Member Spotlight

Dr. Susan O’Rourke

Dr. Susan O’Rourke, former DISES president and department chair and professor of special education at Carlow University, is doing exciting professional development and service in Uganda, Ireland and Belize (previously Nicaragua). She is doing study abroad special education programs with Ireland and Belize. (She’ll be taking a group of students to Ireland this summer.) In Belize she also developed and utilized an assessment tool to measure student learning in the arts.

Dr. O’Rourke is doing extensive work in Uganda encompassing special education program development and service in their communities. Her services to the communities includes raising funds to construct 7 wells in place where access to clean water is quite difficult as well as distribution of eyeglasses. Special education professional development activities there include consultation with faculty at Kisubi University for a new graduate special education teacher preparation program, building of the first inclusive education program in the Teso region and development of a vocational gardening curriculum for students with disabilities. She recently went to Malaysia where she is working on professional development for special education teachers there. Dr. O’Rourke plans to continue this work in these countries and possibly expand to Liberia and Columbia.

Dr. Humberto Rodriguez

DISES member and former DISES president Professor Humberto J. Rodriguez ( recently participated with a distinguished international group of scholars to advise UNESCO on their 2020 Global Educational Monitoring (GEM) project. The GEM report made the following six recommendations on inclusion and equity for all regions of the world.
– There must be clear definitions of inclusion and equity
– The identification and elimination of barriers to the participation and progress of all learners is needed to maximize the learning of all students on the basis of rigorous evidence
– Since teachers are key players in promoting inclusion and equity, they must be prepared and supported
– It is very important for the curriculum and assessment procedures to be designed with all learners in mind
– Attention should be given to how educational systems are managed and the impact of major structural changes and the impact on vulnerable learners
– Communities need to be involved in the development and implementation of policies for promoting inclusion and equity in education.

DISES is proud of the active involvement of its’ members to promote quality inclusive practices that ensure equity and excellence for children and youth with exceptional needs.