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Brent Elder

Brent Elder

Ph.D. in Special Education and Disabilty Studies

Hometown: Hemet, CA

Education: Psychology & Art History, UC Santa Barbara

What brings you to the Syracuse University School of Education?
I taught special education for eight years at public elementary school in Goleta, CA where we developed an inclusive model of education for students with multiple disabilities. For three years, I also taught courses in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at UC Santa Barbara. In 2005, I joined the organization CalTASH, and gained opportunities to consult overseas with government entities interested in developing sustainable inclusive practices in schools. While on breaks from teaching, I worked in Bahrain, Thailand, Belize, Cuba, and most recently Kenya. Though I loved teaching in California, my heart beckoned me to follow my international path. So, I applied to the School of Education at SU, and the rest is history. I traded in my board shorts in Santa Barbara for a snow shovel in Syracuse.

What are you doing now in your graduate work that you are most proud of?
I am currently working on designing my Research Apprenticeship for an upcoming summer trip to Kenya. Fellow grad student and colleague, Michelle Damiani, and I are presenting at the 3rd Annual International Conference on Education at Kenyatta University in Nairobi. Our presentation is on “no cost” strategies teachers in primary, secondary, and higher education can use to create sustainable inclusive education systems, as outlined by Article 24 in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). After the conference we will train teachers at a primary school in Western Kenya how to implement these strategies to desegregate schools in the region.

What career will you pursue after graduating? How will your degree get you there?
After graduation I hope to develop an international teacher education program at a university. My dream job is to teach at the university level, take grad students to a variety of countries, and create sustainable inclusive education systems with the support of local government agencies and school districts. I want to consult with foreign governments and entities like the United Nations to create better compliance with international instruments like the CRPD. I plan to use my course work, research, and teaching experiences at SU to help me reach my professional goals.

Name one of the most influential people at SOE that had a great impact on your academic career? Why?
Professor Arlene Kanter, though not in SOE, brought me to the United Nations during my first semester at SU, and continues to create opportunities for me to engage in international work. Her passion for international human rights is inspiring and infectious.

What would you like to be remembered for?
Making people laugh.

If I could have lunch with any person, dead, or alive, who would you choose?
Nelson Mandela

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Travel, live music, and CrossFit

Are you involved in any other campus or community activities?
I am a member of the Beyond Compliance Coordinating Committee (BCCC), and an original member of Team Robot Love, a highly competitive trivia team. I have also been an active member of TASH since 2005.