Dr. Michael Cormack, Jr. is the CEO of the Barksdale Reading Institute. In this role, he sets the vision and direction for the Institute and also oversees the Mississippi Building Blocks. Before joining BRI, he served as the elementary principal at Quitman County Elementary School, a BRI partner school. Michael has also served as a teacher and a program director and manager for Teach For America. He received his bachelor’s degree from Boston College, and holds a master’s degree in elementary education from Delta State University, a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University, and earned his doctor of education degree in education leadership and policy studies at Vanderbilt University.
Kelly Butler is BRI’s Managing Director, Policy & Partnerships, serving as a liaison to literacy-related projects linked to the Institute and lead author to the statewide report on teacher preparation in early literacy. She holds a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama and a master’s degree in administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University. Prior to joining BRI, Kelly served as a teacher in the Greenwich, Conn. public schools, and has worked extensively with a variety of non-profit organizations in social service, health care and education in the areas of program development, support and evaluation.
As BRI’s business manager, Ricky Douglas is responsible for budgeting, expenses and fiscal reporting for BRI and the Mississippi Building Blocks Program. Before joining BRI, Ricky worked as the University of Mississippi’s Director of Accounting. Ricky is a CPA and has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in accounting from the University of Mississippi.
Senior Staff Assistant Cindy Price Rials has been with BRI since its founding in 2000. Prior to joining BRI’s staff, she was a program assistant for the University of Mississippi’s National Food Service Management Institute and office manager at an internal medicine practice in New Albany, Miss. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Mississippi.
Cindy Hale has been with BRI since 2001 and has worked as both a literacy coach and regional reading coordinator. Before joining BRI’s staff, she was a classroom teacher for 25 years. She is a Read Well and LETRS certified trainer and also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Mississippi. She has an elementary education degree from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree in reading from The University of Mississippi.
As a math coach at BRI, Guyniesha Johnson is responsible for improving K-4th math education at our partner schools through assessments, interventions and developing and delivering professional development for math teachers. Before serving as a math coach, Guyniesha spent more than six years in the classroom, teaching third grade math, science and social studies and held an administrative internship. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and African-American studies from Gustavus Adolphus College and a master’s in organizational leadership, public school building leadership from the Teachers College at Columbia University.
Greer Proctor-Dickson has been with BRI since 2007, serving as a master literacy teacher, literacy coach, dean of instruction and regional literacy coordinator. Greer holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education and studio art from Millsaps College. She is a Read Well, LETRS and DIBELS certified trainer, and an Early Literacy Learning Initiative and Reading Recovery certified teacher. She also serves on the board of the Mississippi Early Childhood Association.
Marion McBride is the Manager, Program Design for the BRI. In this role, she writes curricula for our core programs and also oversees staff professional development. Prior to working in this role, Marion served as a program manager with Teach for America - Mississippi and was the principal of Crenshaw Elementary School. Marion is a graduate of Mississippi State University and received her masters in Education Leadership at the University of Mississippi.
Cytha Guynes serves as the BRI-placed principal of Quitman County Elementary School. Before being placed at QCES, Cytha was a part of the Mississippi Principal Corps and a Teach for America teacher. She’s worked as the assistant principal at QCES and taught sixth and seventh grade math at Tunica Middle School. She holds a bachelor's degree from Mary Baldwin College and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Mississippi.
Sandra Wilborn is the the assistant principal at Quitman County Elementary School, a BRI partner school. Sandra has years of classroom teaching experience in grades K-6. Before joining the QCES administration, she taught third and fourth grade literacy at the school. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Delta State University, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Mississippi and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Columbia University. Sandra is also a National Board Certified Teacher.
Claiborne Barksdale is the former CEO of the Barksdale Reading Institute. Under his leadership, BRI began the principal pilot program in 2010 and supported the creation of Mississippi Building Blocks. Prior to his work at BRI, Barksdale practiced law in Jackson, Miss., worked for US Senator Thad Cochran in Washington, D.C., served as associate general counsel for BellSouth Cellular Corporation in Atlanta, and clerked on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, La. Claiborne also taught English for one year in a public high school in Jackson. He is the past president of the Board of the Mississippi Children’s Museum, chairman of The Parents’ Campaign, a public advocacy project in Mississippi, and serves on the advisory board of Mississippi Building Blocks, a pre-K initiative in Mississippi.