Current SECP Doctoral Students

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Special Education / Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (IECE)

Gwendolyn Shultz AshleyGwendolyn Shultz Ashley

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year:2013

 

Education:

  • Georgetown College
  • Indiana University
  • University of Louisville

Work Experience:

  • Development Director(Archdiocese of Atlanta, Boys & Girls Clubs, Society of St. Vincent de Paul)
  • Head Start Teacher(New Albany)
  • p12 Special Educator (JCPS)
  • Lecturer/Chair of Special Education (Indiana University Southeast)
  • Director of Behavioral and Educational Therapy(Centre for Neuro Skills)
  • Visiting Assistant Professor
  • Program Chair Special Education
  • Chair Gifted Education ( Georgetown College)

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I came to U of L to complete my MAT. I returned because of the incredible faculty and staff. I believe I received a great education from faculty that not only cared about me, but also my future students.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
To finish my PhD

What are your goals after graduation?
To continue to teach new and seasoned teachers to see the whole student. I want to impact my candidates in a way that will change outcomes, not just for their own students, but their entire schools. I also want to help candidates see that their degree is valuable outside of the classroom.

Brandy BrewerBrandy Brewer, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Evidence-based Practice Project

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2018

 

Education:

  • MAT-Moderate/ Severe Disabilities

Work Experience: I have over 15 years of experience working with individuals with disabilities. This includes my work as a classroom teacher, in acute settings, in home settings, and work as a paraeducator.

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I've received both my Undergraduate and Master's degrees from UofL

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
To keep pushing myself and stretching my abilities in an effort to take full advantage of the time and opportunities I have been afforded through the Leadership grant.

What are your goals after graduation?
My hope is to work to train future generations of passionate teachers.

Email: brandy.brewer@louisville.edu

Kristie CovingtonKristie Covington, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Project PURPLE

Program: PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2020

 

Education:

  • Bachelor of Science in Moderate/Severe Disabilities
  • M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership with endorsement in Autism
  • National Board Certification: Exceptional Needs Specialist

Work Experience: I have been a special education teacher for 14 years. I have taught grades K-12 and a variety of disabilities. I have taught mostly self-contained classes, however, have also taught in inclusive settings and resource settings.

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I have lived in Louisville most of my life. I have always loved the area and UofL. When I made the decision to work towards my PhD, I knew UofL was where I wanted to take that next step.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
I hope to really apply myself as a doctoral student and gain everything I can from the experts and educators at UofL. I am ready for the next step in my life and I want to take this opportunity to really prepare myself for the next phase.

What are your goals after graduation?
I want to become a professor so I can teach and share my knowledge, experience and passion with future educators of students’ with disabilities.

Email: Kristie.covington@louisville.edu

Mary ElliottMary Elliott, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Project PURPLE

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2020

 

Education:

  • Bachelor's in Moderate to Severe Disabilities Special Education – University of Kentucky
  • Master's and Rank 1 in School Counseling- University of the Cumberlands

Work Experience:

  • MSD Teacher in Fayette County, Kentucky for 5 years
  • Fully-Self Contained Teacher in Aiea, HI for 3 years
  • MSD Teacher in JCPS for 1 year

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
UofL’s Special Education program has a reputation as one of the best. Having the opportunity to work under some of the lead researchers in the field was an opportunity I could not pass up.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
As a PhD student, I want to fully immerse myself in the world of research and learn to develop quality interventions that will impact the future of special education.

What are your goals after graduation?
I would love to work as a professor and train future MSD teachers or work on a state or national level to influence special education policies and law.

Email: mary.elliott2@louisville.edu

Jim FegerJim Feger

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2018

 

Education:

  • 1990 B.S., Bible/Psychology, Kentucky Christian University
  • 1992 M.S. Clinical Psychology, Eastern Kentucky University
  • 2000 Certification, School Psychology Eastern Kentucky University
  • 2006 Certification, Director of Special Ed., University of the Cumberlands

Work Experience: Jim is a school psychologist with 25 years experience in mental health. His tenure in education is supplemented by an early career in clinical psychology where he served youth in residential, inpatient and outpatient settings. Jim directed a long-term, residential treatment program for adjudicated youth. From 1994-2000, Jim’s practice focused on adolescent psychodiagnostics and cognitive therapy at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital and Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center. Led by a desire to work with youth in an early intervention framework, Jim returned to graduate school and completed his school psychology training in 2000. Over the next 13 years, Jim provided special education assessment, consultation and staff development services for Laurel County Schools. In 2013, Jim joined the newly formed Southeast/ South-Central Educational Cooperative as a regional behavior consultant. In 2018, Jim transferred to the Greater Louisville Education Cooperative where he is employed to this day. Jim is a state and national trainer for the Comprehensive Student Threat Assessment Guidelines, is certified through the University of Kentucky as a trainer in Trauma Informed Care, and the National Council for Behavioral Health for Youth Mental Health First Aid. Jim chairs the Kentucky Department of Education’s LD Tables advisory panel, serves as KDE Liaison for the Kentucky Association of Psychology in the Schools and works closely with the Kentucky Department of Education in several capacities related to special education and mental health supports.

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
For me, the question would better be framed, "Why wouldn't you choose to come to UofL?" I say that because I am thrilled to be a doctoral student in the University of Louisville’s College of Education and Human Development. Although I entertained doctoral studies earlier in my career, the programs I considered, (i.e., clinical and school psychology), did not fully captured my professional passions. Over the course of my career, I developed a fairly specific field of interest. How can we better support all students, but especially at-risk youth, by discerning and integrating mental health practices into school frameworks? In addition, how can we make this integration practical, deployable and effective? I was thrilled to learn these questions and others I had not even considered were being asked, studied and published within CEHD by Dr. Terry Scott. Dr. Scott is a scholar I admire and whose research I’ve followed and promoted for several years. When I made application to the university, it was my intent to study under Dr. Scott and promote research that supports mitigation of at-risk students. With work and family obligations, my progress isn’t as fast as I'd like but I couldn't be happier than studying and researching right where I am.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
I find that my goals are both refining and evolving. I am interested in studying instructional coaching models, classroom practices and discipline frameworks that support student success.

What are your goals after graduation?
This is another area that is refining and evolving. Vocationally, I love what I do. I imagine I will be doing more of the same but with an added lens towards research and possibly teaching pre and post induction college and graduate classes.

Email: Jefege02@louisville.edu or jfeger69@gmail.com

Caroline FitchettCaroline Fitchett, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Evidence-based Practice Project

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2020

 

Education:

  • B.S. - Special Education (Moderate/Severe Disabilities)
  • M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership with concentration in Autism and ABA

Work Experience: Three years teaching experience in middle school and elementary FMD classrooms.

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I have experienced the programs, faculty, and opportunities I had access to during my undergraduate work and master’s program. I wanted continue working with this faculty and taking advantage of the professional opportunities this college has to offer.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
I would like to conduct research centered around access to the general education curriculum for students with moderate/severe disabilities. I am also interested in the use of High Leverage Practices in special education.

What are your goals after graduation?
My goal is to develop standards-aligned curricula for students with moderate/severe disabilities as a researcher and faculty member at a university.

Email: cmfitc02@louisville.edu

Amy HallAmy Hall

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2017

 

Education:

  • Bachelor's: Elementary Education K-5 and Special Education LBD K-12, Murray State University
  • M.Ed. Teacher Leadership in Learning and Behavioral Disorders, University of Louisville
  • Autism and ABA Certificate: University of Louisville

Work Experience: I started teaching in the Archdiocese of Louisville as a Kindergarten Teacher. From there, I taught at The Academy of Shawnee (JCPS) as a special education teacher in the middle school. I am now the ECE Implementation Coach at Noe Middle School (JCPS).

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
When I began looking into programs for my Master's, I was intrigued by all of the classes U of L offered in my chosen specialty area. After I started classes, I immediately saw growth in my learning and abilities as a student and even more applied growth in my own classroom. I wanted to keep learning and growing, so I decided to pursue my PhD. I had such a wonderful experience with my Master's and Certificate programs, U of L was the obvious choice! The classes are rigorous, the professors are supportive, and every class, paper, activity, and assignment prepares you for the next step. I valued this in my previous programs with U of L and continue to value it in the doctoral program.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
I want to learn as much as I can from as many people as I can so that I can be the best teacher, advocate, and mentor possible. Right now, my biggest academic goal is to finish my dissertation!

What are your goals after graduation?
Whatever I do after graduation, I want to remain in the applied education field and continue to support teachers, students and families in the most effective and dynamic ways possible.

Email: amy.hall@louisville.edu

Tara Harmon Tara Harmon

Program: Ph.D. Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Special Education

Admission Year: 2021

 

Education:

  • Rank 1: Teaching Students with Visual Impairment, University of Kentucky
  • Consultant Certification: Teaching Students with Learning Behavior Disabilities
  • M.Ed.: Special Education, Moderate to Severe Disabilities, Murray State University
  • B.S.: Elementary Education and Special Education-Learning Behavior Disabilities, Murray State University

Work Experience: I started teaching in Western Kentucky and have taught for the past 10 years. I have work in a variety of classroom settings in special education that include: MSD/FMD Special Education Teacher, EBD Special Education Teacher, Resource Teacher, and Co-Teaching in the schools/ districts:
- Union County Public Schools
- Trigg County Public Schools
- Kentucky School for the Blind, Louisville
- Henderson County Schools
- Owensboro Public Schools

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I never thought I would go back to school to complete a doctorate program but this is where my career path and goals have led me. I have chosen UofL because of its academic excellence, faculty members, and recognition as a R1 University in Research. I want to learn to conduct the best research, use research methods, and teaching strategies that will enhance my knowledge in the field of education.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
I plan to use research methods and other opportunities UofL has to offer to help me reach my goals. I would also love to be published in an educational journal before I finish the dissertation process.

What are your goals after graduation?
My goals is to obtain my doctorate degree so I can teach at the collegiate level. I want to teach students in college about students with severe disabilities and strategies to help students in all educational settings.

Email: tara.harmon@louisville.edu

Abbigail LongAbbigail Long, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Project PURPLE

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2020

 

Education:

Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY

  • Rank I, Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research, July 2018

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY

  • Master of Divinity, December 2015

University of Louisville, Louisville, KY

  • Master of Education, Special Education, Learning and Behavior Disorders, May 2008

University of Southern Indiana, Evansville, IN

  • Bachelor of Science, Elementary Education, May 2004 - Magna Cum Laude

Work Experience:

  • Dean of Students, East Middle School, Shelby County Public Schools, 2019-2020
  • Special Education Teacher, East Oldham Middle School, Oldham County Schools, 2017-2019
  • Director of Ministry, St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 2014-2017
  • Asst. Pastor, Middletown United Methodist Church, 2012-2014
  • Special Education Teacher, Henderson County Schools, 2005-2012

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I came to the University of Louisville because it is a Research 1 university with a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. I also came because the University of Louisville offers the opportunity to study with a strong faculty and grow in my capacity to serve the next generation of educators.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
My first goal while at UofL is to participate in and conduct research alongside my colleagues that centers on the recruitment, support, and retention of special education teachers, specifically teachers of students with emotional behavior disabilities. My second goal is to develop my own capacity to teach undergraduate and graduate students entering the field of education. Finally, I hope to connect to faculty throughout the College of Education and beyond in other schools and departments.

What are your goals after graduation?
After graduation, I intend to seek employment at a Research 1 university and continue my work in researching practices that support teachers of students with emotional behavior disabilities. I would also like to work with local education agencies and the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Programs to assist schools as they continue to implement IDEA and other laws surrounding students with disabilities.

Email: ammann03@louisville.edu

Erica McClureErica McClure, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Evidence-based Practice Project

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis

Admission Year: 2019

 

Education:

  • B.F.A. in Theatre Performance, University of Louisville
  • M.A. in Teaching, P-12 Special Education & 8-12 English, Bellarmine University

Work Experience:

  • Special education teacher, Oldham County Public Schools, 2007-2013
  • Special education teacher, Bullitt County Public Schools, 2013-2015
  • Special education consultant, Bullitt County Public Schools, 2016-2018
  • Instructional coach, Jefferson County Public Schools, 2018-2019

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
University of Louisville has been recognized as a “Research 1” doctoral university with “very high research activity.” I was provided with a grant covering the cost of study, and the university offers the option to pursue a BCBA-D.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
I would like to conduct research with multiple faculty members while increasing my knowledge of Applied Behavior Analysis. My ultimate goals are to obtain my Ph.D., my BCBA-D, and become a published author or multiple journal articles.

What are your goals after graduation?
At this point, they are varied and oscillating. I know that I would like to obtain gainful employment and continue to conduct research.

Email: erica.mcclure@louisville.edu

Dana PageDana Page, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Evidence-based Practice Project

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year:Fall 2020

 

Education:

  • MA in Education from Georgetown College, BA in Education from EKU

Work Experience:

  • Para educator for 10+ years
  • LBD/EBD teacher for 3 years
  • Head Start Behavior Specialist for 1 year

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I wanted a program that was specifically for special education.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
To successfully defend and pass my dissertation.

What are your goals after graduation?
Work for the federal government as an education research analyst or education specialist.

Email: dana.page@louisville.edu

Jenni PollardJenni Pollard

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year:Fall 2018

 

Education:

  • MA Applied Behavior Analysis with an emphasis in Autism from Ball State University
  • MEd Counseling and Personnel Services with an emphasis in School Counseling from UL
  • MAT Teaching and Learning Art and Design Education from Rhode Island School of Design
  • BA Art History and Studio Arts from the George Washington University

Work Experience:

2015-present

  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) working with individuals with developmental disabilities and intellectual disability in the Louisville, KY area and Fort Knox, KY. Also, serve as Head of Behavior Department to support other behavior specialists. 2008-2015
  • Art Teacher in high school and elementary classrooms in the Louisville, KY area as well as in Rhode Island. Also, served as Department Chair for 3 years.

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I chose to come to UL because Louisville is my home and I have always know about the strong education programs at UL.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
I hope to participate in all academic activities from research to teaching to learning.

What are your goals after graduation?
After graduating from UL I hope to help teach people who want to become teachers and/or BCBAs.

Email: jennifer.pollard@louisville.edu

Leah Riggs Leah Riggs, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Evidence-based Practice Project

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2019

 

Education:

  • Rank I, Moderate to Severe Disabilities, University of Kentucky, May 2012
  • Master’s Degree in Special Education, Moderate to Severe Disabilities, University of Kentucky, May 2009
  • Bachelors of Art in Psychology and Biology, Indiana University Southeast, May 2000

Work Experience:

  • Special Education Consultant, Bullitt County Schools, Shepherdsville, KY
  • Admission and Release Committee Chairperson, Nelson County Schools, Bardstown, KY
  • Exceptional Child Consultant, Kentucky Department of Education, Frankfort, KY
  • Teacher, Special Education Department, Functional Mental Disability Classroom, Elizabethtown High School, Elizabethtown, KY

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I chose U of L to be part of the Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) Leadership Grant with Dr. Tim Landrum. My research interests are focused on identifying EBPs for students exposed to trauma as well as the impact of adverse childhood experiences on the structure and function of the brain.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
I am excited for the opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary environment to advance our understanding of the impact of trauma on our students and teachers.

What are your goals after graduation?
I plan to continue research at the university level or within an organization focused on EBP for school based mental health.

Email: leah.riggs@louisville.edu

Lorita RowlettLorita Rowlett, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Project PURPLE

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2020

 

Education:

  • B.S. in Early Elementary Education
  • M. Ed in Teacher Leadership with a concentration in Autism

Work Experience: MSD Educator in JCPS for 8 years.

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I have obtained my previous degrees from UofL and enjoy the learning environment that this University offers.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
To learn appropriate research methods and how to apply them. To learn how to support preservice and alternate certification teachers.

What are your goals after graduation?
Research and curriculum development

Email: lnfran02@louisville.edu

Kate SniderKate Snider, Doctoral Fellow-OSEP Leadership Grant: Project PURPLE

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Special Education

Admission Year: 2020

 

Education:

San Diego State University (2019-2020)

  • PhD in Education
  • K12 Education and Equity

San Diego State University (2014)

  • Education Specialist Teaching Credential
  • Mild/Moderate, EL and Autism Authorizations

San Jose State University (2012)

  • MA Applied Anthropology
  • Project Report: “Fostering Empowerment within Special Education: Building Communication in a Specialized Program”

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2010)

  • BA Anthropology
  • Minor: Geology

Work Experience:

Ramona Unified School District (2015-2020)

  • Specialized Academic Instructor (Special Education Teacher)
  • Develop and enact IEPs for students with moderate disabilities in grades 3-6.
  • Responsible for designing and implementing student specific academic and behavioral interventions.

Escondido Union School District (2014-2015)

  • Separate Day Class Special Education Teacher Non-severe (Special Education Teacher)
  • Develop and enact IEPs for students with mild to moderate disabilities in grades PK-3rd.
  • Responsible for designing and implementing student specific academic and behavioral interventions.

San Diego Unified School District (2014)

  • Student Teacher and Substitute Teacher
  • Learned to develop IEPs and implement them in both separate and general education settings.
  • Taught a modified English class for students in 6th & 8th grades.

Ramona Unified School District (2012-2013)

  • Special Education Paraprofessional II
  • Monitored goal progress and helped lead various academic and behavioral activities in a Special Day Classroom that served students with significant disabilities in grades PK-2.

San Jose Unified School District (2010-2012)

  • Specialized Special Education Autism Paraprofessional
  • Monitored goal progress and helped lead various academic and behavioral activities in a Special Day Classroom that served students with autism in grades K-3rd

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I came to the U of L because the Project PURPLE grant opportunity provided the ideal PhD program for me. There are opportunities to work with students and faculty from both the U of L and UK, gain experience teaching at the university level, and take courses from faculty who are experts in their field.

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
One of my main goals during my time at the U of L is to complete and publish a research project other than my dissertation. I plan to use my coursework as a starting point for developing and implementing different research project ideas.

What are your goals after graduation?
I would like to continue my research and teach at the university level in a tenured track position. Ideally, I would like to stay in the southeastern United States but I would be happy to follow my ideal faculty position almost anywhere.

Email: k0snid01@louisville.edu

Serena WheelerSerena Wheeler

Program: Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education.

Admission Year: Admitted 2018 & Began Spring 2019

 

Education:

  • AA Social Science, Lindsey Wilson College
  • BA Human Services, Lindsey Wilson College
  • MAE IECE, Western Kentucky University

Work Experience:

2017- present University of Louisville, Dept. of Pediatrics

  • Early Intervention Specialist Coach in conjunction with Kentucky’s First Steps Program

2000-2017 First Steps Program, KEIS, Barren River District

  • Developmental Interventionist, Independent, 2002-2004, 2008-2017
  • Primary Level Evaluator, 2008-2017
  • Developmental Interventionist, LifeSkills, 2000 -2001

2017-2018 Western Kentucky University (WKU), Bowling Green, KY

  • Part-time Faculty Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education Program (IECE)

2008-2017 Western Kentucky University (WKU), Bowling Green, KY

  • Supervising Provider for IECE Field and Student Teaching Placements

2010-2011 Warren County Schools, Bowling Green, KY, Bristow Elementary

  • Preschool Teacher

2006-2008 Russellville Independent Schools, Russellville, KY, Stevenson Elementary

  • Preschool Teacher

2004-2006 Edmonson County Schools, Early Learning Center, Brownsville, KY

  • Even Start Preschool Teacher

1999-2000 Chestnut Park Child and Family Services, Bowling Green, KY

  • Impact Plus Service Coordinator

1991-1996 LifeSkills, Inc., servicing Barren River District counties

  • Mental Health Child and Family Therapist, Bowling Green, KY, 1991-1994, 1995-1996
  • Mental Health Case Manager for adults with severe and persistent mental illness, Munfordville, KY, 1994-1995

Why did you choose to come to the University of Louisville?
I chose U of L due to the opportunities and interest in Early Childhood Education & Intervention..

What are your academic goals while at UofL?
My academic goals include learning and refining the skills I need to contribute to my field in the areas of professional writing, presenting, teaching, mentoring, communicating effectively, grant writing, collaborating with programs, professional organizations and policy makers, and expanding the research base with evidence that is substantive.

What are your goals after graduation?
My goals after graduation include continuing to contribute to the field of Early Childhood/Early Intervention using the skills named above in the capacity of professional development specialist, consultant, instructor, mentor, team member, program developer, grant writer, collaborator, etc.

Email: serena.wheeler@louisville.edu, wheeleralv@bellsouth.net, and serenawheeler1542@gmail.com