History of the DE-PBS Project

The DE-PBS Project proudly serves as a technical assistance center for the Delaware Department of Education to actualize the vision to create safe and caring learning environments that promote the social-emotional and academic development of all children.  The statewide initiative is designed to build the knowledge and skills of Delaware educators in the concepts and evidence-based practices of Positive Behavior Support (PBS) as a Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS).

The Delaware Positive Behavior Support Project (DE-PBS) project began in 1999.  In the early years of the project, more focus was placed on supporting individual students when initially working with schools, as schools would often request assistance in this area.  The major objective at this time was to develop and implement a set of training modules on current principles and practices of positive behavior supports, with more content focused on individual supports.  The project utilized a train-the-trainer model with representative district level teams.

However, after a couple of years the focus shifted to supporting schools in creating a positive school system so that there will be fewer students who need individual supports and that these individual supports will be more effective because they are implemented in a large system of School-wide support.  Staff provided training and technical assistance at the school level to implementing their own School-wide PBS systems.  In the 2002-2003 school year, staff from the Illinois PBS project provided consultation and training to assist with the development of a larger infrastructure of technical assistance and training capacity in Delaware and share their training resources for working with school teams.  Training was provided by Illinois consultants to district level staff, considered DE-PBS Coaches, as well as training provided directly to school teams in School-wide PBS.

A DE-PBS Cadre of Coaches from active districts receive training and technical assistance from Project staff so they can in turn train and support schools in their district. Additionally, with the professional development and support structure for assisting schools to develop effective School-wide systems in place and the number of schools implementing School-wide PBS is increasing,  the training and supports for students with more significant behavioral needs was re-evaluated.  The content from the Illinois state project in Targeted and Intensive Team Training was revised and blended with material from the original modules on Functional Behavior Assessment, Behavior Support Planning, and Person-Centered Planning.

Through the years that followed, a primary goal became to increase local capacity to support the schools implementing multi-tiered systems of support for behavior and social-emotional competencies.  The Project provides professional development opportunities each year that focus on Tier 1: Universal, Tier 2: Targeted and Tier 3: Intensive behavior supports.  An additional Project focus has been to develop of online modules to make access to content more accessible to district staff and schools.   Module topics focus on topics such as improving aspects of school climate, building team leader skills and integrating social-emotional learning in a multi-tiered system of behavioral support.  The Project looks forward expanding and enhancing these resources.

DE-PBS Contacts

NamePositionPhone #Email
Debby BoyerCo-Director(302) 831-3503dboyer@udel.edu
Susan VeenemaDDOE Educ. Associate(302) 735-4210susan.veenema@doe.k12.de.us
Sarah HearnProgram Manager and DE School Climate Coordinator(302) 831-4896skhearn@udel.edu
Kittie RehrigProject Coach krehrig@udel.edu
Megan PellProject Coach(302) 831-0258mpell@udel.edu
Brynn FallahProject Coach(302) 831-0223bfallah@udel.edu
Niki Kendall Project Coach(302) 831-6735robertsn@udel.edu
Valerie BrownProject Coachvlbrown@udel.edu
Alex MillerGraduate Assistantalexm@udel.edu
Emily ConsiglioGraduate Assistanteconsig@udel.edu
Mark MillerGraduate Assistant mxmiller@udel.edu

Meet our Team

Debby BoyerDE-PBS Co-Project Director
Debby Boyer
DE-PBS Co-Project Director

In her role overseeing the Center’s School-Age Services unit, Debby serves as the co-director of the statewide Positive Behavior Support (PBS) Initiative, a collaboration between CDS and the Delaware Department of Education. In that capacity, she has provided training and technical assistance on implementing PBS in schools and other organizations serving children throughout the state. In addition, Debby supervises and partners with several other state-wide projects serving school-age children, including extended learning opportunities and ensuring access to the general education curriculum and environment for students with disabilities.

Before coming to CDS, Debby worked as a consultant for the Boston Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, where she assisted organizations throughout the United States develop meaningful rehabilitation and recovery systems for individuals with psychiatric disabilities.

In her spare time, Debby enjoys figure skating and hiking in the woods with her dog. She lives in Newark, Del.

Sarah HearnDE-PBS Program Manager and DE School Climate Coordinator
Sarah Hearn
DE-PBS Program Manager and DE School Climate Coordinator

Sarah has worked with the DE-PBS project in various capacities since 2000 and currently serves as Program Manager of the Delaware Positive Behavior Support (PBS) project. In that role, she coordinates and delivers professional learning opportunities for public school educators around establishing multi-tiered systems of support for behavior and social-emotional wellbeing.  Sarah also works with a cadre of district MTSS/PBS coaches to support district-level coordination of training, coaching and evaluation for local demonstration sites.  In support of Project DelAWARE, she enjoys working more closely with one of the grant’s partner districts as they work to enhance their MTSS with Interconnected Systems Framework features in order to proactively meet mental health needs of the school community.  Sarah also serves as the survey coordinator for the Delaware School Climate Survey, and as such organizes the administration of the state-wide survey and provides technical assistance.  In recent years, she has been excited to work with DE Department of Education on resource development to support integration of academic and social-emotional-behavioral supports within a MTSS framework. 
Sarah is a graduate of the University of Delaware, where she majored in Family and Community Services with minors in Psychology and Disability Studies. She later earned her M.Ed. in Exceptional Children and Youth, also at UD.
A proud mom of three, Sarah says spare time is rare. When she finds it, she enjoys spending time with her family and watching musical theater (or better yet, being part of it).

Kittie RehrigProject Coach
Kittie Rehrig
Project Coach

Kittie Rehrig works part-time as a project coach and consultant for the DE-PBS Project. She retired in 2016 after working for the State of Delaware for 32 years. Before her retirement, she was the district administrator responsible for student services for the Appoquinimink School District. She brings her experience from that role to the DE-PBS Project. Some of her areas of responsibility included school climate, safety and crisis response, student discipline, wellness, school choice, dropout prevention, parent and community involvement and student mentoring. Prior to working at Appoquinimink, Kittie was the coordinator of School Climate and a school social worker for the Brandywine School District. During her school career, Kittie was actively involved with implementing the three tiers of PBS at the building level.

Kittie is a graduate of the University of Delaware where she majored in Community and Family Services. She later earned her MSW from Delaware State University.

Kittie is a resident of Sussex County. She has been married for 37 years and has 2 adult sons. For fun, Kittie likes to run, exercise, read and cook.

Megan PellProject Coach
Megan Pell
Project Coach

In her coaching role with the DE-PBS Project and current Project DelAWARE Grant activities, Megan collaborates with educators throughout the state and project colleagues to help districts and schools to create and sustain their multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) for positive student behavior and school climate. In this capacity, she provides resources and guidance to support district and school use of evidence-based and equitable MTSS-B interventions, on-going data-analysis, shared decision-making and effective tools for promoting the fidelity and sustainability of these activities.

Before joining the University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies community, Megan was a special education teacher, Lovaas Therapy team member, and secondary transition coach for students with disabilities in Maryland public schools and at Escola Americana de Rio Janeiro in Brazil. Before coaching full-time, Megan coordinated 3 cohorts of the CDS Junior Partners in Policymaking program to promote disability and self-advocacy in DE.

She received her Doctorate in Education from the University of Delaware and is an adjunct professor for UD. Her research interests include school climate, equity, and the implementation of MTSS-B in all schools but especially secondary schools. She has co-authored articles in the journals Learning Environments Research and Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, and has been a contributor to the CDS Inclusion blog.

Megan lives in the city of Wilmington with her husband and their two sons. Together (and between many hikes and camping trips) the family pursues interests related to social justice, music, and garden-focused community service.

Brynn FallahProject Coach
Brynn Fallah
Project Coach

Brynn works with the Delaware Positive Behavior Support (DE-PBS) Project as a project coach, assisting school districts with their implementation of student behavioral and mental health supports through a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). She works on special assignments for Project DelAWARE, with a focus on integrating mental health and student, family, and community voice through an Interconnected Systems Framework (ISF). Brynn’s MTSS work has a focus on Tier 1 universal supports with a highlight on promoting student voice, infusing social emotional learning throughout the school day and into academics, and building functional teams/establishing systems to implement PBS. She has the opportunity to promote social emotional learning throughout the state of Delaware by participating in the creation of the Delaware Social Emotional Competencies and a companion toolkit to support the state’s educators to teach the competencies. Brynn promotes equity through her memberships on equity teams, personal anti-racism work, and by advocating for equitable student outcomes via a culturally responsive PBIS program.

Before coming to CDS, Brynn worked as a school counselor in New York City and Dover, Del. Brynn has a passion for social-emotional learning and mental health, especially for students in underserved populations. She holds a B.A. in Applied Psychology and Human Relations from Pace University and a M.S.Ed. in School Counseling (K-12) from Hunter College.

Brynn lives in Hockessin, Del. with her husband, adorable son and possibly even more adorable dog. She is an advocate of mental wellness and self-care and can be found practicing it on the weekends through family time, exercise, reading, enjoying nature and shoe shopping.

Niki  KendallProject Coach
Niki Kendall
Project Coach

Niki works with the Delaware Positive Behavior Support project. Her special interests include coaching educators to effectively design and deliver Tier 3 behavioral supports, universal SEB screening and data based decision making. In addition to her coaching role, Niki works with pre-service teachers as an adjunct instructor in the School of Education.

Before coming to CDS, Niki was a school psychologist in the Capital School District in Dover, Del., supporting students in preschool and elementary school. In addition to her work as a school psychologist, Niki has several years of experience as a substitute teacher and early childhood educator. She has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Lock Haven University and an Educational Specialist degree in School Psychology from Marywood University.

Valerie BrownProject Coach
Valerie Brown
Project Coach

Valerie Brown works part-time as a project coach for the DE-PBS project. She retired in 2020 after 30 years in the Red Clay School District. She has vast experience with MTSS. In Tier 1 with over 20 years as a classroom teacher and member of the school wide PBS team. Also as a Tier 2 Problem Solving team leader and intervention coordinator and Tier 3 as a student advisor collaborating with members of the student support team.

Her current areas of responsibilities supporting the Delaware Social Emotional and Wellbeing plan and serving as a Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Valerie is a graduate of Livingstone College where she majored in Health & Physical Education. She later earned a MS in HPE from Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.  

Valerie lives in New Castle with her husband, they have 2 adult children. She enjoys spending time with family, reading and listening to music.

Emily Consiglio
Graduate Assistant

As a graduate student for the project, Emily works with our team members to assist the progress of the project’s efforts to support Delaware schools. Teaching Pre-K uncovered Emily’s passion for social-emotional learning for the impact it has on students’ behavioral and academic development. Emily earned her BA in Psychology from Stevenson University. She is currently a graduate student in the University of Delaware’s School Psychology Program. Emily loves to spend her time doing yoga, hiking, and reading a book while cuddling with her cat, Clementine.

Mark Miller
Graduate Assistant

As a Graduate Assistant for the project, Mark predominately helps with promoting equity-driven and culturally responsive practices within PBS systems. Specifically, Mark supports the project with developing action plans and trainings that aid DE educators with ways they can incorporate this work into their classroom. Prior to coming to the University of Delaware and DE-PBS, Mark worked as an Elementary & Middle School Counselor in Philadelphia, PA and Raleigh, NC as well as working part-time as a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Professional for various community mental health agencies. Mark has earned his Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Interpersonal Communication from Villanova University and a Masters Degree in School & Mental Health Counseling from the University of Pennsylvania. Mark is currently a Ph.D. Candidate for Human Development and Family Sciences at the University. Outside of school and work, Mark loves to spend time with his dog, find new trails or parks to explore with her and enjoys to travel. 

Alex Miller
Graduate Assistant

Alex loves working with data and assisting the team with various projects, such as Universal SEB Screening. Alex discovered her passion for supporting students using data-based decision-making and behavioral interventions while working with special education elementary students in DE public schools. Alex earned her BA in Psychology from the University of Delaware, where she is now a graduate student in the School Psychology program. In her free time, Alex loves spending time with her family, friends, and especially her goofball of a dog, Teddy. She also enjoys playing guitar and piano, and going to the beach.