Mini-Unit Designers

Team of Mini Unit Designers

Participants and faculty of the Doors to the World 2015 Summer Institute at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Back row, left to right: Jasmine Robinson, Dora Maria Torres, Courtney Waring (faculty), Jean Flegenheimer, Jamie Lynn Lewinski, Maria Garcia, Natalie Sowell (faculty), Maria Jose Botelho (faculty), Jennifer Johnston (teacher-consultant). Front row, left to right: Terry Scutro, Felicia Mednick, Julie Durmis, Faith Wint, Michelle Gajda, Linda Barca, Norma Rosario-Trepper.


The twelve educators who participated in the Doors to the World Summer Institute for Educators in 2015 developed the mini-unit plans for the first twelve books we selected. Those mini-units appear on this website and we will add more as they are created.


Linda Barca is an English Language Learning and reading teacher at the Jackson Street Elementary School in Northampton, Massachusetts. Linda worked on Sopa de Frijoles/Bean Soup.


Julie Durmis is the library teacher for Sandwich Public Schools on beautiful Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In her current role, school librarian at Forestdale Elementary School, she serves 600+ preK-2 grade students. In the years prior at the Oak Ridge Elementary School she supported grades K-8 and K-6. Julie earned her Bachelor of Science degree at Stonehill College in Healthcare Administration and obtained her teaching license in Library All Levels K-12 with a Masters in Education Library Teacher from Cambridge College. She is a Certified Educator with Common Sense Media, dedicated to teaching digital literacy and citizenship to students, staff, and families. Julie worked on I Know Here.


Jean Flegenheimer is an elementary special needs teacher for Northampton Public Schools, currently teaching pre-school at the Bridge Street School, Northampton, Massachusetts. Jean worked on Out of the Way! Out of the Way!


Michelle Gajda is currently a second grade teacher at Hawlemont Regional Elementary School in Charlemont, Massachusetts. Hawlemont is an agricultural elementary school with a fully functioning barn and greenhouse that the staff and students care for. The school is working toward becoming a hands-on, science-based elementary school. Michelle has also taught first, third, and  fourth grade as well as preschool, but she has found her permanent home and love  in second grade. Michelle holds a Masters in Language and Literacy from Simmons College in Boston. She is a licensed reading specialist and math recovery interventionist. It is Michelle's joy and passion to open up the world of reading to her students! Michelle worked on Circles of Hope.


Maria Garcia is a graduate of The Bank Street College of Education in New York, New York. For the past 15 years, she has been a kindergarten teacher in Northampton, Massachusetts, currently teaching at the Jackson Street School. She is sure that is has often been said, but she loves her job. She incorporates yoga, dancing, cooking, art and play. Passionate about anti-racist, anti-sexist, multicultural education, her goals for her teaching are to give children experiences that will help them be able to recognize and describe their identity and to celebrate the cultures of others. Most important, she wants students to see themselves as successful learners and to love going to school. When she is not in the classroom, Maria enjoys singing music from around the world with the Amandla Community Chorus. Maria worked on The Golden Flower: A Taino Myth from Puerto Rico.


Jamie Lynn Lewinski is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher for the Granby Public School District in Granby, Massachusetts. Both her undergraduate and graduate work were completed at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In addition to being certified for ESL in grades K through 12, Jamie is also licensed to teach English in grades 5-12 and is a certified Orton-Gillingham tutor. In the spring of 2013, Jamie was awarded the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation’s Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award.  She currently provides English Language Development to students in grades K through 10 for Granby. Jamie maintains a strong commitment to promoting equity, diversity awareness and respect in the small community she serves. Jamie worked on the book, Grandfather’s Journey.


Felicia Mednick turned to teaching after working in residential settings with neglected and abused children. She received a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Development before beginning to teach in 3rd and 4th grade classrooms.  She then obtained reading licensure and is currently the reading specialist at Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School. The school’s charter is to integrate experiential learning and the arts into education, as well as to develop children’s voices, and to develop community amongst families, school, and the local community. Felicia serves on the diversity committee at the school. Her outside interests include reading (of course!), gardening with friends, Jewish study, Pilates, and climate justice activism. Felicia worked on Hands Around the Library.


Jasmine Robinson is a veteran educator with a social justice bent working in Amherst, Massachusetts, and a doctoral candidate in the Language, Literacy, and Culture concentration at the the College of Education, University of Massachusetts Amherst. With a background in drama in education, Jasmine draws on the drama  process for inspiring children as they engage in multimodal  literacy practices in the classroom. Ms. Robinson is an advocate for the use of multicultural texts in all subject areas. Her published work, Critical Approaches to Multicultural Children's Literature: Challenging Pedagogies of Silence (New England Reading Association Journal, 48:2, 2013),  argues that children’s appreciation of diversity is dependent on opportunities to be critically and emotionally engaged with multicultural texts, making connections and disconnections whenever possible. Jasmine worked on I See the Sun in China.


Norma Rosario-Trepper for the last eighteen years, has been an educator with the Roselle Park School District in Roselle Park, New Jersey. She teaches kindergarten to 5th grade English as a Second Language to English Language Learners (ELL) at Sherman School. Norma was the 2001 recipient of the Teacher of the Year Award and is bilingual in Spanish and English. She holds a Master in the Art of Teaching degree from Mary Grove College in Detroit, Michigan.  Her mission includes instilling a love of reading and learning a second language in her students as well as supporting their respect of people of culturally diverse backgrounds.  Norma volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and enjoys yoga, salsa dancing, travel and reading. Norma worked on the book, Dim Sum for Everyone!


Terry (Maria-Teresa) Scutro teaches art and enriched art at Robert Gordon Elementary School and Roselle Park High School in Roselle Park, New Jersey, where she also founded the National Honor Society. Students from the high school have assisted Terry in the painting of a 17-foot mural at the elementary school about children’s books. After studying visual art at the duCret School of Art in Plainfield, New Jersey, while working there for many years, she received degrees in Elementary Education and History from Kean University. Terry served for over twelve years on the Roselle Park Board of Education, receiving the first Union County School Board Member of the Year award. She has written and illustrated two books for children.. She has three grown sons, two grandchildren, one rescued dog, and one parakeet found in her backyard. Terry worked on A New Year’s Reunion.


Dora Maria Torres was born, raised and educated in Puerto Rico. Dora Maria holds  a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a graduate degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Puerto Rico. She taught sociology and psychology at the Inter-American University while also serving as a guidance counselor in the the same department. She moved to United Stated with the purpose of learning English and became a social worker at the Department of Social Services (DSS), winning the DSS Commissioner’s Award, a Massachusetts Governor’s Award and the Holyoke Police Department’s Bravery award. She moved into education settings as a School Adjustment Counselor/Social Worker and now works in the Springfield Public Schools, providing adjustment counseling in class, individual and group counseling to children in need and referrals of children and families to outside therapeutic services. Maria worked on Grandma’s Gift.


Faith Wint is the Gifted and Talented teacher at Meadow Brook School in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, where she has worked since 2009. The Gifted and Talented program at Meadow Brook is designed to be a “push in” program for all first and second grade students in the district, about 350 children in total. Using a multidisciplinary approach, lessons focus primarily on an in-depth understanding of particular science and social studies-based themes. Faith holds a Master of Arts in Applied Child Development from Tufts University, and an Ed.D in Curriculum and Teaching from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Faith worked on My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me.