Special Education


Special Education Office
304 Recitation Hall
West Chester, PA 19383
Call: 610-436-2579
FAX: 610-436-3102

Full–Time Faculty

Beatrice Adera, Assistant Professor, Student Teacher Coordinator, CEC Faculty Co-Advisor


Beatrice Adera received her ME.d. and Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Before coming to WCU, Dr. Adera was on faculty at Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg - where in addition to teaching and research, she supervised pre-service teachers in sub-urban and urban field placements. Dr. Adera holds a teaching certificate in special education with an ESL endorsement from the state of Texas where she taught for 5 years for Denton Independent School District. In addition, she also taught graduate and undergraduate special education courses as an adjunct at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Her research interests include social skills development for CLD learners; preparation of pre-service teachers for inclusive classrooms and inclusion of individuals with disabilities in mainstream educational establishments in Africa.

Kim Doan, Associate Professor


Kim Doan earned her B.A. in English and M.A. in special education from California State University, Los Angeles, and her Ph.D. in special education from the University of Virginia. In addition, she has studied Spanish in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico. Dr. Doan’s dissertation is entitled The Internet and Its Effects on the Scores of Students’ Essays. Before coming to WCU, she was an instructor in the University of Virginia School of Arts and Science and a university supervisor in the University of Virginia School of Education. She also has extensive K–12 teaching and leadership experience in both special education and English for Speakers of Other Languages. She has a number of presentations and publications to her credit.

S. Christy Hicks, Assistant Professor


Christy Hicks completed her PhD in special education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is a certified special education teacher in the state of North Carolina, where she worked in the public school system with students with disabilities at the middle and high school levels. While at UNC Charlotte, Dr. Hicks worked as a research associate on and IES-funded project that investigating literacy for students with severe disabilities. Her research interests include language and literacy for students with moderate intellectual disability.

Mary Houser, Assistant Professor


Mary Houser received her M.A. in Special Education from The College of New Jersey and her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership (Special Education) from Fayetteville State University. Before coming to WCU, Dr. Houser taught graduate special education courses for Walden University and served as a special education curriculum developer and assessor. In addition, she taught graduate special education courses and supervised pre-service special education teachers for Campbell University.  Dr. Houser has worked as a learning disabilities specialist and has taught high school special education in both inclusive and self-contained settings. Her research interests include families and students with autism spectrum disorders and improving parent-teacher relationships for students with disabilities. 

Vicki A. McGinley, Professor, Graduate Coordinator


Dr. McGinley is a Professor of Special Education at West Chester University.  She has taught field and pedagogy coursework, courses on working with the family, behavior management, multicultural and urban education, and action research.  Dr. McGinley received her doctorate from Temple University in Special Education/minor in Communication Disorders, and is also certified to teach Secondary Education/English.  She has held a number of positions from classroom teaching to directing therapeutic programs.  Her interests are in the areas of communication and behavior disorders, inclusive, diverse classrooms and urban communities, and legal issues in education.  Dr. McGinley serves as a state hearing officer.  She is committed to supporting professionals and families in working with persons with diverse needs.  Dr. McGinley has resided in Philadelphia for many years where she volunteers with children and takes advantage of the many cultural, edible and recreational offerings of a large city.  

Corinne M. Murphy, Associate Professor, Department Chair


Corinne Murphy earned her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University with a concentration in applied behavior analysis and special education. She holds a master's degree in applied behavior analysis and bachelor's degree in psychology and speech and hearing science, both from The Ohio State University. Dr. Murphy is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst at the Doctoral level (BCBA-D) who has taught children with mild to severe disabilities including those with learning delays, emotional behavior disorders, and autism. She has worked as an autism inclusion coordinator in the urban school district of Columbus, Ohio. In addition, Dr. Murphy served several years as a case supervisor of the Children's Hospital Autism Center, Intensive Behavioral Intervention Clinic, in Columbus, Ohio. Her research interests include language development by children with autism as well as language interventions and functional behavior assessments. Dr. Murphy currently serves as the Executive Director for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Autism Resource Center (SPARC), www.sparcwc.org. In addition, she serves as Facilitator of the WCU Council for Professional Education (CPE). Outside the academic realm, Dr. Murphy coaches Special Olympics Swimming and plays catcher for the APSCUF Rams rec softball team.

Dean Schofield, Assistant Professor


Dean Schofield received his M.Ed. in Severe Disabilities from Western Carolina University and his Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Virginia. Before teaching pre-service teachers in special education at the university level, Dr. Schofield worked with individuals with disabilities, their families and support personnel, in a variety of settings. These included public schools, private separate schools, clinical settings, institutions, group homes and other life domain settings, as well as in the individual’s family home. Dr. Schofield’s research interests include implementing positive behavioral interventions for people with problem behaviors and facilitating support for families and caregivers of people with disabilities.

Tara Stringer Guerriero, Associate Professor, Assessment Coordinator


Tara Guerriero attended Northwestern University where she received her Ph.D. in Learning Disabilities, with a concentration in Cognitive Neuroscience.  She also received her Master of Arts degree in Learning Disabilities and her Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a concentration in Learning Disabilities and a minor in Psychology from Northwestern University.  Dr. Guerriero is certified as a Special Education Teacher in the state of Pennsylvania, as well as a Learning Behavior Specialist in Learning Disabilities in the state of Illinois.  She was both a clinician and supervisor in a learning clinic at Northwestern University, where she provided remediation for children with learning disabilities and conducted psycho-educational evaluations of children and adults for the purpose of identifying and diagnosing learning disabilities.  Dr. Guerriero’s research interests in the field of Learning Disabilities include both assessment and teaching within the areas of mathematics and reading. Her dissertation was entitled, “The Role of Language Comprehension and Computation in Mathematical Word Problem Solving Among Students with Different Levels of Computation Achievement.”

Claire E. Verden, Associate Professor, CEC Faculty Co-Advisor


Dr. Verden was born and raised in England and left the country to attend West Chester University as a freshman in 1983. She graduated from West Chester with a B.S. degree and then attended Temple University where she graduated with a Master’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation. Dr. Verden worked in a variety of capacities for a non–profit agency in Philadelphia providing supports to children and adults with developmental disabilities and challenging behaviors for twelve years. Dr. Verden then returned to the classroom as a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia where she taught children in grades 3–8 with emotional and behavioral disorders. While teaching Dr. Verden pursued a doctorate degree in special education from Arcadia University and conducted research around using literature as a tool to promote social problem solving skills in urban youth. Dr. Verden has also worked as a behavior management specialist for a local intermediate unit providing behavioral supports to teachers and students with a wide range of disabilities as well as those in general education classrooms. Her research interests include strategies to support the learning of students with emotional and behavioral disorders, preparing teachers to work in urban classrooms and building positive classroom communities. Away from the University, Dr. Verden is kept busy with two young daughters who are involved in a myriad of school and community activities. She also attempts to maintain her love of English football (soccer). Dr. Verden serves as the faculty advisor for the WCU chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).

Donna L. Wandry, Professor, Best Buddies Faculty Advisor


Dr. Wandry received her B.S. in Special Education from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, her M.Ed. in Special Education from the University of Utah, and her Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Florida. Dr. Wandry worked with children and youth with disabilities for over ten years in school and agency settings. She taught at Central Michigan University for five years before coming to West Chester University. Prior to that, she was the Project Director for a federal transition grant at the State Department of Education in Kansas. Her primary areas of interest are special education legislation, as well as movement from school to adult life for persons with disabilities and working in school settings to create systemic programming changes to facilitate that movement. Dr. Wandry is the faculty advisor for the Best Buddies student organization on campus.

York Williams, Assistant Professor


Dr. York Williams is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education at West Chester University. He conducts research in gifted and special education and urban school choice reform. His work focuses on recruiting and retaining culturally diverse students in gifted education; multicultural and urban education school choice; minority student achievement and underachievement; and family involvement. He consults with school districts and educational organizations in the areas of gifted education and multicultural/urban education. Additional interests include the intersection of urban school violence and achievement among African American males through the lens of social and juvenile justice.   Dr. Williams was a public school teacher for over fifteen years and worked as an administrator and supervisor over special and gifted education programs. Prior to election to the faculty at WCU, Dr. Williams taught at Lincoln University, where he received the Lindback Foundation for Minority Faculty Award for his project, “The Achievement Gap and Implications for College Students of Color: Where Do We Go From Here?” His ME.d. and Ph.D. in urban education are from Temple University.  He also earned an M.A. in Philosophy of Social Science from WCU and a B.A. in Philosophy from North Carolina Central University.

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