About Us

About NILD Canada

At the National Institute for Learning Development Canada (NILD Canada) we strive to train and equip parents, educators and therapists to support students that learn differently through courses, workshops, seminars and webinars. We want to become the source of educational answers for students with learning differences.

NILD Educational Therapy® stimulates areas of weakness through individualized and intensive intervention.











About Our Logo

…building confidence and competence

NILD’s logo, the figure eight, represents four key components developed through NILD Educational Therapy:


Cognition refers to thinking processes such as reasoning, reflecting, attaching meaning, remembering and evaluating.


This refers to how we receive and process information either through sight, sound, touch, movement, smell or taste.


The way we feel about the world around us, our relationships with others and our approach to life is largely impacted by our emotions. Self-confidence plays a key role in this.


Students must be taught “how to learn” in order to successfully learn the required content. Teaching a student how to learn creates independent learning skills that build competence.

The figure eight is incorporated in one of our core techniques, Rhythmic Writing, that helps to strengthen attention, processing skills, and handwriting.

Why does it work?


It is most satisfying for me to have an opportunity to endorse the work of NILD and the help they have provided for countless children. Since its founding, NILD’s methods and philosophy have mirrored solid findings about brain development and the complex process we call learning. While others have jumped aboard the various trendy bandwagons that afflict education from time to time, NILD has held to and expanded on their effective, and research-based approach. I most heartily recommend this organization for your favorable attention.
Jane M. Healy, Ph.D. , Author of Endangered Minds, Failure to Connect, Your Child’s Growing Mind


Our Staff


Executive Director – Mary Lou Maclean

Mary-Lou’s passion is helping struggling learners reach their full potential. She has worked in the field of education for over 25 years, as a teacher, NILD educational therapist and speaker. Since 2004, she has instructed graduate courses with NILD Canada and became Executive Director for NILD Canada in 2013.


Director of Marketing – Diane Geerlinks

Diane is passionate about helping kids learn, developing their strengths and improving their weaknesses. She has worked in the field of education for the past 25 years. In 2009, Diane trained as an NILD Educational Therapist and opened up her own practice, GeerLINKS Educational Therapy & Consulting. She is currently the Director of Marketing for NILD Canada and speaks at educators’ conferences across Canada.


Administrative Coordinator – Tania Tadros

Tania is the newest member at NILD.  She has a background in administration and management and has worked for several companies in Canada and abroad. She has taught her own children as well as students in other countries.  Her compassionate heart has lead her to work with the homeless and adults with developmental and physical disabilities in Toronto and now in supporting our educational therapists here at NILD canada.


Board of Directors

Carla Vanderzaag

Board Chair – Carla Vanderzaag

Carla has been involved in early childhood education as well as children with special needs for over 40 years as a classroom teacher, a homeschool mom and an Educational Therapist. She took the NILD training in the early 1990s and served as a therapist in her local Christian school in Alliston. She brings special skills to the Board table through her experience with her own registered charities in Canada and the Philippines. It has been her pleasure to be part of the NILD Canada Board of Directors as the organization became a registered non-profit organization and continued to expand its scope to train and serve Educational Therapists across Canada.

Susan Maley

Susan, a mother of 6 has been involved in education for over 45 years as a classroom teacher, a homeschool mom and an Educational Therapist. She took the NILD training in 1993 and served as a therapist at a mission school in Papua New Guinea. She re-certified in 2009 and has a continued to work as a therapist in a school setting as well as in private practice. Her passion is to help students recognize their strengths and strengthen their weaknesses so they can achieve their full potential.

Jordan Butcher

Jordan Butcher

Jordan first heard about NILD through his aunt, who was a therapist in the 1990s. He witnessed the tremendous growth in his cousin, who was receiving educational therapy at that time. Jordan’s mother also became a therapist and helped dozens of children make extraordinary breakthroughs in their learning. His own study of educational therapy has helped him to improve his professional practice as a teacher. He has also promoted NILD training for his staff as a school principal because of the positive results he has observed with the Discovery program, the usefulness of Search and Teach for early intervention programming, and the suitability of the Rx programs for small group special education instruction. He joined the Board of Directors for NILD Canada in 2019.

Wafa Martin

Wafa Martin

As a parent therapist, Wafa has seen firsthand the transformation of a student with learning differences and confidence challenges. After much research and experimental experience with other educational therapies, Wafa discovered NILD.  She has become an advocate for the inclusion of NILD in school settings, the community and in the homes of students. The research based NILD approach, with its structured and yet individualized therapeutic methodologies, simply is remarkable. With a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Ottawa, following a career in financial services, Wafa brings skills to the board of NILD which will be used to advance the organization. Her understanding and commitment to the mission and vision of NILD Canada and her enthusiasm to engage parents, educators and students is a valued addition.


Director Emeritus – Trix Bradley

Trix was first introduced to NILD in 1991, signed up for training in the U.S. and set on the path to bring NILD to Canada! Trix served as NILD Canada’s Executive Director for 12 years, and is currently an instructor in our graduate courses. As a Psychometrist, Special Education Teacher, and NILD Certified Educational Therapist, Trix brings help and hope to struggling learners in her private practice.



The NILD Educational Therapy® model was developed in the 1960s by Deborah Zimmerman, a nurse and educator. Many of the educational techniques she developed were shaped by her work with early pioneers in the field of learning disabilities such as Archie Silver, M.D. and Rosa Hagin, Ph.D. In 1973, Deborah’s techniques were introduced into a private school in Norfolk, Virginia. In 1982, the Norfolk Institute for Learning Disabilities was established as a charitable organization under the direction of Grace Mutzabaugh. As NILD’s influence broadened, the name was changed to the National Institute for Learning Disabilities.
In 2007, Dr. Kathy Hopkins, NILD’s Executive Director at the time, led the organization through significant changes, including research and development of group models of intervention, expansion of the community-based model, Discovery Program, and the online component to the NILD courses. Dr. Hopkins also announced the organization’s name change to the National Institute for Learning Development at the 25th anniversary conference. This name change more accurately reflects the organizational direction. With headquarters in Chesapeake, Virginia, NILD continues to serve educators and students around the globe.

NILD was introduced to Canadian teachers through ACSI teacher conferences in the middle to late 1980’s. Training was brought to Canada in 1993 and the Canadian steering committee took over the training of therapists and regional conferences by 1996. In 2002, NILD Canada became an affiliate of NILD and now trains therapists at all three levels, organizes conferences twice a year and administers the registration and licensing of all Canadian therapists. A regional office was established in Waterloo in 2003. NILD Canada is administered by a Board of Directors, an Executive Director, a Director of Finance and Conferences, a Director of Marketing, and an Administrative Assistant.