LEAP Training-of-Trainers

Applicants should be currently employed by a MA educational collaborative or an ESE-designated district, and experienced in designing and facilitating professional development and consultative services for school districts.

LEAP logo

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) and the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) are pleased to announce an additional offering of the Leading Educational Access Project (LEAP) training-of-trainers program. Please note this is an application process. All applicants will be notified of acceptance.


ESE is working collaboratively with a cohort of MA districts to assess why disproportionality in special education identification and/or placement is occurring for low-income students, and to identify policies, procedures, and practices that are successful in preventing it and increasing supports for this student population. The Leading Educational Access Project embraces access and equity for English learners (ELs) and students of color in addition to students living in low-income and  students with disabilities. 

The key focus areas for this project are:

  1. Improving understanding of and teaching with poverty, race and culture in mind
  2. Improving resources for educators and student support teams
  3. Improving services and placements for high mobility students
  4. Decreasing inappropriate eligibility determinations for special education
  5. Increasing identification of special education placements in the least restrictive environment

ESE has identified a need for trainers to support school districts in their efforts to understand the impact of poverty and other issues on identification, placement, and student outcomes, and to address these issues through appropriate systems and strategies in the classroom, school environment, and the community. (Please note that while low-income student populations include those living in poverty, not all low-income students are living in poverty.)

The LEAP Training-of-Trainers (ToT) Program was first offered in 2016, and members from 12 educational collaboratives participated in this first-cohort training. This statewide cadre of trainers is available to support all districts, regardless of a district's regional affiliation. Trainers are equipped to bring qualified training and consultative services to schools and districts and can bring access to resources and best practices to support district efforts.

Content topics of the training program include:

  • Cultural competency
  • The interaction among poverty, ethnicity and race, and learning
  • Disproportionality
  • Identification and assessments
  • Student support teams and MA tiered systems of support (MTSS)
  • Placement and least-restrictive environment (LRE)
  • Homeless and transient students
  • Basic brain and learning principles
  • School and classroom culture and learning
  • Working memory
  • Executive functions
  • Semantic memory
  • Episodic memory
  • Best practice strategies for enhancing learning experiences of students living in poverty in the inclusive classroom, including but not limited to those for improving student engagement, higher order thinking, perception of control, communication (pragmatic language and vocabulary), early literacy, social learning, self-regulation, organization, study skills, and task persistence and performance
  • Family and community supports and engagement

Attendees should bring their taptops to the program sessions.


Participants should be:

  1. currently employed by a MA educational collaborative OR from an ESE-designated district
  2. experienced in designing and facilitating professional development and consultative services for school districts

Facilitation and consultative experience is required as each participant will be expected to provide a variety of support services to districts upon program completion.

Progam Requirements

The 2017-2018 cohort has been selected and the program is underway. The 2018-2019 Program Requirements will be updated at a later date.


  • Albert Mussad

    Albert E. Johnson-Mussad, Ph.D., serves as a Leadership and Instruction Continuous Improvement Specialist at the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES). He travels nationally to facilitate professional development for school leaders, teachers and other licensed educators in instructional leadership, English learner education, world language and bilingual education, adolescent literacy education, and improving outcomes for students in poverty. Dr. Johnson-Mussad coaches leaders and teachers, and provides technical assistance (e.g., strategic planning, curriculum development, educational program evaluation). He is a seasoned K-12 teacher and instructional leader who has worked with central office and school-based administrators to increase opportunity and  achievement for both vulnerable learners and high-achieving learners. 

  • Laurel Peltier photo

    Laurel Peltier holds an Ed.D. in Special Education Leadership and C.A.G.S. in Special Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, as well as a professional license as a Special Education Administrator in Massachusetts. She has over 25 years of experience in transition assessment, planning and service delivery, and has provided leadership for transition in public schools and at the college level. Prior to joining the team at CES, Laurel developed and led public and private secondary school programs for students with disabilities, taught undergraduate and graduate courses in special education and writing, and acted as a consultant and professional development provider for more than 20 school districts in Massachusetts. Her most recent post was with the Amherst Pelham Regional High School. In addition to her professional experience, Laurel brings experience as the parent of a child with autism and intellectual disabilities.

  • Sharon Jones photo

    Sharon Jones worked in public school districts for 34 years prior to joining the Collaborative for Educational Services. In June 2016, she concluded nine years of service as Administrator of Special Education in the Pioneer Valley Regional School District. She has worked as both a special education and general education teacher; assistant principal; educational diagnostician/consultant; and inclusion specialist. Sharon has taught courses on inclusion for the University of Massachusetts. Sharon is widely known for her expertise in helping schools and teachers adopt the structures, dispositions and skills for effective co-teaching.