in mathematics and is devoted to studying instructional practices that facilitates rich mathematical discourse and develops each and every child’s mathematical understanding. She is inspired by the creative teachers she has worked with. She has been teaching CGI PD sessions since 2003.


Lesley Wagner

Lesley Wagner, elementary school teacher, Montgomery County, MD, has used CGI with her fifth-grade students for the past 15 years.  She first became associated with the CGI research and development team in 1996 when she began her graduate work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned her PhD in math education under the direction of Thomas Carpenter, Co-Founder of CGI.  Dr. Wagner is especially interested in helping teachers understand mathematical concepts through studying children’s intuitive problem-solving strategies. She is also interested in supporting elementary school students to develop an understanding algebraic thinking that will serve as a foundation for the math they will study in middle and high school. She has been teaching CGI PD sessions since 2006.