About Us

Meet the Team Behind Stronge & Associates

James H. Stronge, Ph.D., is the Heritage Professor in the Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership Area at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. His research interests include policy and practice related to teacher quality, and teacher and administrator evaluation. He has worked with numerous school districts and other educational organizations to design and implement evaluation systems for teachers, administrators, and support personnel. His work on effective teachers focuses on how to identify effective teachers and how to enhance teacher effectiveness. Dr. Stronge has presented his research at conferences such as American Educational Research Association and Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, conducted workshops for national and state organizations, and worked with local school districts. He has been a teacher, counselor, and district-level administrator. His doctorate is in the area of educational administration and planning from the University of Alabama. University of Alabama

Ginny Tonneson, Ph.D., is the Chief Operating Officer for Stronge & Associates and has been with the company since its inception. She runs the day-to-day operations of Stronge & Associates, serving as the external interface to clients, partners, and various agencies throughout the U.S. and internationally. In this capacity, she is the project manager for most major Stronge & Associates projects, produces the content for new evaluation and hiring components of the Stronge Teacher and Leader Effectiveness System, and works directly with international, state, and regional educational agencies as well as individual school districts on teacher and leader effectiveness initiatives. She also serves as a design team facilitator, workshop developer, and trainer. Ginny has taught at the elementary through graduate levels, has been a higher education administrator, and has worked as a post-doctorate research associate. She has presented at national-, state-, and local-level conferences in the areas of leadership, mathematics, and gifted education, and her work has been published in both books and peer-reviewed journals.

Matthew Tonneson, M.E.S.E., is the Chief Technology Officer of Stronge and Associates. He is responsible for designing, developing and building the digital components of the company, from video production to web development and back-end management. In addition to his duties, Matt manages a team of controllers responsible for real-time command and control of assets in an operational environment--as a side job! Prior to joining Stronge and Associates, Matt was an Executive Officer in the U.S. Air Force and a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Lauri M. Leeper, Ph.D., is the Director of Instructional Design and Development. She is also a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and works with several state agencies and school districts on teacher and administrator evaluation systems. She is a former middle school and elementary school teacher, and library media specialist and has taught up through the graduate level. She has presented at national-, state-, and local-level conferences on topics including closing the achievement gap, effective schools, information literacy, problem-based learning, and curriculum design. Her research interests include effective reading comprehension instruction, teacher effectiveness, teacher/administrator evaluation, and teacher leadership. Lauri received her doctoral degree in Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership from the College of William and Mary.

April Gonzalez joined Stronge and Associates in August 2019 as a trainer and became the New Jersey Coordinator in 2021. During her 32 years in education, April served in the South Brunswick School District, her alma mater, as an English teacher, English and Social Studies Supervisor, Assistant Principal of Academic Leadership, and a principal of an elementary school. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Montclair State University with a major in English and Psychology and attended graduate school at Marygrove and The College of New Jersey. Throughout her career, April has provided professional development on various topics, district-wide, and served as a lead trainer for mentors of novice teachers. She has presented numerous workshops at conventions for the National Council for Teachers of English and the Conference of English Leadership. She has served as an editor for authors and contributed chapters for texts on differentiated instruction. Given her K-12 experience, as well as leadership in professional learning, Mrs. Gonzalez brings expertise and enthusiasm to the role of trainer.

Rachel Previs Ball, Ed.D., currently services as a principal of a primary school in a Virginia school district while also working on special projects for Stronge & Associates. She received her undergraduate, master’s, and doctorate degrees from The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Her dissertation addressed Virginia principals’ knowledge of classroom assessment and support of assessment for learning practices. She is a graduate of the School University Research Network’s Principal Academy, where she completed a two-year action research project that focused on providing formative observation feedback to teachers regarding student engagement. Her participation in this research and academy led to presentations at national conferences as well as a co-authored article in JSD: The Learning Forward Journal. As part of the S&A team, Rachel has worked with the Virginia Department of Education to develop a guidance tool that supports the issues of chronic absenteeism and student behavior in Virginia’s public schools.

Nancy Richmond is a former New Jersey Coordinator for Stronge and Associates and continues to share her expertise as a trainer and content developer. Following a 34-year career in public education, Nancy was a member of the Senior Staff at the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors' Association. As a public educator in New Jersey, Nancy served as teacher, reading specialist, and elementary principal. In 1998 she was named National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals and in 1993 the school where she was principal was named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. Nancy co-authored a book on school leadership entitled, Learning to Lead: Ten Stories for Principals, and has been a featured writer for Principal Magazine. She has presented on numerous occasions at state, national, and international conventions. Nancy earned the Ed.D. in organizational leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Carol Pollack is the Stronge & Associates Arizona Coordinator. She has 32 years of educational experience in Arizona. She has held the positions of high school teacher, department chair, high school assistant principal, high school principal and central office administrator. She also serves as adjunct faculty for Arizona State University. She has presented at Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and has currently led the teacher and leader evaluation process for her district providing training and professional development for teachers and administrators. Carol Pollack received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership both from Northern Arizona University.

Jessica Straessle, Ph.D., serves as the senior research associate for Stronge and Associates. She received her doctorate from the College of William and Mary’s Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership Program. She holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University where she focused on effective teaching in an urban environment. While completing her programs, she worked as an elementary school teacher, teaching inclusion and gifted classes. Her research interests include teacher and principal effectiveness, teacher and principal evaluation, professional development and student individuality. Dr. Straessle has co-authored a book on surviving and thriving as a new teacher to be published in the near future and co-authored three assessment-related Quick Reference Guides published by ASCD.

Joanne Kerekes served as the New Jersey Coordinator for Stronge and Associates from 2019-2021, and continues to serve as a trainer. During her 43 years in education, Joanne served as teacher, unit leader, staff developer, principal, and assistant superintendent. Joanne was honored to receive the Rutgers Graduate School of Education Distinguished Alumni Service Award, the NJ Music Educators Administrator of the Year Award, and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Principal Fellowship. Joanne has extensive presentation experience, including moderating at the AASA/NJASA /NJPSA Women’s Leadership Conference, facilitating at the Rutgers Institute for Improving Student Achievement Equity Conference, and being the keynote speaker for NJASL and Rutgers Ed Camp. As an early adopter of the Stronge Evaluation System and member of the Achieve New Jersey Advisory Committee, Joanne brings a wealth of expertise as an experienced practitioner and trainer to the job.

Xianxuan Xu, Ph.D., served as the longtime senior research associate for Stronge and Associates. In 2021, she transitioned to a position at the Virginia Department of Education. She received her doctorate from the College of William and Mary's Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership Program. Her research interests include teacher effectiveness, professional development, and teacher and principal evaluation. Dr. Xu's research also focuses on international comparative analyses of teacher qualities in the United States and China. She has presented findings of her research on U.S.-China teacher effectiveness and teacher evaluation at national conferences, such as American Educational Research Association, University Council for Educational Administration, and National Evaluation Institute. She has co-authored numerous books including Qualities of Effective Principals (2nd edition, ASCD, 2021), What Makes a World Class School (ASCD, 2017), and several other books published by Solution Tree and Eye on Education.

Matthew Certo, Ed.D., serves as a Stronge & Associates trainer in New Jersey. He has 26 years of service in education in both public and private schools in New York and in New Jersey. His professional work began in N.Y.C. as an elementary and middle school teacher, while he completed his graduate fellowship at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education. After completing his doctoral work in Educational Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University, he served as a teacher, coach, supervisor, testing coordinator, assistant principal and principal at several high schools throughout Northern Jersey’s Hudson, Passaic and Bergen counties. With the goal of improving academic instruction and student achievement, Matt has infused the educational research of Dr. Stronge (Qualities of Effective Teachers, 2021) and others into observations and professional development opportunities for his staff throughout his career.

Rick Chromey joined Stronge and Associates in July 2019 as a trainer. His broad experiences throughout his 38 years in public education in New Jersey are a welcome asset to the Stronge and Associates Team. Early in his career, Rick taught at the elementary and middle school levels and served as a Team leader. He began his administrative career in 2001 when he became an elementary school principal. Rick went on serve as Director of Assessment, Director of Human Resources, and as Assistant Superintendent where he evaluated and supported school leaders using the Stronge Teacher and Leader Effectiveness System. He was a Geraldine R. Dodge Grant Recipient and was selected to serve on the Curriculum Advisory Committee for the National Middle School Association. Rick earned his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the College of New Jersey.

Bill Connolly joined the New Jersey team in August 2019 as a trainer. In his 32nd year in education, Bill has served as a high school English teacher, coach, adviser, NJ secondary literacy specialist, and as a supervisor in K-12 and 9-12 districts. He currently serves as the Director of Curriculum of the Rancocas Valley Regional High School District, where he oversees the evaluation system, professional development, and the mentoring program. He is fortunate to collaborate with a talented team of teachers and administrators on the integration of the district’s curriculum, instruction, and assessment systems. Bill has evaluated teachers and supervisors using the Stronge TEPES and LEPES systems and believes strongly in the value and applicability of the standards, as well as the reflective and conversational components of the Stronge system.

Susan Coyle is a retired NJ educator who brings over 40 years of experience working in K-12 public education serving as a supervisor, school counselor, student assistance coordinator and special education teacher. An expert in training and professional development, Sue has taught courses in school counseling and special education at Rutgers and Kean Universities and has delivered workshops on varied topics in mental health, trauma informed schools, SEL, Section 504, I&RS and RTI. Sue also serves as the Middlesex County Coordinator for the Rutgers Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth. At her former district, Sue used the Stronge Evaluation System for many years in supervising school nurses, counselors and other education specialists. With this experience, Sue brings the perspective of the educational specialist and of those who supervise them. Sue received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary and Special Education from the University of Arizona and a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Kean University. She joins Stronge and Associates as a trainer and is eager to share her expertise and experience.

Mary Wallen is the Director of Project Planning. She has over 38 years of educational experience in an urban public school district in Virginia, serving in positions ranging from that of a classroom teacher to a central office administrator. Her classroom experience included both regular and gifted education in an elementary setting. After 15 years of teaching in the classroom, she spent the next three years as a "teacher trainer" providing professional development to teachers in grades pre-K through 12. Mary then became an elementary school administrator, serving as the principal of two elementary schools for the next 20 years. In her last role with the district she was a Leadership Coach, providing guidance and support to principals of Title I schools. Mary received her B.S. from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts and her MA. Ed. from the College of William and Mary.

Kate Wolfe Maxlow has worked as a teacher, an instructional coach, and a professional learning coordinator in Virginia school districts, with a focus on aligned and engaging instruction. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in History and from the College of William and Mary with a Master's in Elementary Education. Through her work with Stronge & Associates, she has traveled the country to train educators on topics such as teacher evaluation, creating more valid and reliable assessments, and providing evidence-based feedback. In her work with the Virginia Department of Education, she helped to create an Academic Review system for districts to self-assess their alignment between the written, taught, and assessed curriculum. She was the lead author on the book, 20 Formative Assessment Strategies that Work (2017, Routledge), which featured a start-to-finish guide for practical and engaging activities to assess student understanding.

 Why choose the Stronge Teacher and Leader Effectiveness System?

» Aligns the criteria used for hiring, developing, evaluating, and supporting educators

» Fully customizable to state, district, or organizational requirements

» Comprehensive evaluation system is research-based, feasible, and sustainable

» Recognized expertise in assessment and student growth measures

» Top quality, handbooks, user guides, training materials, and support materials

» Reasonably priced

 Contact Us

Voice Mail: 757.707.9662


Email: Dr. James Stronge

Email: Dr. Ginny Tonneson

©Stronge & Associates, 2022