We believe that discussion skills define humanity. Let’s teach them to today’s kids!

Our mission & values

Our mission is to teach and celebrate the deeply human skills that go into great conversation.

We are a purpose-driven, sustainability-focused business built on five core values – integrity, diversity, generosity, ingenuity and reflection – which we strive to embody in all that we do. Learn more about our why here.

Our Team

R.E.A.L.® is a team of passionate professionals (and unabashed nerds), most of whom are former teachers and “school people” with a personal stake in our mission.

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Partnership + Program Questions

Catherine Dragone

Partnership and Program Associate

Catherine supports School Partnerships and Programming at R.E.A.L. ® As a former Middle School teacher, she loves nothing more than hearing from teachers about the ways R.E.A.L. ® has transformed classroom discussions and empowered students.

Catherine joined R.E.A.L. ® after working in the Oakland Unified School District for several years both in the classroom as a teacher, and in the nonprofit setting.

She holds a Masters in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.A in Psychology from Duke University. She currently lives in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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Communications, Press, Social Media, Blog

Molly Donovan

Communications Director

Molly tells the story of R.E.A.L.® Discussion to the world, weaving together student, teacher, and researcher voices with sound strategy to engage and delight our audiences. 

Molly joined the R.E.A.L.® team after leading Communications at Carney Sandoe, the independent school teacher placement agency. As the founder of Molly Donovan Content & Communications, she has worked to develop messaging strategies for companies across industries, and she is always fueled by the creative challenge of bringing a brand’s story to life.

Molly holds a B.A. from Harvard in English. She lives in Boston with her husband and young daughter.

School Partnerships, Media + Speaking Inquiries

Liza Garonzik

Founder + CEO

Liza leads the team at R.E.A.L.® to serve school partners across the US and around the world. She’s been on this mission to teach and celebrate “human  skills” in a tech-centric world for over a decade – since she first built R.E.A.L.® to solve for challenges she faced as a teacher and administrator.

Liza is an award-winning speaker and widely-published writer who brings equal parts research, reflection, and laughter to every audience.

Liza holds a B.A. from Harvard College and M.S. from Penn GSE, with further graduate work at Harvard GSE and Klingenstein Center. Liza serves on the Boards of Nashoba Brooks School and Shady Hill Teacher Training Center. She is based in Atlanta, where she lives with her husband, dog, bees, and chickens. 

Contact Liza here: liza@realdiscussion.org

Teacher Coaching, Product Support, All Things Data

Emily Gromoll

Director of Program

Emily oversees the R.E.A.L.® Discussion Program, directing Faculty PD including the certification experience, impact reporting, coaching, and community events. Her favorite part? Discussing discussion with educators! 

Emily joined R.E.A.L.® from Eskolta School Research and Design, where developed expertise in adult learning. She coached teachers throughout NYC to design student engagement strategies and partnered with districts to create professional learning networks. Prior to Eskolta, she served as a History Department Chair and Teacher at an independent school. 

Emily holds a BA from Columbia University in History and Masters in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership from Stanford University. She lives in Hopewell, New Jersey with her family – and thirty chickens!

Contracts, Payments, Tech Issues

Jo Towns

Operations Lead

Jo is the systems brain at R.E.A.L.®, facilitating technological gymnastics to ensure i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed for every partner.

Jo joined R.E.A.L.® in 2023 to handle operations and accounting. She believes in the product and philosophy behind the company and looks forward to assisting in its growth.

Jo holds a BS from Georgia Tech in Materials Engineering. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, son and dog.

Our Trainers

R.E.A.L.® PD is facilitated by Trainers: teachers and leaders who actually use R.E.A.L. ® in their schools. This makes PD authentic, fun, and by-teachers-for-teachers!

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Patrick Farmer


Patrick Farmer facilitates R.E.A.L.® PD for Humanities Teachers: a role that authentically builds on his experience as a Teacher-Leader who has used R.E.A.L.® across several very different schools. Patrick finds that R.E.A.L.® breaks the art of discussion into teachable skills and loves helping middle schoolers learn to talk – and truly listen! – to each other.

Beyond REAL, Patrick serves as Humanities and Social Studies Lead at Nativity Preparatory School (MA). Patrick holds a B.A. from Fordham University and an M.Div from Boston College. He lives in the Boston area with his family.

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Sumner McCallie


Sumner McCallie facilitates R.E.A.L.® PD for Humanities Teachers: a role to which he brings deep pedagogical expertise and experience in change management in schools from Switzerland to Tennessee. Sumner believes that Discussion is a Discipline – part art, part science – and is a critical skill for young people to develop as they build their community and their country.

Beyond REAL, Sumner serves as Dean of Faculty and Academics at McCallie School (TN). The son of a US Ambassador, Sumner grew up internationally. He holds a B.S. from Yale University and an M.Ed from Vanderbilt University. He lives in Chattanooga with his family.

Kath Moriarty


Kath Moriarty facilitates R.E.A.L.® Professional Development for Lower School: an opportunity that felt natural after her work designing the R.E.A.L.® Basics mini-lesson approach. Kath believes that communication skills – oral and non-verbal – are essential for young learners and should be taught with the same level of intention as literacy or math. 

Beyond REAL, Kath serves as Director of Academic Support at Nashoba Brooks School (MA) and has experience as a Lower School teacher and literacy leader. Kath holds a B.A. and M.Ed from Vanderbilt University and lives outside Boston with her family.

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Pamela Schulman


Pamela Schulman facilitates R.E.A.L.® Professional Development for Humanities Teachers: a role she sought out after her own experience using REAL Discussion “to build belonging and make discussion a team sport” in her history classroom. Pam is particularly passionate about helping girls and students from underrepresented backgrounds feel heard.

Beyond REAL, Pamela serves as a History Faculty Member, Dorm Head, and Varsity Coach at Blair Academy (NJ). Pamela holds B.A. from Middlebury College and completed coursework at The Klingenstein Center. She lives in New Jersey.

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Peyten Williams


Peyten facilitates R.E.A.L.® for Parents, empowering parents to use REAL strategies to have deeper conversations with their adolescents. Helping teachers and parents align around what’s best for kids comes naturally to Peyten as she previously served as an award-winning Director of Teaching and Learning at Westminster (GA) and English Teacher.

Beyond REAL, Peyten leads Bowbend Consulting: an organization she founded to inspire and equip parents to raise thriving children of character. Peyten holds B.A. and M.Ed Degrees from the University of Virginia and lives in Atlanta with her family.

2023 Annual Report

Check out our 2023 Annual report to learn more about our trajectory and how R.E.A.L.® has helped visionary schools across the country ensure that all students feel heard and challenged in class discussion. The punchline? We are grateful for our partners’ pioneering spirit – and excited for what’s ahead.