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The Rosa DealSchool of Arts

Education Faculty

Dr. Samantha M. Alperin (Chair), Professor, is the Director of Teacher Education in the Department of Education. Originally from New York, she and her family moved to Atlanta, GA, when she was a teenager. After completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, she pursued a master's and doctorate at the University of Memphis in Curriculum and Instruction. Although she's a huge Bucs fan, she says, "My blood still runs orange and white on game day - Go Vols!" Her main interests are special education, reading and language arts, and 'teaching without the text'! She has been married to her husband for 22 years; they have two amazing children. Dr. Alperin believes, as Nelson Mandela once stated, that "education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world."

Dr. Wendy Ashcroft, Associate Professor, teaches graduate and undergraduate education courses and supervises student teaching experiences for developing teachers. Dr. Ashcroft has more than 30 years of experience in the public school system: 11 as a teacher for students with varying disabilities, and 21 as a special education administrator. She has been an active leader in the International Council for Exceptional Children, the Tennessee Council for Exceptional Children, and The ARC. While serving in the public schools, Dr. Ashcroft became widely known for her 10 years of leadership of Project REACH, a Shelby County Schools program that provided support and training for school personnel and parents interested in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Upon coming to CBU, she remained a consultant for Project REACH and devoted time to developing partnerships between Christian Brothers University and Shelby County Schools, including the development of the special education licensure program at CBU. Dr. Ashcroft is a doctoral level Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BACB-D). She designs and supervises behavior analytic assessments and interventions. In addition, she teaches others to carry out ethical and effective interventions based on published research and provides follow up supervision. She has made hundreds of presentations at local and state conferences and presents regularly at the International Convention of the Council for Exceptional Children. She has also presented at the National Convention of the American Association of Speech-Language-Hearing Association and teaches the Autism course for the University of Memphis School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Dr. Ashcroft has published the books Success Strategies for Teaching Children with Autism (Prufrock Press, Inc., 2010) and Social Skills Games and Activities for Teaching Kids with Autism (Prufrock Press, Inc. 2013). In addition to her books, she now has four publications with National Professional Resources, Inc. and is working on the fifth. These publications are teacher-friendly laminated guides: Autism: Strategies A – Z  - Elementary (2009); Autism: Strategies A – Z  for Middle Schools (2012); Autism: Classroom Success with ABA (2014); Autism and the Common Core Strategies (2014); and Social Skills for Exceptional Learners (2015).

Colleen Boyette, Director of the LANCE/LEaPs programs, grew up in Memphis, TN where she attended CBU as an undergrad, earning her Bachelor of Arts in Human Development. She went on to serve in the Lasallian Volunteer Program, where she was placed in Freeport, NY on Long Island. There she had the opportunity to teach 5th-8th grade boys coming from low-socioeconomic backgrounds. After her time as a volunteer, she earned her Master’s in Educational Administration at the University of Notre Dame, before moving back home to Memphis. Since Ms. Boyette’s move back home, she has continued to work with middle schoolers and has taught both in Jubilee schools and Diocesan schools. Ms. Boyette is excited for the opportunity to serve as the Director of LANCE/LEaPs, and is looking forward to helping the teachers in the program grow spiritually and professionally as well as helping them meet the needs of their students.

Dr. Cort Casey, Associate Professor, joined the education department in January 2012. He completed his Ed.D. at the University of Memphis in 2010. Prior to coming to CBU, Dr. Casey taught English and history at the high school and middle school level in Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee. He also has adjunct experience at four other universities. His research interests include English and social studies education and implementing character education into the classroom. 

Dr. Ric Potts, Associate Professor, spent 33 years with the Memphis City Schools as an elementary and high school teacher, curriculum director, principal, and Zone Director (area superintendent) supervising 62 schools. While at MCS he was also project director and chief investigator of the $25 million Striving Readers grant – developing and investigating middle school reading strategies. While principal at Idlewild Elementary, his school was recognized as the first Tennessee school to be awarded the International Reading Association’s Exemplary Reading Program. He is past president of the Tennessee Reading Association and currently in his sixth year as Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Education and Director of the Educational Leadership Program after being an adjunct professor for 22 years at Christian Brothers University. He has served on committees for the National Council of Teachers of English, the International Reading Association, and currently serves on several Tennessee Higher Education Committees as well as other state and local advisory councils and boards. In 2012, he co-authored a book, Impressions from the Middle: Content Literacy Strategies for Improving Student Achievement.

Brother Michael Schmelzer, FSC, Assistant Professor, earned his B.A. in English at Christian Brothers College (now Christian Brothers University) in Memphis; his M.A.T. in English/ Communication Arts from Saint Mary’s College (now Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota) in Winona, MN; and his Ph.D. in Education/ Language, Literacy, and Culture (with specialization in English Education) in the School of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University in Columbus. Brother Michael, prior to his doctoral studies, spent 28 years as a high school English and religion teacher in Brothers’ schools in Jefferson City, Missouri; Saint Louis, Missouri; and Cincinnati, Ohio. On the CBU Education faculty since 2006, he teaches the following graduate courses on middle and secondary school curriculum, instruction, and assessment: Literacy across the Curriculum; Curriculum and Assessment in Secondary Schools; Teaching English/Language Arts, 6-12; Middle School Strategies; Differentiated Instruction, 6-12; and Young Adult Literature. A socioculturalist in orientation as well as teaching style, Brother Michael values seminar-style organization to spotlight student thinking, various forms of performance assessment to showcase student understanding, and an over-arching literacy perspective to emphasize that all teachers, regardless of subject matter, are literacy teachers first. Brother Michael is a former director of the Living Learning Center and coordinator of Freshman Experience LLC. He is a member of the De La Salle Christian Brothers Community here on campus, residing at Lambert Hall.

Dr. Lavern Terrell, Associate Professor, earned a Bachelor of Music with an emphasis in education from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama; a Master of Arts in education with an emphasis in human development and learning/counseling from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia and a Doctor of Education with an emphasis in educational leadership from East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee. Dr. Terrell has lived in various regions of the country and has taught a variety of students including: “Air Force kids” in upstate New York, first generation college students in Appalachia, and at a historically black college/university in west Tennessee, and poor urban students in Atlanta, Georgia, and Memphis, Tennessee. Her experiences with a variety of students have given her insights into diversity and multicultural education which she is able to share with her students here at CBU. Dr. Terrell teaches courses in diversity and multicultural education and research in the graduate program in the Department of Education.   

Nancy Wilder, Assistant Professor, has worked for an area Charter School, the legacy Shelby County Schools, and the legacy Memphis City Schools as a resource teacher and professional development coordinator at both the elementary and middle school levels. She served as a New Teacher Mentor for special education students in the Memphis City Schools. She worked as an Instructor at The University of Memphis in general and special education teaching methods courses to undergraduate and graduate education majors. Ms. Wilder received National Board Certification as an Exceptional Needs Specialist while working for the legacy Memphis City School system.