New professor will enhance special education training

AUGUSTA, GA – As the needs of students in the schools change over time, schools work to be more responsive to those needs. Dr. Jessica Simpson’s work in education and in training new educators is on the forefront of those changes, enhancing inclusivity and removing barriers to education.

Inspired by her mother, who worked with children and adults with severe disabilities in Oxford, Miss., Simpson initially intended to pursue a career in psychology and assessment. But after her first psychology class, she found it was not for her.

“I needed more room to explore alternate ways to help individuals with disabilities. Teaching is a good outlet for that because there are so may strategies you can use for academic and behavior management,” Simpson said.

Simpson put those strategies to work by teaching in elementary and middle schools, digging in and getting her hands dirty in lively classroom environments where she strived to connect with and to educate each and every student. She went to work for her two-time alma mater, the University of Mississippi, where she obtained her bachelors and masters. While working there, she earned her Ph.D. in education, and began expanding her higher education career.

She was particularly drawn to Augusta University.

“The faculty here made a really big impression on me. As established and popular as this program is, I felt like my dean and the faculty were ready for some changes and it’s exciting to be on the forefront at the university level,” Simpson said.

She also loved that the position, itself, involved teaching and supervising teacher candidates, who she said have chosen “the best profession out there.”

“No other profession exists without educators,” Simpson said. “So I want to produce the best and brightest in this field.”

Classes she’ll be teaching include Planning for Instruction, Planning for Exceptional Students, Collaboration & Consultation, Methods of Instruction for Students with Mild Disabilities and Teaching Students with Disabilities in the Inclusive Classroom. Among her goals are inspiring enthusiasm in her students, training educators for day-one readiness, serving as a resource to new teachers during their first years of teaching, and increasing inclusivity in the classroom for students with learning differences and other challenges.

Simpson comes to Augusta University with a wealth of award-winning work already under her belt, including 2016 Outstanding Doctoral Student in Special Education, 2016 Graduate Student Achievement Award for Teacher Education, 2015 Cutting Edge Graduate Student in Teacher Education and the 2014 Graduate Student Achievement Award for Teacher Education. She has a growing list of articles and conference presentations, and experience teaching at the university level. She is a member of the Council for Exceptional Children, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Phi Delta Kappa, the National Education Association and Lambda Sigma Honor Society. She also holds certifications in crisis prevention and crisis management.

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