Response to Intervention Institute


People


Photo of Pamela Bell

Pamela Bell

Dr. Pamela Bell’s academic background is in communication disorders, specifically the education of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Bell's areas of expertise include translating research findings into professional development to improve classroom instructional practices and providing technical assistance for school improvement through response to intervention. One of her areas of special interest is the use of technology to enhance the knowledge and skills of school leaders and educators.






Photo of Christy Austin

Christy Austin

Christy Austin is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in special education at The University of Texas at Austin. Before starting the program, Austin worked for 2 years as a first- and second-grade teacher at Rawson Saunders, a private school for students with dyslexia. Prior to teaching at Rawson Saunders, she worked as a special education coordinator and assistant principal at KIPP: Camino Academy in San Antonio, Texas. She was responsible for developing and monitoring the implementation of individualized education programs for students receiving special education services, developing and monitoring the services provided to students under 504, managing student discipline, coaching and supervising teachers, and presenting professional development to staff members related to special education training, school culture, and discipline. She also spent 2 years as a life-skills teacher at Chase’s Place, a school for students with moderate to severe developmental disabilities. She received a B.A. in humanities from Trinity University, where she played college tennis and was a two-time All-American doubles player. She received an M.Ed. in special education from The University of Texas at Austin, specializing in learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. She is particularly interested in research on reading interventions for students with disabilities, English language learners, and issues of educational equality for traditionally underserved communities.


Photo of Diane Bryant

Diane Bryant

Dr. Diane Pedrotty Bryant is a professor of learning disabilities in the Department of Special Education at The University of Texas at Austin and director of the Mathematics Institute on Learning Disabilities and Difficulties at MCPER. Bryant holds the Mollie Villeret Davis Professorship in Learning Disabilities. She received her doctorate from the University of New Mexico in 1986. She has taught students with learning disabilities and has served as a special education teacher and an administrator in the Albuquerque, New Mexico, public schools. Currently, she is the principal investigator of an Institute of Education Sciences-funded Goal 2 grant (R324A120364) that focuses on the development and field testing of interventions for Tier 2 sixth- and seventh-grade students who have mathematics difficulties and receive instruction in math intervention classes (Project AIM). She served as the principal investigator for a multiyear Institute of Education Sciences-funded grant (Goal 2) that focused on the development and validation of early numeracy assessment and intervention materials in local schools and in a 2-year state-funded scale-up project for early numeracy progress-monitoring and intervention materials (English and Spanish). She also served as the principal investigator of the Middle School Teachers Algebra Readiness intervention grant, which involved lesson development and piloting in middle schools. She was the principal investigator for the 3-Tier Mathematics Project, including interventions and the Texas Early Mathematics Inventories, which were funded by the Texas Education Agency. Most recently, she has been involved in research studies focusing on early numeracy instruction with students with autism, word problem solving strategy intervention with students who have learning disabilities, middle school Tier 2 rational numbers interventions, and writing instruction for primary grades studies. She is the co-editor-in-chief of Learning Disability Quarterly, the author or co-author of textbooks and articles, and serves on the editorial boards of special education journals. For more information, read Bryant's full bio


Photo of Lisa Didion

Lisa Didion

Lisa Didion is currently pursing her Ph.D. in special education at The University of Texas at Austin. Didion grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and attended the University of Missouri-Columbia. She received a bachelor’s degree in cross-categorical disabilities and obtained her teaching license for students with special needs in kindergarten to grade 12. While in school, she worked as a respite care provider for a child with autism. She moved to Nashville, Tennessee, upon graduation to earn her master’s in behavior disorders. She gained experience as a liaison for Positive Behavior Support. Upon graduation, she spent 2009 to 2015 as a special education teacher for kindergarten to grade 5 students in Wilmington, Delaware. She taught students with moderate to severe mental, behavioral, physical, and learning disabilities in both self-contained and inclusive settings. After school hours, she taught in the homes of students who were put on homebound instruction because they were deemed a threat to the school environment. Beyond the classroom, she was active as a Girls on the Run coach, Positive Behavior Support team leader, School Health and Wellness team leader, Building Leadership team member, and Math Council representative. She served as a member of her district’s Special Education Committee and the Elementary Grade Reporting Committee. She was named Teacher of the Year in 2013–2014.


Photo of Katherine Ledbetter-Cho

Katherine Ledbetter-Cho

Katherine Ledbetter-Cho is a doctoral student in special education with a concentration in autism and developmental disabilities at The University of Texas. She holds a bachelor of science degree in special education from the University of Georgia and a master of science degree in autism and applied behavior analysis from Texas State University. Her primary research interests include parent training and interventions designed to improve the communication and play skills of children with autism.


Photo of Amanda Martinez-Lincoln

Amanda Martinez-Lincoln

Amanda Martinez-Lincoln is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in special education with a concentration in learning disabilities and behavioral disorders at The University of Texas at Austin. She attended West Texas A&M University, where she earned her B.S. in psychology and was awarded a Kilgore grant to complete an independent undergraduate research project, Field Independence/Dependence Relationship With Intelligence. She stayed at the university to earn her M.A. in psychology and completed her thesis, Normative Differences in English-Speaking and Spanish-Speaking Individuals on the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test. From 2009 to 2015, she worked as a research scientist in the Biology Department at The University of Texas at San Antonio. She worked on a project that used event-related potentials to examine arithmetic processing in bilinguals and recently published an article in Neuroscience Letters investigating how experience in adulthood can change arithmetic memory networks established in childhood. She headed involvement in the Woodlawn Elementary Science Night, a program to get elementary students interested in science, and the Expand Your Horizons Conference, a yearly workshop to provide middle school girls with role models for careers in science.


Photo of Sarah Powell

Sarah Powell

Dr. Sarah R. Powell is the principal investigator of the Developing Connections Between Word Problems and Mathematical Equations to Promote Word-Problem Performance Among Students With Mathematics Difficulty Institute of Education Sciences Goal 3 efficacy study. Powell is also a recipient of a National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship and a Greater Texas Foundation Faculty Fellowship. For more information, read Powell's full bio.


Photo of Jessica Toste

Jessica Toste

Dr. Jessica R. Toste is an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education at The University of Texas at Austin. Toste received her Ph.D. in educational psychology from McGill University (Montreal) in 2011. Her research interests are related to students with learning disabilities and effective reading interventions, with a particular focus on psychosocial processes and classroom climate as determinants of school success. She has published articles and book chapters on resilience factors related to achievement and psychosocial functioning of at-risk youth. She was trained in reading intervention research as a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University (2011–2013) and as a Fulbright scholar/visiting researcher at the Florida Center for Reading Research (2008–2009). She was the recipient of the Canadian Education Association’s 2012 Pat Clifford Award for Early Career Research in Education. She is also a licensed elementary school teacher in Quebec and has extensive experience as a reading specialist. To contact Toste, visit the UT Austin Department of Special Education website.


Photo of Kathleen Walker

Kathleen Walker

Kathleen Walker serves as project coordinator for the Building Capacity for Response to Intervention (RtI) Implementation project. Walker’s current work involves providing Texas educators and parents with information about RtI. A key responsibility is managing the content and resources on the project website. Her previous work with the center includes providing support and assistance to Spotlight 3-Tier campuses as a 3-tier facilitator and, subsequently, as project coordinator on the Spotlight 3-Tier project. Prior to that, she served as a teacher in Illinois. Walker earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois. She is certified to teach prekindergarten through ninth grade. Her research interests include the prevention of learning difficulties and effective instructional practices to support all learners.


Photo of Thea Woodruff

Thea Woodruff

Dr. Althea Woodruff provides support to Texas state-level partners, districts, and schools through the Building RTI Capacity for Implementation in Texas Schools project at UT Austin’s Meadows Center and occasionally lectures at the University. She is also the lead author on Texas's Literacy Achievement Academies, K-3, and Reading to Learn Academies, 4-5 (2016-17). Prior to this work, Dr. Woodruff was the reading specialist and English/language arts coordinator for Del Valle ISD.

Before her work as a district administrator, Dr. Woodruff was a project director, researcher, and instructor at the University of Texas at Austin. At the University’s Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts, she directed the Texas Reading First project and worked on several research projects related to reading instruction and interventions and professional development with teachers, including a project examining the implementation of a 3-Tier Model in reading for K-3 students.

Additionally, she provides professional development and technical assistance related to research-based literacy instructional practices, understanding and using data, and response to intervention (RTI) to states, districts, and schools.