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State Ambassadors

Dr. Kathleen M. Farrand, Arizona DARTS Ambassador


Dr. Kathleen Farrand is an Associate Professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. She has taught 1st grade, 3rd grade, preschool, and at the college level. She currently teaches in the Early Childhood Program in the Division of Teacher Preparation. She has a Ph.D. in Language, Education, and Society and a M.A. in Educational Administration from The Ohio State University. In addition, she has an M.Ed. in Elementary Education from the University of Florida and a B.A. in Film Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
She is interested in practices that improve the social and academic success of all learners in inclusive educational settings. Her areas of research focus on the use of dramatic inquiry in inclusive classrooms found along a continuum of educational placements to support student achievement, collaborative inquiry with classroom teachers to examine teacher change overtime and examining how teachers changing awareness of how they position themselves and others connects to student learning and engagement. Dr. Farrand is editor for the Visual Impairment and DeafBlind Education Quarterly journal, and she serves on the executive board for the Council for Exceptional Children-Division on Visual Impairments and Deafblindness. Dr. Farrand is president for the Council of Exceptional Children- Division of Visual and Performing Arts Education. Her recent publications can be found in TEACHING Exceptional Children, Multiple Voices for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Learners, and the British Journal of Special Education.

Dr. Michele Gregoire, Florida DARTS Ambassador


Dr. Gregoire is a retired Flagler College faculty member. She was Education Department Chair from 2004 to 2017. Previous professional appointments in higher education were at Georgia College in Milledgeville (four years) and Willamette University in Salem, Oregon (1 year) where she served as Director of Music Therapy. Dr. Gregoire earned her bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy at Florida State University, her master’s degree in Music at California State University at Long Beach, and her doctoral degree in Special Education at the University of Florida.  Her scholarship endeavors focus on music therapy and special music education, and she consistently maintains a strong record of professional conference presentations. Current interests are historical research in music education, music therapy, and special education. Dr. Gregoire has been involved in several professional organizations throughout her career and has served in leadership capacities in most of them. She worked for ten years as a clinical music therapist and director of internship, specializing in developmental disabilities, at the beginning of her career and continues to maintain a small clinical practice in music therapy while also providing consultation in both music therapy and special education to individuals and organizations.
Dr. Gregoire is looking to step down as the Florida DARTS Ambassador. Please reach out if you are interested in the position. 

Beverley Holden Johns, Illinois DARTS Ambassador


Bev Johns has been in the field of special education for over 40 years, retiring from the public schools where she developed programs for students with learning disabilities and emotional/behavioral disorders. She founded a public school for children with the most significant behavioral challenges. She is the author or co-author of 23 books. She was a Professional Fellow at MacMurray College. She is currently serving as the secretary of DARTS. She was a Professional Fellow at MacMurray College. She is the recipient of the 2022 DARTS Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2000 Outstanding Leadership Award of CEC, and the recipient of the Romaine Mackie Award given by the Pioneers Division. She has served as President of CCBD and the Pioneers. 

Dr. Jasmine Begeske, Indiana DARTS Ambassador


Dr. Jasmine Begeske is an artist, researcher, and teacher educator. She is a clinical instructor in special education at Purdue University with a research and teaching focus on inclusion and accessibility for students with disabilities. Her research centers measuring access and accessibility to arts education for vulnerable populations and developing and individualizing creative assistive technology solutions for improved accessibility to learning. Her artistic practice includes experimental printmaking and participatory arts projects that include individuals with disabilities as makers.

Dr. Rhoda Bernard, Massachusetts DARTS Ambassador


Rhoda Bernard is the Managing Director of the Institute for Accessible Arts Education, a catalyst for the inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of visual and performing arts education. She is also the Assistant Chair of Music Education. Bernard holds a Bachelor of Arts cum laude in government from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Music with academic honors in jazz voice from New England Conservatory. She earned both her Master of Education and Doctor of Education degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Bernard regularly presents keynote presentations and research at conferences throughout the United States and abroad, and she provides professional development workshops for educators in local, national, and international forums. Her work has been published in several book chapters and in numerous journals, including Music Educators Journal; Music Education Research; Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education; Mountain Lake Reader; and Arts and Learning Research Journal. Bernard has been honored with the Berklee Urban Service Award (2017), the Boston Conservatory Community Service Award (2011), the Boston Conservatory Faculty/Staff Spirit Award (2007), and the Outstanding Dissertation Award, Honorable Mention (Second Place) from the Arts and Learning Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. An active arts education advocate, she is the immediate past chair of the Arts Education Advisory Council of Americans for the Arts, and she serves on their speakers’ bureau. A vocalist and pianist who specializes in jazz music and Jewish music in Yiddish and Hebrew, she performs regularly with several klezmer bands and has recorded two CDs with the band Klezamir. 


Dr. Marianne Blanda, New York DARTS Ambassador


Marianne Blanda earned a Ph.D. from the Union Institute and University in 2003.  She has been a faculty member at Roberts Wesleyan University since 2004 in the Department of Teacher Education. Her career includes teaching, consulting, and administrative positions for students with and without disabilities in grades N – 12 since 1980.  Research focuses on the effect academic segregation based on disability has on the self-esteem of secondary school students with learning disabilities. Dr. Blanda created Transition Studios, It's Not a Place, It's an Attitude, a program supporting the inclusion of individuals with intellectual disabilities in the visual arts in 2008.  Current interests and professional involvement include developing courses for the BELL Program, a comprehensive transition and postsecondary (CTP) program at RWU for students with intellectual disabilities. She serves on the Board of Directors and is a conference planning committee member for the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) of NYS and Ujami Rochester.  Her passions include teaching pottery to students in the BELL Program, silk screening on clay, and using digital photography to create multimedia presentations promoting inclusive practices, Transitions Studios' philosophy, and social justice issues. 

Juliann Dorff, Ohio DARTS Ambassador 


 Juliann B. Dorff, a senior lecturer in art education at Kent State University, is the past-president of the Special Needs in Art Education Interest Group of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) and past-president for the Division of the Visual and Performing Arts (DARTS) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). The 2015 Ohio Art Education Association (OAEA) Higher Education Division Award winner, she has presented extensively at the OAEA, NAEA and CEC conferences. In 2019 she was awarded the NAEA/SNAE/VSA Beverly Levett Gerber Lifetime Achievement Award. She has received the Outstanding Teaching Award from Kent State University. Co-author with Linda Hoeptner Poling of four editions of the VSA Teacher Resource Guides: A Series of Visual Art Lesson Plans Designed to Engage Students with Disabilities published by the Kennedy Center, she was an invited author for The Handbook of Arts Education and Special Education and Art for Children Experiencing Psychological Trauma both published in 2018. She was invited by NAEA to present a webinar in February 2021, Collaboration: An Essential Tool for Inclusive Teaching Practices and a co-editor of a special edition of the Journal of Arts Education and Special Education (JASE) 2022.


Sara Taylor, Oklahoma DARTS Co-Ambassador 


Sarah Taylor is a Special Education Teacher at Pawhuska High School in Oklahoma serving students in grades 6-12th. Sarah’s work with people with disabilities began in southern California where she worked with clients with autism and other related disorders. Sarah grew up in the golden state which instilled a love for the ocean and food from all types of cultures. Sarah’s career then took her to Arizona where she worked as a paraprofessional and then as a behavioral technician in schools. Sarah was then hired as a teacher in Oklahoma, where she works today.

Sarah received a BA in Psychology and minor in Sociology from California State University San Marcos and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Teaching and Leadership with and emphasis in Special Education at Oklahoma State University. Her big career goal is to become a National Board-Certified Teacher. Sarah enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching tv with her dog and three cats, reading, dancing, sports, anime, and cosplay. 


Denise Griffin, Oklahoma DARTS Co-Ambassador


Denise Griffin lives in Norman, Oklahoma and has been a special education teacher for 29 years. For the last 27 years, she has taught high school students with complex multiple disabilities. She is an active member of her district transition team. Denise is involved in CEC as a member, volunteer, and former division leader. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Oklahoma. Denise is currently working towards her Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership through Abilene Christian University. Denise enjoys spending time with my family, coloring, and binge-watching crime shows with her cats.

Last Updated:  20 December, 2022

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