Curriculum & Instruction Faculty
Mamzelle V.S. Adolphine, Ph.D.
Dr. Mamzelle V. S. Adolphine received her Ph.D. from Capella University in 2008. She is a New York University Honors Scholar and a Returned Peace Corps volunteer who served in Mauritania, West Africa. She has worked both as a teacher and a trainer at the elementary school level. She joined American College of Education's faculty in 2010 as a professor in the department of Curriculum and Instruction. She has served on her community’s board Education committee and now serves as the facilitator for her community’s block association. Additionally, she facilitates ASTDEdge Restructuring Schools group. She enjoys hiking and cycling.
Karen E. Austin, Ed.D.
Dr. Karen E. Austin currently serves as an assistant principal with Chicago Public Schools, and professor at American College of Education. Dr. Austin’s research interests include: the effects of positive behavioral support, and teacher and leadership effectiveness on student achievement. Dr. Austin is most proud of her work focusing on appropriate practices for students with disabilities. In her spare time she enjoys serving the community through her sorority, traveling the world, and spending time with her family. Dr. Austin received her doctorate in Education from Argosy-Chicago, her master's degree from National-Louis University, and her bachelor's degree from Chicago State University.
Sherry Ayala, Ed.D.
Dr. Sherry Ayala has over 16 years of experience in education serving initially in the classroom as a primary teacher, as well as at the middle school level. She has also worked at the district level on various aspects of curriculum and professional development. And now, has transitioned to higher education to assist teachers in building their capacity as educational innovators. Her education consists of a bachelor’s degree in elementary education form Arizona State University; a master’s from Northern Arizona University in educational technology, and returning to Arizona State for her doctorate in educational administration and supervision. She is excited to be part of the ACE faculty team. She looks forward to building professional relationships with colleagues and guiding teachers in their educational journey.
Francoise Bachelder, Ph.D.
Dr. Francoise Bachelder earned her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Purdue University and her Master's degree in French from San Diego State University. She is originally from Montpellier, France where she received a Master's degree in Cultural Anthropology. She taught in California, in Indiana and in Ohio. She is interested in research on Diversity in Multicultural Education. She loves reading in French and in English and writes novels and poetry.
Sarah Becerra, Ph.D.
Dr. Sarah Becerra holds a Ph.D. from Texas Woman’s University, and she is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist. She has taught college-level courses since 2004, primarily online. Areas of teaching interest are research methods, theory, multiculturalism, engagement, assessment, counseling, and human development. In addition to teaching, she works in the clinical mental health field providing consults, assessments, and referrals for clients.
Dianala Bernard, Ed.D.
Dr. Dianala Bernard is qualified to teach graduate courses in Educational Leadership, Educational Technology, Curriculum and Instruction; and undergraduate courses in Education, Business Administration, Business Leadership, Personal Finance, Critical Thinking, Humanities, Cultural Diversity and World Cultures, Management Studies, Organizational Behavior, Time Management and College Readiness. She is an achievement-oriented educator/researcher and financial professional with in-depth knowledge and experience with designing, developing, teaching, and evaluating online and onsite courses. She demonstrates the ability to provide administrative leadership in academic program planning, curriculum and instructional design, educational evaluation, and assessment and analysis. She has extensive experience mentoring and helping students develop writing and critical thinking skills. She is an effective communicator with solid credentials. She is experienced in leading cross-functional teams, and second language and cultural competency skills. Fluent in Spanish.
Ellen Brewer, Ed.D
Dr. Ellen Brewer received her Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education (with a major in English Language Arts and Speech Communication) from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Upon graduation, she entered graduate school and worked at UA as a graduate teaching assistant in the Education and English departments. She completed her master's in Secondary English Education, and then earned certification in educational leadership and library information services from Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama. She earned her doctorate in curriculum and instruction/curriculum development from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Dr. Brewer taught English at many levels, including grades 5-12, college composition and literature courses, and secondary education courses in ELA teaching methodologies. She has worked at numerous schools, including the Dekalb County school system in northeast Alabama, Gadsden State Community College, Snead State Community College, Georgia Highlands College, and Shorter University. She also taught high school English for the last 8 years in Rome, Georgia, but currently works as the literacy coach in grades 9-12. She completed 60 hours of reading training as part of the Alabama Reading Initiative, and was selected in 1992 and 1995 as a teacher-fellow with the National Writing Project. Dr. Brewer currently serves on the JSU Writing Project Advisory Board. She currently lives in Rome, Georgia, with her husband Jamie, her chow/lab mix Bella, and her cat, Gracie. Her hobbies include cooking, singing soprano, and spending time with her family.
Bridgette Davis, Ph.D.
Dr. Bridgette Davis is a native of southern Mississippi and an experienced world traveler. She earned a Ph.D. in Secondary Education with an emphasis in literacy and science. As a former 7th and 8th grade science teacher, Dr. Davis developed a passion for preparing teachers to reach middle and high school students. Her passion is demonstrated by her commitment to high expectations with purposeful literacy integration to meet the needs of culturally diverse students, while at the same time making meaningful instructional connections to real-life applications. Her research interests include adolescent literacy and STEM integration into content areas across the secondary school curriculum, developing low-cost tools to teach science, e-learning, authentic assessments, and classroom climate.
Dennis Debay, Ph.D.
Dr. Dennis Debay is a former high school Mathematics and Computer Science teacher and coming from a family of educators, his central, long-standing beliefs for research and teaching include creating rich learning environments for both teachers and students. He has worked to support teaching in integrating technology into classrooms, supported teachers in implementing reform-based teaching practices, helped urban, underrepresented students use technology as a tool to help further understanding of social justice and sustainability issues in their neighborhoods and has assisted in redesigning courses in the mathematics department at the University of Massachusetts – Boston, The Lynch School of Education at Boston College and Manhattanville College.
Rita Deyoe, Ph.D.
Dr. Deyoe-Chiullán taught at universities and a private bilingual school in Colombia, South America. Then, in the U.S., she taught graduate education courses for teachers and administrators for sixteen years. More recently, she taught bilingual/regular elementary/ middle school, followed by a few years as a bilingual specialist in an alternative teacher certification program. Since retiring from the Texas public schools, she teaches part-time at universities. Her scholarly efforts focus on bilingual/ESL teacher preparation, primarily as chapters in monographs for educators. Recently, she has been editing a peer-reviewed online journal, Texas English Language Teaching (TexELT) for the TexTESOL V Executive Board she serves as Publications Coordinator.
Felicia Durden, Ed.D.
Dr. Felicia Durden is an accomplished Educator with over twelve years’ experience in Education. She holds her Doctorate of Education degree in Educational Leadership, Master's Degree in Curriculum & Instruction and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature. Dr. Durden has taught grades K-12 and currently serves as Assistant Director of Reading and Writing in a large Urban School District in Arizona. She has taught English Composition at the College level as an adjunct instructor for over 5 years. Dr. Durden has a passion for assisting student growth in reading and writing.
Vicki Finn, Ph.D.
Dr. Vicki Finn has been an active participant within the public education arena since graduating with a BS in Education, and entering the classroom in 1997. She earned her Master’s in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington, and then continued her pursuit of educational knowledge by attending the University of Texas at Dallas where she earned her Ph.D. in Public Affairs. During her stint within public education, she has served in general education, special education, campus and central administration. Her areas of research include alternative teacher certification programs, traditional degree programs, and special education.
Luster Fowler, Ph.D.
Dr. Luster Fowler is an experienced and accomplished higher education and healthcare management professional with knowledge of instructional technology, institutional and programmatic accreditation, education research, adult education, and implementation management. Well versed in fiscal management, including P&L and grant related funding. Demonstrated talent for providing leadership and vision in the planning, direction, and administration of successful courses and programs. Proven commitment to developing strategic processes, implementing resource management, and exercising judgment to meet deadlines designed to achieve overarching organizational goals.
Gail Gessert, Ph.D.
Dr. Gail Gessert earned a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Arizona with Major in Learning; Minor emphasizing Neuropsychology and Cognates in Research & Statistics and Computer Applications. Dr. Gessert has taught at various levels throughout her career including elementary school and for universities. She has taught doctoral candidates online for the past decade while building the company EDUindex which promotes relevant curriculum in the classroom. Her research interests, in addition to relevancy in Education, include adolescent risk taking behaviors from the perspective of egocentrism as an underlying philosophical underpinning. She has been a business executive in Marketing and Advertising concurrent to her passion for Education throughout the years as well as owns and operates her Arabian Horse Business in Southern Arizona.
Deborah Gilbert, Ed.D.
Deborah Gilbert was a South Carolina State Department of Education Curriculum Specialist for many years. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in ELA and has developed many workshops and seminars involving professional learning communities, curriculum mapping and unwrapping standards, teacher as leader, program evaluation, and using data to drive school decisions. Dr. Gilbert has taught middle school and high school English and Spanish, college business communications, online leadership, curriculum, and doctoral education courses for several schools. She holds an Ed.D. in Education Leadership from Nova Southeastern, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Technology from the University of Phoenix, and a bachelor's degree in Spanish literature from SUNY Oswego. In addition to serving on the faculty at American College of Education, she is exploring the use of virtual schools for K-12.
Crystal Gomillion, Ph.D.
Dr. Crystall Gomillion earned her Master's and Ph.D. in Science Education at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. She is originally from Omaha, NE where she received her Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Biology. Before teaching in higher education, Dr. Gomillion was a middle school science teacher and is certified in elementary grades and middle school natural science. Dr. Gomillion's research endeavors focus primarily on Multicultural Science Education. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, and doing crafts.
Rebecca Good, Ed.D.
Dr. Becky Good has been a teacher, campus administrator, central office administrator, school superintendent, and graduate-level university professor in both educational administration and bilingual/ESL courses. She has published both journal articles and books on current educational topics, and has an expertise in helping assistant principals become stronger instructional leaders before reaching the principalship. Dr. Good began presenting at national, state, and local conferences in 1994 and has presented over a thousand times on a variety of educational topics. Dr. Good’s current interest is in early childhood education, since she now has a toddler granddaughter who is easily able to operate an iPad.
Lesha Dawn Hickman, Ph.D.
Dr. Lesha Dawn Hickman received a B.S. in Special Education from Tennessee Technological University in 1989. She immediately started teaching school and later completed her Masters of Educational Leadership/Administration from Trevecca Nazarene University in 2001. After a three-year break, she enrolled in an on-line doctoral program and received her Ph.D. in Education from Capella University in 2007. She spent her summers at one the greatest places on earth, Camp Discovery in Gainesboro, Tennessee. She has been the director of this camp for special needs adults and children for over 7 years. Camp Discovery provides recreational activities and joy to people of all ages and all disability types. She currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her wiener dog. In her spare time she enjoys reading, sports, cooking and home improvement. However, the time she most cherishes is spent in her RV on the beach watching the sun set.
Keith Higa, Ph.D.
Dr. Keith Higa worked as a junior high reading teacher and elementary gifted teacher. He holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education, a master's degree in library media, and a Ph.D. in curriculum and social foundations. Dr. Higa's research interests include the oral history of Okinawan women's Post-World War II experiences, the social construction of at-risk students, and teen fathers' educational experiences.
Amy Horn, Ed.D.
Dr. Amy Horn majored in Elementary Education during her undergraduate studies and received her Bachelors of Science in Education degree from Illinois State University. She went on to pursue her Masters of Science in Education degree at Northern Illinois University, majoring in Reading. She returned to NIU and earned her Doctor of Education degree, with a specialization in Curriculum Leadership. Currently, she is the College and Career Readiness Coordinator for Kishwaukee Education Consortium in Malta, Illinois. She gets to work with our staff, our community partners, and our students to ensure that we are preparing them to be responsible citizens and life-long learners upon graduation from high school. Prior to her current position, she taught language arts and reading classes in both public middle schools and community colleges for 12 years. Additionally, for the past seven years she has taught a variety of online courses for different universities and colleges, including courses in the fields of Teacher Education, Educational Leadership, Literacy Education, and Composition. Her students’ success in her courses, as well as in their programs, is always a top priority of hers. She continues to enjoy growing and learning with her students in this exciting and constantly evolving world of online education.
Chih-Hsin Hsu, Ed.D.
Dr. Chih-Hsin Hsu earned her doctorate in Teacher and Bilingual Education from Texas A&M University at Kingsville with academic achievement honors. She has nine years of diverse teaching experience in high school and university settings, and certifications of technology-embedded instruction and teaching effectiveness. Dr. Hsu commits to ESL/ bilingual education and teacher preparation; she has been teaching related courses in both face-to-face and online formats. Her research interests include ESL/bilingual education, teacher education, sociolinguistics, and intercultural communication. As for professional development, Dr. Hsu has presented 13 ESL and bilingual education related studies at local, regional, and national conferences in the past three years. At her leisure time, she plays tennis and enjoys outdoor activities.
Therese Kanai, Ph.D.
Dr. Therese Kanai has been involved in the field of education for over twenty years. Upon graduation from the University of Hawaii in Manoa, she moved to Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and was a substitute teacher. It was then that she decided that working with children was her passion. She attended University of Hawaii-Hilo, earning her secondary teaching certification in mathematics, and then received her master's in Education from Heritage College. She earned a Ph.D. in Education from Walden University. Most recently, she has taken 18 graduate units in communications.
Katrina Landa, Ed.D.
Dr. Katrina Landa is a core faculty member at American College of Education. She taught at the elementary and high school levels, and she also supervised adult education programs in her former school district. Presently, she is an adjunct instructor for her local community college and is a director of their dual enrollment program. She received her master’s in early childhood education and ESOL from the University of Miami, and her doctorate in special education (with a minor in educational leadership) from Florida International University. She loves to read, travel, and spend time with her husband and their daughters, who are 6 years old and 7 months old, respectively.
David Mapp, Jr., Ed.D.
Dr. David Mapp, Jr. has been a social studies instructor in Pinellas County, Florida, for nearly 15 years. Along with K-12 social science certification, Dr. Mapp, colloquially called "Dr. M," holds a doctorate in instructional leadership and is certified in educational leadership. As a 2008 Teacher of the Year Award recipient in the category of Creativity and Innovation, he presents at conferences on technology and PowerPoint use in the classroom. Though Dr. M was born in the U.S., his parents have roots in the Caribbean island of St. Croix. As such, he is also an advocate for ESOL students.
Marsha Moore, Ph.D.
Dr. Marsha Moore, core faculty/MAT and T2T program coordinator, has worked in the field of education for 20 years. She holds an undergraduate degree in early childhood education from Georgia State University, a master’s degree in child development, and a doctorate degree in child development and education from Texas Woman's University. She is passionate about working with teachers. Her research interests include constructivist teacher training/staff development, child guidance, play, and diversity. She has four young children ages 4, 6, 8, and 10. They are a source of insight and enjoyment for both her and her husband. She has grown so much as a teacher and as a human thanks to them. She also enjoys running and Mental Floss magazine.
Ann Mowery, Ed.D.
Dr. Ann Mowery has had 7 years private and public elementary and middle school teaching in Arizona and Oklahoma. Two years elementary principal in Oklahoma – small city, upper socioeconomic. Eight years elementary principal in Texas Interim Middle School Principal - Delaware. Eight years’ experience as curriculum supervisor and director of curriculum and staff development in Oklahoma, and 11 years curriculum supervisor and director of instruction in Delaware.
Joel Munoz, Ed.D.
Dr. Joél Muñoz currently serves as a middle school assistant principal and an online professor. His experiences include teaching Spanish, English as a New Language, and Language Arts from kindergarten to the university level. Dr. Muñoz earned an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Oakland City University, a M.Ed. in Curriculum, Instruction, and Supervision from Indiana Wesleyan University, and a B.A. in Spanish Education with a minor in English from Purdue University. His areas of research are Language Education, Heritage Language Education, Educational Leadership, Brain and Learning, Online Learning, and Curriculum & Instruction. He served as a committee member at the Indiana Department of Education which created the very first Heritage Language State Standards.
Joyce Myers, Ed.D.
Dr. Joyce Myers currently teaches university courses in early childhood and elementary education at several schools. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas with an Ed.D. in Early Childhood Education. Additionally, she studied at Mercer University, Dallas Baptist University, and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She's served as an elementary school principal, as well as a classroom teacher and children's minister. Dr. Myers is the author of an instructor's manual for a textbook in early childhood education. She and her family have lived in countries outside the U.S. for over 10 years.
Sean Nank, Ph.D.
Dr. Sean Nank earned a Ph.D. while studying at the University of California Riverside. He holds a K-12 professional clear single subject mathematics credential. He received the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). He has published two books titled "Testing over Teaching: Mathematics Education in the 21st Century" and "The Making of a Presidential Mathematics and Science Educator." He has worked with the United States Department of Education, National Science Foundation, California Department of Education, and California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. He was appointed to represent the USA at ICME-12 in Korea as the mathematics assessment expert.
Lisa Portugal, Ph.D.
Dr. Lisa Marie Portugal holds a PhD in Leadership for Higher Education, MAEd in Secondary Education, and BFA in Media Arts. She is a Personal and Professional Life Coach, a peer-reviewed author, an online university professor, a PhD dissertation chair, and a Faculty Supervisor to teacher candidates. She instructs undergraduate, graduate, Ed.D. and Ph.D. coursework in the College of Education. She is published in academic journals such as Academic Leadership the Online Journal, Advancing Women in Leadership Online Journal, Distance Learning Administration (OJDLA), and Higher Education Perspectives. She is a Peer Reviewer for the Journal of Instructional Research (JIR). Her expertise includes student engagement and success, Adult Learning Theory, nontraditional and at-risk learners, faculty retention, hiring practices, best practices in online learning, and emerging technology in course design and instruction.
Denita B. Scott, Ed.D.
Dr. Denita B. Scott, Ed.D. has been in the field of education for 23 years. Her current role is the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Coordinator of Dolton School District 149. Prior to working in this capacity, she was an assistant principal for an elementary and middle school, a reading coach, a Title I teacher, a Reading Recovery teacher, and a classroom teacher. Dr. Scott earned three degrees in education: a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree with a concentration in reading from Governors State University in University Park, Illinois, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Roosevelt University in Chicago.
Mary Strong, Ed.D.
Dr. Mary W. Strong received a doctorate from West Virginia University in Curriculum and Instruction (Reading). She holds a M.A. in Reading Supervision from West Virginia University and a B.Ed. from Duquesne University in Elementary Education. Before joining the faculty at the American College of Education, she taught at Iowa State University in the Curriculum and Instruction Department and at Widener University in the Reading Department. She coauthored a book on the topic of literacy coaching and has published over 20 other articles on literacy instruction and leadership in state, national and international journals. She is presently a board member of the Language Experience Special Interest Group in the International Reading Association and has served on the editorial review board of the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. Her previous public school positions include: classroom teaching at the elementary level, reading specialist at the middle school level, and elementary school principal.
Vicki Strunk, Ed.D.
Dr. Vicki Strunk earned her Ed.D. in Leadership Education from Spalding University. Her dissertation was a critical appraisal of the utility of rubrics in collegiate writing courses. She has over 20 years of experience teaching English, ethics, public speaking, sociology, logic, and critical thinking amongst other courses. Her leadership roles have included Writing Assessment Coordinator, Online Liaison, Department Chair, Interim Director, and Academic Dean. Dr. Strunk’s scholarship/publications include the state of educational delivery along with the ethical implications involved in teaching traditional, nontraditional, and ultra-nontraditional students; academicians and machine ethics; and Neo-Platonism within Victorian literature. Her research interests include learning analytics, MOOCs, and data mining.
Patricia Tobin, Ph.D.
Dr. Patricia V. Tobin earned her Ph.D. in Education; specializing in Post-Secondary and Adult Education from Capella University. She also holds a Master’s degree in Art from California State University of Fullerton and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from California State University of Long Beach. Before joining American College of Education she taught in the Arizona public school system both on-ground and online for over ten years. In addition to holding an Arizona teaching certificate in grades 7-12 with a full Sheltered English Immersion endorsement and a K-12 Art endorsement, she has taught teacher education, sociology and fine art courses at the post-secondary level for eight years. Her research interests include career exploration after the doctorate as well as research regarding online learners and student success.
Rosita Tormala-Nita, Ph.D.
Dr. Rosita Tormala-Nita is fascinated by the world of philanthropy and the process of university scientists working together on action research projects for the betterment of society and humanity. In her work as sponsored research staff, she feels privileged to contribute to scientific philanthropy. She began her career in higher education within the interdisciplinary field of international studies and business administration, and years later she transitioned into the field of education. Dr. Tormala-Nita has over ten years of work experience in higher education, most recently in teaching and sponsored research. She is also a visiting scholar on a number of international projects on language politics and expanding access to higher learning for the workforce. She received her Ph.D. from Marquette University, and although she is fascinated by a broad range of research, her primary area of research interest includes access policies, meta-data analysis, and action research to promote achievement for all. In her free time, she enjoys her family travels, a good wine, and running half-marathons.
Carl Valdez, Ph.D.
Dr. Carl Valdez is trained as educator and educational psychologist. He views teaching and learning from a social and cultural perspective. He views motivation, learning, and cognition based on social and cultural interactions. He has 17 years of experience as an educational psychologist. Her focus has been in culturally relevant pedagogy, classroom practices, and bilingual education. Her research interest comes from considering how cultural backgrounds impact culturally diverse populations.
Gordon Vessels, Ed.D.
Dr. Gordon Vessels joined ACE in 2010 and has taught graduate courses since 2005. He has public school teaching experience and was a teaching and research assistant at UGA and ISU. He completed programs in education, sociology, school psychology, and leadership. His dissertation was on nonbiased assessment, and thesis was on creativity. He worked for 20+ years as a school psychologist in mostly urban schools. He authored/directed multi-school U.S. DOE grant projects and created many data collection instruments. He published Character and Community Development in 1998. He has unusual knowledge of social and moral development and building character and community.
Pamela Woods, Ed.D.
Dr. Pamela A. Woods an educator for over fifteen years, teaches college Education courses and has taught traditional K-12, adult education, and 6-12 online school teaching Fine and Commercial Arts, Photography, Marketing, and Business. Dr. Woods attended Wayne State University where she earned her Ed. D. in Curriculum and Instruction with areas of emphasis in Art Education and Career and Technical Education, and a M.A. in Art Education. She also earned Certifications as an Educational Specialist in Art Education, in Infant Mental Health, and Gerontology from the Department of Social Work. She is certified in University Teaching from the Instructional Technology department at WSU. She earned her Masters of Science in Business Administration from Madonna University and her BFA from Michigan State University. Previously, Dr. Woods worked in the newspaper, marketing, and design industry as an artist, creative and marketing director in Detroit. Dr. Woods also writes on educational topics and enjoys oil painting.