Tara Kaczorowski joined the Education Department at Daemen College in Summer 2021. She graduated from University at Buffalo with her Ph.D. in special education and a concentration in instructional technology. Her K-12 teaching experience was as a special education teacher (grades 1-4) in both integrated co-teaching and self-contained settings. Tara teaches college courses related to instructional methods in STEM fields, special education inclusion and collaboration, and graduate research methods. Her primary research areas are in teacher/faculty preparation, instructional technology, video-enhanced reflection, and math/STEM instruction for students with high-incidence disabilities. For the 2021 calendar year, she also serves as the President of the Innovations in Special Education Technology (ISET) division of Council for Exceptional Children.
Office: 204 Thomas Reynolds Center
Elizabeth Wright joined the Daemen College Education Department faculty in 2006. She currently serves as the Associate Dean for the Education Department and formerly served (2006-May 2012) as the Executive Director of the Thomas Reynolds Center for Special Education and After-School Programs. Ms.Wright teaches Special Education Laws and Trends to Education Department graduate students as well as the graduate Special Education Research Seminar. Ms. Wright earned her Juris Doctorate and Master of Social Work from the University of Buffalo in 1997 and her undergraduate degree in Literature and Rhetoric and Political Science (dual major) at SUNY Binghamton, where she graduated summa cum laude and was awarded membership in Phi Beta Kappa. Prior to serving as Executive Director of the Center, Ms. Wright, then a Partner at Goldstein, Ackerhalt & Pletcher, LLP, practiced law in the areas of education law, special education law, and estate planning for families with children who have special needs. She is admitted to practice law in both New York State and Federal District Court. Ms. Wright presents regularly at national and regional conferences regarding the research undertaken at the Thomas Reynolds Center and has led the Department through both NYS (RATE) and national accreditation (TEAC/CAEP).
Office: Duns Scotus 144
Dr. Mark Steven Brown is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education. He holds a Master’s degree in special education from Buffalo State College and a Ph.D., in Special Education from the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Brown has been at Daemen College since 2005 where he has taught both undergraduate courses in early childhood special education as well as graduate courses in special education research, diagnostic reading strategies, teaching students on the autism spectrum and curriculum modifications (i.e., grades 1-6).
Dr. Brown’s research interest is evaluating “best teaching practices” that promotes the inclusion of young children with disabilities in the general education classes. He has also researched how preservice teachers can effectively incorporate multicultural activities into their lessons for students with special needs (i.e., preschool to the high school level).
He is a current member of CEC, The Council for Exceptional Children and ACEI, Association for Childhood Education International. He enjoys teaching the undergraduate and graduate students in the Education Department at Daemen College. He also considers himself to be a “lifelong” learner. He continues to expand his knowledge in the field of early childhood education and special education so he can offer a good classroom learning experience for his students.
Prior to joining Daemen College in 2021, Dr. Jennifer Luzuriagga spent 20 years in the elementary education field. She held various teaching, professional, and leadership positions that supported increasing student reading achievement. Dr. Luzuriagga worked serving on the Leadership Committee and served as a Reading Coach in south Florida. Dr. Luzuriagga earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University, Master’s Degree in Exceptional Student Education and a Doctorate in Reading from the Fischler School of Education at Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Jennifer Luzuriagga’s research interest includes helping struggling readers make significant reading gains.
Office: Duns Scotus 144
Helen McCabe joined Daemen College as an associate professor of education in 2020. In this role, she focuses on special education and early childhood special education. She is passionate about teacher education for students interested in special education at any level, and her primary teaching experience has involved working with students with disabilities up to age 6. Her research focuses on education and support for children with autism and their families both in the U.S. and China. She has conducted research and training for parents and teachers in China for many years, both in person and, more recently, through online platforms. Professor McCabe earned a Ph.D. in special education and international education policy studies at Indiana University, a master’s degree in East Asian studies from Washington University in St. Louis, and a bachelor’s degree in East Asian studies from Middlebury College. She also completed graduate work in Applied Behavior Analysis at Arizona State University and is a BCBA.
Dr. Colleen A. Wilkinson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education. She holds a BSED and MSED in Special Education from Buffalo State College and a PhD in Special Education from the University at Buffalo. She also holds a NYS School Building Administration Certificate. Before coming to Higher Education, Dr. Wilkinson worked as a Special Education Teacher in the Buffalo Public Schools for 11 years, teaching grades Kindergarten through 12th. Her research area of interest is Teacher Preparation Practices, specifically co-teaching/collaboration efforts for children with special needs. Dr. Wilkinson is on the executive board for the NYS Chapter of Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and is an active member of the Teacher Education Division (TED) of CEC.
Brooklyn, New York Faculty
Dr. Avtzon, Educational Director of the Early Childhood Special Education program and edTPA Director for the Brooklyn Daemen/TTI programs, joined Daemen College, in September 2005 as a full time faculty member. Prior to working at Daemen College, Sarah held a variety of Educational Director positions in large Headstart, UPK and preschool Inclusion programs. The focus of her work included curriculum design, staff development for best practices in inclusive settings and quality assurance for intervention implementation. Dr. Avtzon secured numerous UPK grants for a variety of preschools in NYC and USAID grants for educational NGOs in Ukraine and Morocco. In addition, Sarah was a workshop leader and consultant for over 60 general and special education preschools and agencies in NYC, training teachers and therapists in best practices in early childhood special education including developmentally appropriate practices, play-based transdisciplinary intervention methods and strong link between assessment and instruction. Sarah also wrote a sensory-based curriculum to assist teachers in leveraging therapies with sensory-based supports in the classroom setting. She also conducts extensive research on the implication of neuroscience approaches in the classroom setting. Sarah holds a BA in Psychology and Early Childhood Education, a Masters in Elementary Education and Supervision, a Masters and Ed.S in Instructional technology and a Ph.D in Special Education with training certificates in neuropsychology.
Dr. Dreisinger, Assistant Professor of Graduate Education at Daemen’s Brooklyn campus joined the faculty in 2009. Prior to her appointment at Daemen, Miriam worked as a principal, assistant principal, director of CSE offices, in New York City’s public and private schools. She also taught English for the NYC Department of Education and became a literacy coach for three departments: English, Math, and ESL. At Daemen’s graduate program, Dr. Dreisinger specializes in Introduction to Research Methodology strengthening students’ knowledge of this subject until they become proficient in the reading, writing, and creating of pilot programs and research papers. She earned her Ed.D from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Dr. Dina Gongola joined the faculty in 2010. After over a decade of teaching in general and special education K-12 settings, she began coaching and training teachers to help their students overcome their learning barriers. She founded Developmental Educators LLP, an organization that supports parents and schools in understanding children’s neurodevelopmental profiles and creating intervention plans that maximize their learning potential. She continues to work with schools in curriculum development and teacher trainings and recently assumed the role of Curriculum Supervisor for the Special Children’s Center for Education in Lakewood, New Jersey. She earned her PhD in Special Education from Walden University.
Rochel Lazewnik, Ph.D., is a researcher, teacher, and practicing clinician specializing in the language and literacy development of preschoolers. Her research interests include: bilingual assessment and intervention, emergent literacy, and language learning. She teaches online and face-to-face courses and has presented many times at the national, state, and local levels. Dr. Lazewnik is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati since 2013 and joined the Daemen College faculty as full-time assistant professor for the education department in 2014.
Pessy J. Sloan received her PhD in Clinical and School Psychology from Hofstra University. Dr. Sloan is an Associate Professor in the Education Department of Daemen College and has many years of experience as a clinician, school psychologist, and researcher. Dr. Sloan presented her research at international, national and local conferences. She has published a number of articles and her current areas of research are gifted students and women in STEM.