Our Team

Halifax Learning has a long history of developing strong, confident readers, with thousands of lives changed since we opened our doors in 1999. We have built our success on the science of reading and continue to invite experts of all fields to review and actively research our results.  Our expertise in program delivery and training is unparalleled.

Our CEO, Sarah Arnold, had the good fortune of training with Dr. Kay MacPhee; an accomplished educator and entrepreneur who created the renowned program SpellRead. Sarah had excelled in school but always struggled with reading efficiently. Upon meeting Dr. MacPhee, she realized she had just never been taught properly. This formative experience spurred her to establish Halifax Learning.

Today we teach students and provide professional development at our private clinics, at private schools, and through distance e-learning. We are a non-profit organization and are partners with HRM’s Youth Advocate Program.

Sarah Arnold

Sarah Arnold, Founder & CEO - You won’t find another human more invested in reading than this woman! When Sarah says SpellRead works, you can believe her, she was a student herself. Sarah began the SpellRead program as a Bishops University Alumni. Despite being a high-achieving French Immersion student, Sarah felt she 'missed the day in class when the students all learned how to read'. In spite of her success as a student Sarah always struggled with efficient reading, until she met Dr. Kay MacPhee, her would-be SpellRead teacher. SpellRead unlocked untapped potential in Sarah and inspired her to become the entrepreneur she is now. Today, Sarah is driven to ensure all students in Canada receive the foundational skills required to read, but more importantly, to read efficiently. Sarah has supported literacy initiatives in the United States, China, Europe, and Atlantic Canada and has no intentions of stopping there. When Sarah isn’t hustling to bridge the reading gap, she is raising her own reader, Ms. Anna. Check Anna out on CTV Morning Live achieving, what we like to call, Super Sonic Sublexical Automaticity... we're still working on our Super Hero character!

Tilina Barkhouse Asprey

Tilina Barkhouse Asprey, a Dartmouth local, completed her Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Studies from Mount Saint Vincent University in 2021. Tilina comes to Halifax Learning with over eight years of experience in the child development field, from private care to early education. With a personal, open approach with children both with and without learning disabilities, she focuses on each child’s needs and enjoys finding new ways to encourage their engagement and enjoyment of literacy learning. In her spare time, Tilina is often found exploring Nova Scotia with her dog, Rigsby, perusing new research regarding ADHD, Autism, and Dyslexia, or simply enjoying a long drive with an iced coffee in hand!

Heather Beal
Heather Beal joined the Halifax Learning team in 2015 and brings with her an exemplary resume as a teacher at Halifax Independent School. Heather retired from her full-time teaching position in 2015, but her passion to teach led her to us and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have her on our team. Our students and staff are so pleased to learn and work with Heather! PS. Check out all those GOLD stickers. Our students are champs!!!
Dawan Savage Bell

Dawan Savage Bell is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He first went to school for Communication Studies, and then travelled abroad to live in Central America where he taught English as a Foreign Language. In 2020, he graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Early Childhood Education. Dawan loves nature, reading, and the funny things children say. His favourite books are Where the Wild Things Are, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Giving Tree, and many many more.

Matthew Boardman

Matt Boardman received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Mount Allison University with a Major in Sociology and Minor in Political Science. Matt played football for four years at Mt. A. and he is currently doing a B.Ed at Mount Saint Vincent University. He has a passion for learning and educating and that has driven his desire to work with and educate youth. In the summers, Matt works with One Voice One Team Youth Leadership Organization back in his home province, Ontario.

Staff Images-ROUND_Melinda Cameron

Melinda Cameron's life's work to teach as many people as possible to read. She has been teaching for more than half of her life, including two years in South Korea and almost fifteen years in Halifax. She received an honors degree from Carleton College in International Relations as well as a certificate in TESL from Saint Mary's University. Now she's completing her Research Master of Arts in Education from Mount Saint Vincent University, contributing to the knowledge of best practices in reading instruction. Melinda joined the Halifax Learning team in 2006 and quickly became an expert in all facets of literacy education, as an instructor, assessor, and trainer. Melinda became a partner with Halifax Learning in 2017. Melinda’s daughters, Cordelia and Rosalind, are named after two of Shakespeare's most fearless female characters.

Natalie Corbett

Natalie Corbett is a Speech Language Pathologist who brings nearly 20 years experience to the team. She works with families to improve communication in the face of challenges such as articulation, delay/disorder, stuttering, autism, chromosomal differences and strokes. She also teaches visualization to further enhance reading skills learned by SpellRead students. Natalie spends her spare time wrangling four teenagers as a single mom, feeding furries, writing novels and drawing pictures.

nbpolhakisha Downey

Hello, my name is Shakisha Downey, and I am the Administrative Director for Halifax Learning. I have been working with Halifax Learning for over two years as an administrator and began actively teaching the Spellread program in 2018. Many of the students that I have the pleasure of working with are considered at-risk children and youth from local communities. These youth have been identified as having learning disadvantages and sometimes severe behavioral issues. Although I wear many hats in my position, working with these youth is the most rewarding part of my job and where I can relate to my students in a lot of ways. To watch the shift in the attitudes and abilities of these students in an academic setting is truly an amazing opportunity. It is my pleasure to be a part of such an important change in their lives brought on by intensive, evidence-based remedial programming.


Sarah Griffith has been working with families and children from preschool to high school since 2011, and has since donned a number of different hats throughout a variety of related fields. From behavioural interventions, early childhood intervention, early childhood education, and teaching English as an alternate language, it has always been her calling to help foster healthy social-emotional and cognitive growth in the people she works with. Having been a struggling reader herself once upon a time, she appreciates the difficulties that those learning to read and write can face, and is determined to put her all into helping others overcome obstacles facing them in their literacy journeys. She recalls the moment in second grade when she finally felt confident to read a story completely independently in front of her class, and strives to help others not only develop confidence with their reading and writing, but to also find enjoyment in these skills. Reading and creative writing, to this day, happen to be among her favourite hobbies! She currently resides in Halifax, and when she is not teaching, reading, or writing, she spends quality time with her partner and her pet guinea pigs.

Maria Hesp

Upon completing her B.Ed in Ontario, Maria Hesp moved out to Halifax with her husband. Knowing that she loved the field of education but wanting to be in an environment beyond the typical school setting, Maria set out to see what was available. This led her to SpellRead in 2007 where she became an instructor. This program gave her the opportunity to work alongside a diverse group of students and an amazing team of co-workers until 2010 when a move to the US meant leaving a job she loved. In 2020, with the onset of COVID and the transition of many learning environments to an online platform, she was given the opportunity to come back to SpellRead and teach once again. She is happy to be back teaching alongside some familiar faces and meeting new co-workers and students.

Kim Larkin

Kim Larkin joined Halifax Learning soon after she completed the Business Administration program at NSCC in 2017. With her intense attention to detail and passion for coaching, Kim was an excellent fit as our location lead in Bedford. Kim has spent many years as a youth soccer coach and volunteer at "The Hub", a youth center in Canmore, Alberta and Feed NS. Kim is passionate about Yoga, nutrition and inner health. Her favorite children's author is Robert Munsch. Fun fact: You may find Kim calling out Bingo at a senior home near you!

Rebekah Marshall

Rebekah Marshall joined the team in 2005 after her own daughter became a SpellRead graduate! She was so pleased with the results, she knew she wanted to get involved. Rebekah continues to be an outstanding teacher for our students in the Dartmouth location and is often called upon by new trainees as a mentor teacher!

Doreen McAleese

Doreen McAleese is a retired teacher from NB who decided to retire in Bedford to be closer to family. She taught for 30 years at the elementary level and served as a Literacy Lead at her school and in her district for the last 6 years of her career. Doreen has a B.Ed in Elementary Education and a M.Ed in Exceptional Learners from UNB. She continues to be passionate about teaching young children and is a strong literacy advocate. Doreen loves to read, travel, and is an avid runner. Since moving to Bedford, she has enjoyed discovering the beautiful trails in the greater HRM area.

Linda O'Neil
Linda O'Neil holds a Bachelor of Education with Distinctions, specializing in teaching reading and has a longstanding relationship with Rock Church as a Greeter and Usher for the past 25 years. Linda joined the Halifax Learning team in 2006 and continues to build trusting and supportive relationships with her students allowing them to discover the joy of learning. Linda was an educator with the Adult Literacy Network and has worked as a Resource Teacher in the public school system. As a former tennis player, Linda was inducted into the New Brunswick Tennis Hall of Fame.
Staff Images-ROUND_Eryn Steele

Eryn Steele, our Chief Operations Officer, began on her path to Halifax Learning in 2000. Since that time, Eryn has had an impact on all facets of the program. From delivery, development, training, and implementation. She has facilitated the implementation of SpellRead to over 800 students at 6 public schools in Florida and was the Regional Director in New Brunswick for three years before moving to Halifax in 2006 to join Halifax Learning. 

Team Members: Bios and Photos Coming Soon

Amelia Lawless

Amira Naffa