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Our Biographies

Christopher Kliewer is an Associate Professor in Special Education at the University of Northern Iowa.  In the late 1980's Chris taught young children labeled with autism in a segregated school in Illinois before moving to Syracuse, NY, where he discovered inclusive education in the form of the Jowonio School, an early childhood center where all children learn together.  After teaching at Jowonio for three years, Chris entered the doctoral program in Teaching and Leadership at Syracuse University.  He worked closely with Professor Doug Biklen, his advisor, and began his ethnographic studies of early literacy.  He is currently the project director for a Federal Department of Education Research Grant on the development of early literacy skills in young children with significant disabilities in inclusive classrooms.

Christi Kasa-Hendrickson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from California State University Long Beach, a Master of Science Degree from Chapman University, and a Ph.D. in Inclusive Education from Syracuse University.  Her work involves teaching and research on inclusive education and communication for people with significant disabilities. 

Christi has published articles including  “Say just one word at first”: The emergence of reliable speech in a student labeled with autism in The Journal of the Association for People with Severe Handicaps and “There is no way this kid is retarded”: Teachers optimistic constructions of student ability in The International Journal for Inclusive Education. Christi also produced the 2002 documentary Inside the Edge:  A journey to using speech through typing.  She is the recipient of the TASH Image Award and the University Book and Supply Outstanding Teacher Award.  Her current research is focused on literacy opportunities in inclusive classrooms and Facilitated Communication. 

Janet Sauer is a Graduate Research Assistant for the Inclusive Early Childhood Literate Community Project under the direction of Dr. Kliewer and Dr. Kasa-Hendrickson.  After graduating from Emerson College in Boston and earning her Bachelor of Science Degree, she worked on documentaries for public television.  She earned her Master Degree in Education from Ohio University where she studied inclusive education for students with more significant disabilities in preschool and elementary.  She is presently on leave from teaching at Clarke College in Dubuque to pursue her doctorate in Special Education at the University of Northern Iowa.

Jillian McCarthy is a Graduate Research Assistant for the Inclusive Early Childhood Literate Community Project under the direction of Dr. Kliewer and Dr. Kasa-Hendrickson.  After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, she returned to UNI to pursue a Master's in Special Education.  She has since graduated from UNI and is teaching at the lab school at the University of Hawaii.  Her research interests include autism and inclusive education.

The contents of this site were developed under grants from the U.S. Department of Education (nos. H324D010031 & H324C040213).  However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and no endorsement by the Federal Government should be assumed.  For further information, please contact the project Directors Dr. Christopher Kliewer at christopher.kliewer@uni.edu or Dr. Christi Kasa-Hendrickson at christi.hendrickson@uccs.edu.