Assistant Professor of Special Education
“Making a difference in the lives of children and their families.”
For Carolyn Dyer, that’s the most satisfying aspect of her job as assistant professor of special education at Henderson State. Dyer leads the state’s only developmental therapy education program.
Her interest in early intervention and early childhood special education was created by personal experience.
“I am a mom who has raised a child with a learning disability. When I, as a young parent with no knowledge of teaching or special education, realized my child was not meeting typical milestones, I went to the public school system for help and was not satisfied with their response,” she said.
“I was motivated to learn all I could to meet the responsibilities of being a mom in making sure my child received the education he was entitled to receive,” Dyer said. “I felt it was not only my responsibility to help my child, but to assist other families and students who have special needs.
“I have been a teacher in a special education classroom. The knowledge and experience assists me in helping to meet the needs and challenges our current Henderson candidates face as they progress through field and practicum experiences.”
In 1997, Dyer earned her B.S.E. and was dually certified in elementary education (grades 1-6) and special education (PK-12). She received her M.S.E. in elementary school guidance/secondary counseling from Henderson in 2001.
The developmental therapy certification program was already established when Dyer joined the Teachers College, Henderson faculty in 2008 as assistant professor of special education.
“I soon realized that Henderson was the only university in Arkansas offering the developmental therapy program at that time,” she said. “I was personally motivated and intrigued with the wonderful idea of providing interventions to young learners and working closely with their families at an early age due to my history of teaching in the public school system and knowledge of the importance of providing early intervention.”
Dyer began educating herself in this area by attending meetings with service providers and stakeholders, and working with the Department of Disabilities Services to learn all she could about the program.
“Candidates within our program asked that we offer a M.S. degree in developmental therapy,” she said. “I worked with Dr. Gary Smithey to help bring this idea to fruition. The online program has grown tremendously.”
Dyer said she believes teachers are “called” to teach.
“But it’s not a profession that is a perfect fit for everyone,” she said. “As Robert Brooks states, ‘sometimes all the difference is made in a troubled student’s life with one charismatic adult who is oftentimes a teacher.’ I encourage Henderson candidates to be that teacher.”
When it comes to her teaching style, Dyer said she is a “facilitator of learning.”
“I strive to make the most current evidence-based research practices available within the content of online courses. Email, telephone conversations, discussion threads and online meetings support this teaching style,” she said. “I enjoy reading and participating in discussion posts and collaboration with students.”
Dyer advises potential students to visit centers that offer developmental therapy services and ask to shadow a developmental therapist for a day.
“I would also suggest and recommend talking to the developmental therapists regarding their duties, and meeting with parents of young learners with disabilities to learn more about the needs of infants and young learners with special needs,” she said.
Advanced Instructional Studies
Degree and School:
M.S.E. / Henderson State University
• Resilience in children
• Educating parents of infants with developmental dalays and disabilities
• Social emotional infant mental health
I've been at Henderson since: