Meet the Tennessee Tiered Supports Center

Successful RTI2-A+RTI2-B implementation relies on systems and practices that fit local context and address local need. Tennessee TSC offers community-based expertise and relevant support in each of Tennessee’s core regions through a long-standing partnership between Vanderbilt University, University of Memphis, and University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Meet our team of consultants in the sections below!

Middle TN Team

Located at Vanderbilt University, the Middle TN team provides assistance to the following counties:

Montgomery, Robertson, Sumner, Macon, Clay, Pickett, Dickson, Cheatham, Davidson, Wilson, Trousdale, Smith, Jackson, Overton, Fentress, Hickman, Williamson, Rutherford, Cannon, De Kalb, Putnam, White, Cumberland, Lewis, Maury, Marshall, Bedford, Warren, Van Buren, Rhea, Lawrence, GIles, Lincoln, Moore, Coffee, Grundy, Franklin, Marion and Sequatchie.

Contact Information regarding assistance:
Contact Middle TN Center

Meet the Middle TN Team

Primary Investigator

Casey Chauvin, Ph.D., BCBA, is a Senior Research Analyst in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University.  As Co-Investigator of Tennessee TSC, she supports efforts to build aligned RTI2-A + RTI2-B supports and practices. Her research interests include behavior assessment and the provision of evidence-based academic and behavioral interventions within multi-tiered systems of support.

Co-Primary Investigator

Blair Lloyd, Ph.D., BCBA-D, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D) and a member of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. In the Department of Special Education, Dr. Lloyd teaches graduate courses on Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Single Case Research Methodology, and special topics courses on Childhood Aggression and Intensive Interventions. Her current research focuses on intensive, individualized assessments and interventions for students with persistent challenging behavior.

Technical Assistance Team Director – Middle TN

Dia Davis, M.A., Dia is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of South Florida, she holds a master’s degree in Varying Exceptionalities. Dia has worked as a consultant on Tennessee Behavior Supports Project, Florida’s Positive Behavioral Interventions & Support Project, served as a District Coordinator for PBIS, a District Multi-Tiered System of Supports Facilitator, and a special education teacher. In her time as a local and state-based consultant she has worked with over a hundred schools in designing prevention-focused systems and interventions at all three tiers for academics and behavior. Dia has a strong passion for systems change and implementation science as it relates to improving policies, systems, and practices to support all learners. She has worked over the past decade to help support putting research into practice and truly believes that the greatest impact comes from building relationships between all key collaborators.

Technical Assistance Consultant

Tara Axelroth, M.Ed., BCBA, Tara earned a Master’s degree in Comprehensive Special Education from Vanderbilt University and is a board-certified behavior analyst. Before joining the TSC team, she was a special education teacher in Middle Tennessee. Tara served on her school’s leadership team to develop their school-wide positive behavioral support program. While teaching, her focus on providing behavior support to students and staff led to an interest in aligned tiered supports for both academics and behavior and an overall model for prevention.

Technical Assistance Consultant

Julie Daye, Ph.D., NCSP, Julie earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Brigham Young University, Provo, an Education Specialist Degree in School Psychology from Brigham Young University, and a Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of South Florida, Tampa. She worked as a school psychologist in every age group from kindergarten through twelfth grade. As an assistant professor in the school psychology program at West Texas A&M University in Amarillo, she taught multiple courses including school systems, program evaluation, and counseling interventions. She became acquainted with systems approaches through her graduate-level thesis and dissertation work. Her research was primarily focused on implementing multi-tiered systems of support in high schools. She believes is important to provide preventative services to change the trajectories of students.

Technical Assistance Consultant

Caroline Robinson, M.Ed., Caroline earned a Master’s degree in Learning and Design from Vanderbilt University. She has worked as an educator in Middle Tennessee and has extensive experience implementing RTI2-A+RTI2-B systems. Her interests include developing and sustaining preventative models for academics and behavior as well as utilizing targeted intervention strategies to address academic and behavioral skill gaps.

East TN Team

Located at University of Tennessee – Knoxville, the East TN team provides assistance to the following counties:

Scott, Campbell, Claiborne, Hancock, Hawkins, Sullivan, Johnson, Morgan, Anderson, Union, Grainger, Hamblen, Greene, Washington, Carter, Unicol, Roane, Anderson, Knox, Jefferson, Cocke, Loudon, Blount, Megis, McMinn, Monroe, Hamilton, Bradley and Polk.

Contact Information regarding assistance:
Contact East TN Center

Meet the East TN Team

Co-Primary Investigator

Tara Moore, PhD, BCBA assumed many roles and responsibilities in rural and urban Tennessee public schools while working directly with students with learning, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities and their teachers. As a classroom teacher, she taught students with and without disabilities in special education and inclusive classrooms in elementary, middle, and high school settings. As a research liaison and school-based consultant, she provided training and on-going consultation to both special education and general education teachers who were implementing classroom-based interventions to prevent and reduce students’ problem behaviors. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and both a Master of Education degree and a PhD degree in special education from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Tara is certified as a behavior analyst by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Her research interests include classroom and behavior management and teacher-student interactions to prevent and reduce problem behavior.

Technical Assistance Team Director – East TN

Jessica Eshbaugh is The East TN Technical Assistance Director for Tennessee TSC. Jessica has ten years of experience in public education working in high-needs school settings where she taught English Language Arts and provided support, instructional coaching, and professional development to teachers as a TAP Master Teacher. Jessica has served as an educational consultant since 2015 when she came to UT, Knoxville to support East Tennessee districts and schools implement a state-wide tiered framework for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS).  Jessica is currently pursuing a PhD in Special Education and certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). While working towards her BCBA, Jessica has served as a behavior interventionist in a clinical setting for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (ID/DD). Her research interests include school-wide and classroom-based interventions to improve behavioral and academic outcomes for all students.

Educational Consultant

Michael Morrow is an educational consultant with the Tennessee TSC at the University of Tennessee. He taught special education in Knox County Schools, serving students with both low and high incidence disabilities, specifically focused on students with Autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and complex behavior and communication needs. Following years of service in the classroom, he served in the Knox County Schools as a district level special education facilitator, overseeing programming and working with teachers to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Michael has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education from the University of Tennessee, and is currently pursuing a PhD in special education and certification as a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst at UT.

Educational Consultant

Ashlee Smethers is an Educational Consultant for the Tennessee TSC. Ashlee was a special education teacher for students with low and high incidence disabilities, including students with significant communication and behavioral needs in inclusive and special education classroom settings. Ashlee is pursuing a Ph.D. in Special Education and certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Her research interests include evaluating and utilizing teacher preparation, teacher training and coaching models, behavior skills training and performance feedback models, and technology tools to improve teachers’ use of classroom management strategies to improve student outcomes. Ashlee has a Master of Science in Special Education from the University of Tennessee and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Baker University located in her home state, Kansas.

Educational Consultant

Jessica Ogburn is an educational consultant with the Tennessee TSC at the University of Tennessee. Jessica has over 20 years of experience working with children with behavioral disorders and implementing inclusionary practices to support children with disabilities in child care facilities and schools in East Tennessee. She enjoys providing technical assistance, trainings, and guidance to teachers in the education field. She graduated with a BA in human growth and learning with a focus in elementary education from Tusculum College and obtained a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from The University of Phoenix.

Educational Consultant

Miller Foutch is an educational consultant with the Tennessee TSC.  She has over twenty-three years of experience working with individuals with disabilities and behavioral disorders, both in school and residential settings.  While in college, Miller assisted individuals transitioning to supportive living environments and assisted with access to community and vocational experiences.  Throughout her teaching career, she taught in a variety of K-12 classrooms including both traditional and alternative school settings.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Exceptional Education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a Master of Education Administration from Union College.  Miller holds endorsements in modified and comprehensive Special Education, Secondary English, English as a Second Language and Administration.

West TN Team

Located at University of Memphis – Lambuth, the West TN team provides assistance to the following counties:

Lake, Obion, Weakley, Henry, Stewart, Dyer, Gibson, Carroll, Benton, Houston, Humphreys, Lauderdale, Crockett, Madison, Henderson, Decatur, Perry, Tipton, Haywood, Chester, Shelby, Fayette, Hardeman, McNairy, Hardin and Wayne.

Contact Information regarding assistance:
Contact West TN Center

Meet the West TN Team

Co-Primary Investigator


William Hunter Ed.D. is an Associate Professor of Special Education at the University of Memphis.  Since 2015, he has served as Principal Investigator for this project. Dr. Hunter received his Ed.D. in Special Education from the University of Cincinnati. His background includes working as a special education teacher in urban schools for 12 years, as a special education administrator for 2 years, and as a residential mental health intervention specialist for 9 years. His professional interests include Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, and Classroom Level Positive Behavior Intervention Supports.

Co-Primary Investigator

Laura Casey Ph. D. earned her Ph.D. in 2006 in School Psychology. Prior to joining University of Memphis as a professor of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), she worked as a behavior consultant, counselor, and psychometrist in the schools. She currently teaches ABA classes and primarily provides Tier 3 supports for this project. She holds the following certifications: Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral level (BCBA-D), Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP), National Certified Counselor (NCC), and Licensed Professional Counselor-MS (LPC).

Technical Assistance Team Director – West TN

Victoria Perry has served as a public educator for 22 years. She is a licensed school administrator, certified teacher, and holds a library science endorsement. She has experience as being a classroom teacher, a school librarian, and an assistant principal of a middle school and high school. She earned her B.S. from University of Memphis and earned both her M.Ed. and Ed.S. from Union University. Prior to joining the project in 2018, while serving as a high school assistant principal, Victoria led the implementation of PBIS at her school with great success. Her professional interests include supporting schools at the secondary level and advanced tier implementation.

Education Consultant

Paula Brownyard served as a Special Education Supervisor in Jackson-Madison County for more than 20 years. She worked at Lambuth University as head of the Education Department prior to joining the project staff. Paula has served as past president of the Governor’s Advisory Council for the Education of Students with Disabilities and as the Interim Assistant Commissioner for Special Populations at the TN Department of Education. Paula earned her master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Memphis.

Educational Consultant

Carolyn Stark spent more than thirty years as a classroom teacher and Reading Recovery Supervisor in Dyer County and Dyersburg City Schools. She was then selected for the TN Department of Education’s Exemplary Educator program, working as a consultant in struggling TN schools, before joining the project team. Carolyn’s professional interests include tiered interventions and support of behavior interventions, as well as coaching support for districts and schools. She earned her master’s degree from UT Martin in Education Leadership and an Education Specialist degree in Reading from the University of Arkansas.

Educational Consultant

Sandra Harper served as public educator for over forty years. During that time, she served as a principal, curriculum and special education supervisor, and superintendent of schools. Sandra served as a board member on the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents and other Tennessee Department of Education Task Forces. She brings the local school and district perspective to the project team to assist in implementation and sustainability. Sandra completed a master’s degree at the University of Memphis in Guidance and Counseling and completed additional hours at Tennessee State University for administrative licensure.

Educational Consultant

Angelica Burks, Ed.D., Angelica is a proud graduate of the University of Memphis where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Education and Sociology, as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching, and a Doctorate in Literacy Education. During her 22 years of experience, she has served in numerous positions including teacher, advisor, and mentor as well as RTI Coordinator, Instructional Coach, Instructional Facilitator, Professional Learning Coach, New Teacher Mentor, and Reading Specialist. Her areas of interests include increasing the academic growth of K-12 students while decreasing the negative behaviors displayed by schoolchildren which allows for the implementation of strategies used in a multi-tiered system of support. 

Educational Consultant

Debbie Williams received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin and received certification as a Vision Specialist from Middle Tennessee State University. She served as a K-12 special education teacher before becoming a teacher of students with visual impairments teaching braille and cane skills. She has served as a special education teacher consultant, a reading consultant, and an RTI2 District Coordinator. Her focus in the study of reading and working alongside consultants with the State Personnel Development Grant helped her establish a county as a demonstration site for RTI2. Debbie’s professional interests consist of tiered interventions, strategies for decreasing inappropriate behaviors, and increasing academic achievement for all students.

Business Manager

Erin Strowder joined the project team in 2015. As Business Manager, she provides financial and administrative office support to assist with the daily functions of the project. Prior to working for this project, she served as an Office Assistant for another grant at the University of Memphis (Project Memphis) that specialized in the provision of early intervention services.

Content Development Team

Meet the Content Development Team

Senior Research Scholar

Rachel E. Donegan, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Scholar in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. Before earning her Ph.D., Rachel was a special education teacher and instructional coach for elementary and middle school special educators. Rachel’s areas of expertise include reading interventions, reading disabilities, tiered interventions and supports, and methods for intensifying and individualizing instruction.

Content Development Team Consultant

Jennifer Higgs, M.S. received her Master’s degree in Administrative Leadership & Supervision in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Prior to joining the Vanderbilt team, Jennifer taught Instructional Methods for Special Education at Lipscomb University and supervised resident teachers at both Lipscomb and Belmont University. She previously served as the Associate Director of Pupil Services for GBAPS managing student support programing.

Content Development Team Consultant

Melissa Hine, M.Ed., NCC, received her Master’s degree in Professional Counseling from The University of Georgia and is a Nationally Certified Counselor. Previous to Vanderbilt, she worked as a Professional School Counselor for school districts in Georgia and Iowa and managed grant work at the UGA Disability Resource Center.

Media Specialist

Kyle Kurlick works on multiple projects as a media specialist for the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Kyle has spent the past decade telling the stories of Tennesseans across the state as a multimedia producer for various organizations.

Research Analyst

Caitlin Bernstein
Caitlin Bernstein graduated Next Steps last year and loved the program. This is her first year working on this project. She is from Saint Louis but lives in Nashville now. She likes to go to the mall, hang out with friends, and go to Starbucks. She is a big fan of coffee. She also likes to exercise in her room and hang out with her family.