EDSP Alumni Profiles
Special Education Program
Arden E. Sotomayor (Ph.D., 2012) is the Director of Special Education for the Charles County Public Schools system in Maryland. She has served in this capacity since 2007. As Director, Dr. Sotomayor is responsible for the instruction of 2,400 students with disabilities from kindergarten though high school. In addition, she provides professional development and support for approximately 400 special education teachers, paraprofessionals, and related services providers. In 2011, she was selected to serve as one of eight advisors to the Maryland State Assistant Superintendent of Special Education/Early Intervention Services. Her role as an advisor to the Assistant State Superintendent is to provide information and feedback from the local educational agency level in order to inform instructional and compliance decisions made by the state.
Graham M. Lear (M. Ed., 2009) transitioned from the U.S. Navy and received his Master's degree and teacher certification in 2009. He has worked as a Special Educator, an English teacher, and a Technology Education Teacher and in all of these roles has used “…what I learned at the University of Maryland to spark my students' innate curiosity and develop their critical thinking skills. Whether working with struggling or advanced learners, motivated or reluctant students, the strategies and techniques I learned at UMD have allowed me to engage all of the learning styles in my classroom and challenge each student.” Graham is currently pursuing his administrator’s certificate and hopes to further build an inclusive community of learners as an instructional leader.
Michael Wilson (Ph.D., 2008). Dr. Wilson currently is Director of the Teachers College School to Prison Pipeline Project and Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University. Through his research he seeks to understand how schools facilitate disability, school failure, exclusion, delinquency, and involvement in the criminal justice system.
Michael’s research focused on the organization of education services in public and alternative settings for students labeled at-risk, students with high-incidence disabilities, and students involved in the juvenile justice system. He is a former secondary school teacher of students labeled with emotional and behavioral disorders and he entered the doctoral program in special education at UMD seeking to deepen his understanding of disability and the link between disability and school failure. According to Michael, “The program in special education provided the opportunity to work closely with experienced faculty members in courses exploring issues of policy, organizational structure, and rigorous methodological course work. What is special about the special education program at Maryland is the faculty. They understand that the development of scholar-researchers and each member of the faculty goes out of their way to support [the development of a student].”