Meet Our Teachers

Meet Our Educators
  • Our Teachers

    have outstanding qualifications and caring attitudes.
    All of our teachers are Certified Teachers and are specialists in reading, many have master’s degrees and/or additional training in a particular area of instruction.
    • Debbie Heffernan

      Debbie Heffernan


      Debbie graduated from Illinois State University in Normal and has an MS degree from the University of Illinois. Having taught in the Urbana School District for 33 years (grades 3-6), she especially enjoys helping students gain self-confidence in themselves as successful students. Debbie retired from Urbana Schools in June 2009, but continues to work as a substitute teacher in the district. She has been an instructor at The Reading Group since July 2009.


    • Michael Marks

      Michael Marks


      Michael provides teacher training programs and specializes in working with preschool and kindergarten children who are gifted and at risk for school learning problems. He was the founder and director of the Creative Discovery School in Champaign for 12 years as well as served as an early childhood teacher at University Primary School in Champaign.


    • Mary Rhodes
      Assessment Specialist

      Mary Rhodes

      Assessment Specialist

      Mary has over 25 years of teaching experience in Champaign, Mahomet and Monticello as well as assessment experience with the Carle Child Disability Clinic in Urbana. She has taught education classes at Millikin University. Mary is currently a Cross Categorical Teacher in Special Education with the Monticello School District. She provides Assessment Services at the Reading Group. Mary has a Bachelors Degree in Special Education from Illinois State University and a Masters Degree with an emphasis in reading from the University of Illinois.


    • Kathleen Rowell

      Kathleen Rowell


      Kathi retired in June 2014 from the Mahomet-Seymour School District where she was a reading teacher for thirty-five years. She worked with third through fifth graders who needed extra support with their reading skills. Of special enjoyment to her was seeing students become more confident in themselves as readers. In past years Kathi has taught at the Reading Group and has now returned where she specializes in multisensory methods of reading, comprehension skills and writing instruction. Kathi has an AB in Speech Communication and an Illinois Secondary Teaching Certificate. She also has an M.ED. in Early Childhood Education as well as a Reading Endorsement Certificate.


  • Why We Are Different

    Private tutoring designed for students who learn differently.
  • Our Staff

    • Jean Hinton, EdD
      Executive Director

      Jean Hinton, EdD

      Executive Director

      Jean brings 35 years of experience with her most recent work being the development of curriculum and instruction for the Leadership segment of Millikin University’s two MBA programs. Jean led the Education Coalition in Decatur which was funded by the Community Foundation of Macon County and focused on improving education through a community cradle-to-career initiative.

      Jean has served as a substitute teacher for K-12 grades, tutored Teen Court kids, and worked with the GED program at Richland Community College. Early in Jean’s career she was the Education Director for the American Oil Chemists’ Society managing all aspects of domestic and international conference planning, program development, including execution to follow-up with a staff of five. After five years she was promoted to the position of Associate Executive Vice President, which she held for another eight years, managing all program areas. Finally, Jean served as Executive Vice President for 10 years reporting to the Board of Directors.

      Jean holds a doctorate in Education, an MS in Adult and Continuing Education, and an undergraduate degree in history. She is passionate about literacy and is excited to join The Reading Group.


    • Tom Eaton

      Tom Eaton


      Tom is a former attorney who started with the Reading Group in September 2019.  He has also been the bookkeeper at the dental office of his wife, Dr. Kathy Eaton, since 2012.


  • Our Core Skills

    Feel free to explore our core skills
    • One-on-One Instruction
    • Reading and learning disability specialists
    • Scholarships based on financial need
    • Experienced certified teachers
    • Quiet classrooms for focused learning
    • Programs for early childhood through adult