First Cohort Scholars

Bridges First Cohort Scholars
Jennifer Lykins
received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has been teaching for 13 years. Currently, Jennifer works as a K-5 Science Enrichment Teacher at Clermont Elementary School in Lake County. Jennifer hopes to deepen her understanding of the most current evidenced-based practices for meeting the academic and behavioral needs of students with disabilities. Through the Bridges program, she is acquiring relevant knowledge and skills to her current position. As the science enrichment instructor, she works with 100% of her schools population. Her knowledge gained throughout the Bridges program has been applicable to these students, as well as having allowed her to share resources she is learning about with her peers. After graduating from UCF, she plans to increase her effectiveness with identifying and matching student needs with the resources and strategies that will lead them towards success; she hopes to potentially move into a district coaching role in the future. Jennifer encourages others to get involved in Project Bridges because as classrooms become increasingly diverse, it is our responsibility to develop our educational toolbox to match the needs of the students we serve.


Samuel Davis received his undergraduate degree in Communications from the University of Central Florida. He has been working in special education leadership for 14 years. Currently, Samuel works as a behavior specialist at Cypress Park Elementary School in Orange County. Samuel hopes to gain knowledge on in depth research that involves increased student achievements for students with disabilities; he would like to be able to provide resources for schools, teachers and administrators in matters of evaluations, identification, educating and assessing students with disabilities. Through the Bridges program, he is gaining relevant knowledge and skills; he stated that he is taking an Applied Behavior Analysis class, and that just looking at the syllabus has fostered new ideas. After graduating from UCF, he plans to pursue a doctorate in special education, and possibly pursue a leadership role within his current county. Samuel encourages others to get involved in Project Bridges because he has only taken two classes so far and has already been able to absorb plentiful information that will benefit both teachers and students.


Jennifer Anton
received her undergraduate degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina Charlotte. Currently, Jennifer works as an Exceptional Student Education teacher for students receiving support in general education classrooms at Osceola Elementary in Volusia County. Jennifer hopes to become a teacher leader by implementing what she is learning where she currently teaches as well as throughout her career. Through the Bridges program, she is gaining in depth knowledge of the RTI process, and has found evidence based practices that are applicable to her and other classroom teachers. After graduating from UCF, she plans to maintain a position with Volusia County Schools and would like to apply the skills she is learning to be more involved with interventions and would like to experience more collaboration among her colleagues. Jennifer encourages others to get involved in Project Bridges because she believes the opportunity to learn from distinguished educators and researchers is amazing. She stated that they are learning the most current research in teaching students with disabilities, and evidenced-based practices so they can do what is proven to work.


Pam Augello
received her undergraduate degree in Specific Learning Disabilities/ Social Science from Florida Southern College. She has been teaching for 25 years. Currently, Pam works as an ESE instructor at Lockhart Elementary School in Orange County. Pam hopes to become a more effective ESE teacher by learning and applying evidence-based practices in her small groups. Through the Bridges program, she is obtaining knowledge and skills that are relevant to her current position, as what she has learned has directly aligned with her current position as an ESE teacher. After graduating from UCF, she plans to continue working in her current position and possibly becoming an intervention specialist. Pam encourages others to get involved in Project Bridges because they will gain knowledge of evidence-based strategies that can be used effectively in any classroom.


Katherine Banks received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Manchester University. She has been teaching for 8 years. Currently, Katherine works as an ESE coordinator at Horizons Elementary School in Polk County. Katherine hopes to enhance her knowledge about ESE and interventions for MTSS. Through the Bridges program, she is obtaining knowledge and skills that are relevant to the vast array of exceptional students she works with and the MTSS position she holds. After graduating from UCF, she plans to continue working in her current position and possibly advancing within her district. Katherine encourages others to get involved in Project Bridges because it will enhance the implementation of individual education plans.

 


Jennifer Blair earned a BA in Psychology and MA in Exceptional Education with a focus on Autism Spectrum Disorders from the University of Central Florida. She is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Jennifer has been teaching in various settings for 11 years. Currently, Jennifer works as Director of Behavior Services at UCP of Central Florida in Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties. Jennifer hopes to gain knowledge about MTSS processes and resources to support teachers and administrators. Through the Bridges program, she is gaining skills to support teachers and administrators through the MTSS process. After graduating from UCF, she plans to continue her education and earn her doctorate in exceptional education. Jennifer encourages others to get involved in Project Bridges because MTSS can be a confusing process and the Bridges program opens your eyes.

 


Elizabeth DeClerk received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Arkansas State University. She has been teaching for 15 years. Currently, Elizabeth works as a Varying Exceptionalities Inclusion Teacher at Stanton-Weirsdale Elementary in Marion County. Elizabeth hopes to learn intervention strategies which will help students improve their reading and math skills. She also wants to learn the best ways to assess the needs of individual students and equip herself with the knowledge and skills necessary to better serve students and teachers and assist administrators as they make decisions that affect ESE students. Through the Bridges program, she has been able to share PowerPoint projects with her school to help teachers increase their knowledge of MTSS. She has learned new strategies and practices that have made a difference for the students she teaches. After graduating from UCF, she hopes to continue to be a leader in the ESE department at her school and an advocate for her students. Elizabeth encourages others to get involved in Project Bridges because the classes are very interesting and engaging, and the knowledge you gain can immediately make a difference in the lives of your students.

 

Sara Faro received her undergraduate degree in Exceptional Student Education from the University of Central Florida. She has been teaching for 5 years. Currently, Sara works as a sixth grade instructor and ESE coordinator at Brevard Virtual School in Brevard County. Sara hopes to become more knowledgeable about the MTSS process and intervention resources so that she may better guide her teachers and students when working through individual cases. With this knowledge she hopes to better aid her students in closing learning gaps at a faster rate so they may achieve to their highest potential and succeed throughout their academic careers. Through the Bridges program, she is obtaining knowledge and skills that are aiding and assisting her work and her school as she is able to implement this knowledge every day when supporting teachers and students through the MTSS and ESE processes. After graduating from UCF, she plans to remain teaching at Brevard Virtual, however she hopes to eventually become a staffing specialist or college professor. Sara encourages others to get involved in Project Bridges because it is a fantastic opportunity to grow and learn in the world or education with help and support to peers and professors that breathe our area of expertise every day. She stated that the support from Project Bridges is overwhelmingly positive and motivational and any teacher would be lucky and fortunate to gain the knowledge that it has to be shared. 


Jennifer Gilbride received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and Exceptional Student Education from Notre Dame College in Manchester, New Hampshire. She has been teaching for 15 years.  Currently, Jennifer works as a fifth grade inclusion teacher at Minneola Elementary Charter School in Lake County. Jennifer hopes to become more knowledgeable about intervention resources so that she may better help the teachers as well as the students at her school. Through the Bridges program, she is gaining knowledge and skills that are aiding and assisting her in her daily work. These skills will benefit her school and colleagues as she is able to implement this knowledge every day when supporting teachers and students. After graduating from UCF, she plans to remain teaching at Minneola Elementary Charter. Jennifer encourages others to get involved in Project Bridges because the project is wonderful; the advisors are great and welcoming. You gain amazing information and come away with so much knowledge.

 


Claudine Henderson
received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Stetson University. She has been teaching for 15 years. Currently, Claudine works as an academic coach at Orange City Elementary in Volusia County. Through the Bridges program, she is learning new and effective methods to help students who are struggling academically. After graduating from UCF, she hopes to use the knowledge she acquires through this program to work at the district level to change the RTI process and provide students the necessary supports to be successful. Claudine encourages others to get involved in Project Bridges because it provides you with the opportunity to be involved with professionals from your field that bring rich conversations and experiences to every class; you are given relevant resources that will lead to positive change in the lives of students.



Carissa Kase
received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from the University of Central Florida. She has been teaching for 5 years. Currently, Carissa works as a 4th grade Reading Inclusion Instructor at Astatula Elementary in Lake County. 
Carissa hopes to become a true teacher leader in her area of special education. Through the Bridges program, she is acquiring knowledge and skills to translate what she learns directly into her classroom and help others on campus. After graduating from UCF, she hopes to move into a special education role where she can see more ESE students throughout the day. Carissa encourages others to get involved in Project Bridges because it is a great opportunity and is full of people who are supportive.

 


Matthew Kostecky
received his undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Kutztown University. He has been teaching for 6 years. Currently, Matthew works as a self-contained ESE instructor at Mainland High School in Volusia County. Matthew hopes to gain knowledge on behavior strategies, accommodations for general education teachers, and data tracking and use for transition. Through the Bridges program, he is gaining knowledge and skills for RTI; as his school is an RTI school most of these strategies are being implemented. After graduating from UCF, he plans to continue his education and eventually become a transition specialist. Matthew encourages others to get involved in Project Bridges because it is a great program and really pushes you to be great.





Cherie Meshulam
received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from the University of Central Florida. She has been teaching for 11 years. Currently, Cherie works as a third grade general education instructor at Lockhart Elementary School in Orange County. Cherie hopes to become more of a resource for diagnosing intervention needs as well as in providing interventions to students. Through the Bridges program, she is gaining the skills needed to address problems that often first start in the general education classroom. After graduating from UCF, she plans to continue working with and for children. Cherie encourages others to get involved with Project Bridges because the project will increase your knowledge of RTI/MTSS, your skills in providing interventions, and your ability to help all students to show growth.



Liz Tucker
received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Saint Leo University. She has been teaching for 3 years. Currently, Liz works as a 6th grade English/Language Arts Instructor for children of varying exceptionalities at Tavares Middle School in Lake County. While in the Bridges program, she hopes to learn more interventions and accommodations for secondary level students. This program has given Liz the ability to apply the information discussed in her classroom and share with others at her school. After graduating from UCF, she hopes to move to the district level to train other educators on Response to Intervention and Multi-Tiered System of Supports. Liz  encourages others to get involved in Project Bridges because it is a great learning opportunity, and will push you to want to make your school better.



Kristine Rundall
received her undergraduate degree in Exceptional Education from the University of Central Florida. She has been teaching for 15 years. Currently, Kristine works as a support facilitator at Cypress Creek in Volusia County. Kristine hopes to further her knowledge using current research to implement interventions and learning strategies. Through the Bridges program, she is obtaining knowledge and skills that are relevant to her teaching pedagogy and will allow her more expertise to offer her colleagues. After graduating from UCF, she plans to further her education and pursue a doctoral degree in Education. Kristine encourages others to get involved in Project Bridges because it is a wonderful professional development opportunity in learning current research practices, behavior practices, and continuing effort and beliefs in education. 


Michelle Ohman received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Saint Leo University. She has been teaching for 8 years. Currently, Michelle works as a Support Facilitator for exceptional students at Lake Weir Middle School in Marion County. While in the Bridges program, she hopes to expand her knowledge and toolbox to help students and teachers be more successful. This program has given Michelle the knowledge and tools to do what she is already doing, but do it better. After graduating from UCF, she hopes to continue teaching special education. Michelle encourages others to get involved in Project Bridges because the more people who are adequately trained to help special education populations, the better! 







Lisa Salazar received her undergraduate degree in Speech Communication (Public and Cultural) from the University of South Florida.  She has been teaching for 11 years and is currently a support facilitation teacher for grades K-5.  Through the Bridges program, Lisa wants to acquire the knowledge that will enable her to increase successful learning experiences for students with disabilities.  She hopes to be able to offer more effective resources for teachers of students with disabilities. After graduating from UCF, she wants to obtain a doctorate in special education and eventually acquire a leadership role in her district.  Lisa inspires others to get involved in Project Bridges because the knowledge that is gained through the program can have a positive impact on the lives of our students.





Keri Nass
received her undergraduate degree in Exceptional Student Education from Daytona State College. She has been teaching for 3 years. Currently, Keri works as a self-contained EBD teacher for 9-12th
 grade students at Mainland High School in Volusia County. Keri hopes to gain further knowledge and strategies to help struggling and at-risk students achieve success in the classroom. Through the Bridges program, she is gaining the skills needed to address problems that often first start in the general education classroom. After graduating from UCF, she plans to become an academic coach or intervention specialist and to further her education by obtaining her doctorate. Keri encourages others to get involved in Project Bridges because the knowledge gained through the program is immeasurable! Project Bridges is a family where we all collaborate, share and support each other to gain further knowledge through our experiences and expertise in the fields of education.

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