KPatterson profile    How did you end up at UNF? 

    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 2003. 


What do you think is the most important trait of a successful student? 

    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 excuses. 


How do you involve students in your own projects?

    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 the chapter. 


Having been through Graduate School, what advice can you give a budding academic?   

    First, 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.  


What is your favorite class or topic to teach? 

    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. 


What have you published recently? 

    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. 


Describe your involvement with a specific student club or organization. 

    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.  


What do you do when you need a break from students and research? 

    I go home to Jamaica and my parents. The pace is considerably slower so I can be still and reflect on life, family, and friends.  


If you had not become an academic, what would you have done?

    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. 


 From where did you receive your degrees?    

    Kent State Unversity 


View More Profiles