Meet the Team
Dr. Jade Wexler is an Associate Professor of Special Education in the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education at the University of Maryland. As a former high school special education teacher in Maryland, Dr. Wexler aims to bring her practical experience in the field to her research. She is focused on bridging the research to practice gap and values the partnerships she forms with school district administrators and teachers to do this work. Dr. Wexler’s scholarship focuses on improving literacy instruction for adolescents with reading difficulties and disabilities through innovative teacher professional development and coaching.
In collaboration with her lab colleagues and students, she studies the ways in which professional development and coaching models support teachers’ implementation and sustainability of sustain evevidence-based literacy practices in their classrooms.
Dr. Kristabel Stark is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Maryland. Grounded in her experiences as a special educator in Boston and Chicago, her research explores the working conditions and affective experiences of special educators. Through her research, Dr. Stark aims to identify the types of targeted training and support special educators need in order to equitably and sustainably meet their students’ individualized goals.
Dr. Robin Sayers is a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Maryland. She recently completed a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at the Ohio State University. Her primary research interests focus on young children's relationships with teachers and peers and understanding individual differences in teacher-child relationships both in what impacts their formation and their effects on learning and development. Additionally, Dr. Sayers' work focuses on conducting practical and applicable research that supports educators in understanding and applying evidence-based practices in the classroom.
Robin is a former elementary teacher with experience teaching 3rd- and 5th-grade.
Tara Johnston is a doctoral candidate in literacy at UMD with teaching experience in K-12 settings and at the college level. She is a certified reading specialist and has experience with writing curriculum, literacy coaching, supporting struggling readers, qualitative research, and supervising student teachers. Tara has worked with teachers and students in grades K through 8 and her dissertation focuses on the vocabulary knowledge and practices of kindergarten teachers.
Becca is a first year doctoral student in Special Education at the University of Maryland. She earned her Master's degree in Early Childhood Special Education at Vanderbilt University in 2018 and has been working as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with children with Autism since then, coaching behavior therapists, teachers, and parents to implement behavior protocols. Her research interests include language, literacy, and social-emotional interventions for children with disabilities.
Re'GIne Coker is an Associate of Science Degree holder in Culinary Arts from Prince George's Community College. She is currently a Fellow in Project RISE. She attends The Bowie State University where she is earning her degree in Early Childhood Education / Special Education currently as a rising Junior. She is an honor stuent and also is a former member of National Society of Leadership and Success also known as NSLS. Re'gine's interest for research include Sight Word recognition and how children from different culture/race learn these words to become on grade level readers.
Dr. Alexandra Shelton is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Johns Hopkins University School of Education. She is also a former faculty Specialist of Special Education in the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education at the University of Maryland. Dr. Shelton's work focuses on improving literacy instruction and intervention for secondary students with reading difficulties and disabilities via intensive intervention and teacher professional development and coaching.
As a former high school special education teacher, she served students in the general and special education settings in English language arts, reading, math, and science.
Dr. Erin Hogan Rapp is a postdoctoral fellow in the Meadows Center at the University of Texas at Austin and a former doctoral student in the department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership at the University of Maryland. Her research explores ways to disrupt persistent patterns of inequitable literacy achievment through dialogic instructional practices especially text-based discussion. She is also interested in how to prepare teachers, both pre- and in-service for these instructional practices.
Erin is a former teacher who has served as a special education teacher at both the elementary and middle school level and as a Reading Recovery teacher.
Bailey Seulbi Lee is a Special Education doctoral student at the University of Oregon and a former graduate research assistant in the Adolescent Literacy & Professional Development Lab. She got her Master's degree in Special Education at the University of Maryland. After she received her B.S. in Special Education with a minor in Human Development also from the University of Maryland, she has worked as a special education teacher in DC. Her research interests include language development and literacy intervention of children with autism.
Alfred Muña Jr. is an undergraduate student and a Project RISE fellow at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is majoring in Instrumental Music Education and English Language & Literature. His research interests involve critical literacy with an emphasis on uplifting historically marginalized populations, especially the LGBTQ+ community.
Kailah Hall is a Master's student at Baylor University and a former undergraduate research assistant in the Adolescent Literacy & Professional Development Lab. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park in May, 2021. Her research interests are primarily in school and educational psychology and focus on the factors that affect how students learn. She was also a fellow in the Project RISE program.