College of Education Alumna Participating in Project ASD Grant at University of Central Florida

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Katie Sidor

MACON – Recent Mercer University alumna Katie Sidor began graduate work this fall on a grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Education that provides financial and academic support to students preparing to serve the increasing numbers of children identified with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Project ASD at the University of Central Florida is grant-funded through 2023 by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. It has supported more than 300 scholars in earning master’s degrees and full certification in Exceptional Student Education and state endorsement in autism.

Sidor, from Rockledge, Florida, is pursuing her Master of Education in Exceptional Student Education with a graduate certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders from UCF. Through her participation in Project ASD, she will attend research conferences and commit to four years of service to students with disabilities upon completion of the graduate program.

Currently, she is working as a fourth- and fifth-grade varying exceptionalities (VE) teacher at Atlantis Elementary School, a Title I school in Cocoa, Florida. VE teachers may work with students who have ASD, cognitive disabilities, or are deaf or hard of hearing, speech or language impaired or visually impaired.

Sidor earned her Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in early childhood/special education – Holistic Child from Mercer’s College of Education in May 2019. She competed on Mercer’s women’s tennis team from 2015-2019, earning All-Southern Conference First Team honors in singles competition as a junior and senior.

“Katie is a natural-born teacher who has a gift for working with children with special needs. It was a joy to watch her grow as a teacher during her time at Mercer, and I am excited to see her embark on this continued journey at UCF,” said Dr. Sybil Keesbury, associate professor of education at Mercer.

As a senior, Sidor and a classmate presented research on fluency at BEAR (Breakthroughs in Engagement, Arts and Research) Day. The project was titled “How will using the Fluency-Oriented Reading Instruction improve third graders’ abilities to fluently read appropriate leveled texts?” and was completed at Bibb County partner schools Ingram-Pye Elementary and Hartley Elementary.

“As a teacher candidate, Katie demonstrated a deep understanding of how teaching and research must be intertwined to help enhance student success. Her action research project helped local elementary students not reading on grade level to improve in comprehensive and fluency skills. I was incredibly proud of the hard work she put into helping students improve in their literacy skills and continue to be proud of her as she embarks on this wonderful opportunity at UCF,” said Dr. Vicki Luther, associate professor of education at Mercer.

About the College of Education

Mercer University’s Tift College of Education – with campuses in Macon, Atlanta and the University’s two regional academic centers – prepares more professional educators than any other private institution in Georgia. Named for the former women’s college that merged with Mercer in 1986, the College of Education offers baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and is guided by the conceptual framework of the “Transforming Educator,” which supports those who aspire to grow professionally throughout their careers, while also seeking to transform the lives of students. For more information, visit education.mercer.edu.

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Kyle Sears