Meet Daniel, Cari, and Shawn

Daniel R. Venables

Executive Director
Senior Consultant

Daniel R. Venables is the author of The Practice of Authentic PLCs: A Guide to Effective Teacher Teams (Corwin, 2011), and the national best-seller How Teachers Can Turn Data Into Action (ASCD, 2014), the guiding works behind the Center’s efforts to assist schools nationwide to develop authentic PLCs or to help them authenticate existing PLCs.

Mr. Venables’ experiences in education as an award-winning classroom teacher, as a speaker and consultant, and as professional development coordinator with our nation’s 18th largest district, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, span more than thirty years. He has spent 24 years as a classroom teacher in both public and independent schools in South Carolina, North Carolina and Connecticut, serving as a department chair for eighteen of those years. In 1993-1994, he was trained as a Math/Science Fellow with the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES), where he began his experience with CFGs (Critical Friends Groups) and PLCs. In 2002, he was awarded South Carolina Independent School Teacher of the Year.  In 2014, he became a member of ASCD’s National Faculty for Professional Learning.  Since 1994, he has helped a wide range of schools across the U.S. develop high-functioning teacher teams.

His presentation style is energetic, humorous, and intelligent and his message is practical. Whether presenting at national conferences or offering on-going, site-based assistance to individual schools, he is always well-received by teachers.

At the heart of it, Daniel cares deeply for kids, their teachers, and the work authentic Professional Learning Communities can do to make a real impact in how much and how many kids learn. He can be reached at or by calling (803) 206-3578.

Cari Begin

Grapple-Certified Consultant

Cari Begin has been an educator for nearly twenty years. Her career includes experiences as a middle school math and science teacher, an elementary teacher, a presenter at state and national conferences, a county level school improvement consultant and a professional development coordinator where she trained and coached teachers in low-performing schools for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.  She currently works for Fulton County Schools as an Instructional Coach. In addition to her coaching role, Cari is a consultant for the Center for Authentic PLCs where she collaborates with Daniel R. Venables on the design and implementation of PLC-related professional development; most notably, The Grapple Institutes.

Cari has an in-depth understanding of how continuous improvement processes informed by student data can be a driving force in keeping teachers focused on student learning. She is an expert in differentiated instruction and has experience helping schools develop Professional Learning Communities. She is professional, energetic, and knowledgeable in a wide range of educational topics.

Cari lives in Georgia with her husband, Jason, and their two young boys.

Shawn Berry Clark

Grapple-Certified Consultant

As an alum of the University of South Carolina, Dr. Shawn Berry Clark earned academic degrees of a Bachelors of Science in Psychology, a Masters of Education in Early Childhood, a Masters of Education in Education Administration, and a PhD in Education Administration. Shawn’s experiences in education include teaching in an early childhood program at a university-based center and elementary math in an advanced academic program for a Title I elementary school. She served as principal of a Title I middle school, Saluda Middle School in Saluda, SC, for 11 years then worked as Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Saluda Public Schools for almost five years. Shawn is currently employed with the South Carolina Department of Education as a Transformation Coach.  

While a principal at Saluda Middle School,  Shawn was trained in the practice of authentic PLCs by Daniel R. Venables beginning in 2007. The focus on facilitating PLCs with authenticity was instrumental in raising achievement at Saluda Middle School. In less than four years, the school went from At-Risk to an Excellent growth rating on annual accountability measures.

Shawn also serves as an adjunct professor for surrounding colleges and is a frequent presenter at state and national level conferences. She is co-author of Using Quality Feedback to Guide Professional Learning: A Framework for Instructional Leaders (Corwin Press, 2016) and co-writes the popular education blog, Classroom Confessional. As is reflected in her experiences and in her writings, Shawn has devoted her life to making school the best possible experience for all students.

Shawn can be reached by email at shawnbclark@gmail.com  or on Twitter @shawnblove.