Birkenfeld came to Samford in fall 2007 as a teacher in residence in the department of teacher education and joined the faculty in
2010. She teaches math, science and
social studies methods courses and co-teaches additional courses in lesson and
curriculum design to undergraduate teacher candidates. Her research experiences include current
dissertation work at the University of West Georgia in the area of
K-12/university partnerships and the critical elements of these
associations. As an outgrowth, her research
interests center around communities of practice. She is passionate about teaching and
fostering mentoring relationships with undergraduate students. She is married to Tommy and they have one
Bluiett is an associate professor of curriculum and instruction at
Samford where she teaches reading and language arts methods courses. Dr.
Bluiett, also a P-12 reading specialist, is the director of the M.S.E. in Elementary Education online program and serves on various university
committees. Her research interests include early literacy and oral language development
in preschool children. Prior to coming to Samford in fall 2012, Dr. Bluiett was an
instructor and professor in the School of Education at the University of
Montevallo. Dr. Bluiett began her career in the Shelby County School
System where she taught first grade at Valley Elementary School from 1992-2001.
Dr. Bluiett is an active member in her church and is involved in various outreach
ministries. She enjoys collecting and restoring antiques, reading, exploring
interior designs and spending quality time with her daughter, Nylah.
Dr. Jeanie Box has served as the dean of the School of Education since fall 2005. Previous to her position as dean, Dr. Box served the school in a variety of capacities as associate dean, and chair and professor in the curriculum and instruction department. Before coming to Samford in 1989, she taught in the Birmingham City School System from 1977 until 1987. She also taught in primary schools in England and France, where she conducted research in comparative education.
Dr. Kristie Chandler is chair and associate professor of the department of human development and family life education at Samford. Before becoming a full-time faculty member, she served 15 years in student affairs at Mississippi State University, Texas Christian University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Samford. She teaches Marriage and the Family, Family Law and Public Policy, and Child Development Education. Her research interests include experiential education in the college classroom and family policy promotion.
Dr. Jane Cobia is an associate professor and director of the doctoral program for the School of Education at Samford. Dr. Cobia has spent 25 years in the public education arena serving as a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, education specialist for the Alabama State Department of Education and superintendent. She has served as an education consultant for school improvement, on the ASCD Board of Directors, and is certified as a superintendent mentor trainer. She has taught as an adjunct of graduate level courses since 2001 for Jacksonville State University, University of Montevallo and Auburn University at Montgomery. She is executive director for Alabama ASCD, the treasurer for Sylacauga Rotary Club, and a founding member of the Marble Valley DAR. She serves on numerous boards and is active in professional and civic organizations (Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement, CLAS, ASCD, KDP, Boy Scouts of America, Omicron Delta Kappa).
Dr. Peggy Connell is an assistant professor of education and director of assessment for the department of educational leadership in the School of Education at Samford. Dr. Connell dedicated over 35 years in K-12 public education and served as a high school teacher, counselor, program specialist for staff development, director of curriculum and instruction, high school principal, chief academic officer, and superintendent. She has served in diverse school environments including small to large size districts and schools; rural, suburban, and urban settings; and students from low to high poverty backgrounds. Dr. Connell has served in leadership roles at the local, district, state, and national levels. She has participated in educational reform initiatives through The Schlechty Center for Leadership in School Reform, Cornerstone Literacy, Inc., Southern Regional Educational Board (SREB), and Race to the Top.
Fancher has 25 years of financial services, private banking and asset management, and business-owner experience.
Dr. David Finn serves as the director of special education at Samford. Prior to coming to Samford, he held teaching and clinical positions at the University of Washington in Seattle, the University of Hawaii at Manoa (Honolulu) and UAB. Dr. Finn is a frequent keynote speaker at state, national and international conferences most recently in Kona, Hawaii; Beirut, Lebanon; the Czech Republic and Germany. His research interests include children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, especially those who have Hyperacusis. His publications include a variety of tests for children with special needs, family issues and school safety. Students and teachers alike report they appreciate his passionate lectures and hands-on approach to teaching.
Dr. Clara Gerhardt is a clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist and a certified family life educator. She coauthored a leading textbook on parenting, published by Pearson, which is in its 9th edition. Other publications include an earlier book, two book chapters and over 120 articles in the popular press. She documented the history of family therapy in a book chapter. She writes Perspectives, a regular column, for a publication of the National Council on Family Relations. She has presented in over 150 invited and peer-reviewed presentations nationally and internationally. She has held positions as chair of the department of family studies and chair of a State Board of Examiners in Psychology. Dr. Gerhardt is the product of three continents, has professionally presented on six continents, has visited over 60 countries and speaks five languages fluently.
Dr. Erin Gilchrist has served as professor of secondary curriculum and instruction at Samford since fall 2014. She has eight years of educational experience teaching art, literature and writing in middle school. She has taught qualitative research at the University of Alabama and enjoys writing and rich qualitative-style research. Dr. Gilchrist says she loves learning and being around others doing the same. She says her motivation each day is rooted in the idea that she can inspire someone to love writing and teaching just as much as she does.
Dr. Michele Haralson is the director of the Curriculum Materials and Technology Center at Samford where she has taught undergraduate and graduate technology classes in the School of Education since 2012. She currently serves as the school’s diversity chairman, which involves coordinating Samford’s teacher education partnership with Miles College. Before joining Samford, she served as a library media specialist in K-12 urban and inner-city public schools, and spent seven years in higher education teaching at both the University of Alabama and the University of Central Florida. She and her husband, Ronny, have four grown children, a daughter and three sons.
Dr. Celeste Hill is an assistant professor in the department of human development and family life education at Samford. She serves as departmental advisor for underclassmen and as the faculty advisor of Samford's student chapter of the National Council on Family Relations (SUNCFR). She currently teaches Infant and Child Development, Gerontology and the Family, and Family Life Education. Her research interests include experiential education, online learning, and development during late adulthood. Prior to becoming full-time faculty, she became certified as an online
instructor and as a national peer reviewer for Quality Matters.
Dr. Mandy Hilsmier has served as associate professor of special education at Samford since fall 2004. Prior to coming to Samford, she taught special education and worked in the central office as a school psychometrist and learning specialist in Jackson, Miss. Her areas of research focus on middle and high school students with reading and behavioral challenges, assessment and evaluation of students with disabilities, managing challenging behavior in the classroom, functional behavioral assessment, the transition of students with autism into the higher education environment, and ways to train teachers how to use function-based thinking to improve individual student behavior. Dr. Hilsmier teaches overview of special education, child development, managing challenging behavior, special education assessment, and evidence-based methods of special education instruction at the graduate and undergraduate level. Dr. Hilsmier also works closely with Jefferson County Schools and JBS Department of Mental Health to offer a summer reading program for at-risk students called Pathway to Graduation in the school of Education on Samford’s campus every summer. She also works with Mountain Brook and Homewood City Schools on the Turning Points program for students with disabilities on Samford’s campus.
Dr. Amy Hoaglund is an associate professor at Samford. Prior to teaching at Samford, Dr. Hoaglund was a second, third, and fourth grade fourth/fifth multi-age teacher at Leeds Elementary School in Leeds, Ala. For the past four years, Dr. Hoaglund and her colleague, Dr. Karen Birkenfeld, have created and managed a K-12/university partnership with Trace Crossings Elementary School in Hoover, Ala. This unique partnership seeks to increase involvement between teacher education and its K-12 stakeholders. Through this partnership, Samford hopes to better prepare teachers by immersing them into school culture early in their training. Many of the aspects of this partnership allow students to grow in teacher knowledge, pedagogy, professionalism, and leadership. Dr. Hoaglund's research interests include clinical partnerships, mentoring pre-service teachers, faith and vocation, Christian education, teacher preparation and teacher leadership.She is married to Eric Hoaglund, a graduate of Cumberland School of Law, and is the busy mother of three girls.
Dr. David Little is an associate professor and director/recruiter
for the early childhood/elementary fifth-year alternative graduate program at
Samford. Dr. Little also devotes part of
his teaching assignments as a professor in the instructional leadership program
and as a professor of reading for secondary and p-12 undergraduate
students. He teaches courses in
foundational and diagnostic reading, phonics, classroom management, reading in
the content areas, assessment, social studies methods and instructional
leadership.Dr. Little has written several articles on schema
theory, early literacy skills, cooperative learning and has most recently
developed an extensive set of famous Alabamians lesson plans to be used by
fourth grade teachers.He has authored
several books including Teaching Reading in the Content Areas. Dr. Little has
presented at numerous international, national and state conferences.Presentation papers have included schema
theory strategies, cooperative learning, phonemic awareness, Reading Recovery
research presentations and the integration of problem-based learning in
elementary schools. Dr. Little has performed numerous community service
activities during his long tenure at Samford University including the
Chairperson of the Davis Library building additions and renovations, serving as
one of the founding “brother and sisters” of the highly acclaimed Alabama
Reading Initiative (assisting in the development of the phonemic awareness and
phonics modules), chairing numerous university and school of education
committees and serving as a faculty senator and faculty Marshall.He has been a board member and conference
planner for the Social Studies Council of Alabama. His greatest achievements have been serving
as the director of the Samford Summer Institute of Teaching Excellence for over
20 years and co-chairing (3 times) the Alabama State Department of Education
Accreditation study for the school of education teacher certification programs.
Dr. Jodi Newton has served as the associate dean of the School of Education since 2010. Previous to her position as associate dean, Dr. Newton served as interim chair of the teacher education department. She has taught as an assistant professor in the educational leadership department since 2008. Before coming to Samford, Dr. Newton served as the superintendent of Homewood City Schools for over 10 years and as assistant superintendent of Fairfield City Schools in Birmingham, Ala. prior to that.
Dr. Maurice Persall has been the chair of the educational leadership department in the School of Education since 1993. Prior to coming to Samford, Dr. Persall served in a variety of roles as assistant state superintendent of education, superintendent of several boards of education, and principal and assistant principal of junior high schools in Alabama.
Dr. Monique Witherspoon is assistant professor in the educational leadership department and serves as the program director of the M.S.E. in educational leadership: policy, organizations and leadership. Previous to her position at Samford, Dr. Witherspoon served as president and CEO of Girls Incorporated of Central Alabama. Her years of education experience ranges from the university setting, University of Alabama at Birmingham and Queens University, to a multitude of leadership roles in K-12 education.
Dr. Patti Wood is associate professor in the curriculum and instruction department of the School of Education at Samford. She has served as the director and faculty advisor for the M.S.E. degree in gifted education and the faculty advisor for the educational specialist program in teacher leadership since 2006. Dr. Wood serves on the executive board of the Alabama Association for Gifted Children and is active with the National Association for Gifted Children. She provides professional development to school districts on how to meet the needs of gifted learners, particularly regarding reading instruction for gifted/advanced readers and differentiation.CV