The Open Door’s Philosophy

We are passionate about helping families! We provide appropriate reading and spelling remediation in a caring and supportive environment, tailoring our lessons to meet each student’s own pace. We continually assess for mastery of the material to ensure the continued success of the student.

The Open Door’s Philosophy

We are passionate about helping families! We provide appropriate reading and spelling remediation in a caring and supportive environment, tailoring our lessons to meet the student’s own pace. We continually assess for mastery of the material to ensure the continued success of the student.

Our Administration Team

The Open Door Owner and Founder

Heather Desjardins

Heather Desjardins is an experienced resource teacher who is certified through the Ontario College of Teachers. She began specialized work with students with learning differences early in her teaching career, and she has extensive experience and training in the field of learning disabilities.

She loves helping parents, students, and teachers with her knowledge and expertise, and enjoys helping students by finding the best way for them to learn according to their unique strengths, needs, and learning styles.  She helps many families in the community through The Open Door, as well as through her work serving multiples terms as the Chair of the Board of Directors of The Learning Disability Association of Ottawa-Carleton.

Winner of The Bootstrap Awards: Founder of the Year and a 2019 Forty under 40 recipient, Heather is very hands-on in managing The Open Door. She conducts all testing and dyslexia assessments, mentors the tutors, and oversees the progress of the students of The Open Door’s tutoring and reading remediation programs. She is always happy to take the time to answer questions for families, regardless of whether or not they are clients.  

“My favourite thing is to see a student, who has struggled so much with reading, with their nose in a book – reading for pleasure!”

Director of Education and Training

Leigha Brigham
Leigha is a certified Barton Reading and Spelling System Instructor at The Open Door. She earned her Bachelor Degree in Intercultural Studies at Ambrose University in Calgary, studied Elementary Education at Taylor University College in Edmonton, and has her TESL Diploma (teaching English as a Second Language).  She has also completed the course by Dyslexia International, offered through the University of London, which specializes in best practices in teaching literacy to children with dyslexia.  She started working with The Open Door because she appreciates the value of working with students one on one to allow them to get the support they need to overcome obstacles and meet their goals.

Leigha screens new reading and spelling remediation students at the initial meeting prior to the first tutoring session.  She performs a short series of assessments with the student in order to determine the best path forward, and, along with the instructor, answers any questions of the student and parents.  She also works with our tutors providing training, support, coaching, and periodically observes instructors during student tutoring sessions to evaluate progress.

“I love seeing how quickly students gain confidence and improve their reading and spelling in a short period of time.  It is always great to hear that students are reading more, have moved up a reading level, and have improved their writing.”

Admin Coordinator and Online Liaison

Marla Ruta
Marla started working at The Open Door as a Barton Reading and Spelling System Instructor. She studied English at the University of Ottawa, and is very passionate about literature, language, and learning.  She is a positive and supportive guide on her students’ journey to independence in literacy.

As our online liaison, Marla connects with remote schools, educators, students and their families to provide information and to prepare them for our online tutoring services.  She then screens the students with online assessment tools to ensure readiness for our online programming.  She uses her organizational and creative skills in her role in administration for everything from invoicing to discovering and implementing innovative ideas and solutions.

“I love all of the little “aha” moments. When you see the child’s face light up because they just made a connection and that is going to make everything just a little bit easier for them moving forward. Once you have enough little moments they can look back and see how much they have accomplished.”

Administrative Assistant

Emily Dale

Emily is a Certified Barton Instructor who originally comes from a nursing background and has a passion for helping others. She has worked as a tutor at the college level and has completed the University of London course “Supporting Children with Difficulties in Reading and Writing’. Emily started working at The Open Door because she enjoys working one-on-one with students to help them overcome their struggles. She believes that everyone deserves a chance to succeed at reading, regardless of learning style.

As our administrative assistant, Emily performs various administrative and clerical duties including invoicing, communication, and bookkeeping. She works behind the scenes using her organization skills to assist with a variety of areas that keeps things running smoothly.

Blog Writer and Curator

Marion May

Marion is a freelance writer, watercolour artist and literacy tutor who delights in teaching and sharing her love of reading and writing with children and youth.

Since graduating from Humber College in Radio Broadcasting, Marion has enjoyed a fulfilling career in journalism, copywriting, marketing, fundraising and food writing. She began her career in Newfoundland as a news writer for the St. John’s Daily News. Since returning to Ottawa in 1987, she has worked as a writer and project manager for various agencies and government clients including the National Research Council as a freelance writer and Metroland Publishing as weekly food columnist. Seeing the effects of low-literacy among marginalized audiences, Marion became a passionate advocate for literacy and worked as a literacy tutor for students at Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School for over seven years. From 2007 to 2013, Marion was elected Vice-President for Sage Youth, an Ottawa based literacy organization serving disadvantaged youth. In 2010, she was hired as a fundraiser and researcher for The Excellence in Literacy Foundation, where she wrote several winning grant proposals and raised awareness among key foundations and corporate donors about the societal effects of low-literacy. 

Marion also holds a Narration and Voice-Acting Certificate, Baking and Pastry Arts Certificate (from Algonquin College) and a Business Development Diploma from Cambrian College. She is also trained in the Barton Reading and Spelling System. In her spare time, Marion enjoys running half-marathons, bread baking, reading, and writing short fiction stories. She volunteers weekly at her local library as a facilitator for a Teens and Adult Writing Circle and is the creator, host blogger and photographer for the food history and recipe blog, BarrhavenBites.

Marion joined The Open Door as a tutor, to help struggling students become confident in their reading and spelling abilities and to convince them that they can become successful people—ready and capable of taking on new challenges in their education and careers.

Our Tutors

Chris Ruta
Chris is an elementary classroom teacher. He loves inspiring students to think critically about the world and their place in it, and to take on challenges with confidence. He has a degree in literature and specialist qualifications in Special Education and in French as a Second Language.

Chris achieves balance through physical activity, coaching teams in soccer, volleyball and basketball and running the county track meet during the school year, and playing on recreational sports teams in the evenings. Not too may evenings though, as he is a busy father of two young boys.

Chris feels that in order for students to feel comfortable and confident taking risks and feeding their curiosity in the classroom, they first have to feel at ease getting the information they need and expressing themselves in writing. Having seen many students struggle with this in his classes, Chris signed on immediately to start tutoring with The Open Door after attending a Susan Barton workshop.

“I have always liked sharing the experience of discovery with my students. The Barton System allows me to get out of the way a bit and let the students meet with success independently, which is a more authentic way of learning. I love it.” 

Bianca Amaral-Stewart
Bianca is a tutor and Algonquin College professor who loves helping students to build their skills and confidence. She began tutoring as a volunteer in 2001 and has been helping students ever since. She has worked in after-school homework clubs, summer youth programs, board-level enrichment course programs, and as a private tutor. Bianca graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering and is working towards becoming a certified teacher. She enjoys teaching many subjects, including English, French, Mathematics, and Sciences.

When she is not teaching, Bianca appreciates spending time with her family and friends. Her favourite activities are playing board games and spending time in nature.

Having taught in classrooms and one-on-one, Bianca believes that students learn best when teaching methods are tailored to the learning style and individual strengths of each student. She joined The Open Door so she can work one-on-one with students to help them overcome individual challenges and achieve their goals.

Vicki Naish
Vicki is an experienced English and Visual Arts teacher who has taught at the elementary, secondary and college levels. She loves being a teacher, enjoying the relationships she builds with her students.
She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art and English, and a Bachelor of Education degree in Primary, Junior and Intermediate divisions. Vicki also has her Special Education Qualification, with a focus on Learning Disabilities.
Vicki is a talented and experienced artist. She also has a passion for travel and other outdoor activities, including cross-country skiing.
She started tutoring with the Open Door because she believes in the Orton-Gillingham approach that they use. She wanted to use the best method to help a struggling child learn to read and spell.

“I love watching my students progress, and being a part of their world.”

Alyssa Moore

After teaching ESL abroad, Alyssa became passionate about education, she believes it has a huge potential for positive change on both a personal and social level.

After completing her Honours degree in International Development she decided to complete a TESL diploma and spend time teaching abroad. Her journey took her to South Korea teaching kindergarten, France working as a Nanny and personal tutor, and to Laos teaching adults. All of these experiences showed her how important and diverse education can be.

Since returning to Canada she has completed her Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree at the University of Ottawa, focusing on culture, societies, and languages. Alyssa loves learning about new cultures and languages, and she currently volunteers with OCISO, an organization helping newcomers transition to life in Canada.

When Alyssa is not working or studying she enjoys practicing yoga, cooking, and being outside. She loves to travel when she has the chance, as travel has been one of the best learning opportunities she has ever experienced.

Alyssa is excited to be working with The Open Door to help students break down barriers and reach their full potential.

“My favourite part of tutoring with the Open Door is watching my students gain confidence and get excited about reading. I love celebrating all the improvements my students make with them throughout the program, no matter how big or small!” 

Dennis Hall
Dennis is a graduate from the University of Ottawa and holds both a Bachelor of Arts with a Specialization in English Literature and a Bachelor of Education. He is an Ontario College of Teachers certified educator and has experience working with students in both the Ottawa-Carleton and Upper Canada District School boards. Along with this, he also holds partial alternative qualifications in Special Education.

Dennis has a natural enthusiasm for learning and was drawn to the teaching profession through his desire to help others.

He is an avid reader (of both fiction and non-fiction), film buff and music fan who enjoys collecting vinyl records, live music and outdoor recreation.

Dennis is enthusiastic to be working with The Open Door as he has found the one-on-one style of instruction offered by The Open Door to be highly engaging and rewarding for both teacher and student.  He is excited to help students develop their literacy skills and meet their educational goals in a meaningful and impactful way.

Leigh Anne Carson

Leigh Anne is a Certified Barton Instructor who has been teaching children with dyslexia and other learning differences using the Barton method for over eight years.  After receiving a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from Queen’s University, Leigh Anne enjoyed working as a pediatric physiotherapist with children of all abilities.  However, when her son was identified as having severe dyslexia, she became a Barton tutor and successfully homeschooled him to the point where he is now a confident honour roll student in high school.  

In addition to helping those with dyslexia, autism, and other learning differences, Leigh Anne is keen to promote the importance of physical well-being, with an emphasis on helping everyone, both old and young, achieve an optimal level of health through nutrition and physical activity.  A former competitive road, track, and mountain bike racer, Leigh Anne can often be found riding the local trails with her husband and their two children.

Leigh Anne joined The Open Door because she finds that there is nothing more rewarding, nor more important, than helping a child go from loathing reading to loving it.  From personal experience, she knows that every single student, with the right instruction and progression, has the ability to learn to read and write with ease.  Moreover, every single student deserves the chance to do so.

Matthew Gallina

Matthew Gallina is an elementary school teacher who loves connecting with students while helping them to overcome challenges.  He obtained his B.A. at the University of Windsor, and his Bachelor of Education at Nipissing University.  He has 7 years experience teaching students in Northern Saskatchewan, and has worked with children who speak English as a Second Language.



Matthew became a father in July 2017, and relocated with his wife from La Loche, Saskatchewan to Ottawa, in order to be closer to family.  He is passionate about education, and wants to influence and inspire every student that he teaches.



He decided to work for The Open Door because he knows that the most important and rewarding part of his role as educator is to help and mentor students who are struggling, and then to celebrate with them as they make progress.


Sarah Mulepa
Sarah is a TESOL Certified ESL Teacher who has spent her last four years teaching in Tianjin, China. She has completed her Bachelor of Arts degree with high honours majoring in Philosophy at Carleton University. She is currently working on her Bachelor of Education degree in the primary/junior division at the University of Ottawa.

In her free time, she loves downhill skiing. She also enjoys cooking with her family, going for runs, and reading a good book. She is passionate about music and loves to play the guitar.

Sarah is so excited to be working at the Open Door because she knows how important it is to communicate through reading and writing. Additionally, she would like her students to have as many chances as possible. She would like her students to know that they are not alone, and that learning can be a positive experience!

My favourite part of working with The Open Door is hearing from the parents that their child is doing better in school and their grades are improving!”

Hannah Few

Hannah is an ESL specialist with many years of experience in helping students to improve their language skills. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Honours in English Language and Education in the UK where she grew up. After moving to Canada, she earned her English language teaching certificate and started teaching English to students from all over the world. Hannah has experience working with students ranging from kindergarten through to adults and continues to teach online and in person in Ottawa. Hannah also works at the Family Reception Centre at the OCDSB where children who are new to Ottawa are assessed before attending school.

Hannah has travelled widely and lived and worked in Thailand, Nigeria and China. While overseas, she found that food was a great way to learn more about different cultures so taking cooking classes, visiting markets and trying local delicacies were favourite activities. Now in Ottawa, Hannah spends her free time exploring the city and countryside with her dog and trying out new recipes.

Hannah thinks that working at The Open Door is a great way to help students build up their confidence and develop strategies that will help them throughout their lives. She finds creating a fun, relaxed learning environment is important in bringing out the best in each student; working with students individually means that this can be tailored to suit each child’s needs.

Richard Forsyth

Richard is a very experienced elementary teacher.  He enjoys working with students to build confidence by employing various teaching strategies.  By developing a positive and fun learning environment, he believes students can achieve successful results. He has taught for many years in elementary schools in Halifax and at two independent schools in Ottawa.  Richard is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University, The University of New Brunswick (B.Ed.) and the University of Ottawa (MPE).

With a background in Physical Education, Richard believes in daily physical activity.  He stays active by cycling, skating, treadmilling, and Nordic Walking.  He places emphasis on sharing time with family and friends, reading, and collecting books.

He joined the Open Door to be a player on a team which aims to make a difference in the lives of students by building a strong foundation of learning habits.

Anne Parker
Anne is a very experienced teacher and a specialist in Special Education. She studied Mathematics, English, Geography, and History at the University of Victoria and Carleton University, followed by pedagogical studies at the University of Ottawa, Drake University, and Lakehead University. Over the years she has taught all ages — from very young children to adults — and many subjects, but remains most passionate about English, Mathematics, and Special Education.

Anne was originally drawn to education as a teenager out of a desire to help her hearing-impaired younger brother. Later she specialized in Special Education in order to better understand how to help her young son, who was unable to read. After assisting these two loved ones to become successful scholars, she turned her talents to helping other students overcome their personal learning obstacles in order to achieve success.

She is a keen naturalist who enjoys spending time outdoors, camping and canoeing with her family. She also is an avid amateur horticulturalist and a pet lover, so she really enjoys both home gardening and relaxing in the backyard with the family dog. When the weather drives everyone inside, she enjoys reading and watching movies.

Anne is excited to be working with The Open Door because she loves working one-to-one with students and developing a supportive relationship with those who are struggling to succeed.

“What I enjoy the most about tutoring with The Open Door is the super warm welcome I receive at the students’ homes. The excitement displayed over my arrival tells me that my students really love their Barton lessons!”

Jordyn Tremblay

Jordyn is a Learning Strategist at Carleton University. She loves working with students to help them find the strategies and technologies that will support them in achieving their personal academic goals. Jordyn began volunteering as an assistive technology tutor back in 2009 and has been helping students ever since.

She has a bachelor degree in Cognitive Science from Carleton University, and is currently working on her Learning Disability Specialist in Assistive Technologies and Learning Strategies from Cambrian College.

In her free time, Jordyn loves spending time with friends and family. She also enjoys reading and working on her latest quilting project.

Jordyn started working at The Open Door because a program very similar to the Barton Reading & Spelling System was used to teach her how to read. She looks forward to helping students achieve their personal goals and build their confidence.

Monica Tran
Monica Tran completed her Bachelor of Education in elementary education, at the University of Ottawa. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in social sciences, specializing in political science and psychology, from the same university. Monica’s primary objective is to become a French and Special Education teacher, and will be completing additional qualifications in these areas.

Monica has many years of experience working with children, including those who have special needs. She has worked at many summer camps and as a student teacher at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Since 2012, she has worked as a private tutor, tutoring children of diplomats English and French.

She enjoys attending and volunteering at different festivals, such as The Toronto International Film Festival and fundraisers in support of the SickKids Foundation. Furthermore, she currently continues to tutor and works for the City of Ottawa as a specialist instructor, teaching children gymnastics and various sports. Some of her interests include: watching films, travelling, reading, and learning new languages.

Monica is excited and extremely grateful about having the opportunity to work at The Open Door, and is looking forward to helping her students progress in the areas of reading and writing so they can reach their full potential as individuals and learners.

Jessica Li

Jessica graduated from the University of Ottawa with a B.A. degree major in Second Language Teaching. She went on to obtain her Bachelor of Education at Tyndale University College and Seminary.  After graduating, she took some time to travel and work as a classroom teacher in the United Kingdom.  Jessica has worked in a variety of schools with different types of classroom settings, environments, and demographics.


Jessica loves to see the world and travel. When she has free time, she loves to bake and tends to be making something sweet in the kitchen.


She started working with The Open Door because she loves being able to help students reach their full potential. She loves helping students to gain the skills they need to succeed.

Emily Hollander

Emily is a teacher who enjoys supporting her students and seeing them thrive in all that they do. She has her Bachelor of Education in the junior and primary divisions, a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in Psychology and an additional qualification for teaching English as a second language.

She has taught English immersion based education to children in South Korea and primary and junior grades in the public school board as a student teacher. She has also worked with various age groups in a daycare centre.

Emily loves to bake delicious goods and travel to different places in her free time.

She started to work with The Open Door because she seeks to be a part of the path which ensures every student reaches their full potential.

Nathalie Khouzam
Nathalie is a special needs support worker who is passionate about making a positive difference to children with special needs. She also provides one-on-one support for autistic children in their homes to help improve their daily functioning. Alongside working as a special needs support, she volunteers with a program dedicated to encouraging children on the spectrum to engage in a variety of sports and activities.

She obtained her Bachelors of Science from the University of Ottawa and looks to further her studies in pediatric occupational therapy. Currently she is taking courses in child behaviour and functioning to support the work she does with children.

In her spare time, Nathalie enjoys cooking, travelling, salsa dancing and spending time exploring the city with friends and family.

She started working with The Open Door because she wanted to continue to expand her experience working children with different learning needs, as well as continue to help children grow into successful and independent individuals.

Hannah Plamenig

Hannah is an elementary school teacher who has taught in Ghana, South Korea, Tanzania, and Ontario. For the past two years she has been a homeroom teacher in Gatineau, Quebec. She has a Bachelor of Education from the University of Ottawa and a degree in Political Studies from Queen’s University.

In her spare time, Hannah enjoys swimming, running, and cycling. She is an avid reader and loves spending time with friends.

Hannah believes in empowering her students by helping them to engage in social justice issues in a meaningful way. For example, her classroom students participate in Have a Heart Day at Parliament to advocate for equal education for First Nations children.

She is proud to work for Open Door Education because she believes children learn best when provided with a highly-structured program and feel a personal attachment to their teacher. She looks forward to watching her students develop both their literacy skills and their personal confidence.

Ashley Reaume

Ashley is a recent graduate and ESL Teacher who has a passion for language and the power of learning.

She has her B.A. in Second Language Teaching and most recently, a Master of Education in Societies, Cultures and Languages, both from the University of Ottawa. She has taught English in Canada, Spain, and Korea to children as well as adults.


In her spare time, Ashley enjoys reading, playing trivia, and traveling.


She started working with The Open Door because she wants to share her love of learning, and believes every child just needs the right tools to reach their full potential.


Penny Simpson

Penny is an enthusiastic educator who loves helping children succeed with creative and engaging activities. She is an experienced educator who works in the Ottawa Catholic School Board as well as in daycare centres.  She is also a respite worker, providing one-on-one support for families with children on the autism spectrum.

She is a life-long learner and enjoys challenging herself. In her free time, she enjoys travelling, spending time outdoors, and reading books.

She joined the Open Door team because she enjoys working one-on-one with students to help them overcome their struggles and gain the confidence to help them succeed.

Stephanie Carty

Stephanie is a patient and caring educator who has a passion for shaping lives. She is a Registered Early Childhood Educator and has been working for the Ottawa Catholic School Board for several years. She also has experience working with children with learning disabilities and autism. All of the children she has worked with have taught her to be a compassionate, creative, and hardworking mentor.

When Stephanie is not teaching she loves to travel and explore new places. She enjoys being outdoors as much as possible and being physically active. Her favorite activities are figure skating, hiking, yoga, and baking.

Stephanie started tutoring with The Open Door because she is passionate about helping others overcome any challenges they may face and giving them the confidence they need to succeed. She wants to pass down her love of learning to every student she has.

Ruth Carpenter

Along with working for The Open Door, Ruth also works for The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board as an office administrator and has also worked as an early childhood educator and supply teacher. She has worked one-on-one with students in the Ontario Focused Intervention partnership program with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. This program was a very rewarding experience and sparked an interest to continue working one on-one with students. 

She has been a home educator for the past twenty-three years, working with her own children as well as other students and youth individually and in a group setting.  Ruth has been a director for the Rideau Valley Home Educators association and has worked very closely with the home school liaison at the university of Ottawa.  Currently Ruth also sits on the board for SEAC (Special Education Advisory Committee) with the Ottawa Catholic School Board.

In her spare time, Ruth enjoys volunteering for a dog rescue organization, and it is not uncommon for her to have two or three extra dogs in her home at a time.

Ruth joined our team at The Open Door because she has a vision that every child can learn and that one-on-one instruction is a key component to this vision. She connects well with her students through humour and stories and is willing to work with individuals to reach their full potential with the best possible outcome.

“I think the thing that is so exciting to me is to watch a student stop guessing at words, and to actually start using the tools, rules and knowledge they have learned through the Barton system to read! They look at you with their eyes dancing, because you have just handed them a key to open the entire literary world to them, one that was locked shut before. It never gets old. I have often jumped and danced with excitement at watching these students read! I love it!”

Krista Heath

Krista is passionate about helping students to reach their full potential, to develop a love of learning and to continue to pursue it. Krista earned a Bachelor of Education from Nipissing University, a Bachelor degree in Administrative Studies from Western University and a certificate in French Language Studies from Carleton University. She started teaching French and then began homeschooling her 3 very different learners through their educational journey. From adapting and developing curriculum to help her children learn, understand, and love each subject, Krista became dedicated to identifying each student’s learning style and adapting the teaching to their individual strengths.

Krista and her family spent a decade living overseas in the Middle East. There Krista founded and chaired a homeschooling association in partnership with many families from different cultures, nations, faiths and experiences. Through many shared learning opportunities, Krista realized how many different ways there are to teach and learn yet how much we all have in common with one another despite our outward differences. Krista loves to create, whether it’s art, photography or handicrafts. Being creative is very important to her well-being and her need to express herself and engage with the world around her. Along with her family, Krista loves to travel, camp and visit family and friends. Spending time together learning or trying new things is always a highlight of any vacation or holiday.

She is excited to be working at The Open Door so she can help more students reach their full potential, love learning and see success.

Rosanne Wall

Rosanne is a patient and caring person who has a desire to see all people succeed and develop a love of learning. She earned a B.Sc from Carleton University and after working in the field for several years decided to stay at home with her children homeschooling for a number of years. While doing so, she continued her education and earned a B.A. in Psychology from Carleton University. After graduating, she worked in a group-home setting with individuals with learning difficulties and behavioural issues. Rosanne also has experience working with individuals in the community who developed learning difficulties after a series of concussions. She has volunteered in classrooms and The Ottawa Mission to work with individuals struggling with reading. Rosanne has also tutored individuals in ESL, volunteered with refugees, worked with a family from Syria, and at an elementary school in Guatemala.

In her spare time Rosanne likes to read and do crafts. She loves to travel with her family visiting new places each time.

Rosanne is thrilled to be working at The Open Door as she loves working with the students to help them gain confidence and reach their full potential.

Kate Farmer

Kate Farmer is recent graduate of Brock University where she completed her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education. Currently, Kate is a student at The University of Ottawa, pursuing her Master of Education, with a concentration in cultures, societies and languages. She also is an occasional teacher for the Renfrew County.

When Kate is not teaching or attending classes herself, she enjoys to travel, bake, and play with her dog and cat. Kate also enjoys volunteering with local groups and spent the last 5 years volunteering with Best Buddies in St. Catharines, where she supported adults with intellectual disabilities.

Through her work in various schools, daycares and camps, both in the Ottawa area and in Jasper, Alberta, Kate has seen the importance that individualized learning has and the success that students have when they are able to work one on one with a teacher to identify and work through their challenges. Kate has a passion for special education and has started working with the Open Door to help students develop their own passion for education and become life-long learners.

Janet Doyle

Janet Doyle is a teacher with many years of experience with students of all ages from kindergarten to adult. She enjoyed a very successful career in England as an elementary classroom teacher, then in Alberta as an English teacher, instructor and mentor in a community college.

Her hobbies include singing with the Ottawa Choral Society, reading, playing piano and saxophone, keeping young with yoga, and walking her little dog, Benji.

The decision to work with Open Door Education was an easy one. It is a wonderful opportunity to empower students with the gift of language.

Jennifer Wright

Jennifer is a certified elementary school teacher who has found her dream career as a teacher. She loves working with children of all ages, and finds it easy to connect and motivate. She has a special passion to help children with special needs close the gap between where they’re at and where their goals are leading them.

Jennifer earned her Bachelor’s degree with honours, specializing in Psychology, from the University of Ottawa. She went on to earn her Masters of Science in Teaching from the State University of New York at Potsdam. Throughout her 10 years of teaching experience, Jennifer has taken many courses including Additional Qualifications of Special Education Specialist through Nippissing University.

Jennifer has been teaching with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board for ten years, and also began tutoring two years ago. She has found she enjoys working with students both, as a class as well as one-on-one.  She gains great satisfaction helping children build self-confidence and self-esteem and believe in themselves, as they overcome various obstacles.

In her spare time, Jennifer loves to take on new adventures with her family. She also enjoys quiet time reading and having long thoughtful conversations with most anyone. She has a love for music, and taught piano for many years. She also enjoys taking part and volunteering for community events that help others in the community.

After learning about The Barton Reading System and The Open Door Educational Services there was no turning back. Here she found a system that could reach children with various learning disabilities including dyslexia. A system that would help children strengthen many facets of their language skills. After hearing about the results of the Barton Reading System, she was thrilled to join The Open Door Educational Services to be part of this incredibly successful system which is actually giving children the necessary skills and tools needed for them to actually read and begin enjoying books! 

Rachel Kuschnik

Rachel is an educator with a passion for helping others. She is currently a Teacher Candidate at the University of Ottawa in the Primary/Junior Division who also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology Degree as well as a certification in Teaching English as a Second Language. Rachel has taught kindergarten and elementary students in English immersion programs in South Korea. Prior to this, she supported students with autism and learning disabilities in a special needs high school classroom within the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board.

In her free time, she enjoys staying active by playing rugby and spending time outside. She also enjoys traveling and experiencing different cultures, languages and cuisines.

Rachel enjoys building meaningful relationships with her students and supports them using a holistic approach. She believes that with these resources, students can feel empowered to reach their full potential.

Stephanie Goom

Stephanie is an Ontario Certified Teacher who holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo and Bachelor of Education from the University of Ottawa. She is an elementary teacher in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and has a partial qualification in Special Education.

She is a passionate educator that believes in making all children feel respected and valued. She strives to inspire students to become compassionate and responsible citizens, that have a sense of global citizenship and stewardship. She aims to engage all learning styles and provide various opportunities to demonstrate knowledge and understanding. When she is not teaching, Stephanie is spending as much time as possible outdoors.

Stephanie has been teaching with Barton Reading and Spelling program for several years. She joined the Open Door to help more students on an individual basis, to build strength and confidence with reading and spelling.

Faith Dearlove

Thirty years ago, Faith’s father registered her in a Leadership-in-Training program at the Westmount YMCA in Montreal where she began her career teaching children. Faith worked for the “YMCA” for many years teaching in several programs such as camp, after-school coordinator, preschool art and gymnastics. At the age of 25, Faith began her preschool career working at Miss Vicky’s Nursery School where she spent a better part of ten years teaching their preschool program. During this time, Faith attended school part time at Concordia University studying towards a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Child Studies. In 2002, Faith moved with her family from Montreal to Ottawa. For a few years, she worked towards finishing her degree and raising her two children. Faith started teaching at a small Preschool in Orleans where she worked for fourteen years finishing her career as the Director of the facility in December 2018. In 2009, she was accepted into Teachers College at the University of Ottawa where she graduated with Honours in June 2010. Over the years, Faith used both teaching degrees to create program planning for her young students, to start the assessment process for those children who were not learning at their full potential at the preschool level and to ensure that these children where provided services that would help them integrate into the elementary school system comfortably.

Faith is very excited about working with children one on one using the Barton System because she loves seeing them grow and gain the confidence needed to learn how to read.

Jessica Baile

Jessica is an Ontario Certified Teacher elementary teacher who loves working with students and building their self-confidence.

She received her teaching degree from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She has also completed additional qualifications in teaching English language learners, teaching students on the autism spectrum, and special education.

Jessica began her teaching career teaching English as a Second Language in South Korea and then as a Science and English Teacher in England. For the past few years, she has worked in Ottawa as a grade 6/7 teacher at a private school which specializes in helping students with learning disabilities. The experience of working at this school inspired a love of teaching special education. Jessica enjoys working with students who have learning disabilities, giving them the support they need to be successful, and watching them blossom in all areas of their lives.

When she’s not teaching, Jessica can be found spending time with family and friends, hiking in Gatineau Park, and Dragon Boating.

Jessica decided to work for The Open Door because she has seen first hand how successful the Barton Reading System is at helping students with learning disabilities improve their reading skills. She also enjoys building relationships with students by working one-on-one with them and celebrating their success. Jessica is a committed teacher who adjusts her methods to meet the needs of her student, provides positive reinforcement, and encourages her students to do their best.

Cameron Kent

Cameron is an ESL educator and linguist currently completing a degree in applied linguistics at Carleton University. He likes to share the benefits of his own learning experience with students who have additional challenges to their learning process. He also likes helping students to develop individualized learning environments that are effective and comfortable in order to improve focus and build confidence. Cameron is also a regular volunteer in ESL classrooms.

As a student with developmental challenges, Cameron has a first hand understanding of the efficacy of specialized learning methods like the Barton Reading and Spelling System. Additionally, he strongly believes in the value of individualized learning support and the vital role that empathy plays in the learning process.

Cameron joined the Open Door team to grow as an educator and become better able to help students who need extra support or require alternative approaches to learn effectively.  

Amanda Myerson

Amanda is an educator who loves working with youth outside of the typical walls of a classroom setting. She works to ensure that her teaching is inclusive for all students.

She earned her Bachelor of Social Work from Mcgill University and a Bachelor of Education from University of Ottawa. She has worked one-on-one with students with learning challenges in New Zealand, she also led programming for gifted students and learners who have dyslexia and autism.

She enjoys travelling, cooking new recipes and spending time with her dog Henri.

Amanda started working with The Open Door because she wanted to help students overcome barriers they may be facing and help them grow their self-confidence to reach their full potential.

Jennifer Sweeney

Jennifer is an educator with the Ottawa Catholic School Board who loves teaching history, English, art and sports to children of all ages.  She graduated from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor in Arts, majoring in History and minoring in English. Afterwards, she realized working with children and helping them to achieve success in learning was her calling and went on to obtain her Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of Ottawa.  She then went on to teach in England for a year to gain some insight and experience with the British curriculum.

She has worked and volunteered at Manor Park Summer Camps before and after-school programs with the Manor Park Community Council, where she became the lead for this group. She had the responsibility to plan, implement and supervise children at the primary level. As sports are on of her passions, she also coached various sports, mainly soccer, to children from ages 4-13.

It was during her final placement at the McHugh treatment unit at St. Luke’s that she truly discovered that her passion in teaching lay with children come from vulnerable backgrounds and need the social and emotional tools to be able to cope in a classroom with their peers. To her, this is what teaching is all about; helping children to acquire lifelong skills that will deepen their ability to learn and to form connections with others.

She started working with The Open Door because she saw a team of like-minded educators.  She knew their shared purpose is to help children and adults reach their potential, to not let them slip through the cracks of the education system, to help them become lifelong learners, and to debunk the myths surrounding dyslexia.

“Everyone is capable of reaching for the stars. I like to think of the “Power of Yet” to guide me and others I teach when they are faced with what they perceive to be a road block. Teaching children and adults about the difference in a fixed mindset and a growth mindset is crucial to breaking those barriers.”

Andrew Brigham

Andrew recently completed his PhD in the Philosophy of Cognitive Science at the University of Ottawa and previously completed a Masters in Inter-Disciplinary Humanities at Trinity Western University, Langley, BC.

He has taught lower-level undergraduate students since 2013, mostly teaching courses in Ethics and Critical Thinking. While at Trinity Western University, he also taught undergraduate students in the Extension Program, a program designed in part to serve students with special needs. That experience required developing new types of curriculum and evaluation, often tailored to specific individual needs.

Andrew enjoys reading, writing, and playing games with his wife and kids.

He is passionate about the Open Door because of its effective method of teaching students, particularly the Barton System for Reading and Spelling and the one-on-one interaction between student and tutor.

“Every child can learn. Just not on the same day or in the same way.”
– George Evans

Every student has unique needs, let’s discuss them!

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