Kellar Institute for Human DisAbilities (KIHd) - College of Education and Human Development - George Mason University
About Us

The Kellar Institute for Human DisAbilities (KIHd) is an interdisciplinary campus-based organization focusing on improving the lives and productivity of children and adults with disabilities. KIHd combines the resources of the university with local, state, regional, national, public, and private sector agencies and organizations to develop products, services, and programs for persons with disabilities.

Mason PRISE Scholars

Katherine Szocik is joining the PRISE Cohort from Ann Arbor, Michigan where she was an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher. Katherine has been teaching in early childhood settings since 2014 and received a Master’s degree in Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education (EC/ECSE) from The Catholic University of America in 2016. Katherine was awarded the Euphemia Haynes Award for Excellence in Teacher Education in 2016. Katherine expressed well-developed ideas during her interview about the intersections of EC/ECSE, policies around inclusion, and predictors for long term student success. She hopes to leverage her rich teaching background to guide her research interests. Broadly, Katherine plans to study EC/ECSE professional preparation practices and the implications of special education policy on EC populations.

Christopher Claude is joining the PRISE Cohort from McLean, Virginia where he taught high school math as a High Incidence Disabilities Special Education Teacher. Christopher has been teaching in secondary education settings since 2017 and will graduate with a Master’s degree in Special Education from George Mason University in 2020. During his interview, Christopher discussed the rigidity of the existing education system providing examples related to diploma tracks and discipline practices that result in students with high-incidence disabilities slipping through the cracks. Broadly, Christopher plans to study approaches to improving the academic outcomes of students with high incidence disabilities through teacher education and policymaking that accounts for acceptance rather than tolerance.

Gino Binkert is joining the PRISE Cohort from Culpeper, Virginia where he worked as the District Behavior Specialist. Prior to shifting into a leadership role where he was responsible for coaching and training special education teachers, Gino was teaching as an elementary special education teacher for four years. Gino graduated with a Master’s degree in Special Education and a Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis from George Mason University in 2018. During his interview, Gino demonstrated a solid understanding of the complexities of the teacher shortage and shared his goal of preparing teachers for the realities of the classroom. Broadly, Gino plans to study the application of sub-discipline organizational behavior management (OBM) and Applied Behavior Analysis to processes for attracting, preparing, and retaining special education teachers.

Margaret (Meg) Gerry is joining the PRISE Cohort from the Department of Defense Education Activity where she taught as an Elementary Special Education Teacher in Wiesbaden, Germany. Meg has been teaching as a Special Education or English Second Language teacher since graduating with her dual Master’s degree in these areas from The College of William and Mary in 2015. During her interview, Meg shared lessons learned from her time studying special education systems in Apia, Samoa through an immersive research experience. Broadly, Meg plans to continue to investigate international education systems to identify new approaches to systems change across special education and teacher education policies and practices within the United States.

Kevin Monnin is joining the PRISE Cohort from Vienna, Virginia where he taught in a middle school setting as a Learning Disabilities Special Education Teacher since 2017. Kevin has additional professional experiences at the K-12 level as a substitute teacher and at the higher education level in various roles related to student involvement, student conduct, student programs, and residence life. Kevin will graduate with a Master’s degree in Special Education from George Mason University in 2020. During his interview, Kevin shared his passion for coaching teachers as the Special Education Team Lead, and discussed the on-the-ground challenges exacerbating the teacher shortage. Broadly, Kevin plans to study policies that have implications for attracting, preparing, and retaining special education teachers including recent changes to special education licensure requirements at the state level.

Morgan Strimel is joining the PRISE Cohort from Fairfax, Virginia where she was working as an Access Consultant for Disability Services at George Mason University. Morgan has worked in Disability Services for four years, and earned a Master’s degree in Special Education from George Mason University in 2018. During her interview, Morgan talked about leveraging her expertise in varied but interrelated ways such as supporting teacher candidates preparing to help students with disabilities transition to post-secondary settings as well as navigating their own higher education experience. Broadly, Morgan plans to study bridging the research to policy to practice gaps regarding preparing special education stakeholders to help individuals with disabilities transition to post-secondary life.

VCU PRISE Scholars

Monica Grillo is joining the PRISE Cohort from Williamsburg, Virginia where she was working as a Recruiter and Mentor at the College of William and Mary, with their NOYCE program, which prepares teachers to improve education in STEM fields. Monica has worked in Education for twelve years, including three at the higher education level and earned a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the College of William and Mary in 2012. She is licensed as an Elementary Education teacher and has experience teaching mathematics at the middle school level. She is also the mother of a child with Down Syndrome, which has fueled her passion for the special education field, and work in disability policy. During her interview, Monica talked about leveraging her expertise in varied but interrelated ways such as supporting teacher candidates’ preparation in academic content areas to improve the academic achievement of students with disabilities. Monica plans to study bridging the research to policy to practice gaps regarding improving the retention of special educators, primarily focusing on school climate and the role of principals. Imani Evans is joining the PRISE Cohort from Richmond, Virginia where she is working as a Speech-Language Pathologist at Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School since 2018 after earning a Master’s degree in Speech from George Washington University in 2017. She is also the co-founder of SOW S.E.E.D.S., a non-profit organization founded to cultivate resources and enhance opportunities for youth with disabilities in underserved communities. During her interview, Imani talked about her interest in learning more about how to support special educators working in underserved communities both in the U.S. and abroad. Imani plans to study bridging the research to policy to practice gaps regarding preparing special education stakeholders to help individuals with disabilities in inclusive settings.

Michelle Hicks is joining the PRISE Cohort from Williamsburg, Virginia where she works as a special education teacher of students with visual impairments after earning a Master’s in Education from Old Dominion University in 2007. During her interview, Michelle talked about her interest in being a role model for under-represented minority students, increasing their involvement in the education field. Michelle plans to study issues related to recruiting and retaining special educators, particularly in high needs schools.

Regina Howard is joining the PRISE Cohort from Lancaster, Virginia where she works as an Assistant Principal after earning a Master’s degree in Education in Administration from Virginia State University in 2014. During her interview, Regina talked about her interest in policy advocacy work, particularly as related to the education of students with disabilities. Regina plans to conduct research about the preparation of special educators and leadership issues in the field. Meagan Dayton is joining the PRISE Cohort from Farmville, Virginia where she works as a Special Educator for Powhatan Elementary School since 2015 after graduating with her M.Ed. in Special Education from Longwood University in 2015. During her interview, Meagan spoke about her love of research and her interest in preventing teacher burn-out. Meagan plans to conduct research related to the retention of special educators, particularly teachers of color.

Jarrod Hobson is joining the PRISE Cohort from Mechanicsville, Virginia where he works as a middle school math teacher at Liberty Middle School (Hanover County). He has been a special education teacher since 2014 after graduating with a M.Ed. in Special Education from Radford University. During his interview, Jarrod spoke about his passion for preparing teachers to use instructional technology and providing technology support to his colleagues. Jarrod plans to conduct research on teacher retention, particularly as it related to the use of instructional technology.

Rachel Walker is joining the PRISE Cohort from Arlington, Virginia where she taught Deaf students at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. She has been educating of students who are deaf/hard of hearing since 2013 before graduating from Columbia University’s Teachers College with an M.A. in Special education in 2014. During her interview, Rachel spoke about her passion for identifying curricular materials that special educators can use to provide access to the general education curriculum. Rachel plans to conduct research on teacher retention, particularly as it related to their access to curricular materials.