September 2022

Meet the Eastern NY Community Schools Technical Assistance Center



In implementing the Community School model, the Eastern Technical Assistance Center (ETAC) covers 360 public school districts across the eastern region of New York State. Grounded in the Four Pillars model, ETAC provides technical assistance, professional development training, and helps disseminate targeted and strategic information to school districts and schools on how to implement evidence-based practices that empower the whole child.

ETAC staff includes Executive Director Rebecca Christner, Director Jonette O’Kelley Miller, and new ETAC Team Member Dr. Joanne Ferrara. In the early fall, the ETAC will offer services that address mental health and wellness for both students and staff, and the role schools can play in fostering supportive relationships and programs for fathers and mentors.

​​Woman smilingRebecca Christner, M.S.
Director, ETAC

Rebecca Christner, M.S., serves as the Executive Director of the Eastern Region Technical Assistance Center. Rebecca has been involved in school district and community improvement efforts and in executing professional development and technical assistance to educators and school-based Family Resource Center coordinators for over 12 years on the Community Schools model Yale Schools of the 21st Century. Through monthly meeting with Family Resource Center coordinators, she has coordinated and delivered professional development on evidence-based programs and practices on family engagement, including addressing barriers and strength-based approaches to family engagement; engaging families of English Language Learners; engaging families in schools at the secondary level; community engagement; protective factors; the role of the Family Resource Center coordinator; early childhood development and educating the whole child; outcome and evaluation and how to identify and support program quality; evidence-based health services and programming; cultural competency; needs assessments; partnerships; and other community school-related topics.

Rebecca has a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership and an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education. Rebecca actively serves on the Steering Committee of the New York State Community Schools Network of which she has been a member since its inception. She has honed her leadership skills in a variety of positions, most recently serving as the executive director of Rockland 21C and previously, as director of refugee programs for the non-governmental organization Church World Service for which she liaised with the Department of State and other federal departments as an official representative at meetings and an active partner in tackling complex national and international refugee and immigration issues. Rebecca also served as an adjunct professor for Nyack College.

​​Jonette O’Kelley Miller, M.P.A.
Director, ETAC

Jonette O’Kelley Miller is the Director for the Eastern Region Community Schools Technical Assistance Center (ETAC) at Rockland 21 C. Jonette supports TAC projects to provide customized technical assistance and professional development for school and community-based organization leadership.

During her nonprofit career, Jonette has served as the Development Director for the national organization F.O.R. (Fellowship of Reconciliation), along with editing its bi-annual newsletter Witness. As an adjunct, she has taught at both Nyack and St. Thomas Aquinas Colleges.

The ETAC welcomes new team member Dr. Joanne Ferrera!

​​Dr. Joanne Ferrera
ETAC Team Member

Dr. Ferrara is an expert in Community Schools. As co-founder of the organization Strategies for Whole Child Education and Community Schools Partners, Dr. Ferrara has had a long relationship with the ETAC, providing technical assistance, coaching, and professional development in Community Schools.

With over 20 years experience in Community Schools, Dr. Ferrara recently retired as associate dean at Manhattanville College and is the author of several books and articles focusing on Community Schools and the whole child.  Serving as an ETAC team member, she will provide more in-depth support to districts and schools that are exploring the Community School strategy.

Dr. Ferrara states, “Community Schools create an ethos of ‘pastoral care’ for students, families, and communities. In these schools there is a belief that children, regardless of their zip code, deserve access to those  opportunities that foster success in life.”

For more information on Dr. Ferrara, visit her website.

Save the Dates for These Upcoming Events:

Self-Care for Educators: Building Resilience (with Communication Pathologist and expert Dr. Caroline Leaf)
Oct 6, Nov 3, Dec 8, Jan 12, Feb 2, & Mar 2

Fatherhood Initiative: Community of Practice 
Nov 10, Dec 7, & Jan 18
Registration opening soon! Check back soon for updates.

Do you have a community school story that you would like featured in our e-newsletter?

Email Jonette O’Kelley Miller at