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Florida Institute of Education
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  • Dr. Cheryl Fountain, Executive Director, Professor of Education
    Fountain, is a professor of education at the University of North Florida where she also directs the Florida Institute of Education, a statewide research center charged with strengthening the quality of education in Florida through research and collaborative partnerships. A researcher focused on education reform initiatives designed to improve learning outcomes for at-risk children and students, she has been the principal investigator of over 30 major research grants funded by federal, state, and local agencies, and private foundations. She was selected to participate in the Spencer Foundation-funded Workshop on Quasi-Experimental Design and Analysis in Education hosted at Northwestern University.

    Fountain is an active member in the community and works collaboratively with local agencies, state agencies, and community-based efforts to improve educational outcomes for children. She was instrumental in bringing together a citywide collaborative effort to improve school readiness outcomes in Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Early Literacy Partnership. She serves on several state-level work teams and advisory committees focused on improving the quality of school readiness in Florida. She was selected as a Florida Times-Union EVE Award for Education recipient for her outstanding contributions in education. She holds a doctorate from the University of Florida.
  • Terri Cook, Associate Director Business and Program Management
    Cook, Associate Director Business and Program Management, serves as a member of the FIE Business Team. She brings over 17 years of accounting experience to FIE. Cook coordinates the processes required for financial aspects of FIE including review and oversight of the reconciliation of all active FIE accounts and completes accounting duties that are required in the FIE/UNF accounting systems. Cook holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of North Florida.
  • Norman Dickerson Jr, Director, UNF/FIE Pre-Collegiate Connections College Reach-Out Program
    Dickerson has worked in the non-profit sector for the majority of his career working with youth and families until he began his employment here at the Florida Institute of Education. His career goals are to create a welcoming and productive program for youth and families to see and fulfill their potential. Dickerson has completed a variety of trainings focusing on youth asset development, leadership in non-profit management and curriculum design since being employed as the director of the UNF/FIE Pre-Collegiate College Reach-Out Program(CROP). As director of the CROP program his objectives are to create a productive after school program that entails student centered projects that allow collaboration and empowerment to all those that attend. Dickerson holds a master’s degree in Guidance & Family Counseling from Brooklyn College-CUNY.
  • Trisha Hobbie, Program Manager
    Bio Coming Soon
  • Tim Hunter, Database Administrator
    Hunter joined the institute in May 2016. He brings a wealth of IT knowledge and skills to the FIE team. Hunter has more than 17 years experience in IT desktop support and management in higher education. He holds certifications in SAS programming and Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). Hunter is passionate about using coding and analytics to drive decision making and process improvement.  He holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Science and a master's degree in Business Administration from the University of North Florida.
  • Dr. Katherine Kanupp, Assistant Director for Research and Evaluation
    Katherine is passionate about using research and evaluation to inform and improve policies and programs for children. She has extensive experience in the field of education both as a teacher, a researcher, and an evaluation consultant. She grew up in Jacksonville but has lived, worked, or studied in over different 20 countries and around the United States, and her prior work in the field of international education brings unique perspectives on the issues faced by the education and early childhood sectors here in Florida. She got her B.A. in political science and international studies from New College of Florida, and her M.S. in educational policy and evaluation and Ph.D. in the foundations of education from Florida State University.
  • Dr. Bronwyn McLemore, Research and Curriculum Associate
    McLemore has a varied history of experiences working with young children and their teachers. She taught for eleven years in kindergarten and first grade, and has been a literacy coach for 14 years in a variety of settings: Coaching in preschool through first grade classrooms, working as a school-based instructional coach in an urban elementary school, and acting as the Senior Coach for the Early Literacy and Learning Model (ELLM). She is a co-developer of the curriculum and instructional materials used in ELLM and ELLM/Plus. She works collaboratively with FIE partners to improve early education. In the past three years Dr. McLemore has turned her focus to using technology tools to enhance literacy instruction.
  • Dr. Heather Monroe, Faculty Administrator, Associate Director for Program Development and Administration
    Monroe, Associate Director for Program Development and Administration at the Florida Institute of Education at the University of North Florida (FIE), brings a combination of technology leadership, urban classroom experience, and applied research skills to the FIE professional staff. Current projects include collaborating with community partners focused on improving academic and social outcomes for at-risk students and their families. She has teamed with FIE partners and staff in the development, field-testing, and implementation of professional learning initiatives for early childhood educators to improve instructional practice using technology tools such as the iPad to improve literacy practice. Monroe has co-authored papers and presented internationally on the use of concept mapping and technology implementation in the school readiness sector and PreK-12 educational settings. She maintains the FIE BlackBoard LMS and FIE VoiceThread organization used with in-service teachers. Heather is a certificated Adobe Connect manager and DCPS CAST evaluator. Additionally, she is certified in the CLASS Observation System in PreK-Grade 3. Her research interests include opportunities to develop and implement innovative instructional technology strategies for use in both classroom and professional learning environments supporting educational reform efforts to close the achievement gap. Heather, a former elementary teacher and instructional coach, has provided training, coaching, and mentoring to teachers throughout her school district. She has given presentations at the national, state and regional levels regarding improving instructional practices in urban school settings. Monroe holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of North Florida, Florida Professional Educator Certificates in PreKindergarten Primary Education and K12 Educational Leadership. She was recently awarded the NCGE Journal of Geography Award for Concept Mapping Strategies: Content, Tools, and Assessment for Best Secondary Teaching Article 2013. Monroe holds a Doctorate from the University of North Florida.
  • Dr. Asai Asaithambi, FIE Faculty Fellow, Professor and Graduate Director, School of Computing, College of Computing, Engineering & Construction
    Bio Coming Soon
  • Dr. Debbie Carlson, FIE Research and Curriculum Associate
    Carlson brings educational leadership and professional development expertise to the Florida Institute of Education team. For 26 years she served military families in the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDEA) as a school Principal (grades Pre-K through 12), and staff developer in the Far East. For six years she directed a team of staff developers, working in 50 schools (DoDEA), to implement a system-wide series of graduate courses, through San Diego University, in Classroom Observations, Expectations, Analyzing Teaching, and Classroom Management. At the University of Tennessee she taught undergraduate courses in elementary education, supervised field placements for student teachers, and was the Co-PI on a two year U.S. Department of Education grant to evaluate Tennessee’s Career Ladder Program. She has served on district and national level task forces to include the 21st Century Teaching and Learning task force and DoDEA’s Community Strategic Plan. She has authored/co-authored in refereed journals in the areas of action research, music education, and most recently robotics and programming for preschool aged children. She holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
  • Dr. Katherine Kasten, FIE Senior Faculty and Research Fellow, Professor of Educational Leadership
    Kasten brings a strong interest in educational policy to her work with the Florida Institute of Education. Employed at UNF since 1988, she served as dean of  the College of Education and Human Services at UNF from 1995 to August 2004. She has served as principal investigator or consultant on several urban initiatives, including the college’s urban professional development schools, a multi-year project to support under-prepared beginning teachers in urban schools; and the Jacksonville Urban Systemic Initiative, a six-year project funded through a grant to Duval County Public Schools from the National Science Foundation. She has authored/coauthored several articles and book chapters in the areas of educational leadership and teacher preparation and two books of case studies in educational leadership. She holds a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Dr. Emily Montford, FIE Research and Curriculum Associate
    Montford has been working in the field of child development for over 20 years in a variety of ways. She has been a preschool teacher and director of a child care center for birth to 5 year olds. She taught undergraduate classes at Tallahassee Community College and Florida State University for 15 years including early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescent development. Her current focus at FIE is on rural education for young children. Montford has degrees in Child Development from Florida State University and a Ph.D. in Family and Child Development from the University of Georgia.
  • Dr. Mindy McLendon, FIE Research and Curriculum Associate
    McLendon, FIE Research and Curriculum Associate brings a variety of teaching and leadership experiences to the FIE professional staff.  She has extensive knowledge in the Field of Education as a teacher, literacy coach, and Principal.  McLendon, a native of Jacksonville, has worked in various parts of the city including the communities at the beaches and urban areas located near the downtown area.  Working with a variety of age groups, she has taught from preschool age to upper elementary grades. While serving as a Literacy coach she researched and developed lesson plans of all grade levels in the areas of reading and writing.  As principal of Atlantic Beach Elementary, she led a successful preschool unit with both VPK and Pre-K3 classrooms. She has successfully led two schools in the process of becoming a Leader in Me school and achieved Lighthouse Model School status while serving as principal at Hendricks Avenue Elementary. McLendon holds a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and a master's degree in educational leadership with the University of North Florida. 
  • Dr. Jan Morse, FIE Research and Curriculum Associate
    Bio Coming Soon
  • Dr. Matthew Ohlson, FIE Faculty Fellow
    Matthew A. Ohlson is the Director of the Taylor Leadership Institute and Associate Professor of Leadership at the University of North Florida. A former teacher and administrator in the Boston Public Schools and the Florida Virtual School, Dr. Ohlson earned his Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from the University of Florida and has served as a Leadership Coach to 7 Olympians, 10 professional athletes and more than 400 educational leaders throughout the nation. Dr. Ohlson’s research and community engagement work has been focused on collaborating with rural schools, athletic teams, nonprofits and businesses to increase recruitment, retention and achievement using leadership development as a catalyst for increased outcomes. For his efforts, Dr. Ohlson has received more than 20 external grants and has been awarded the Florida College Access Network (FCAN) Innovator Award, NPR American Graduate Champion, National Jefferson Award for Public Service and the Work of Heart Award from United Way. Dr. Ohlson also serves as the Leadership Advisor to UNF Athletics, Flagler County Schools & Youth Leadership Advisor to Sawgrass Country Club.
  • Dr. Karen Patterson, FIE Faculty Fellow, Dean and Associate Vice President, Academic Affairs Administration, Academic Affairs Division
    Dr. Patterson oversees  UNF’s  Hicks Honors College, first year academic advising, student academic success services, and undergraduate research. Additionally, the Office of Undergraduate Studies offers support for experiential learning and study abroad through the Transformational Learning Opportunities ( TLO ) program. She received her Ph.D. in Special Education from Kent State University. Her professional experiences have included teaching students with emotional and behavior disorders, and autism. Her research has a focus on improving practices for underserved students, college students with disabilities, collaborative partnerships, and parental involvement for students at risk for failure. Dr. Patterson co-sponsored  UNF’s student chapter of the special education national organization, Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), and is an Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award recipient. She served as Department Chair (Exceptional, Deaf, & Interpreter Education) from 2010-2016.
  • Dr. Richard Patterson, Research Associate, Chair/Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, Graduate Program Director and Advising Coordinator, Mathematics & Statistics, College of Arts & Sciences
    Bio Coming Soon
  • Dr. Janice Seabrooks-Blackmore, FIE Faculty Fellow, Professor and Executive Director, Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities, University of Central Florida
    Bio Coming Soon
  • Dr. Terri Stahlman, FIE Research and Curriculum Associate
    Bio Coming Soon
  • Dr. Jeff Will, FIE Faculty Fellow, Professor and Director, Northeast Florida Center of Community Initiatives Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, UNF College of Arts & Sciences
    In 1994 Will, along with Drs. Charles E. Owens and Henry Camp, established the Northeast Florida Center for Community Initiatives to provide research and evaluation support for agencies and communities throughout the region and the nation. Since that time, research faculty working within CCI have been responsible for over $3 million in research contracts and grants, and another $3 million in training programs. These projects have been carried out primarily with local and state non-profit organizations and state and local government agencies. Will's primary areas of research concern poverty, inequality, and public policy. In addition to his work at UNF, Will was on the Board of Directors for the Clara White Mission. He also has previously served on the Advisory Board for the Health Care for the Homeless Clinics in Jacksonville, and worked as a consultant and coordinator for the annual Homeless Census and Survey in Jacksonville from 1994 - 2000, and 2006 to present. Will was also a member of the Leadership Jacksonville Y2K Class.
  • Justin Bergstrom, Graphic Designer/Communications Coordinator
    Bergstrom, Graphic Designer/Communications Coordinator, began working at FIE in August, 2005. He has a strong illustration background lending his artistic talents and creativity to many FIE publications and printed media. Bergstrom holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, graduating with honors from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan.
  • Sydney Chatani, Evaluation Assistant

    Chatani joined the FIE team as an evaluation assistant in May 2023. She brings sociological knowledge to FIE, with specific research interests in family life, childhood, and gender. She is also experienced in conducting applied sociological research. During her undergraduate years, she was heavily involved in research activities – she presented her qualitative study on young widows/widowers raising children multiple times, most notably at the annual American Sociological Association conference in 2022. She was nominated as UNF’s October 2022 Undergraduate Researcher of the Month, as well as awarded Outstanding Sociology Graduate by faculty for the 2022-2023 academic year. Additionally, she has worked on multiple applied research projects during her time working at the Northeast Florida Center for Community Initiatives. Outside of sociological research and expertise, she has also gained classroom experience through volunteering and substitute teaching in K-3 classrooms. She graduated from the University of North Florida in December 2022 with a B.A in sociology and a minor in leadership. She plans to pursue her Ph.D. in sociology beginning in the fall of 2024.

  • Alice DeLeon, Graphic Designer/Communications Coordinator
    DeLeon, Graphic Designer/Communications Coordinator, began working at FIE in July, 2006. DeLeon creates and designs many publication layouts for FIE programs. She is bilingual in English and Spanish, enhancing projects that are conducted in areas of Florida with a high Spanish speaking population, helping to facilitate and translate FIE products into Spanish. DeLeon also maintains the FIE, and State Head Start Collaboration Office websites. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a major in Computer Art and Design and a minor in Photography from Jacksonville University.
  • Asseel Al Amair, Financial Grants Specialist
    Asseel Al Amair, a dynamic player within FIE, entered the team in April 2024, bringing with him 13 years of experience in international development organizations funded by USAID abroad and seven years of administrative and grant management within the USA. Fluent in both Arabic and English, He serves as a financial grants specialist, Carry out office procedures and administrative tasks to ensure the fulfillment of grant and project requirements. He carry out with student assistants to meet project deadlines and maintains educational inventories. Additionally, He handles payment processing and fiscal activities, such as invoicing and preparing expense reports.
  • Howaida Mousa, Senior Grants Specialist
    Mousa, Senior Grants Specialist, serves as the initial contact for the Early Literacy and Learning Model/Plus including sales, inventory, and training coordination.  She also assists with Institutional Review Board (IRB) activities maintaining IRB files and ensuring records are kept current and project deadlines are met. She supports FIE staff, coordinating travel and reimbursements, ordering and inventorying books and materials, scheduling meetings and managing logistics, and assisting FIE in the smooth operations of daily activities. Mousa also provides support to FIE project directors assisting with project coordination and implementation.
  • Barbara Thomas, Business Specialist

    Thomas has worked in education and the non-profit sector for over 20 years, including four years at the Florida Department of Education. In her role as Business Specialist, she supports the FIE Business Team’s financial operations.

  • Gail Whittemore-Smith, Program Liaison
    Bio Coming Soon

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Mailing Address

Florida Institute of Education
University of North Florida
12000 Alumni Drive
Jacksonville, Florida 32224

Phone: (904) 620-2496

Fax: (904) 620-2454

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