TIP SHEET: Vanderbilt experts available for back-to-school stories

It's back to school time and Vanderbilt's education experts are available to comment to the media. (iStock)

As schools nationwide prepare for the new academic year, faculty researchers from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of education and human development are available for comment on a variety of education topics. Peabody is ranked among the top graduate schools of education in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

Reporters may arrange interviews with these and other Peabody experts, by contacting Joan.brasher@vanderbilt.edu or by calling (615) 322-NEWS.

Xiu Cravens


Xiu Cravens has successfully implemented a teacher collaboration system in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and other Tennessee school systems, adapted from a highly effective approach used throughout Asia.

Rogers Hall

Rogers Hall studies math education, project-based pedagogy and the evolution of educational standards. He can discuss creative learning spaces and mobile learning labs.

Ilana Horn

Ilana Horn has published books on the topic of teacher collaboration regarding mathematics instruction. She also can discuss the nuances of standardized testing.

Bethany Rittle-Johnson

Bethany Rittle-Johnson can discuss how knowledge change occurs, particularly in mathematics.

She has conducted numerous studies on instructional models that improve math learning in young children.

Barb Stengel

Barbara Stengel is director of secondary education at Peabody and can discuss the current impact of Common Core on the way teachers teach among many other topics.

Marcy Singer-Gabella

She is one of the founders of a “learning through practice” team-teaching program implemented in MNPS.

Marcy Singer Gabella can discuss 21st century teaching skills, teacher education and preparation, and teaching standards.

She also can speak on the new student teacher performance assessment edTPA.

Bruce Compas


Judy Garber

Bruce Compas and Judy Garber are engaged in long-term studies on adolescent depression.

They are finding that depressed mothers tend to produce depressed children, but that counseling interventions can stop the cycle of depression.


Laurie Cutting (Vanderbilt)
Laurie Cutting

Laurie Cutting is an expert on reading disorders, including dyslexia, and has identified several lesser-known reading disorders through neuroimaging studies. Her research is focused on how the different regions of the brain communicate in order to read effectively.

Doug and Lynn Fuchs
Doug and Lynn Fuchs

Lynn S. Fuchs and Douglas Fuchs specialize in learning disabilities, particularly instruction for students at risk of school failure because of disability or poverty. They examine peer-to-peer learning strategies, testing, test bias and special education policy.

Kaiser (Vanderbilt)
Ann Kaiser

Ann Kaiser researches early interventions for children with language difficulties, including children with Down syndrome or autism. She can discuss the use of assistive technologies like iPads for language development.

Chris Lemons

Christopher Lemons is an expert on phonological awareness in children with Down syndrome. He is undergoing studies related to reading interventions.

Joe Wehby

Joe Wehby is an expert in children and youth with behavior disorders. He also examines problematic or aggressive behaviors in children and youth with special needs.

Paul Yoder

Paul Yoder researches communication, speech and language development and intervention in children with language delays. He is researching the role of short-term memory in learning in children with Down syndrome.


Deborah Rowe

Deborah Rowe has extensive expertise in how young English language learners (ELL) draw on their first language when learning to write and speak English, and how they interact with teachers in an English-dominant environment.

Robert Jimenez

Robert Jimenez and Lisa Pray lead Project Propel, which assists MNPS teachers in earning the ESL endorsement needed to work with Metro’s growing ELL population. They are developing instructional models to ensure that all children have the literacy skills needed for long-term success.


Will Doyle
Will Doyle

William R. Doyle investigates higher education public policy at both state and federal levels using insights from political science and economics to explore trends in financial aid, the politics of higher education and student access.

Brent Evans

Brent Evans conducts quantitative research on higher education policy. He has used the tools of behavioral economics to suggest an alternative income-based model to provide support to students in paying for college.


Camilla Benbow and David Lubinski

Camilla Benbow and David Lubinski co-direct the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY), a longitudinal 50-year study that follows the lives of 5,000 gifted students. The study participants entered SMPY at age 13 and now have reached middle-age.

Donna Ford

Donna Ford can discuss racial inequity in education, the underrepresentation of minorities in gifted programs, complex factors surrounding the achievement gaps, and the unique challenges faced by gifted minority students. She runs an online mentoring community for doctoral students of color.

Ebony McGee

Ebony McGee is an expert on the barriers people of color have in pursuing careers and academic posts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

She examines systemic, family and cultural challenges and is involved with mentorship interventions.

Tamra Stambaugh

She has studied racial micro-aggressions academics experience when presenting their research findings.

Tamra Stambaugh is the director of Vanderbilt’s Programs for Talented Youth and can speak on promising low-income students, the impact of accelerated curriculum on student achievement, teacher effectiveness and talent development factors.


David Dickinson

David Dickinson is an expert on the interaction between language and early literacy development. He is developing an intervention designed to help preschool teachers teach vocabulary reading through teacher-supported play.

Mimi Engel

Mimi Engel has conducted research that finds kindergarten may be too easy. She asserts that kindergarten should be more challenging, or students risk “pre-K fadeout.”

Mark Lipsey
Mark Lipsey
Dale Farran

Dale Farran and Mark Lipsey are conducting a longitudinal evaluation of Tennessee’s statewide voluntary pre-K program.

This landmark study, which has identified the barriers to scaling up effective pre-K in Tennessee, offers potential policy implications nationwide.

Georgene Troseth

Georgene Troseth and doctoral student Colleen Russo study how touch screens affect learning in young children. They can offer advice on screentime limits and choosing the best games and apps for children.


Angela Boatman

Angela Boatman is an expert on the Tennessee Promise community college program. She can speak about new approaches to remedial assessment, placement and instruction, and how to improve post-secondary college readiness.

Marisa Cannata

Marisa Cannata is focused on what makes an effective high school. She can discuss school choices such as charter schools and magnets, and the nuances of the TCAP and other standardized tests. She also can discuss education policy and teacher evaluation data.

Ellen Goldring
Ellen Goldring

Ellen Goldring is an expert on school improvement, with particular emphases on school organization, school choice and education leadership, including principal evaluation. As head of the Leadership, Policy and Organizations department, her research includes studies of magnet schools, access and equity of parent choice plans and policy implications.

Claire Smrekar headshot
Claire Smrekar

Claire Smrekar provides expert analysis on the social and policy context of school choice: how parents choose and why and how charter schools, magnet schools and voucher programs shape parents’ choice patterns.

Ron Zimmer

She has been highly involved with the Nashville Next initiative, and has expertise on socioeconomic diversity in MNPS.

Ron Zimmer is an expert on school choice and school improvement. His research is focused on evaluations of charter schools, turnover and closure of low-performing schools and the use of school choice and supplemental educational service options under No Child Left Behind.


Andy Finch

Andy Finch is an expert on substance abuse and the formation of “recovery high schools,” schools for teens who want to finish their education while overcoming substance abuse. He was honored by the White House this year for his research and for making a difference on the war on drugs.

Maury Nation

Maury Nation’s research focuses on understanding and preventing violence and bullying among school-age children. His specific interests are bully and victim typologies, and the short- and long-term consequences of peer harassment. He is director of Safe and Supportive Schools Tennessee.

Emily Tanner Smith
Emily Tanner Smith

Emily Tanner-Smith has conducted research on school surveillance, juvenile delinquency, recidivism rates and substance abuse. She also has evaluated programs for at-risk youth and can discuss reform and policy implications.


Dale Ballou

Dale Ballou is an authority on the use of value-added models to evaluate teachers and schools. He studies the role of regulations in the training, recruitment and retention of effective teachers.

Jason Grissom (Vanderbilt)
Jason Grissom

Jason Grissom examines key predictors, causes and consequences of school personnel retention and turnover. He has examined if principals should be evaluated based on student test scores, and if teacher effectiveness data are being used properly.

Gary Henry

Gary T. Henry is a nationally recognized expert on education policy, educational evaluation and teacher quality.

Matthew Springer

He also has studied teacher and student mobility in Tennessee’s Achievement School District.

Matthew Springer is an expert on educator incentive pay programs and educational accountability. His research reveals that teacher retention bonuses in low-performing Tennessee schools have been cost effective.