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image: Christine Balan

Dr. Christine Balan

Associate Professor 318 B 405 White Hall


Dr. Christine Balan received her doctorate in Special Education from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. She has been a faculty member at Kent State University since 1996: and is currently a full-time non-tenure track Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Foundations and Special Services. Her areas of specialization and research interests include applied behavior analysis and pharmacological interventions used to manage emotional and behavioral disorders. Dr. Balan frequently teaches Classroom and Behavior Management I, Classroom and Behavior Management II, and Pharmacological Intervention in Special Education. She was the Director of a five-year State of Ohio Improvement Grant aimed at increasing the capacity of school personnel to address the behavioral needs of all students. In 2002, Dr. Balan was selected as the recipient of the Kent State University Outstanding Teaching Award.

image: Brian Barber

Dr. Brian Barber

Assistant Professor 406I White Hall


Dr. Brian R. Barber is an Assistant Professor of special education at Kent State University. Dr. Barber teaches graduate level courses in special education research and classroom and behavior management, as well as undergraduate level courses in characteristics of students with high-incidence disabilities and evidence-based practices in special education. His research focuses on effective behavioral prevention and intervention strategies in educational settings, executive function and the self-regulation of behavior, issues related to social and emotional learning in schools, and understanding of setting factors affecting intervention implementation in exclusionary educational settings (e.g., residential treatment, juvenile corrections).

image: Lyle Barton

Dr. Lyle Barton

Professor Emeritus 406B White Hall

vita [pdf]

I received my Ed.D. in Special Education from Northern Illinois University. I came to Kent State from the University of Alberta in 1984. I have served KSU as a past Assistant and Associate Dean of the College and Graduate School of Education and as a past Associate Dean of Libraries. I currently serve as a Professor of Special Education with my teaching focus in research, behavior analysis and persons with severe disabilities (i.e., Moderate/Intensive). My research interests are single-subject research design, applied behavior analysis, technology applications, and web based instruction. I frequently teach courses in single-subject research design, curriculum moderate/ intensive, special topics seminar in SPED, and Classroom Behavior Management in the summer. I have been director or co-director of 33 grants funded for a total of $4.5M. My work has been published in many refereed journals, some of which include, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Behavior Therapist, Analysis and Intervention in Developmental Disabilities, JASH, Exceptional Children, Mental Retardation & Learning Disabilities Bulletin, Mental Retardation, CHANGE, Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, Education of the Visually Handicapped, and the Journal of Mental Deficiency Research. I have also contributed 16 book chapters and have presented more than 150 papers at national or international conferences. Some of my most satisfying work has been collaborative research projects with my doctoral, masters and undergraduate students.

My research interests include:

1.  SPED
2.  Use of differential reinforcement techniques (DRO, DRI, DRA, DRL, DRH)
3.  Use of Social Validation in single subject research
4.  Use of Social narratives used with students diagnosed with Autism (and others), including social narratives written by students
5.  Use of distance technology with students diagnosed with Autism
6.  Use of iPad technology to record student behaviors

image: Pena Bedesem

Dr. Pena Bedesem

Assistant Professor 405-O White Hall


vita [pdf]

Dr. Peña Lasiste Bedesem is an Assistant Professor in the area of mild/moderate disabilities at Kent State University (KSU).  She earned her doctorate in special education from the University of Central Florida (UCF).  During her time at UCF, Peña was a researcher and technological consultant for a mixed reality simulated classroom, served on multiple grant-writing teams, conducted professional developments for teachers throughout the central Florida area, and spent a summer in Washington DC as an intern for the Council for Exceptional Children.  Her research interests revolve around students with emotional/behavioral disorders, including educational and community-based supports and services that promote positive school and post-school outcomes.

Office Hours by Appointment Only
Schedule an appointment using the following link:

image: Sloane Burgess

Dr. Sloane Burgess

Assistant Professor 406G


vita [pdf]

After graduating with my B.A. in psychology, I took a job working at a residential program for children who had been removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect. There I met a child unlike any I had ever met before; he loved to spell but barely spoke, didn't seem interested in developing friendships but enjoyed predictable interaction routines, and could, and frequently did, curl himself into a tiny ball and hide in small cubbies and crevices. Although I did not know it then, I learned during my graduate studies that he most likely was a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I was intrigued by this young man and as part of my graduate coursework had the opportunity to participate in an NIMH sponsored internship with the TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped CHildren) Program in Chapel Hill, working with individual with ASD. Upon graduation, I worked as a TEACCH Psychoeducational Specialist in Asheville, North Carolina for 10 years. During this time, I had the opportunity to work with individuals with ASD of all ages and their families in a variety of roles and settings. I came to Northeast Ohio to complete my doctoral degree and continued to work with individual with ASD, and their families and the professionals who support them, as an Educational Consultant. I currently serve as an Assistant Professor with a joint appointment between the departments of Special Education and Speech Pathology and Audiology at the Kent Campus. My research and professional interests include understanding how individuals with ASD evaluate their quality of life and predictors of positive ratings of quality of life, the implementation of visual strategies to support learning, positive behavior, and communication skills in school-aged students with ASD, lifespan support for individuals with ASD, and the efficacy of early intervention programs for preschool aged students with ASD.

image: Robert Cimera

Dr. Robert Cimera

Associate Professor 405 White Hall


vita [pdf]

Originally, I set out to be a high school social studies teacher. I liked history. So it seemed like a good fit for me. However, despite what my university advisors always claimed, there simply weren’t any job teaching history at the secondary level. Jobless and living in my father’s basement after graduating from Purdue University, I needed to start earning a living. As luck would have it, I came across an ad in the local newspaper with the heading, “People with Education Degrees Wanted.”  I had an education degree, so I applied.
It turned out that the position was at an alternative high school where students with severe disabilities prepared for their adult lives. I got the job and started working with an incredible mix of people—everything from non-verbal students with autism to brilliant kids who had behavior disorders and an unfortunate habit of killing people. Every day was different and unpredictable. I saw some of my students succeed in the community. And I saw some of them fail. The successes lit up my heart, but I am still haunted by my failures.
Trying to become a better transition specialist, I went back to Purdue to get my Masters in Vocational Technical Special Needs Education. I also became a coordinator of a transition program. Being in administration exposed me to various state and federal policies governing the transition field.  In many cases, I saw how these policies inhibited our ability to work effectively with our students.  Wanting to learn more about such policies, and how to change them, I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where I studied at the Transition Research Institute and eventually earned my Ph.D.
Since then, my areas of emphasis and research tend to involve public policy regarding the employment of people with disabilities. I often study the monetary aspects of employment programs. For example, I try to determine how policymakers should spend the taxpayers’ money. I also attempt to find strategies that make transition programs more effective and efficient.
To date, I have a little more than 60 publications, including 7 books—one of which apparently was a best seller in South Korea--and three novels (published under the name Robert Evert). I have presented throughout the world, including to Congressional subcommittees. However, I receive the greatest joy from being with my wonderful wife and two incredible sons.  My favorite animal is a palomino, because any palomino is a pal-of-mine-o.

OFFICE HOURS: By appointment
                                e-mail is the best way to get ahold of me (

image: Sanna Harjusola-Webb

Sanna Harjusola-Webb, Ph.D

Associate Professor 405 White Hall



vita [pdf]

I received my Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in Early Childhood Special Education.  I came to Kent State University in 2006, and I currently serve as an Associate Professor of Special Education. During my time at KSU, I have taught master’s and doctoral level courses in research methods, child development, practicum in early intervention, evidence based practices, intervention methods, implementation science, family professional collaboration, among others.
The overarching themes for my research interests include early intervention and prevention, enhanced involvement with parents, and training future professionals to work with young children and their families.  My lines of inquiry also pertain evidence-based practices to foster communication and language development in young children, single-subject research/applied behavior analysis, technology applications (e.g., cyber supervision, tele health, LENA), and community-based advocacy efforts to foster optimal child and family outcomes.  I maintain collaborative partnerships with multiple community and state agencies and have received grant funding from several sources, including the U.S. Department of Education (Office of Special Education Programs).  

image: Karen Kritzer

Dr. Karen Kritzer

Assistant Professor 405 White Hall


vita [pdf]

Karen L. Kritzer, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor within the Deaf Education Program at Kent State University.  She has a B.A. as a Teacher of the Speech and Hearing Handicapped with a minor in Secondary Education from Hofstra University, a M.A. in Deaf Education specializing in Early Childhood education from Gallaudet University, and a Ph.D. in Special Education specializing in Deaf Education from the University of Pittsburgh.  Dr. Kritzer has participated in a variety of non-degree granting educational programs.  She has certification in Family Math instruction from Rutgers University, has completed the Leadership Training Program in Discrete Mathematics at Rutgers University, completed an aeronautic education program workshop for teachers offered through NASA at the Kennedy Space Center, successfully completed the ASL/English Bilingual Professional Development program at the Center for ASL/English Bilingual Education and Research (CAEBER), and completed Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment Cognitive Instruction training program at the Early Childhood level. Dr. Kritzer has experience teaching deaf and hard-of-hearing students from preschool to upper elementary grade levels; she also has experience working as an early intervention specialist doing home visits for families with infants and toddlers with newly identified hearing loss. At the university level she has taught a variety of courses including those related to Deaf Studies, Language Development and Curriculum Design for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Dr. Kritzer’s research agenda is focused on mathematics education for young deaf children and family/home-related factors that contribute to early learning opportunities for this population. She has a variety of publications and has presented nationally and internationally on related topics.

image: Pamela Luft

Dr. Pamela Luft, Ph.D.

Associate Professor 405 White Hall

vita [pdf]

Pamela Luft is an Associate Professor of Special Education (Deaf Education and Moderate/Severe Disabilities) at Kent State University in Ohio. She received her M.S. in Technology for Persons with Disabilities from the Johns Hopkins University and her Ph.D. from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Special Education. She worked in a variety of school settings for 15 years before getting her doctorate. Her research and grant focus is on transition services and has an OSEP transition grant and an RSA rehabilitation for the deaf grant. She has published on issues related to transition, technology employment of persons with disabilities, special education policy and instructional practices.

image: Jamie McCartney

Dr. Jamie McCartney

Assistant Professor 401-O White Hall


vita [pdf]

Jamie L. McCartney is an Assistant Professor in LDES, where she is responsible for coordinating the ASL/ English Interpreting Program.  Her B.S.E.D. and M.S.E.D. are in Technical Education and her Ph.D. is in Secondary Education.  She has national certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf: Certificate of Transliteration (CT), Certification of Interpretation (CI), and National Interpreter Certification- Master Level (NIC-M).  She has interpreted in a variety of settings since getting her A.A.S. in Interpreting/ Transliterating in 1993.  She has worked in postsecondary, platform, Deaf/Blind, Video Relay Service, social services, medical, and employment settings.  Her research was on interpreter burnout and Demand Control Theory.  Her recent research interest is that of Grit Theory (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, & Kelly, 2007) and its application to sign language interpreters leaving the profession.  Most recently, she is proud of the work she and other members did with the Workforce Integration Taskforce (WIT).  Her recent appointment to the WIT was by Governor John R. Kasich and the report that came out of that collaboration was encouraging. 

image: Becky Morsefield

Becky Morsefield

Instructor 405 White Hall

Area: TLC - SPED

vita [pdf]

I graduated from Kent State University in with a degree in secondary education- comprehensive science. I enjoyed teaching chemistry, physics, environmental science and biology for ten years. When our first child was born, she was diagnosed with Down syndrome shortly after birth. Our family was suddenly introduced the world of special education. I returned to Kent State to pursue a master's degree in special education. I received a training fellowship in early intervention and worked at the Family Child Learning Center providing direct services for families, training and supervising students. I graduated in 1997 with a master's degree in special education. After graduation I worked for the Portage County Early Intervention Collaborative as a service coordinator. I began teaching at Kent State in 1998 in the special education and early childhood departments and supervising student teachers. I bring to teaching a family perspective on early intervention, assessment as it relates to the IEP process, inclusive education, transition and family and professional partnerships. I have served on the Portage County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities for the past tweleve years.

image: Melody Tankersley

Dr. Melody Tankersley

Professor 405 White Hall


vita [pdf]

Melody Tankersley, PhD, is a professor of special education at Kent State University. After earning her doctorate degree from the University of Virginia, she was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, a program affiliated with the University of Kansas. Prior to beginning her graduate studies, Dr. Tankersley taught students with emotional and behavioral disorders, a population of students who continue to be the focus of her instructional and scholarly endeavors. Dr. Tankersley focuses her scholarship on issues related to identifying and using evidence-based practices, positive behavioral programming, the prevention of emotional and behavioral disorders, and parent interventions. She has published more than 70 professional journal articles, chapters, and texts and addressed more than 200 national and international audiences. Dr. Tankersley and her colleague from the University of Hawaii, Dr.  Bryan Cook, were recently awarded the James M. Kauffman Publication Award, presented by the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education for a scholarly work that results in knowledge leading to exemplary special education practices

image: Andrew Wiley

Dr. Andrew Wiley

Assistant Professor 405 White Hall


vita [pdf]

Dr. Andrew Wiley is an Assistant Professor of special education at Kent State University. He received his doctorate in special education from the University of Virginia. Before coming to Kent State, Dr. Wiley directed a research project in Boston focusing on the characteristics and special education experiences of students with emotional and behavioral disorders attending low income and high income schools. His K-12 experience includes working as a behavior specialist, an autism resource teacher, and a crisis resource teacher in an intensive special education program for elementary students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Dr. Wiley has conducted preservice and inservice training in response to intervention, research-based academic and behavioral interventions, functional behavior assessment, and issues related to providing special education to students with high-incidence disabilities. His research focuses primarily on how contextual factors (SES, public perceptions, school organizational characteristics) relate to the provision of special education to children and youth with emotional and behavioral disorders.

image: Sonya Wisdom, Ph.D.

Sonya Wisdom, Ph.D.


vita [pdf]

Sonya Wisdom, Ph.D., entered the teaching profession twenty-nine years ago as a middle school science teacher in Athens, Georgia.  She then moved to Nassau, The Bahamas, and after eleven years as a classroom science teacher there, she taught science education courses in the School of Education at the College of The Bahamas for fifteen years.  She also served as the first Director of Graduate Programmes at the College of The Bahamas until 2012.  As Director of Graduate Programmes at The College of The Bahamas, she coordinated collaborative master’s programs in School Counseling, Educational Administration, and Special Education with Kent State University, as well as with other institutions in the U.S., including North Carolina Central University, the University of South Florida, Ashford University, and Wheelock College.  She was later responsible for developing and coordinating the first two master’s programs offered entirely at The College of The Bahamas.

Dr. Wisdom received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, a Master of Education degree in Science Education from The University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Kent State University.

Her research interests include the curriculum decisions of pre-service teachers in science education, with a particular focus on environmental education.  She is currently collaborating with urban high school science teachers in Cleveland, Ohio to design and enact action research projects in environmental education.  She is also interested in the development of co-teaching opportunities between teachers in Special Education and Science Education.