Skip to Content

Research Staff

Core Staff

Brooke Culclasure
Brooke Culclasure is the Center for Education Policy and Leadership's Research Director. Currently, Dr. Culclasure oversees the Center’s Evaluation Capacity Building Initiative and serves as the Principal Investigator of the South Carolina Public School Montessori study, the Overcoming Obstacles Life Skills Program evaluation, and the South Carolina Project-Based Learning evaluation. She also currently serves as a lead evaluator for the United Way of Greenville County's OnTrack Greenville Initiative and served from 2012-2014 as an evaluator for the Florida Race to the Top federal grant. She completed her B.A. at the University of Richmond and earned masters degrees from the University of Virginia and University of South Carolina and her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.
Tracy Waters
Tracy Waters is the Center for Education Policy and Leadership's Assistant Research Director and manages the comprehensive evaluation of OnTrack Greenville, as a part of the Social Innovation Fund grant secured by the United Way of Greenville County. She received her B.A. from Central Michigan University and her Ph.D. from Clemson University and has extensive experience in diverse nonprofits and education research and evaluation. Dr. Waters previously served as Research and Grants Manager for the United Way of Greenville County and has helped plan and implement data collection for several research studies, including an NIH-funded study on rural teen dating violence and a mixed-methods examination of children's neighborhood and civic engagement.


David Fleming
David J. Fleming, Senior Researcher in the Center for Education Policy and Leadership, is assistant professor in the political science department at Furman University, where he teaches classes in research methodology, American politics and public policy. Dr. Fleming has significant experience in education research and program evaluation. A senior research associate for the School Choice Demonstration Project, he is participating in the official, state-authorized evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) the nation’s oldest and largest urban school voucher program. He is also the project statistician for the Montessori, Overcoming Obstacles and research projects. Dr. Fleming graduated magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Kelly Gregory
Kelly Gregory serves as a Research Specialist in the Center for Education Policy and Leadership. Currently, she assists with data collection and compilation, instrument and report creation, and research logistics for the evaluation of the United Way of Greenville County’s OnTrack Greenville Initiative. Prior to joining the Riley Institute, Kelly taught special education for eight years at both the elementary and secondary level. From 2005 to 2013, she also assisted with several Institute initiatives, including the Emerging Public Leaders program and the Hewlett Foundation research study on public education in South Carolina. Kelly holds a B.A. in Psychology from Furman and an M.A.T. in Special Education from Converse College.
Sally Morris
Sally Morris is a Research Associate in the Center of Education Policy and Leadership. Sally graduated with a B.A. in Sociology from Furman University. She is completing her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she already has received an M.A. in Sociology and a Certificate in Survey Methodology. As Qualtrics Technical Consultant for the H.W. Odum Institute for Research in Social Science, Sally worked extensively with students and faculty to design and implement small and large-scale survey research on a variety of topics. She also has significant experience in qualitative research, particularly in designing and fielding in-depth interviews in a wide range of settings. Sally’s work history includes the following projects: UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Single Fathers Due to Cancer study; the Survey of International and U.S. Nurses out of UNC’s Department of Health Care Environments; and Research Triangle International’s study on food security, with funding from a grant provided by the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA.
Alexis Sprogis

Alexis Sprogis
 joined the Riley team in 2008. She is currently a Research Specialist with the Center for Education Policy and Leadership, where she is responsible for assisting with data collection, instrument and report creation, research logistics, and database compilation associated with several research projects, including the South Carolina Public School Montessori study, the Overcoming Obstacles Life Skills Program evaluation and the education model evaluation funded by the Education Oversight Committee. She received a B.A. from Winthrop University in 2006 and is in the process of earning her M.A. at the University of Nebraska (Kearney).

Project Team Members

Lorraine DeJong
Lorraine DeJong, Co-Investigator of the South Carolina Public School Montessori study, is associate professor of education and the coordinator of Furman’s early childhood teacher education program. Dr. DeJong received her B.A. from Cornell University and Ph.D. from Florida State University. Her research and scholarly interests include early childhood teaching models and pedagogy. She has published several book chapters and articles related to service learning, project based learning, and integrated curriculum designs. Dr.DeJong has experience developing, coordinating and reporting numerous grant projects related to early childhood education. She currently serves as president of the South Carolina Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators.
Rashmi Janakiraman
Rashmi Janakiraman serves as a data collector for the South Carolina Public School Montessori study. She currently teaches in the Greenville Country School System and is a graduate student in Early Childhood Education at Furman University. She has a degree in computer science and engineering from Madras University, and completed her elementary teacher training at Furman University. Rashmi is familiar with many early childhood curriculum models including Project Approach, Montessori, Reggio Emilio, High Scope and Creative Curriculum. She is keenly aware of the diverse cultural, social, and family backgrounds that influence families from outside of US, especially Asia, and is interested in bringing sustainability initiatives into the primary and elementary classrooms.
Ginny Riga
Ginny RigaProject Consultant for the South Carolina Public School Montessori Project, has held numerous teaching and administrative positions in public education for over 30 years. The majority of her work has been in Columbia, SC, where she was principal of the first total Montessori public school in the state in the early 2000’s. She led the growth of Montessori in public schools throughout South Carolina as Coordinator of Montessori Public School Programs at the South Carolina Department of Education from 2008-2011. Dr. Riga earned a doctorate from the University of South Carolina in Educational Leadership and Policy and is Montessori  trained in primary and lower elementary levels. She also serves on the board of directors of the American Montessori Society (AMS) and is a member of the Montessori Leadership Collaborative, a national group working towards unifying the Montessori movement in America. She is a past board member of Montessori Educational Programs International (MEPI) and a founding member and former officer of the South Carolina Montessori Alliance.
Troy Terry
Troy Terry, Co-Investigator of the Project Based Learning evaluation, received his Ph.D. from Clemson University. As Director of Graduate Studies in Education at Furman, he oversees all phases of the Graduate program and serves as a professor of School Leadership. His past professional experiences include teaching high school English and Drama, and serving as a middle school assistant principal and an elementary principal. Dr. Terry is a literacy and service-learning advocate and has presented at county, state and regional meetings on project-based learning, public school law, integrated literacy programs in the elementary school, creating an exemplary writing school, service learning, curriculum integration, teaming, reading and writing across the curriculum, grant writing, and humanities-based curriculum. Dr. Terry has authored or edited three publications on curriculum integration: ARISE – Integrating Service Learning into the Curriculum 9-12; ARISE: Service Learning at the Middle Level; and REACH: Integrating the Collaborative Humanities and is currently working on a text on project-based learning. His continued research interests include Public School Administration and the Law, Project-Based Learning, and Literacy.




Co-researchers on the New Tech Schools project are Drs. Eric Stocks and Mike Odell, University of Texas (Tyler) 

Student interns

Nicole Hyman
Nicole Hyman is a Junior Political Science and Sociology double major, and Poverty Studies minor from Hartsville, South Carolina. She is active with The Riley Institute Advance Team and is a campus chapter officer for Delta Delta Delta Sorority. Some of Nicole's favorite things include: drinking cold-pressed juice, keeping up with current events, and watching Grey's Anatomy.
Emilee O'Brien
Emilee O'Brien is a Senior from Wilbraham, Massachusetts studying Political Science and Poverty Studies. She is interested in a career in advocacy in the non profit or public policy sector. In her free time, she enjoys playing golf, cooking food with friends, and spending time outdoors. 
Daniel Zhang
Daniel Zhang is a senior at Furman University, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Film Studies and Middle East and Islamic Studies. Born in Shanghai, China and spending most of his adult life here in the States, Daniel developed a strong professional interest in international relations, human rights and media communications. Prior to this internship, Daniel spent his summer in Washington, DC, providing research support for Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at National Defense University. 
Noah Zimmermann
Noah Zimmermann is a junior Political Science and Philosophy double major with a minor in Poverty Studies, and is from Camden, South Carolina. On campus, he is actively involved in Catholic Campus Ministry, Poverty Awareness Committee, Admission Ambassadors, Riley Institute Advance Team, and the Outdoors Club. In his free time, he loves getting out in nature on hikes with friends and enjoying the outdoors.