SPED Newsletter - Spring 2019



Department of Special Education


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Spring has sprung and there is exciting energy and buzzing activity throughout the Department of Special Education. Congratulations to the Class of 2019 graduates in the minor, credential, masters, and doctoral programs! We are so inspired and proud of you and wish you the very best as you embark on the next stage of your professional journeys. Please join us at our SPED Student Recognition Ceremony on May 11. We extend our appreciation and gratitude to our generous donors and alumnae Dr. Arlee Maier, Ms. Jo Markowitz, and Mr. Carl Bellante for their ongoing support of our SPED students and programs. Wishing you a fun and relaxing summer break! Yvonne N. Bui


O&M Student Learning

O&M students learning how to access visual functioning and to teach techniques designed for people with neurological visual impairments to enhance their visual functioning

New Low Vision Therapy Track: SFSU’s Department of Special Education is one of only a small handful in the country to offer coursework preparing vision rehabilitation professionals in low vision therapy. A low vision therapist is a professional who works with adults who have visual impairments, prescribing and teaching people to use low vision aids such as magnifiers, various reading and visual technologies, and lighting systems; low vision therapists also teach strategies to assist people in the optimum use of limited vision.

The Orientation & Mobility program offered students additional didactic coursework and internships in low vision therapy at the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center in Menlo Park, CA. The first cohort has completed their program. 100% of students who took the national certification exam offered by the Academy of Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) have passed.

This is the beginning of an exciting, new career path for O&M specialists. In fact, several of our students who applied for O&M positions were offered jobs on the spot due to their unique dual qualifications (O&M and low vision therapy). One graduate is currently developing the first-ever low vision therapy clinic at the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind, a primary national center for rehabilitation of people who are Deaf-blind.


workshop for the Supportive Inclusive Practices project

Dr. Amber Friesen and Kimberly Knodel (doctoral student) hosted a workshop for the Supportive Inclusive Practices project. Seventy individuals from 13 school districts attended to hear about designing high-quality inclusive settings. The keynote speakers were Todd Parr (children’s author and illustrator) and JoAnna Van Brusselen (Support for Families with Children who have Disabilities).


Drs. Summer Hsia and Betty Yu published, "Inclusion of heritage language learners on the autism spectrum: Lessons from second-generation parents," International Journal of Applied Linguistics.

Dr. Pam Hunt, Maurice Belote, Julie Maier, and Brian Devereux were awarded the California Deaf-Blind Services (CDBS) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. As a state technical assistance grant, the CDBS team will be providing critical support and training activities throughout California to meet the needs of infants, toddlers, children, and youth who are deafblind, their families, and service providers.

Dr. Kathleen Mortier was awarded the SF State Presidental Award for 2019-2020. She will work on an action research project with teachers and families of culturally and linguistically diverse students in special education.

Dr. Kathleen Mortier and Corrine Aramburo (doctoral student) published “Collaborative teaming to support quality inclusive education for students with disabilities” in Routledge Encyclopedia of Education.

Dr. Kathleen Mortier led a Person Centered Planning meeting for Shana, a new student at SFSU. Shana has Down Syndrome and her dream is to become a dance instructor.

Dr. Philip Prinz presented, "Assessing Bilingual Discourse Competence in a Natural Signed Language and Majority Written Language: Evidence from Deaf Children Acquiring American Sign Language (ASL) and English," International Conference on Sign Language Acquisition and Assessment in Haifa, Israel.

Carlo Rossi presented workshops on "Rethinking the Value of Conflict," and "A Multi-Tiered Approach to Supporting Parent Engagement" State of California Alternative Dispute Resolution Conference in Riverside, CA.

Dr. Mary Requa was awarded the SF State Presidential Award for Fall 2019. Utilizing the instructional intervention she created for her dissertation, she will analyze changes in adult/child reading behaviors and their use of explicit vocabulary learning strategies before and after the intervention.

Dr. Ting Siu published, "Foundations and Recommendations for Research in Access Technology" in Handbook of Visual Impairment: Social and Cultural Research.


Krystal Anderson successfully defended her master's thesis in Fall 2018 entitled, "A Collaborative Residential Recovery Program & Early Head Start: Mothers’ Experiences with Young Children." Krystal’s original research study used a qualitative, phenomenological investigation to explore the complexities of families facing challenges including substance abuse, homelessness, and poverty as they sought to strengthen their protective factors within a holistic, family-centered program.

Isabella Brown, MA Graduate, won the Research Poster and Presenter Competition of the California Council for Exceptional Children (CA CEC) and was awarded a $1,000 Scholarship.

Laurynn Gould Sharing her ExpertiseLaurynn Gould sharing her musical early intervention expertise at the 4th Annual ECSE Conference in 2018

Laurynn Gould successfully completed her master’s Creative Work Program. In collaboration with the ECSE and Music Education programs, Laurynn created a multimedia handbook of different musical activities to be utilized by diverse professionals and families, including an overview of the benefits of music on forming positive relationships between adults and children and ways to adapt the activities to address different abilities.

SPED students (SF State and UC Berkeley joint doctoral program) Lakshmi Balasubramanian, Jenny Bisha, Becca Cruz, Kimberly Knodel, Kevin Macpherson, passed their oral examinations and advanced to candidacy!

Supporting Inclusive Practices TeamKimberly Knodel (left) with the Supporting Inclusive Practices Team

For her exam, Kimberly Knodel focused on three areas that support the well-being of children and families who are vulnerable in the United States: 1) Mindfulness and Social Emotional Development in Early Childhood Settings, 2) Psychological Wellbeing and Parenting of Mothers Experiencing Homelessness, and 3) Teacher Burnout, Stress, and Wellbeing in Early Childhood Special Education.

Becca Cruz, joint doctoral student, was awarded the Council for Exceptional Children, Division for Research, Student Research Award.

Sofia Tancredi, joint doctoral student, was awarded the 2019 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. Her research project focuses on making embodied math design accessible to students with sensory processing differences, including students with ADHD and autism, by integrating movement’s affordances for sensory regulation (as utilized in occupational therapy) and learning (as promoted by the learning sciences).

Congratulations to all our fantastic masters and joint doctoral students!


Saturday, April 6
Sneak Preview

Saturday, April 27
5th Annual ECSE Conference
9:00am-3pm, Seven Hills Conference Center

Wednesday, May 1
Special Education Info Session
3-5 pm, Burk Hall 158

Saturday, May 11
Student Recognition Ceremony
8:30am-12pm, Annex I

Thursday, May 16
Last Day of Instruction

Friday, May 17-Saturday, May 18 & Monday, May 20-Thursday, May 23
Final Exams

Friday, May 24
Graduate Division Awards Ceremony

Monday, May 27
Memorial Day, Campus Closed

Tuesday, May 28
3:30pm-9:30pm, Oracle Park


Designing a Play Space Photo

Project ALLIES Scholars Participate in Integrated Play Groups (IPG) Model Apprenticeship Co-directors Pamela Wolfberg (Department of Special Education) and Betty Yu (Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences) have launched Project ALLIES (Autism Language and Learning in Inclusive Educational Settings) a 5-year personnel preparation project supported by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs

The aim of Project ALLIES is to prepare 16 scholars from SLHS and Special Education yearly to work collaboratively to provide high quality, evidence-based services to school-aged students on the autism spectrum (especially those from traditionally underrepresented communities) in inclusive educational settings. Our first cohort are now fully immersed in specialized coursework, clinical training and service learning that includes collaboration with families and community partners. Among these activities includes an apprenticeship in the Integrated Play Group (IPG) model, an evidence-based practice that supports children on the autism spectrum and neurotypical peers in mutually enjoyed play experiences that foster social engagement and creative expression. To learn more, visit http://sfsu.edu/~autism/ALLIES.html or http://autismcollective.org

Janelle Rodl's Growing Puppy - Loki

Loki, Janelle Rodl’s growing puppy

Department of Special Education

sped.sfsu.edu sped@sfsu.edu (415) 338-1161 Burk Hall 156

SPEDNews is published each semester.

Editor: Jeanne Oh