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Alissa Rausch

Instructor, Early Childhood Special Education


My story:

With a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy, I expected to leave Colorado State University and head directly to medical school. While preparing for the medical school entrance exam, I was finishing a required rotation in the public school system in a program for children with autism. Quite unexpectedly, 12 weeks later, I found myself completely transformed and deeply committed to young children with special needs and their families. I took my first job as an occupational therapist in the early childhood program in a suburban Denver school district. Several months in the program, beside master teachers, I was inspired to pursue my master’s degree in early childhood special education. After almost 15 years experience as a practitioner and district leader, I found myself gravitating to teaching teachers about best practices for young children. So, I began teaching as an adjunct and supporting the practicum experiences of young teachers at CU Denver’s Early Childhood Education/ Early Childhood Special Education program. It is a dream come true that I am in my current role at CU Denver!

My students at CU Denver:

My favorite place to “hang out” is in the gray space between teaching and learning. Students should leave my course understanding the tenets of early childhood education and have a rationale for the decisions they make with and for young children and their families. Of equal importance, I hope that my students gain the passion to support young children and families at all levels of the educational system. I am happiest when my teaching experiences inspire the same passion in me.

Classes I teach:

  • Approaches to Early Childhood Education – ECED 5020
  • Administrative Seminar – ECED 5040
  • Medical and Physiological Aspects of Developmentally Disabilities – ECED 6100
  • Early Intervention Strategies – ECED 6200
  • Practicum Co-Coordinator – ECED 6910, 6912, 6914

My research interests:

I am deeply committed to building leadership capacity in young teachers to support young children who find themselves at the intersection of marginalized populations including disability, race and socio-economic status.

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