Early and Middle Grades Education

Early and Middle Grades Education Office
106B Recitation Hall
West Chester, PA 19383
Call 610-436-2944
FAX: 610-436-3102

News and Notes


Heather Leaman (2005), Professor

B.S., M.Ed. Millersville University
Ph.D. Pennsylvania State University

Prior to joining West Chester University faculty in 2004, Dr. Heather Leaman spent eleven years teaching sixth grade in a Pennsylvania public school. Her research interests include teacher research, teacher professional development and social studies education in grades K-8. At West Chester University Dr. Leaman typically teaches EGP 335: Teaching Social Studies and Health in the Early Grades and MGP 335: Teaching Social Studies in the Middle Grades in undergraduate programs. She teaches EDE554: The Reflective Teacher, and EDE 611: Teacher as Classroom Researcher in the M.Ed. in Applied Studies in Teaching and Learning program.

Karen J. Johnson (2007), Associate Professor

Assistant Chairperson, Coordinator of the Middle Grades Preparation Program, and Coordinator of Field Experiences
B.S. Trenton State College
M.Ed. Rutgers University
Ph.D. The University at Albany

Prior to joining the faculty at West Chester University, Dr. Karen Johnson taught elementary school for ten years and education majors at a college in New York for four years. Her research interests include technology integration and student teaching. She has presented her research at conferences throughout the United States as well as in Austria and has a chapter published in Technology Implementation and Teacher Education: Reflective Models. At West Chester, she typically teaches social studies and health methods, the middle grades field course, and supervises student teachers. She is currently serving as the Coordinator of Field Experiences for the department.

Lisa J. Lucas (2008), Associate Professor

Graduate Coordinator, Post-Baccalaureate Certification Programs PK-4 & 4-8
B.A. Lock Haven University
M.Ed. Cabrini College
Ed.D. Immaculata University

Before joining the faculty at West Chester University, Dr Lisa J. Lucas was a school district administrator for five years, a literacy coach for two years and a classroom teacher for fifteen years. Her research interests include coaching, mentoring and writing across the curriculum. At West Chester, she typically teaches field courses and supervises student teachers. She is currently the chair of the Faculty Mentoring Committee and the liaison for the Pa. Teacher of the Year T.E.A.C.H program.

Connie L. DiLucchio (2003), Associate Professor

Coordinator, M.Ed. in Applied Studies in Teaching and Learning
B.S. Pennsylvania State University
M.Ed. Pennsylvania State University
Ed.D. University of Pennsylvania

Dr. DiLucchio taught for 18 years in public K-12 schools and 10 years at the university level before joining the faculty at West Chester.  As the Graduate Coordinator for the Department, she works with students in the Post-Baccalaureate Certification and M.Ed. Programs and teaches courses focusing on educational change and teacher research.  She also supervises student teachers. Her research interests are directly linked to her work with the preparation of pre-service and the professional development of in-service teachers.  In collaboration with colleagues, she is studying student teachers’ use of descriptive and collaborative frameworks for child study and the role of action research and classroom inquiry in the professional lives of teachers.

Catherine Prudhoe (1992), Professor

Coordinator, M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education
B.S., M.S. Pennsylvania State University
Ph.D. University of Delaware

Dr. Prudhoe teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the early childhood education program. She received her doctorate from the University of Delaware in Family Studies with a concentration in early childhood and early childhood/special education. Her bachelor's and master's degrees are from Penn State in Individual and Family Studies and Human Development and Family Studies, respectively. Dr. Prudhoe has taught young children in Head Start, the Penn State Child Development Laboratory, the Keene State Children's Center, and the University of Delaware's Preschool Laboratory Program. Her scholarship focuses on early literacy development and multicultural education.                  

Lynda Baloche (1989), Professor

B.A. Trenton State College
M.Ed., Ed.D. Temple University

Before joining the faculty at West Chester University, Dr. Baloche taught for 13 years in public schools. At West Chester, she typically teaches courses in creativity, integrating the arts, group processes in the classroom, and reflective practice. Her research interests focus on the development of cooperative and creative classroom communities and she has presented her work at a variety of conferences including international events in Cyprus, Italy, Singapore and Japan. She is the author of The Cooperative Classroom, a text published by Prentice Hall, and serves as co-president of the International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education.

Michael J. Bell (2001), Professor

B.A. Arizona State University
M.A. Northern Arizona University
Ph.D. University of Texas

A former classroom teacher of preschool children and elementary students, Dr. Michael J. Bell has been a school district early childhood program director and a state-level administrator of early childhood programs in Arizona.  He believes in the importance of understanding child development, critical thinking in school and the profound power of a play in development, growth, and learning.  Dr. Bell has spoken in many states, as well as many colleges and universities across the United States.  He has presented internationally in Latin America, South America, in the Middle East, in Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, and the Caribbean.  His presentations focus on the best practices in preprimary and primary education while promoting critical thinking and inquiry among young learners.  Dr. Bell serves as a curriculum advisor and author of elementary science textbooks, with a special emphasis on the pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and the primary grades of school.

James B. Blackburn (1998), Instructor

B.S., Shippensburg University
M. Ed. Villanova University

Professor Blackburn brings to his classroom a myriad of experiences accumulated during his 30+ years serving as a classroom teacher, principal, Director of Curriculum and Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Curriculum in three Pennsylvania public school districts. At West Chester University he teaches EGP 220: Theory and Field Experience and supervises student teachers and is chairperson of the College of Education Scholarship Committee. Professor Blackburn is enthusiastic about his West Chester students and credits their humor, energy, vitality and dedication to his personal enjoyment and satisfaction each semester at the University.

Dave F. Brown (1991), Professor

B.S., M. S. Northern Illinois University
Ed.D. University of Tennessee

Dave F. Brown, Ed. D. is an educational researcher and a national consultant providing professional development for educators and teaching courses on young adolescent development, middle school design, urban education, cultural responsiveness, and classroom management. His research has been published in 17 journals and 5 book chapters. Dr. Brown recently completed his fourth book written for the general public titled Why America's Public Schools Are the Best Place for Kids (2012). He is also the co-author of two editions of the book What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know (2007) and the author of Becoming A Successful Urban Teacher (2002). Dr. Brown is a member of the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education and, is on the Editorial Advisory Boards and a reviewer for the Handbooks of Research in Middle Level EducationMiddle Grades Research Journal, and Research In Middle Level Education Online.

Wei Wei Cai (1996), Professor

B.A. Beijing Teachers College
M.A. Bloomsburg University
Ed.D. Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Wei Wei Cai joined the Department of Elementary Education in 1996. She teaches Family and Community Relations and Classroom Management. Dr. Cai advises the Alliance for Minority Preservice Teachers. Her research interests include multicultural education, global education and teaching and learning processes. She is the author of numerous articles on these topics.

Martha A. Drobnak (1992), Professor

B.A. Grove City College
M.Ed. University of Pittsburgh
Ed.D. Nova University

Prior to joining the faculty at West Chester University, Dr. Martha Drobnak taught elementary school for five years and education majors at a college in Western Pennsylvania for ten years. She has taught numerous graduate and undergraduate level courses and has supervised early field courses and student teachers. Her research interests include elementary education curriculum and instruction and social studies education. She has presented her work at a variety of conferences including international events in England, Japan and Korea

Laura E. Fiorenza (1994), Instructor

B.A. West Chester University
M.Ed. West Chester University

Prior to teaching at West Chester University, Professor Fiorenza taught at Delaware County Community College and in elementary schools. She taught elementary school for twenty-three years. She has certifications in Elementary Education and in Elementary and Secondary Counseling. Additionally she worked as a guidance counselor for the Chester County Intermediate Unit.  At West Chester University she has taught Child Development for 16 years, as well as many other courses in the education department. She has supervised student teachers for the last several years. Professor Fiorenza enjoys the enthusiasm of pre-service teachers and feels that teaching is a reciprocal process where the instructor is also the student in the classroom. Her areas of interest include child development with a focus on linking developmental issues with environmental issues as they impact student behaviors in the classroom. Additional areas of interest include examining personality styles in the classroom to influence the planning and preparation of instruction, assessment, and the management of classroom environments. 

Linda G. Hanna (1995), Associate Professor

B.A. Immaculata College
M.A. Villanova University
Ed.D. Immaculata College

Dr. Linda Hanna comes to WCU with extensive experience in: K-8 education, curriculum development and educational administration. Holding certificates in PA K-8, English 7-12, Supervision and Administration, Dr. Hanna served as an elementary teacher and principal for twenty-five years before coming to WCU in 1995. She enjoys her work in field-based courses and student teaching supervision with special research interests in: differentiated instruction, personality types/learning styles, home schooling and classroom management.

Sara Lamb Kistler (2004), Associate Professor

B.S., M.A. West Chester University
Ph.D. University of Delaware

Before joining the West Chester University faculty, Dr. Lamb Kistler taught linguistics and education courses and held a number of administrative positions, mainly at the University of Delaware and Widener University. She began her career as a public school teacher in Delaware. Her teaching and research interests include service learning, diversity in education, student teaching, language teaching and learning, effective instruction and program design for English language learners, and bullying in schools. She is also a member of the Linguistics Program faculty. 

Katherine Norris (2007), Associate Professor

B.S. West Chester University
M.S. St. Joseph's University
Ed.D. Temple University

Before joining the faculty at West Chester University, Dr. Katherine Norris taught for the Philadelphia Public School System for over eighteen years.  In Philadelphia she taught elementary school, gifted support and literacy/language arts across the grades.   Dr. Norris spent time teaching at LaSalle University and she taught Multicultural Children’s Literature at Richard Stockton College in New Jersey.   Her research areas include Multicultural Education, Diverse Families, and Teacher Education.  Dr. Norris has current pulications in Multicultural Education and Teaching Young Children.  Here at West Chester, she is serving as the President of the Frederick Douglass Society and sits on the board of the Frederick Douglass Institute.

Vicky M. Patton (1992), Assistant Professor

B.A. University of Canterbury (New Zealand)
M.A. (Hons.) University of Canterbury (New Zealand)
Ph.D. Temple University

Dr. Patton has been teaching college students since 1986 and joined West Chester University in 1992. She has taught EDE 251 Child Development; EDE 352 Self and Group Processes in the Diverse Classroom; EDE 401 Creativity in the Classroom: and EDE 543 Creative Expression in the Elementary School. She wants her students and teachers to become better thinkers by enhancing their critical and creative thinking skills. Her current research focuses on facilitating self-reflective teaching and supporting creative expression in the classroom. She has recently published two articles that describe using teaching portfolios to scaffold self-study.    

Donna R. Sanderson (2001), Associate Professor

B.S James Madison University
M.Ed. Widener University
Ed.D. University of Pennsylvania

Before joining the faculty at West Chester University, Dr. Donna Sanderson held a variety of teaching and administrative positions in a public school district in Pennsylvania. She has taught undergraduate reading courses for the Department of Literacy at West Chester University and at Arcadia University and Gwynedd-Mercy College. At West Chester Dr. Sanderson teaches many field-based courses and supervises student teachers during their capstone semester. Dr. Sanderson's research focuses the importance of play, working with parents, Professional Development Schools, and developmentally appropriate pre-school programs.  

Jacqueline G. Van Schooneveld (2013), Assistant Professor

B.S.Ed. Bucknell University
M.Ed. Columbia University
Ed.D. University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Van Schooneveld worked for many years in the NYC public school system as a classroom teacher and Dean of Students.  She continued her education at the University of Pennsylvania.  While working towards her doctorate, she participated on three National Science Foundation grants to provide STEM experiences to underserved K-12 students in the Philadelphia region, and improve teacher education in those academic fields.  She continued her research interests in teacher education, professional development, and STEM education.  She joined the West Chester University Department of Early and Middle Grades faculty in Fall 2013. Dr. Van Schooneveld teaches EGP 220: Theory and Field Experiences, and supervises student teachers.