Welcome to OPEPP​
Ohio Partnership for Excellence in Paraprofessional Preparation



The OPEPP leadership team works behind the scenes connecting to districts, ESC’s, independent schools, and members of state education teams to share information, train consultants, build strong partnership plans and widen the scope of professional development offerings on the OPEPP site.

Research Director

University of Cincinnati Systems Development & Improvement Center

Looking at Dr. Jennifer Ottley’s extensive resume you might think that her prowess with grant writing and her extensive educational research would be what draws her to this work, but you would be wrong. Her work is grounded deeply in her passion for meeting all children right where they are.  She is a mother of two school age kids in Ohio, and she knows that although every grant she writes passes through the hands of adults; those grants make school life more accessible, and appropriate for every little Ohio kiddo. She’s a champion for all those Ohio kids!

OPEPP Coordinator

Dr. Renee Mattson has been using OPEPP’s extensive resources for years to help engage the preservice special educators she teaches at the university level. Renee knows paraprofessionals and the teams of educators who support them. She has championed making every piece of professional development OPEPP offers easy to access and consumer friendly, with engaging and meaningful content.  Renee is a “feet on the street” kind of researcher; look for her to drop by one of your upcoming partnership meetings and connect to you personally. She loves to see action planning in motion and is in awe of the passionate consultants that she leads as part of her OPEPP coordinator role. Renee is licensed as an elementary educator and intervention specialist for preschool through 12th grade for gifted, learning, and behavior needs. She has taught in multiple districts and schools around the state of Ohio, led school teams as an intervention coordinator,  and supported parents and educators as a coach and consultant.  Her research interests include a focus on paraprofessional professional development, collaboration skills for intervention specialists, and positive behavior interventions.  She is the mother of three grown children and she and her husband live in Cincinnati. 

Program Coordinator

University of Cincinnati Systems Development & Improvement Center

Elizabeth Lilly joined the University of Cincinnati Systems Development & Improvement Center in January 2023 as the Program Coordinator and collaborates with Renee and Jennifer on all of the OPEPP project activities. She is a graduate of Ohio University and uses her marketing and communications background to support the OPEPP team. Elizabeth has been working to freshen up OPEPP’s open access modules and revamping the OPEPP website for a more engaging experience. Every visual detail on a flyer, link embedded into an agenda, and minute detail of life within the OPEPP world has been touched by Elizabeth’s marketing, organizational, and technological expertise.  She also coordinates most OPEPP calendar invites and events and is your go to for information about our website and our happenings at OPEPP. 



Districts, ESCs, and independent schools who partner with us receive a personal OPEPP consultant to support their growth throughout the three year process.  Our consultants are experienced educators, administrators and specialists who are knowledgable about what OPEPP has to offer and experienced in helping schools take action steps to reach their paraprofessional goals.   LEARN ABOUT CONSULTANT ROLES:  OPEPP Consultant roles and responsibilities

Lisa Arthur is licensed as an Intervention Specialist in the state of Ohio, and with an MA in Counseling she brings a unique skillset to the field of education. Her career in education began in 2003 as a paraprofessional after 10 years working as a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Ohio. She is currently employed by State Support Team Region 16 and is an Autism/Low Incidence Consultant and a UDL coaching and implementation specialist. As an SST consultant, she began working with OPEPP district partners in 2017, and in 2018 joined the OPEPP consultant team through an OPEPP/SST 16 partnership. She continues to provide coaching, implementation support, and technical assistance for current and previous OPEPP district partners across region 16 in Southeastern Ohio.

LaTaunya Dunn is an educator who started her career as a teacher in Springfield, OH. After 13 years, she went back to specialize in Math and Science and to receive her Master’s degree in educational administration. Shortly after receiving her Master’s degree, she became a supervisor for math and science in the same district. Later, she became an Educational Consultant for the Ohio Department of Education with a focus on urban schools, alternative education, and diagnosing schools/districts for school improvement.

Mary Yeager is an OPEPP consultant, a wife, mother of two daughters, and grandmother of three. She began her career in education as a special education teacher in the Benton-Carroll-Salem School District. After 15 years of teaching, she moved into administrative positions, serving as a special education and preschool supervisor, and elementary principal. Additionally, she has worked as a student teacher supervisor for Bowling Green State University, and as an educational/curriculum consultant.

Cheri Copeland-Shull has been an educator for 34 years. During this time, she taught students with special needs in Gibsonburg, Ohio for 10 years and then transitioned to administration. She served as an elementary principal at Shumaker Elementary in Bellevue, Ohio for 2 years until she moved to Springfield Local Schools (Lucas County). At Springfield Local Schools, Cheri led Crissey Elementary for 10 years as the principal, served as a Special Education Coordinator for 2 years, and then led Dorr Elementary for 10 years as the principal. During her time at Springfield Local Schools, both Crissey Elementary and Dorr Elementary earned Hall of Fame designation from OAESA, and Dorr Elementary attained STEAM Designation from the Ohio Department of Education. Cheri retired in July 2022 and has served as an adjunct instructor at BGSU.

Judith Hassel is a recent retiree from the Ohio Department of Education. Her research and expertise include school improvement strategies with a focus on children at risk of failure. She has taught in 3 Ohio school districts and for 2 universities. She is currently consulting with the Ohio Department of Education on a school improvement project. She also teaches several classes as an adjunct instructor at Ashland University and consults with the University of Cincinnati on their Ohio Partnership for Excellence in Paraprofessional Preparation (OPEPP) initiative.

Judy Miller spent her first thirty years in education teaching in the Columbus area in private and public schools as a third and fifth-grade teacher, elementary library media specialist, 8th-grade language arts teacher, reading teacher, and building literacy coordinator. She holds active licenses in elementary/middle grades, reading, and library science. For the last ten years, Judy has worked as an educational consultant, focusing on K-12 literacy and paraprofessional support. She also serves as an adjunct instructor with Ashland University where she teaches several literacy courses, supervises student teachers, and conducts professional development courses. The greatest joys in her life are her two daughters, two grandchildren, and avoiding the need for two putts on the golf course.

Cathy Reed is first and foremost a mother to two sons and two wonderful daughters-in-law. She is also a proud grandmother. Cathy is retired from Hamilton County Educational Service Center where she worked as a gifted coordinator. She had the privilege of working with several districts, assisting them in creating audit documentation for ODE.

Cathy received her BA from Wilmington College. Her studies there were in education, psychology, and literature. She received a Master of Educational Leadership and a Principal Licensure from Antioch McGregor University. Cathy began her teaching career working with exceptional students entering vocational education. She assessed their vocational skills and helped them enter fields that fit their interests and abilities. She also coached them through their initial experience in vocational education, while actually working in the vocational labs with them. When she left vocational education, Cathy became the first teacher of gifted for the Clinton County Schools at Wilmington College. There she served students throughout the county. She spent the next 14 years with that program. She also spent those years tutoring students with specific learning needs from the Laurel Oaks. She then worked for Loveland School District for 5 years. From there, she went to HCESC where she spent the last years of her career before becoming a consultant for OPEPP.

Dr. Kathleen Scott received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Master’s degree in MAT (secondary education) from the University of Chicago, and her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Austin. Kathleen began her teaching career teaching and coaching high school on the Pine Ridge Reservation and teaching elementary in a 3-room school in Appalachia before teaching for 11 years in Austin, Texas. After working as a consultant and completing her doctorate in Austin, Dr. Scott was an Assistant Professor in Education Foundations at Ashland University before joining the Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio as a consultant, where she is a lead state trainer for the Resident Educator Program. Throughout her career, Kathleen has been immersed in the pursuit of equity; her passion lies in working with districts, schools, and individuals to develop and support teacher efficacy, with the ultimate goal of providing equitable access to excellent education for all students.

Before joining OPEPP as a consultant, Kathy spent her career working in Ohio’s P-20 public education system. She was a classroom teacher in both primary and middle schools for about 15 years. The next 14 years were spent working in the field of teacher preparation at Shawnee State University and later at Ohio University as a Field and Clinical Placements Coordinator. There, she worked closely with the pre-service teachers, university instructors, cooperating teachers, and school administrators. Kathy supervised teacher interns in the schools, facilitated seminars for student teachers, and taught education courses as an adjunct. She also served as a co-president of the Ohio Field Directors Forum.

Prior to joining the OPEPP community, Julie Kugler-Ackley, M.Ed., served as Executive Director of Montessori Programs and a Senior Teaching Professor at the Xavier University Montessori Institute and Teacher Education Program. During her time at Xavier, Julie supported classroom teachers and paraprofessionals in both Ohio public and private schools as a field coordinator and consultant. Julie was also involved with the Ohio Deans Compact for Exceptional Children and the Ohio Association of Teacher Educators.

Julie is AMS (American Montessori Society) credentialed for both EI and EII and holds an Ohio license for grades K-8. She has presented at regional, national, and international Montessori conferences and has teaching experience at all levels of Montessori elementary education. At Xavier, she was involved in the School of Education Community Engaged Learning Initiative. In her free time, Julie enjoys spending time with her family, reading, attending sporting events, community arts and music performances, traveling, and discovering new restaurants and neighborhoods in Cincinnati.

Raymond Nixon (Ray) served as a professional educator in Columbus City Schools for forty-eight years. His extensive experiences include serving as a teacher, community home mentor, sports coach, curriculum consultant, recruiting specialist, building and center office administrator. In his role as Administrative Coordinator of Student Management Programs, he facilitated staff training and activities for teachers, paraprofessionals, and parents. He also evaluated related district-wide and individual school programs and provided respective resources and support.

Ray received his MA in Education Administration from Ashland University and BA from Capital University in Social Studies/Political Science. He authored two publications; An Individualized American History Program for Non-English Speaking Students and Multicultural Interdisciplinary Activities K-12. He served in different leading roles in professional associations including the Ohio and Columbus Association of Secondary Administrators, Ohio Alliance of Black School Educators, and Ohio and Columbus Education Associations. Over his career, Ray received many awards and honors for his educational and community contributions. In his free time, Ray enjoys golfing, traveling, and spending time with his family that includes grand and god sons.

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