Team

Our Team

Dr. Jessica Bennett - Mindful Literacy Practice

jessica bennett

CEO & FOUNDER

Jessica is a scholar, an athlete, a meditator, a yogini, a CrossFitter, a tennis player, a former collegiate rower, a mother to three young girls, and a wife to Dan. 

Dr. Bennett has a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in Special Education with a focus on using structured literacy instruction for children with reading disabilities. Specifically, her dissertation focused on delivering an oral reading fluency intervention to elementary aged students.

As a licensed intervention specialist preK-12, Dr. Bennett has over 16 years experience as a teacher.  Most of her career was spent with elementary aged kids, but her first year (2005) and most recent year (2021) has been spent with middle and high school students.  In 2020-2021 she started integrating executive functioning and mindfulness skills with the teenagers who showed up in her basement classroom. 

Dr. Bennett has been training and coaching teachers since 2011 at The Ohio State University, Battle for Kids, and Otterbein University. 

Jessica is the founder and Director of Mindful Literacy Columbus (501C3). 

Brian Gerson

Brian Gerson has been a middle school English teacher for 12 years, teaching at two Catholic schools in Los Angeles and Venice, California. After relocating to Columbus in 2017, Brian was a stay-at-home dad for Willa (9) and Gus (5). He is ever present with the people he shares his time with and he never misses a Celtics game.

Brian ran a distance learning pod in South Bexley in the 2020-2021 school year. He now teachers 11th and 12th grade English at Franklinton High School in Columbus. 

Brian gives his students the perfect combination of structure, positive praise, meaningful feedback, and is playful and fun-loving. 

Brian is the lead teacher on a handful of our middle and high school Study Tables!

 

Tolulope Sulaimon

Before moving to the United States, Tolu was a Math Intervention specialist for 4 years in an international school in Nigeria. He completed the masters’ program in Special education (mild to moderate) from the Cleveland State University.

Presently Tolu is in the doctorate program in the Special education and applied behavior analysis program at The Ohio State University, focusing on reading intervention and technology. Tolu is the lead Graduate Assistant in the reading clinic at OSU. 

In the middle of all of this, Tolu and his wife recently became parents! 

Tolu is a Mindful Literacy 1:1 and small group tutor for math intervention/enrichment and for reading.  

As a collegiate soccer player Tolu couldn’t resist spending time this summer at the F3 Soccer and Enrichment Camp writing books with our scholars, teaching us how to sing happy birthday in his native dialect, and infecting us all with his passion for life! 

 

 

Brooke Denby

Brooke Denby is originally from Austin, TX and moved to Columbus in 2016. Her son struggled with reading in elementary school and she and her husband soon discovered he was dyslexic.  It was during this challenging time that Brooke became aware of how difficult it can be for parents as they attempt to get help for their kids who are dyslexic.  Brooke’s  son was extremely fortunate to participate in an Orton Gillingham program.  His progress sparked an interest in Brooke to learn more about the curriculum.  She soon realized that helping dyslexic children succeed was a passion. This led her to complete a two-year training program from the Dyslexia Center of Austin, a Scottish Rite Hospital affiliated program.  Brooke has been helping dyslexic children of varying ages ever since.  She is thrilled to be working for Mindful Literacy. 

Brooke’s  mission is to support the educational, emotional, and social well-being of students with dyslexia.  It gives her great joy to see their faces light up when they succeed. 

Brooke is our go-to tutor for traditional Orton-Gillingham style lessons.  She is a phenomenal tutor for kids with dyslexia who are in Grades 2 and up. 

 

Christina Rouse-Billman

 

Dr. Christina Rouse-Billman is a Bexley native and is currently a full-time senior lecturer with OSU. One of the courses she teaches is to  undergraduate and graduate level special education majors in how to prescribe, diagnose, and design explicit, systematic, direct, multisensory reading instruction to children who are at risk for reading failure in a clinical setting.  This course not only allows her to teach teachers theory of reading instruction, but also allows her to coach teachers in practice as they tutor elementary aged kids in a 1:1 setting. Dr. Billman has been an author in multiple peer-reviewed journal articles and her dissertation was focused on improving reading comprehension in upper elementary aged students.  Dr. Billman is also an adjunct instructor and student teacher supervisor with Cap U. Dr. Billman served as principal and director in a private charter school serving students ages 3-21 with autism spectrum disorder and other behavioral disorders for 4 years. She was an elementary teacher with dual licensure (general education and intervention specialist) for 10 years in Georgia where she was first trained in Orton-Gillingham methodology.  In her spare time, Dr. Billman loves to garden, take her chocolate lab (Lindor) for long walks, try out new restaurants with her husband, and spend time with her niece and nephew.

This summer, Dr. and Mr. Billman became parents!

Dr. Billman is Dr. Bennett’s right hand woman and Mindful Literacy’s biggest cheerleader. She and Dr. Bennett have been dreaming of opening a center for almost 10 years!  Christina takes on 1:1 tutoring, recruits her super star students for the organization, and keeps our Mindful Literacy Grant Writers Guild moving forward! 

 

 

Naomi Zwelling

 

Naomi Zwelling is currently a full time Intervention Teacher at the Columbus Torah Academy specializing in reading and math intervention. Naomi has her Undergraduate Degree in Early Childhood Education, her Master’s in Literacy Education, and is certified under IMSE with the Orton Gillingham Multisensory Approach to Reading. When Naomi is not teaching or tutoring she loves to bake, run, read, and spend time with family.

 

Delayna Green

 

DeLayna Green has been teaching for Columbus City Schools as a Special Education Teacher for the past 7 years. Delayna is also the founder of Layna’s Learning Circle, a private tutoring company for elementary students where she also makes and sells some really amazing learning boards. She attended Kentucky State University for undergrad, where she received her B.A. in elementary education and The Ohio State University for grad school where she received her M.A. in Special Education.  DeLayna is so good at lifting students up and meeting them where they are. She also is really good at lifting heavy weights!

Jenna Farah

Jenna is from Akron, OH and is a graduate from Archbishop Hoban High School. She is a 4th year at OSU but in her 3rd year of the Special Education Major, on a Moderate to Intense intervention track. She has had a placement at Worthington Kilbourne Middle School in their autism unit, and is now placed at Groveport-Madison HS in their 9th grade resource room. She has research experience under Dr. Billman regarding reading interventions for 4th grade students at Hamilton STEM. She has been a camp counselor for individuals with IDD ages 5-21 the last 3 summers at Camp Christopher in Bath, OH, and is also currently a provider for 2 teenaged girls with Down Syndrome and Autism. A fun fact about Jenna is that she is Lebanese, and spent several years living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Jenna was our 2020-2021 Volunteer of the Year as she heads up The Mindful Literacy Podcast Post-Production Team.

Mackenzie Richards

Mackenzie is from Massillon, Ohio and is a graduate from Massillon Washington High School. She is a 3rd year at OSU studying Special Education on a moderate to intensive track. Mackenzie volunteered for 5 years in Massillon Washington High School’s MD classroom. She also spent a summer as a full-time assistant teacher at a charter school for children with autism. She has had field placements at Worthington Kilbourne Middle School and Groveport Madison High School. Currently, she is a care provider for a teenage girl with down syndrome and autism.  Mackenzie loves to travel and is an avid sports fan! She also has a bulldog/beagle pup named Mack!

Mackenzie is our Social Media Director.