Dr. Anya Evmenova
Dr. Evmenova is an associate professor in the Division of Special Education and disability Research, College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University in Virginia, USA. She is originally from Russia, where she earned her first teaching degrees in English and German as Second Languages. Since coming to U.S. in 2001, Dr. Evmenova has earned MAEd. in special education from East Carolina University and Ph.D. in special education and assistive technology from George Mason University. She has taught students with high-incidence disabilities in inclusive and pull-out settings in North Carolina. Based on her own experiences, Dr. Evmenova is passionate about promoting inclusive and accessible education for individuals with a wide range of abilities and needs.
Following that passion, Dr. Evmenova’s international work has focused on the professional development for teachers around the world. She has conducted interactive workshops for:
- Secondary general education teachers in Cameroon as part of the Developing an Inclusive Classroom Culture through Differentiated Teaching Strategies project
- University faculty and special education teachers in Pakistan providing consultation on the use of assistive technology
- General education teachers and school administrators from Argentina focusing on establishing inclusive education practices
- Several cohorts of international general and special education teachers from more than 30 countries who have come to study at George Mason University as part of International Research & Exchanges Board -Teaching Excellence and Achievement (IREX-TEA) program
Many teachers begin their professional development journey with attitudes such as in this quote, “I accept students in disabilities in my class, but I don’t have the training on how to approach them.” Dr. Evmenova’s workshops and interactive hands-on activities always focus on understanding the needs of students with disabilities and creating accessible instruction through the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework. She encourages teachers to design their lessons with three UDL principles in mind: (a) engaging students in multiple ways; (b) presenting content in multiple ways; and (c) allowing students to demonstrate what they know in multiple ways. Participating educators experience UDL first-hand and realize how these principles can ensure engaging and personalized learning experiences for all students, not only those with disabilities. In addition, for students with more significant needs, Dr. Evmenova introduces teachers to assistive technology supports: both no/low-tech and freely available high-tech. Dr. Evmenova’s influence can be seen in this quote, “There is a huge benefit for all students in school to have children with disabilities in the same class. And now I know a little bit more about how to support all students through UDL.” Many teachers keep in touch with Dr. Evmenova and send her updates on their inclusive education practices. For some teachers that means making their own classroom more accessible. Others take the inclusive education initiatives to a higher level. For example, one teacher from Malawi has organized a non-profit organization to help establish full inclusion in the educational system in her country.
Dr. Evmenova with a group of international teachers from the IREX-TEA program at George Mason University
Dr. Evmenova’s upcoming project will take place in Kyrgyzstan. Dr. Evmenova has been selected by the U.S. Department of State for the prestigious English Language Specialist Project. The English Language Specialist Program is the premier opportunity for leaders in the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) to enact meaningful and sustainable changes in the way that English is taught abroad. This particular project will focus on working with primary and secondary school teachers who will provide English language instruction for students with disabilities in Kyrgyzstan. There are more than 30,000 children with disabilities in Kyrgyzstan, but only 1/5 of them having access to education. In order to facilitate inclusive education opportunities for all students, Dr. Evmenova will conduct a series of professional development workshops and observations. Teachers will learn about enhancing their instruction with UDL principles and supporting their students with various abilities and needs in four English language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Participating teachers will develop and teach inclusive and engaging lessons receiving feedback from observations. They will further cascade this knowledge to their fellow educators. The Specialist Program is administered by the Center for Intercultural Education and Development at Georgetown University. For further information about the English Language Specialist Program or the U.S. Department of State, please visit elprograms.org/specialist, contact us by telephone at 202-632-6452, or e-mail ECA-Press@state.gov.