Our Board of Directors brings a wide array of perspectives and expertise to Open Wings.
Philip Kent, CPA
Board President & Treasurer
I am a partner in the CPA firm MichaelSilver in the north suburbs of Chicago. I am happy to bring my accounting and budgeting skills to the board but my attraction and desire to volunteer time to the Open Wings board goes so much further than that. My wife MaryBeth and I are the parents of two children, one of which demonstrates as a complex learner. My son is now a grown man who participates in several adult level programs that serves those with special needs. When he was very young we sought a variety of programs and approaches geared to bring out the very best in him. Ten years ago my wife and I were reading a local news article announcing the beginning of a new school opening in Kenosha designed specifically to those children identified as complex learners. It is exactly a program that simply did not exist when we were exploring the best opportunities for our son. We decided to volunteer some of our time to this new venture and we have been hooked ever since. Open Wings provides a learning environment that truly brings out the best from all students. While Open Wings specifically welcomes neurodiverse students, their siblings and friends are also welcome and very much add to the whole of the learning community. Open Wings principles focus on the whole of the child incorporating experiential learning with the overarching goal to bring out the very best from each student and to provide an educational environment that the students truly enjoy and thrive in. I have seen the growth of Open Wings from six students when they first opened its doors to 42 students currently enrolled. MaryBeth and I look forward to being a small part in the future growth in Open Wings in the things it can provide and in the number of students it serves.
Dennis Munk, PhD
Dennis Munk is Professor of Psychological Science and Education at Carthage College. He has spent most of his three-decade career supporting and learning from complex learners and their families through research and consultation. As a professor, he has prepared hundreds of pre-service teachers and aspiring professionals to teach and support neurodiverse learners. His research interests have included positive behavior support, grading adaptations, and inclusive practices, toward which he has published articles and a book focused on leadership in inclusive schools. Dr. Munk joined the board in fall of 2020, after several years of collaborative work involving fieldwork students.
Stephanie Kubarth, OT
Courtney Bell, PhD
Dr. Courtney A. Bell serves as the Director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) and Professor of Learning Sciences at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. A former high school science teacher, Courtney earned her doctorate at Michigan State University in Curriculum, Teaching and Educational Policy and a B.A. in Chemistry at Dartmouth College. Courtney is passionate about understanding and improving teaching for historically underserved children. Her inter-disciplinary, collaborative work is situated at the intersections of research, policy and practice. It spans issues of parental choice, performance assessments of teaching, international comparisons of teaching, teaching quality, teacher learning, teacher education, and the measurement of teaching. She is published in a variety of scholarly journals and also co-edited the 5th Edition of the American Educational Research Association’s Handbook of Research on Teaching. She is currently working with colleagues to better understand how teachers learn in the early years of their careers. Courtney was proud to lead the international development of two observation systems and serve as a PI on the OECD-organized TALIS Video Study (also called the Global Teaching InSights study). This ground-breaking study was the first of its kind to comprehensively measure teaching quality using observations, artifacts, questionnaires, and student outcomes in eight economies. She is currently engaged in both national and international studies of teaching, teacher education, and teacher learning.
Mimi Snyderman, MD
I am a pediatrician currently practicing in Racine through Ascension All Saints as well as at the Child Development Center at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. Our children who are neurodevelopmentally unique have been a passion of mine since my own childhood, doubtless because of my cousin and her amazing family. For several years now, I have been hearing about Open Wings Learning Center through families whose children had struggled in other educational settings. The ability of Open Wings teachers and staff to support each student in an environment conducive to their best learning has truly changed lives of not only the students, but also their siblings and parents. When the opportunity arose for me to join the Board of Directors for Open Wings, I was absolutely delighted. The Board represents a collaboration between inspiring and talented individuals who are devoted to children. I hope that we will all continue to learn from Open Wings' remarkable founders, staff, and each other; I am certain that we will all continue to learn from our students.
Kim Hufferd-Ackles, PhD
Kimberly Hufferd-Ackles had the dream of opening a school where smiling students would enter the doors in the mornings for many years. This dream became a reality in 2012 when the first group of students came in the doors at Open Wings. She has devoted the past decade to the most rewarding and most challenging work of her professional career supporting students, teachers, and families at Open Wings. Kim received her PhD from Northwestern University in 1999. In addition to being the mother to four children, she thrives in her ongoing support of many aspects of Open Wings Learning Community and in knowing the amazing students that call this school home.