Inaugural Fellows

Dr. Shanan Chappell

Research Assistant Professor, The Center for Educational Partnerships, Darden College of Education, Old Dominion University

I’m honored and humbled to be part of the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network’s new Fellows program. Our first efforts are already underway and hopefully will allow us to provide empirical evidence to identify those program components that are most effective at preventing dropouts and improving graduation rates for all students, particularly those most at risk of not graduating from high school.

Conducting a meta-analysis of programs will provide further insight into what we already know. Previous studies conducted by the NDPC/N and others tell us that the dropout risk factors are many and are multifaceted. The literature also helps identify methods that may help alleviate or eliminate these risk factors. But no synthesis of the literature has been conducted to establish which program components or characteristics are most successful in reducing dropout rates and improving graduation rates. I believe that such a study will allow us to strengthen existing programs by impacting policy at the local, state, and perhaps even national level to help all students graduate on time with clear pathways to a meaningful postsecondary life.

Dr. Lee Crandall

Professor and Chair of Public Health Sciences
2007 – present: Professor and Chair
Department of Public Health Sciences
Clemson University
Clemson, South Carolina

2007 – present: Professor (Voluntary)
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health
University of Miami – Miller School of Medicine
Miami, Florida

I currently serve as Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences at Clemson University. My primary research interests related to NDPC focus on the interrelationships between risks for school dropout and other behavioral risk factors (substance use, sexual risk and teen pregnancy) among adolescents and pre-adolescents. I am specifically interested in interrelationships among community, school, family, peer, and intrapersonal risk and protective domains, and how multi-faceted prevention programs can address risk factors and enhance protective factors across behavioral domains. I believe that both the field of public health and the medical profession have generally been inadequately engaged in efforts to discourage adolescents from using alcohol, tobacco and other risky substances and prevent school dropout despite the lifelong negative health impacts of these choices.

I hope I can serve as a liaison between NDPC/N and the research community in public health and in medical settings that looks at issues like teen pregnancy, substance abuse, bullying, and even childhood obesity. These issues may be seen by those researchers as their dependent variable of interest, but nevertheless may shape the school experience in ways that increase risk of school dropout. Similarly, school failure may be seen by these researchers as an “independent variable” that predicts risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy or eating disorders. I hope that we can move more toward recognizing that this is an interactive system of ”linked epidemics” and that we can help to develop more holistic approaches that improve the lives of individuals from adolescence into adulthood.

Ms. Colleen Dawicki

Director of the Urban Initiative at UMass-Dartmouth
  • B.A., Public and Private Sector Organizations, Brown University (2006)
  • Public Policy Fellow, Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at the Harvard Kennedy School (2011)
  • Master’s of Public Policy, UMass Dartmouth (2012)

Since joining the Urban Initiative in 2010, Colleen has provided community partners with technical assistance, program evaluations, public outreach and engagement, and applied research in the areas of education, transportation, and community development.

Recent projects Dawicki has managed or contributed to include a program evaluation of dropout prevention efforts in Springfield, MA public schools; a study of public transit needs and perceptions in New Bedford; a study on collaborative opportunities for school districts and higher education in Berkshire County; serving as evaluator for a HOPE VI (public housing) project in Taunton, MA. She has also been fostering closer ties to local communities by sharing information through a monthly newsletter and a blog on urban policy issues and their local application (

As a strategic partner of the NDPC/N since 2009, the UMass Dartmouth Urban Initiative has gained tremendously from the opportunity to integrate our comprehensive approach to urban policy analysis with the vast knowledge and skills of the NDPC/N for the benefit of schools, districts, and cities across our region. Across the diverse communities in which we’ve worked together to serve, one thing holds constant: context matters. The decision to drop out doesn’t happen in isolation; instead, it can be affected by factors as wide-ranging as housing access and affordability, transportation, economic opportunity, and public safety. This holistic perspective, along with my experience working with the NDPC/N to evaluate dropout prevention programs and disseminate best practices, will be among my contributions as a NDPC Fellow. I look forward to working with the team of NDPC Fellows to broaden the reach of the NDPC/N in its efforts to increase high school graduation rates nationwide.

Dr. Jennie Farmer

Assistant Professor of Special Education
2011 – present: Assistant Professor
Department of Teacher Education
Special Education Program
Eugene T. Moore School of Education
Clemson University

I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Clemson University where I teach courses in the Special Education and Educational Foundations Programs. My research interests include improving educational and quality of life outcomes for students with high incidence disabilities, particularly those with learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and those who are twice exceptional. My research within special education primarily focuses on the intersection of academic and social-emotional needs through the use of learning strategies, self-determination, and positive psychology. I also conduct research related to research methodology and analysis in the area of single-case designs.

I am pleased to be a Research Fellow for NDPC/N. I hope to continue the quality research of the Center and expand it by conducting intervention research related to preventing school dropout. I am interested in interventions that attend to students’ academic and social-emotional needs within school settings and through the transition from K-12 to postsecondary settings. I believe we must focus on educating the whole person in order to make substantial and lasting changes in the educational system and with student outcomes. I hope to be a part of this change for all students and particularly for those with high incidence disabilities and who are twice exceptional.

Dr. Kathy Headley

Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Health, Education and Human Development
College of Health, Education and Human Development
Clemson University

Kathy Headley is a professor of reading education and a faculty member at Clemson University since 1987. Dr. Headley began her career as an elementary classroom teacher and reading specialist in Georgia before completing her doctorate in reading from Auburn University. In addition to her position as associate dean, Dr. Headley continues her collaboration with the Center of Excellence in Adolescent Literacy and Learning as the research director, having previously served as co-director of the center.

The formation of the NDPC Fellows Program is an educational dream that has come to fruition. Having the Fellows work both directly on specific projects with and indirectly as liaisons for the NDPC will create dynamic relationships that will branch into multiple directions. As associate dean for research in HEHD, my goal is to facilitate those collaborative relationships and outreach endeavors. As Fellows, we will work diligently to support teachers and learners who are key to addressing the mission of the NDPC in our state and nation.

Dr. Jane Clark Lindle

Eugene T. Moore Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership
2004 – present: Eugene T. Moore Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership
Faculty of Leadership, Counselor Education, Human and Organizational Development
Eugene T. Moore School of Education
College of Health, Education, and Human Development
Clemson University

Student success in any realm, education, health, recreation, depends on relationships built in the community. School leaders are key to enabling these relationships through schools in creating a safe community for learning. My role at Clemson includes the development of school building leaders and school district leaders. Since 2004, five programs in Educational Leadership have been revised through five pilots in partnership with 16 different school districts. My research interests focus on school and community relationships, school safety, and the effects of educational policy on teaching and learning and relationships.

The formation of the NDPC Fellows opens an opportunity for ensuring that research on school engagement reaches practices and vice versa. Meta-analyses on dropout prevention and reviews of research on the various effective initiatives expand on the contribution that NDPC’s new online journal, Engage: An international journal on research and practices in school engagement promises. As the Editor for Engage, I’m particularly interested in seeing a more dynamic flow between research and practice.

Dr. Patrick O'connor

Dr. Patrick O’Connor

Associate Professor in the College of Teaching Learning and Curriculum Studies at Kent State University

My primary duties at Kent State University are to coordinate teacher education programs in Career-Technical Education. The program prepares teachers for secondary education teaching and we also offer an endorsement for teachers with academic licenses who wish to work with students identified as dropout potential. In addition, my scholarly interests are in workforce and economic development especially the role of literacy and life-long learning. As employers demand more of employees, students must be better prepared to meet the demands of the current and future workforce.

I view both areas as contributing to keeping students in school. Career-Technical Education has a long history of appealing to students who prefer more contextual types of learning. And, as the workforce becomes more sophisticated, entering employees will need greater academic skills which require improved literacy. We have infused instruction for Career-Technical teachers in how to support their student’s reading and academic abilities.

I see the Fellows program as providing opportunities for people from many perspectives to study problems and explore solutions. I view the dropout problem as being multi-facetted and thus requiring multi-facetted solutions. I believe the Fellows program is an excellent example of a multi-facetted solution.

Mr. Terry Pickeral

President of Cascade Educational Consultants, Bellingham, WA

Terry Pickeral is the president of Cascade Educational Consultants providing leadership in: youth engagement, school climate, service-learning, civic development, education policy, state and district leadership and other practices to sustain quality education reform focused on equitable student and community engagement.

He has worked with students from high-risk environments and those marginalized from quality education experiences. He is a senior consultant to the National Center for School Climate and the co-chair of the National School Climate Council, a national consortium advocating for policies and practices in support of quality, equitable and engaging learning environments. He is also senior education consultant to Special Olympics Project UNIFY, a national initiative on social inclusion in schools.

I am particularly interested in developing and disseminating quality policy options federal, state and local policymakers and education leaders can adopt/adapt to create and sustain the conditions for student development and graduation from high school. Such policy options will be based on evidence and research to support quality practices, identify components of a safe and engaging school climate.

Dr. Suzanne Rosenblith

Professor and Department Chair of Teacher Education
Eugene T. Moore School of Education
College of Health, Education, and Human Development
Clemson University

As a teacher educator, I am committed to educating all children to reach their potential. Too often, though, circumstances present themselves that prevent many, many, children from reaching their potential. Moreover, too often as a society we all too willingly concede a certain percentage of our population to dropout – this troubles me deeply.

I am the chair of the faculty of teacher education and I see my greatest strength as one where I build direct connections between the research, teaching, and service activities of my faculty with the research and outreach activities of the NDPC. The Network can provide overwhelming and powerful evidence to the American people that there is a dropout/pushout crisis and at the same time provide evidence of ways to address this crisis.

Dr. Robert Shumer

Research Associate University of Minnesota

Little did I know more than 40 years ago when I started as a Reading Teacher at a high school in L.A. County working with students who were poor readers and hated school that I would spend the majority of my educational career dealing with all kinds of initiatives involved in dropout prevention and school change. I was involved with the Career Education movement in the 1970s and 1980s, the experiential education movement in higher ed/k-12 as Director of Field Studies at UCLA (and as a board member for the National Society for Internships and Experiential Education), and later as Director of the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse at the University of Minnesota.

Professionally, I am currently a Research Associate/Adjunct Professor at the University of Minnesota where I have taught courses on service-learning, experiential education, vocational and technical education, curriculum, and participatory evaluation. I am currently serving as the lead internal evaluator for the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education at the University of Louisville, have conducted more than 30 research studies on various topics, from service-learning and national service, to intergenerational programs, civic engagement initiatives, career and technical education, and youth led evaluation. I have published several books and more than 50 book chapters, articles, and monographs on a multitude of topics.

Almost all of my work has centered on two themes: student engagement and community connected learning. Overall, these are two of the most important topics related to dropout prevention and student retention in school and college. So, after all these years, I’m still working in the same issues I did when I began: making learning interesting, exciting, and meaningful for both students and the larger society.

My interest as a Fellow is to develop programs and national initiatives that connect all of my areas of interest: service-learning, career and technical education, and civic engagement. I hope to develop funding and relationships for the NDPC so that all the groups that need to be connected for student engagement and retention can combine to develop effective models of K-12/college/community collaborations that make education work for everyone.

Dr. Dolores Stegelin

Professor of Early Childhood Education

The formation of the NDPC Fellows creates an opportunity for ensuring that research on the need for quality preschool education for all children will be expanded. Students who are more likely to drop out of school are typically in greater need of early intervention or early childhood education in the preschool years. An important role of the NDPC Fellows is to make visible the research outcomes that document the impact of early childhood education on student academic achievement, indicators of social success, and increased capacity for wage earning and making long-term contributions to society in general. I look forward to utilizing my expertise and interest in early childhood education in the research efforts of the NDPC Fellows.