Education Faculty & Staff
Dr. Robert B. Cooter, Jr.
Dr. Robert B. Cooter, Jr. (webpage and contact information) is Dean of the Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education and Ursuline Endowed Professor at Bellarmine University. Dr. Cooter previously served as editor of The Reading Teacher, the world’s largest circulation refereed journal for literacy educators and is published by the International Reading Association. His research focuses on the improvement of literacy instruction for children living at the poverty level. In 2008 Dr. Cooter received the A.B. Herr Award for contributions to the field of literacy given by the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers.
In the public schools, Dr. Cooter served as the first “Reading Czar” (associate superintendent) for the Dallas Independent School District (TX) and was named a Texas State Champion for Reading. In 2007 Robert Cooter and and Kathleen Spencer Cooter received the Urban Impact Award from the Council of Great City Schools for their work designing and implementing highly effective training programs for teachers of reading serving in high poverty elementary schools in Dallas and Memphis. The academic book, Perspectives on Rescuing Urban Literacy Education: Spies, Saboteurs, & Saints, details some of the lessons learned by Cooter and his colleagues. Dr. Cooter later designed and served as principal investigator of a five-year, $16 million middle school literacy research project in Memphis funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
Dr. Cooter has authored or co-authored more than 20 books on ways to teach children to read, and has also published more than 60 articles in professional journals. Some of his books include the best-selling Teaching Children to Read: The Teacher Makes the Difference (7th ed.) and Strategies for Reading Assessment and Instruction (4th ed.) used at over 200 universities; and The Flynt/Cooter Comprehensive Reading Inventory. He is currently working on a new book with his wife and colleague, Dr. Kathleen Spencer Cooter, entitled Urban Literacy Education: Helping City Kids in Regular and Special Education Classrooms.
Corrie Block, Ph.D.
Corrie Block, Ph.D. (webpage and contact information), received her doctorate from the Department of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation at the University of Kentucky. She holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching as well as a Bachelors of Science in History and a minor in Sociology. She is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Bellarmine University where she teaches courses in social studies methods, research methodology, assessment development and evaluation methods. Areas of scholarship include cultivating the skills of teachers in the design and interpretation of their own classroom level cognitive and affective assessments, evaluation methodology and social studies methods.
Mary Ann Cahill, Ed.D.
Mary Ann Cahill, Ed.D. (webpage and contact information) is an Associate Professor of Literacy and the Chair of the Master of Arts in Teaching program. She received her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Literacy from Boise State University in Boise, Idaho, and her Master's degree in Literacy from the University of Dayton. Dr. Cahill taught elementary school (K-5) for eighteen years before becoming a professor for the last ten years. Prior to working at Bellarmine, Dr. Cahill taught at Boise State University where she coordinated the reading clinic and the Summer Literacy Academy. Her research addresses a focus on Early Literacy, specifically English Language Learners and Comprehension Instruction. Other scholarly interests involve critical literacy, dyslexia, and professional development for teachers. Research by Dr. Cahill has been published in The Reading Teacher and Young Children. At Bellarmine, Dr. Cahill teaches a variety of literacy courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
Daniel J. Castner, Ph.D.
Daniel J. Castner, Ph.D. (webpage and contact information) is an Assistant Professor of Education. Prior to beginning a career in higher education, he was a public school kindergarten teacher for 15 years in Ohio. Daniel earned his doctorate degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education from Kent State University. His scholarly interests include teacher leadership, curriculum studies, early childhood education and qualitative inquiry. More specifically, Dr. Castner’s research has attended to the ethical commitments held by educators who strive to realize virtues of democratic living in their daily practices. Recently, he authored Teaching for Holistic Understanding: Inspirational Events in Study and Practice, which was featured as chapter in a book on reconceptualizing curriculum development. Fascinated by the complexities of curriculum work and always interested in the inseparability of its study and practice, Dr. Castner considers himself fortunate for the opportunity to teach and learn alongside his students and colleagues at Bellarmine University.
Dr. Kristin Cook
Dr. Kristin Cook (website and contact information) is an Associate Professor of Science Education and the Chair of Undergraduate Programs. She received her doctoral degree at Indiana University- Bloomington in Curriculum & Instruction specializing in Science Education and Environmental Sciences. A former high school biology teacher, Kristin has served as a professional developer and consultant for elementary, middle, and high school STE(A)M-focused school reform and project and problem-based learning development. Kristin’s research focuses on engaging students and pre-service teachers with the community of science through the exploration of socio-scientific inquiry and integrated STEAM instruction. She has authored several manuscripts and book chapters, most notably including “Connecting to our community: Utilizing photovoice as a pedagogical tool to connect college students to science” featured in the International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, which won the Innovations in Teaching Science Teachers Award at the Association for Science Teacher Educators. She was also named an Ambassador for Science Literacy by the Kentucky Science Center. At Bellarmine University, she currently teaches Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Science Methods, as well as School Health, Nutrition, and Physical Education.
Elizabeth Dinkins, Ph.D.
Elizabeth Dinkins, Ph.D. (website and contact information) is Associate Dean & Associate Professor of Literacy Education. She received her doctorate in English Education from the University of Virginia, her Master’s in education from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, and her Bachelor’s from The Evergreen State College. Before beginning her career in higher education, Dr. Dinkins taught middle school language arts and coordinated school-wide literacy instruction. Her research interests include writing instruction, instructional use of young adult literature, approaches to school-wide literacy, and how critical literacy can be used to help students read and write their world. Her work has appeared in English Journal and Middle Grades Research Journal. She teaches classes in literacy education and qualitative research methodologies.
Amy E. Lein, Ph.D.
Amy E. Lein (webpage and contact information) is an Assistant Professor of Special Education. Before coming to Bellarmine, Dr. Lein was a Master Coach for Minnesota Math Corps and adjunct faculty at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis where she earned her PhD in Educational Psychology and won the 2016 Balow Dissertation Award. As a former public-school teacher, she taught special education and general education mathematics at the high school and middle school levels in both the Boston metro area and in Charlotte, Michigan. Her research areas of interest include mathematics interventions for struggling students, student engagement, and teacher preparation and development. Her research has resulted in peer-reviewed publications in journals such as Preventing School Failure, Educational Research and Evaluation, The Journal of Learning Disabilities, Learning and Instruction, and The Journal of Educational Psychology.
Theresa Magpuri-Lavell, Ed.D
Theresa Magpuri-Lavell, Ed.D. (webpage and contact information) is Assistant Dean of Outreach Programs and an Associate Professor of Education. She received her doctorate in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership with a specialization in Reading Education from the University of Memphis. After receiving her Master's in Education from Lesley University, she taught elementary school for ten years in Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Japan. Her research addresses literacy issues for K-3 students and urban adolescents with a specific focus on reading fluency and building teacher capacity on evidenced-based reading instruction. Other scholarly interests involve students with dyslexia and literacy coaching. Research by Dr. Magpuri-Lavell has been published in the Journal of Adult and Adolescent Literacy and the Journal of Literacy Research. At Bellarmine, she coordinates and teaches in the MAEd Literacy Specialist P-12 program. Dr. Magpuri-Lavell is also the Project Director for the Oldham County K-3 Reading Academy and the Jefferson County Public Schools Literacy Project, initiatives to train K-3 teachers in the use of evidenced-based literacy practices with the goal of raising literacy achievement for all students.
Christy D. McGee, Ed.D.
Christy D. McGee, Ed.D. (webpage and contact information) is a Professor of Education. She taught at both the elementary and high school level before beginning her career in higher education. Before coming to Bellarmine in 2005, Dr. McGee was an associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Arkansas. She was also a visiting assistant professor at University of Indiana and she directed student teaching at the University of Louisville. She has published over 20 articles in her career exploring children at risk for failure, teacher education reform, student empowerment, and gifted students. She is a national consultant in the process of differentiated instruction. As an active member of the National Association for Gifted Children, she served as chair of the Division of Curriculum and Instruction, chair of the Parent and Community network, a Parent Advisory Committee member, and one of the developers of the highly popular “Mile Marker” CD. She also wrote a column for the journal Parenting for High Potential from 2011-2013.
Dr. McGee is very involved in service to the university. She has served on Faculty Council for extended terms at the University of Arkansas where she served in a variety of positions including secretary, president-elect, and president. She was also a university senator and received the College of Education and Health Sciences award for service. At Bellarmine, she has continued in that tradition by serving on a variety of committees including Rank and Tenure, Handbook Committee, President-Elect of Faculty and Faculty President.
Dr. McGee received her bachelor’s degree from Murray State University in theatre arts and communication with a minor in secondary education, her master’s degree from the University of Louisville in science education, and her doctoral degree from University of Louisville with concentrations in urban studies and science education.
Donald "DJ" Mitchell Jr., Ph.D.
Dr. Donald "DJ" Mitchell Jr. (webpage and contact information) is professor of higher education leadership for the Leadership in Higher Education Program at Bellarmine University. DJ's research and scholarship focus on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education contexts, primarily using qualitative methodologies. More specifically, his work theoretically and empirically explores the effects of race, gender, identity intersections, and intersectionality within higher education contexts.
DJ's research and scholarship have received local and national recognition. He is recipient of the Ethnographic and Qualitative Research Conference's 2016 McGraw Hill Distinguished Scholar Award; the American College Personnel Association's 2015 Emerging Scholar Award; Grand Valley State University's 2015 Distinguished Early-career Scholar Award; the Multicultural/Multiethnic Education Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association's 2014 Dr. Carlos J. Vallejo Memorial Award for Emerging Scholarship; the American College Personnel Association’s Standing Committee for Men and Masculinities 2014 Outstanding Research Award (with Dr. Darris Means); and, the Michigan College Personnel Association's 2013 John Zaugra Outstanding Research/Publication Award. He was also awarded the Center for the Study of the College Fraternity's 2012 Richard McKaig Outstanding Doctoral Research Award for his dissertation, "Are They Truly Divine?: A Grounded Theory of the Influences of Black Greek-Lettered Organizations on the Persistence of African Americans at Predominantly White Institutions." In addition, he currently serves as an editorial board member for the Journal of College Student Development, the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, the Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity, the Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research, and Oracle: The Research Journal of the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors.
DJ earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Shaw University, the first historically Black institution in the South, a Master of Science in educational leadership from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and a PhD in educational policy and administration with a concentration in higher education from the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities.
David D. Paige, Ed.D.
David D. Paige, Ed.D. (webpage and contact information) is Associate Professor of Education at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. After a 20-year career in business, Dr. Paige began his educational career as a special educator in an urban middle school in Memphis, Tennessee where he taught reading and math for five years to children with mild to moderate learning disabilities in both pull-out and collaborative class settings. Dr. Paige completed his doctoral studies at the University of Memphis. Paige’s research interest utilizes statistical modeling to address literacy issues, particularly those concerning the role of oral reading fluency and prosody in reading. Dr. Paige has developed the SER-C®, a web-based instrument to assess the impact of higher order thinking on behavioral engagement of students. The SER-C® has been used in over 35 schools by some 500 teachers to assess the presence of higher order thinking in classrooms. Research by Dr. Paige has been published in The Reading Teacher, Reading Psychology, Reading Horizons, the Journal of Adult and Adolescent Literacy, Research and Instruction, the Journal of Literacy Research, the NASSP Bulletin, the Kentucky Reading Journal, as well as several book chapters including Fluency Instruction. Dr. Paige is also the Executive Director of the Thinking Schools Academy, an initiative to train Indian teachers in the use of 21st century instructional techniques which encourage higher-order thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving in students. Dr. Paige has presented at numerous national and international conferences on topics of literacy and higher-order thinking and is currently developing a web-based instrument to assess reading fluency. David and his wife Elizabeth live in a restored, circa 1890 home in the Victorian neighborhood of Old Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky. David has four sons, Garrett, Taylor, Cameron, and Logan.
Fred Rhodes, Ph.D.
Dr. Fred Rhodes (webpage and contact information) is currently serving as Professor and Chair of the Ph.D. in Leadership in Higher Education program. He served as Vice President for Student Affairs at Bellarmine University from 1991-2014. During his tenure at Bellarmine, he also served in the roles of Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students and Professor of Education prior to joining the graduate faculty full time in January 2015.
Dr. Rhodes is a seasoned student affairs professional with 35 years of senior level experience serving as a Dean of Students or Vice President for Student Affairs in both the public and private sector. He has been active in his respective professional associations serving as President of the Southern Association for College Student Affairs and the College Personnel Association of Kentucky. Dr. Rhodes was selected by his peers to be inducted into the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Pillars of the Profession. Also, he has been recognized for his leadership, service, and contributions to the field of higher education at the regional and state level.
He has served on numerous Southern Association for Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation teams as both Chair and committee member. Dr. Rhodes has served as a faculty member at the University of South Florida, University of Tennessee and the University of Louisville. He has served as the director and/or faculty member for higher education institutes for higher education administrators at Clemson University, University of Georgia, Tulane University, University of South Carolina, Emory University, University of Arizona and University of Louisville. He has served as a consultant to numerous higher education institutions and private consulting agencies during his tenure in higher education.
Dr. Rhodes has served as a national exchange delegate for NASPA to both France and The United Arab Emirates. He served as a faculty member at the University of Kentucky’s Leadership Institute at Cambridge University, England. He has traveled with students to India, Peru, France, Germany, England, Greece, Jamaica, Belize, Guatemala, and El Savador.
He received his doctorate in higher education from Mississippi State University, his masters in counseling psychology from the University of Tennessee and his undergraduate degree in history from Maryville College. He has done post-graduate study at Harvard University.
Dr. Rhodes was selected as Fulbright Scholar for study in Germany.
Belinda C. Richardson, Ed.D
Belinda C. Richardson, Ed.D. (webpage and contact information) Associate Professor of Education, began her career in education after receiving her initial teaching certification from North Georgia College and University. She expanded her knowledge base by receiving a Masters Degree in Special Education from the University of Nebraska and taught special education for seven years. She then went on to earn a Masters Degree in Counseling Education from Texas Tech University and to work as a school counselor for eight years. She earned her Doctorate Degree in Special Education from Texas Tech University in 2007. Her research experience and interest is in the study of undeveloped attachment in children and its effects on their connection with and behavior in the school setting.
Grant Smith, Ph.D.
Grant Smith, Ph.D. (webpage and contact information) is an Assistant Professor of Educational Research. Grant spent over 20 years in the private sector working in operations management, mergers and acquisitions and the design and execution of feasibility research and process improvement studies. His research interests include accountability measurements, and the relationship of educational outcomes and economic opportunity. He received a B.A. from the University of Florida, a Ph.D. in measurement and statistics from the Florida State University and is currently completing postdoctoral studies at Harvard University where he works with the National Center for Teacher Effectiveness at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. At Bellarmine Grant teaches courses in statistics, research methods and evaluation.
Kevin Thomas, Ph.D
Kevin Thomas, Ph.D. (webpage and contact information) is Associate Professor and Chair of the Master of Arts in Education Program at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. Prior to entering higher education, Dr. Thomas taught high school English for 15 years in Tennessee. His research examines teacher and student perceptions regarding the instructional benefits and barriers related to the classroom integration of personal mobile devices. Additional research interests include exploration of the use of Web 2.0 tools to expand the traditional boundaries associated with the classroom through online interaction. Dr. Thomas has been published in Computers & Education, Journal of Research on Technology in Education, Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, Journal of Technology and Teacher Education and TechTrends. At Bellarmine Dr. Thomas teaches courses related to the integration of instructional technology in the classroom to support student learning.
Dr. Thomas received his bachelor’s degree in Secondary English Education from Trinity College of Vermont in Burlington, VT; his master’s degree in Administration and Supervision from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, TN; and his doctoral degree in Instructional Technology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Mike Vetter, Ph.D.
Dr. Mike Vetter (webpage and contact information) is Associate Professor in the Leadership in Higher Education program at Bellarmine University, having served as an adjunct faculty member in the department since 2013 before joining the faculty full time in 2017. Dr. Vetter has had a distinguished career in student affairs serving at small colleges, regional mid-sized universities, and a large flagship university. He served 20 years at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky primarily in the role of Vice President of Student Affairs. His previous roles have included Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Students and Director of Housing and Residence Life.
Dr. Vetter has served as an adjunct faculty member at Bowling Green State University, National University, Transylvania University, University of Florida, and Western Illinois University. He also regularly serves as a consultant to colleges and universities and as a presenter at conferences on a variety of higher education issues. He is active in state, regional, and national professional associations and served on the National Board for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) representing small colleges and universities from across the country.
Mike received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Ohio Wesleyan University, his Master of Education in College Student Personnel at Bowling Green State University, and his Doctorate in Education Administration at the University of Florida.
Mike’s wife, Deb, and their daughter and son all are college educators in their respective fields of study.
Will Wells, Ed.D.
Will Wells, Ed.D. (webpage and contact information) is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Leadership and School Administration. He earned his doctoral degree from the University of Louisville in Educational Leadership and School Administration. Before joining the faculty at Bellarmine in 2016, Dr. Wells was Superintendent in the Oldham County Schools. His experience as a successful assistant superintendent, school principal, assistant principal, guidance counselor, and middle school teacher, in both urban and suburban districts, provided him a broad base of experience and expertise as he served in this role. His current research interests are systems, structures, and policies that improve teacher quality vis-à-vis job embedded professional learning such as the academy structure and other means of building teacher capacity in order to ensure the learning of ALL students. Wells teaches a variety of instructional leadership and administration courses to graduate students at the masters, specialist, and doctoral levels.
Winn Crenshaw Wheeler, Ph.D.
Winn Crenshaw Wheeler, Ph.D. (webpage and contact information) is an Assistant Professor of Literacy. She received her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on literacy and instructional coaching from the University of Louisville. Dr. Wheeler holds a Masters of Education in Elementary Education as well as a Bachelor of Arts with majors in Elementary Education and History from Elon University. Additionally, she is a National Board Certified Teacher (Middle Childhood Generalist). Prior to her work at Bellarmine, Dr. Wheeler worked in public education for twenty years where she served as a classroom teacher and literacy coach. Her research interests include adolescent literacy, fluency development, writing assessment and instruction, professional collaboration, instructional coaching, and curriculum design. At Bellarmine, Dr. Wheeler teaches courses in literacy at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Todd Whitney, Ph.D.
Todd Whitney, Ph.D. (webpage and contact information) is an Assistant Professor of Special Education. He earned his doctoral degree from the University of Louisville in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis in special education. Before joining the faculty at Bellarmine in 2016, Dr. Whitney was an assistant professor at the University of Memphis. His research areas of interest include evidence-based academic and behavioral interventions for students with disabilities and the effective use of evidence-based instructional practices. Thus far, his research and scholarship has resulted in peer-reviewed publications in journals such as Preventing School Failure, TEACHING Exceptional Children, and Rural Special Education Quarterly as well as several peer-reviewed national presentations. At Bellarmine, Dr. Whitney teaches a variety of special education courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels.
Dottie Willis, Ed. D.
Dottie Willis, Ed. D. (webpage and contact information) joined Bellarmine in August, 2008. She earned her B.A. at George Peabody College-Vanderbilt University, M.S. at Indiana-Purdue University at Indianapolis, Ed.D. at the University of Louisville, and principal certification at Spalding University. Her research focuses on literacy and writing instruction. As Writing Specialist for the Jefferson County (Kentucky) Public Schools from 2002-2007, she published twenty units for teaching middle and high school language arts. She has also authored articles in theKentucky English Bulletin and Kentucky Library Association Journal. Dr. Willis has served on the Kentucky Writing Advisory Committee and currently is a member of the Louisville Writing Project Board of Directors.
Rosie Young, Ed.D
Rosie Young, Ed.D., (webpage and contact information) serves as the Advanced Education, Graduate Programs Chair at Bellarmine University. She worked in the Jefferson County Public Schools for 38 years, 28 years as an elementary school principal before coming to Bellarmine in 2013 as the Field Placement Coordinator. She also served as the chair of the Ed.S. Program before assuming the chair of Graduate Programs. She holds certification in elementary education 1-8, school guidance counselor, principalship, ECE supervisor, and superintendency. She serves as a lead and site team member for CAEP (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation). In 2011, she was named Kentucky’s National Distinguished Principal for 2012. In addition, she was a Bellarmine Alumni award recipient in 2006 and received the Caritas Medal from Spalding University in 2011. Rosie was selected to serve on a national committee that developed the NELP (National Educational Leadership Preparation) Standards for Building and District level leadership. She co-chaired the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) committee that developed the Accomplished Principal Standards. Rosie also serves as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of Elementary School Principals. She volunteers her time in support of this association’s mission to lead and serve all elementary and middle level principals in Kentucky. She earned her B.A. from Bellarmine University, her M.Ed from the University of Louisville, and her Ed.D. from Spalding University.