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Special Education Faculty of Saint Joseph's University

Samuel B. Silke, D.Ed.
Nooha Ahmed-Lee
Glenna Billingsley
Nicole Bourque
Dee Castorani
Kimmarie Cipolla
Elizabeth G. Clark
Holly Cohen
Jennifer Dougherty
Joseph E. Fischgrund
Jaclyn Galbally
Bari Goldstein
Christopher F. Herman
William J. Hudson
Elizabeth J. Hunsperger
James R. Johnson
Kyle C. Kanter
Renee Lang Reasons
Jeanmarie Mason
Irene Merenda
Lisa Mitchell
Jo Ann Marie Rae
Veronica Ruiz
Eileen Sabbatino
Elizabeth C. Serpentine
Nina Wall
Ellen Wedenmeyer
Lucy J. Wimpenny
Sarah Woldoff

SJU faculty member Samuel B. Silke, D.Ed.Samuel B. Slike, D.Ed.
Director, Special Education Online Programs

Previously held position as Professor and Curriculum Coordinator of the Master of Science Education of the Deaf/HH Program at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania where he prepared teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing for 32 years.

Dr. Slike and his colleagues won the international Platinum Award (highest honor) from the IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc. for their presentation “Wimba @ Work: Improving Access for High Needs Career Education (2011) Long Beach, CA; the “Innovation in Teaching Teachers of Deaf/HH Technology Award,” at the (2009) 35th Annual Conference of the Association of College Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACE-DHH), New Orleans, LA; and the Bronze Award at the United States Distance Learning Awards – Best Practices in Higher Education for: 74.201.99 History, Education and Guidance of the Deaf/HH Online Course – Bloomsburg University (2008) in Saint Louis, Missouri.

He was the lead developer for 2 CD-ROM projects that were nationally marketed: Introduction to Sign Language: A CD-ROM Approach (2001) and Speechreading Challenges on CD-ROM (1999).

Dr. Slike is also credited with the establishment of the first Bachelor’s degree program for training interpreters for the deaf/hh in the state of Pennsylvania (1982). In addition to the above he has published numerous articles and has presented on the state, national, and international levels. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Pennsylvania State University in Deaf Education, a Master of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Scranton, and a doctorate in Educational Administration from the Pennsylvania State University.

Helping Students Who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing Succeed by John L. Luckner, Samuel B. Slike, and Harold Johnson

SJU faculty member Nooha Ahmed-LeeNooha Ahmed-Lee

Nooha Ahmed-Lee has worked in education for 26 years. She earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Washington, a Master’s in Education at the City University of New York and a Doctorate in Leadership and Professional Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She has worked at the Philadelphia School, Chestnut Hill Academy and William Penn Charter School as both a teacher and administrator for grades pre-K through 8. Dr. Ahmed-Lee is currently the Head of Lower and Middle Schools at the Shipley School. Throughout her years in education she has particularly focused on learning and the brain.

"I enjoy teaching because it gives me an opportunity to help each student succeed. I enjoy teaching online because it reminds me that I am a 21st-century life-long learner."

SJU faculty Glenna BillingsleyGlenna Billingsley

Glenna Billingsley taught special education in Austin, Texas for 23 years and was a Behavior Specialist for a school district south of Austin for 3 years. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Texas State University-San Marcos. Her expertise is in teaching students with emotional and behavioral disorders and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports in schools. She is the coauthor of “Comparison of Three Instructional Methods for Teaching Math Skills to Secondary Students With Emotional/Behavioral Disorders,” written with Dr. Brenda Scheuermann and Dr. Jo Webber.

Dr. Billingsley earned a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Emporia State University, a Master’s of Education degree with a major in Special Education from Southwest Texas State University and a Ph.D. in Education with a major in School Improvement from Texas State University-San Marcos.

“I am very passionate about the education of students with special needs. I had a wonderful career teaching these students, and I want to be a part of preparing the next generation of educators. It truly is the most important job on the planet.”

Nicole Bourque

Nicole Bourque earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Saint Joseph’s University and is currently a Doctoral candidate in SJU’s Interdisciplinary Doctor of Education Program for Educational Leaders (IDEPEL), where she is working on her dissertation. She also holds Pennsylvania certifications in elementary education, special education, reading specialist, and principal certification.

For the past nine years she has worked in the Southeast Delco School District as a special education teacher of fourth and fifth graders in both inclusive and resource settings and as an Instructional Specialist for grades one through eight. Her primary responsibilities include coaching teachers, organizing/leading district-wide professional development, facilitating professional learning communities, organizing and providing intervention services and supporting data-guided instruction and research-based best practices.

Professor Bourque has taught online courses at SJU since 2009 and has spent several years as a supervisor during the Summer Reading Clinic for the reading specialist candidates. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the graduate education departments at Neumann University and Cabrini College.

“I enjoy teaching children because I believe it is my responsibility to advocate for students with special needs or those who simply who struggle academically or behaviorally. I enjoy working with adults and teaching online because knowledge is power, and adults who grow professionally are better able to meet the needs of the students in their classrooms.“

SJU faculty member Dee CastoraniDee Castorani

Dee Castorani earned a BS in Education from Cabrini College and an M.Ed. in Mid-Level Education from Rosemont College. Her certifications include Special Education, Reading Specialist, Elementary and Early Childhood Education, Mid-level Mathematics, Science, and Citizenship Education.

Professor Castorani taught at an independent school for students who learn differently for nine years. Seven years ago she helped open AIM Academy, a Special Education school for students with learning disabilities, where she currently teaches the lower-level middle and high school math classes there.

“I am able to make a difference in each of my students’ lives and in their attitudes about learning – especially with math. I find that I can hear the voice of my students through their writing, and I am honored to help them make a difference in their students’ lives.”

Kimmarie Cipolla

Kimmarie Cipolla received a doctorate in Special Education from Arcadia University in June 2010. Her dissertation focused on social cognition, effects of teaching social thinking to children with learning disabilities. She earned a Bachelor’s in Education with certifications in Early Childhood, Elementary and Special Education from Temple University and a Master’s degree with certification as a Reading Specialist from Saint Joseph’s University. During her career as an educator she has taught children with learning disabilities, social/emotional disorders, and autism. Dr. Cipolla also conducts professional development workshops on, Strategies for the Struggling Reader, Differentiated Instruction, Diagnostic Assessments, and Social Thinking concepts.

Elizabeth G. Clark

Elizabeth G. Clark earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Disorders from Marquette University, and a Master of Arts Degree from Temple University in the field of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Ms. Clark has worked as a speech-language pathologist for over 35 years with 23 years in the public school system. Previous to the public schools, Ms. Clark served as the Department Head of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, N.J. She has taught university and online courses at Saint Joseph’s University since 2008 and has taught courses in assistive technology at Cabrini College for twelve years. Currently, she works for Lower Merion School District as the Department Chair for Speech Pathology and is the District Coordinator of Assistive Technology. In addition, Ms. Clark is an adjunct professor at Saint Joseph’s University and Cabrini College. Ms. Clark’s areas of clinical and research expertise include the use of assistive technology to access the curriculum, evidence-based practice, social competence, and transition/employment issues for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Her most recent publications include:

Clark, E.A., & Clark, E.G. (2002). Using evidence based practice to guide decision making in AAC. Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 11, 6 – 9.

Serpentine, E.C., Clark, E.G., & Drager, K.D.R. (2011). Parent perspectives of the transition process to life beyond the classroom for adolescents with Asperger Syndrome. Manuscript in preparation

Her most recent presentations include:

Serpentine, E.C., Clark, E.G., & Drager, K.D. R. (2011, November). Opening the GATE to Conversation for Adolescents with Asperger’s Syndrome. Lecture presented to the Annual Conference of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, San Diego, CA.

Serpentine, E.C., Drager, K.D.R., & Clark, E.G. (2010, November). Teaching Partner Focused Questions to Adolescents with Asperger’s Syndrome. Lecture presented to the Annual Conference of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, Philadelphia, PA.

Clark, E.G., Mazzoli, S.R. (2005, January). “Software for Beginning Struggling Writers: Just My Type and Report Cards.” Workshop presented Technology, Reading and Learning Difficulties: San Francisco, CA.

“I enjoy teaching at the university level because it allows me the opportunity to impact the education of future teachers and their students specifically in the area of assistive technology. I enjoy teaching online as the technology facilitates a global classroom allowing all learners to participate and share experiences, which enriches our overall learning environment.”

SJU faculty Holly CohenHolly Cohen

Holly Cohen has 30 years of experience as a school psychologist and has taught special education students for 5 years. She has designed courses, presented workshops, and taught courses through the University of Pennsylvania and at various school districts throughout the country and around the world. Ms. Cohen has taught in the online M.S. in Special Education since its inception. She studied at the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University.

“Teaching allows me to be part of others' growth. I enjoy online teaching as it has redefined the community of learners, encourages collaboration and allows everyone to post from anywhere for added convenience.”

SJU faculty member Jennifer DoughertyJennifer Dougherty

Jennifer Dougherty has been teaching in the field of special education for 14 years at the elementary and secondary levels. She currently works as a national certified school psychologist. She earned degrees at Temple University, Saint Joseph’s University and Rider University and holds certification as a Special Education teacher, a Reading Specialist, and a School Psychologist. Her areas of expertise include diagnostic assessment, progress monitoring, and consultation and collaboration.

“This role provides me the opportunity to continue to emerge as an educator. I have the great privilege of making a positive impact in the lives of many children on a continual basis.”

Joseph Fischgrund, Adjunct ProfessorJoseph E. Fischgrund
Adjunct Professor, Teacher Certification / Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program

Joseph E. Fischgrund has been an educator of deaf students for many years, most notably as the Headmaster of The Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (PSD) in Philadelphia, PA, a position he held for 21 years. Prior to coming to PSD he was Principal of the Lexington School for the Deaf in New York, Director of Academic Affairs at the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf in Maine, and Staff Linguist and Language Curriculum Coordinator at the Rhode Island School for the Deaf. Under his leadership, PSD diversified and grew, including the re-establishment of its secondary school program, the development of a nationally recognized school-based mental health program and numerous collaborative programs with Gallaudet University. After leaving PSD, Mr. Fischgrund served as Interim Director of the Delaware School for the Deaf and as Interim Superintendent at the New Jersey School for the Deaf. He currently consults with several schools for the deaf throughout the United States in the areas of program assessment and school improvement.

Mr. Fischgrund has also been active in a number of leadership roles at state and national levels, including serving as President of the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf, and is widely recognized by his peers as an outstanding educational leader. He currently serves as Executive Director of the Council on Education of the Deaf (CED), an organization that sets nationally recognized standards for teachers of students who are deaf or hard of hearing and accredits teacher preparation programs. In recent years, Mr. Fischgrund has also been an adjunct faculty member at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA and Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Fischgrund’s academic background is in theoretical linguistics, with specialties in English grammar and the history of the English language, but he has made the education of deaf children, especially language acquisition and development, his passion for over 30 years. He remains active academically as a manuscript reviewer for several publishers and is currently a member of the editorial board of The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. He has also published numerous articles in professional journals and contributed chapters to textbooks and professional collections. Most recently, he co-authored (with Dr. Oscar P. Cohen and Dr. Harry G. Lang), Moments of Truth: The Story of a Deaf Leader, Robert R. Davila (RIT Press, 2008).

Jaclyn Galbally

Jaclyn Galbally is currently a visiting faculty member at Saint Joseph's University, where she has been teaching in the online program for the past five years. She has been working in the special education field for the past 10 years, focusing on students with learning disabilities as well as literacy professional development initiatives for teachers. Ms. Galbally received her Master’s in Special Education with a focus on Learning Disabilities at American University and is currently a doctoral candidate finishing her dissertation at Temple University's Educational Psychology program. Recently she completed a fellowship at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program and presented at the Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association's 2010 conference on critical elements of literacy instruction.

SJU faculty member Bari GoldsteinBari Goldstein

Bari Goldstein has taught Theory and Practice of High Incidence Disabilities at Saint Joseph’s University for the past three years. She has worked with students with special needs for the past eight years after obtaining her Master’s degree in Special Education: Learning Disabilities from American University. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and certification in the Wilson Reading System, and has participated in numerous research-based programs related to reading, writing, and mathematics.

For five years Ms. Goldstein was a lead teacher at an inclusive nonprofit school in Philadelphia for children with learning disabilities and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Through the use of research-based programs, diagnostic-prescriptive teaching, differentiating instruction, and an arts-based multisensory approach, she has experienced great success supporting and changing the lives of children with special needs. She is the founder and president of Bari Goldstein Educational Services (BGES), serving children and families with special needs in the Philadelphia area.

“Education has the ability to motivate, engage, and inspire children to achieve goals and promote positive change in society.”

SJU faculty member Chris HermanChristopher F. Herman

Christopher Herman has taught in public and private settings for ten years and as an adjunct at Saint Joseph’s University for five years. He is currently the Head of Upper School at AIM Academy (formerly the Academy in Manayunk), where he oversees a student body of 115 and a faculty of 30 in grades six through twelve. He is a frequent speaker on Learning Disabilities, Literacy, and Educational Technology for audiences including at the International Dyslexia Association’s (IDA), the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the Learning Disabilities Association of America. His work appeared recently in Perspectives on Language and Literacy as well as Learning Disabilities: a Multidisciplinary Journal.

Mr. Herman earned a BFA at Long Island University, a Studio Photography Certificate at SPEOS Photographic Institute of Paris, a Master’s in Education (elementary and special) from Chestnut Hill College and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at Temple University.

“I enjoy working with pre-service teachers at Saint Joseph’s University because I feel and see the impact reach a variety of settings both within the city and throughout the region. Teaching online is particularly enjoyable because students from across a wide range of backgrounds and locations can come together and learn in one shared space.”

William Hudson, Adjunct ProfessorWilliam J. Hudson
Adjunct Professor, Teacher Certification / Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program

Mr. Hudson recently retired after more than thirty years of teaching students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. He has worked in a variety of educational settings including; center based programs for special needs students, a center school for the deaf and a public school district’s hearing support program.

For most of his career in education, he was a teacher serving students who were Deaf and Hard of Hearing in contained classrooms and as an itinerant service provider. He was also a program supervisor. He retired as the lead teacher for the D/HH program for the School District of Philadelphia.

Mr. Hudson served on Pennsylvania’s Educational Resources for Children with Hearing Loss (ERCHL). He was past president of the Pennsylvania Educators of Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing (PESDHH). He holds a bachelor’s degree from Canisius College and received his Masters in Deaf Education from Western Maryland College. He holds a Supervisor of Special Education certificate from Temple University. He also received a certificate in Coastal Navigation from the Coast Guard.

“I am excited about this new certification program at St Joseph’s University. Our profession needs motivated and competent teachers who will be able to meet the diverse needs of the students in our care. I am looking forward to getting to know the members of our cohort.”

SJU faculty member Elizabeth HunspergerElizabeth J. Hunsperger

Elizabeth Hunsperger earned her Bachelor’s and Doctor of Education degrees at the University of Delaware and her Master’s at Delaware State University. Her professional background includes 22 years of teaching special and regular education. Dr. Hunsperger has experience with inclusion settings, resource room teaching and self-contained classes, working with students with high incidence disabilities as well as severe visual impairments. Monitoring and evaluating teacher’s and student’s use of web and device-centered technologies for a federal grant program for the University of Delaware, she became especially encouraged by the possibilities for technology applications to enhance special education techniques.

“Online teaching allows me to share my knowledge, gleaned from adapting for the needs of my very valuable and special children, who required more varied learning approaches.”

James R. Johnson

James Johnson received his undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and Visually Impaired from Illinois State University, a Master’s in Special Education from Temple University in 1982 and a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003, where his dissertation topic was “Academic Learning Standards as Reform in an Elementary School – One School’s Journey.” His first special education teaching position was at the Hope School in Springfield, Illinois, teaching students who were deaf-blind. He has also taught students with social and emotional disturbances, learning disabilities. and reading disabilities. Dr. Johnson has been an elementary school principal for 23 years and currently is the principal of Gladwyne Elementary School in Lower Merion School District just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His areas of expertise include parent education and special education, inclusion leadership in special education and legal issues.

“My youngest brother was born blind. As his older brother, I was one of his first teachers and helped him learn about the world. Since those early days I have enjoyed teaching children and adults. I enjoy teaching online because I can help educators learn the best ways to help others learn and grow, especially students with special needs!”

Kyle C. Kanter

As a former special education teacher for over 16 years and now a supervisor of special education for the Norristown Area School District, Kyle Kanter has worked with students from all spectrums of disabilities as well as in the general education environment. He has taught at the middle school and high school levels, in public as well as private school.

Dr. Kanter earned a BA in History and a certification in Secondary Social Studies from Temple University and a Master’s in Education and a Doctorate in Education with a concentration in special education from Arcadia University. He also holds certifications in Special Education, Supervisor of Special Education and certification from the State Board of Private Academic Schools to work with students who are classified as serious emotionally disturbed.

Outside of the classroom, Dr. Kanter has worked as a supervisor of education for a residential treatment facility in the Philadelphia area, the associate executive director for Holy Family Learning (supervising four sites in three counties), supervisor of special education and building principal for the Delaware County Intermediate Unit and his current position as supervisor of special education for the Norristown Area School District.

As a supervisor for the DCIU, Dr. Kanter has presented to the 15 school districts and Board members within the Delaware County on the topics of educating students with emotional disabilities, children on the autism spectrum and meeting the needs of students requiring Life Skills programming.

“I feel a strong commitment and passion to help our future educators garner the knowledge they need to be successful in the field. Successful and knowledgeable teachers lead to successful and well-informed students.”

SJU faculty member Renee Lang ReasonsRenee Lang Reasons

Renee Lang Reasons reaped the benefits of a Jesuit education by earning all of her degrees at Saint Joseph’s University—a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education, a Master’s in Reading and Special Education and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. She taught in the field of Special Education for over 10 years, much of it spent working with students in a group home setting and has expertise is working with students who are considered “at risk.”

Dr. Reasons was the Director of the Reading Specialist Program at Saint Joseph’s University. She oversaw nine supervisors and assistant supervisors. Goals of the program were aimed to organize authentic and purposeful learning activities that encourage children to actively participate in reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and thinking. Additionally, the program provided instruction that helped emergent readers develop their concept of print, phonemic awareness, and decoding skills. It also aimed to help children develop word recognition skills, comprehension skills, as well as metacognative awareness while reading.

Additionally, Dr. Reasons worked as the Assistant Director of the Partnership with Saint Joseph's University and the Philadelphia schools. As the Assistant Director of the partnership between Saint Joseph's University and two Philadelphia schools, she worked with the principals in order to enhance behavior management within the schools, raise test scores, facilitate instruction, as well as provided services as a mentor whenever the principals of these schools need professional advice. Additionally, she visited individual classrooms and offered professional 'hands on' training when necessary.

“I enjoy teaching because I am able to change the lives of children who have a passion for life, love, and learning. I obtain great joy from seeing them smile when they get something for the first time or simply from the joy of having a teacher that actually ‘likes’ them for the first time. With online teaching, I am able to reach my students on a deeper level. I am able to communicate without any visual barriers. Education is one of my passions--and the ability to share it with others is a gift that I hold close to my heart.“

SJU faculty member Jeanmarie MasonJeanmarie Mason

Jeanmarie Nelson has 37 years of education experience and is currently employed at the Spring-Ford Area School District. Her certifications include Mentally and Physically Handicapped K-12, Reading Specialist K-12, Elementary Principal and Supervisor of Special Education. She has special education expertise in leadership, mentorship, educating administrative teams on special education laws and regulations, and community partnerships. Dr. Mason has a BS in Elementary Education from West Chester College, an M.Ed. in Special Education from Penn State University and an Ed.D. from Immaculata University.

“Teaching is the realization of a dream. I enjoy teaching online because it is the way of the future for all ages, and it helps me grow professionally.”

Irene Merenda, Doctor of AudiologyIrene Merenda

Irene Merenda recently retired after more than 25 years as an Educational Audiologist within a public school setting, serving children with hearing loss (and their families) from age of identification through high school graduation. She has worked extensively with families who have chosen to have their children educated within a mainstream, oral public school setting. She comes to St. Joe’s with vast experience in working with children who have physical and/or learning challenges in addition to their hearing loss. Prior to her career as educational audiologist, she practiced clinical audiology and speech pathology for several years.

In addition to St. Joe’s University, Dr. Merenda serves as adjunct faculty at two other Pennsylvania Universities. She serves as a consultant regarding educational audiology and she provides contractual clinical services to several audiology/ENT/hospital practices.

Dr. Merenda received her B.A. (Speech Communication) from Rutgers University, M.A. (Audiology) from Trenton State College and her Au.D. (Doctor of Audiology) from the University of Florida. Dr. Merenda has published articles on topics related to educational audiology and technology used with deaf and hard of hearing students. She has been a presenter at national conferences including American Speech/Language and Hearing Association, AG Bell Association and the National Association of School Psychologists. She has spoken at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Annual Pediatric Audiology Conference on two occasions, and has presented at several local audiology and educational forums.

“There have been so many exciting changes in the fields of audiology, technology and education of students with hearing loss during my career. Education never ends! As an instructor, I continue to learn from my students’ experiences and I look forward to sharing my experiences working with children who are deaf/hard of hearing with them.”

SJU faculty member Lisa MitchellLisa Mitchell

Lisa Mitchell earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Temple University and a Master’s degree in Education with certification in Special Education at Holy Family University. After teaching for several years in the Philadelphia School district in Learning Support and Autistic Support, she went on to pursue a Doctorate in Special Education at Arcadia University, where her dissertation was a quantitative study on yoga as tool to increase social responsive behavior is children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Professor Mitchell has a total of 10 years of experience in Special Education classroom teaching, ranging from inner-city to suburban school districts. In 2007 she was voted Autistic Support Teacher of the year by the Philadelphia Right to Education Task Force. Recently she has worked as an itinerant Autistic Support teacher, with an emphasis on making inclusion of students with ASD as successful as possible. She has taught online at Saint Joseph’s since 2010.

“Teaching allows me to impact and influence the teachers of tomorrow. I also feel that every semester, I learn something new from the material and students as well. I appreciate the online program, as it allows students from far and wide to participate and share their experiences and insights virtually.”

SJU faculty member Jo Ann Marie RaeJo Ann Marie Rae

Jo Ann Marie Rae earned a BS in Special Education and Elementary Education from West Chester University, a Master’s degree in Educational Administration and a supervisory certificate and a Doctorate in Special Education from Arcadia.

Dr. Rae’s experience in the field of special education spans 25 years. She worked as an early intervention preschool and itinerant teacher and taught preschoolers with autism, PDD, language delays and intellectual and behavioral disabilities, providing them with a program that included the use of assistive technology. She also provided in-home support for parents in the management of behaviors related to autism and emotional issues. During the last several years of her direct special education experience, she was an Early Intervention program supervisor, a supervisor of the Multiple Disabilities Support (MDS) and Physical Support programs and the Intermediate Unit’s nursing program supervisor. She was also the principal of a center-based program for students ranging from pre-school age to 21. As supervisor of these programs, she worked with staff and families to provide appropriate programs for children with severe disabilities.

SJU faculty member Veronica RuizVeronica Ruiz

Veronica Ruiz earned her undergraduate degree at Southwest Texas University, a Master’s degree at Texas State University and is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. in Multicultural Special Education program at the University of Texas at Austin, where she is working on her dissertation. She has 16 years of experience in public education, with special education expertise in students with emotional disturbance and autism. Her research interests include multicultural special education and transition services for youth coming back to the community from juvenile justice facilities.

“My personal life and professional life experiences have provided me with a great deal of knowledge to help prepare pre-service and post-service teachers.”

Eileen SabbatinoEileen Sabbatino
Eileen Sabbatino has been a full-time faculty member in the Special Education department at Saint Joseph’s University for 12 years.

Before entering higher education, she taught Special Education for twenty years in Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Delaware in grades pre-school through high school. She has experience teaching in self-contained, low incidence classrooms, in resource rooms with students with high incidence disabilities, and in inclusive settings.

Dr. Sabbatino’s research pursuits include transition services for students with intellectual, learning, and social/emotional disabilities from high school to work and/or higher education. In addition, she had conducted extensive research in the area of services available to individuals with autism both in school and as adults following school.

SJU faculty member Elizabeth C. SerpentineElizabeth C. Serpentine

Elizabeth Serpentine earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a Master’s and Doctoral degree from the Pennsylvania State University in the field of Communication Sciences and Disorders. She has worked as a speech-language pathologist in the public schools for 11 years and has taught university and online courses for four years. She currently works at the Lower Merion School District and Saint Joseph’s University.

Dr. Serpentine’s areas of clinical and research expertise include the use of evidence-based practice, social competence, and transition/employment issues for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. She has published her work in various articles and books, including The Handbook of Language and Speech Disorders and Transition Strategies for Adolescents and Young Adults Who Use AAC. She has also presented at the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association’s annual conference.

“Teaching affords me the opportunities to connect with tomorrow’s teachers and clinicians and to continue to be an active learner myself. I feel that in order to be an effective teacher, I need to continue to be an active consumer of research and practice. I enjoy teaching online courses because the diversity of the students’ knowledge and personal experiences contributes to the overall learning environment of the class for students and teachers.”

SJU faculty member Nina WallNina Wall

Nina Wall, MSS, LSW, is the Director of the Bureau of Autism Services in the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. Prior to this position she served as co-chair of the Autism Task Force commissioned by Secretary Estelle Richman in 2003 and was a founding member and first President of the Pennsylvania Action Coalition for Autism Services (PACAS), a statewide board of regional autism advocates. She has served as a board member for Pennsylvania Protection and Advocacy and served for seven years as the Information and Referral Director for the Autism Society of Greater Philadelphia.

Ms. Wall is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. She has worked as a family, child, and adolescent therapist with a specific focus on clinical work with families of individuals with autism and other behavioral and mental health challenges. She has devoted significant time to training professionals to work with individuals living with autism and has been on the faculty of Saint Joseph’s University since 2010.

Ellen Wedenmeyer

Ellen M.E. Wedemeyer has an Ed.D. in Educational Administration and Leadership from Immaculata University, an MBA from Saint Joseph’s University, an MS in Education from Saint Joseph’s University and an MM from Indiana University, Bloomington. She has almost 20 years of special education teaching and administrative experience and wrote the course Special Education Law and Policy for SJU in 2009, which she has taught every semester since.

Presently, Dr. Wedemeyer is a special education administrator with the Bensalem Township School District. She is also an author and public speaker who travels the country and abroad speaking about topics including Law and Policy, Inclusion, RTI, Differentiated Instruction, Autism, Behavior Management, Instructional Strategies and Assessment (Progress Monitoring). She is the author of No Know Special Education in This School! 5 Keys to Help Teachers, Administrators and Parents to Reach, Teach and Raise Students with Learning or Behavior Challenges.

“I enjoy teaching online because I know my students are dedicated, resourceful professionals who always do their best.”

SJU faculty member Lucy J. WimpennyLucy J. Wimpenny

Lucy Wimpenny is a Certified School Psychologist in the William Penn School District of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, where her expertise includes assessment, intervention and counseling. She earned a FMaster at Pennsylvania State University, a Master of Arts and Certificate of Advanced Study Program in School Psychology from Towson University and a Psy.D. from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“As a school psychologist, I am able to continue learning about the field of education, just as teachers are learning about my field -- assessment. I enjoy teaching online because I find that the program allows students to actively use the skills they are learning in their current work environments, whether that is as a teacher, or in another position, such as reading specialist, teaching assistant, therapeutic support or behavior specialist.”

Sarah Woldoff

Sarah Woldoff, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist with over 10 years of experience providing assessment services, individual treatment, consultation with schools and medical professionals, family therapy and parent training for families with children on the autism spectrum.

Dr. Woldoff received her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA and completed her post-doctoral training at Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami in Miami, Florida. She began her career as a behavior analyst at Children’s Seashore House, the Bio-Behavioral Unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Dr. Woldoff also worked at the Center for Autism Research at CHOP where she performed evaluations, supervised clinical evaluations for several research studies, co-led trainings for staff and school psychologists and counseled parents.

Additionally, Dr. Woldoff is skilled in the comprehensive psychological assessments of children, adolescents, and adults, particularly those with autism, specific learning disabilities, and other pervasive developmental disorders, including the use of the ADOS and ADI-R. She has presented on topics related to autism at numerous local and national conferences including workshops on autism for families and educators in Caracas, Venezuela.

Spec Ed BKGR