Office: 204 Thomas Reynolds Center
Elizabeth Wright joined the Daemen College Education Department faculty in 2006. She currently serves as the Associate Dean for the Education Department and formerly served (2006-May 2012) as the Executive Director of the Thomas Reynolds Center for Special Education and After-School Programs. Ms.Wright teaches Special Education Laws and Trends to Education Department graduate students as well as the graduate Special Education Research Seminar. Ms. Wright earned her Juris Doctorate and Master of Social Work from the University of Buffalo in 1997 and her undergraduate degree in Literature and Rhetoric and Political Science (dual major) at SUNY Binghamton, where she graduated summa cum laude and was awarded membership in Phi Beta Kappa. Prior to serving as Executive Director of the Center, Ms. Wright, then a Partner at Goldstein, Ackerhalt & Pletcher, LLP, practiced law in the areas of education law, special education law, and estate planning for families with children who have special needs. She is admitted to practice law in both New York State and Federal District Court. Ms. Wright presents regularly at national and regional conferences regarding the research undertaken at the Thomas Reynolds Center and has led the Department through both NYS (RATE) and national accreditation (TEAC/CAEP).
Office: Duns Scotus 144
Mindy Schreiner Scirri, Ph.D., is the Chair of Undergraduate and Graduate Programs for the Education Department at Daemen College and the Diverse Learner Academy Coordinator for the Thomas Reynolds Center for Special Education and After-School Programs at Daemen. A specialist in learning differences, Dr. Scirri holds a Ph.D. in Special Education and a Master of Science degree in Learning Disabilities from Syracuse University. Additionally, she holds a Master of Arts degree in English/Creative Writing from Binghamton University and Bachelor of Art degrees from the University of Rochester in both Biology and Psychology. Dr. Scirri operates a private practice, Learnabilities, where she works with students and their families to help them negotiate students’ K-12 educational or college/vocational pursuits.
Office: Duns Scotus 144
Dr. Mark Steven Brown is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education. He holds a Master’s degree in special education from Buffalo State College and a Ph.D., in Special Education from the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Brown has been at Daemen College since 2005 where he has taught both undergraduate courses in early childhood special education as well as graduate courses in special education research, diagnostic reading strategies, teaching students on the autism spectrum and curriculum modifications (i.e., grades 1-6).
Dr. Brown’s research interest is evaluating “best teaching practices” that promotes the inclusion of young children with disabilities in the general education classes. He has also researched how preservice teachers can effectively incorporate multicultural activities into their lessons for students with special needs (i.e., preschool to the high school level).
He is a current member of CEC, The Council for Exceptional Children and ACEI, Association for Childhood Education International. He enjoys teaching the undergraduate and graduate students in the Education Department at Daemen College. He also considers himself to be a “lifelong” learner. He continues to expand his knowledge in the field of early childhood education and special education so he can offer a good classroom learning experience for his students.
Office: Thomas Reynolds Center 202
Vicki Madaus Knapp, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA is the director of the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Program at Daemen College and Assistant Professor in the Education Department. Prior to joining the faculty of Daemen College, Dr. Knapp previously held clinical and leadership positions at The Summit Center. Dr. Knapp teaches, consults, provides workshops, and conducts research on the topic of Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Dr. Knapp holds a Doctorate in Developmental and Child Psychology from the University of Kansas with a specialization in Applied Behavior Analysis. She obtained her Master of Science in Clinical Behavioral Psychology from Eastern Michigan University and her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Western Michigan University. She is currently a New York State Licensed Behavior Analyst (LBA) and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst at the Doctoral level (BCBA-D).
An expert on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), Dr. Knapp has been practicing in the field for more than 20 years. She currently serves on the auxiliary panel of the New York State Office of Professions Board for Behavior Analysis. She has also held positions as education chairperson, conference chairperson, and president for the New York State Association for Behavior Analysis (NYSABA), and served on the conference committee for the Association for Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA). Her recent honors have included the Excellence in Service to NYSABA and the NYSABA Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Behavior Analysis.
Office: Duns Scotus 144
Dr. Sadler joined the faculty in 2003, teaching in the Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education programs. Previously she worked in the Buffalo City School District as a Supervisor of Curriculum Development and has expertise in multicultural education and teaching students of diverse backgrounds. She has taught in grades kindergarten through fifth. Dr. Sadler holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo.
Office: Duns Scotus 144
Dr. Shields joined the faculty in 2001 to teach principally in the area of special education. He has held various teaching, professional and administrative positions, working for organizations that provide service to people with disabilities and their families in Missouri and New York State. In addition to his Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo, Dr. Shields also has two master's degrees: Master of Arts in Special Education (University of Missouri at Columbia) and Master's of Education (University at Buffalo). Dr. Shields' Bachelor's degree--in special and elementary education--was earned at Slippery Rock (PA) University.
Office: Thomas Reynolds Center
Lisa Waterrose is the Director of the Thomas Reynolds Center for Special Education and After-School Programs (The Center) at Daemen College since June 2012. Prior to that, Lisa served as the Associate Director of The Center since 2004. Lisa earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Child & Youth Services from Medaille College and her Master of Science Degree in Special Education from Daemen College. Lisa is also the Graduate Advisor for all students enrolled in the Masters in Special Education program and the Education Department's edTPA Coordinator.
Brooklyn, New York Faculty
Dr. Avtzon, Educational Director of the Early Childhood Special Education program and edTPA Director for the Brooklyn Daemen/TTI programs, joined Daemen College, in September 2005 as a full time faculty member. Prior to working at Daemen College, Sarah held a variety of Educational Director positions in large Headstart, UPK and preschool Inclusion programs. The focus of her work included curriculum design, staff development for best practices in inclusive settings and quality assurance for intervention implementation. Dr. Avtzon secured numerous UPK grants for a variety of preschools in NYC and USAID grants for educational NGOs in Ukraine and Morocco. In addition, Sarah was a workshop leader and consultant for over 60 general and special education preschools and agencies in NYC, training teachers and therapists in best practices in early childhood special education including developmentally appropriate practices, play-based transdisciplinary intervention methods and strong link between assessment and instruction. Sarah also wrote a sensory-based curriculum to assist teachers in leveraging therapies with sensory-based supports in the classroom setting. She also conducts extensive research on the implication of neuroscience approaches in the classroom setting. Sarah holds a BA in Psychology and Early Childhood Education, a Masters in Elementary Education and Supervision, a Masters and Ed.S in Instructional technology and a Ph.D in Special Education with training certificates in neuropsychology.
Dr. Dreisinger, Assistant Professor of Graduate Education at Daemen’s Brooklyn campus joined the faculty in 2009. Prior to her appointment at Daemen, Miriam worked as a principal, assistant principal, director of CSE offices, in New York City’s public and private schools. She also taught English for the NYC Department of Education and became a literacy coach for three departments: English, Math, and ESL. At Daemen’s graduate program, Dr. Dreisinger specializes in Introduction to Research Methodology strengthening students’ knowledge of this subject until they become proficient in the reading, writing, and creating of pilot programs and research papers. She earned her Ed.D from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Dr. Dina Gongola joined the faculty in 2010. After over a decade of teaching in general and special education K-12 settings, she began coaching and training teachers to help their students overcome their learning barriers. She founded Developmental Educators LLP, an organization that supports parents and schools in understanding children’s neurodevelopmental profiles and creating intervention plans that maximize their learning potential. She continues to work with schools in curriculum development and teacher trainings and recently assumed the role of Curriculum Supervisor for the Special Children’s Center for Education in Lakewood, New Jersey. She earned her PhD in Special Education from Walden University.
Rochel Lazewnik, Ph.D., is a researcher, teacher, and practicing clinician specializing in the language and literacy development of preschoolers. Her research interests include: bilingual assessment and intervention, emergent literacy, and language learning. She teaches online and face-to-face courses and has presented many times at the national, state, and local levels. Dr. Lazewnik is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati since 2013 and joined the Daemen College faculty as full-time assistant professor for the education department in 2014.
Dr. Sloan joined the Education Department in 2008 as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Sloan earned her Ph.D. in Clinical and School Psychology from Hofstra University. She brings with her many years of experience as a school psychologist, clinician and researcher. Prior to her appointment at Daemen College, Dr. Sloan has had extensive teaching experience at the elementary and university levels. She has presented at numerous conferences and has published a number of articles on the topics of gifted and special needs children.