What is your current job title and responsibilities?
Professor and Lockheed Martin Eminent Scholar
Director of the UCF/Lockheed Martin Mathematics and Science Academy
Co-Director of TLE:TeachLivE™ – UCF virtual simulator for teacher education
Director of the Ph.D. Program in the College of Education Exceptional Education Track
What is your history at UCF? (past job titles, responsibilities)
The ones listed above I have had over the past 5-10 years since my arrival as an Associate Professor.
What is your favorite UCF memory?
Being with my family the day the new stadium opened and the fly over of the Blue Angels. I was so proud to be a part of the growth and celebration of this campus expanding, and it was a great event since I was with my most important part of my life– my family.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
Time to get to know all of the wonderful faculty on campus. We are such an active and busy place, but we have so many hidden treasures of people and even labs and resources I would love a year to just really learn from such amazing colleagues. I also would love to see all of the bright colleagues I know have unlimited resources to implement the amazing ideas that emerge from discussions with colleagues.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
Always be humble and do the right thing and great opportunities find you. Give back to others and keep your family at the core of all you do.
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
I have always loved Miss Saigon right near campus – just don’t get to eat their summer rolls as much as I would like. I also like anything chocolate.
What is your favorite book or movie or song?
I love to read anything in print anytime – I can’t think of a favorite as anything with words I love to read. I also like to watch movies with a disability focus to think about how to use the misconceptions that are often presented by Hollywood anytime.
What is your dream vacation spot?
So far my families favorite has been Costa Rica ,but my dream vacation is to visit Australia on a 14 day cruise.
What is your favorite sport to watch or participate?
Gymnastics – my son is a high level gymnasts and I love watching the men’s and women’s gymnastics – I also a big fan of cheerleading as I worked for 13 years directing cheerleading camps all over the United States.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be?
A scholarship for teachers who either have a disability or want to work with students with disabilities in math or science and preferably in an urban setting.
If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF, who would you choose and why?
Easy to answer. My friends in the College of Education and Charles Hughes. Actually I like to have lunch on campus quite often with any colleagues who will join me and the bigger the group the better. I enjoy learning more about my colleagues so maybe everyone.
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
My students first and foremost. I tell my students I would not have a job without them wanting to come to UCF. I have had some amazing students during my tenure at UCF. I also have had AMAZING mentoring from Mike Hynes, Wilfred Wienke and Suzanne Martin –all providing me advice when I needed it to be where I am today.
Name and describe a teacher from you past who truly inspired you.
That’s easy – my second grade teacher Mary Queener. She was my teacher when I had a very ill sibling, and she made sure I came through that believing in myself. She also used so many ways to engage us as learners from the piano, to books, to plays, to art that I learned from her early on what makes a great teacher.
What undergraduate class/program inspired you the most and why?
My undergraduate program in general inspired me as my professor, specifically Kathlene Shank, shared that she thought I could get a doctorate. As a first generation colleage student, if she had not told me that there was even a masters degree or a degree beyond that, I honestly might not have known. I grew up in a very small town and went to a K-8 school of just 100 kids in the country. My parents did not go to college, but they knew they would have me go. If it had not been for the the professors at Eastern Illinois University taking me to a conference and telling me about life beyond my four year degree, I honestly would probably not have even gotten a masters degree.