Posted on June 21, 2024 · Posted in Faculty Associates News

Dr. Catherine Kramarczuk Voulgarides, Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education, and Roosevelt House Public Policy Faculty Associate, is serving as Co-PI on an Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) doctoral training grant (2024-2028). The University of Texas Austin is the prime, under the leadership of PI Dr. Natasha Strassfeld, and the University of Kansas and Hunter College are subawards. The 3.6 million dollar grant, entitled Project EARLY, supports a cohort of up to 12 scholars across the three institutions to receive doctoral training focused on the intersection of special education leadership, special education policy, and early childhood settings via a culturally responsive lens. Project EARLY conceptually draws from the New York State Education Departments’ culturally responsive and sustaining (NYSED CR-S) framework to improve outcomes for young children with disabilities, particularly those who are racially, linguistically, and ethnically diverse. Dr. Catherine Kramarczuk Voulgarides, along with the support of Project EARLY core faculty Dr. Rhonda Bondie (Associate Professor of Special Education) and Dr. Rosa Rivera-McCutchen (Professor of Administration & Supervision, Instructional Leadership) will support two fully funded and newly admitted doctoral students in the Fall of 2024 in Hunter College’s Educational Doctorate Program (EdD) in Instructional Leadership.

These scholars will receive rigorous training on research, methods, and writing in preparation for future careers in academia and leadership, develop as critical and culturally competent scholars, receive targeted mentored research experiences, and they will be trained to translate research to policy to practice. Moreover, Project EARLY scholars across the three institutions will convene annually at Hunter College’s Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, which serves as a hub for policymakers, advocates, and leading political thinkers to discuss pressing issues at state and national levels, to engage in collaborative workshops and learning opportunities focused on increasing knowledge and methods to improve outcomes for young children with disabilities.

Hunter College Project EARLY Scholar Bios

Payal Seth

Payal Seth is the Senior Vice President of Family Programming at Jeremiah Program, a national nonprofit working to disrupt generational poverty for single mothers and their children through a two-generation approach. She is a pragmatic and equity-focused education leader with over 20 years of progressive experience with children from birth through high school. She has trained and coached thousands of teachers and leaders through exceptional professional learning across various ages, grades, and roles.Prior to joining Jeremiah Program, Payal was the Vice President of Special Services at Achievement First, a nonprofit organization that managed over 40 schools in the Northeast. For nine years, she oversaw programs for special education, mental health, bilingual, and multilingual education. Through her leadership, the organization successfully served a more comprehensive range of students while helping to increase achievement as well. Over her classroom career, both in traditional public and charter schools, Payal taught and supported children of various ages and developmental stages in Detroit, the Bronx, Chicago, and Newark. She loves observing when a student learns something new or begins to hit their stride. Payal earned a master’s degree in early childhood education and special education from Lehman College and a bachelor’s degree in economics and psychology from the University of Michigan. The EdD program at Hunter College, specializing in early childhood special education and early intervention, aligns perfectly with her two passions, influencing her trajectory from high school through my twenty-year career. Her decision to pursue the EdD program at Hunter College stems from her two decades of experience as a teacher and leader, where she witnessed the shortcomings of policies and systems for supporting early learners. Through Project EARLY, she aims to continue her direct work with families and children impacted by these issues while advocating for systemic change.

Shonette Anderson

Over the past 12 years, Shonette Anderson dedicated herself to working with children, beginning with a sense of wonderment about child development. However, her journey took a significant turn when she began to question why children in more “desirable” areas seemingly received basic necessities so easily compared to the children I serve. This realization ignited a passion within her to address the disparities and injustices faced by underprivileged children, particularly those from backgrounds similar to hers. As a first-generation American and educator, Shonette witnessed firsthand the challenges and obstacles that children from underrepresented communities encounter on a daily basis. Her journey, from corporate daycare to a non-profit organization, has been fueled by a desire to break the cycle of poverty and neglect that often plagues these communities. By pursuing a doctorate and collaborating with Project EARLY, Shonette is eager to delve deeper into understanding the root causes of these disparities and work towards creating tangible solutions. Together, she believes we can make a lasting impact on the lives of children and families who have been marginalized and overlooked for far too long. Shonette looks forward to learning and growing alongside as we strive to create a more equitable future for all children