2016 DISES Distinguished International Student Award:

Andrew Scheef



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The 2016 DISES International Distinguished Student Award was presented to Andrew Scheef, a doctoral student in special education at Washington State University. He has demonstrated excellence in academic achievement and a strong potential for contributing to the field of international special education. In 2014, he was awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching to work in Singapore where he spent three months building relationships with the Ministry of Education, local schools, and educators, with the goal of enhancing the lives of young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities through enhanced transition opportunities. While in Singapore, Andrew conducted a qualitative study to better understand strategies for nurturing partnerships between local businesses and employment specialists at local schools. Based on the quality of these international efforts, he took first place in the International Research presentation competition at the 2015 Wiley Research Exposition at Washington State University; he was also named a finalist for the Pat Sitlington Emerging Student Researchers Award of CEC’s Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT). Andrew is currently working on a second manuscript for publication based on the data collected in Singapore.

2016 DISES Distinguished International Leadership Award:

George William Muliika



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The 2016 DISES International Distinguished Leadership Award was presented to was presented to George William Muliika for his work to improve the lives of learners with disabilities. George has demonstrated significant efforts in organizing and leading a new student group at Kisubi Brothers University in Uganda.This group focuses on serving the needs of learners with disabilities. Their goal is to grow and support local efforts to improve the lives of children living and learning in vulnerable conditions in their country. George has been leading the student group at Kisubi Brothers University since its inception in June 2015. His enthusiasm and dedication to meeting the needs of children with disabilities are evident through his efforts to improve educational conditions for learners and to increase their access to education. He has assembled an impressive group of 22 dedicated teacher preparation students who have collaborated in organizing their group to build awareness of the needs of children and adults with special needs and promote educational opportunities for learners with special needs. These goals align well with the DISES mission and goals in fostering collaborative partnerships and promoting advocacy for human rights.

2015 DISES International Distinguished Leadership Award:

Dr. Evelyn Reed and Dr. Frances Smith





Dr. Evelyn Reed and Dr. Frances Smith have been selected as the co-recipients of the 2015 DISES International Distinguished Leadership Award for their international work to improve the lives of learners with disabilities. Drs. Reed and Smith have demonstrated distinguished international recognition for their contribution to the field of special education, especially teacher preparation in special education.

With their Jamaican colleagues Mrs. Angelita Arnold and Mrs. Salomie Evering from Mico University College, Drs. Reed and Smith developed a plan for supporting the professional growth of Jamaican teachers, clinicians, and faculty who work to address the diverse learning needs of Jamaican students, with and without identified disabilities. Along with doctoral students at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Drs. Reed and Smith developed an online learning space as the Global Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Virtual Classroom, populating it with curated resources and learning modules related to UDL, and encouraging active participation through module prompts and blog-based discussion. Through these collaborations, they strived to establish a working relationship that places the needs, interests, and values of the Jamaican educators and their students first. By using a “train the trainer” model with open access for trainers to all training materials and curated resources on the Virtual Classroom site, they have enabled a sustainable learning platform for Jamaican leadership to continue to develop into the future. These collaborations have led to continued interest of Jamaican educators’ pursuit of UDL learning. Mico University leadership is pursuing a collaborative relationship with the School of Education at VCU in the field of early childhood special education.

To support their continued interests in international work supporting the success of diverse learners, both Dr. Reed and Dr. Smith earned appointments as Fulbright Specialists. In these roles, they will have opportunities to partner with professionals from institutions world wide on educational issues related to promoting positive learning outcomes for all students.

Based on these accomplishments and their collaborative partnership, the Division of International Special Education Services is pleased to award our 2015 Distinguished Leadership Award to Dr. Evelyn Reed and Dr. Frances Smith.



2015 DISES International Student Award:

Dr. Brenda Barrio


Brenda Barrio

The recipient of the 2015 DISES International Distinguished Student Award is Dr. Brenda Barrio. A native of Mexico, Dr. Barrio has been actively involved in addressing special education issues related to working with culturally and linguistically diverse students with disabilities, with a special emphasis on teacher preparation and culturally responsive teaching. Dr. Barrio earned her Ph.D. in August 2013 from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas with a major in special education-mild to moderate disabilities and a minor in bilingual ESL education.

The title of Dr. Barrio’s dissertation was “Exploring general education preservice teachers’ levels of concern regarding the implementation of response to intervention.” The manuscript based on her dissertation recently was published in Teacher Education and Special Education, the journal of the Teacher Education Division of CEC.

Dr. Barrio’s service in working with culturally and linguistically diverse population was evident through several recognitions. In 2010, Dr. Barrio was nominated for the International Student of the Year at University of North Texas. She was the recipient for the Multicultural Scholastic Award from 2007 to 2013. In 2015, Dr. Barrio was nominated for the CEC’s Division for Learning Disabilities Outstanding Doctoral Level Research Award.

Based on these accomplishments during her graduate study, the Division of International Special Education Services is pleased to award our 2015 Distinguished International Student Award to Dr. Brenda Barrio.


 Ms. Swaleha (Sally) Mohamedali

Ms. Swaleha (Sally) MohamedaliMs. Swaleha (Sally) Mohamedali is a teacher for Jaffery Academy in Arusha, Tanzania.

Ms. Mohamedali, a member of DISES and IASE, is a special educator who specializes in Early Childhood Development, Learning Disabilities (LD), intellectual disabilities, focusing on vocational skills for students with disabilities.

After her studies in Botswana, East Africa, in the United Kingdom, and the Rochville University in Florida, Swaleha joined Jaffery Academy in 2005 and set up a Special Needs Department and Resource Center within the mainstream school addressing the needs of students with LD disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and autistic spectrum disorders.

In 2006, she introduced inclusive educational practices into her area.

She holds a number of consultancies and conducts workshops for the Mountain Merou University students and the City Council elementary teachers.

 2013 DISES International Distinguished Leadership Award:

Dr. Clayton Edward Keller

Dr. Clayton Keller, who was nominated by Dr. Katie Bonawitz, has been in the field for more than 35 years as a special education teacher, special education workforce specialist, and a special education professor for sixteen years; the last three years at Qatar University. Dr. Keller is a past president of DISES (2005-2007) and currently Associate Professor of special education and Coordinator of Master of Education in Special Education at Qatar University. Below we list some of his accomplishments: He has helped build a strong special education program in Qatar in order to effectively prepare the next generation of special education leaders in Qatar. He has also served several overseas universities like the University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana, the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, and Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway. He has led many international research and professional development projects. He is actually an active and prolific researcher in the area of international special education program and services. He has demonstrated his belief in new researchers who begin to explore the international field of special education. Specifically, he has generously assisted many individuals to get networked with other individuals across the world.

2013 DISES International Distinguished Leadership Award:

Dr. Sami Basha

Dr. Sami BashaDr. Sami Basha from Palestine Ahliva University was nominated by Tom Gumpel. It is noteworthy that this nomination has had something special. Both they work at the same region of Middle East: Sami at the Ahliva University in Palestine, Tom at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This fact speaks for itself for both of them.
Dr. Basha is President Assistant for Planning and Development at Palestine Ahliva University at Bethlehem. He is also Director of the special education program and director of Special Education Center at the same university.
Below we list some of his accomplishments:
He is the premier expert on autism in Palestine. He works tirelessly in promoting evidence-based practices serving children with autism and their families.
He has developed a screening and diagnostic test in Arabic for children with autistic spectrum disorders (The Basha Autism Spectrum Test).
He has worked closely with all major Palestinian university and was involved in many governmental and non-governmental agencies both as consultant and as a program leader. Specifically, he has worked with UNESCO, UNICEF, and UNDP, as well as many international universities.
He promotes the human rights of children with special educational needs and at the same time a culture of peace in one of the most sensitive and special areas of the world. Dr. Basha works in an environment surrounding prolonged military conflict. This fact is usually hostile to productive work. Thus, his resolve under such circumstances is even more inspiring to all DISES members.