*See below for NCLII-2’s first cohort of Scholars, to begin in the fall of 2020. For more information on the admissions and application process for Cohort 2 (to begin studies in the fall of 2021), please reach out to the contacts listed here at the NCLII-2 partner university that you are interested in attending.
TESSA ARSENAULTUniversity of Texas at Austin
While at her first teaching job in the Central District of Seattle at a Title 1 school, Jessica worked on the MTSS team helping to develop tiers of intervention for reading instruction. Jessica’s second teaching job was in Kirkland, Washington where she worked primarily with students who were on the autism spectrum or who needed social/emotional instruction. While in Kirkland, she helped the school’s newly implemented PBIS team to collect data and consult with teachers to support them in implementing classroom interventions. Jessica also served as a mentor teacher through a collaboration with City University and was chosen to be on the curriculum adoption committee to help select and pilot a new social-skills curriculum for the district.
Jessica is interested in research on improving reading interventions for students at the elementary level. When she isn’t working, Jessica likes to read, sew, bake pies, and watch football.
JESSICA BOURGETUniversity of Connecticut
BRENNAN CHANDLERUniversity of Georgia
Gabby received a B.A. in psychology from the University of Montana in 2015. In 2018, she received her M.Ed in Special Education from Gonzaga University, where the program emphasis was on conducting behavioral assessments (functional analyses, concurrent operants assessments, antecedent analyses) in the home and clinic settings.
Gabby’s current interests focus on researching and developing socially valid interventions and assessments for children who engage in challenging behavior in the classroom setting. Additionally, she has an interest in analyzing the impact medication has on the function of a child’s challenging behavior.
GABBY CROWELLVanderbilt University
Sarah received her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Iowa State University, with an endorsement in Early Childhood Special Education. She received Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education from Morningside College with a focus on students with significant intellectual disabilities.
SARAH DEANGELOUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
Blair earned her Bachelor’s degree from Sewanee: The University of the South in 2012, where she studied psychology and education. After graduating, she began the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship under her project titled “Playing to Learn and Learning to Play: An Exploration of Play Utilized in Education.” Following the fellowship, Blair earned her M.Ed. in High Incidence Disabilities from Vanderbilt University and became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Blair taught high school special education for five years in Denver, Colorado. At her high school, Blair was the Special Education Coordinator, where she oversaw her school’s special education department and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support team. She served as a Content Lead for her district, where she helped to train new special education teachers and develop trainings for both special and general education teachers. Outside of school, Blair has been a Teach Plus Education Policy Fellow and worked on the state-wide CMAS Review Committee.
BLAIR PAYNEUniversity of Texas at Austin
Prior to her studies, Amber was a special educator for 5 years at Sarah Moore Greene Elementary, an urban Title 1 school in Knoxville, Tennessee. Here, she served students with comprehensive developmental needs including autism and intellectual disabilities in a mostly self-contained setting. In this role, she earned the highest teacher effectiveness score per her observations and student growth data and received the honors of Teacher of the Year. She helped forge a leadership team focused on the school’s Social and Emotional Competencies and served on its Positive Behavior Intervention Support and Data-Driven leadership teams. During her career, Amber has conducted school-based and district professional development sessions and presented at regional and state conferences. She also served on the Autism Awareness panel at the University of Tennessee and board for the Down Syndrome Awareness Group of East Tennessee.
Amber received a B.S. in Exceptional Education and a minor in Psychology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she served as a student government senator and president of Active Minds, an organization dedicated to mental health awareness. She graduated with the honors of Summa Cum Laude. While teaching, she completed her M.S. in Special Education with a GPA of 4.0 from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Beyond serving people with disabilities, Amber enjoys spending time with her loved ones, animals of all kinds (mama to O’Malley, the doxie), hiking and running, reading, live music, and craft beer.
AMBER REILLYUniversity of Minnesota
Before pursuing a Ph.D., Emily practiced as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in Title I public schools in Tucson, Arizona. As a school SLP, she served diverse populations from preschool through fifth grade in both general and special education settings, including one cross-categorical self-contained classroom and two self-contained classrooms for students with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. While practicing as an SLP, Emily participated in numerous interdisciplinary evaluation and special education teams, where she helped to determine eligibilities and design services for students with complex communication, learning, and behavior challenges.
Emily is interested in developing language and literacy interventions for struggling learners in general and special education environments. She is particularly passionate about serving early elementary-aged children, grades kindergarten through third grade. Additionally, Emily is interested in Implementation Science by increasing and improving transdisciplinary collaboration among special educators for students with complex communication, learning, and behavioral challenges. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, hiking, reading, and spending time with her husband and pets.
EMILY RENOUniversity of Minnesota
JILLIAN THOELEUniversity of Georgia
ELIZABETH ZAGATAUniversity of Connecticut
NCLII-1 SCHOLARS (2014-2019)
Christy received a B.A. in humanities from Trinity University, where she played college tennis and was a two-time All-American doubles player. She received a M.Ed. in special education at the University of Texas at Austin, specializing in learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. She is particularly interested in research in the area of reading interventions.
CHRISTY AUSTINUniversity of Texas at Austin
KRISTI BAKERSouthern Methodist University
Gina’s current research focus is two-fold. Focused on reading comprehension, she works on systematically intensifying interventions as well as preparing and supporting teachers who teach literacy to students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Aside from being a student, Gina enjoys spending family time with her husband Erik, and charming and rambunctious toddler, Anden.
GINA BRAUNUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
After college, Britta spent 6 years teaching junior high special education in Iowa City, Iowa. As a teacher, Britta was privileged to work with students with learning disabilities and emotional & behavioral disorders. In her most recent year of teaching, she took on the leadership role of Instructional Design Strategist, working in a collaborative coaching relationship with both general and special education teachers. In this role, Britta helped develop and provide a variety of personal professional development and supported teachers to use data to drive instructional decisions focused on increasing student achievement. Britta also served on many building and district level leadership teams as well as coached junior high volleyball and track & field. Britta enjoys spending time with her family, playing sports, being outdoors, reading, crafting, and spending time with her husband, Jace.
BRITTA BRESINAUniversity of Minnesota
CHRISTERRALYN BROWNUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
CARLIN CONNERSouthern Methodist University
Lisa’s current research focus is centered around investigation of data use, both by students for their own self-monitoring and teachers for instructional decision making. Specifically, she is focused on self-determined learning practices to improve academic and behavior outcomes for students with high-incidence disabilities. Also, Lisa is interested in teacher learning, specifically in how to provide teachers with supports to use data to inform instruction in order to deliver effective intensive interventions for improved student outcomes.
In her spare time, Lisa enjoys cooking, biking, yoga, camping, and visiting her family in St. Louis.
LISA DIDIONUniversity of Texas at Austin
After graduating, Rachel worked as an elementary special education teacher in inclusion and resource settings. During her time as a teacher, Rachel collaborated with other special education teachers in her district to support their implementation of various academic interventions. She also worked at the district level as an instructional coach for special education teachers at the elementary and middle school level. In this role, she designed and provided teacher trainings and in classroom support focused on reading intervention. Most recently, Rachel served at Vanderbilt University as a project coordinator for a reading intervention research project under Dr. Jeanne Wanzek.
In her spare time, Rachel enjoys running, trying new recipes, and teaching her dog, Gus, new tricks.
RACHEL DONEGANVanderbilt University
Sam began her Ph.D. program in Fall 2015, under the supervision of her advisor, Dr. Chris Lemons. With a minor area in Research Methods, Sam has been trained in advanced statistical methodology and research design (group and single case). During her time at Vanderbilt, she has worked on faculty-led research grants related to reading interventions for students with or at-risk for disabilities. Sam has begin her own research line related to intensive interventions and data-based decision-making in reading. She has presented her research at national and international research conferences. Sam is especially interested in training teachers to use data-based individualization (DBI) in practice, identifying barriers to implementation, and supporting continued use of these practices. Recently, Sam completed a meta-analysis of the effect of teacher training in DBI on teachers’ DBI knowledge and skills. Currently, Sam is completing her dissertation study, which is a replication study examining the relative accuracy and timeliness of different reading progress monitoring schedules, one component of the DBI process. In addition to her research work, Sam values her experiences in teaching and service. Sam is a member of the Council for Learning Disabilities and the Council for Exceptional Children (general member and member of Divisions of Research and Learning Disabilities). She has also served as a mentor for newer Ph.D. students. Most notably, Sam recently received the Shores Award for Teaching Excellence, a departmental award recognizing her achievements related to teaching and supervising undergraduate and graduate students.
SAMANTHA GESELVanderbilt University
MARIA LEMLER HUGH
MARIA LEMLER HUGHUniversity of Minnesota
Skip obtained his Master’s in Education from National-Louis University and his B.S. in Aviation from the University of Dubuque.
SKIP KUMMUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
During her time in the classroom, Rachel also completed the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disorders (LEND) program through Virginia Commonwealth University. While in the LEND program, she presented a poster on specific academic interventions in the classroom for children with Autism using observational learning strategies. Rachel received her M.Ed. in Special Education from Virginia Commonwealth University and her B.S. in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University.
RACHEL KUNEMUNDVirginia Commonwealth University
Upon graduating with her bachelor’s degree and teaching certification in 2009, Katherine taught a self-contained high school classroom for students with autism and emotional and behavioral disorders for 3 years. Katherine then began working as a Graduate Research Assistant at Texas State University’s autism clinic while completing her master’s degree. Katherine has designed and implemented individualized educational and behavioral programs for children with autism in clinic, home, and school settings. She has provided training to clinicians, teachers, and parents in the implementation of applied behavior analytic techniques. Katherine has also published research related to improving academic and safety skills for individuals with autism and presented at national and international conferences for special education. Katherine’s primary research interests include interventions designed to improve the communication and academic skills of children with autism while evaluating collateral, or untargeted, changes in additional behaviors.
KATHERINE LEDBETTER-CHOUniversity of Texas at Austin
Kaitlin enjoys spending time with her husband, Justin, daughter, Maura (8), and son, Will (6).
KAITLIN LEONARDUniversity of Connecticut
Caitlyn holds both a Bachelor’s in Elementary/Special Education and a Master’s of Education in Special Education from Vanderbilt University. She is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Upon graduation, Caitlyn is currently a doctoral student at Vanderbilt University, pursuing her passion for research and teacher preparation. Her research interests center around increasing teacher use of data-based decision-making to adapt and intensify behavioral interventions. More specifically, she is interested in utilizing student characteristics (e.g., function of behavior) to more efficiently and effectively inform the selection and/or adaptation of Tier 2 behavioral interventions.
Gilmour, A., Majeika, C. E., Sheaffer, A., & Wehby, J. H. (accepted for publication). Teacher evaluation and student behavior: Are evaluation rubrics designed to support teacher development in classroom management? Submitted to Teacher Education and Special Education.
Kunemund, R., Majeika, C., Mellado De La Cruz, V., & Wilkinson, S. (2017). Practice Guide: Check-In Check-Out for Students with or At-Risk for Emotional or Behavioral Disabilities. Washington, DC: US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.
Majeika, C. E., Walder, J. P., Hubbard, J. P., Steeb, K. M., Ferris, G. J., Oakes, W. P., & Lane, K. L. (2011). Improving on-task behavior using a functional assessment-based intervention in an inclusive high school setting. Beyond Behavior, 20, 55-66.
Majeika, C.E., Van Camp, A.M., Wehby, J.H., Commisso, C., Gaier, K., & Kern, L. (2018, March). Enhancing Tier 2 Behavioral Interventions with an Adaptive Intervention Framework. Presented at the annual International Conference on Positive Behavior Support, San Diego, CA.
Wilkinson, S., Majeika, C.E., Kumm, S., & Sterrett, B. (2018, March). Intensifying Behavioral Interventions Through a Data-Based Decision-Making Process. Presented at the annual International Conference on Positive Behavior Support, San Diego, CA.
Chauvin, C. B., & Majeika, C. E., LeJeune, L.N., Wilkinson, S., & Zimmerman, K. N., (2018, February). Teach Like Skinner Is Watching: Embedding Operant Learning Strategies within Explicit Reading and Writing Instruction. Presented at the annual conference of the Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders, Kansas City, KS.
Van Camp, A. M., Majeika, C. E., Chauvin, C.B. Wehby, J.H., Commisso, C., Gaier, K., & Kern, L. (2018, February). When Standard Protocols Don’t Work: Adapting Check-In/Check-Out to Meet Individual Student Needs. Presented at the annual conference of the Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders, Kansas City, KS.
Zimmerman, K. N., Chauvin, C. B., & Majeika, C. E. (2018, February). Adapting Classroom-Based Antecedent Interventions for Diverse Students. Presented at the annual conference of the Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders, Kansas City, KS.
Majeika, C.E., Van Camp, A.M., Sheaffer, A. W., & Wehby, J.H., Commisso, C., Gaier, K., & Kern, L. (2017, October). The Current Landscape of Tier 2 Behavior Interventions: Evaluating the Use of Data and Clinical Judgement to Make Decisions. Presented at the annual conference on Advancing School Mental Health, Washington, DC.
Commisso, C. E., Gaier, K. L, Kern, L., Majeika, C. E., Van Camp, A. M., Wehby, J. H. (2017, October). A Review of Check-in/Check-out (CICO): Components, Evaluated Adaptations, and Implications for Use with Students. Presented at the annual conference on Advancing School Mental Health, Washington, D.C.
Majeika, C.E., Van Camp, A.M., Wehby, J.H., Commisso, C., Gaier, K., & Kern, L. (2017, October). Adapting Tier II Behavior Interventions. In B.P. Lloyd (Chair) Adapting and Intensifying Behavioral Supports Along a Tier II—Tier III Continuum. Symposium presented at the annual conference of the Tennessee Association of Behavior Analysts, Nashville, TN.
CAITLYN MAJEIKAVanderbilt University
Prior to beginning the doctoral program, Brittany began her teaching career as an Intensive Academics teacher and Inclusion Specialist at a Title 1 school in Southwest Florida. During this time, she worked with children with severe academic and behavioral challenges in self-contained and inclusive settings. After relocating to middle Tennessee, Brittany worked as a Resource Teacher and Response to Intervention (RtI) Coordinator at the school-wide level at a rural school outside of Nashville. In this role, she was responsible for providing individualized interventions in reading and math in the general education setting. Her time spent working in the RtI field prompted her to pursue her Ph.D. to study the Response to Intervention process and research more intensive interventions for students with math disabilities.
In her free time, Brittany enjoys traveling, reading, crafting, and spending time with her husband, Tom, and daughter, Sadie!
BRITTANYLEE MARTINVanderbilt University
AMANDA MARTINEZ-LINCOLNUniversity of Texas at Austin
VERONICA MELLADO DE LA CRUZ
Since becoming a doctoral student in fall 2015, Veronica has been working under the direction of her advisor, Stephanie Al Otaiba. Experiences include work on a project exploring early literacy curriculum based assessments used to identify children at risk for future reading difficulties. In addition to data collection and project support, Veronica conducted analyses to compare the relative utility of assessing growth on English and Spanish language versions for emerging bilingual kindergarteners. Her efforts honed an interest in investigating assessment at the intersection of bilingualism and high-incidence disabilities (i.e., LD, EBD). Such work is critical to extending evidence-based practices in data-based instruction to dual language learners.
Veronica looks forward to opportunities to explore a secondary interest in behavioral and psychosocial aspects of learning. A Mindset Study exploring mindset training paired with intensive reading intervention beginning fall 2017 promises to provide relevant experience.
Veronica is bilingual (Spanish-English) and enjoys exploring literary works in her native language from time to time. A native of Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, she is a long time Texan and currently resides with her family in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.
VERONICA MELLADO DE LA CRUZSouthern Methodist University
Brittany enjoys traveling, reading, and running, and as a new Minnesotan she is learning to cross-country ski. She coached Girls on the Run and volunteered with Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
BRITTANY PENNINGTONUniversity of Minnesota
BETH POKORSKIVanderbilt University
KATHERINE SARGENTVanderbilt University
Brittany received her B.A. in Political Science with a concentration in Legal Studies from Virginia Tech. She earned her M.Ed. in Special Education from Virginia Commonwealth University. In the spring of 2014, Brittany represented VCU and presented at the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) Poster Presentation Session. She is now a member of the SEALS II program, which seeks to develop and implement a professional development and consultation model to support teachers in their efforts to promote students’ adjustment across the middle school years. Her focus will include the development of protocols for intensifying interventions for students with significant academic and behavioral difficulties.
BRITTANY STERRETTVirginia Commonwealth University
Jennifer holds a Bachelors of Arts in Education and Theatre from Saint Louis University and a Masters of Education in Special Education from Southern Methodist University. Prior to teaching in the school setting, she worked as an educational intern with the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis and Nashville Children’s Theatre. Out of the classroom, Jennifer can be found singing, seeing live theatre, training for her next race, and volunteering as a member of the family selection committee for Habitat for Humanity- South Collin County.
JENNIFER STEWARTSouthern Methodist University
ALYSSA VAN CAMP
ALYSSA VAN CAMPVanderbilt University
Outside of the school setting, Samantha has worked in therapeutic recreation settings, coached Special Olympics, assisted adults with disabilities living in group homes, run weekend structured weekend social groups for children with autism, and implemented in-home Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy. She also enjoys yoga, biking, hiking, and food.
SAMANTHA WALTEUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
Outside of work, Tori enjoys reading, hiking with her dog, and attending theater and other arts events.
VICTORIA WHALEYUniversity of Connecticut
Sarah is pursuing her doctoral studies in Educational Psychology (Special Education) at the University of Connecticut. She plans to focus her work on behavior supports at the secondary level.
SARAH WILKINSONUniversity of Connecticut
Originally from Indiana, JESSICA WRIGHT earned a Bachelor’s in Science in Special Education and her Master’s of Education in School Administration and Supervision at Indiana State University. In Indiana, Jessica taught students with special needs grades Pre K-12 in a variety of settings, writing individualized education plans, tracking, writing, and facilitating behavior plans, and differentiating instruction. Jessica also played the role of department chair for her middle school and served as the committee chair for Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies (PBIS) and Response to Intervention(RTI). She served on a goals committee, which was instrumental in self auditing the Individual Education Plan goals to ensure they were in compliance with the state and government criteria.
After moving to Virginia, Jessica collaboratively taught special education, general education, and then moved into an administrative role in a public middle school. While teaching, Jessica was a mentor to other special education teachers about progress monitoring and data collection. She also served as a consultant to general education teachers about differentiation and trait writing. As an administrator, Jessica was a liaison for Project SEALS. She also was instrumental in initiating the PBIS program at her middle school working to increase positive student/ teacher interaction and decreased office discipline referrals.
Jessica is pursuing her Ph.D in the department of Special Education and Disability Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University. She intends on focusing her research on the successful application of a tiered intervention system in the conjoined area of academics and social/ emotional behaviors.
JESSICA WRIGHTVirginia Commonwealth University
The contents of this website were developed under grants from the U.S. Department of Education, #H325H140001 and #H325190003. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Project Officer, Celia Rosenquist.