Nicole Sparapani, PhD joined the School of Education faculty this summer as an Assistant Professor in Early Childhood Education. Sparapani, who earned her doctorate in Communication Science and Disorders at Florida State University, is a certified speech-language pathologist. She completed her postdoctoral studies on individualizing student instruction at Arizona State University and the Institute for the Science of Teaching and Learning.
Sparapani has an extensive and varied background working with individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including children as young as 16 months old, through preschool and elementary school, and into adulthood. “It’s my passion,” she said. “I’ve spent 16 years of my life working with this population. We’ve learned so much about early detection and intervention, but there is still much to learn about serving children with ASD in elementary school settings.”
After watching many of her preschool students struggle to cope with the demands of elementary school, Sparapani decided to earn her PhD to learn how to better serve them. “My doctoral program showed me there’s a huge need,” she said. “Nobody really knows how to serve these students in a general education setting. The field is in its infancy.”
Sparapani expects to work closely with Professors Emily Solari and Peter Mundy (see page 10). “I’m looking forward to a collaboration,” she said. “My experience is an excellent fit with what Peter and Emily are doing. Our strengths are unique and complement each other well. I’ll be focusing on ways to create programs for students with special needs in the context of general education classes and also looking at what active engagement means for students with ASD. As a speech-language pathologist, I have a lot of experience working hand-in-hand with teachers and partnering with schools, and I’m looking forward to building those connections and learning what teachers think is important about this work.”