The University of North Alabama’s College of Education and Human Sciences has two new professors in special education.
Dr. Trudy Abel, an Associate Professor of special education, teaches undergraduate and graduate students on campus; while Dr. Natalia Kouraeva, Visiting Assistant Professor, teaches graduate students online from her home state of New Jersey. Both professors arrived at UNA in fall 2016, although one’s arrival was virtual!
Having one new professor is always a good thing, but to have two is somewhat surprising to Dr. Katie Kinney, chair of elementary education at UNA. “Finding special education professors is very hard in today’s climate,” she said.
Prior to coming to UNA, Abeltaught at Oakland City University in Indiana. She has also served as an administrator of gifted programs, co-founder of a school for children with dyslexia.
“I taught all grades throughout my teaching career and continue to love teaching,” Abel said. “While teaching Kindergarten through 12th grade, I taught areas of science, gifted education, self-contained special education and resource programs,” she said.
While her teaching background is important, both Abel and Kouraeva stated that engaging with the community is an important aspect of special education. To that end, Abel co-hosted two training events in February and March. One was the Dyslexia Workshop at Muscle Shoals City Schools auditorium in February with Dr. Denise Woods, and the other was Managing Crisis Safely training at UNA in March with Dr. Matthew Carpenter.
“These workshop ideas came from both graduate and undergraduate students who desire to learn more about strategies to use in the classroom,” Abel said.
Since Kouraeva is out of state, she has focused more on designing and teaching courses in Special Education, student success, and educational technology face-to-face and online. However, she said she understands the importance of workshops.
“I full-heartedly support the workshops related to special education even though I can’t be there to participate,” said Kouraeva. “I value the need to educate people about diversity and issues related to special education because it is very important to help everyone to succeed.”
Kouraeva said that any time you can educate people about diversity and related issues – – it is a good thing for all including, “people with and without special needs,” she added.
Both professors say they hope to be able to provide more training.
“We plan to continue providing workshops into the future, to educate many current and future teachers for years to come,” Abel stated.