Cassie Sheets, Executive Director
Cassie Sheets has been an educator for two decades, teaching students from preschool to college. She moved to Montana in 2009, worked in the nonprofit sector, earned a Master's in Sociology from University of Montana, and taught as an adjunct in the department for several years. Then she transitioned to the publishing industry, earning a Master's in Children's Literature, running the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and working for School Library Journal as a teacher educator. She is now working on an MEd in Curriculum & Instruction from University of Montana, which inspired her return to K-12 work as Writing Coaches of Montana's Executive Director in 2020. She is thrilled to support innovative literacy pedagogy fueled by community relationships. She enjoys home life with her school chef husband (Chef Dev), baby daughter (Dublin), and cat (Lorax).
Jeanne Wdowin, Flathead Coordinator
Jeanne Wdowin retired from public education after spending 39 years as a classroom teacher. She started at the intermediate elementary level and moved to middle school science, math, and teacher of students in English as Second Language (ESL) classes. She holds a Masters plus a Certificate of Advanced Study in Education from NYS, and Arizona endorsements in ESL and middle school ELA. After leaving the classroom, she worked for 6 years as the district assessment specialist in Tempe, Arizona, K-8 District #3, in the Research, Evaluation & Assessment Department. She knows it’s important to facilitate students’ learning, in order for them to reach their full potential. Currently, and for the past 40 years, she has managed her wood turning artist husband’s business, Natural Nook Wooden Vases. She is passionate about all things natural and can be found selling home grown rhubarb and eggs at the local markets; as well as around the county selling waterproof wooden vases at local art festivals.
Kat Jackson, Missoula/Ravalli Coordinator
Kat Jackson is a graduate student and teaching assistant at the University of Montana studying environmental philosophy and nonprofit administration. She serves as a private writing tutor for a group of middle school students, and she has previously worked as a youth counselor and program coordinator in a group home setting. Kat had the privilege of becoming Writing Coaches of Montana's inaugural intern in 2021, and she joined WCM's staff as Missoula/Ravalli Coordinator in 2022. She is passionate about promoting literacy and critical thinking skills, and she loves working with WCM's passionate and multi-talented volunteer base.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jay Shaver, President
Jay Shaver has lived in Whitefish since 1987. He is a retired physical therapist and graduated from the University of Montana in 1984. He has been a writing coach for four years and recently joined the board of directors. He is a believer in volunteerism and has enjoyed working with various nonprofit organizations. Jay is passionate about WCM’s role in helping students become better writers through development of critical thinking skills and is excited about WCM’s potential to coach students throughout the state.
Beverly Chin, Vice President
Beverly Ann Chin, Ph. D., is Professor Emeritus of English and Former Director of the English Teaching Program, the Montana Writing Project, and Composition Program at the University of Montana. She is a Past President of National Council of Teachers of English, Past President of the Montana Association of Teachers of English Language Arts, and a former Board Member of National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Beverly was the Senior Project Consultant for the 2011 and 2017 NAEP Writing Frameworks—“The Nation’s Report Card.” A respected leader in English language arts standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessment, Beverly has worked with students and educators across our nation and the world. She is the author of articles, e-books, and textbooks on the teaching of reading and writing. She is also the editor of video programs on teaching multicultural literature. With over 45 years of experience, Beverly has received numerous honors, including the NCTE Distinguished Service Award, the NCTE Outstanding Middle Level Educator Award, the NCTE Rewey Belle Ingles Award for an Outstanding Woman in English Education, the MATELA Distinguished Educator Award, and the University of Montana Distinguished Teacher Award.
Jason Kolberg, Treasurer
Jason Kolberg has lived in Missoula for nearly 40 years after moving from Upstate NY and graduated from Hellgate High School. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from the University of Montana and has worked for Clearwater Credit Union for 29 years in IT, Risk Management, and Data Analysis. He enjoys spending time with his family hiking the Montana wilds or in the backyard when not working.
Stefan Olson, Secretary
Stefan Olson teaches middle school English Language Arts at Frenchtown School District. He recently graduated from the University of Montana with an MA in English Teaching and also holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing and a BA in English Writing, History, and Political Science. Stefan joined Writing Coaches of Montana as a Writing Coach and then helped develop WCM's online coaching capabilities before joining the board in June 2021. Stefan is most inspired by WCM's ability to support teachers and by the coaches' commitments to engaging Montana's budding writers. In his spare time, Stefan enjoys reading a good book, gardening, hiking, canoeing, camping and generally enjoying Montana's great outdoors.
Hą́ midáguyebi, Ową́hįkne Wamní emájibi Namákoda. Wadopaȟnatuwa žemaca. Matt Bell is Nakoda and Aaniiih from Fort Belknap. He is currently serving as the Language and Culture Specialist at the Montana Office of Public Instruction. His recent background experience includes teaching Native American Studies and English in Missoula, as well as Graduate studies in Linguistics, Native American Studies, and English Teaching. He is a University of Montana graduate, Missoula resident, and proud father of one amazing four year old.
Rita Braun began working with the Writing Coaches of Montana (WCM) as a coach in 2015 in the Flathead. In 2019 she joined the WCM staff as the Flathead Director, working through the pandemic as WCM developed and rolled out its online coaching program in 2020, then joined the WCM board in June of 2021. Prior to WCM, Rita worked diligently with various entities as a writer, editor, sales rep, and in the life-saving position for indecisive career seekers: waiting tables. Rita's guiding light: do your best, and hang in there! Don't give up!
Jim and his wife retired and moved to Missoula from Baltimore in 2013 to be close to their two grandchildren, both of whom attend an MCPS elementary school. Jim began volunteering with Writing Coaches of Montana in 2014 and joined the Board in July 2019 as the Treasurer. During his 40 year career as a commercial lender, Jim was often frustrated by the limited writing skills exhibited by many young bankers. The Writing Coaches program is an excellent vehicle for helping improve writing skills early in a student’s development, well in advance of the first step of their working career. Jim holds a BA in Economics from Wake Forest University and an MA in Economics from Vanderbilt University.
Shelley relocated to Missoula, Montana in 2020. She is a practicing divorce attorney for over twenty years. As such, she appreciates the value of good writing skills and the benefit of writing coaches. Having served on other Board of Directors, Shelley knows the value of programs of excellence. she and her beloved dog, Bella, are proud to be Montanans. And, she is proud to be a board member of such an excellent organization.
Born and raised in Montana's Bitterroot Valley, Neil Massey feels most comfortable in the West. After teaching for several years in California and Oregon, he returned to join the English Department in Hamilton High School where he first encountered the Writing Coaches of Montana. Currently he teaches IB English 3 and English 2 at Big Sky High School. Neil participated in scoring the Montana University System Writing Assessment (MUSWA), which inspired him to co-author the Hamilton School District Writing Assessment. Because of his participation in the Montana Writing Project, he is an enthusiastic supporter of writing across the curriculum. Most weeknights, you can find him working to complete his Masters in Curriculum and Instruction; on the weekends he is most likely crafting cocktails at Westslope Distillery.