About Us

Thank you for visiting PODLS.com. This site is a labor of love founded by a retired educator who loves children and teaching, and has a particular fascination with research and its connection to accelerated learning. Please check back periodically for new PODLS as we will continue to grow and expand this collection of resources.

Knowing how busy educators and parents are, my colleagues and I understand there's "no time to waste" and that you need results fast. Let us do the time-consuming work of digging through research and translating it into strategies and learning tools that are simple to use -- yet powerful -- because they result in dramatic improvements and accelerated learning.

The majority of the content is free and free to use for learning purposes in the home or in nonprofit individual classroom settings only. Materials may be shared as long as the PODLS web address is noted on every page. (www.PODLS.com)

The individuals who support and sustain the vision for this site recognize that every child has a unique set of strengths, gifts, and interests, and that it is up to us in the adult world to:

  • Work with children to help them uncover and build upon their strengths,

  • Diagnose where the specific learning breakdowns occur and why,

  • Build our expertise about the science of learning,

  • Leverage this expertise to accelerate learning, and

  • Create a culture of compassion where every human being is treated with dignity, respect, and high expectations.

Donna Sawyer, Founder of PODLS

Donna is an Instructional Technology Specialist, Consultant, and Educator of 30 years from the state of North Carolina where she speaks, trains, and develops print and online resources for classroom use and training environments. A recipient of the National Recognition Award for "Making It Happen in Education Technology" and the "North Carolina Instructional Technology Educator of the Year," Donna holds a Master of Education degree in K-12 English, Science, Expository Writing, English Composition Practicum, and a Supervisory Certification for Instructional Technology. As a student of the Schools Attuned Institute, she has a foundation of knowledge in the eight neurodevelopmental constructs. These constructs are based on a synthesis of research from neuroscience, cognitive psychology, child and adolescent development, and related fields about how brain functions affect student performance. She has written for ParentLife Magazine, a LifeWay publication, and enjoyed many years of creating whimsical products for adults to use with kids of all ages, like the Write Moods Pencils, the eSmartz Alien trading cards, Caves of the Codebreakers, and many others.

She and her husband, Ty, are proud parents of three incredible young adult children - Kyle, Tyler, and Lindsay. You can reach her at Info@PODLS.com.


Advisory Board

These individuals display an unusual mix of purpose and profound humility. They have a deeply rooted personal investment in both their own work and in the personal success of others. Ego and financial gain do not obscure their commitment to inspire others to reach their true potential. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, would describe this group of people as "Level 5 Leaders."

Ty Sawyer, Legal Advisor

Ty Sawyer's character, legal experience, and decision-making abilities are an asset to any organization. He holds degrees in Law and Business Administration in addition to Flight Certification as an Airline Transport Pilot with extensive training in aerobatics. Having practiced law for fifteen years, he is currently working as a Professional Pilot for the Department of Justice. Ty's skills and credentials are impeccable, but it is his high level of integrity and unwavering faith that most impress those close to him. When he's not flying planes, Ty can most likely be found with his family or in the wood shop.

Donna Souders and Angela McCauley

These individuals, too modest to post qualifications, are exceptionally gifted and experienced educators.  They never hesitate to brainstorm ideas, proof content, speak the unvarnished truth, or serve up megadoses of encouragement.   I count myself among the scores of learners whose lives have been touched by their teaching and changed for the better. 

Alisha Das

Alisha Das is the K-5 ESL Lead Teacher for North Carolina Harnett County Schools and has served as an educator there for the past 20 years. Fluent in three languages, she holds degrees in K-12 Spanish and K-12 ESL and is a trainer of trainers for SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol), the CAL (Center for Applied Linguistics) What's Different About Teaching Reading to Students Learning English, and Thinking Maps Path to Proficiency for English Language Learners. She is also a North Carolina trainer of trainers and consultant for SIOP I and II, and has consulted on ELL curriculum, literacy and compliance issues for counties and schools across the state of North Carolina. She is currently doing action research on reading theories and frameworks for at-risk students. Alisha's colleagues use words like this to describe her work with children: magical, transformative, life-changing, astonishing, enchanted, and delightful.

Judy Monroe

Hats off to Judy Monroe, an independent graphic design artist from North Carolina, who initially illustrated Donna’s vision for the eSmartz Aliens and Write Moods, the colorful characters you see in My Strengths and The Mood Pencils for The PODL Profile.  Join us in celebrating her talent as we bring these personalities back to life at www.PODLS.com.


Dr. Ann W. Davis

Dr. Ann W. Davis, Clinical Assistant Professor - Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations Department at UNCG, received a Bachelor of Science degree from Wingate College, a Master of School Administration from UNC-Charlotte, an Educational Specialist degree and a Doctorate in Education from UNC-Greensboro.

Ann's background includes: Mathematics Teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, Department of Public Instruction High School Turnaround Portfolio Manager, Central Office Executive, 1:1 Project Manager, Principal Support Coach, Race-to-the-Top Reader, Process Analysis and Alignment Consultant for PEARSON Education Inc. and Internship Supervisor for MSA graduate students at UNCG.

Dr. Davis is a state level leader in one-to-one 24/7 mobile computing for PK-12 school districts where she serves as a Future Ready Schools Support Coach guiding school districts through the digital transformation from traditional to future ready globally competitive teaching and learning working for Golden Leaf Foundation, NCSU Friday Institute and NCDPI IMPACT schools. She also serves as a Senior Consultant for North Carolina's Learning Technology Statewide Feasibility Study and Initiative (NCLTI) under the direction of Govenor Perdue.

Dr. Davis is nationally recognized as North Carolina's 2006 High School Principal of the Year by National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). She has also been awarded North Carolina Principal of the Year by NC Principal and Assistant Principal Association (NCPAPA), North Carolina Principal Fellows Academic Scholarship for Educational Leadership - 2nd class and nationally recognized for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching by the Presidential Awards Program.

Dr. Diane Jones

Dr. Diane Jones spent approximately twenty-five years in English education. She began her career as a secondary teacher and closed her teaching years as Senior Lecturer and Program Coordinator for English Education at N. C. State University. The wisdom of nineteenth-century educator Elizabeth Peabody guided Diane's teaching. Peabody observed, "Education is always mutual....Teachers who are not conscious of learning from their pupils, may be pretty sure they teach them very little."

Diane earned her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also holds two Master degrees, one in English from N.C. State and another in Education from Campbell University. Her B. A. is from Wake Forest University. Diane has published A Reader's Guide to the Short Stories of William Faulkner and written and spoken on numerous other early and contemporary American authors. Diane especially enjoys her unpublished writings that include gift books, tributes, and educational skits for puppets and people.


Michael Cook

Michael Cook, an Instructional Coach for Sampson County Schools in North Carolina, received a Bachelor of Science degree (Secondary Education) from Appalachian State University, a Master of Education Degree from North Carolina State University, and a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from Clemson University.  Michael's background includes: Graduate Assistant Work at Clemson University with the Upstate Writing Project, Professor for the Secondary English Capstone Seminar at Clemson University, English Teacher and English Department Chair at Hobbton High School, and English Teacher at Harnett Central High School.  Michael also co-taught the course Integrating Writing and Technology at North Carolina State University and Children's Literature for Teachers at Clemson University.

Mr. Cook is a leader in the Educational Technology field, publishing articles for journals (SRATE Journal, SIGNAL Journal), presenting at International Conferences (AACE, NCTE, Integrating Writing and Technology for Global Perspectives in K-12 Classrooms - London), and writing grants to promote literacy in the classroom.  Also, Michael is the National Award Recipient from the Holland & Knight Foundation for his Holocaust Remembrance Project.

Michael's unbridled spirit and contagious enthusiasm make him a whirlwind of influence in the lives of so many people. How fortunate I am to call him friend and family.


The Instructional Technology Division of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

The NC DPI Instructional Technology Division provides program planning, support and instructional resources to the public schools of North Carolina. These individuals work tirelessly to provide stellar 21st Century Leadership for every school and district in North Carolina. At the very heart of all they do is a dedication to deliver instructional technology services to promote substantial gains in student achievement.


*   Soli Deo Gloria  *