Category Archives: Special Education

Casey Robacker

ECU at The Council for Learning Disabilities

On October 2nd, 2015, ECU’s own Cassie Robacker presented at the International Council for Learning Disabilities Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her presentation, “Token Economy Made Easy Through ClassDojo,” was a sensation. Congratulations Cassie for a wonderful presentation. Thank you for representing ECU and the Special Education, Foundations, and Research Department.

Adrienne Lee displays the Teacher of the Year award she earned as a first-year teacher.

What Do SECU Partnership East Students Do After They Graduate From Their Online, Degree-Completion Program?

They go on to become leaders in their classrooms and schools! This is definitely the case for Adrienne Lee, a 2014 Special Education graduate. Ms. Lee is currently serving as a Kindergarten through 5th Grade Adaptive Special Education teacher at Poplar Springs Elementary School in Stokes County. As a former teacher assistant, Ms. Lee completed her degree in special education part-time through SECU (State Employees’ Credit Union) Partnership East by taking her coursework all online and completing her field experiences and internship in her home county. She transferred from Forsyth Technical Community College where she completed her first two years of her teaching degree into SECU Partnership East where she finished her degree while continuing to work as a teacher assistant.

Ms. Lee shared, “I know my experience as a TA was an advantage to my success but I know my education prepared me to be a knowledgeable teacher.”

Her experiences within the East Carolina University College of Education prepared her to have a positive impact on the children with which she worked this past school year. Ms. Lee reports that her students made tremendous gains during the academic year and performed exceptionally well on their end of grade assessments. She notes that her students’ success has been a result of a lot of effort. She stated, “I will admit I put in some very long hours but I am so excited about how my students have been received in school and in the community.”

Her efforts at positively impacting exceptional needs children have been recognized by others. Her educator peers within her school recently recognized her as Poplar Springs Elementary Teacher of the Year. As a first year teacher, this honor is a testament to Ms. Lee’s talent and dedication to her profession.

East Carolina University’s College of Education is very proud of this novice teacher who is making a difference in the lives of children in Stokes County. Providing access to teacher education degrees through SECU Partnership East is a long-standing commitment the college has toward growing teachers for rural areas within the state.

Ms. Lee sums up the importance of having convenient access to education: “ My dream would not have not come to fruition without the SECU Partnership East and ECU.”

For more information about SECU Partnership East which is involves a partnership between North Carolina Community Colleges, public schools and ECU’s College of Education, please visit or contact Dr. Laura Bilbro-Berry at or 252-328-1123.

The East Carolina University College of Education has established SECU Partnership East. Through collaboration and innovation, the partnership focuses on preparing teachers who will help meet the demand for well-trained professionals in the classrooms of North Carolina and beyond. This endeavor involves partnerships with community colleges and public schools across eastern North Carolina.


SPED 3006 Students Present at Exceptional Children Directors’ Meeting

On Friday, May 1st, students in SPED 3006 (Augmentative and Alternative Communication for Students with Disabilities) presented their communication projects to the quarterly meeting of Exceptional Children (EC) Directors held at the Sadie Saulter Center in Greenville. Approximately 40 EC directors were in attendance for the day-long meeting. Students worked throughout the semester to create a multimodal communication device for a learner with complex communication needs ranging in age from 4 years to 18 years.

In collaboration with the learner’s teacher or parents, students assessed the learner’s communication needs, and then developed an individualized communication device for them. The communication devices ranged from high tech apps for the iPad to low tech eye gaze boards and a gesture dictionary. All students agreed that a poster presentation of their work to the EC Directors was a good place to demonstrate what they had learned this semester. For their part, the EC Directors were enthusiastic about the students’ work and in the professional demeanor in which the students conducted themselves.

Cassie Robacker

Cassie Robacker, SPED Alumna, Doing Great Things

The Department of Special Education, Foundations, and Research would like to acknowledge Cassie Robacker, who recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Special Education from ECU in Spring of 2014. Cassie, under the supervision of Drs. Christopher Rivera and Sandra Warren, submitted and was accepted for a publication in Intervention in School and Clinic “A Token Economy Made Easy Through ClassDojo.”

In addition, Cassie presented at ECU’s Clinical Teacher Conference this past March and has been accepted to present at the National Annual Conference for Learning Disabilities in Las Vegas. Congratulations to Cassie for wonderfully representing ECU and for her outstanding scholarly work.


Faculty, Students Participated in CEC Annual Conference

Council for Exceptional ChildrenSpecial Education faculty and students participated in the national conference for the Council of Exceptional Children (CEC) in San Diego April 8-11. It is the largest special education conference in the nation.  Drs. Alana Zambone, Christopher Rivera, Stacy Weiss, and Professor Debbie Metcalf attended and presented at the conference.

Seven special education undergraduate students from ECU’s Student Council for Exceptional Children’s Chapter also attended. They were a wonderful group of students. Together they attended educational sessions, live tweeted the events, and had time for a little fun too. On behalf of the Department of Special Education, Foundations, and Research I’d like to personally thank this special group of students for representing ECU in such a phenomenal way. Go Pirates!2015_CEC_2

Epsilon Sigma Alpha

ESA Scholarships Available for Special Education Majors

The North Carolina Council of Epsilon Sigma Alpha Scholarship Board will continue to offer their Scholarship for students and teachers who are pursuing a degree or certification in Special Education in 2015.

The scholarship has been available since 1956 and is targeted to individuals training for work with exceptional children and has ranged from $500 to $2,500 per year. Current North Carolina teachers seeking additional training are also eligible. Applications must be post marked by April 1, 2015 and awards will be made by May 2, 2015.

Applicants should note the agreement to teacher in the North Carolina Public School System for a minimum of 1 year. Copies of both applications are available for downloading on the North Carolina Council of Epsilon Sigma Alpha website.

Dr. Christopher J. Rivera

Publications/Presentations by Dr. Rivera of the Department of Special Education, Foundations, and Research

Dr. Christopher J. Rivera, of the Department of Special Education, Foundations, and Research (SEFR), has had three journal publications and three paper/poster presentations this academic year:


Hicks, S. C., Rivera, C. J., & Patterson, D. R. (Accepted). Simple steps for teaching prepositions to students with autism and developmental disability. Intervention in School and Clinic.

Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., & Rivera, C. J. (Accepted). Changing the course of literacy instruction: Examining literacy lessons for students with severe intellectual disabilities. Exceptionality, A Special Education Journal.

Rivera, C. J., Mason, L. L., Moser, J., & Ahlgrim-Delzell, L. (2014). The effects of an iPad multimedia shared story intervention on vocabulary acquisition for an English language learner. Journal of Special Education Technology, 29, 31-48.


Rivera, C. J. (February, 2015). A single case study: Using a multi-component simultaneous prompting intervention to teach vocabulary to young students with intellectual disability. American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Las Vegas, NA.

Kelley, K. R., Jimenez, B., Pavlu, L. L., Rivera, C. J., & Root, J. (January, 2015). How I can make a difference for individuals with disabilities in NC. North Carolina CEC: Pinehurst, NC.

Rivera, C. J., Weiss, S., & Ferrell, G. (January, 2015). Learning science vocabulary through multimedia shared stories. North Carolina CEC: Pinehurst, NC.

Ms. Ayla Allen (center) received a scholarship from NC Council for Exceptional Children. She is pictured here with NCCEC president Dr. Rose Matuszny (left) and president- elect Dr. Jessica Wery (right), at the state NCCEC Conference on Thursday, January 29, 2015.

NC Council for Exceptional Children Award Scholarship to ECU Student

Ayla Allen, a sophomore pursuing a bachelor’s degree in special education, adapted curriculum, recently was awarded a scholarship from the North Carolina Council for Exceptional Children (NCCEC).

Allen received this award for her dedicated service to students with disabilities through her work with the Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC) here at East Carolina University. She has served as Social Chair of the SCEC and helped to organize a variety of fundraising and social events. Through SCEC, she has volunteered in area schools with students with disabilities and been an active member of several community organizations.

Allen supports current and future educators through her work as an Apple Ambassador for ECU where she speaks to and recruits high school students for careers in education and as Vice President for the Student North Carolina Association of Educators.

Photo Caption: Ms. Ayla Allen (center) received a scholarship from NC Council for Exceptional Children. She is pictured here with NCCEC president Dr. Rose Matuszny (left) and president- elect Dr. Jessica Wery (right), at the state NCCEC Conference on Thursday, January 29, 2015.


First ECU EQUIPPED Scholars Chosen!

Congratulations to Paige Anderson, Alison Bickford, Kathryn Foley, Victoria Locklear, Callie Morton Parker, Morgan Sheehan, Chelsea Skurow, and Jenna Watral.These Special Education Teacher Candidates are pursuing their BS and initial Teaching License in Special Education-Adaptive Curriculum have been chosen as ECU EQUIPPED Scholars. These Scholars will receive tuition, resource and travel support, and induction support during their first three years of teaching in the high need area of Special Education. Each scholar has committed to teaching students with significant cognitive and additional disabilities for a minimum of two years for every year of tuition support.

In the Fall, the US Department of Education awarded the Department of Special Education, Foundations, and Research a 5-year, $1,248,855 grant to prepare 42 new Baccalaureate Special Educators with the initial license in Adaptive Curriculum and 18 MAEd Special Educators with the Advanced License in Low Incidence Disabilities and specialization in Assistive Technology. ECU EQUIPPED: Engendering High Quality Personnel Preparation for Educators Serving Students with Significant Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, supports research on effective teacher preparation and induction, an intensive summer institute aligned with the Graduate Certificate in Assistive Technology for teacher-leaders, mentoring of graduates, and support for tuition, books, materials, and travel to state and national conferences for EQUIPPED scholars.


Science Education Club on the Path to National Recognition

It’s official!  The Science Education Club has completed all the requirements and workshops to be officially registered as a student organization at East Carolina University.  This has been a two year project that was finalized by the work of graduate student Megan Garner, and undergraduate elementary science concentration students: Beth Wantz, KC Hart, Kayla Sager, and Lauren Brewington.  The club is under the direction of faculty adviser, Tammy D. Lee who speaks with pride of the student’s accomplishment, “We are very excited to have this recognition at the university level so we can now apply for national recognition at the National Science Teacher’s Association.  The students have been diligent in their work and pursuit of this recognition which demonstrates their dedication and desire to be a part of science education and to have others participate in a student organization of a collected interest, Science! I am honored to be a part of this journey with these students.”  For more information about the Science Education Club visit them at their website or contact Tammy D. Lee at