Director of the Graduate Programs in Education and Director of the programs in Special Education and Adolescence Education
Phone: (845) 848-4090
Dr. Mike Kelly has been a member of Dominican’s Teacher Education Division since 1987. He graduated from Iona College with a BA in Spanish and Education and then pursued his MS in Ed in Special Education at the College of New Rochelle followed by a post Masters/Professional Diploma in Administration/Supervision and Urban Education and a Ph.D in Administration and Supervision with an emphasis in Special Education Administration. Dr. Kelly instructs many courses in Teacher Education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels—in traditional and online formats. He serves as the Director of the Graduate Programs in Education as well as Director of the programs in Special Education and Adolescence Education at the undergraduate level and advises the Senior Year Overlap Program (SYROP). He is the Certification Officer and liaison with the NYS Education Department. Dr. Kelly serves on a number of professional boards and committees including the NYS Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) where he is a regional representative and student chapter advisor. He has a professional practice where he provides psycho-educational diagnostic, remedial and counseling services for children, adolescents and young adults with learning disabilities. He has presented at many state and local conferences on his topics of research interest including Inclusive Pedagogical Practices, Universal Design for Learning, ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Assessment, Parenting, HIV/Aids Education, Educational Technology Integration and Cultural Responsiveness.
Assistant Professor of Teacher Education
Dr. Diane DiSpagna received her Doctorate in Education with a concentration in Special Education from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Dr. DiSpagna has earned two degrees from Long Island University including a Master’s of Science in Early Childhood Education and a Professional Diploma in Educational Administration, with a certification as School District Administrator. Her Undergraduate studies were completed here at Dominican College where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Education, with an N-6 Teaching Certification. Before coming to Dominican, Dr. DiSpagna taught in the early childhood and primary grades and served as an elementary school principal for 10 years, all of which has given her many years of valuable experiences to share with the students in the Teacher Education Program. During her career she has also served as a consultant for the teacher preparation programs for other higher education institutions, as a scorer for the Principal Licensure Examination, and is an active member of the Rockland Chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children. Dr. DiSpagna also serves as Counselor for the Dominican College Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education.
Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Education Division
Phone: (848) 4082 4082
Dr. Tesi is an Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Education Division. He earned his B.A. from the University of Charleston, his M.A. from Montclair State University, and his doctorate from Rutgers University. Dr. Tesi is a former public school teacher, principal, assistant superintendent of schools, and superintendent of schools. As a school and school district leader his schools have been nationally recognized by the United States Department of Education and Phi Delta Kappa. Dr. Tesi was selected as the Middlesex County, New Jersey, Teacher of the Year and that same year was a finalist and the second runner-up for the New Jersey State Teacher of the Year Award. In addition to the above accomplishments, Dr. Tesi served as a department chair, director of several graduate programs, and a professional development school consultant while at William Paterson University. He has successfully written accreditation reports for both TEAC and NCATE, the two national Teacher Education Accreditation bodies. Included among Dr. Tesi’s research interests are program assessment, teachers’ theoretical constructs, the effectiveness of field trips, and the relationship of GPA and success in teaching. He teaches the Introduction to Teaching Methods course and supervises student teachers.
Professor of Teacher Education
Professor Bencivenga earned an M.A. in history at New York University and a B.A. in social studies and secondary education at Rutgers University. His fields of concentration include curriculum and instruction, staff development, and leadership. He has published in several journals including the National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin, the Middle School Journal, and the English Journal on the topics of instructional leadership and social/emotional intelligence. Professor Bencivenga is a Faculty Associate, national presenter, and consultant for the George Lucas Educational Foundation and a consultant for ISCALS(Improving School Climate for Academic and Life Success) at Rutgers University. Professor Bencivenga’s work has focused on the relationship among social/emotional intelligence, the learning environment and academic achievement. He has presented at the Harvard University Conference on Media Literacy, the Education and Public Outreach Conference of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Education Writers’ Association Annual Conference in Washington, DC, the Building the Brainware Conference on Social/Emotional Learning and Academic Excellence at Rutgers University, and at the Columbia University Media Education Institute. He teaches and advises in the Freshman Year Program and is a member of the Honors Committee. Professor Bencivenga teaches Educational Psychology, School and Society, Introduction to Teaching Methods, and Methods in Adolescence Education. He also conducts field observations of student teachers.
Assistant Professor of Teacher Education and Coordinator of the Childhood Education Program
Phone: (848) 4089 4089
Professor Kathleen Femiani has been a member of the Teacher Education faculty since 2005. She earned a Master of Science in Administration and Supervision from the College of New Rochelle. In addition, Professor Femiani also earned two degrees from Hunter College: a Master of Science in Elementary Education and a Bachelor of Arts in English. As Coordinator of the Childhood Program, she developed and supervises an internship program for seniors enrolled in her courses. Professor Femiani presented papers on the role of reflection in the development of pre-service teachers at the Eastern Educational Research Associates Conference in 2012 as well as the Biennial Dominican Colloquium in 2012. She had a long career as an elementary school teacher in which she also provided professional development for teachers of Mathematics. Among the courses Professor Femiani teaches are Educational Psychology, Teaching Mathematics, Teaching Science, and Teaching Social Studies. In addition, she participates in the supervision of Student teachers each semester.
Assistant Professor of Teacher Education and Coordinator of the Early Childhood Education and Technology Education programs
Phone: (845) 848-4088
Dr. Jennifer Kaywork developed the Early Childhood Education and Technology Education programs from their inception, and continually works in the field to keep the programs up-to-date and relevant. Dr. Kaywork earned a B.S.Ed. from the University of Georgia in Elementary Education/Child and Family Development, an M.S. from Virginia Tech in Child and Family Development, and an Ed.D. from Rutgers University in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. Dr. Kaywork has conducted research on peer teaching and learning with young children as well as on student teacher reflective practice. She has studied early childhood education in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and much of her teaching focuses on this hands-on and child-directed learning, Dr. Kaywork is an active member of the early childhood community in New York and New Jersey, and serves on numerous advisory boards and board of directors that work to provide high quality early childhood care to all children. She also works as a consultant for families and schools in the areas of early childhood education and child development, and has published a book on infant/toddler development and curriculum.
Associate Professor of Teacher Education
Phone: (845) 848-4091
Dr. Strax earned her B.A. from Dominican College, M.S. and P.D. from the College of New Rochelle, and Ed.D. from Fordham University. She is a past president of the New England Educational Research Organization, has held many leadership positions in the Eastern Educational Research Association since 1999, and has published on the topic of special education. A qualitative researcher, her interests include inclusive education, the use of service dogs with people with disabilities, and children’s literature. Dr. Strax teaches Psychosocial Aspects of Exceptionality in the graduate program as well as a range of courses including Instructional Strategies and Materials for the Learner with Exceptionalities, Psychology of Learners with Intellectual and Behavioral Challenges, Inclusive Settings, and School and Society in the undergraduate program.