The Whooo's Reading Team

We are passionate about helping students master reading, communication, and critical thinking skills needed to thrive in a dynamic world, and supporting teachers who are making magic happen in their classrooms every day.

We achieve this mission by following three guiding principles:

  1. The best teachers ask the best questions: we focus on creating formative assessments that encourage students to reflect, develop their independent thoughts, and communicate them. You will never see a multiple choice assessment on WR--because life is more complicated and interesting than A, B, C, or D.
  2. The best learners are the motivated learners: Through providing creative formative assessments that are designed to engage students growing up in a multi-media world, we strive to ensure that students are excited to use WR everyday. The owl-avatars and wisdom coins also help motivate students!
  3. Teach each student according to their own way: We all learn differently and have unique learning strengths and weaknesses. Through providing formative assessments that are differentiated on both difficulty level and learning style and offering actionable data insights to teachers so they know where to help students, we are working towards a future where each student is taught according to their own way.

Meet the Bookworms

Raphael Menko

Co-Founder & CEO

Elementary School
Perelman Jewish Day School
Favorite Elementary Teacher
Mrs. Pepperman
Favorite Book, Then
Mike Fink: A Tall Tale
Favorite Book, Now
A Storm of Swords

Gilles Ferone

Developer & Data Scientist

Elementary School
Ecole Alfred Binnet
Favorite Elementary Teacher
Madame Guise
Favorite Book, Then
Le Petit Prince
Favorite Book, Now
Le comte de Monte Cristo

Claire Zaruba

Director of Academics

Elementary School
Sandy Grade School
Favorite Elementary Teacher
Mr. Snow
Favorite Book, Then
Owl Babies
Favorite Book, Now

Dan Farley

With an incredible amount of leadership experience at publishing houses including Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, Harcourt Trade Publishers, and Simon & Schuster, Dan helps us add the most value in the reading ecosystem.

Derrick Higgins

Derrick is a former Research Director at the Educational Testing Service. He brings a career's worth of expertise in machine learning and NLP (natural language processing) to his conversations with our data science team.

Teacher Advisory Board

Whooo's Reading would not be what it is today without the brilliant ideas and guidance of our teacher advisory board. These awesome teachers gave their time to share their experiences with us, and they continue to give us feedback as Whooo's Reading continues to develop.

Lorie Barber

5th Grade Teacher
Schiesler Elementary School, Illinois

Influence: The first teacher to demo Whooo's Reading back in August 2014, Lorie has been advising us for a long time. Because of Lorie, students have the ability to write 'blogs,' which are essay-style assessments.

Traci Becker

8th Grade Teacher
Cumberland Middle School, Illinois

Influence: Traci's influence can be seen throughout Whooo's Reading. One key example is her guidance on how best to incorporate scaffolding into our formative assessments.

Hilary Cuevas-Balanon

Response to Reading Interventions
Poway School District, California

Influence: Hilary's breadth of experience working with struggling readers has helped us tremendously. One place you can see her influence is in the student newsfeed, which encourages collaborative learning.

Amanda Hallman

2nd Grade Teacher
Davidson Day School, North Carolina

Influence: Amanda pushed us to build activities that line up well with reading and writing lessons that take place in the classroom. She also encouraged us to focus on grammar in addition to comprehension, which is a component now included in our algorithmic autograder.

Janice Jones

Reading Specialist & former Assistant Principal
San Diego, California

Influence: With her depth of experience, Janice has given us valuable advice in many areas. She helped us understand the unique needs of Title 1 schools so we can better serve them, and she encouraged us to build a program with a tight feedback loop between students and teachers so that students' learning accelerates.

Leigh Madger

B.F. Gibbs Elementary School, New Jersey

Influence: Leigh advised us to focus on giving students considerable practice writing and speaking in addition to reading. Whooo's Reading now allows students to respond to reading by recording themselves speaking and by typing a written response, instead of responding via multiple choice questions.

Kim Masiello

Literacy Coach
America's Finest Charter School, California

Influence: Kim has provided us with advice on scaffolding, especially for younger students. She has also encouraged us to include more images in our program to connect better to younger readers.

Shelly Palmer

English Teacher
Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Illinois

Influence: Shelly helped us develop an understanding of the need teachers have for formative assessments that get students to write. Thanks to her, students write a lot on Whooo's Reading.

Alysa Pepperman

3rd Grade Teacher
Perelman Jewish Day School, Pennsylvania

Influence: Alysa has been advising us since before Whooo's Reading was even created! Thanks to Alysa, Whooo's Reading provides considerable positive reinforcement to students. The kids must win is our unofficial company motto!

Mason Roulston

River Valley Middle School, Ohio

Influence: Thanks to Mason, in our vocabulary activities, students need to demonstrate ownership over new words by using them in sentences, stories, etc.

Amy Talvac

3rd Grade Teacher
Carderock Springs Elementary School, Maryland

Influence: Amy has helped us with advice on integrating rubrics and creating formative assessments that focus on text-based evidence. She also represented Whooo's Reading at ISTE!

Natasha Von Klinger

Instructional Coach
Louisburg Elementary School, North Carolina

Influence: Natasha's advice guided us towards creating graphic organizers alongside our more traditional formative assessments.