I first visited UNF campus in 1999 when
my husband, Richard Patterson, interviewed for a faculty position in the
department of mathematics and statistics. During that visit, I met some amazing
faculty in special education and became very interested in the department. I
was still a doctoral student at Kent State University with I-year old twin
girls when we moved to Jacksonville. As if that were not enough, I became an
adjunct and a visiting instructor before becoming an assistant professor in
I am sure we find common
characteristics in people who are successful but I don’t think it is about
having a single important trait. Successful outcomes are more likely for
students who work hard, take responsibility for their actions and avoid making
I involve students meaningfully in my
projects to they can be credited for their hard work and contribution. I
believe our students are influenced by how much responsibility and support we
provide in addition to mentorship into higher education. I involve students in
projects that they will eventually have to do on their own if they choose to
continue graduate work. For example, I recently completed a chapter on
professionalism for preservice teachers for a text in special education with my
graduate student. She brought multiple ideas and perspectives that were
interesting and her research proved valuable to the overall project. Her
involvement certainly made a significant difference and I know it was a great
learning experience for her as well. She is also credited as first author on
been through Graduate School, what advice can you give a budding academic?
be sure a life in academia is what you really want. Do you love learning new
things and are you willing to invest the time necessary to do so? Do you actually
enjoy writing research papers? Are you self-motivated? It is important to be
comfortable in an environment concerned with research and scholarship without
the need for constant reassurances from others. Beyond all of that, the ability
to set goals, work hard at achieving them and remain focused, are significant considerations
for achieving success.
Classroom management is my favorite
course to teach. In this course, students begin the process of thinking about
their future classrooms and students and what it takes to manage effectively.
They understand that classroom management is not about having obedient
students. Rather, it is about creating an environment where learning can
actually occur for all. They are usually surprised by how much they discover
about themselves and how important and relevant things like affect, demeanor,
dispositions, beliefs, and expectations are to being a successful teacher. They
also have an opportunity to demonstrate how multiple management theories apply
in practice and that is usually an exciting project. However, perhaps the most
important lesson students learn over the semester is an understanding of how
personal and professional behaviors impact the learning environment and how to
work consistently in positive ways to help students learn.
Most recently, I published an article
on Navigating internship in inclusive
settings for preservice teachers (co-authored) and another on Setting-up for success: Building a
successful classroom community through classroom management. Both articles
are in peer-reviewed journals in special education.
I have been involved with the Joey
Travolta/HEAL Autism Film Camp for the last several years.
Opportunities for children and youth
with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to participate in age-appropriate,
community-based activities are typically scarce. To address this issue, we
created a partnership to design and implement a film camp for children with
autism. Film artists, student volunteers, and families with a child with ASD
pooled their commitment and talents, resulting in a short film that the camp
participants, children and youth with ASD and their siblings, designed and
performed. The experience and films are vehicles for educating the general
population about the many career paths that individuals with ASD can pursue in
life. In addition, our UNF students benefit through active engagement and the
mentorship they provide to children over the duration of the camp experience.
I go home to Jamaica and my parents. The
pace is considerably slower so I can be still and reflect on life, family, and
I am fascinated by human behavior,
concepts relating to building relationships, and communication. I have also
been interested in the study, prevention, and treatment of mental disorders in
youths. I believe a career in applied behavior analysis or psychiatry would be
appealing to me.
where did you receive your degrees?
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