B.S., University of Cincinnati (1975)
M.Ed., Xavier University (1980)
My research interests center on effective teacher and school practices for engaging families and their communities. As a teacher educator of special education majors, I am particularly focused on preparing teachers to be skilled collaborators and leaders in the development of individual education plans that address the needs of students with disabilities.
A related interest of mine is the development of culturally responsive teachers. I am currently working with the Office of Community Service and faculty in the Department of Religious and Theological Studies on an initiative and partnership with Mustard Seed Communities, which operates two residential communities for orphaned children and adults with disabilities in Managua, Nicaragua. An international service trip for Salve Regina students is scheduled for spring break, March 2012.
When I began my teaching career I taught young children with autism. Adrian was one of my first students. Adrian was a happy, very agreeable child with an engaging personality. Adrian did not speak; he flapped his hands and frequently made unintelligible noises. An extensive psycho-educational report compiled by a group of experts concluded that Adrian was autistic and "profoundly mentally retarded." The report included a note indicating that a precise IQ score could not be determined. Furthermore, Adrian's mother was described as unwilling to accept the reality of her son's condition to the extent that she believed her son could read. Before the start of school, I met Adrian and his mother at their apartment. Bored with the adult conversation, Adrian picked up the TV Guide, turned to the page with that day's programming, read the selections for that hour, and turned on the show he had chosen to watch. Later assessments indicated Adrian was reading at a third grade level.
This was my first lesson (since then I have had many more) about the dangers of establishing false assumptions based on a label - and the benefits of getting to really know a child, his/her family and community. In preparing to be teachers, students must develop both a firm belief that all children can learn and a genuine respect for parents as necessary and valuable contributors in the education of their child.