Staff Bios

Sandra Butvilofsky, PhD
Professional Research Associate


Sandra Butvilofsky received her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research interests are in classroom-based research with a focus on biliterate writing development of simultaneous bilingual children in elementary schools. Her elementary teaching experience includes 5 years as a bilingual classroom teacher and 5 years as a trained Descubriendo la Lectura/Reading Recovery teacher. Sandra has been involved in the Literacy Squared Project Research project since 2006. She is responsible for collecting and analyzing research data related to biliteracy instruction and learning of emerging bilingual children in elementary schools. In addition, she is in charge of conducting professional development for teachers, site coordinators, and administrators that are sponsored by the project.

Susan Hopewell, PhD
Assistant Professor, Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity
Susan Hopewell earned her Ph.D. in the division of Education Equity and Cultural Diversity at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research focuses on strengthening biliteracy education for Spanish – English bilingual children in the United States.

She is currently examining the strategic use of Spanish during ESL literacy. Her K-12 teaching experience includes 8 years as a classroom teacher in a dual-language elementary school and 4 years as the literacy coach in a maintenance bilingual program. She is currently a project director and researcher for the BUENO Center for Multicultural Education.

Kathy Escamilla, PhD
Professor of Education
Dr. Kathy Escamilla is a Professor of Education in the division of Social, Bilingual and Multicultural Foundations. Dr. Escamilla’s research centers on educational issues related to Spanish-speaking language minority students in U.S. schools. She is specifically interested in issues related to the development of bilingualism and biliteracy in early elementary grades for this Spanish speaking population. Her recent research has also examined assessment practices and the impact of high stakes testing on these children.

Dr. Escamilla is a member of numerous professional organizations in education and has served two terms as the president of the National Association for Bilingual Education. She has recently been appointed as a co-editor of the Bilingual Research Journal, and has served as the chairperson of the Bilingual SIG for the American Education Research Association (AERA). She has authored two books and over 50 research articles on topics related to literacy and biliteracy for Spanish speaking children in the U.S.

Manuel Escamilla, PhD
BUENO Center

Dr. Manuel Escamilla is currently the director of the BUENO Equity Assistance Center for Region VII at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He received his Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Kansas and has been a professor of Bilingual Education in California and Arizona, he served as the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs at the University of Arizona and at Metropolitan State College of Denver. He has also directed Head Start programs in Denver, Conejos-Costilla County and HuŽrfano-Las Animas Counties in Colorado.

Olivia Ruiz-Figueroa
Olivia Ruiz-Figueroa has worked with the Tucson Unified School District for 27 years as a bilingual classroom teacher, Project Specialist and Reading Teacher. During that time, she participated in the development and implementation of bilingual education materials from assessment and evaluation, to content and curriculum. She was trained as a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader at Texas Women’s University and is one of the original authors of the reconstruction of Reading Recovery in Spanish and the Spanish Observation Survey. Since the development of the Descubriendo La Lectura Project and El Instrumento de Observación, she has trained teachers and teacher leaders nationally in its implementation.

With the support of Dr. Marie Clay, she presented the Spanish Reconstruction of Reading Recovery at the International World Congress of Reading in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Presently, Olivia works with Pearson Learning Group as the National Bilingual/ESL Consultant in both English and Spanish Literacy.