About Our Team

Learn more about our committee and founding members!

Research Strand Team Members:
Dr. Jennifer Beal
Dr. Caroline Guardino
Dr. Jessica Trussell

In an effort to bridge the “research to practice” gap and serve our membership and the field of deaf education, The Radical Middle Team has developed two strands focusing on research and practice. Our Research Strand team will focus on research dissemination and discussion and our Professional Strand (practice) team will focus on strategy instruction, professional development, and outreach. Dr. Michella Maiorana-Basas will serve as the TRM Research to Practice Strand Coordinator. Follow our Facebook Page for updates! 

Learn more about our team members, below:  

Professional Strand Team Members:
Mr. John Kirsh
Dr. Michella Maiorana-Basas
Dr. Christina Rivera
Dr. Jenna Voss

Professional Strand, TRM Webmaster, TRM Research to Practice Stand Coordinator:  

Michella Maiorana-Basas, Ph.D. (Founding Member)

Dr. Michella Maiorana-Basas is an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Undergraduate Program in Deaf Education at Flagler College, St. Augustine, FL. Michella has over 10 years of k-12 classroom teaching experience in deaf education in the bilingual setting and over 19 years of experience dedicated to the field as a professional.She has previously served as the Constituent Chair for Deaf Hard of Hearing for the Division of Communicative Disabilities and Deafness (through the Council for Exceptional Children) and as a board member for Hands and Voices, Michigan. Currently, Michella serves as a co-editor for Raising and Educating Deaf Children, Foundations for Policy, Practice, and Outcomes. She is also a Founding Member and Research to Practice Strand Coordinator for The Radical Middle Project. Michella’s research is focused on the content area reading practices of teachers in upper-grade classrooms in signing programs and has dedicated her study and service to building philosophical and collaborative bridges in deaf education.





Professional Strand: Christina Rivera, Ph.D. (Founding Member)

M. Christina Rivera, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies at the University of Arizona. She is the director of the Special Education – Deaf/Hard of Hearing teacher preparation program and Accelerated Master’s Program. She has been a researcher with the Center on Literacy and Deafness since 2012 and has over 25 years of experience as a teacher and leader in the field of educating students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Dr. Rivera has published research on the use of metacognitive strategies for improving reading comprehension and how assessments may be used to inform service time decisions for DHH students served by itinerant teachers. Her research interests include literacy development in DHH students, the itinerant model of service delivery, and meeting the needs of DHH students who are also culturally and linguistically diverse.



Research Strand:  Jennifer Beal, Ph.D. (Founding Member)

Dr. Jennifer Beal  is an associate professor in Deaf Education at Valdosta State University. She received her Ph.D. in the Education of Students with Exceptionalities (Deaf Education) from Georgia State University, where she was a Language and Literacy Fellow and a member of an Institute for Education Sciences (IES) grant team focused on emergent literacy of deaf children. Previously she was a Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing and an administrator at the Georgia School for the Deaf. She currently teaches undergraduate and graduate courses related to Deaf Education. Her research focuses on how deaf children, deaf adults, and typically hearing university second-language learners develop and use American Sign Language (ASL).


Research Strand: Jessica Trussell, Ph.D. (Founding Member)

Dr. Jessica Trussell is an Assistant Professor in the Masters of Science in Secondary Education program at National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at Rochester Institute of Technology.  Her primary research interest is developing evidence-based decoding interventions for secondary readers who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH).  Her current focus is teaching DHH students morphology that can be accessed through printed English.  Further, she conducts research investigating the effects of interactive storybook reading on young DHH children’s vocabulary.   Jessica recently joined the Center for Education Research Partnerships at NTID to collaborate with researchers who are also interested in improving instruction for students who are DHH.


Professional Strand: John Kirsh

John Kirsh is currently a teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing at Bloomfield Hills Schools, a center program for Oakland County in southeast Michigan.  He has been teaching there the last 14 years.  Prior to that, he taught 8 years in Detroit Public Schools.  Over the years, he has taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.  Currently, he is teaching all subjects to 5th, 6th, and, 7th graders.  He obtained his Master’s degree in Special Education – Deaf Education at Michigan State University.  He also took graduate courses post-masters in Special Education including a concentration in Mathematics Education.  Additionally, he taught American Sign Language at Mott Community College and Baker College in Flint, MI.  He now teaches ASL at Oakland University in Rochester, MI.  His interests include teaching mathematics to DHH students and ASL to hearing students.

Originally from Chicago, Illinois, John has been Deaf since toddlerhood and is a consumer of both Oral and Total Communication approaches in Deaf Education.  He graduated from John Hersey High School, which has a program for DHH students and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester, NY.

When he is not teaching, John enjoys traveling and spending time with his family.


Professional Strand:  Jenna Voss, Ph.D., CED, LSLS Cert AVEd (Founding Member)

Jenna Voss, PhD, CED, LSLS Cert AVEd, is an Assistant Professor and Director of Deaf Education in the Communication Sciences and Disorders & Deaf Education program at Fontbonne University. She received her undergraduate degree in Deaf Education, and her master’s degree in Early Intervention in Deaf Education from Fontbonne University. As a National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities (NLCSD) fellow, she completed her PhD in Speech and Hearing Sciences in the Program in Audiology and Communication Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. She holds teaching certification in the state of Missouri in the areas of Deaf Education and Early Childhood Special Education. Her background, as a teacher of the deaf and early intervention provider, has sparked diverse interests in topics including the health disparity among children and families living in poverty, primary prevention of abuse and neglect for children with disabilities, provider use of strategies and techniques implemented in family-centered practice, and the application of research in cognitive psychology to the field of deaf education to improve the efficiency of learning and instruction of pre-service teachers. Voss is co-author of two texts: Small Talk: Bringing Listening and Spoken Language to Your Young Child With Hearing Loss Case Studies in Deaf Education: Inquiry, Application and Resources.


Research Strand: Caroline Guardino, Ph.D. (Founding Member)

Dr. Caroline Guardino is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Education of the Deaf Program at the University of North Florida. Her research interests involve literacy/technology and deafness as well as the inclusive learning environment for all children with disabilities. She enjoys teaching courses in both Exceptional Student and Deaf Education as this combined knowledge provides a platform for her passion to provide pre-service teachers with better services and strategies to use with students who are Deaf with Disabilities (DWD; www.understandingdad.org ).


Founding Members not serving on the Board:

Dr. Uma Soman

Dr. Joanna Cannon


Making Connections, Globally

Where we are and where we have been!