Assistant Professor

Jerae on a hike

"Special education is a field born out of conviction for equity and emancipation, and you must be dedicated to fighting for that every day."


Seattle, WA


Special Education

How did you first become interested in the field of special education?

Both of my parents were dedicated teachers. When I decided to pursue teaching, I was placed in a general education classroom with an experienced co-teacher. In that role, I naturally gravitated toward the students in the class who received special education services. Those are the students I most enjoyed working with, and I have worked with them ever since!

What is your philosophy of teaching?

My philosophy on teaching has always centered around building agency in the students I serve. I believe that a teacher provides the resources for success and works as a guide to help students facilitate their own learning.

What types of candidates do you hope/recommend to pursue becoming a special education teacher?

The candidates I hope to pursue a career in education are first and foremost passionate about special education. Special education is a field born out of conviction for equity and emancipation, and you must be dedicated to fighting for that every day. This field will challenge you, but nothing will stop you from succeeding if you have that fire.

How do the UHM SPED programs best support and prepare its students?

I am new to the UH Special Education faculty. However, from the brief experiences I have had with members of the faculty, it is clear that the faculty support one another and are dedicated to the success of everyone, above all the students! I believe a foundation of care and community is vital to success. From my conversations with the UH faculty, It is evident this foundation is firmly in place.

What words of advice would you give to people looking to pursue the program/profession?

To me, it is deeply important that you maintain your health and well-being as you pursue a career in education. That said, self-awareness and time management are two critical skills integral to success. Recognizing when you need help and how to ask for it is vital. Engaging in self-reflection is one of the skills I focus most on in my mentoring. Managing your time so that you can maintain your personal and school responsibilities will take you far in success.

What are your research interests?

My research interests include socio-cognitive reading comprehension interventions, the role of culture in today’s schools, and developing culturally competent special educators.

Describe your own road to higher education.

I did not initially intend to pursue a higher education degree beyond a master’s. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Middle East Studies, I came to education via an alternate route, Urban Teachers. After four years of teaching, I decided to pursue a doctorate because I developed an interest in research. I also developed an interest in mentoring new teachers through summer opportunities provided to me by my teaching program.

What are your goals or future plans?

My goal for the upcoming year is to immerse myself in the UH community and get to know and support the faculty and students. I am very excited to support students in the field and teach two classes this fall!

What do you like to do outside of education?

I love to travel, hike, and spend time at the beach, and I also am active in many book clubs on the island. I like to try all the great restaurants on the island when I can! At home, I like to cook, watch TV, and spend time with my husband and our two cats, Ruby and Onyx.

I'm interested in learning more about a degree or certificate in Special Education.

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