Participating Scholars

Photo of Rene Grimes

Rene Grimes

K. Rene Grimes is a Ph.D. student at The University of Texas at Austin. She received her master’s degree from The University of Texas at Arlington in mind, brain, and education with a focus on the cognitive and psychological aspects of learning. She received her undergraduate degree from the The University of North Texas with a focus on early education and English as a second language and has an additional certification in special education. She is interested in the cognitive and neurological aspects of mathematical learning difficulties. In particular, she is interested in identifying classroom prevention and intervention methods for early childhood through blended learning. She previously worked in public and private schools in both general education and co-taught classrooms for preschool children with disabilities, and for prekindergarten, first-, and second-grade students. She has worked with adults and children on the autism spectrum, and their families, in private education settings and in their homes. She is a member of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History Autism Advisory Board, which supports the museum in implementing programs for families of children with autism.

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Marissa Filderman

Marissa Filderman received her B.A. from the University of Maryland and M.Ed. from American University. She has submitted presentations for the 2017 Council for Exceptional Children Annual Convention. She served as a university field supervisor in the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017 and previously was a K–5 special education teacher. Her current research interests include data-based decision-making and elementary reading interventions.

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Amanda McClelland

Amanda M. McClelland is a Ph.D. student at The University of Texas at Austin and a recipient of an Office of Special Education Programs grant. She received her master’s degree from Simmons College in severe disabilities and her undergraduate degree from the University of Maine at Farmington in both K–8 special education and theater arts. She is interested in the perceptions of students with learning disabilities and/or emotional and behavioral disorders within the classroom at all levels of schooling. Specifically, she is looking at the relationship between classroom climate and academic success for students with disabilities along with their relationships with their teachers. She previously worked with students with mild to severe disabilities and behavioral disorders in both public and private schools. 

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Paul K. Steinle

Paul K. Steinle is a graduate research assistant on the Reading Enhancements for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders project (Project READ). For the project, he adapts and revises instructional materials such as reading passages and measures, presents intervention components to teachers, and performs site visits. He received his M.A. in special education from National-Louis University and his B.A. in anthropology from the University of Notre Dame. He previously was a special education teacher in Chicago Public Schools. His research interests include intensive interventions and response to intervention.

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Alicia A. Stewart

Alicia A. Stewart received her B.A. in sociology, M.A. in special education, and education specialist credential (mild/moderate) from California State University Channel Islands. She was a special education teacher in a learning center for students in grades 6–8 for 4 years and a special education teacher in a classroom for students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) in grades 9–12 for 1 year. Her current research interests include reading outcomes for students with learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, EBD, and all students at risk for reading difficulties; teacher perceptions of students with EBD; and effective, evidence-based academic interventions for students with EBD.

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Alexis Boucher

Alexis Boucher is a doctoral student at The University of Texas at Austin and a graduate research assistant at The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. She received her M.A. in literacy from Teachers College Columbia University and her B.A. in elementary education from Boston University. She previously taught special education at the elementary level in New York City public schools. Her research interests include developing evidence-based reading interventions for students with and at risk for reading disabilities at the word-reading level, designing intensive intervention for students who demonstrate minimal response to evidence-based interventions, and investing in teacher development of reading content knowledge.

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Sarah Fishstrom

Sarah Fishstrom is a doctoral student at The University of Texas at Austin and a graduate research assistant at The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. She is Nationally Board Certified as an Exceptional Needs Specialist with a focus on mild to moderate disabilities. She earned her master's degree from Long Island University Brooklyn in education with a concentration in students with disabilities. Prior to pursuing her doctorate, she taught special education for 8 years and was a health coordinator for 2 years in New York City’s Public Schools. Her current research interests include the relationship between mental health and learning disabilities, teacher support and professional development, anxiety and trauma awareness in the classroom, and effective instructional practices for students with reading difficulty and/or disability.

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Sarah Gorsky

Sarah Gorsky is a doctoral student in the Department of Special Education at The University of Texas at Austin. She is from Dallas, TX, and is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and The University of Texas at Austin (M.Ed. in special dducation-learning disabilities and behavioral disorders in 2014). Following graduation from UT, she taught special education at the elementary level for 5 years. She worked in downtown Dallas for 3 years and in East Austin for 2 years. She has experience teaching students with a range of disabilities in both inclusive and self-contained settings. Her research interests include mathematics interventions for culturally and linguistically diverse learners with disabilities, the efficacy of interventions for students with disabilities in rural areas, and support for special education and general education practitioners with implementation of evidence-based practices.

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Katherine E. O’Donnell

Katherine E. O’Donnell is a doctoral student at The University of Texas at Austin. She received her B.A. in psychology from Wellesley College and her M.Ed in special dducation from Vanderbilt University. Prior to attending UT Austin, she taught in a self-contained behavior and emotional support special education classroom in DC Public Schools before transitioning to working in a learning center for students in seventh and eighth grades. While teaching, she presented at local and national conferences on improving self-advocacy in middle school students. Currently, she is a graduate research assistant on the Behavior and Academic Supports: Integration and Cohesion Project (Project BASIC). Her current research interests include support for students with disabilities in the general education classroom through MTSS/RTI, reading interventions, teacher education program improvement, and professional development for teachers.

Photo of Megan Rojo

Megan Rojo

Megan Rojo is a doctoral student at The University of Texas at Austin. She received her undergraduate degree from The University of Texas before teaching in Central Texas urban schools for 9 years. While teaching, she received her M.Ed. in bilingual/bicultural education from Texas State University. As a K–5 general education teacher, she taught mathematics and science in bilingual classroom settings. She also has experience as a mathematics intervention specialist for students with learning disabilities and those experiencing mathematics difficulties. Her research interests include early mathematics interventions and response to intervention.