Voices from the Field: Interview with Connie Hall

The Importance of Kindergarten

Connie Hall

Connie Hall is a Kindergarten teacher in Sparks, Nevada and was named the 2023 Nevada State Teacher of the Year, the 2019 Certified Employee of the Year for Washoe County School District and has received two Certificates of Commendation from United States (Nevada) Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, as well as a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a Minor in Common Core State Standards from Concordia University-Portland in Portland, Oregon. In addition to teaching, Hall serves on the school Leadership Team, is the Director of Comprehensive Children’s Activities: Global Coordination & Early Childhood Interest for Messages of Hope International Ministries, serves on the Nevada State Superintendent’s Teacher Advisor Cabinet, is a Nevada Kindergarten Think Tank member, and Washoe County Early Childhood Advisory Council member.

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Voices from the Field: Interview with Toni Whitaker

Supporting Children and Families

Toni Whitaker

Toni Whitaker, MD, is a Professor of Pediatrics and the Division Chief of Developmental Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. She directs the UTHSC Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau and serves as consultant and Ambassador to Tennessee for CDC’s Learn the Signs. Act Early. program.

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Voices from the Field: Interview with Tami Garcia

Children’s Vision Health

Tami Garcia

Tami Garcia has been with Prevent Blindness Wisconsin for more than 20 years and has more than 32 years of experience in the vision and healthcare field. Through her roles as Program Director, President, and Chief Executive Officer at Prevent Blindness Wisconsin, Ms. Garcia has high-level oversight and leadership experience coordinating, managing, and developing vision health programs spanning the state of Wisconsin.

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Voices from the Field: Interview with Kodey Toney

Toney Kodey

Kodey Toney is the director of the Pervasive Parenting Center, an OSEP-funded Community Parent Resource Center in eastern Oklahoma that helps families support their children with disabilities. He is also the aRPy ambassador for Oklahoma. Most importantly he is a father and husband. He and his wife Jennifer have two sons, Konner and Kruz. Kodey has received multiple awards for his advocacy and has helped to train more than 3000 educators on autism behavior in the classroom and disability acceptance. Kodey has a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Rogers State University and a Master’s Degree in Education Administration from East Central University. He is also a graduate of the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking program and William and Mary’s Institute of Special Education Advocacy.

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Voices from the Field: Interview with Jonathan Stricklen

Voices From the Field - Interview with Jonathan Stricklen

Jonathan Stricklen

Jonathan Stricklen

Jonathan Stricklen teaches Spanish at the Ohio State School for the Blind. He holds master’s degrees in Spanish and Special Education and is a certified Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI). Combining his specialized knowledge and skills with his lived experience as a person with visual impairment, an assistive technology user, and a braille reader, Jon is uniquely positioned both to teach and to be a role-model for his students. During the month of May, in recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), OSERS has been highlighting challenges and successes related to digital accessibility. We met with Jon to learn more about his experiences with accessibility as an educator.

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Voices From the Field: Interview with Wendy Grove

Supporting State Systems of Early Childhood

Wendy Grove

Dr. Wendy Grove is the director of the Office of Early Learning and School Readiness at the Ohio Department of Education, where she helps develop and implement policies for preschool special education and early childhood education. Wendy earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology from Gonzaga University, a master’s degree in sociology from Portland State University, and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Akron. Dr. Grove has a wide range of experience teaching experience, from preschool students, to middle school students in special education, to undergraduate and medical students.

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