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Dr. Sara Parrish

John Carroll University students will have the opportunity to apply for dual licensure in special education and primary (P-5) education thanks to Sara Parrish, Ph.D., assistant professor in JCU's Department of Education. Dr. Parrish received a 2-year grant from the Ohio Dean's Compact to partner with Xavier University in the Development and Implementation of Dual Licensure between Primary and Special Education. Dr. Parrish is working alongside education and special education faculty members at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio to create a plan to implement a dual licensure in special education and P-5 at both universities. This development addresses the need to increase the capacity of Ohio institutions of higher education across the state. The project seeks to improve the effectiveness of our graduates to meet the instructional needs of all students including those identified with disabilities, as well as students who are members of racially, culturally, and ethically minoritized groups.

Dr. Parrish also received a research grant of $50,000 from the Spencer Foundation to look at what models of d/Deafness are available to young children in picture books and middle-grade chapter books. Characters with disabilities have been mainly absent and/or misrepresented in children’s literature. Readers often get an incomplete and inaccurate understanding of what it means to live a particular disability experience when characters with disabilities are marginalized and their story focuses on the medical condition of the disability instead of the character as a whole. This study will focus on one population of disability, those who identify as deaf, Deaf, or Hard of Hearing (HOH). It is important to learn about how d/Deafness/HOH is depicted in children’s literature, as such representations can challenge or propagate deficit-oriented discourses. Dr. Parrish's study will focus on the models of social construct that can portray and perpetuate both negative stereotypical or positive identity concepts of d/Deafness/HOH. Research is framed within the theory of Disability Studies and uses a critical content analysis approach to examine representations of children in picture and chapter books. The goal of the research is to give educators tools to show books with d/Deaf/HOH characters in their classrooms and have conversations around potential deficit portrayals or stereotypes.

The Spencer Foundation is the leading funder of educational research in the nation and the only one focused exclusively on funding educational research. Grants from the Spencer Foundation are extremely competitive with only 2% of applicants awarded funding - Dr. Parrish's grant was one of those 2%. This grant provides Dr. Parrish with the means and opportunity to pursue much-needed work in the realm of disability representation in educational spaces. It also brings an international and national profile to John Carroll University and the Department of Education. Dr. Parrish was awarded alongside researchers at preeminent R1 Universities such as The University of Texas, UCLA, University of Arizona, Temple, University of Maryland, Columbia, University of Wisconsin, SFSU, and the University of Minnesota, and international universities like Universidad de los Andes, Chile.

This award recognizes the promise of Dr. Parrish's ideas and helps further John Carroll's mission of teaching and leading for a most just society. 

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