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State Ambassadors

East Coast, Mara Culp 


Mara E. Culp earned a PhD and Master’s in music education from Penn State and a bachelor’s in music education from Siena Heights University. She has taught K-12 general, choral, and instrumental music and has had extensive experience working with Pre-K students. During the 2016-2017 academic year, she served as Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Education, Vocal General, at Ithaca College. She has also completed Kodály Level I and Music Together® Teacher Training. Her scholarly and research interests include improving speech and language using music, music education for students with special needs, collaborating with special education professionals, elementary general music education, and choral music. In 2015, she was named a finalist for the Outstanding Emerging Researcher Award by the Center for Music Education Research. Her dissertation was comprised of three studies examining the relationship between music aptitude and phonological awareness in elementary children. Her work has been published in The Orff Echo, General Music Today, Choral Journal, and Journal of Research in Music Education. Culp is also an active presenter and speaker. Her original work has been presented to local and international audiences in and outside music education. Notable conferences include the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association (ECMMA) Biennial International Convention; International Society for Music Education (ISME) Biennial World Conference; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) National Convention; American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) National Conference; Interdisciplinary Society for Quantitative Research in Music and Medicine Biennial International Conference; VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference; and Society for Music Teacher Education Biennial Symposium. She is frequently invited to speak on interdisciplinary topics and and has acted as an invited speaker/presenter in Communication Sciences and Disorders departments.


Florida, Michele Gregoire 


Dr. Gregoire has been a member of the faculty at Flagler College since 1988 and served as 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.


Illinois, Beverley Holden Johns 


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 17 books. She is now a Professional Fellow at MacMurray College. She is the recipient of the 2000 Outstanding Leadership Award of CEC and also the recipient of the Romaine Mackie Award given by the Pioneers Division. She has served as President of CCBD and the Pioneers. Bev is very excited about the formation of the DARTS division.   


Illinois (Chicago), Sharon Manjack 


Sharon received her bachelor’s degree from UIUC and worked as an art director in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles. She received elementary, art, and special education teaching credentials, as well as a master’s in special education/educational therapy from CSUN. She worked in various therapeutic educational settings, as a Getty Center art education docent, and taught incarcerated students with special needs for LACOE for many years before returning to Chicago to pursue her PhD in educational psychology from UIC. Her research focuses on the personal theories of art teachers about the purpose of art education and whether these theories influence inclusion attitudes. This research led to development of the Art Related Teacher Theories (ARTT) measure, which confirmed three main purposes for art education commonly referred to in literature and recognized by currently practicing teachers. She is also involved with efforts to ensure that paraeducators are adequately trained for the roles they undertake when working with students with disabilities in art education classes and that teachers who supervise them understand their responsibilities. Recently, she collaborated with researchers from the PAR2A center on a chapter for inclusion in the Handbook of Arts Education and Special Education. She is passionate about the appropriate inclusion of students with special needs in arts classrooms and actively seeks ways to advocate on behalf of students as well as the art teachers and paraeducators who support them. Currently, she works for Chicago Public Schools as a special education teacher, consulting teacher, edTPA art and special education portfolio evaluator, and educational therapist. Past experience includes ISBE principal consultant, adjunct faculty for Columbia College and UIC. 


Indiana, Jasmine Begeske 


Jasmine Begeske is Clinical Faculty in Special Education at Purdue University where she focuses on program improvements and innovations centered around the inclusion of exceptional students. She has taught K-12 Special Education: mild interventions and K-12 Visual Arts. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from Indiana University and Masters of Fine Arts, in Photography and Related Media from Purdue University. She earned her MS in Special Education from Indiana University Northwest focusing on mild disabilities. Her research interests are in teacher preparation, the development of empathy as a disposition to teach, and the inclusion of vulnerable populations in inclusive settings.


Massachusetts, Rhoda Bernard 


Rhoda 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 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. A vocalist and pianist who specializes in jazz music and Jewish Music in Yiddish and Hebrew, she performs regularly with a number of klezmer bands and has recorded two CDs with the band Klezamir. 


Virginia, Amanda Hull 


Ms. Hull earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Industry at Middle Tennessee State University in 1989. After working in music licensing and publishing in Nashville, she returned to MTSU, where she completed a M.A. in Music Education in 1995. In 2012, she earned a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. She taught general and choral music from preschool through high school in Middle Tennessee and the Washington, D.C. area for 24 years. She holds certificates in several approaches to music education, including Kodály, Orff, Dalcroze, Choral Music Experience, World Music Drumming, Somatic Voiceworks™ The LoVetri Method, and most recently, Modern Band (Little Kids Rock). Having begun her music career as an organist at the age of 14, Ms. Hull is now in her 34th year of service as a church musician. Ms. Hull is a licensed instructor in Simply Music Piano and was one of the first teachers to launch Simply Music Gateway, a playing-based method for students with special needs developed by renowned music therapist, Karen Nisenson, in collaboration with Simply Music founder, Neil Moore. Ms. Hull became a Special Education teacher in 2015. In her rare time off, she enjoys the company of way too many cats and provides care for a feral colony as part of Humane Association’s Community Cat Coalition.


Kentucky, Dusty Columbia-Embury


New York, Marianne Blanda


Pennsylvania, Lynda Abraham-Braff

Last Updated:  1 March, 2021

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