1. What led you to choose special education as a profession?

Rick:

When I graduated from college, I was qualified to be a health and physical education teacher, and that is what I intended to do for a career. Jobs in general education were scarce, though, and I took a position as an adaptive physical education teacher working exclusively with students with moderate to severe disabilities (also hearing impairments) in public schools in two counties in Pennsylvania. From that initial experience, I grew to love working in the field of special education and have stayed in it in various capacities for my entire career.

Brian:

When I was a child I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I originally chose Special Education as an undergraduate major just to “try it out.” Very quickly I came to love working with students with disabilities.

Lance:

From a young age, I knew I wanted to work alongside individuals with disabilities.  Several of my family members are teachers and I sought out volunteer opportunities as a student that reinforced my desire to be a special educator.  I was drawn to the field of special education because of its focus on students’ strengths, individualized education, collaboration between community and schools, and advocacy for equal opportunities for all individuals regardless of perceived ability level.

Karen:

I originally intended to be a nurse, and as part of my clinical experience in nursing school I had the opportunity to work at a residential mental health facility with youth with severe emotional and behavioral disorders. After graduation, I worked as a paraeducator in a classroom for students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Dr. Ray Glass, a faculty member at UMF, saw me working with students with disabilities and encouraged me to pursue certification in special education.

2. Describe your educational background (universities attended, degrees earned or in progress and in what discipline, etc.).

Rick:

I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Health, Physical Education, & Recreation from Lock Haven State College (now University) in Pennsylvania in 1977. In 1985, I earned a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Mansfield University, also in Pennsylvania. I earned a Doctorate in Educational Administration from the Pennsylvania State University in 1999.

Brian:

I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Emotional Disturbance/ Special Education from UMF. I also have a Master’s in Risk and Prevention from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Currently, I am finishing my doctorate in Special Education and Human Development at the University of Maine.

Lance:

Because of my early commitment to the field of special education, all of my formal education and professional experiences have focused on special education and persons with disabilities. I received my undergraduate and graduate degrees in special education.   I completed my doctoral studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Karen:

I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from University of Southern Maine. I did my core coursework in special education at the University of Maine at Farmington and earned a Master’s in Education at the University of Maine. Currently, I’m pursuing my doctoral degree at the University of Maine in Special Education and Curriculum & Instruction.

3. What kinds of experiences do you have in the field of special education outside of being a faculty member?

Rick:

I was an adaptive physical education teacher working with students with moderate to severe disabilities (also hearing impairments) in grades K-12 in public schools in two counties in Pennsylvania. I have been a high school classroom teacher for students identified with emotional disturbance as well as specific learning disabilities. I spent almost two years as an itinerant teacher working with students with orthopedic or speech and language impairments who needed assistive technology devices and services. I served as a state level consultant in Pennsylvania training elementary schools in implementation of a prereferral intervention process. I worked at the Pennsylvania Department of Education as the Bureau of Special Education’s policy adviser. Prior to entering higher education, I was the Special Education Director at a large regional service agency in Pennsylvania that provides services to 24 school districts.

Brian:

I have worked with students with many types of abilities and disabilities although much of my work has been with students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities (EBD). I have worked in therapeutic residential schools for children and adolescents with EBD. I have also taught middle school student with EBD in a public middle school setting. Before returning to school to get my doctorate, I was a professional development provider and behavioral consultant, working with students with EBD as well as their teachers to support their work with students with EBD.

Lance:

Throughout my career, I have had the great fortune of working with experts in the field, as well as opportunities to work in a variety of educational settings with a wide-range of students.  I have worked in schools in rural and urban settings across many states including Pennsylvania, Oregon, Colorado, and Illinois.

Karen:

I was a paraeducator for two years in a classroom for students with emotional and behavioral disorders. I taught for five years as an elementary special education teacher working with students with a wide range of abilities. At the middle school level, I taught special education for seven years, working with students with moderate disabilities.

4. Describe your particular areas of academic interest.

Rick:

My primary area of academic interest is special education law and policy. I am also interested in self-directed learning and educational administration.

Brian:

While I am interested in all areas of Special Education and disability, my main area of interest is in the prevention and intervention of EBD. Currently, in addition to teaching at UMF, I consult with local schools and districts on the implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) which is a framework for providing emotional and behavioral support to ALL students, including students with EBD.

Lance:

My teaching and research interests focus on inclusive school and community settings and preparing future special and general educators to work with diverse populations. When I was a special educator, I was introduced to an instructional strategy known as service-learning.  Service-learning provides opportunities for students to apply their skills in hands-on projects that benefit their school and community.  Since my introduction to service-learning, I have worked on various research teams to explore its use in the field of special education.

Karen:

I’m interested in special education methods, curriculum & instruction, response to intervention, paraeducators.

5. What might someone find you doing when you’re not in your faculty role?

Rick:

You might find me reading, hiking, kayaking, camping, traveling, playing music, or pursuing my interest in Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation.

Brian:

When I am not teaching, I enjoy watching the Patriots and Celtics win. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends.

Lance:

When I am not involved in professional activities, I enjoy traveling with my family, a wide-range of outdoor recreation activities, and music.

Karen:

I spend a lot of time with my family and enjoy skiing. I especially enjoy attending my sons’ sporting events.

6. What attracted you to working at UMF?

Rick:

I was particularly attracted to UMF’s focus on quality teaching, but also its small class sizes and welcoming atmosphere.

Brian:

As you may have noticed from reading above, I graduated from UMF. I enjoyed my time at UMF and jumped at the opportunity to return. The students here are excellent to work with. Students and faculty alike are kind and motivated to make a difference in children’s lives.

Lance:

I was attracted to UMF for many reasons including its dedicated faculty and strong students.  UMF has a commitment to its students and surrounding community, and maintains high expectations of students and faculty which align with my values as a faculty member.  I have greatly enjoyed my time at UMF and living in beautiful Maine.

Karen:

UMF has a longstanding reputation for its quality special education teacher preparation program and Farmington is the best place to live, work, and raise a family.