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Special Education Graduate Program Faculty

Exceptional Teachers Deserve Exceptional Professors

Great teachers turn everyday lessons into a lifetime of learning, and at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, an exceptional faculty makes the Master of Arts in Special Education program truly unique.

These professors combine the highest academic credentials—with decades of shared experience in the K-12 classroom. During your Special Education studies, the professors will become mentors and friends as you build a more inclusive classroom and a more rewarding teaching career.

Click the names below for more details.

Program Director

  • Program Director

    Dr. Lam is committed to supporting students with disabilities and differences by preparing pre-service and in-service teachers to effectively meet student needs.

Faculty

  • Adjunct Assistant Professor

    Dr. John Fry is a passionate educator and leader who is committed to transforming both the academic and social-emotional trajectory of students. He is a licensed K-12 principal and Director of Special Education.

  • Adjunct Instructor

    After a number of years practicing as a social worker with juvenile delinquents, Dawn Kelly elected to change fields in order to become more proactive.

  • Adjunct Instructor

    Risë Nybakke is an assistive technology specialist for the Minneapolis Public Schools. She has been serving in the role for 18 years and is on a team with two speech clinicians, an occupational therapist, and an associate educator.

  • Adjunct Program Instructor

    Sarah Papineau is a literacy coach at the district level servicing 18 elementary schools and six middle schools. As a coach in her district, she also continues to have a group of students for part of the day.

  • Adjunct Associate Professor

    Dr. Troy Gonzales began his career as a middle school special educator in Denver Public Schools (DPS).

  • Adjunct Assistant Professor

    Debra Castner, Ed.D., has been teaching students who receive special education for more than 25 years. Since 2011 she has been with Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. During the day, Dr.

  • Adjunct Instructor

    Maureen Parkes is program lead at Mounds View School Career and Life Transition Program. She is responsible for due process and student intakes for two special education programs.

  • Adjunct Instructor

    Amber Haluska has been an adjunct instructor at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota since 2013.

  • Adjunct Instructor

    Christine “Critty” McClendon is the manager for Out of District Placements, Extended School Year (ESY), and child welfare liaison for Denver Public Schools. McClendon has worked for Denver Public Schools for 26 years.

  • Adjunct Instructor

    Pat Gordon has more than 15 years of experience in the field of special education, which has included many grade levels and public school settings. He has worked as a special education paraprofessional, teacher, coordinator, and director.

  • Adjunct Instructor

    Nichole Neron Kloss has been working with students in special education for more than 15 years and is currently teaching in the Sauk Rapids/Rice Public School District.

  • Adjunct Instructor

    Jason Haluska started teaching at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota after guest lecturing about assessing students with autism at Saint Mary's University in 2013. Since 2014 he has been an adjunct instructor.

  • Adjunct Instructor

    Patrick Flynn is a retired elementary teacher and principal. He taught for several years in greater Minnesota before serving 11 years as an elementary teacher and nine years as an elementary principal in the Anoka Hennepin School District 11.

  • Adjunct Instructor

    Jennifer Radtke lived a varied and adventurous life working with our exceptional population. During the course of her career, she has worked as both an Emotional Behavior Disorder (EBD) paraprofessional and as an EBD teacher.

  • Adjunct Instructor

    Cate Koehne has worked in the field of special education for 19 years, focusing on the areas of specific learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders, developmental delay, autism spectrum disorder, and other health disabilities.

  • Adjunct Assistant Professor

    Dr. Nagel’s background in education covers a variety of experiences working in many roles with students of all ages in different districts and communities.

  • Adjunct Instructor

    Shaun Pakenham is a passionate educator with the focus of empowering students to identify and relish in the positive traits that make them a valuable, unique citizen of the world.

  • Adjunct Instructor

    Matt Olmstead has been instructing EDSE courses at the graduate level as an adjunct professor at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota for more than two years.