This July, the College of Education and Social Services welcomed Kimberly Vannest, Ph.D. as Chairperson of the Department of Education (DOE). Dr. Vannest comes to the University of Vermont from Texas A&M and brings expertise in interventions for Emotional and Behavioral Disorders in educational and clinical settings and Single Case Experimental Design analysis. Before the start of the semester, Kimberly graciously answered some questions about the work she did that brought her to UVM and what she sees ahead.
What is your background and what brought you to UVM?
I arrived at UVM July 1 to begin a new position as the Chairperson in the DOE. I was attracted to the unique opportunities in the College and the partnerships within and across departments, agencies, and schools. My primary areas of scholarship include how we can better prevent and serve the needs of students and families with social, emotional, and behavioral health risk, challenge, and disability. I am also keenly interested in how we measure progress in these areas and how we identify growth and change.
I have worked most notably as an Editor for the Encyclopedia of Special Education and on interventions and tip sheets for the Behavior and Assessment System for Children (Reynolds & Kamphaus).
How did you wind up in the fields of education and emotional and behavioral health?
I began my work in education as a general education high-school teacher in the mountains of Southern California. I quickly learned that I needed more training to reach and teach the students who most challenged and fascinated me, those with disabilities. I pursued my Masters and then Ph.D. and I was fortunate enough to meet fabulous mentors and advisors along the way. These fabulous people helped shape my knowledge and my experiences.
What motivates you?
Schools are the bedrock of our communities and the future of our civilization. We absolutely must prioritize public education as the most fundamental leveling opportunity in our society. When and how we reach and teach individuals and families to provide awareness, prevention, skills, and strategies across so many domains of learning will be the determinant of all our futures.
What would you like to celebrate? What do see ahead for the Department of Education?
I would like to celebrate being a Catamount, a new faculty member at UVM, and a new-Vermonter. The CDCI has been and will continue to be a terrific partner with the Department of Education in providing outstanding training and collaborations. I think CDCI and the DOE will be able to integrate our work to better serve those in our community and to provide successful models for those who may be interested in similar work.