PRISE Scholar Bios
Mason PRISE Scholars
Katherine Szocik is a Special Education doctoral student 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. Inspired by her teaching experiences, Katherine is researching special educator professional identity development and EC/ECSE professional preparation practice.
Christopher Claude is joining the PRISE Cohort from McLean, Virginia where he taught high school math as a special education teacher in both inclusive and dedicated settings for three years. Christopher earned a Master’s degree in special education from George Mason University in Summer 2020. Christopher contends that the special education teacher shortage prevents the provision of the legal foundation of special education: a free and appropriate public education. As such, Christopher plans to study approaches to providing an appropriate education to students with disabilities through special education teacher recruitment, preparation, and retention as well as policymaking that accounts for acceptance rather than tolerance.
Gino Binkert is a member of 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. Gino is interested in using his background in Applied Behavior Analysis as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, to develop strategies that will help prepare and retain qualified special education teachers. Explicitly, Gino is interested in studying educator evaluations and the impact educator evaluations have on the retention of qualified special education teachers.
Margaret (Margot) Gerry is a member of the PRISE doctoral cohort studying Special Education at George Mason University. Formerly, Margot taught as a Special Education teacher in Wiesbaden, Germany and English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher in Washington State. She graduated with her dual Master’s degree in these areas from The College of William and Mary in 2015. Margot has worked in international settings, and has studied special education systems in Apia, Samoa through an immersive research experience. Margot plans to engage in comparative international research to investigate international education systems and identify new approaches to systems change across special education and teacher education policies and practices within the United States.
Kevin Monnin is a member of the PRISE doctoral cohort studying Special Education at George Mason University. He is interested in researching strategies that attract, prepare, and retain high-quality special education teachers. His specific research interests include state and local education policy, dispute resolution, teacher working conditions, and the impact of alternative routes to certification on the teacher shortage.
Morgan Strimel is joining the PRISE Cohort from Fairfax, Virginia where she worked as an Access Consultant for Disability Services and a Learning Strategist for the Mason Autism Support Initiative (MASI Program) at George Mason University. Morgan worked in Disability Services for four years, and earned a Master’s degree in Special Education from George Mason University in 2019. Based on her time working in higher education, Morgan’s current research is focused on enhancing postsecondary education experiences for college students with disabilities – including preservice teachers – through the disability services profession. Specifically, Morgan is studying how accommodation-related decisions are made, and the role of both positionality and reflexivity in this process.
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.