Shana Haines, Ph.D.

Name: Shana Haines


  • B.A. Urban Studies and Environmental Science, Columbia University

  • M.A. Education, City College

  • Ph.D. Special Education, University of Kansas

With UVM Since: Fall 2013

Title: Assistant Professor

Department/College: College of Education and Social Services

Research areas/interests:

  • Disability and Inclusion

  • Diversity, Access, and Equity

  • English Language Learners

  • Family Studies; Literacy and Numeracy

  • School Transformation

  • Special Education

  • Teacher Education

  • Universal Design

Haines Interview Summary

Dr. Shana Haines has been an Assistant Professor in the University of Vermont’s College of Education and Social Services since 2013. Her educational background includes a B.A. in Urban Studies and Environmental Science from Barnard College at Columbia University, an M.A. in Education from City College, and a Ph. D. in Special Education from the University of Kansas. She also has accumulated seven years of experience in elementary level education as a teacher, literacy specialist, and administrator. Since tutoring at a public school in Harlem as a college student, she has been especially interested in the social aspects of education. Her interest became focused specifically on refugees after she volunteered to be an “American Friend” to a newly arrived refugee family in 2007 and noticed the disconnect between educators and the family. Now, she is focused on “understanding and improving the experience of refugee families and their children with the American school system, inclusive school reform, and innovative teacher education.”

Professor Haines spent two years in Namassi, a small village in the Ivory Coast, with the Peace Corps following her graduation from Barnard College. This was an entirely new experience for her– an Ivy League graduate from Connecticut working as the only Peace Corps operative within a twenty-mile radius and living in a thatch-roofed mud hut with a singular lightbulb. Her “cosmopolitan skills” were of no use, and she was forced to absorb alternative cultural capital and adapt to new necessities of self-sufficiency. Several years later, Haines volunteered with Catholic Charities Maine, where she found that her own experience as a stranger to the culture of Namassi allowed her to connect with newly resettled refugees in the US. She recognized that she had a great deal to offer in terms of her cultural knowledge, and the families she worked with introduced to her models of resiliency that are less common in normative American society. Continually amazed by the strength of the refugees she has come to know, Haines has spent the past six years researching relationships between newcomers, their children’s teachers, and the educational services provided to such newcomers as a whole.

As few as eight studies have dissected family partnerships and special education issues specific to refugee families, creating a knowledge gap that Haines hopes to fill with her work. “Special education is a civil rights issue, and family partnership in determining an appropriate individualized education program is part of the right given to families whose children experience a disability,” Haines writes. Such rights can be difficult to ensure given the “assumption of literate families” that dominates the American education system. Understanding report cards, emails from teachers, online grading portals, etc. can be both linguistically and culturally challenging to families who are accustomed to alternative schooling practices; especially when they originate from areas in which primary education is distinct from home affairs and parent-teacher roles vary from American expectations. As Haines says, “In the US, families need to understand the rights and responsibilities of all people involved in educating children. Understanding how this information is understood and communicated currently is paramount to then being able to improve the accuracy of perceptions for families, school personnel, and community members.” She hopes that in conducting such research, teachers and administrators may be better prepared to provide equal educational opportunities and refugees may have a stronger voice in the policies and practices that directly impact their children.

Helping refugees is the ultimate social justice issue for Dr. Haines, who sees such efforts as a way to “mitigate the atrocities that are happening around the world” without leaving one’s locale. She is excited by the prospect of UVM as a powerhouse of research on small city resettlement from a breadth of multidisciplinary perspectives. As a large public university in the midst of a resettlement city, there is opportunity for inclusion of students who are themselves former refugees in research teams like Haines’s, providing firsthand knowledge of social relationships in Burlington to which few others have access, be they between refugee students and teachers or social workers, or between different ethnic groups within the city. Additionally, UVM will soon be introducing a new minor in the College of Education and Social Services– Educating for Cultural and Linguistic Diversity­­– for which Haines will be teaching a new course in the fall of 2017 titled “Family, School, and Community Collaboration”. With the introduction of this new minor, along with other courses across several departments, UVM is expanding its educational opportunities for those interested in working with refugee and immigrant populations. Dr. Haines hopes that this expansion of refugee-related projects across disciplines will lead to further collaboration among researchers and growing interest among students.

To those just beginning their educational journeys and discovering an interest in working with refugees, Haines writes:

“Do not wait! Get involved! There are many agencies looking for UVM students to mentor high school students who want to apply to college. What a difficult process to go through, especially if your family does not understand the process! In seeking ways to volunteer, you will be giving your time and skills (which are not always tangible, but believe me you have them) to students who can benefit from them. However, you will probably learn more from them than you teach them. Working with refugee populations is a chance for you to learn a tremendous amount about our own country and other cultures, and giving what you can to refugee populations helps counteract the horrors of hatred that are plaguing so many parts of the world.”

Refugee Related Research

Examining the Complexity of Literacy Brokering within Immigrant Families and School Partnerships

When: Fall 2016-current

Funding: College of Education and Social Services

Research Team: Shana Haines and Cynthia Reyes

Project Description: This study explores the experiences of refugees new to the US as they send their children to school and how they work with their children’s teachers. Specifically, it looks at how refugee families navigate the culture of literacy and technology that permeates communication about children’s education. It also examines how refugee families perceive their roles in educating their children, how teachers perceive their roles in educating their students, and how these groups of people communicate with each other.

Link: none currently


Fostering a Child’s Foundational Skills leading to Self-Determination: A Case Study of a Refugee Family, A Head Start Agency, and their Family-Professional Partnership

When: 2012-2013

Funding: Office of Special Education Programs

Research Team: Haines, S.J., Summers, J.A., Turnbull, A.P., Palmer, S., & Turnbull, H.R

Project Description: This qualitative study analyzes the relationship between a refugee family and the staff of a Head Start agency; finding that while the relationship was positive, it did not reflect the level of trust that Head Start national standards encourage in family partnerships.


Haines, S. J., Summers, J. A., Turnbull, A. P., & Turnbull, H. R. (2015). Family partnership with a Head Start agency: A case study of a refugee family. National Head Start Research Association’s Dialog, 17(4), 22-49.


Haines, S. J., Summers, J. A., Turnbull, A. P., & Turnbull, H. R. (2015). Family partnership with a refugee family: Practical implications from a case study. National Head Start Research Association’s Dialog, 17(4), 124-130.


Haines, S. J., Summers, J. A., Turnbull, A. P. Palmer, S. B., & Turnbull, H. R. (2015). Fostering Habib’s engagement and self-regulation: A case study of a child from a refugee family at home and preschool. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 35(1), 28-39. doi: 10.1177/0271121414552905


MAPS for the future: Using person-centered planning with students from refugee families

When: in revision 2017

Funding: CESS

Research Team: Shepherd, K.G., Haines, S.J., Francis, G.L., Zeigler, M., and Mabika, G.

Project Description: This study documented the use of MAPS, a person-centered planning procedure, with students from refugee families.


Haines, S. J., Francis, G. L., Shepherd, K. G., Zeigler, M., & Mabika, G. (in press). Partnership bound: Using MAPS with students from immigrant families. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals.

Other Research

Foundations for Self-Determination in Early Childhood

When: 2009-2013

Funding: Institute for Educational Sciences

Research Team: Summers, J.A., Palmer, S., Brotherson, M.J., Maude, S., & Erwin, E.J.

Project Description: This four-year IES-funded project sought to develop and pilot an intervention aimed at improving preschool children with disabilities’ foundational skills leading to later self-determination.


Erwin, E. J., Maude, S. P., Palmer, S. B., Summers, J. A., Brotherson, M. J., Haines, S.J., Stroup-Rentier, V., Zheng, Y., & Peck, N. F. (2015). Fostering the foundations of self-determination in early childhood: A process for enhancing child outcomes across home and school. Early Childhood Education Journal, 44, 325-333. doi: 10.1007/s10643-015-0710-9


Summers, J. A., Brotherson, M. J., Erwin, E. J., Maude, S., Palmer, S.B., Haines, S. J., Stroup-Rentier, V., Wu, H.Y., Peck, N. F., & Zheng, Y. Z. (2014). Family reflections on the foundations of self-determination in early childhood. Inclusion, 2(3), 175-194. doi10.1352/2326-6988-2.03.00

Palmer, S. P., Summers, J. A., Brotherson, M. J., Erwin, E. J., Maude, S. P., Stroup-Rentier, V. L,


Wu, H. Y., Peck, N. E., Zheng, Y., Weigel, C. J., Chu, S. Y., McGrath, G. S., & Haines, S. J. (2013). Building a foundation for self-determination in early childhood: An inclusive model for children with disabilities. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 33(3), 38-47. doi: 10.1177/0271121412445288


Maude, S. P., Brotherson, M. J., Summers, J. A., Erwin, E. J., Palmer, S., Peck, N. F., Zheng, Y. Z., Kruse, A., Haines, S. J., & Weigel, C. J. (2011). Performance: A strategy for professional development in early childhood teacher preparation. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education: Inclusive Early Childhood Teacher Education, 32(4), 355-366. 


Schoolwide Integration for Transformation (SWIFT) Knowledge Development Site Case Studies

When: 2012-2013

Funding: Office of Special Education Programming

Research Team: Francis, G.L., Haines, S.J., Blue-Banning, M.B., Gross, J.S., & Turnbull, A.P.

Project Description: As part of SWIFT’s search for models, this project employed an appreciative inquiry approach to document inclusive practices at six selected schools across the country.



Francis, G. L., Blue-Banning, M., Turnbull, A. P., Hill, C., Haines, S. J., & Gross, J. M. (2016). School culture in inclusive schools: Parental perspectives on trusting family partnerships. Education and Training for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 51(3), 281–293.

Francis, G. L., Blue-Banning, M., Haines, S. J., Turnbull, A. P., Hill, C., & Gross, J. M. (2016). Building “Our School:” Parental perspectives for building trusting family-professional partnerships. Journal of School Failure, 60(4), 329-336. doi: 10.1080/1045988X.2016.1164115


Francis, G. L., Gross, J. M. S., Blue-Banning, M., Haines, S. J., & Turnbull, A. P. (2016). Principals and parents achieving optimal outcomes: Lessons learned from six American schools implementing inclusive practices. Revista Latinoamericana de Inclusión Educativa, 10(1), 61-77. Retrieved from


Gross, J. M. S., Haines, S. J., Hill, C., Francis, G. L., Turnbull, A. P., & Blue-Banning, M. (2015). Strong school-community partnerships: A collective endeavor. School-Community Journal, 25(2), 9-35.


Haines, S. J., Gross, J. S., Blue-Banning, M., Francis, G. L., & Turnbull, A. P. (2015). Fostering family-school and community-school partnerships in inclusive schools: Using practice as a guide. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 40(3), 227–239. doi: 10.1177/1540796915594141


Kozleski, E. B., Yu, T., Satter, A. L., Francis, G. L., & Haines, S. J. (2015). A never-ending journey: Inclusive education is a principle of practice, not an end game. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 40(3), 211-226. doi: 10.1177/1540796915600717

Alan Tinkler, Ph.D.


Name: Alan Tinkler

Education: Ph.D. in English, the University of Denver

With UVM Since: 2008

Title: Assistant Professor

Department/College: College of Education and Social Services

Research areas/interests

  • Curriculum and Instruction

  • English Language Learners

  • Ethics

  • Reading Education and Literacy

  • School Transformation

  • Social Justice

  • Teacher Education

Tinkler Interview Summary

Dr. Alan Tinkler has been a professor of education at the University of Vermont for the past eight years. His focus is varied but includes teacher professional development, school remodeling, community engagement, service learning, and empowering student voices. Prior to joining UVM’s faculty, Tinkler familiarized himself with issues facing refugees through service learning engagement involving teacher preparation, but after joining UVM, he began working with refugees by serving community-based organizations like the O’Brien Community Center, King Street Center, and the Winooski Community Center.

Dr. Tinkler believes the role of education in refugee research is to expand the boundaries of service learning through teacher preparation and act as a continuation of the research education has done on integration within a classroom setting. The meaningful impacts and outcomes facilitated by teachers can affect the education of any student, refugee or not. However, Tinkler also notes the importance of approaching research through a multi-disciplinary approach because he believes, within the context of complex systems, cross discipline collaboration is crucial.

Currently Dr. Tinkler’s research is focused on student engagement and relationships with community partners in the context of service learning, particularly on the outcomes of student learning experiences. One particular outcome Tinkler has examined is cultural humility in service learning at community site placements, with the goal to advance community partner voices. He is also researching how school remodeling amplifies student voices, which falls in line with the recently passed Act 77 that ensures “flexible pathways” to graduation in Vermont. He sees the importance of personal learning and development plans that take into account socio-economic standing, in order to ensure equitable access to education opportunities. In the future, Tinkler plans to research the effects of Act 77 on expanding learning opportunities and success outside of school.

Though Tinkler hopes education will continue to address the refugee crisis going forward, he acknowledges the difficulties of conducting this kind of research. Firstly, it is difficult to receive IRB approval with access to families due to the challenges of working across language barriers. However, TInkler notes this challenge is lessened when working with a community partner because these organizations are already grounded in the community and have a pre-existing collaborative capacity. He also shares similar worries with students wishing to work with refugees, stressing the importance of ongoing interaction with oneself and others. He urges students to be aware of cultural competency issues and to approach their research with a sense of humility.

Other Publications

Tinkler, A., Tinkler, B., Gerstl-Pepin, C., & Mugisha, V. (2014). The promise of a community-based, participatory approach to service-learning in teacher education. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 18(3), 209-232.

Tinkler, A., Tinkler, B., Hausman, E., & Tufo-Strouse, G. (2014). Key elements of effective service-learning partnerships from the perspective of community partners. Partnerships: A Journal of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, 5(2), 137-152.

Tinkler, B., Hannah, C. l., Tinkler, A., & Miller, E. (2014). Analyzing a service-learning experience using a social justice lens. Teaching Education, 25(1), 82-98. doi:10.1080/10476210.2012.744742

Cynthia Reyes, Ph.D.


Name: Cynthia Reyes


  • B.A. in Spanish and Communications, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

  • M.Ed. in Educational Studies/Instructional Leadership, University of Illinois, Chicago

  • Ph.D. in Reading, Writing, and Literacy, University of Illinois, Chicago

With UVM Since: 2011

Title: Associate Professor

Department/College: College of Education and Social Services

Research areas/interests:

  • Intersections of identity

  • Young adolescent literacy

  • Instruction and English language learners

  • Social justice

  • Language policy

  • Foundations

Reyes Interview Summary

Dr. Reyes has been a part of UVM’s College of Education and Social Services since 2003. Currently, she is an Associate Professor who specializes in Literacy Education and diversity courses at the university. As a child of Philippine immigrants, Reyes was exposed to some of the issues facing New Americans from a young age. Though she did not become a teacher until she completed her Master’s Degree, Reyes worked with several groups in Chicago like the Marjorie Klover Center, which specializes in trauma for asylum seekers fleeing torture and persecution. Once she received her Master’s and teaching license, she taught grades five through eight in a Mexican-immigrant neighborhood in Chicago, where she gained some perspective as to what it is like for those learning English as a second language through the stories of her students and their parents.

Currently, Dr. Reyes is developing an undergraduate program for cultural and linguistic diversity (ECLD) for both education and non-education majors. She is also working with Shana Haines on a family-school partnership research project, which examines the ways families gain access to schools and the ways schools communicate with families. This project investigates whether the student or a multicultural liaison is the main facilitator of communication between the school and the family. The research is based on interviews with newly arrived families from Somalia, Bhutan, Nepal, and Iraq.

Other research Dr. Reyes is currently working on is a digital storytelling project with young adolescent English learners, where students record their personal tale of English learning. These stories allow Reyes to gain an understanding of how technology mediates their stories and how they view themselves as English learners. Reyes hopes to one day bring digital storytelling to both the student and their families, having the stories be written in English and the writer’s native language. Now Reyes is also teaming up with Dr. Kathleen Brinegar, a professor at Johnson State College, to expand the use of digital storytelling to allow pre-service teachers to share their stories. These stories will focus on how these teachers view themselves as literate beings, which informs how they will teach and incorporate English into the classroom.

As an educator, Reyes believes her discipline helps others in understanding the relationship between school and student life. Her research seeks to understand the most effective strategies for teaching and working with refugee students and gives valuable insight into the lives of refugee children, specifically in how they understand their personal experience in the United States through their education and friendships. Reyes warns, however, that refugee children and families have experience with researchers using their stories and not reciprocating anything in return. The families should gain as much from the relationships cultivated through research as the researchers themselves. Reyes believes this mindset is key when addressing the refugee crisis moving forward so that the best information is being published and disseminated into the public as to support the needs of refugee families and the school personnel with whom they work. The findings should be used to develop better training for teachers working with refugee populations, and this information should be shared throughout Vermont.

Refugee Related Research

Digital Storytelling

When: 2006 - Present

Funding: 2003 Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology (PT3) grant (U.S. Department of Education)

Research Team: Sandra A Lathem, Cynthia Reyes, J Qi (UVM College of Education and Social Services)

Project Description: This project examined the stories middle-level pre-service teachers had with utilizing Digital Storytelling. Digital Storytelling is an effective way to bring student voice into the literacy education process. Reyes is currently expanding the groups with which she uses Digital Storytelling. She hopes this method can be used by both refugee students and their families as a way to communicate their journeys and needs.


Improving Middle-Level Education

When: 2013

Funding: Vermont Adolescent Literacy and Learning [$35,000] from Vermont Agency of Education

Research Team:

            Cynthia Reyes, Principal Advisor (UVM College of Education and Social Services)

Project Description: The purpose of this project is to increase middle and high school teachers' knowledge or expertise of best practices in adolescent literacy so they can engage students in critical thinking and deep learning across content areas. VALLI is also committed to supporting and mentoring new middle and high school teachers. The goal is to support teachers in preparing their students for careers or college.

Other Research & Publications

A Nascent Look at Theoretical Frameworks in Middle-Level Education Research

When: 2015

Project Description: This article examined theoretical frameworks that have been commonly utilized by researchers when examining middle-level education. Reyes’s research found that researchers in education have been using frameworks from other fields to explore middle-level education. Reyes and Netoch propose that researchers need to develop a more nuanced framework of their own to better understand middle-level education


Reyes, Cynthia and Netcoh, Steven (2015) "A Nascent Look at Theoretical Frameworks in Middle-Level Education Research," Middle Grades Review: Vol. 1: Iss. 1, Article 3.


Reimagining the Public Intellectual in Education: Making Scholarship Matter

When: 2015

Project Description: This book explores the role of the public intellectual in the education field. This book hopes to show that involving public educators in the policy-making process would be more beneficial to education policy than political agendas.


Gerstl-Pepin, Cynthia I., and Cynthia Reyes. Reimagining the public intellectual in education: making scholarship matter. New York: Peter Lang, 2015.


Other Publications:

Reyes, C. & Bishop, P. (2014) The hazards of engaging identity in a pre-service middle-level classroom. In Patrick Jenlink (Ed.) Teacher Identity and the Struggle for Recognition. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Brinegar, K. & Reyes, C. (2014). "Becoming a literate being:" Pre-service teachers using digital stories to reflect on personal narratives. In Malu, K. & Schaefer, M.B. (Eds.) Research on Teaching and Learning Literacy with Young Adolescents. Vol. 10 in The Handbook of Research in the Middle-Level Education. Information Age Publishing.

Reyes, C. & Clark, B. (2013). Exploring writing through the digital story with English Language Learner: A collaborative approach. In Nagle, J. (2013). Working Title: Creating Collaborative Learning Communities to Improve English Learner Instruction: College Faculty, School Teachers, and Pre-service Teachers Learning Together in the 21st Century.

Reyes, C. (2012). "This I Believe:" Addressing cultural competency with the digital narratives of middle grades English language learners. In Miller, F. (Ed.) Transforming Learning Environments: Strategies to Shape the Next Generation. Emerald Group Publishing.

Reyes, C. (2010) Locating an authorial voice: Engaging a school reform debate through the roles of a mother, teacher, community member, and university professor. In Malu, K. (Ed.) Voices from the middle: Narrative inquiry by, for, and about the middle-level community. The Handbook of Research in the Middle-Level Education. Information Age Publishing, pps. 339-358.

Reyes, C. (2009). El Libro de Recuerdos (Book of Memories): A Latina Student's Exploration of Self and Religion in Public School. Research in the Teaching of English, 43(3), 263-285.

Reyes, C. (2008). "Disturbing the waters": Using relational knowledge to explore methodology. The Journal of Educational Foundations, Vol. 22(3-4), pps. 13-31.

Jennifer Jo Hurley, Ph.D.

Name: Jennifer Jo Hurley


  • Ph.D. and Post-Doctorate Fellow, Vanderbilt University

  • Undergraduate and Master’s Trinity, University San Antonio Texas

With UVM Since: 2007

Title: Associate Professor

Department/College: College of Education and Social Services

Research areas/interests:

  • Disability and Inclusion

  • Early Childhood

  • English Language Learners

  • Special Education

  • Teacher Education

Hurley Interview Summary

Dr. Jennifer Hurley is an Associate Professor in the College of Education and Social Services with a focus in early childhood special education. She has been at the University of Vermont for ten years. Her work focuses on the inclusion of children with disabilities and how having a disability intersects with other identities like poverty, though it was not until 2009 that Dr. Hurley became involved in refugee research. As a parent, she saw that her children were going to school with New American children and grew curious about how these children were experiencing an English-only classroom. Currently, Dr. Hurley is heading a qualitative study on the providers of New American refugee infant and toddler services. This study stems from of her previous work with service providers of preschool-aged New American children.

In Dr. Hurley’s field, there is some work dedicated to New Americans, but this work focuses on the cultural and linguistic diversity of immigrant children in general rather than specifically on refugees. The refugee-focused work in her field deals mostly with older children, with only her and one other researcher doing qualitative work on New Americans who are preschool-aged and younger. She believes her study is different than other’s in her field because she highlights the innovative practices used by providers in the community who offer services to young children and their families. Her research does not seek to pinpoint interventions or solutions but seeks to shed light on the good work happening here in Vermont, hoping to use Vermont’s practices in this area as an example for others. For example, Vermont schools have adopted a variety of techniques to take the place of interpreters when possible because of the high cost associated with interpretation services. Some of these techniques are as simple as researching what education is like in the child’s home country, while others are using visual schedules or ASL to supplement verbal communication. According to Dr. Hurley, her choice of focusing on service providers rather than New American children and families may be a limitation to her work because she is not getting their personal perspective, but for her, this focus makes the scope of the project more manageable.

Going forward, Dr. Hurley emphasizes the importance of effectively preparing educators to work within a culturally and linguistically diverse setting. To accomplish this goal, it is critical that every education program provides future teachers with the opportunity to gain experience with students from all types of backgrounds, including New Americans. It is also crucial that these teachers develop cultural reciprocity skills and study the histories and cultures of the families they are serving. In relation to her future research, Dr. Hurley is currently about to start a multi-site qualitative study in collaboration with other early childhood special education programs across the country addressing the challenges and beneficial practices for preparing candidates to work with children and families who are culturally and linguistically diverse. This study will come from the perspective of graduates in the program and their employers.

For students hoping to be involved with New American and refugee-related work, Dr. Hurley urges them to be respectful, and to do their research beforehand in order to understand that refugees come from a variety of backgrounds, and even people of the same country or culture have differences. She wants students to listen and refrain from making assumptions. Dr. Hurley views the influx of refugees in Vermont as a gift to the community and hopes others will share this perspective as well.

Refugee Related Research

Early Childhood Special Education in a Refugee Resettlement Community: Challenges and Innovative Practices

When: 2014

Funding: Preparation of Undergraduate Level Early Interventionists and Early Childhood Special Educators Program from U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs Preparation Combined Priority for Personnel

Research Team:

§  Jennifer J. Hurley (UVM CESS)

§  Rachel A. Warren (UVM CESS)

§  Rebecca D. Habalow (UVM CESS)

§  Laura E. Weber (UVM CESS)

§  Sarah R. Tousignant (UVM CESS)

Project Description: There has been a significant increase in the number of children who are culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) who qualify for early childhood special education (ECSE) services (Banerjee & Guiberson, 2012). The current study investigates the challenges and innovative practices in the evaluation and (ECSE) services for preschool-aged children who are refugees. Twenty-eight early childhood educators who work in a small refugee resettlement community participated in a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews resulting in themes regarding challenges and innovative practices. Challenges include: lack of validated assessments, wait time for evaluations, different cultural perspectives, and family advocacy. Innovative practices include: assessing skills not dependent on language and including caregivers in evaluations. Implications for future research and teacher preparation are discussed.


Hurley, J. J., Warren, R. A., Habalow, R. D., Weber, L. E. & Tousignant, S.R. (2014). Early childhood special education in a refugee resettlement community: Challenges and innovative practices. Early Child Development and Care, 184 (1) 50-62.



Use of the Pyramid Model for Supporting Preschool Refugees

When: 2013

Funding: Preparation of Undergraduate Level Early Interventionists and Early Childhood Special Educators Program from U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs Preparation Combined Priority for Personnel

Research Team:

§  Jennifer J. Hurley (UVM CESS)

§  Saveta Saini (UVM CESS)

§  Rachel A. Warren (UVM CESS)

§  Alissa J. Carberry (UVM CESS)

Project Description: Response to Intervention (RTL) is being applied to early childhood settings for the support of positive behavior and social development through the Pyramid Model (Fox, Carta, Strain, Dunlap & Hemmeter, 2010). This qualitative study assessed the use of the Pyramid Model for preschool-aged refugee children living in a refugee resettlement community. Many young refugee children have experienced trauma (George, 2010) and some experience behavior and social challenges (Almqvist & Brandell-Forsberg, 1997). Twenty-five preschool service providers were interviewed about their use of the Pyramid Model for the support of preschool refugee students. Themes to be shared include how ECEs are implementing the practices outlined in the Pyramid Model along with strategies for adapting recommended practices to meet the needs of refugee families.


Hurley J. J., Saini, S., Warren, R. A., Carberry, A. J. (2013). Use of the pyramid model for supporting preschool refugees. Early Child Development and Care. 183 (1), 75-91.


Supporting Preschoolers and Their Families Who Are Recently Resettled Refugees

When: 2011

Funding: Preparation of Undergraduate Level Early Interventionists and Early Childhood Special Educators Program from U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs Preparation Combined Priority for Personnel

Research Team:

§  Jennifer J. Hurley (UVM CESS)

§  Andrea Medici (UVM)

§  Emily Stewart (UVM)

§  Zachary Cohen (UVM)

Project Description: According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the number of refugees worldwide was 10.5 million in 2009 and this number continues to grow (United Nations Refugee Agency, 2010). There is a shortage of evidence-based practices and information regarding the state of service provision for young refugee children and their families in preschools and early childhood special education programs. In this qualitative study, twenty-five early childhood educators participated in semi-structured interviews about the state of service provision for refugee families and their preschool-aged children with and without disabilities living in a small New England community. Themes identified were barriers and facilitators related to three main categories: special education services, communication, and cultural complexities. Implications for future research, teacher preparation programs, professional development and early childhood programs are discussed.


Hurley, J., Stewart, E. Medici, A. & Z. Cohn (2011). Supporting preschoolers and their families who are recently resettled refugees. Multicultural Perspectives, 13 (3), 160-166.  [abstract]

Other Research

Family and Professional Priorities for Inclusive Early Childhood Settings

When: 2010

Project Description: The purpose of this study was to provide information about what characteristics from the wide variety of inclusive early childhood programs are most and least valued by families and professionals. Participants (N = 20) were ten family members of young children with disabilities being served in inclusive programs and ten early childhood professionals working in inclusive programs. A combination of Q-sort and qualitative research techniques were used. Participants generated one general factor solution or viewpoint concerning what characteristics of inclusive early childhood programs are the most and least valuable. Interviews provided qualitative clarification concerning why participants did or did not value certain program characteristics and information about participants beliefs concerning inclusive early childhood programs.


Hurley, J. J. & Horn, E. M. (2010). Family and professional priorities for inclusive early childhood settings. Journal of Early Intervention, 32(5), 335-350. 


Social Validity Assessment of Social Competence Intervention Behavior Goals

When: 2010

Project Description:

 Social validation is the value judgment from society on the importance of a study (Wolf, 1978). The social validity of behavior goals used in the social competence intervention literature was assessed using Q-sort technique. The stimulus items were 80 different social competence behavior goals taken from 78 classroom-based social competence intervention studies published between 1970 and 2000 for preschool children. Participants (N = 36) were early childhood special educators, early childhood educators, and administrators. Participants generated three distinct viewpoints concerning valued social competence behavior goals: Factor 1, reduction in negative behaviors, Factor 2, pro-social, and Factor 3, communication and good manners. Recommendations for research in the area of social competence interventions were discussed in light of these findings.


Hurley, J. J., Wehby, J. H. & Feurer, I. D. (2010). Social validity assessment of social competence intervention behavior goals. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 30(2), 112-124.  


Promoting Self-Determination in Students with Developmental Disabilities: A Review

When: 2010


 Hurley, J. (April 2010). Promoting self-determination in students with developmental disabilities: A review. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.


Social Validity Assessment in Social Competence Interventions for Preschool Children: A Review

When: 2012

Hurley, J. J. (2012). Social validity assessment in social competence interventions for preschool children: A review. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0271121412440186

UVM Refugee Research Network Home

Business & Entrepreneurship




University-Community Partnerships