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Bonnie Leah Utley

Associate Professor, Special Education, Teacher Education

My story:

I graduated from high school in 1967 and embraced the changes occurring in society at that time, especially civil rights and feminism. After completing my undergraduate degree, I entered the field of special education.

The progression of my career in special education paralleled the movement toward inclusive practice. I moved from residential treatment facilities to public education and became the first teacher of students with severe disabilities in school district 501 - Topeka, Kansas - site of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision.

I completed my graduate work in special education and served in a variety of positions in basic and higher education until my daughter entered Kindergarten in 1993. She was enrolled in a busing program and attended a high poverty school in Pittsburgh, PA. The students in my daughter's classroom had complex needs and her Kindergarten teacher asked for my assistance. I adjusted my work schedule and served as a school volunteer one-day per week for four years at a variety of grade levels, deepening my understanding of general education curriculum and learning to co-plan and co-teach. My professional role during this period was as coordinator of the special education teacher education program at the University of Pittsburgh. In this capacity, I made substantial efforts to merge core curriculum in the general and special education programs. My commitment to shared responsibility for the learning of all students contributed to my decision to come to the University of Colorado Denver where I saw an opportunity to promote unified teacher education as the foundation for inclusion.

My students at the University of Colorado Denver:

People tell me that I am very student-centered in my teaching. To me, it is very important to explain and demonstrate the link between philosophy and practice as well as research and practice. It is very satisfying coaching emerging teacher candidates at Adams City Middle School. And, as a course instructor in the teacher education core, my focus with students is on assessment, curriculum, and instruction.

Classes I teach at the University of Colorado:

Exploring Diversity in Content and Pedagogy I and II--IPTE 5020/SPED 5021
All general and special education internships.
Positive Behavior Support (PBS)--SPED 5151

My research:

  • Measurement of knowledge and skill development on the part of teacher candidates as they progress through a series of internship experiences.
  • The outcomes of unified or merged teacher education on the ability of teacher candidates to teach all students well.
  • The development of assessment literacy on the part of teacher candidates.

My hobbies:

My interests include gardening, cooking, and my two dogs. I also enjoy film.

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