Jump to main content

Professional Development

Michelle Athanasiou, Ph.D., BCBA-D, is Professor and Chair of the Department of School Psychology. She has been at UNC since 1996. Her professional interests include applied behavior analysis, psychological consultation, and early childhood service delivery. She has provided in-home interdisciplinary services to young children with disabilities aged 0-3 and their families, and she has co-directed a grant that provided an early childhood specialization to school psychology students at UNC and DU. Her research interests in the area of early childhood have pertained to school psychologist involvement in and beliefs about services to infants and toddlers and their families. 

Rashida Banerjee, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Northern Colorado.  Her research areas are effective assessment of young children, especially issues around diversity, inclusive intervention for young children, early childhood workforce development, and effective community, family, and professional partnerships. Dr. Banerjee has published articles, book chapters, received grants, and presented at numerous national and international conferences. Her current national projects funded through the Department of Education, specifically focus on preparing well qualified early childhood and early childhood special educators. She serves as the Editor for Journal for International Special Needs Education and as a member on the DEC Recommended Practices Commission.

Topics for Professional Development:

  • Assessment and early identification of young children with social emotional difficulties and behavioral challenges
  • Evaluating young children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds for special education services
  • Supporting sociodramatic play in preschools to promote literacy skills of English language learners
  • Supporting classroom transitions between daily routines: Strategies and tips
  • Culturally responsive behavioral supports for children with challenging behaviors and their families.
  • Implementing Evidence-Based Practices in Home Settings: Recommendations and Strategies.
  • Infants and toddlers with developmental concerns: First steps in identification and referral.
  • Making inclusion a reality: Enhancing preservice ECE professional preparation programs.
  • Evidence-based Practices for Serving Young Children with Special Education Needs and Their Families.

Kathleen O’Neil, PhD, is an associate professor and coordinator of the Early Childhood Education Program in the School of Teacher Education at the University of Northern Colorado. She teaches courses in emergent reading, children’s literature, and early childhood creativity and play. Dr. O’Neil’s research interests include early and emergent literacy especially as it is demonstrated in writing and drawing as well as visual literacy in terms of the picture/text synergy of picturebooks . These research topics also inform Dr. O’Neil’s professional development workshops for professional teachers provided through UNC’s Center for Integrated Arts Education and the Colorado Council of the International Reading Association’s annual conference.

Topics for Professional Development:

  • Reading Pictures: The illustrations in picturebooks as support for reading comprehension occurs on several levels. First, direct correspondence of word and image, at a higher level of support, pictures offer details that text for novice readers cannot, and finally, the pictures take over the telling of the story. Choosing the right book for reading instruction and comprehension support.
  • Fun with Phonics: Experiential activities supports greater learning and retention. From phonemic awareness to word chunking, students will enjoy these research-based activities.
  • Creative Expression and Play: Play is essential to learning in any age, but especially in early childhood. In this PD, play is interwoven with the arts to enhance literacy and content learning.

Amanda Rutter, EdD, is an Assistant Professor and Early Childhood Program Coordinator at the University of Northern Colorado’s Center for Urban Education, Denver, CO.  Dr. Rutter specializes in Early Childhood Education with research interests in child development, at-risk and minority populations, and universal pre-kindergarten. In addition, Dr. Rutter is a former pre-kindergarten teacher and taught youth swimming for over 12 years. 

  • Topics for Professional Development:
    Prop Box Play:Abstract:  Prop boxes are often used in early childhood education as a part of dramatic play. However, there are also other uses for these creative boxes! In this presentation, learn how to create and implement prop boxes for different purposes and areas in your classroom to foster learning and creativity.
  • Use Your Words: Developing Social Skills in Young Children: Abstract:  Research has shown that fostering social-emotional development is of great significance in the early years of a child’s life. In this presentation, you will learn some key phrases and strategies to foster social-emotional developing through cooperative play.
  • Re-thinking Rewards Systems: Abstract:  Reward systems are used by teachers as a method of managing the classroom environment, often with mixed results. The success of rewards systems truly lies within how they are implemented. In this session, you will learn how to re-think widely used rewards system to benefit both you and your students.

Hasan Zaghlawan, PhD, is an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Bachelor program in Special Education: Early Childhood at UNC. His area of research focuses on implementing the Routines-Based Model, promoting social and communicative skills for young children with disabilities, and children’s engagement in naturalistic environments. Dr. Zaghlawan is an expert in the Routine-based Model, and currently serves as member of the Routines-based Approach by McWilliam (RAM) Group Early Intervention Consultants. Dr. Zaghlawan serves as member of editorial boards and guest reviewer for international and national journals in education and early childhood special education. He has published articles and presented at numerous local, state, and national conferences.

Topics for Professional Development:

  • Routine-based Model (RBI & RBHV)
  • Preschool Engagement Model
  • Evidence-based Strategies in Natural Environments
  • Circle Time and Challenging Behavior
  • Single-case Research methodology
  • Personnel preparation program